Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bush Lies & Laughs Off Questions About Katrina

Ha Ha, Really Funny, Asshole!

Click on the pic to watch the ABC News interview

John at Americablog: Bush is still lying about Katrina

Bush tells ABC News, in an interview to be broadcast on World News Tonight, Nightline and Good Morning America, that the problem with Hurricane Katrina was that the White House didn't have enough "situational awareness" of what was happening on the ground in New Orleans:
BUSH: Listen, here's the problem that happened in Katrina. There was no situational awareness, and that means that we weren't getting good, solid information from people who were on the ground, and we need to do a better job. One reason we weren't is because communications systems got wiped out, and in many cases we were relying upon the media, who happened to have better situational awareness than the government.
That's a lie. The White House knew the levies were breaking and did nothing about it. We now know that for a fact...(more)
ABC News: Report: White House Knew About Levees
Levee Breaches Reported by 28 Agencies As Katrina Hit, Documents Show

Yep, and maybe if Bush would have cut short his vacation and come back to DC earlier he would have known that much. The storm hit, the levees broke, and the Whitehouse was notified all about it Monday before daybreak. Instead we all got to see pictures of him at McCain's birthday party in Arizona on Monday afternoon and then him pretending like he knew how to play a guitar in California on Tuesday. He went back to Crawford that Wed and didn't head back to DC until Thursday.

What upsets me most, is that goddamn smirk that's still on his face, even as he tries to answer questions about it.

If You Haven't Yet, Please Watch This Video

Please just watch it
No tinfoil hat needed.
IMHO, To not watch it is unAmerican.

I've mentioned this video before in other posts on related topics but as I just got back from watching it again and while it's still on my mind I feel it deserves it's own post. There are plenty of 9-11 conspiracy videos out there, but this is the one to watch. It's perfect for those of you who don't believe in conspiracy theories at all. Unless you refuse to believe anything Bush didn't tell you to believe, even the most critical mind will be convinced on at least several of the points this film points out.

Look, I don't pretend to know what happened on 9-11, but there are so many things that just don't add up in the official version. IMO, this video doesn't prove what happened either, nor do I buy everything in it, especially eyewitness accounts from something so traumatic, but otherwise this is a very solid documentary. It definitely points out major holes in the "official version" that need answered. You don't need a foil hat to watch it and leave dissillusioned.

I've downloaded it from here and burned it to DVD's and have been passing them out like candy. Every person who I've gotten to watch it has had their mind blown. They are spreading the word.

I've even now have gotten 4 of my Govt professors at to watch it with me, and all flipped the fuck out. I'm not kidding. This afternoon I finally got my fave prof, she's my advisor, to watch it and she actually started crying towards the end. She even got me to tear up a little with her. It's just that disturbing to find out we've been lied to about something like this. As I said before, I'm not sure what the truth really is, but we have been lied to, and this video proves that much.

tip: pause it when it shows an article referrence and google up the stories. they are all still online. It is very well sourced, and video evidence is excellent.

(Related Posts)
Prof Jones WTC 9-11 Lecture Video
Prof. Jones' Utah 9/11 Seminar - Feb.1, 2006

Why We Fight

[Update] Check out the summary posted by Waffarian in the comments. Excellent!
Now I really can't wait to see this movie.

Oh Crap!! Bruce Willis Shot in the Face!!

Click on "LINK" to view


Monday, February 27, 2006

Video: NSA Wiretapping Scandal Explained

Dave Edwards' Blog comes through with a really great video yet again.

Video: NSA Uses Private Firms for Massive Unchecked Domestic Surveillance

James Risen, who broke the NSA spying story for the New York Times, and Robert O'Harrow, Jr, the Washington Post's expert on data mining and privacy issues, are interviewed by Tim Russert.
Together, Risen and O'Harrow paint a picture of an enormous partnership between U.S. intelligence agencies and private data collection firms. Spying agencies like the NSA can leverage its' massive computing power to mine data collected by these private firms. The result is a mind-boggling domestic surveillance capability with access to nearly any information imaginable. Phone calls, email, video as well as finicial, criminal and other personal records can all be searched at the same time. The NSA's powerful computers can mine the data to find otherwise imperceptible links for profiling groups and individuals.

The picture I'm getting is this is most likely some kind of speech to text datamining program that monitors every international call or email into or out of the US (I'm not convinced at all it's limited to just int'l calls though) searching for keywords. When it triggers on a preset keyword, Risen uses the example "jihad", but it could be "bomb" or "Bush" or perhaps any common word in a language of interest such as Arabic or Farsi, or who knows what else the triggering criteria may be, it will then keep or flag a record of that call. Think about that for a minute.

At that point the computers tie together a listing or record of all of the numbers or email accounts that are connected to the original source that triggered the system and that info is probably only then poured over by a human. If it's found to be incriminating or suspicious I imagine the original phone or internet accounts, and perhaps all of the associated accounts that have called to or from the original accounts, would then be monitored more closely, also bringing into the picture whatever personal data on any all persons that can be tied to them. I'm jumping to a few conclusions based on what is infered here and what has been reported elsewhere, so I may be off a bit but watch the video and you'll most likely see I'm not too far off if at all.

My worry is this system sounds like it entails actually monitoring all calls, not just some already deemed to be suspicious in the first place, and that the system could be even used to trigger on more vague keywords that might pick up other conversations that are less likely to be terrorism related. Also, certain professions, such as academics and reporters, whose subject matter can involve terrorist groups or contacts in say Iraq for example, would be much more likely to have their conversations eavesdropped on, hence the suspicion that circulated that Christiane Amanpour may have been spied on by this system, and her husband, Jamie Rubin, was a Kerry campaign foreign policy advisor. Things that make you go hmmmm?

Just the fact that this system exists would have to have a chilling effect on the ability to carry out certain professions as sources may be much less willing to talk to them for fear of being monitored. Let's say for example, a friend or family member of a terrorist might have wanted to anonymously call a media outlet to warn of an impending attack, as has happened hundreds of times before, but now would not for fear that the conversation would lead right back to them.

Also. think of it this way. The only way the world may ever understand what drives people to terrorism and actually be able to bring an end to the war on terror someday, will surely only come from reporters and academics who are able to gain the trust of these individuals so they can accurately report what is really going on. While this system may be able to connect the dots, it also may create a greater divide between our very different worlds at the same time. There is a need for certain persons to be able to bridge the gap between these worlds or no peace will ever be realized, and this system blows up that bridge.

Also, if the program is allowed to continue without any oversight by the courts, it seems all too easy for the Executive Branch to use this system to eavesdrop on persons for purely political motives or for cases not related to terrorism at all. Certainly this system would be useful for cracking international and domestic drug cases, and perhaps certain types of white collar crime too. What other crimes could be caught by sniffing for keywords? Are we comfortable this? Is this Constitutional? In fact, it seems that the reason this program was leaked in the first place by concerned insiders seems to raise the possibility that this system may have been being misused in some way already.

Harper's: Impeach Him

suskind at DailyKos: The article by editor Lewis Lapham is "The Case For Impeachment: Why We Can No Longer Afford George W. Bush," the inside lead is "Is There A Case For Impeachment." But the front cover says it all.
For another real treat, check out suskind's post to see the cover of Harper's Magazine; May, 1974.

