Friday, November 2, 2007

Crime As Cry

The Screams of the Besieged

New Orleans' Broken Criminal Justice System


"We are faced with the daily reality of an imminent collapse of our criminal justice institutions."

New Orleans Police Chief Warren Riley

Some say crime causes a city to be under siege; others say crime is the symptom of a city under siege. Either way, New Orleans is in serious trouble. Our criminal justice system is in unprecedented crisis.

Thursday there were four murders in 24 hours in New Orleans. Over the weekend three more people died from gunshots. So far this year, 170 people have been murdered in New Orleans--a rate seven times the national average.

The District Attorney of New Orleans just resigned at the insistence of the Mayor, the Attorney General and several legislators. His office owes a group of discharged employees a federal civil rights judgment of over $3 million--and neither the City nor State was willing to pay unless he resigned. There is high turnover in the office and thousands of people arrested have been released because the office could not timely decide whether to charge them with crimes or not. His resignation will not make New Orleans any safer.

Katrina severely damaged an already dysfunctional criminal justice in New Orleans. In fact, what has occurred and is happening now in New Orleans is really neither "justice" nor a "system

Before Katrina, New Orleans averaged 1000 violent crimes each quarter. In the second quarter of 2007, New Orleans reported over 1300 violent crimes--despite the fact that not many more than half the people of New Orleans are back.

Black on black crime continues to dominate. Of the 161 homicide victims in 2006, 131 were black men, along with most of the suspects. Many victims and the suspects were teenagers. About two-thirds of the deaths of 2006 have gone unsolved.

Police work out of trailers, including the brass. During the summer, officers filled out paperwork in their cars because there was no working air conditioning in their temporary trailer offices. Not until spring 2007 was there a working crime lab.

New Orleans has a post-Katrina police force over 80% as large as before the storm--nearly half are new officers. At the end of 2006, seven police officers were indicted on murder charges--and then hailed as "heroes" by many fellow officers as they reported to court. The police force is supplemented by hundreds of National Guard members patrolling the city in camouflaged humvees, and, on special occasions, members of the state police as well.

The public defender system is starting to improve but remains unable to represent all those facing charges. Recently, Orleans Criminal Court Judge Arthur Hunter mailed over 450 letters to attorneys in New Orleans ordering them to report to his courtroom to start defending poor defendants. Most declined.

Jail is not the answer to our crime problems because Louisiana already leads all 50 states in the percentage of our people in jail, and New Orleans leads Louisiana. A report on those in the New Orleans jail show that the majority are awaiting trial and many of those in jail could easily be released. A third are in on bonds of $5000 or less--the only reason they remain in jail is because of their poverty. Over half are only facing minor charges and nearly three-quarters have no other outstanding warrants for their arrest.

Addressing crime takes a functioning criminal justice system--and New Orleans is working on that by increasing communication between the various agencies and enacting some new programs. But, like the resignation of the District Attorney, this is not likely to dramatically reduce crime.

Three recent reports help show the way for New Orleans to improve the criminal system. They stress earlier and better communication between the police and prosecutors; a wider range of pre-trial release options; and greater use of alternatives to prison.

The August 2007 report of the Urban Institute, "Washed Away? Justice in New Orleans," documents past and present challenges for criminal justice. Available online at:

The VERA Institute of Justice report, "Proposals for New Orleans' Criminal Justice System: Best Practices to Advance Public Safety and Justice" gives four concrete ways that the system can be improved in the short run. Their report is available at:

The community-based Safe Streets Strong Communities organization has put out several recommendations about how New Orleans can fight crime without criminalizing or alienating the people in the neighborhoods. See:

But even if all these changes are started, most leaders acknowledge what Criminal Judge Calvin Johnson, who has presided in criminal court for nearly 20 years, says over and over "We cannot arrest our way out of this problem."

Crime is not an isolated action. It is impossible to fix the crime problem if the rest of the institutions that people rely on remain deeply broken.

The head of the local FBI suggested to the Christian Science Monitor that criminals in New Orleans "are products of an educational system that didn't educate, a state judicial system that failed to mete out consequences for criminal activity, and an economic landscape devoid of meaningful jobs."

Katrina and its aftermath place enormous daily stresses on all people, particularly those already disadvantaged by race, gender and class systems. Treatment facilities report much more substance abuse, suicide and domestic violence. Yet, the mental and physical health systems are only a shell of what they were before the storm. Affordable housing is scarce and families are separated. Public education is not working for the poorest children. There is only so much the criminal justice system can do.

The number of doctors and social workers and nurses who treat mental health is down dramatically. Beds are down nearly 80%. Hospitals turn troubled people away every day. Doctors report people who cannot be turned away are chemically restrained on gurneys in the hall or kept in dimmed emergency waiting rooms until they can be released. The system is backed up around the state.

Even regular medical treatment is a challenge for uninsured and insured both as many hospitals remain closed. Drug and substance abuse treatment are scarce.

The extreme lack of affordable rental housing means many older family members have not returned to New Orleans. Many teenagers have returned on their own--living alone or with other relatives and friends.

Public education for those not in charter schools continues to be quite an uphill battle for the children--often in highly policed public schools that illustrate the school to prison pipeline.

Before Katrina, New Orleans had the highest per capita murder rate in the nation a couple of times. The police arrested few people for violent crimes and prosecutors and judges and juries convicted less. Police, prosecutors and public defenders were overworked and underpaid--often losing their most experienced people to the suburbs and other cities where the work was calmer and the pay better.

After Katrina it is all worse. There is much more stress on the streets. There is much less counseling and treatment available. There are fewer extended families to provide a supportive environment. The police are less experienced. The police do not communicate well with the prosecutors, who do not work well with the victims and witnesses, while the judges feud with the public defenders, and on and on.

After Katrina, there is even less of a system and certainly less justice for everyone--the public, victims, the accused, law enforcement and people working in the institutions. Only when the criminal justice system is supported by a good public education available to all children, sufficient affordable housing for families, accessible healthcare (especially mental healthcare), and jobs that pay living wages, can the community expect the crime rate to go down.

The District Attorney has resigned. But New Orleans and the Gulf Coast remain in serious trouble on all fronts. Our criminal justice system is but one illustration of our institutions melting down. For us, crime is not the cause of our community being under siege; crime is the scream of our community under siege.

Bill Quigley is a human rights lawyer and law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. You can reach him at

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Nukes Over America; sorry, incompetence just won't fly anymore.

There are and have been many more of us who were afraid of Vice than Junior, or the religiously insane, no matter where they exist.

Cheney is f---ing NUTZ!

Incompetence or Cover-Up?

The Air Force Report on the Minot-Barksdale Nuclear Missile Flight


"It makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck."

--Pentagon official

There is something deeply disturbing about the Air Force's official report on the Aug-29-30 "bent spear" incident that saw six nuclear warheads get mounted on six Advanced Cruise Missiles and improperly removed from a nuclear weapons storage bunker at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, then get improperly loaded on a B-52, and then get improperly flown to Barksdale AFB in Louisiana-a report that attributed the whole thing to a "mistake."

According to the Air Force report, some Air Force personnel mounted the warheads on the missiles (which are obsolete and slated for destruction), and another ground crew, allegedly not aware that the missiles were armed with nukes, moved them out and mounted them on a launch pylon on the B-52's wing for a flight to Barksdale and eventual dismantling. Only on the ground at Barksdale did ground crew personnel spot the nukes according to the report. (Six other missiles with dummy warheads were mounted on a pylon on the other wing of the plane.)

The problem with this explanation for the first reported case of nukes being removed from a weapons bunker without authorization in 50 years of nuclear weapons, is that those warheads, and all nuclear warheads in the US stockpile, are supposedly protected against unauthorized transport or removal from bunkers by electronic anti-theft systems-automated alarms similar to those used by department stores to prevent theft, and even anti-motion sensors that go off if a weapon is touched or approached without authorization.

While the Air Force report doesn't mention any of this, what it means is that if weapons in a storage bunker are protected against unauthorized removal, someone-and actually at least two people, since it's long been a basic part of nuclear security that every action involving a nuclear weapon has to be done by two people working in tandem-had to deliberately and consciously disable those alarms.

