Friday, November 18, 2005
"DuPont thinks that they have pollution rights to the blood of every American, every man, woman, and child in the United States,"
Evers tells ABC News DuPont tried to hide the fact that the chemical coating comes off and ends up in humans in far greater concentrations than originally thought.
In addition, scientific surveys have found the Teflon chemical, which is linked to organ damage and cancer in lab animals, is now in the blood of virtually every American. The chemical then stays in the blood, a fact that was unknown when the chemical was first approved.
"It bioaccumulates, which means the chemical goes into the blood, and it stays there for a very long period of time," said Evers.
A Bush 'secret' exposed
A dispute over funding for the state Department of Juvenile Justice showed what one lawmaker called 'a dirty little secret' in how state agency budgets are controlled by the governor's office.
BY CAROL MARBIN MILLER
An angry meeting in Miami between state legislators and juvenile justice officials has exposed publicly what for years has been an open secret in the state capital: Despite a state law to the contrary, Gov. Jeb Bush's administration handcuffs state agencies' requests for money from lawmakers.
The funding dispute arose during a bitter exchange Wednesday between lawmakers and officials of the state Department of Juvenile Justice. The legislators have questioned over the past three years why DJJ guards are poorly trained, don't have enough radios, and why surveillance equipment designed to protect both guards and children often doesn't work.
At Wednesday's hearing, lawmakers grilled DJJ officials about why they haven't sought the money to resolve the problems.
That's when Randy Ball, an aide in the governor's office, came to DJJ's defense, telling lawmakers that neither they nor DJJ Secretary Anthony Schembri had the right to meddle in the agency's spending plan.
Schembri ''is limited in his legislative budget request to what the governor says he can put in it,'' said Ball, Bush's criminal justice policy chief. ``His hands are tied.''
''We told him he could not request additional training dollars yet,'' Ball added. ``He tried, and it's not his fault he failed.''
Ball's comments came only moments after Schembri, who inherited a department in turmoil last year, acknowledged to lawmakers that agency critics's complaints are accurate: Correctional officers at DJJ's lockups were undertrained.
''If I have ever seen a department that needed training, it's this department,'' Schembri said. ``This department desperately needs training.''
Rep. Dan Gelber, a Miami Beach Democrat and frequent agency critic, called the revelation that Bush was censoring his agency heads' budget requests ``a dirty little secret.''
'What's the line from Casablanca? `I'm shocked to hear that gambling is going on here!' That's almost how I felt,'' Gelber said. ''The legislative branch is supposed to be doing this'' oversight, he said, adding that lawmakers in recent years had been ``a little more subservient than they ought to be.''
Rep. Sandra Adams, an Oviedo Republican and former Orange County Sheriff's deputy, said she, too, was surprised by Ball's comments.
But, she added, she left Wednesday's hearing uncertain of whether the agency was poorly funded or just poorly managed.
''We look to agencies to come to us and let us know what they need to properly fund the different issues they have,'' she said. ``We haven't been asked for funds. We can't fund it if they don't come to us and tell us there's a need.''
A spokesman for the governor contradicted Ball's account, saying that all agency heads follow the law, which says state agencies' budget requests are to be ``based on the agency's independent judgment of its needs.''
''The governor has always encouraged his agency heads to use fiscal discipline,'' said spokesman Russell Schweiss. 'He relies upon them to determine their agencies' needs and priorities. The governor's office has always conducted the legislative budget request process based upon the laws which guide these procedures.''
The law on the books comes from a time when Democrats controlled both the governor's mansion and the Florida Legislature. Lawmakers generally asserted more control over budget issues than they have since Bush came to office in 1999.
It has long been suspected in the Capitol that Bush's agency heads have submitted budget requests that won't conflict with the governor's own budget recommendations given to legislators just before the start ot the annual legislative session.
The issue of DJJ's funding first came up Wednesday after Janet Graddy, a Tampa-area detention officer who says she was fired after complaining about working conditions, told lawmakers that children were in peril in the state's lockups because most officers are poorly trained.
''That's why you will continue to have kids assaulted, and continue to have kids abused,'' Graddy said. ``Training is a joke.''