An excerpt from the article is headlining their website for the time being:
The Case for Impeachment
Why we can no longer afford George W. Bush
I'm heading out right now to Barnes and Noble to see if I can get a copy. While we're enjoying this, you might want to take a look at this too:

Poll: Bush Ratings At All-Time Low
(CBS) The latest CBS News poll finds President Bush's approval rating has fallen to an all-time low of 34 percent, while pessimism about the Iraq war has risen to a new high...(more)
Sweet Schadenfreude!

Speaking to Jingo-Man

You cannot press me silent
Bruiser, because I don't have
Enough flags attached to my house,
Or because I don't like your lists and eyes
On lists, or threaten fists against
Me if I won't sit still.

You cannot shove me quiet
Brother, because I don't have crosses
On my wall or because I don't read your
Book or Books of Books, or
Threaten to get your hooks on
Me if I won't agree.

You cannot strike me still
Buster, because I don't rage
Along with you to make the world
Genteel or because I don't want your goods
Or wares, or forced words on worlds,
That don't speak for me.

You cannot hit me "free"
Bully, because my eyes can see
The past and all the other eyes that came
Before mine enough to know that you
Can't have your lies for long before the
Rot stinks up the place.

-Larisa Alexandrovna © 2006

What a powerful poem indeed.
Larisa Alexandrovna is the Managing Editor at Raw Story.

As I read it, I couldn't help but imagining that she's probably felt some of whatever the heat may be that keeps the rest of our msm cow-toed, and this was her response. I must confess, I've had no small crush on Larisa ♥♥♥ for some time now, so this easily struck a chord with me.

I ran across it on
Mick Smith's blog and immediately thought of my most frequent commenter The Poetry Man. If you liked this, I recommend you visit his site Poetic Justice. I sent him a copy to his reader submissions, and then after a reread or two, I decided I really ought to do my own post on this myself.

(Smith's columns don't usually have poetry. He's the guy who broke the Downing Street memos. I like to check him out from time to time because he has news and perspective you'll never find in our press)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Video: Journalists Death Toll Surges to New High in Iraq

Video from David Edwards' Blog: Veridictum
As violence surges in Iraq, the death toll for journalists has risen to a new high. Depending on the source, between 76 and 82 journalists have been killed since the war began...

GOP's Synthetic Fuel Scam Revealed

Time takes a hard look at how this scam loophole works and how it got added to Iowa Sen Charles Grassley's bill, the Tax Relief Act, which was meant to provide aid for Hurricane Katrina victims & set new policies for tax-exempt groups. Surprise (Not), Santorum seems to be the one behind the sneak provision.

Time: A Magic Way to Make Billions
The wording is so bland and buried so deep within a 324-page budget document that almost no one would notice that a multibillion-dollar scam is going on. Not the members of Congress voting for it and certainly not the taxpayers who will get fleeced by it. And that is exactly the idea.

With Washington reeling from the Abramoff lobbying scandal and Republicans and Democrats alike pledging to crack down on influence peddling, with one lawmaker already gone from Capitol Hill because he traded favors for cash, you're probably guessing this isn't the best time for members of Congress to dispense a fortune in favors to their friends.

Guess again.

Buried in the huge budget-reconciliation bill, on which House and Senate conferees are putting the final touches right now, are a few paragraphs that accomplish an extraordinary feat. They roll back the price of a barrel of crude oil to what it sold for two years ago. They create this pretend price for the benefit of a small group of the politically well connected. You still won't be able to buy gasoline for $1.73 per gal. as you did then, instead of today's $2.28. You still won't be able to buy home heating oil for $1.60 per gal., in place of today's $2.39. But a select group of investors and companies will walk away with billions of dollars in tax subsidies, not from oil but from the marketing of a dubious concoction of synthetic fuel produced from coal and dependent on government tax credits tied to the price of oil. (...)

Last November the lobby scored a remarkable coup. Buried deep in a bill called the Tax Relief Act of 2005, passed by the Senate on Nov. 18, was Section 559, titled "Modification of Credit for Producing Fuel from a Nonconventional Source."

Section 559 begins on page 317 of the bill and is written in the obscure jargon of all special-interest tax breaks--almost impossible to decipher, so bewildering is its language. At first glance, it looks like nothing more than a technical amendment to clarify some arcane section of tax law. But one clause offers a clue. It says the synfuel credit will be based not on current oil prices--the yardstick used in the past--but on "the amount which was in effect for sales in calendar year 2004."

In 2004 oil prices were safely below the line to allow synfuel producers to claim the maximum credit. The stealth amendment would roll back the calendar. (Sort of like your missing the deadline for your mortgage payment, then backdating your check to avoid a late charge. But much more lucrative.) The backdating clause was in a larger bill introduced in the Senate by Charles Grassley, the Iowa Republican who heads the Senate Finance Committee. It was inserted in the Tax Relief Act, which provides aid for Hurricane Katrina victims and sets new policies for tax-exempt groups. With so many higher profile issues at stake, the clause on synfuels sailed right through with no discussion. Many lawmakers, if not most, don't even know it's there.

When asked about the provision's origins, Senate Finance Committee aides at first said they did not know, only that it did not "originate" with Grassley. One aide noted that the Senator "ultimately is responsible for everything in [the bill], but routinely with such bills, other committee members propose certain ideas, and he accepts them or rejects them as he sees fit."

Asked again by TIME to identify the author, the Senate Finance aide later wrote in an e-mail, "the provision originated as an amendment from Sen. [Rick] Santorum*
[a Pennsylvania Republican]. Sen. [Gordon] Smith [an Oregon Republican] had a similar amendment co-sponsored by several other Senators, Republicans and Democrats. Chairman Grassley accepted the Santorum amendment ... It's routine for him to accept non-controversial provisions that way rather than have the committee vote on each amendment ... So now the Santorum amendment is in the bill." When contacted by TIME, Santorum's staff had no comment...(more) (*emphasis mine)

Watch Votergate

LA Times: Integrity of E-Balloting System Still in Doubt
...[T]here's no excuse for exposing the integrity of our election system to computer hackers. Yet that's what California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson may have done last week by approving electronic voting machines from Diebold Election Systems for use in California elections through the end of this year. (...)

As the last two presidential elections demonstrate, ballot results are of profound interest to everybody — including determined hackers with partisan agendas. Therefore, it's proper to demand of the high-tech machines replacing the paper ballots and punch cards of yore that they be technologically bulletproof. The Diebold systems certified by McPherson — an optical scanner that reads hand-marked ballots and a touch screen that totes up votes directly — fall well short of that standard.

How do we know this? It's the conclusion of a panel of computer security experts McPherson commissioned specifically to study Diebold's software. Three days after they issued their report Feb. 14, McPherson gave Diebold thumbs up, noting that the panel regarded the software problems it found as "manageable" and had said the risks could be "mitigated" if election officials took care.

But the experts were plainly troubled by flaws in Diebold's systems. The panel, which included David Jefferson of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and David Wagner of Berkeley, observed that the removable memory cards used by Diebold were vulnerable to undetectable acts of tampering.