Since the Air Force report does not explain how this hurdle to unauthorized removal of the six nukes could have been surmounted by "mistake," the report has to be considered a whitewash, at best, or a cover-up.

That leaves us speculating about what actually happened, and about who might have authorized the removal of those nukes from storage, and why the Defense Department would be covering up the true story. We know that the loading of nuclear-armed missiles or bombs onto an American bomber has been barred since 1991, even for practice and training purposes. We know also that the carrying of nuclear weapons by bombers flying over US airspace has been banned for 40 years. So if the evidence suggests strongly that the removal of the nukes from the bunker was done intentionally and with some kind of authorization from higher authorities, then the loading of nukes onto the plane, and the flight of those nukes to Barksdale have to also be assumed to have been authorized.

This possibility has been dismissed out of hand by the Air Force and Defense Department. The very idea is, in fact, not even discussed in the Air force report released in mid-October.

Yet we are left with the unresolved question of how the weapons could have been moved out of the bunker accidentally.

The Air Force has not been forthcoming about the automated alarm protections on American nuclear weapons, refusing to confirm or deny that they even exist. But we can know that they are in place for several reasons. One is that since writing about this incident in the current edition of ("The Mystery of Minot," Oct. 24, 2007 ed.) and in several online venues, I have been contacted by several active-duty and retired military people who have assured me that such electronic protections are in place. A second is that an article in the Oct. 31 issue of the New York Times, reporting on the early completion of a project by the National Nuclear Security Administration, to secure Russian nuclear weapons, said that the measures implemented at 25 classified sites on 12 Russian nuclear bases included "measures that have long been part of American efforts" to secure nuclear weapons, and that these included "alarm and motion detection systems," as well as "modern gates, guard houses and fighting positions, " and also "detectors for explosives, radiation and metal."

Ask yourselves, would American nuclear weapons be equipped with lesser security systems than those that the NNSA is providing for Russian weapons?

Of course not!

And yet we're asked to believe that some low-ranking ground crew personnel at Minot AFB simply walked out of a nuclear weapons bunker with six nuclear armed Advanced Cruise Missiles, not knowing what they were carrying, and labored for eight hours to mount those missiles and their launch pylon on the wing of a B-52 strategic bomber without ever noticing that they were armed with nuclear weapons. We're asked to believe that none of those electronic alarms and motion sensors built into the system went off during that whole process.

When I mentioned the automated alarm and motion sensors to Lt. Col. Jennifer Cassidy, a public affairs person at the Department of the Air Force, and asked her how the movement of the six nukes could have occurred without those alarms being disabled, she said, "It's an intriguing question, and it makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck."

As it should.

So why isn't it making the hair stand up on the back of the necks of members of Congress?

Incredibly, to date, there has been no demand for public hearings into this frightening incident.

Congress appears ready and willing to accept the Air Force whitewash at face value: It was an accident. It won't happen again.

That is not good enough!

We need honest answers to some hard questions. Among them:

* Who disabled the alarm systems on those weapons and on the bunker itself?

* Who mounted six nuclear weapons on the noses of six cruise missiles and put those missiles onto a B-52 launch platform?

* Who authorized them to perform this operation?

* Who moved the armed weapons out of the Bunker at Minot AFB and mounted them on the wing of a B-52 bound for Barksdale AFB? (Barksdale, it should be noted, bills itself as the main staging base for B-52s being flown to the Middle East Theater.)

* Were the six missiles flyable? Were they fueled up and ready to fire, or were they not fueled at the time of the Minot-Barksdale flight?

* Was there targeting information in the missile's guidance computers and if so, what were those targets?

* What happened to the three military whistleblowers who blew the whistle on this incident and reported it to a journalist at the newspaper Military Times?

* Why hasn't the Air Force or the FBI investigated the 6-8 untimely deaths including three alleged suicides, one of a Minot weapons guard, one of an assistant defense secretary, and one of a captain in the super-secret Air Force Special Commando Group, as well as alleged fatal vehicle "accidents" involving four ground crew and B-52 pilots and crewmembers at Minot and Barksdale? Could any of this strange cluster of deaths have been related to the incident? The Air Force "investigation" didn't even mention these incidents, and my investigation, reported in the Oct. 24 issue of the magazine American Conservative, found that none of the police investigators or medical examiners in those incidents had even been contacted by Air Force or other federal investigators.

The Secretary of Defense appears to have been upset about this incident. Secretary Robert Gates ordered an unprecedented stand-down of all air bases in mid-September to check out and account for the entire nuclear inventory, and a general was dispatched immediately to Minot after the discovery of the wayward nukes on August 30 to investigate what had happened. Following a subsequent Air Force investigation, 70 people at Minot and Barksdale AFBs were removed from their posts and decertified from handling nuclear weapons, including five officers, one of them the Minot base commander.

* But a base commander does not have the authority to order nuclear weapons to be loaded on a plane and flown. So who issued that order and why has no one at a senior level in Washington been sacked?

There is speculation that the order may have come via an alternate chain of command.

Vice President Dick Cheney is known to be pressing within the administration for a war with Iran, to be launched before the end President Bush's second term of office. According to some reports, Cheney has even, on his own authority (or lack thereof), urged Israel to attack Iran's nuclear facilities, in hopes that Iran might retaliate, thus drawing the US into a war.

Could the nation's war-mongering VP have used his neo-con contacts in the Defense Department or some of the Armageddon-believers in the Air Force to bypass the official chain of command and spring those nukes from their bunker?

Was there a plan to use one or more of those nukes-W80-1 warheads that can be calibrated to detonate with an explosive power ranging anywhere from 150 kilotons down to just 5 kilotons-against Iran? The Advanced Cruise Missile, a stealth weapon almost impossible to spot on radar, is designed to be launched from a remote location by a B-52, and then to fly close to the ground to its target, using terrain maps and GPS guidance. It is also designed to penetrate hardened sites, such as Iran's nuclear processing and research facilities.

Or was there a plan for a so-called "false-flag incident, "where a small nuke-made to resemble a primitive weapon of the type a fledgling nuclear power might construct-might be detonated at a US target abroad, or even within the US?

These are terrible and terrifying questions to have to ask, but when you have six nuclear weapons go missing, when the military investigation into the incident is so clearly a whitewash or cover-up, and when you have a vice president who is openly pressing for an illegal war of aggression against a nation that poses no threat to the US, and who, in fact, appears to be conducting his own treacherous foreign policy behind the back of the president and the State Department, they are questions that must be asked, and that demand answers.

In a couple of weeks, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, is planning on calling for a Privilege of the House vote in Congress on moving his Cheney impeachment bill (H Res. 333) to a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, where it has been stalled by House Democratic leaders since being filed last April 24. Such a hearing should demand answers from the vice president and his staff about his treasonous efforts to push the country into yet another war in the Middle East. It should also grill Air Force personnel about the true nature of the Minot nuclear incident.

Every member of the House of Representatives should have to take a stand on this issue.

The Democratic House leadership, under Speaker Nancy Pelosi, can be expected to try to table Kucinich's privilege motion, which would prevent such a vote.

Americans should demand that Pelosi and other Democratic leaders let Kucinich's privilege motion go forward, and should insist that every member of Congress put their position on the line. Every American should demand that their representative to Congress support the start of impeachment hearings on Vice President Cheney.

We need to know if the Vice President's office was behind the flight of those six warheads.

We need to know in what other treasonous, conspiratorial actions the Vice President has been engaged in his unremitting effort to expand the war from Iraq and Afghanistan into Iran.

Dave Lindorff is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His book of CounterPunch columns titled "This Can't be Happening!" is published by Common Courage Press. Lindorff's newest book is "The Case for Impeachment",
co-authored by Barbara Olshansky.

He can be reached at:

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Gooper Cowards; addicted to fear

Addicted to Fear - Cowardice Has Become the Source of Republican Power

The Republican Party’s macho bluster and apparently endless appetite for war makes it seem counter-intuitive to think of them as cowards. And yet, seven years into the Bush regime, it is clear that the GOP has become dependent on fear to keep itself in power — and to support this addiction the party leadership has converted its rank and file members into America’s first generation of bona fide yellow-bellied chickens.