''What you are saying is that you were not trained. You were just put on the floor with the kids,'' said Adams.
Deidre Zackery, a current officer at the Miami juvenile lockup, told the panel there were not nearly enough radios to go around, and, on some shifts, most of the radios are out of commission being recharged.
''That's a safety and security issue,'' Zackery said. ``It's something we deal with, day in and day out, the lack of equipment to do our jobs.''
``It's a hazardous job. It's not a baby- sitting service, because in Miami-Dade County, we deal with the worst of the worst.''
The question of which government branch was setting policy came up again when lawmakers complained that Bush had vetoed a $2.7 million request to pay for electronic monitoring devices and probation officers so that some delinquent children can await trial on home detention, rather than in often-crowded detention centers.
Black lawmakers have viewed the home detention program as a means of reducing the number of black children locked up throughout the state. Among 10- to 17-year-olds, black children are 22 percent of the population -- but 38 percent of the youths in secure detention.
Ball told the committees, however, that the governor believes it is the responsibility of local governments to pay for juvenile detention initiatives -- not the state.
''That's why it was vetoed, and it will be vetoed again if it comes back,'' he said.
''There is an over-representation of minority kids who don't need to be there,'' said Rep. Audrey Gibson, a Jacksonville Democrat. '
Herald staff writer Gary Fineout contributed to this report.
Arbour calls for investigation of Iraq prisoner abuses
The UN's high commissioner for human rights has called for an international investigation into the condition of detainees in Iraq. "
'Cheney is vice president for torture'
The devastating accusations have been made by Admiral Stansfield Turner who labelled Dick Cheney "a vice president for torture".
He said: "We have crossed the line into dangerous territory".
The American Senate says torture should be banned - whatever the justification. But President Bush has threatened to veto their ruling.
The former spymaster claims President Bush is not telling the truth when he says that torture is not a method used by the US.
Speaking of Bush's claims that the US does not use torture, Admiral Turner, who ran the CIA from 1977 to 1981, said: "I do not believe him".
On Dick Cheney he said "I'm embarrassed the United States has a vice president for torture.
"He condones torture, what else is he?".
Admiral Turner claims the secret CIA prisons used for torture are known as 'black sites', terror suspects are picked up in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan.
They are flown by CIA-controlled private aircraft to countries where there are secret interrogation centres, operating outside any country's jurisdiction.
No one will confirm their locations, but there are several possibilities: The Mihail-Kogalniceanu military airbase in Romania is believed by many to be one such facility.
Admiral Turner's remarks were echoed by Republican Senator John McCain, himself a victim of torture in Vietnam.
He said torturing to get information was immoral, was not effective and encouraged potential enemies to do the same to Americans.
Both Mr Bush and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice have repeatedly stated that torture by US forces is not condoned.
A JFK Assassination Blockbuster
on NightCall & Peter Werbe shows
Hear Peter interview:
Lamar Waldron & Thom Hartman, authors,
Ultimate Sacrifice: John and Robert Kennedy, the Plan for a Coup in Cuba, and the Murder of JFK"
MP3 Archive from WhiteRoseSociety.org
DeLay's Fmr.Top Aide Charged With Conspiracy To Defraud Indian Tribes In Scheme Involving A Congressman
Michael Scanlon, partner of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, was charged Friday with conspiring to defraud Indian tribe clients of millions of dollars in a scheme that lavished golf trips, meals and campaign donations on a member of Congress.
In a one-count criminal information filed by the government, Scanlon was charged with conspiring with another lobbyist, who was identified only as "Lobbyist A." It has been a matter of public record for more than a year that Scanlon and Abramoff had a fee-splitting arrangement and represented several Indian tribes.
Should Employers Be FINED for Hiring Illegal Mexican Slave Laborers?
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Cheney Isn't Woodward's Source
WASHINGTON (AP) - Vice President Dick Cheney is not the unidentified source
who told Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward about the CIA status of the wife
of Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson, a person familiar with the
investigation said Thursday.