The panel found 16 software bugs that could cede "complete control" of the system to hackers who might then "change vote totals, modify reports, change the names of candidates, change the races being voted on," and even crash the machines, bringing an election to a halt. Hackers wouldn't need to know passwords or cryptographic keys, or have access to any other part of the system, to do their dirty work. Voters, candidates and election monitors wouldn't necessarily know they'd been rooked.

The bugs lead some computer professionals to believe that Diebold's software designers never treated security as a high priority. "It's like they were making a mechanical device, and never heard of computer security," says David Dill, an expert in electronic voting at Stanford University who wasn't on the panel.

The bugs pale next to another discovery by the panel. This is the presence of a cryptographic key written into the source code, or basic software, of every Diebold touch-screen machine in the country. The researchers called this blunder tantamount to "a bank using the same PIN code for every ATM card they issued; if this PIN code ever became known, the exposure could be tremendous."

Here's the punch line: The Diebold key became known in 2003, when it was published by researchers at Johns Hopkins and Rice universities. It can be found today via a Google search. What's worse, the key was first identified in 1997 by a University of Iowa researcher, who promptly warned the manufacturer of the flaw, apparently to no avail.

Diebold contended in 2003 that the Hopkins-Rice researchers had examined "an older version" of its code, suggesting that the flaw had been removed. But that doesn't explain why the same defect was found this year by the Berkeley panel, which wrote that it was hard-pressed "to imagine any justification" for continuing to use a cryptographic key that had been publicly compromised

(related posts)
AP: Group Claims 2004 Election Was Flawed
PA News Takes a Look At Voting Machines
Wash Post: Election Hackers ♥ Diebold
More Evidence of a Stolen Election
Evidence of Ohio 2004 Vote Miscount
Again, Al Gore Won in 2000
Ohio Rep. Bob Ney, Abramoff, and Election Fraud
Counting on Diebold
NYT: The Business of Voting
Fla Ch2 News Video: Voting Machines Hacked?
Powerful Government Accountability Office report confirms key 2004 stolen election findings
Did you know? 20 Amazing Facts About Voting in the USA

Bush Bike Crash Details Revealed

Bush Crashed by Trying to 'Pedal, Wave and Speak at Same Time'

He may be the most powerful man in the world, but proof has emerged that President George Bush cannot ride a bike, wave and speak at the same time.


NSA Pursuing More Ways To Spy On You & I

NYT: A small group of National Security Agency officials slipped into Silicon Valley on one of the agency's periodic technology shopping expeditions this month.

On the wish list, according to several venture capitalists who met with the officials, were an array of technologies that underlie the fierce debate over the Bush administration's anti-terrorist eavesdropping program: computerized systems that reveal connections between seemingly innocuous and unrelated pieces of information.

The tools they were looking for are new, but their application would fall under the well-established practice of data mining: using mathematical and statistical techniques to scan for hidden relationships in streams of digital data or large databases.

Supercomputer companies looking for commercial markets have used the practice for decades. Now intelligence agencies, hardly newcomers to data mining, are using new technologies to take the practice to another level. (...)

Much of the recent work on data mining has been aimed at even more sophisticated applications. The National Security Agency has invested billions in computerized tools for monitoring phone calls around the world — not only logging them, but also determining content — and more recently in trying to design digital vacuum cleaners to sweep up information from the Internet.

Last September, the N.S.A. was granted a patent for a technique that could be used to determine the physical location of an Internet address — another potential category of data to be mined. The technique, which exploits the tiny time delays in the transmission of Internet data, suggests the agency's interest in sophisticated surveillance tasks like trying to determine where a message sent from an Internet address in a cybercafe might have originated.

An earlier N.S.A. patent, in 1999, focused on a software solution for generating a list of topics from computer-generated text. Such a capacity hints at the ability to extract the content of telephone conversations automatically. That might permit the agency to mine millions of phone conversations and then select a handful for human inspection.

As the N.S.A. visit to the Silicon Valley venture capitalists this month indicates, the actual development of such technologies often comes from private companies.

In 2003, Virage, a Silicon Valley company, began supplying a voice transcription product that recognized and logged the text of television programming for government and commercial customers. Under perfect conditions, the system could be 95 percent accurate in capturing spoken text. Such technology has potential applications in monitoring phone conversations as well

It's Time to Bring in the Feds

Time: The Justice Department has a message for Congress: clean up your house or else we may have to do it for you. A senior federal law enforcement official told TIME that the paralyzed and often lax House ethics committee has created a vacuum that prosecutors won't hesitate to fill. The House’s internal mechanism for keeping corruption in check is “broken,” says the official.

By contrast, current criminal probes of lawmakers are expanding rapidly. Like the Abramoff probe, the investigation into former Republican Representative Randy “Duke” Cunningham from San Diego is also widening. Last week, defense contractor Mitchell Wade OF MZM, INC. pleaded guilty to supplying more than $1 million of the $2.4 million in bribes Cunningham previously admitted taking in a scheme that touches Defense Department officials and two other members of Congress. A Defense Department spokesman tells TIME that "there is an ongoing review by appropriate organizations within the Department" as to whether the Cunningham- and MZM-linked intelligence contracts would have compromised any Pentagon intelligence programs. (...)

Staff of the ethics committee—which is only beginning to get up and running after a partisan deadlock that's lasted for 13 months—did not return phone calls Friday for comment. Jan Baran, an attorney who has often represented elected officials caught in ethics cases, said Justice may be “saber rattling” since the ethics panels cover congressional rules and not criminal offenses, which are Justice's province alone. But if Justice is really just trying to warn Congress to crack down on sleazy conduct, “I think they're correct.… Not only the Department of Justice, but I think the public is telling Congress: if you're going to have some rules make sure people obey them.”

Saturday, February 25, 2006

White House 'Discovers’ 250 Emails Related to Plame Leak

Libby's legal team has been trying like hell to derail this investigation, but at every step Fitzgerald keeps coming out on top. Libby's team keeps trying to subpoena information relevent to the leaking, but he hasn't been charged with leaking. He's been charged with lying, and Fitz has his balls nailed to the wall on that point.

This latest news definitely is not making Libby's life any better, and seems likely to now put considerable heat on his old boss. I wonder if the Whitehouse hasn't just decided to unload Cheney after the shooting scandal and everything else.

The White House turned over last week 250 pages of emails from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office. Senior aides had sent the emails in the spring of 2003 related to the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald revealed during a federal court hearing Friday.

The emails are said to be explosive, and may prove that Cheney played an active role in the effort to discredit Plame Wilson’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a vocal critic of the Bush administration’s prewar Iraq intelligence, sources close to the investigation said.

Sources close to the probe said the White House “discovered” the emails two weeks ago and turned them over to Fitzgerald last week. The sources added that the emails could prove that Cheney lied to FBI investigators when he was interviewed about the leak in early 2004. Cheney said that he was unaware of any effort to discredit Wilson or unmask his wife’s undercover status to reporters.

Jon Stewart - 'Your Tax Dollars at War'

Jon Stewart telling it like it is as always.

Just wanted to give a proper shout out to David Edwards' blog: Veredictum. I've appreciated David's video clips for a while now on C&L and BradBlog, so I'm happy to see he has his own site. This one's definitely worth bookmarking.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Group Claims 2004 Election Was Flawed

AP: An examination of Palm Beach County's electronic voting machine records from the 2004 election found possible tampering and tens of thousands of malfunctions and errors, a watchdog group said Thursday.