That's for damn sure! They project their own fear onto us and hope it sticks.

"Protect me, protect me," we are told the people cry out to the government.

Yes, there was shock and horror on that day, and for months afterwards, thanks to anthrax missives flying all over the mail system. By the way, is anyone ever going to find the anthrax mailer? Does anyone care? It did help pass the Patriot Act, that's for sure, and it was only sent to Democrats and so-called "liberal media". What the hell does Al Qaeda have against the Democratic leadership of the Senate and House let alone media outlets, no matter their political persuasion? Does any of this make any sense at all?

After the GOP took over the government in 2000 and ran all three branches for six years, the truth about the conservative movement was finally revealed. After years of unctuous claims that they were for family values and lower spending and against corruption, Republicans demonstrated that the exact opposite is true. They were caught engaging in a wide range of sleazy activities, both personal and financial, and Bush and the GOP Congress ran the Treasury into the ground, racking up more debt than all the presidents since Washington, combined. Now, with that record fresh in voters’ minds, all they have left to run on is the politics of fear.

Gotta put in my 2 cents worth here: Take over is the right word, if one wants to be polite. Junta seems more appropriate to us. The Bush administration is an illegitimate administration. They have never won a national election that I know of and, yet, they have managed to ruin this country. We have lost our credibility and respect around the globe, we are witting or unwitting war criminals, we are, therefore, less safe both at home and abroad. We have committed the "mother of all war crimes," a war of choice made by the Bush government while lying out their asses to American citizens and to the world. They have accomplished a long held Republican dream; bankrupting the treasury of the U.S.A., so that no social programs can be afforded; the poor, the elderly and the children of working class poor can all go to hell, because who needs them? They are not productive, which seem to be the only real reason for capitalistic America, no matter what trash we are producing and for what reason, if any.

We have certainly seen their definition of "family values and lower spending." I've, frankly, never seen such sleaze and corruption, shocking personal and professional behavior. They make Dick Nixon look like a choirboy

Nearly every day, a subtle or not-so-subtle message of fear — about terrorists, Muslems, Iran, whatever works — is transmitted from the bully pulpit of the White House press room podium out to the public via the seemingly unwitting mainstream media, Fox News and right-wing talk radio. The government’s fear propaganda is mostly just noise in the background to normal people, but rank and file conservatives gobble it up like ravenous dogs.

9/11 Did Not “Change Everything”

The Republican culture of fear was born out of the 9/11 attacks — which we are told “changed everything” because there was an “attack on America.” But when the World Trade Center was bombed in February 1993 by right-wing Islamic terrorists very like the ones who would take the towers down eight years years later, no one suggested that our response to this “attack on America” should be invading and occupying Iraq.

The Goopers and their fear-mongering go much further back than that: McCarthy, Nixon, Reagan, Bush I.

9/11 changed very little in my world. The way the Bushites decided to handle it changed a lot. Clinton may be many things, including a sex addict, but he wasn't an oil man. The invasion of Iraq had been being planned for years.. Afghanistan was just an irritating detour, which is now a total mess. Where is Osama? Where is Mullah Omar, Zawahiri and others? Who cares? Certainly not Bush and Cheney.

The Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta July 1996 was an “attack on America” — albeit by an American rightwing Christian fundamentalist terrorist. But no one suggested that we should eavesdrop on Americans and torture prisoners as a result.

The Oklahoma City bombing in April 1995, this time by another group of homegrown right-wing, religiously insane terrorists, was certainly an “attack on America” — in particular on a federal building and specifically targeting agents of the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. No one suggested shredding the Constitution as a result.

This reminds me of the difference between how strangers and intimates are treated by the law, after they commit an act of violence against someone. The stranger gets the book thrown at at him, while the husband or boyfriend gets a slap on the wrist. I can't speak for most people, but I must say that I would consider the crime much worse when committed by someone with whom I live and trust. Homes are supposed to be safe; the streets...not so much.

For most of the century after the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan, a right wing, white Anglo-Saxon Protestant terrorist group, attacked and killed Americans with guns, bombs and nooses. But during the first nine decades or so of this unrelenting reign of terror, hardly anyone seemed to mind very much, except of course for those who were the targets of the hatred and violence.

Around the globe, millions of people endure terror attacks without cowering under their beds. The Israelis have lived with terrorism since at least the 1970s — as have the Syrians, Lebanese, Saudis and others in the Middle East. The British stood stalwart against attacks by Irish separatists for generations. In just the past decade, terrorists have attacked in Colombia, Russia, China, Egypt, Mexico, Cuba, Kashmir, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Pakistan, Latvia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Chechnya, Spain, Finland and on and on.

Only in the Bush era has it become acceptable for Americans to cower in fear at the same threat that others in the world face with courage or at least equanimity. Among democracies, only does the United States government deliberately encourage and inflame cowardice among its citizens.

(Not to mention encouraging the terrorist themselves: Bring 'em on)

The Soviets’ A-Bombs - Now That Was Scary

Up until about 20 years ago, Americans bravely shouldered on every day in the shadow of a much greater national threat than Islamic terrorists will ever pose. Here’s how Gen. Wesley Clark described it on Bill Maher’s HBO show last Friday:

This nation lived for 40 years under the threat of a nuclear attack from the Soviet Union. Six thousand nuclear warheads [aimed at] every American city — would have destroyed … life in America.

Osama bin Ladin and these people — they’re crazy and they’re nuts. Maybe they want to kill Americans but they are not an existential threat to America. And they are no reason for Americans to give up their freedom and their liberty.

Other than fear so intense it has shut down rational thought — which can be described as cowardice — what could explain the Republicans’ willingness to be duped by Bush’s lies in the run-up to war: that Saddam, the secularist who was on Al Qaeda’s kill list, was part of the 9/11 conspiracy; that he had nuclear capabilities; that he might load drones onto ships and launch them at the U.S. off the Atlantic coast?

(The Goopers weren't the only ones who were duped, it appears. The only man or woman of courage was Russ Feingold. He did not vote for the resolution which gave monkey boy a blank check)

Other than having their brains dulled by terror, what could cause so many Americans to take at face value Bush’s facile construct that “we have to fight them there so we don’t have to fight them here?” It should be abundantly obvious that nothing about our being in Iraq prevents terrorists from coming here. They have maps. They can get plane tickets. They can cross the border on foot. And they can do this while American occupation forces are strapped down in Iraq, dodging bullets in a sectarian civil war between opposing followers of Muslim leaders who died 14 centuries ago.

The whole thing would be laughable if the price in American blood and treasure was not so steep.

Normal People Put Their Fears in Perspective

Those of us who live in areas that are vulnerable to natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, blizzards and floods find ways to cope with fear. Our mantra, in so many words, is “be prepared and hope for the best.”

Most of us don’t consider this rationalization of risk to be “bravery” — and, to be sure, our day-to-day moxie is nothing compared with the courage required of troops facing IEDs and insurgents’ bombs in Iraq or cops dodging bullets in American streets.

But, really, our sort of courage is no harder to come by than the courage it took to get up every day and go about life knowing that on this day, like every day, the Russians could could launch the bombs that would blow us into oblivion.

This mildest form of bravery — the ability to put exposure to risk in perspective and go about life in peace and contentment — is what every American, even Republicans, must learn to muster if, gods forbid, terrorism continues to be a part of life in the States.

Unfortunately, because of the policies and actions of George W. Bush — enabled and supported by his fear-addled supporters — the likelihood that terrorism will remain a fact of life in America is greater now than it would have been if Bush had not been president on September 11, 2001.

Amen, Say It Again!

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Buy Local! Our only hope.

"Buy Local" Movement
t r u t h o u t | Programming Note

Airdate: Friday, November 2, 2007, at 8:30 p.m. on PBS
(Check local listings at

You know all about organic food. Now learn about the "buy local" movement. What's a locavore? This time on NOW.