Woodward did not talk with the vice president that day, did not provide the
information that's been reported in Woodward's notes and has not had any
conversations over the past several weeks about any release for allowing
Woodward to testify, said the person, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Woodward gave a sworn deposition in the CIA leak investigation on Monday,
testifying that a senior administration official told him in mid-June 2003 that
Plame worked as a CIA analyst on weapons of mass destruction.
identity was revealed in July 2003 by columnist Robert Novak, eight days after
her husband, a former U.S. ambassador, accused the Bush administration of
twisting prewar intelligence to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.
revelations renewed attention to an investigation into who was responsible for
leaking Plame's name, an inquiry that had appeared to be winding down after last
month's indictment of Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis ``Scooter'' Libby.
Tamiflu linked to 64 cases of psychological disorders and 2 suicides; China reports 3 persons infected with bird flu
Tamiflu, the “world’s first line of defense” against the avian flu (purported to be spreading -- or being spread -- throughout the world) has now been linked to 64 cases of psychological disorders and two teen suicides, according to media reports from Japan. According to western media, such as Reuters, the FDA is “investigating.”
Meanwhile, China is hit with three cases of humans infected with bird flu. A SARS-type crisis throughout the region appears imminent.
Three issues must be considered:
- Avian flu -- as well as SARS, West Nile, and other pandemics -- is the pretext for the militarization of the United States (and the rest of the world), a large-scale project by the Pentagon and Big Pharma.
- Population control, depopulation, and fear are key Peak Oil-related control measures. It is called “demand reduction.”
- China, with the world’s most populous nation and its surging economy is both a major holder of US debt, and a huge consumer of energy. As Peak Oil-related crises worsen, particularly for the western nations and economies, the control of China -- a Cold War -- is a Washington imperative.
The Daily Kegger: Understanding the Minority
United States given a week to cut softwood lumber duties
"We the People Say No to the Bush Agenda."
Two of the protesters, David Buckwalter and Matthew Jordan, of Knoxville, said they and the other protesters were there to send a message to the White House.
"It's good to be here to express ourselves and have the freedom to do that," said Buckwalter. "I hope Dick Cheney is listening, but I doubt he is.
"This is about a lot more than war," Buckwalter said. "I think today Dick Cheney is dishonoring Howard Baker by being here. Howard Baker was a true statesman. He believed in working with everybody. He worked with Edmund Muskie in getting the Clean Air Act passed. He was a real statesman, and Dick Cheney is no statesman."
"I'm glad to see there's a protest going on," said Jordan. "Its a pretty good number. I'm glad of the turnout - this is the motivating, driving force of what's going on, especially the war in Iraq."
Galloway: "If the U.S. Invades Syria, The People will Fight the U.S. Occupation Like the Brits Were Ready to Fight the Nazis"
The following are excerpts from a speech by British MP George Galloway at Damascus University. The speech aired on Al-Jazeera TV on November 13, 2005.
TO VIEW THIS CLIP, visit http://www.memritv.org/search.asp?ACT=S9&P1=923.
On U.S. Secretary of State Rice's Mideast Visit and the Behavior of Slave Governments
Galloway: "Condoleezza Rice has been touring the Arab countries to speak about Syria, so I have come to Syria to speak about Condoleezza Rice.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Reid snaps back at Cheney on Senate floor
Washington, DC – Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid gave the following speech on the Senate Floor tonight.
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Tonight the Vice President has come out of his bunker and is speaking at a gathering of Washington DC insiders, which is closed to the press.
“Unfortunately, he brought his bunker mentality with him. He is repeating the same tired attacks we’ve heard from administration officials over the last two weeks.
“In the last 24 hours, 10 of our brave soldiers have been killed in far off Iraq. On such a night, you would think Cheney would give a speech that honors the fallen and those still fighting by laying out a strategy for success.
“Instead we have the Vice President of the United States playing politics like he’s in the middle of a presidential campaign.
“Yesterday, a bipartisan majority of the United States Senate gave the administration a vote of no confidence for its Iraq policy. We said the era of their “No Plan, No End” approach is over.
“Apparently, the White House didn’t get the message. The Vice President’s speech tonight demonstrates once again that this Administration intends to “stay the course” and continue putting their political fortunes ahead of what this country needs –a plan for success.