Bev Harris, founder of BlackBoxVoting.org, said the findings call into question the outcome of the presidential race. But county officials and the maker of the electronic voting machines strongly disputed that and took issue with the findings.

Voting problems would have had to have been widespread across the state to make a difference. President Bush won Florida -- and its 27 electoral votes -- by 381,000 votes in 2004. Overall, he defeated John Kerry by 286 to 252 electoral votes, with 270 needed for victory.

BlackBoxVoting.org, which describes itself as a nonpartisan, nonprofit citizens group, said it found 70,000 instances in Palm Beach County of cards getting stuck in the paperless ATM-like machines and that the computers logged about 100,000 errors, including memory failures. (...)

Palm Beach County election officials said the BlackBoxVoting.com findings are flawed, and they blamed most of the errors on voters not following proper procedures.

"Their results are noteworthy for consideration, but in a majority of instances they can be explained," said Arthur Anderson, the county's elections supervisor. "All of these circumstances are valid reasons for concern, but they do not on face value substantiate that the machines are not reliable."

Sequoia spokeswoman Michelle Shafer disputed the findings, saying the company's machines worked properly. Sequoia's machines are used in five Florida counties and in 21 states.

"There was a fine election in November 2004," Shafer said
While the AP story is noteworthy in itself, the attempts to downplay Bev Harris' findings are disturbing. When will the press realize there isn't always 2 truthful sides to every issue? Giving partisan liars a chance to have a say without questioning them is not journalism, it's partisan hackery.

Let's take a look at what problems Bev Harris actually uncovered and you decide whether the AP reported it fairly or not.

Palm Beach 2004 Votes Time-Stamped Middle of the Night, Date-stamped 2 Weeks Early

The internal logs of at least 40 Sequoia touch-screen voting machines reveal that votes were time and date-stamped as cast two weeks before the election, sometimes in the middle of the night.

Black Box Voting successfully sued former Palm Beach County (FL) Supervisor of Elections Theresa LePore to get the audit records for the 2004 presidential election.

After investing over $7,000 and waiting nine months for the records, Black Box Voting has discovered that the voting machine logs contain approximately 100,000 errors. Out of 4,313 voting machines, the logs show 1,475 voting system calibrations while the polls were open, providing documentation to substantiate reports of vote-flipping by citizens who were told this was due to "calibration problems."

Another disturbing find was several dozen voting machines with votes for the Nov. 2, 2004 election cast on dates like Oct. 16, 15, 19, 13, 25, 28 2004 and one tape dated in 2010. These machines did not contain any votes date-stamped on Nov. 2, 2004.

You can find the complete set of
raw voting machine event logs for Palm Beach County here: Note that some items were not provided and are ommitted from the logs.

The logs rule out the possibility that these were Logic & Accuracy (L&A) test results, and verified that these results did appear in the final totals. In addition to the date discrepancies, most had incorrect polling times, with votes appearing throughout the wee hours of the night. These machines were L&A tested, and the L&A test activities appeared in the logs with the correct date and time

I suppose it's nice to see this get some nationwide attention, but after reading Bev's take, I don't think the AP gave the issue a fair shake at all. It sounds like 2 completely different stories altogether.

There have now been so many documented instances of built in flaws and vulnerabilities, and instances of ethical problems associated with electronic voting machine companies, that it should be front page news every day until the problems are properly dealt with. Instead, these stories get mediocre local media attention if any at all, and the voting machine industry takes full advantage of it. For example, check this from Bev's BBV.org. Do you think a fair and honest press would let something like this go under their radar?
As California goes, so goes the nation. While a $4 billion company and the California secretary of state flaunt the law, an honest citizen is charged with a felony and may face jail time. His crime? Releasing documents describing Diebold's criminal acts.

We will release a full story on the courageous Steve Heller shortly. You could not ask for a more pure and honest whistleblower. This is a man who saw something that he knew was wrong, and made sure it got to authorities. Soon after his documents got to the California secretary of state and to the California attorney general, then-sec. state Kevin Shelley decertified Diebold and recommended criminal prosecution of Diebold.


The only one who was prosecuted is a quiet honest citizen who made sure the documents reached authorities. It is now two years later. The Los Angeles County District Attorney has waited until the attention was off the election to quietly prosecute Steve Heller.

Steve Heller is charged with felonies for (a) looking at a computer screen [no kidding, that's the charge] and (b) making a copy, and (c) having said copy delivered to the authorities, the new Calif. secretary of state is engaging in a frightening pattern of ignoring the law.

This situation, as well as the situation that follows, has implications for all of America. If these behaviors -- and retaliatory consequences -- are allowed to stand, our nation will, sooner or later, be torn apart at the seams

Or how about California's Secretary of State Bruce McPherson recent attempt to illegally recertify Diebold voting machines?

CA State Senator Says Diebold Re-Certification in Violation of State Law!

California State Senator Debra Bowen, chairwoman of the State Elections, Reapproprionment & Constitutional Amendments Committee has just released a statement of condemnation for Sec. of State Bruce McPherson's recent re-certification of Diebold voting machines in the state...(more)

Thank goodness BBV.org and Bradblog stay on top of this. What other national news is really more important than voting machine companies with partisan ties and proven history of bribing elections officials and producing systems that have known vulnerabilities that can manipulate our elections? Little local news stories and blogs just aint cutting it. This should be front page WaPo, NYT and lead story CNN & MSNBC material.

(related posts)
PA News Takes a Look At Voting Machines
Election Hackers ♥ Diebold
More Evidence of a Stolen Election
Evidence of Ohio 2004 Vote Miscount
Again, Al Gore Won in 2000
Ohio Rep. Bob Ney, Abramoff, and Election Fraud
Counting on Diebold
NYT: The Business of Voting
Video: Voting Machines Hacked?
Powerful Government Accountability Office report confirms key 2004 stolen election findings
Did you know? 20 Amazing Facts About Voting in the USA

Total Information Awareness Lives On

The NSA wiretapping was just the tip of the iceburg.
National Journal: A controversial counter-terrorism program, which lawmakers halted more than two years ago amid outcries from privacy advocates, was stopped in name only and has quietly continued within the intelligence agency now fending off charges that it has violated the privacy of U.S. citizens.

Research under the Defense Department's Total Information Awareness program -- which developed technologies to predict terrorist attacks by mining government databases and the personal records of people in the United States -- was moved from the Pentagon's research-and-development agency to another group, which builds technologies primarily for the National Security Agency, according to documents obtained by National Journal and to intelligence sources familiar with the move. The names of key projects were changed, apparently to conceal their identities, but their funding remained intact, often under the same contracts.

It is no secret that some parts of TIA lived on behind the veil of the classified intelligence budget. However, the projects that moved, their new code names, and the agencies that took them over haven't previously been disclosed. Sources aware of the transfers declined to speak on the record for this story because, they said, the identities of the specific programs are classified. (...)

The NSA is now at the center of a political firestorm over President Bush's program to eavesdrop on the phone calls and e-mails of people in the United States who the agency believes are connected to terrorists abroad. While the documents on the TIA programs don't show that their tools are used in the domestic eavesdropping, and knowledgeable sources wouldn't discuss the matter, the TIA programs were designed specifically to develop the kind of "early-warning system" that the president said the NSA is running.
Here's a great site that has been keeping up with TIA all along.