When the federal government ended its 60-plus years of price support to tobacco farmers in 2004, Virginians were hit particularly hard. On Friday, November 2, at 8:30 p.m., NOW travels to the mountainous farmlands of Appalachia to meet farmers who've attempted the difficult switch from tobacco to increasingly popular organic produce. Among those profiled is restaurant owner Steven Hopp, who, along with his wife - acclaimed author Barbara Kingsolver - spent a year living off the land.

Social entrepreneur Anthony Flaccavento founded an Enterprising Idea called "Appalachian Sustainable Development" to help local farmers and markets make the transition not just to organic, but to local organic. Can local farmers change course and crops and still survive in a shifting economy?

Also on the show, David Brancaccio interviews prominent environmentalist Bill McKibben about his "National Day of Climate Action" on November 3, and what we can all do to fight global warming.

At NOW Online, read an excerpt from Hopp and Kingsolver's new book, and learn ways to become a "locavore" - someone who buys from their own community. Also, find out where your college alma mater ranks on a sustainability report card.


(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Oil Company Price Gouging

Gas Price Gouging - Call It Like It Is
By Robert Weiner and John Larmett
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Tuesday 30 October 2007

Gasoline prices are poised to explode again. Oil companies are setting up the framework for higher prices because of fears of a Turkish invasion of Kurdish-controlled Northern Iraq and administration saber rattling about Iran. Crude oil, at $29.59 a barrel when President Bush took office in January 2001, is now pushing toward $100. Washington State's current gasoline cost of $3.09 per gallon, double Seattle's 2001 price of $1.52, is now second only to California in the 48 contiguous states.

Jay Leno joked on the "Tonight Show" October 17, "The Nobel Prize for Economics was awarded to three people - the CEOs of Exxon, Texaco, and Shell for figuring out how to quadruple the price of oil over a seven year period without an actual shortage."

He's right, there is no actual shortage. Even if something happened, Kurdish oil production is less than 1/4 of 1% of the world's oil, and all of Iraq generates under 3%. Iran's share of world production is falling, 5% last year compared to 8% in 1974. The oil industry uses the unrealized potential of small disruptions to implement huge price fluctuations. They are using the fear factor and war profiteering to repeat and increase what they had last year, the highest profits for any industry in American history.

Furthermore, home heating oil bills are up a third from a year ago, and double six years ago-a $1700 annual household increase, seven times inflation. Home heating bills are the silent economic killers to families - the spotlight has been on car gas prices.

As former House Energy Committee Chair Joe Barton (R-TX) said, "No federal statute prohibits price gouging." Leading Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is demanding a new Federal Trade Commission oil price investigation. Oil companies raised gas prices 24 cents a gallon in the 24 hours after Katrina. The FTC reported increases "not substantially attributable to increased costs." It was pure fear-mongering.

Congress is enacting new laws specifically aimed at price gouging, sort of. In May, the House passed groundbreaking legislation making gouging by oil and gas companies a federal crime. The bill calls for jail time and fines of up to $150 million a day for charging "unconscionably excessive prices" and taking "unfair advantage" of consumers during a presidentially declared emergency. The President has indefinitely continued drug trafficking and national security emergencies and could do the same on oil prices strangling consumers.

However, there is no "violation" if the price charged is "substantially attributable to local, regional, national, or international market conditions." The House is saying it is not gouging if the public will bear it. The oil companies could still charge whatever they want-a loophole big enough for a gas-guzzling Mack truck.

So, it is up to the public not to bear it.

In the Senate, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) has introduced legislation which defines gouging as "charging an unconscionably excessive price" and adds a critical "prohibition on market manipulation", regardless of "emergency" timing. Cantwell has been pushing for its enactment for over two years and missed the 60 vote debate "cloture" by just three votes in 2005. With the new Democratic majority, Cantwell succeeded in including this provision in the Senate energy bill now before a House-Senate conference. Cantwell's ban on market manipulation regardless of "emergencies" could have enormous impact on stopping price spikes.

(An unintended consequence of the Bush saber rattling is even higher prices and more money to Iran, which defeats the purpose of sanctions to stop nuclear weapons.)

Unintended? Bullshit!

Congress needs to rise above special interest relationships, protect Americans from oil company gouging, and define the term so it means what it really is.


Robert Weiner worked six years as a communications director in the Clinton White House and sixteen years in the House of Representatives. John Larmett, senior policy analyst at Robert Weiner Associates, worked on energy-related issues as press secretary to Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle.


(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Osama Video Faked?

As we questioned last September, when the video broke....

The Osama bin Laden video released this past September 7, just prior to the sixth anniversary of 9/11, has provoked widespread suspicions of fraud. In particular, bin Laden's beard -- which was grey and ragged in the video released just before the 2004 election -- is thick, black, and neatly trimmed in the new footage.

The beard in the last video was also kinkier than the video from 2004

The video aroused widespread suspicions that bin Laden's beard had been faked in some way, with former White House counter-terrorism advisor Richard Clarke even speculating that bin Laden had shaved in order to hide out in a country like Indonesia, where Muslim men do not wear beards, and had then pasted on a false beard for the video.

Richard, Richard....The guy is 6'4, at least, making him tower over most Arabs and Indonesians are even smaller. He has an odd body shape and extremely long fingers, so much so that a medically educated person mihght sudpect that he has Marphan's syndrome. It would take more than a beard change for Osama to hide out or fool anyone.

More recently, it has been noted that all but a small portion of the 25-minute video consists of still images, including the section which mentions current events, suggesting the possibility that old footage has been doctored to seem new.

That, too, was caught by the next day, after the video was released.

Computer security consultant Neal Krawetz told NBC News that the latest video is strikingly similar to the previous 2004 release, appearing to use the same studio setting and clothing, but that the beard itself does not appear to be false. Other video analysts are in disagreement about whether the videos could have been recorded at the same time -- and if so, how to explain the difference in bin Laden's beard.

Fox News spoke about the controversy to Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, vice president for research at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

"I'm not an expert on video analysis," Gartenstein-Ross replied. "I don't have a view as to whether or not this video were pre-recorded."

However, he expressed more self-assurance on the question of bin Laden's beard, saying, "There are only certain circumstances under Islamic law where you're allowed to dye your beard black. One of those is as a tool of war, to make yourself seem like a more formidable opponent."

"Deception itself is only allowed under certain circumstances under Islamic law," Gartenstein-Ross continued. "Al Qaeda may well have thought that ... it was permissible to go ahead and record a great deal of video in case bin Laden is still alive but unable to appear on video."

He's probably living next door to the CIA.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

30 Senators Warn Bush On Iran

It will take more than that; more like a lynch mob of 3 million surrounding the White House saying, don't do it!!!

Thirty US senators wrote to President George W. Bush Thursday, warning he had no authority to launch military action against Iran, and expressing concern about the administration's "provocative" rhetoric.

The senators, 29 Democrats and one independent, urged the resolution of disputes with the Islamic Republic through diplomacy.

"We wish to emphasize that no congressional authority exists for unilateral military action against Iran," the letter signed by senators including presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Joseph Biden said.

The letter warned that a resolution passed by the Senate in September, calling for the designation of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group, should not be used as a pretext for war.

It hit out at "provocative statements and actions" by the administration on Iran, after Bush last month warned Tehran must be barred from nuclear weapons to avoid the prospect of "World War III."

"These comments are counterproductive and undermine efforts to resolve tensions with Iran through diplomacy," the letter, coordinated by Virginia Senator Jim Webb, said.

Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, a fierce critic of the administration's policies, sent his own letter this week to Bush, reportedly calling on him to open direct talks with Tehran.

His staff confirmed the letter had been sent, but declined to release a copy.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Lil Timmy and Knee-deep BS

Tim Russert: Stop the Inanity

Russert passes for a "tough" interviewer by adopting a confrontational pose rather than asking genuinely challenging questions. Which is why he's a terrible moderator for our presidential debates.

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Tim Russert: Stop the Inanity

MSNBC debate moderator Tim Russert speaks to the audience before the Democratic debate on Sept. 26 in Hanover, N.H. (AP Photo/Bill Sikes)

Last month, near the end of the Democratic presidential debate in New Hampshire, moderator Tim Russert -- known as "Washington's toughest interviewer" and perhaps the most influential journalist in America -- had one last chance to pin the candidates down with his legendary common sense, persistence, and no-bull style. This is what he asked, first to Barack Obama:

"There's been a lot of discussion about the Democrats and the issue of faith and values. I want to ask you a simple question. Senator Obama, what is your favorite Bible verse?"