“Our troops and the American people deserve better.
“The White House needs to understand that deceiving the American people is what got them into trouble. Now is the time to come clean, not to continue the pattern of deceit.
“So again, I ask Vice President Cheney to make himself available and answer the American people’s questions.
“If he has time to talk to DC insiders… oil executives… and a discredited felon – Ahmad Chalabi - who is under investigation for giving this nation’s most sensitive secrets to Iran, he has time to answer the questions of the American people.
“The Vice President needs to stop stonewalling and hold a press conference.
“Finally, I would urge the members of the Bush administration to stop trying to resurrect their political standing by lashing out at their critics. Instead, they need to focus on the job at hand – giving our troops a strategy for success in Iraq.
“Just this week, we’ve seen Stephen Hadley… Donald Rumsfeld… President Bush… and Vice President Cheney lash out at their critics….yet they all remain silent when it comes to giving our troops and the American people a plan for success in Iraq.
“Tired rhetoric and political attacks do nothing to get the job done in Iraq.
“America can do better.”
Frist Working Quietly to Shield Vaccine and Anthrax makers
Republicans aim to drive down voter turnout
THE PROGRESSIVE OCTOBER 1998 ISSUE
BY JOHN NICHOLS
Randall Terry, the Operation Rescue activist who this year has undergone a metamorphosis from abortion clinic terrorist to serious Republican Congressional candidate, has a simple strategy for achieving political success. "Pray for a low turnout," he tells supporters in a competitive upstate New York district. Terry explains that if mainstream voters shy away from the polls in record numbers this fall, as expected, extreme rightwing candidates will have an opportunity to win contests that were once beyond their reach.
Terry and his followers may be relying on prayer to keep turnout down. But the nation's most savvy Republican operatives are taking matters into their own hands. They're working a strategy that seeks to make the 1998 elections a private party to which most American voters are not invited.
"Politics is about two things: Mobilizing your voters, and not mobilizing the other side. Both are valid goals," says Bill McInturff , a Republican pollster. He argues that conservatives can score unprecedented victories this fall if they "reduce the juice"--lower the interest level to such an extent that the small percentage of voters who zealously back conservative causes can dominate.
The Republicans are leaving nothing to chance.
On any given day, in climate-controlled studios in suburban Washington and a handful of other locations around the country, carefully selected groups of adult men and women settle into comfortable chairs and insert their fingers into monitoring devices. The devices measure surges and downturns in their pulse rates as the nation's top political consultants show videotapes of candidates delivering speeches, present mock newscasts, and screen television commercials extolling or defaming particular politicians.
"It's all about message," explains Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster who drew up the list of ideas that became Newt Gingrich's "Contract With America." "You look for a message that gets your voters to the polls on election day. But it has to be well thought out, because you don't want to stir up your opponent's voters. You want them to stay home."
Since 1990, Luntz and his colleagues have presided over a steady decline in American voting participation, and a parallel process of shifting the political system further and further toward the right.
In 1994, Republicans helped hold voter turnout to just 38 percent of registered voters. In 1998, GOP strategists quietly acknowledge, they are shooting for a record low turnout of 35 percent or less.
They are well on their way to achieving that goal. Already, says Curtis Gans, founder of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate, "voter turnout is sharply down in 1998." Gans analyzed turnout in primary elections this spring and summer and found that average turnout was 16.8 percent, half of what it was a quarter-century ago.
Primary turnout is down 14 percent just since 1994, says Gans. When the numbers are down in the primaries, they usually are down in November, he adds.
Low turnouts tend to favor Republicans--particularly conservative Republicans with a message that appeals to a small yet highly motivated core of activists. Democratic pollster Celinda Lake says she is worried that this year's minuscule turnout will be dominated by what she calls the "when God tells you to vote" crowd.
If the turnout actually drops to the 35 percent range or below, as now appears possible, Republican strategists figure they will be able to significantly expand their control in the Senate, improve their position in the House, maintain dominance of the nation's governorships, and win a sufficient number of state legislatures to guarantee control of the redistricting process that will follow the 2000 census.