Epic Privacy Information Center
Total "Terrorism" Information Awareness (TIA)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Who Are The Detainment Camps For?

As I posted about before, Haliburton has recently been awarded a contract to build Gitmos across America. Before reading the article below, let me also remind everyone that our military has made clear that it actually considers bloggers to be a threat.

[Update] Check out this video, of what looks to be one of the detention camps. Scary.

With that in mind, check out this article by Nat Perry on who these detention centers may actually be for.

Bush's Mysterious 'New Programs'

Not that George W. Bush needs much encouragement, but Sen. Lindsey Graham suggested to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales a new target for the administration's domestic operations -- Fifth Columnists, supposedly disloyal Americans who sympathize and collaborate with the enemy.

"The administration has not only the right, but the duty, in my opinion, to pursue Fifth Column movements," Graham, R-S.C., told Gonzales during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Feb. 6.

"I stand by this president's ability, inherent to being commander in chief, to find out about Fifth Column movements, and I don't think you need a warrant to do that," Graham added, volunteering to work with the administration to draft guidelines for how best to neutralize this alleged threat.

"Senator," a smiling Gonzales responded, "the president already said we'd be happy to listen to your ideas.".

In less paranoid times, Graham's comments might be viewed by many Americans as a Republican trying to have it both ways -- ingratiating himself to an administration of his own party while seeking some credit from Washington centrists for suggesting Congress should have at least a tiny say in how Bush runs the War on Terror.

But recent developments suggest that the Bush administration may already be contemplating what to do with Americans who are deemed insufficiently loyal or who disseminate information that may be considered helpful to the enemy. Top U.S. officials have cited the need to challenge news that undercuts Bush's actions as a key front in defeating the terrorists, who are aided by "news informers," in the words of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Detention centers

Plus, there was that curious development in January when the Army Corps of Engineers awarded Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root a $385 million contract to construct detention centers somewhere in the United States, to deal with "an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs," KBR said.
Later, the New York Times reported that "KBR would build the centers for the Homeland Security Department for an unexpected influx of immigrants, to house people in the event of a natural disaster or for new programs that require additional detention space." (...)

Peter Dale Scott... speculated that the "detention centers could be used to detain American citizens if the Bush administration were to declare martial law." He recalled that during the Reagan administration, National Security Council aide Oliver North organized Rex-84 "readiness exercise," which contemplated the Federal Emergency Management Agency rounding up and detaining 400,000 "refugees," in the event of "uncontrolled population movements" over the Mexican border into the United States. (...)

Pentagon surveillance

Despite the Posse Comitatus Act's prohibitions against U.S. military personnel engaging in domestic law enforcement, the Pentagon has expanded its operations beyond previous boundaries, such as its role in domestic surveillance activities.
The Washington Post has reported that since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, the Defense Department has been creating new agencies that gather and analyze intelligence within the United States.

The White House also is moving to expand the power of the Pentagon's Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), created three years ago to consolidate counterintelligence operations. The White House proposal would transform CIFA into an office that has authority to investigate crimes such as treason, terrorist sabotage or economic espionage. (...)

In a 2001 Defense Department memo that surfaced in January 2005, the U.S. Army's top intelligence officer wrote, "Contrary to popular belief, there is no absolute ban on [military] intelligence components collecting U.S. person information."

Drawing a distinction between "collecting" information and "receiving" information on U.S. citizens, the memo argued that "MI [military intelligence] may receive information from anyone, anytime."

This receipt of information presumably would include data from the National Security Agency, which has been engaging in surveillance of U.S. citizens without court-approved warrants in apparent violation of the Foreign Intelligence Security Act. Bush approved the program of warrantless wiretaps shortly after 9/11.

There also may be an even more extensive surveillance program. Former NSA employee Russell D. Tice told a congressional committee on Feb. 14 that such a top-secret surveillance program existed, but he said he couldn't discuss the details without breaking classification laws.

Tice added that the "special access" surveillance program may be violating the constitutional rights of millions of Americans. With this expanded surveillance, the government's list of terrorist suspects is rapidly swelling.

The Washington Post reported on Feb. 15 that the National Counterterrorism Center's central repository now holds the names of 325,000 terrorist suspects, a fourfold increase since the fall of 2003. Asked whether the names in the repository were collected through the NSA's domestic surveillance program, an NCTC official told the Post, "Our database includes names of known and suspected international terrorists provided by all intelligence community organizations, including NSA."

Homeland defense (...)

A Defense Department document, entitled the "Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support," has set out a military strategy against terrorism that envisions an "active, layered defense" both inside and outside U.S. territory. In the document, the Pentagon pledges to "transform U.S. military forces to execute homeland defense missions in the … U.S. homeland."

The Pentagon strategy paper calls for increased military reconnaissance and surveillance to "defeat potential challengers before they threaten the United States." The plan "maximizes threat awareness and seizes the initiative from those who would harm us."

But there are concerns over how the Pentagon judges "threats" and who falls under the category "those who would harm us." A Pentagon official said the Counterintelligence Field Activity's TALON program has amassed files on antiwar protesters.

In December 2005, NBC News revealed the existence of a secret 400-page Pentagon document listing 1,500 "suspicious incidents" over a 10-month period, including dozens of small antiwar demonstrations that were classified as a "threat."
...(lots lots more)

This is all so fucked up I don't even know where to begin. I have no doubt anymore that immediately following the next terrorist attack, or even following another domestic crisis caused by something like oil going over $200 a barrel after we start bombing Iran, our military will move to shut down blogs such as mine and may even try to throw thousands of us into detention centers in order to stymie efforts to organize any form of protest.

There seems to be every indication that this is what will occur. By tightly controlling the dissemination of information, and limited detainments, our government is planning to impose martial law in a form the public won't be able to recognize as such. I'm very saddened that even those of us like myself who love this country more than anything could wind up being targeted by this government for merely exercising our right of free speech and support for peaceful protest.

Any NSA/DIA, or what ever agency, personnel who would take part in the planning or execution of these activities is a traitor to this country, and a disgrace to all that the United States of America is supposed to represent.

It clearly is the duty of every one of us as citizens of the US to not allow such despicable plans to be drawn up in secrecy in the first place. Duty to country should compel each and every one of these persons to make sure the public is made aware of any/all violations or planned violations of our Constitution by traitorous policymakers who evidently could give a rat's ass about the rule of law or democracy.

The only thing we have to fear are politicians, policy makers, and generals who would usurp our basic freedoms by using and abusing fear itself, and the weak-minded sycophant-neoslave bootlickers who would help them get away with it.


Bush: Don't Worry About Security. We're Not


NY ABC News: President Bush: "And so people don't need to worry about security. ... This deal wouldn't go forward if we were concerned about security for the United States of America."
OK, I suppose we should just chalk that up as yet another Bushism where he didn't mean what he said. We're just supposed to be able to tell what he meant to say. I have a problem with this one more than most of the gazillion others because what he said is very troubling.