When Obama finished his answer, Russert said to the other candidates, "I want to give everyone a chance in this. You just take 10 seconds." Predictable banality ensued. A foreign visitor unfamiliar with our presidential campaigns might have scratched her head and said, "This is how you decide who will lead your country?"

Indeed it is, because the process is controlled by Tim Russert and people like him. Russert's Bible question encapsulates everything wrong with him, and with our political coverage more generally. It seeks to make candidates look bad rather than finding out something important about them (if you want to explore a candidate's religious beliefs, you don't do it in pop-quiz form and give them just ten seconds to answer). It substitutes the personal anecdote for the policy position, the sound-bite for the substantive answer. It distills the debate into a series of allegedly symbolic, supposedly meaningful moments that can be replayed.

This type of debate question is not about what the candidate believes and would actually do in office, but about how clever the moderator is for cornering the candidate. And above all, it takes a genuinely relevant matter (a candidate's view of the universe) and crams it through a channel by which the thoughtful candidate will be pilloried and the shallow, pandering, overly rehearsed candidate will garner praise.

I have a fantasy that at one of these moments, a candidate will say, "You know what, Tim, I'm not going to answer that question. This is serious business. And you, sir, are a disgrace. You have in front of you a group of accomplished, talented leaders, one of whom will in all likelihood be the next president of the United States. You can ask them whatever you want. And you choose to engage in this ridiculous gotcha game, thinking up inane questions you hope will trick us into saying something controversial or stupid. Your fondest hope is that the answer to your question will destroy someone's campaign. You're not a journalist, you're the worst kind of hack, someone whose efforts not only don't contribute to a better informed electorate, they make everyone dumber. So no, I'm not going to stand here and try to come up with the most politically safe Bible verse to cite. Is that the best you can do?"

But we shouldn't hold our breath waiting for a candidate to say that, particularly not to Russert, who stands atop the insider media establishment. And like every skillful and experienced Washington hand, Russert knows that the way to the top is to pretend that for all the Georgetown cocktail parties you attend, for all the money you make, for all your heart flutters when the powerful treat you with deference, in truth you may be in Washington but you're not of it. No, deep down you're just a regular guy from the wrong side of the tracks, standing up to the effete swells of the ruling class.

As much as any politician, Russert has constructed a persona for the benefit of the public, an identity meant to give him the authority that his actual work might not. Like most well-designed personas, it has a basis in truth but has been polished and honed to a fine sheen.

The core -- if not the entirety -- of this persona can be summed up in the word Russert invokes at every opportunity, wielded like a talisman of authenticity: Buffalo. Buffalo, where the salt of the Earth trudge home from their exhausting blue-collar jobs, where the cheap beer is guzzled in corner bars, where the grime sits heavy on the walls of crumbling buildings, and the mills have all left town. Buffalo, where the young Russert got to know the real Americans on whose behalf he now speaks. Buffalo, which can bestow working-class credibility, even on a man who makes a reported $5 million a year and spends his summers among the decidedly elite at his second home on Nantucket. Although Buffalo is not technically in the "heartland," for Russert it functions the same way as the country's middle does for Republicans, as a shorthand of virtue, a geographical location out of which springs the values of modesty, piety, industriousness, and, most of all, the lack of privilege.

A look at Russert's press coverage shows how the image is reinforced. Peppered among articles chock full of admiring references to his allegedly tough interviewing style, one occasionally finds profiles like one from 2001 in Reader's Digest titled, "Our Man In Washington: Tim Russert's blue-collar smarts give politicians no place to hide." It had all the incisiveness the magazine is known for:

Unawed by power, unwavering in his interview technique, Tim Russert, host of Meet the Press, is tough and plain-spoken, with one foot placed squarely in the working-class neighborhood in upstate New York that he grew up in.

"Tim never forgets where he came from," says his sister Betty Buckenroth. "He carries Buffalo around in his bones."

And it shows. With cheeks where his jaw line should be, and the overall look of a man who never met a steak he didn't like, Russert is that rarest of creatures in national politics -- an average American inside the Beltway. Our man in Washington.

I feel more represented already. "Tim Russert is the anchor as everyman, the big talker with the street smarts, the man who hobnobs with presidents but aims his delivery at the working stiffs," wrote Howard Kurtz, with typical skepticism, in a 2004 piece in the Washington Post. Like many a celebrity profiler, Kurtz casts the most mundane act, when undertaken by a famous person, as an almost heroic manifestation of extraordinary character. Marveling at the fact that when Russert interviewed Yogi Berra, he got the Hall of Famer's autograph for his son and father, Kurtz writes that the event "makes clear that Tim Russert, media superstar, hasn't forgotten where he came from."

If an interviewer forgets to bring up Buffalo, Russert surely will. Asked by Kurtz how he avoids getting an inflated ego when he spends time interviewing presidents (a softball question designed just for Russert; try to imagine Kurtz asking the same thing of Tom Brokaw), Russert responded, "If you come from Buffalo, everything else is easy. Walking backwards to school, for a mile in the snow, grounds you for life." When Bill Moyers asked Russert whether he relied too much on the word of Bush administration officials during the run-up to the Iraq War, Russert replied, "Look, I'm a blue-collar guy from Buffalo. I know who my sources are. I work 'em very hard. It's the mid-level people that tell you the truth." Any questions about his being too close to the establishment are met with "Blue-collar! Buffalo!", brandished like a cross before the vampire of accountability. Russert may be the only journalist in America who considers all his conversations with government officials off the record unless they request otherwise -- an extraordinary gift to the powerful and an inversion of ordinary journalistic practice -- but that doesn't make him an insider. Because he's from Buffalo.

And one easy way to bring his hometown into any episode of Meet the Press is to invoke the Buffalo Bills, which Russert does again, and again, and yet again. It's his way of saying, "See, I'm just a regular guy -- I like football! And not only that, I have a favorite team, the one from my blue-collar home town!" That Russert no doubt actually prefers the Bills to other teams makes it no less of an affectation.

If nothing else, at least we're deep enough into the presidential campaign that we don't have to suffer through Russert's endless "Are you running for president? Are you? Are you?" quizzing of potential candidates. But that's what passes for being a "tough" interviewer these days: the pose of confrontation rather than genuinely challenging questions, the query designed to embarrass rather than enlighten, the worship of, rather than the challenge to, conventional wisdom.

The two parties' nominees will be decided three months from now, and we can be sure that in that time, at least one or two candidates will have their campaigns upended by the answer they gave to an absurd question, delivered by Tim Russert or someone like him, about what their favorite Bible verse is, or whom they want to win the Super Bowl, or what kind of beer they like. "Aha!" the reporters will shout, as though they actually unearthed something revealing on which the race for the presidency of the most powerful nation on earth should be decided. The one whose tiny little mind devised the question will be praised to the stars for his journalistic acumen.

And they'll continue to wonder why so many Americans are so cynical about our electoral process.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Watch Out, Madam Speaker!

Democrats and Independents alike are getting fed up.

Wasn't the reason you took impeachment off the table was so you could get on with what the people wanted. Well, we wanted impeachment, among other things, like universal health-care, money for higher education, a higher minimum wage, habeas corpus and the 4th amendment re-instated, our troops out of Iraq and no war with Iran, just to name a few.

We realize that Junior is a pain in the ass...what with his veto pen and all. Nevertheless, we want war on the Hill and in the streets of every major city. We are sick and tried of the bullshit. You had all better wake the hell up. We can have elections or revolutions. Which would you prefer?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's own party is turning on her, apparently because of a perception among California Democrats that she has not done enough to shake up the status quo in Washington, D.C., according to a Field Poll released Friday.

Congress overall is doing even worse with California voters, with an approval rating sagging to 30 percent or below for only the seventh time in the past 15 years, the poll of 1,201 registered voters found. Both Pelosi, the San Francisco Democrat who became speaker this year, and Congress as a whole have fallen short of voter expectations since taking over both houses, poll director Mark DiCamillo said.