"When things happen that make one side's partisans unhappy, they stay home," House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Republican of Georgia, told a Young Republican rally in Atlanta in August. "When they stay home, they stay home for the whole ticket. I believe this fall we're going to see a surprisingly big Republican victory almost everywhere in this country."
An August Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll of all adults found a clear preference for Democratic candidates and more liberal positions on the issues. But the same poll found that, among the most likely voters, Republican candidates and conservative positions had a solid lead.
So how do Republicans plan to reduce the juice? Here is the strategy:
Step one: Undercut the appeal of issues that favor Democrats in general and economic populists in particular. Republicans do this by offering warmed-over versions of Democratic plans to reform health care, protect Social Security, and improve public education--and by promoting them heavily, as they will do this fall with a planned $37 million national advertising campaign that will seek to blur distinctions between the parties.
"The idea is to take the power out of Democratic issues rather than confront them," says Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr., author of the bestselling book Why Americans Hate Politics. "If Republicans avoid too many fights, they figure they should do just fine." The key to what Dionne calls "me-too" politics is to persuade Democratic voters that, with both parties agreeing on key issues, there isn't much at stake.
In New York state, for instance, U.S. Senator Al D'Amato, a conservative Republican who faces a serious challenge in the fall, has suddenly emerged as a noisy proponent of consumer protection and women's health legislation.
Republicans are particularly pleased with their success in blunting the appeal of a Democratic initiative to pass a "Patients' Bill of Rights" that would curb HMO abuses. Republicans in the House and Senate came up with their own "Patients' Bill of Rights." The GOP plan is much weaker than the Democratic one, but Republican strategists believe it has created enough confusion to limit any Democratic advantage. This summer, U.S. Representative John Shadegg, an Arizona Republican who is a key party strategist, made the remarkable admission that, "with the task-force bill, we will largely deal with the political problem of health care. We may not solve the public policy problem, but it will move us in the right direction and give us political cover."
Step two: Undermine support for Democrats among key constituencies, such as women and African Americans. Republicans have placed special emphasis this year on courting African American voters, who since 1960 have been the most consistently pro-Democratic voting bloc in the nation. GOP leaders such as Gingrich have recruited African American candidates. And even the most rightwing Republicans are appealing to blacks. Ultraconservative South Carolina Senate candidate Bob Inglis, who earned a zero rating for support of civil rights issues while serving in the House, is now campaigning to remove the Confederate flag from the state capitol. "From the very first day of the campaign, I want to say 'Welcome' to black South Carolinians," declares Inglis. "I share an appreciation of the historic civil rights struggle, and I passionately agree that economic empowerment is the key to completing that work."
Step three: Let Monica Lewinsky work her magic. From the start, most Republican candidates have followed Luntz's advice--delivered in a memo widely circulated in GOP circles last January--to downplay talk of Presidential scandal. Luntz's theory is that the media will do the dirty work, causing Democrats to grow increasingly discouraged, while energizing prime Republican voting blocs.
After analyzing polling data from key precincts around the country, Democratic consultant Bob Beckel has concluded that the most likely voters this fall will be conservatives whose anger with Clinton has been crystallized by the scandal. Traditional Democratic voters, content with a reasonably good economy and turned off by the negative nature of contemporary politics, are less likely to vote. Political commentator Fred Barnes, executive editor of the conservative Weekly Standard, sums up the circumstance: "Democratic and Republican commentators and strategists have detected a clear GOP tilt, based largely on expected turnout this fall. The most motivated voters, those all but certain to go to the polls, are the ones furious with Clinton. They aren't happy with Congressional Republicans, but they're ready to register a protest against Clinton on election day by voting against Democratic candidates."
Republican strategists are taking advantage of voters' low spirits. After the President acknowledged to the nation in August that he had lied about his affair with the White House intern, Republicans launched a multimillion-dollar campaign to link Democratic contenders such as California Senator Barbara Boxer with the increasingly disparaged President.
Of particular concern are women voters, who in recent years have provided the margin of victory for Democrats in many races. This year, says veteran political reporter Jill Lawrence, "They may be so disgusted by the lurid sex and other details expected in the Starr report that they just stay home."