At first I was inclined to believe the opposition to the port deal was premature and perhaps overblown, but as we learn more about it, I'm growing more and more against it. Just look at this story from 2004. The UAE Royal family is known by our CIA to have been hanging around with bin Laden. This alone ought to kill the deal IMO.

UAE Royals, bin Laden's Saviours

The Central Intelligence Agency did not target Al Qaeda chief Osama bin laden once as he had the royal family of the United Arab Emirates with him in Afghanistan, the agency's director, George Tenet, told the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the United States on Thursday.

Had the CIA targeted bin Laden, half the royal family would have been wiped out as well, he said.
As if that wasn't enough, and I venture that it is, there's a whole lot more. Bush has admitted that he didn't even know about the deal until after it was approved by the Whitehouse, but he still threatened to veto any efforts to stop it. If he were to do so, that would be the first veto of his Presidency. It seems that Bush failed to follow the law in even making the deal in the first place.

Video from David Edwards' Blog: Bush Admin. Broke Law on Dubai Deal
Patrick Malloy is an attorney who help write the law that regulates the approval of foreign investments in the United States. He says that the law requires that the President be notified on all foreign investments that pose a national security concern. The law also says that the President must report his findings to Congress where the issue could be debated.
The United Arab Emirates has long-standing ties to the Bush family.

Records show the UAE and one of its sheikhs contributed at least $1 million before 1995 to the Bush Library Foundation, which established the George Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas. (more)
Video from David Edwards' Blog:
Big Money Ties Between Bush Friends & Family, K-Street Lobbyists and Dubai
This video contains clips from CNN Lou Dobbs Tonight and MSNBC Countdown that focus on the financial concerns that are motivating President Bush to stand firm on the Dubai Ports takeover in the face of extreme public dissent, political pressure and possible national security concerns.
Well, this thing really has blown up in Bush's face. You know it's ban when Rove is on Faux explaining how Bush would accept a slight delay in the deal.
When asked if Bush would accept a slight delay in implementing the takeover of P&O, Rove said: "Yes, look, there are some hurdles, regulatory hurdles, that this still needs to go through on the British side as well that are going to be concluded next week.
Rove backtracking on TV for the President? Stick a fork in it already.

Santorum in Hot Water

Click on pic to watch the ad public service announcement from the DCCC

Ricky's not doing so well lately. He keeps falling further behind Robert P. Casey Jr. in the polls, and he has no one but himself to blame.

Santorum has tried lately to distance himself from the K street lobbying scandal, but that's just rediculous on the face of it.

Now he's got the good folks over at CREW, the Committee for Responsible Ethics in Washington, on his back over the mortgage on his home. On Wed the leading watchdog group filed a formal complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee - charging that the loan from a private bank was an illegal gift because Santorum did not meet its stated guidelines.
The complaint by the Committee for Responsible Ethics in Washington, or CREW, alleges that the mortgage from Philadelphia Trust Co. is a gift in violation of Senate Rule 35, which says that senators can receive loans or other banking services only on terms "generally available to the public."

Melanie Sloan, CREW's executive director, said in a statement that "Santorum's decision to accept a loan not available to other people in his financial position demonstrates his contempt for the rules. This is particularly ironic given that Sen. Santorum has long attempted to position himself as the poster child for public morality."

The details of Ricky's special loan deal first came to light earlier this week via Will Bunch's blog and his article in American Prospect. I especially like the blog entry:

How Santorum paid for his Va. house...and his Starbucks coffee

The folks at CREW have a proven track record as the public's guard dog for ethics in DC, and I'm glad to see them sinking their teeth into Ricky's behind. They're really good at it. You might want to consider tossing them a bone (or two) if you can afford it. I'd say Ricky's been begging for a little dog on man action to satisfy that canine fetish of his for a long time now.


(Related Posts)
Santorum Asks Us To Not Put On a Uniform
See What Santorum's Got Cooking
Harry Reid on " The Culture of Corruption"
GOPotemkin Reform
GOP Hopes Ney Removal Will Aid Reform
Great New Delay Ad Public Service Announcement!
Republican: (adj) dishonest, criminal, corrupt, fraudulent...

PA News Takes a Look At Voting Machines

WTAE Ch8 News in PA did a background check on voting machine companies and found bribes, kickbacks and false statements.
The new electronic machines rely on software. So voters need to trust the companies that write that software. The state examines the machines, but what about the companies that build them? (...)

Let's begin with ES&S, the company that's making voting machines for Cumberland and Lebanon counties. In 2002, a senior ES&S official received immunity from prosecution for cooperating in a kickback and bribery investigation involving the Arkansas Secretary of State, who was convicted. That executive still works for ES&S as an independent contractor.

The company also settled with an Indiana County for just over $1 million on software and service issues.

At Sequoia Voting Systems, an executive was also granted immunity in a kickback investigation, this time in Louisiana. The top Louisiana elections official went to prison for funneling millions in state money back to himself and others. (...)

Another manufacturer, Danaher Controls, has also run into problems in other states. Connecticut officials stopped a deal with Danaher last month. The secretary of the state said Danaher misled officials over its federal certification.

The company Accupoll backed out of a deal with Lebanon County. Reports state that Accupoll is facing an SEC investigation and that it plans to file for bankruptcy.

And finally, Diebold, a company best known for its ATMs, is becoming known for controversy over its voting machines. Diebold settled with the state of California for $2.6 million in 2004 over false claims.

One might think a company producing voting machines would keep its politics private, but in 2003, in a Republican fundraising letter then Diebold CEO Walden O'Dell said he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."

Along with those issues, technical problems have been reported after elections in a number of states
Hat tip again to Bradblog, who is relentless in covering the voting machine scandals.

Also, Bradblog points out that the new Diebold voting machines are equipped with infrared data transfer ports on them. WTF?!? FYI, that little window that recieves your remote control commands on your TV is an IR port. There is simply no ethical reason why a voting machine would include a port for wireless communication with another device. Especially not from Diebold, whose hackability of its machines to manipulate vote totals has been proven repeatedly.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Iraqis Not Upset About Holy Shrine Bombing

No big deal, really. It was old anyway.
This news has been brought to you by Lincoln Group.

AP: Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday that the Pentagon is reviewing its practice of paying to plant stories in the Iraqi news media, withdrawing his earlier claim that it had been stopped.

Meanwhile, in the real world.
Reuters: Pakistani Shi'ite Muslim clerics protest in Karachi against an attack on the Golden Mosque in Iraq February 22, 2006.
Mosque Attack Pushes Iraq Toward Civil War
ABC News: Bombing of One of Iraq's Holiest Shiite Mosques Triggers More Than 90 Reprisal Attacks

Cheney Shooting Simulation

Click on the pic to watch the video

While it's only fair to point out that Jones is biased towards finding fault, I would have to say the Corpus Cristi Caller-Times video simulation was probably biased more the other way. This simulation certainly addresses many more aspects of the shooting than the Caller-Times simulation did. Jones shows how far away he is from the target, and addresses the penetration depth and spread at different distances, things the newspaper's simulation sure didn't.

After having watched both, I'd say I lean more towards Jones' explanation. Something I found interesting that was not brought up in the video was the large bruise on Whittington's jaw that seems would have likely been caused by the wad which made the larger hole in the cardboard targets at the shorter distances of 30 feet or less in the demonstration. Surely no one would be expected to be very accurate in judging a distance under these circumstances but there is a world of distance between 30 yards and somewhere less than 30 feet. I believe there is ample reason to demand that an even more thorough followup is in order.