"I think the reason for her decline and the low ratings Congress is getting is that voters here are not seeing any change," DiCamillo said.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein's approval rating of 51 percent is down 10 percentage points since March, but consistent with her average over the years. Sen. Barbara Boxer's rating also has slumped, from 54 percent in March to 44 percent. Both Boxer and Feinstein, however, still enjoy the approval of more voters than disapproval of them.

For Pelosi, it was the first time the poll showed more people disapproving than approving of her performance – 40 percent to 35 percent, with 25 percent having no opinion.

Other polls since 2003 have shown larger numbers of voters with no opinion, but Pelosi always won more approval than disapproval. As recently as March, California Democrats approved of Pelosi by a 5-to-1 ratio, DiCamillo said. Now it's less than 2-to-1. Nonpartisan voters also have soured on her.

Only 22 percent of voters approve of the job Congress is doing, the poll found, while 64 percent disapprove.

The six other times that congressional approval has dipped to 30 percent or below can be tied to specific events, such as the impeachment of President Clinton or the economic downturn of the early 1990s that hit California particularly hard, DiCamillo said.

During tough times, he said, voters saw Congress as a convenient target. "They were taking it out on anybody and everybody," he said.

Still, the Democrats now in charge of Congress fared better than Republicans, with a 34 percent approval rating compared to 20 percent for the GOP. California Republicans are more critical of their own party, the poll found, with only 29 percent approving of the performance of congressional Republicans.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pevish, Pathetic, Punk President

The Dems won't let him have his way, so not he is going to dictate law and hope someone doesn't do to him what he prescribes for dictators.

To Implement Policy, Bush to Turn to Administrative Orders

By Michael Abramowitz and Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, October 31, 2007; A03

The White House plans to try implementing as much new policy as it can by administrative order while stepping up its confrontational rhetoric with Congress after concluding that President Bush cannot do much business with the Democratic leadership, administration officials said.

According to those officials, Bush and his advisers blame Democrats for the holdup of Judge Michael B. Mukasey's nomination to be attorney general, the failure to pass any of the 12 annual spending bills, and what they see as their refusal to involve the White House in any meaningful negotiations over the stalemated children's health-care legislation.

White House aides say the only way Bush seems to be able to influence the process is by vetoing legislation or by issuing administrative orders, as he has in recent weeks on veterans' health care, air-traffic congestion, protecting endangered fish and immigration. They say they expect Bush to issue more of such orders in the next several months, even as he speaks out on the need to limit spending and resist any tax increases.

The events of recent weeks have "crystallized that the chances of these leaders meeting the administration halfway are becoming increasingly remote," said White House spokesman Tony Fratto.

Bush himself has been complaining more and more bitterly about congressional Democrats in recent weeks. In a private meeting yesterday with House Republicans in the East Room of the White House, Bush recalled how he had been able to work with Democrats when he was Texas governor and said he had hoped to find the same relationships in Washington.

"He sort of longs for those days, when both sides were genuinely interested in getting along and getting a deal," said Rep. Adam H. Putnam (R-Fla.), the chairman of the House Republican Conference, who helped organize yesterday's White House meeting, attended by about 150 Republicans.

Bwahahahahaha! When, exactly, were those days?

The president offered more criticism after the session. "Congress is not getting its work done," Bush said. "We're near the end of the year, and there really isn't much to show for it."

House Democratic leaders fired back at Bush with strong rhetoric of their own. "The president wants the same complacent, complicit Congress that was a co-conspirator in a coverup of what was going on in this country," said House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.).

Both sides have their own political calculations for digging in, with the White House and Republicans seeking to reestablish their credentials as fiscal conservatives and with Democrats concluding that they are on the right side politically on children's health care and other issues.

On some issues, the White House has become increasingly left out of the legislative process. Bush's objection to any tax increases, for instance, has pushed Republicans in the House and the Senate to pursue their own negotiations over an expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), concluding that a final bill must include a significant tobacco tax increase to offset its cost.

Even as they offer the president public support, some Republicans on the Hill are hinting that they might break with Bush if the price is right. Asked yesterday whether he could support an SCHIP bill that Bush opposes, House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) suggested that is a possibility. "He has his position. House Republicans have theirs," Boehner said.

While Bush castigated Democrats for lack of productivity, congressional Republicans have had their own reasons for moving slowly. On SCHIP, for example, they have said that both sides could reach a deal if the Democratic leadership would slow down and let negotiations proceed.

GOP Sens. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa) and Orrin G. Hatch (Utah) personally appealed to Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) for a delay yesterday. Reid agreed and asked the Senate to put off consideration of the latest version of the bill to let bipartisan talks continue. This time, Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-Miss.) objected to the move.

"That makes an interesting statement about the president's press conference this morning, that we just can't get those Democrats to do anything," said Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), one of the SCHIP negotiators.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Finally, Bush's Mental Health Questioned

Let the Republican party be held accountable for allowing a mentally unstable president and vice president to sit in the White House while the USA is pushed over a cliff.

Kucinich questions Bush's mental health

Tue Oct 30, 6:52 PM ET

Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich questioned President Bush's mental health in light of comments he made about a nuclear Iran precipitating World War III.

About time someone asked this question. We have been asking to for 3 years or more

"I seriously believe we have to start asking questions about his mental health," Kucinich, an Ohio congressman, said in an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer's editorial board on Tuesday. "There's something wrong. He does not seem to understand his words have real impact."

Kucinich, known for his liberal views, trails far behind the leading candidates in most Democratic polls. He was in Philadelphia for a debate at Drexel University.

Bush made the remarks at a news conference earlier this month.

He said: "I've told people that if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them (Iran) from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon."

Kucinich said he doesn't believe his comments about the president's mental health are irresponsible, according to a story posted on the newspaper's Web site.

"You cannot be a president of the United States who's wanton in his expression of violence," Kucinich said. "There's a lot of people who need care. He might be one of them. If there isn't something wrong with him, then there's something wrong with us. This, to me, is a very serious question."

It has been and is a very serious question for us as well.

In response, Republican National Committee spokesman Dan Ronayne said it was hard to take Kucinich seriously.

You had damned well better take it seriously, Mr. Ronayne, because millions of Americans do, as well as millions more around the world. But it isn't just Bush, Cheney is worse

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

WTF? Bizarro e-mails from Petraeus' stooge Col. To Glen Greenwald.

Have they all gone insane?

Sunday October 28, 2007 07:18 EST

A bizarre, unsolicited e-mail from Gen. Petraeus' spokesman

(Updated below - Update II - Update III - Update IV - Update V - Update VI - Update VII - Update VIII)

I received this morning an unsolicited email from Col. Steven A. Boylan, the Public Affairs Officer and personal spokesman for Gen. David G. Petraeus (see UPDATE III below). The subject line of the email -- which I am publishing in full, unedited form here -- is "The growing link between the U.S. military and right-wing media and blogs," which is the title of the post I wrote earlier this week regarding the politicization of the Army in Iraq, as evidenced by its constant coordination with, and leaking to, the likes of Matt Drudge, The Weekly Standard, and the most extremist right-wing blogs -- in the TNR/Beauchamp case and also more generally.

I had a prior e-mail exchange with Col. Boylan several months ago when I requested an interview with Gen. Petraeus after he had granted an exclusive interview to far-right partisan Hugh Hewitt (author of the 2006 prescient tract: Painting the Map Red: The Fight to Create a Permanent Republican Majority). In terms of whether the U.S. Army under Petraeus and Boylan is, in fact, becoming a political actor, I'll let multiple passages from Boylan's email to me this morning speak for itself:

The issues of accuracy, context, and proper characterization is something that perhaps you could do a little research and would assume you are aware of as a trained lawyer.

I do enjoy reading your diatribes as they provide comic relief here in Iraq. The amount of pure fiction is incredible. Since a great deal of this post is just opinion and everyone is entitled to their opinions, I will not address those even though they are shall we say -- based on few if any facts. That does surprise me with your training as a lawyer, but we will leave those jokes to another day. . . .

You are either too lazy to do the research on the topics to gain the facts, or you are providing purposeful misinformation -- much like a propagandist. . . .