U.S. Representative Martin Frost, Democrat of Texas, admits, "It is possible this could cast a pall on the election."
Meanwhile, Republicans are mobilizing social conservatives who follow the lead of groups such as Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition and James Dobson's Focus on the Family.
For a time, early this year, it appeared as if Republicans faced a threat from Dobson. In meetings with top Republicans, Dobson attacked Newt Gingrich, Trent Lott, and other GOP Congressional leaders for failing to advance an aggressive Christian right agenda on issues such as gay rights, abortion, school prayer, and public funding of religious education.
If key Republicans didn't move quickly, Dobson said, he might just lead his followers out of the Grand Old Party--a prospect that would have spelled electoral disaster.
Republicans got the message. U.S. Representative John Linder, Republican of Georgia and one of Gingrich's top electoral strategists, circulated a confidential memo in April that said Republicans would lose control of the House and power in the Senate if they did not satisfy Dobson by throwing red meat to Christian conservatives.
That's exactly what they have done. Congressional Republicans quickly organized to promote a "Religious Freedom" amendment to the Constitution. If passed, that amendment would permit organized prayer in public schools for the first time since the 1960s. Republicans attached amendments restricting aid to family-planning organizations when the House and Senate took up spending authorizations for U.N. dues. The House also endorsed a pilot program that would use tax dollars to provide children with vouchers to attend private religious schools. And House leaders have intentionally scheduled another vote on banning "partial-birth" abortion just as the fall campaign season hits its stride.
But the big play to Dobson and his followers came on gay rights issues. Lott stepped forward with a carefully scripted statement saying homosexuality was equivalent to alcoholism and kleptomania. In the Senate, he moved to block the confirmation of James Hormel as ambassador to Luxembourg solely because the nominee is an openly gay man. And the House passed a measure that would block federal money for San Francisco and other cities that require contractors doing business with these municipalities to provide health insurance to the partners of their gay and lesbian employees.
"This is a very well-orchestrated political campaign against the gay community," says Winnie Stachelberg, political director of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay and lesbian organization. Policy isn't the point, says Stachelberg, since most of the GOP initiatives face the threat of a Clinton Administration veto or a court challenge. Rather, the onslaught is all about galvanizing the GOP base for November.
So why don't Democrats and their allies in organized labor counter the GOP with a sweeping get-out-the-vote drive?
Still shell-shocked from their 1994 losses, outgunned in the campaign-finance arena, and reeling from daily Lewinsky revelations, the Democrats have done little work when it comes to responding to the Republicans.
They have actually played into the Republicans' hand by emphasizing their own "targeted voter" strategies, which operate on the premise that it is cheaper and easier to win 16 percent of the electorate in a 30 percent turnout than it is to energize new voters. Plus, a campaign that emphasizes issues of broad popular appeal might turn off corporate contributors. That's something Democratic insiders fear since, as their party has moved further and further to the right, it has come to rely on the same Wall Street donor base as the Republicans. This leaves many voters with a clear sense that the political choices they make don't matter.
Ignoring populist appeals is a terrible blunder for the Democrats. Polls show majority support for basic progressive issues: universal health care, restraint on corporations, a graduated income tax, increased spending on public education, and fundamental campaign finance re-form.
As Ralph Nader puts it, "We don't have two parties any more. We have two versions of the Republican Party fighting over the crumbs that the special interests throw them and completely neglecting the great majority of Americans who don't even vote anymore."
Not long ago, different priorities prevailed. In 1986, when California liberal Alan Cranston faced a serious Republican challenge, he poured millions of dollars into get-out-the-vote efforts that brought hundreds of thousands of new voters to the polls. Cranston won. So, too, did dozens of other liberal Democrats in key races around the state.
By emphasizing high turnout strategies, Cranston said, Democrats freed themselves to be more progressive. Better to be beholden to broad ethnic and economic constituencies, he argued, than to big-money contributors and special-interest groups.
Could a big-turnout strategy work in the politically cynical 1990s? The answer is yes. But the proof doesn't come from Democrats.