Something else that just doesn't add up is this. According to the official incident report Cheney said "There was a single bird that flew behind him and he followed the bird by line of sight in a counter clockwise direction not realizing Harry Whittington had walked up from behind and had positioned himself approximately 30 yards to the west of him." Well I have a few problems with that account.

In the Feb 27 Newsweek article The Shot Heard Round the World there is a graphic accompanying with the print article called In the Line of Fire that tries to show what happened. Well, as I couldn't find the graphic online, I took a picture of the part I want to point out and posted it here.

I hope you can make it out. It shows Whittington after walking up positioned to Cheney's right, and Cheney spinning 270 degrees counter-clockwise before shooting. If that's the case, Cheney tracked the bird in a circle past Willeford all the way around to fire at Whittington. Is this not reckless as hell or what? Shouldn't a shooting under these circumstances be some sort of criminal negligence? Reckless endangerment?

Also, how did Whittington manage to get hit on the right side of his face if he was to Cheney's right? If he had just walked up on Cheney's right, it seems he would have been hit on his left side, or if he had turned and was facing Dick, which is what the picture shows btw, why were there no injuries to his left side? If Whittington was to Cheney's right, he must have been turned around facing more towards the direction he just came from at the time of the shooting.

The official report states "that Mr. Whittington was standing on ground that was lower than the one [Cheney] was standing on." The report also gives the exact gps coordinates for the location it calls Comal Pasture. The fact that Newsweek's representation draws heavily on this report, its positioning of Whittington to Cheney's right in what it describes as a "dried pond bed" lends some credibility that this is an accurate depiction of where and how they claim the shooting occurred.

Am I the only one who finds this version of events unlikely? To believe this story, one would have to throw occam's razor out the window on a whole variety of points. Investigators are never supposed to do that.

I know this is old news already, and the media is ready to move on, but everything about the shooting just stinks. Why should the VP get a free pass that no one else would in similar circumstances? Of course he shouldn't.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Bush is a Threat to Our National Security

Bush Says Deal With Arab Company to Run U.S. Ports Should Proceed, Vows to Veto Efforts Otherwise

AP:— President Bush said Tuesday that a deal allowing an Arab company to take over six major U.S. seaports should go forward and that he would veto any congressional effort to stop it. (...)

Collins, R-Maine, and Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., a ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, said they are going to introduce a "joint resolution of disapproval" when they return to Washington next week.

Other lawmakers, including Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said they would offer emergency legislation next week to block the deal ahead of a planned March 2 takeover.

Both governors indicated they may try to cancel lease arrangements at ports in their states because of the DP World takeover.
I don't know what Bushco is thinking on this one. Whether or not the security criticisms are justified, it's just politically a stupid move. The same people he so carefully deluded into not knowing the difference between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden are just on the face of it not going to go for this.

Joe at Americablog pointed out this USA Today article from just 18 months ago:

Osama bin Laden's operatives still use this freewheeling city as a logistical hub three years after more than half the Sept. 11 hijackers flew directly from Dubai to the United States in the final preparatory stages for the attack.

The recent arrest of an alleged top al-Qaeda combat coach is the latest sign that suspected members of the terrorist organization are among those who take advantage of travel rules that allow easy entry. Citizens of neighboring Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia can come to Dubai without visas, which other nationalities can get at the country's ports of entry.
OK, I've been down this road several times before but the list just keeps getting longer. I must ask once again: What has Bush ever done to increase our national security?
What? Can you name one thing?

Bush created the bureaucratic nightmare in the DHS which was made painfully obvious by Katrina that it is not an improvement in anything. The Republican Katrina commission just blasted Chertoff, placing the bulk of the blame squarely on DHS. What a complete waste of money the DHS has been.

Bush got a cummulative 'D-' from the 9-11 commission for what steps he has taken to thwart the terrorist threat, based on their reccommendations.

Bush forced upon the world a war based on lies in Iraq that our own CIA now says is the largest ever training ground for terrorists that has fueled an increase in terrorist recruitment worldwide. Now the Pentagon admits our troops are stretched to their breaking point because of it.

Bush has been pushing qualified weapons experts out the door at the State Dept in favor of political cronies. This is perhaps the most major reason how the Bush administration has made us less safe, by resting our nation's intelligence assessments in the hands of bootlickers instead of experts. Following Powell's speech before the UN, even if our govt actually has a smoking gun, they no longer can be seen as credible. Do you trust this admin or feel any safer knowing Valerie Plames are being pushed aside for Michael Browns?

Bush's pro-torture policies have certainly been a boon to terrorist recruitment, and our own commanders in Iraq are expressing grave concerns that the overcrowded Abu Ghraib prison has become a breeding ground for extremist leaders and a school for terrorist foot soldiers. And don't even try saying that it was just a few bad eggs, or that this administration gives a shit about torture, because it's all too clear they don't unless there were pictures taken of it. and if that weren't enough, Bush has ordered the kidnapping of innocent people from foreign countries and has them flown them to secret prisons to be tortured.

Bush ordered the slaughter of the entire city of Fallujah, which was certainly an insurgent stronghold, but in doing so killed hundreds of innocent people, including women and children. The graphic pictures of the attack on fallujah have been posted all over the internet as indisputable proof of the use of white phosphorus as an indiscriminate weapon. Bush even threatened to bomb al Jazeera because they had reported it. This would be a war crime in any other country, but the US just enforces war crimes against other countries by force, it is not a signatory to those international laws herself. Hypocritical justice indeed.

None of these actions in any way have made us safer. Instead, Bush's policies are weakening our defenses, and causing justified hatred of our country, that is easily turned into terrorism.

Has Bush ever done anything like Clinton did to protect us from terrorists? (Hat tip moxiegrrrl)

No agency has benefited as much as the FBI. Under the Clinton administration, the bureau's antiterrorism budget has soared from $78 million to $609 million, while the number of agents devoted to counterterrorism has jumped from 550 to nearly 1,400. Twenty percent of the FBI's budget now goes to fight terrorism, up from just four percent in 1993...

Other federal agencies have carved off smaller but significant slices of the antiterrorism pie. This year alone, seven separate agencies -- FEMA, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the departments of Defense, Justice, Energy, Veterans Affairs, and Health and Human Services -- are spending $611 million to train and equip local and state police, fire departments, and emergency medical teams. In all, budgets for such "domestic preparedness" programs have skyrocketed from $42.6 million in 1997 to $1.3 billion this year.
Has Bush ever done anything like that? What at all has he done that I don't know about that has made us any safer?

Given all of this, I must ask: Is the Republican campaign strategy for 06 and 08 banking everything on allowing another terrorist attack to occur? Because it sure seems that Bush has done all he can to make it easier for another attack, and the GOP sure isn't concerned with reform in their party in the wake of scandal after scandal. It's like they just don't give a shit, and are taking their constituents for granted.

Could they banking on another boost in nationalism following the next attack? For all I know Bush just got a PDB that said "Bin Laden determined to smuggle nukes through ports following Dubai Ports World contract." Why this nation ever rallied behind him following 9-11, and why the GOP as a whole is seen as stronger in national security just defies all logic, but it's a fact that was the public reaction then, and probably will be next time too. :(

Does Bush know something we don't?