Sorry to burst your bubble, but a little actual research on your part would have shown that [Cheney P.R. aide Steve Schmidt] is actually not here, but that would contradict your conspiracy theory. . . . .

I am curious as to when you think the media relations or operations changed here in Iraq. I in fact do know exactly the day and time that it changed and want to see if you are even in the same ballpark as reality. . . .

For the third matter concerning the Beauchamp investigation and the documents that were leaked -- it is very unfortunate that they were -- but the documents are not secret or classified. So, there is your third major error in fact. Good thing you are not a journalist. . . .

As for working in secret with only certain media is laughable. The wide swatch of media engagements is by far the most diverse it could be. But you might not think it that way since we chose not to do an interview with you. You are not a journalist nor do you have any journalistic ethical standards as we found out from the last time I engaged with you.

As we quickly found out, you published our email conversation without asking, without permission -- just another case in point to illustrate your lack of standards and ethics. You may recall that a 30-minute interview was conducted with the program that you claim to be a contributor. So instead of doing the interview with you, we went with the real talent, Alan Colmes. . . .

I invite you to come see for yourself and go anywhere in Iraq you want, go see what our forces are doing, go see what the other coalition forces are doing, go hang out with the reporters outside the International Zone since that is where they live and work and see for yourself what ground truth is so that you can be better informed. But that would take something you probably don't have.


Steven A. Boylan

Colonel, US Army

Public Affairs Officer

Everyone can decide for themselves if that sounds more like an apolitical, professional military officer or an overwrought right-wing blogger throwing around all sorts of angry, politically charged invective. Whatever else is true, it is rather odd that this was the sort of rhetoric Col. Boylan chose to invoke in service of his apparent goal of proving that there is nothing politicized about the U.S. military in Iraq.

As for the specifics of Col. Boylan's claims, such as they are, I'll simply note the following:

(1) Col. Boylan does not deny the central point of my post, because he cannot: namely, throughout the Beauchamp matter, the U.S. Army has copied almost exactly the standard model used by the Republican Party's political arm in trying to manage news for domestic consumption: namely, they deny access to the relevant information only they possess while selectively leaking it to the most extremist and partisan elements of the right-wing noise machine: in this case, the Drudge Report, Weekly Standard, and right-wing blogs.

As TNR's Franklin Foer wrote on Friday, the documents leaked by the Army to Drudge were the very same documents which TNR had repeatedly tried to obtain, but was denied access to them by the U.S. Army. As Foer documents, that is a continuation of a pattern that has repeated itself throughout this "controversy": namely, the Army blocks TNR from obtaining key information and then proceeds to leak it selectively to the most partisan appendages of the right-wing noise machine. That behavior, which Col. Boylan does not deny, by itself is rather compelling -- and self-evidently disturbing -- evidence of how politicized at least certain factions within the U.S. Army have become.

(2) Col. Boylan also does not deny, indeed says nothing about, the other vital piece of evidence I cited, one I believe to be even far more troubling than anything they have done in the Beauchamp case. Specifically, after months of boisterous accusations from right-wing bloggers such as Michelle Malkin and Charles Johnson that AP photojournalist Bilal Hussein's coverage of the war was sympathetic to Terrorists, the U.S. military detained the AP journalist with no charges (and, a year-and-a-half later, continues to detain him with no charges), refused to provide any information about this to the press (even including AP), but then leaked news of his detention to Michelle Malkin, who then blogged about it.

The evidence for all of this is abundant and was all linked in my original post. Those matters are far more significant and serious than any of the petty insults Col. Boylan hurled in his email, and I wish he had chosen to address those matters instead.

(3) As for Boylan's complaint that I published the prior emails we exchanged without his permission, that is nothing short of bizarre, though quite revealing. I'm not Tim Russert; therefore, I don't consider discussions with government officials presumptively confidential, to be used only if they give me permission. I honor (though try to avoid entering into) explicit agreements to keep communications off-the-record, but since Col. Boylan never requested that and I never agreed to that, it is absurd to suggest that I had some obligation to keep our communications secret.

We communicated as part of a matter of public interest about which I was writing -- namely, Gen. Petreaus' selection of blatant right-wing hacks as his interviewers. Of course I was going to write about the communications I had with his spokesman on that issue -- that was the whole point of my writing to him -- and unlike Tim Russert, I don't write about things I learn only after I first obtain the permission of government and military officials. The fact that Boylan expects journalists (or anyone else) to keep what he says a secret unless he gives permission speaks volumes about the state of our "political press."

(4) Most of Col. Boylan's claims of inaccuracy in what I wrote are grounded in his invention of "facts" that I did not assert. I never, for instance, said that Steve Schmidt (the Bush/Cheney P.R. flack and ex-Cheney "communications" aide) was currently on staff with the U.S. military in Iraq. Rather, I linked to an interview given to Hugh Hewitt by Mike Allen of The Politico, in which Allen reported that it was Schmidt who was sent to Iraq to improve the political efficacy of the U.S. military's war communications in Iraq:

HH: Why don't they put [Steve Schmidt] in charge of war message management, because the Bush White House is just not good at this.

MA: Right, and this is part of the talent drain that's occurring in this White House -

HH: Yeah.

MA: - because as you know, Steve was a very high official in the Vice President's office -

HH: Right.

MA: And he also went over to Iraq to look at the communications capabilities, and he came back with a number of recommendations about even some of the logistical things to help people get those stories out. Now I think the military's getting smarter about it, as you know. . . .

HH: Yeah.

MA: The military organized the O'Hanlon-Pollack tour, and I didn't know until I read your interview with Mike O'Hanlon that they'd had an interview with General Petraeus . . . .

HH: Right.

MA: That had not been reported before. That was very fascinating. But I think that shows you that the military's getting better at this.

The fact that the White House dispatched to Iraq a pure political hack -- the former Bush/Cheney '04 communications official -- to incorporate into the U.S. military those communications techniques is obvious evidence of the White House's deliberate effort to politicize the military's war communications.

Similarly, my reference to Gen. Bergner was linked to a report by The Washington Post's Dan Froomkin -- entitled "Bush's Baghdad Mouthpiece" -- which documents the numerous ways in which the claims of the U.S. military in Iraq have become more political ever since Bergner was dispatched by the White House to take over the military's messaging machine. While casting all sorts of aspersions about "inaccuracies," Boylan denies none of that, choosing instead to attack and deny statements I never made.

Many people, including myself, have documented in detail the palpably increased politicization of the military's war claims this year, ever since the "surge" began under Gen. Petraeus and former White House aide Gen. Bergner took over its communications arm. In this space, I have written about the incomparably propagandistic one-hour exclusive "interview" which Petraeus gave to Fox News' Brit Hume when he was in Washington to testify, as well as what Sen. Jim Webb calls (along with others) the highly coordinated "dog and pony shows" Gen. Petreaus has spent much time performing for the likes of Michael O'Hanlon. Moreover, Gen. Petraeus received a stern warning from GOP Sen. John Warner earlier this year for having made (with Joe Lieberman's prodding) blatantly political and inappropriate statements while testifying.

The leaks by someone in Col. Boylan's Army of highly sensitive documents to Matt Drudge is an extremely serious matter. The same is true for similar, prior leaks -- including ones containing apparently false information -- to The Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb, along with "exclusive interviews" given by the Army about Beauchamp to the hardest-core partisan right-wing bloggers.

I'm hardly the only one to observe that this behavior smacks of the sort of politicization that has infected all of our government agencies under this administration -- an infection that is far more disturbing and dangerous when the politicized arm in question is the U.S. military. As Think Progress reported the other day, the military had even been providing conference calls and other briefing sessions seemingly reserved exclusively for right-wing, pro-war bloggers (at least until TP's report). At Harper's, both Scott Horton and Ken Silverstein have previously detailed similar, highly inappropriate political steps taken this year by the U.S. military in Iraq.

I would think Col. Boylan would have more important matters to attend to than writing me emails about how Alan Colmes is the "real talent" and how I lack the balls to go visit him in Iraq -- beginning with finding out who has been working secretly with right-wing outlets in the Beauchamp and Bilal Hussein matters, if he does not already know. The linchpin of a republic under civilian rule -- as well as faith in the armed services by a cross-section of Americans -- is an apolitical military. Like all other branches of the government intended to be apolitical, this linchpin is eroding under this administration, and that ought to be of far greater concern to Boylan and Petraeus than hurling petty insults.