No Bravery

Peace Takes Courage

U.S. Church Alliance Denounces Iraq War

This is encouraging, but where were they before now?
A coalition of American churches sharply denounced the U.S.-led war in Iraq on Saturday, accusing Washington of "raining down terror" and apologizing to other nations for "the violence, degradation and poverty our nation has sown."

The statement, issued at the largest gathering of Christian churches in nearly a decade, also warned the United States was pushing the world toward environmental catastrophe with a "culture of consumption" and its refusal to back international accords seeking to battle global warming.

"We lament with special anguish the war in Iraq, launched in deception and violating global norms of justice and human rights," said the statement from representatives of the 34 U.S. members of World Council of Churches. "We mourn all who have died or been injured in this war. We acknowledge with shame abuses carried out in our name." (...)

On Friday, the U.S. National Council of Churches - which includes many WCC members - released a letter appealing to Washington to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and saying reports of alleged torture violated "the fundamental Christian belief in the dignity of the human person." (...)

"Our country responded (to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks) by seeking to reclaim a privileged and secure place in the world, raining down terror on the truly vulnerable among our global neighbors ... entering into imperial projects that seek to dominate and control for the sake of national interests," said the statement. "Nations have been demonized and God has been enlisted in national agendas that are nothing short of idolatrous."
Something like this would have been nice, say, before the war, or at least before the 2004 elections. This now is just a little too little too late.

Whatever happened to practice what you preach? Instead, the bible belters came out in full force for Bush, and in doing so they failed to live up to their principles. When I see them join us in the next march on the capital, and I mean busloads of churchgoers from sea to shining sea, then I'll believe their denouncation. Otherwise, they're just sheep, and this, pffft, it's just words.

Is Wichita Waking Up To Roberts?

It's about time.


Many Kansans, including members of The Eagle editorial board, have long admired Sen. Pat Roberts for his plainspokenness and reputation for fair brokering of issues.

So it's troubling that Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is fast gaining the reputation in Washington, D.C., as a reliable partisan apologist for the Bush administration on intelligence and security controversies.

We hope that's not true. But Roberts' credibility is on the line.

From Abu Ghraib abuses to secret CIA detainee prisons to the Valerie Plame affair, critics say, Roberts has become a dependable shill for the White House, ever ready to shield Bush policy from criticism and ever willing to compromise Congress' legitimate oversight role.

A prime example: He has dragged his feet on a promised but long-delayed Senate investigation into whether the White House cherry-picked and amplified prewar intelligence to fit its preconceived goal of invading Iraq.

This week, Roberts sidetracked a Senate Intelligence Committee inquiry into the possibly illegal National Security Agency wiretap program, saying the White House had agreed to brief lawmakers more regularly and to work with him on a behind-the-scenes "fix" of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

That prompted a scathing New York Times editorial Friday headlined "Doing the President's Dirty Work," which opined: "Is there any aspect of President Bush's miserable record on intelligence that Senator Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is not willing to excuse and help to cover up?" (...)

But whether the law needs a "fix" is far from certain. Roberts' deal could thwart Congress' duty to learn more about and evaluate this program, while securing from the White House only a vague pledge to talk about fixing the law down the road. (...)

What's bothering many, though, is that Roberts seems prepared to write the Bush team a series of blank checks to conduct the war on terror, even to the point of ignoring policy mistakes and possible violations of law.

That's not oversight -- it's looking the other way.
It's nice to see an editorial like this about Roberts from Wichita, but their getting on him now for ignoring policy mistakes and possible violations of law is a bit like the pot calling the kettle black. It's their job to report this kind of stuff all along.

How many times did the Wichita Eagle, or any news outlet in Kansas report how Roberts purposefully stymied an investigation into leaks of classified information that "might have tipped off terrorists that one of their channels of communication had been compromised"? Did they ever report that at all?

Talk about giving someone a blank check. Let's hope they stay on him.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Biden: I Won't be Taken Alive

OK, I just thought this was funny.

MSN had this up linking to this article.

Bin Laden vows never to be captured alive
Full audiotape posted on militant Web site


Hat tip to commenter Jack at A'blog.

Sen Roberts trying To Make it Illegal To Be a Govt Whistleblower

Senator Roberts: I was for leakers before I was against them.

Say goodbye to democracy folks. It may soon be illegal to report govt wrongdoing if Senator Roberts has his way.

Before I get to this latest move by Sen Pat Roberts (R-KS), let me remind everyone how Senator Roberts purposefully kept an investigation into the possible leaking of classified information by Sen Richard Shelby (R-AL) from functioning by refusing to recuse himself from the case. This was a leak that "might have tipped off terrorists that one of their channels of communication had been compromised", yet was purposefully impeded by Roberts, thus the investigation ended in Nov 05 without offering any findings.

Also, as Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen Roberts has overseen the whitewash of the initial investigation into the intelligence failures that lead to Iraq, and he is still stalling Phase 2 of that investigation into how the intelligence may have been misused by the Bush administration. This despite assurances in November that it would move ahead after the Democrats forced a shut down of the Senate over it. Today's LA Times has an eye-opening editorial covering Roberts' Intel Committee:

Advise and Assent

THAT THE UNITED STATES Senate has a body called the Intelligence Committee is an irony George Orwell would have truly appreciated. In a world without Doublespeak, the panel, chaired by GOP Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, would be known by a more appropriate name — the Senate Coverup Committee.

Although the committee is officially charged with overseeing the nation's intelligence-gathering operations, its real function in recent years has been to prevent the public from getting hold of any meaningful information about the Bush administration. Hence its never-ending delays of the probe into the bogus weapons intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq. And its squelching, on Thursday, of an expected investigation into the administration's warrantless spying program...(more)
Now that I've filled in some background on the traitor loving Senator, check out this post from the Project On Govt Oversight:
If Senator Pat Roberts gets his way, the First Amendment and the public's right to know will take a monstrous hit. Roberts is considering adding language to the 2007 intelligence authorization bill that criminalizes the distribution of classified information by everyone, not just by government employees and contractors.

Similar legislation, known as the Official Secrets Act, was defeated when President Clinton vetoed it near the end of his presidency.

Criminalizing disclosure of classified information by any member of the public would have a chilling effect on the press and the public would be less informed as a result. Classification is often wrongly used to cover up government illegalities or other questionable behavior. In a democracy, should exposing government misconduct be illegal?

Again, currently, only people with security clearances are held responsible for securing classified info. Under Senator Roberts’ proposal, reporters – even people reading the newspaper – would be in trouble.

It's painfully obvious, from his actions, that Senator Roberts is all for protecting leakers of classified information if they are his Republican colleagues, but supports throwing leakers in jail if they might expose any wrongdoing by them. The next reporter to say, write a story about how a sitting president was ordering a break-in of the opposition party's headquarters or illegal wiretapping, will be the one guilty of breaking the law instead of the govt official that broke the law in the fist place.

Will Bob Woodward continue to shill for this administration once his colleagues start getting locked up for doing the same thing that made him famous?

Also worth checking out is POGO's take on the Congress' capitulation to the Whitehouse over the illegal wiretapping program.