UPDATE: For obvious reasons, several commenters have questioned the authenticity of the e-mail. The email address from which it was sent is the same ( email address as Col. Boylan used to send his prior emails (not knowing if that address is public or private, I didn't include it in the full e-mail I published in order to prevent him from receiving a deluge of emails).

Additionally, all of the adornments (titles and pre-programmed signature lines and the like) and formatting are identical. Most convincingly (to me), Col. Boylan has, as I noticed during my prior email exchange with him, a -- how shall we say? -- idiosyncratic grammatical style that is quite recognizable though difficult to replicate, and the e-mail I received this morning -- from start to finish -- is written in exactly that style. I don't see any reason at all to doubt its authenticity.

UPDATE II: If you are well-versed in analyzing IP addresses, email headers and the like, please email me (

UPDATE III: The following email exchange has now ensued with Col. Boylan:

GG to Col. Boylan:

Col. Boylan - Could you just confirm that this email [email forwarded] is authentic, written by and sent from you?

Thanks -

Glenn Greenwald

Col. Boylan to GG:

Interesting email and no. Why do you ask?


GG to Col. Boylan:
Only because it comes from your email address, is written in your name, and bears all of the same distinguishing features as the last emails you sent to me:

Did you really not notice that?

Col. Boylan to GG:
Well, since they were on the web, not surprising. If you do a search on the web, you will also see that I have been a victim of identity theft of late in Vermont and at least two other places trying to rent property and that person identified themselves as me and thankfully the State Police were able to get in touch with me about it while I am sitting here in Baghdad.
GG to Col. Boylan:
Well isn't it of great concern to you that someone is able to send out emails using your military email address? Do you plan to look into that?

And you labelled the email I recieved "interesting." What does that mean? Do you agree with its content, have any comments about it?

I'll post more as I receive it. Anyone who would like to have forwarded to them a copy of the email I received originally can email me and I will send it. It contains exactly the same header information as Col. Boylan's emails to me from several months ago (Boylan, Steven COL MNF-I CMD GRP CG PAO ( and, when one hits "reply," it sends to his email address. None of that was published "on the web," at least not by me. He seems awfully indifferent about the fact that someone is impersonating him, sending email from what certainly appears to be his official military email address.

Independently, all of my points regarding the politicization of the military still stand, and I'm happy for the opportunity to have written again about this under-discussed topic. If the email I received is not, in fact, from Col. Boylan, then the parts of this post regarding him specifically (and there were very few such parts) would obviously be retracted. But the substantive points about the behavior of the U.S. Army in the Beauchamp and other matters would not be altered in the slightest.

UPDATE IV: After a crash course in tracing email headers and IP addresses and the like, the following appears to be the tracking information for the original email I received this morning from the email Col. Boylan is claiming is fake:


Received: from

( []) by (8.12.11/8.12.11) with ESMTP id l9SBFSff004148 for ;

Sun, 28 Oct 2007 04:15:36 -0700

Received: from ([]) by with Microsoft SMTPSVC(6.0.3790.3959);

Sun, 28 Oct 2007 14:15:05 +0300 Received: from ([]) by with Microsoft SMTPSVC(6.0.3790.3959);

Sun, 28 Oct 2007 14:15:05 +0300

From: "Boylan, Steven COL MNF-I CMD GRP CG PAO"

To: (

X-OriginalArrivalTime: 28 Oct 2007 11:15:05.0804 (UTC) FILETIME=[CAF430C0:01C81953]

The IP address -- -- does not appear to be recognizable from various IP locator programs. Time zones appear to be different, but the IP address on the original email I received matches the IP address used to send to me the following: (a) the emails today from Col. Boylan denying that the original email was his; (b) the emails I received back in July from Col. Boylan regarding an interview with Gen. Petraeus; and (c) the forms sent to me [at Col. Boylan's request (though not at mine)] for a Media Embed Credentials form. All three of those sets of emails came from the same IP address -- -- as the original email I received today, so clearly that is an IP address used by the U.S. military in Iraq.

Here is the tracking information from the emails sent to me from Col. Boylan today denying the authenticity of the original email, which matches the prior ones I received from him back in July:

Return-Path: (

Received: from ( []) by (8.12.11/8.12.11) with ESMTP id l9SFwT1S017514

for (; Sun, 28 Oct 2007 08:58:33 -0700

Received: from ([]) by with Microsoft SMTPSVC(6.0.3790.3959);

Sun, 28 Oct 2007 18:58:11 +0300

Received: from ([]) by with Microsoft SMTPSVC(6.0.3790.3959);

Sun, 28 Oct 2007 18:58:11 +0300 Date: Sun, 28 Oct 2007 18:58:11 +0300

The IP addresses appear to be the same. There's a whole industry of IP address theories around and I'm the last person who is going to claim any expertise in that. I have no basis for claiming or suggesting that Col. Boylan is being anything but truthful in denying that he sent this email this morning. But all appearances -- including the IP address -- had the mark of authenticity, and I posted all relevant information, including his denials, as soon as I received them.

Finally, I received this email from Col. Boylan as I was writing this:

I am interested in this issue. What I am doing about it does not concern you. Interesting is what I find it.

Whether I agree with what the email says or not is not an issue I wish to discuss with you, as I decided after our last exchange that I would not take the time or efforts to engage with you.

Is there a reason why you posted this?

I'll just note again that he seems awfully blithe about the fact that someone is sending around emails in his name. Maybe he'd be willing to discuss with someone else the fact that someone seems to be sending out emails under his name, with his e-mail address, using his IP address. And the hostile attitude he is projecting here (which wasn't actually expressed this way in the last exchange I had with him back in July) does not seem all that different from -- actually, it seems quite similar to -- the original email which began today's process.

I'll continue to post all relevant information, from Col. Boylan and otherwise, and let everyone make up their own minds.

UPDATE V: The full, unedited email headers for every email I have ever received from Col. Boylan and/or MNF-Iraq is now published here. The IP address on each email is the same.

UPDATE VI: Several commenters and emailers have questioned whether Col. Boylan ever clearly denied having written the first email. To rectify that, I sent him the following email:

Just to be clear, since a lot of people are writing to say that it isn't: you do deny that you had anything to do with the sending of that first email that I sent to you at the start of this process today?
I have not received any reply, but will post one if and when I receive it.

UPDATE VII: Peter Boothe, a PhD student in the University of Oregon Computer Science Department, specializing in Internet topology, has published an analysis of the email tracking information and "conclude[d] that these two emails [the "fake" one and the real one] were written by the same person. Or, someone has hacked into the military infrastructure in an effort to discredit this one Colonel by sending cranky emails to bloggers. But one of the two, certainly."

I have received numerous emails from people with varying degrees of IP expertise, and there are numerous comments, suggesting the same thing. Some say that the information is inconclusive, but most reach the same conclusion Boothe has reached. I have nowhere near the knowledge necessary to form an opinion on any of that and offer this solely in the interest of enabling everyone to make up their own mind.

On a different note, John Cole highlights the key point here that should not be lost. Independent of the authenticity of the first email, Col. Boylan's subsequent emails to me were snide, hostile and nonresponsive ("What I am doing about it does not concern you"). Whatever else one might think about the views I have expressed, I don't think anyone can say I was anything but professional and civil in all of my interactions with him, yet his responses today were roughly the same as the ones encountered by The New Republic: arrogant and obstructionist stonewalling (Franklin Foer noted "a months-long pattern by which the Army has leaked information and misinformation to conservative bloggers while failing to help us with simple requests for documents").

As Cole notes, that behavior stands in stark contrast to the extremely eager and cooperative conduct in which they engage when passing on information to the right-wing blogs and pundits whose political views are apparently aligned with theirs. That takes us back to the first and most important point -- the U.S. military, which has an obligation to conduct itself apolitically and professionally, appears in many cases to be doing exactly the opposite.

UPDATE VIII: More here.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.