This year, the best example of a candidate challenging the right's voter suppression strategies comes from a Republican. Kansas Governor Bill Graves angered social conservatives within his own party by supporting abortion rights and ditching other planks in the religious right platform. As a result, he faced an aggressive primary challenge this summer from David Miller, a former state legislator who had served as state Republican party chair.
Miller hoped his anti-abortion followers would assure him of victory in a low-turnout context. Graves countered by pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into a sophisticated get-out-the-vote drive that even urged Democrats to switch parties and vote in the GOP race. The strategy worked. Kansas saw a near-record Republican primary turnout in August. The governor prevailed by a stunning 73-27 margin.
Some Democrats look at those numbers and wonder why their party isn't working to boost turnout with a populist message that could draw voters to the polls.
John Nichols is the editorial page editor for The Capital Times in Madison, Wisconsin.
Internal CPB Report Charges Former Chair Tomlinson with Ethics Violations, Uncovers "Cryptic" Emails With White House Staff
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The results of a 6-month internal investigation of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) were made public Thursday, exposing political interference by Kenneth Tomlinson, former CPB chairman. The investigation also uncovered emails between Tomlinson and White House staff that raises questions about the hiring of the new CPB President. We speak with Tim Karr of Free Press. [includes rush transcript]
Secret Baghdad torture centre found by troops
US officials have denied any responsibility for a newly revealed prisoner abuse scandal, with Iraq's Government saying it is shocked by the discovery of more than 170 prisoners in an underground Baghdad prison, many of them malnourished and showing obvious signs of torture.
The prisoners were found in a locked Interior Ministry bunker beneath a well-to-do area of the Iraqi capital. Many had been severely beaten, some were paralysed and others had skin peeling off their bodies.
The Government has ordered an inquiry into the prison, discovered during a US-led raid.
Revealing that 173 detainees were found in the secret prison, the Iraqi Prime Minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, declared his government would work to root out such practices by the country's new police force, which is operated by the Interior Ministry.
AlterNet: Creating a Right-Wing Nation, State by State
A couple of staffers for People for the American Way went undercover to a conference of the ultra-conservative American Legislative Exchange Council. Here's what they discovered.
We've heard much talk of the states serving as "progressive laboratories" in recent years. But conservatives have been working to shape state laws for the past 30 years. The center of gravity for that effort is the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the nation's largest network of state legislators.
Founded in 1973, ALEC was the brainchild of paleocon Paul Weyrich, a leading "Movement conservative" and the head of the Free Congress Foundation (in 1973 Weyrich also co-founded the Heritage Foundation). It is the connective tissue that links state legislators with right-wing think tanks, leading anti-tax activists and corporate money. ALEC is a public-policy mill that churns out "model legislation" for the states that are unfailingly pro-business. The organization fights against civil rights laws, as well as consumer, labor and environmental initiatives.
According to the National Resources Defense Council, corporations "funnel cash through ALEC to curry favor with state lawmakers through junkets and other largesse in the hopes of enacting special interest legislation -- all the while keeping safely outside the public eye."
Corporations that support ALEC "pay to play." In addition to dues of up to $50,000 dollars per year, they also pay as much as $5,000 dollars to sit on the "task force" committees that draft ALEC's legislative templates. You pay, and you get to write state laws to your exquisite advantage.
ALEC's record of achievement makes it one of the most successful parts of the conservative movement, but many progressives aren't aware of it. They should be; ALEC claims as members 34 state Speakers of The House, 25 Senate Presidents, 31 Senate Leaders and 33 House Leaders.
Given that ALEC claims to have successfully passed 200 bills into law in 2003, keeping tabs on the organization is a good way to get a handle on where the right will train its sights next.
Two staffers for People For the American Way (PFAW) went to ALEC's August meeting to get that scoop. Earlier this month I attended a conference of labor and community activists in Washington, D.C. to hear a summary of what PFAW's staffers picked up at the summit. This report draws heavily on their work, for which I'm grateful (disclosure: during the past year I've received modest support from PFAW for some of my own activism, and I'm an honorary Fellow with its Young People For program).
On The Horizon
For the most part, there were few surprises at ALEC's August summit in Plano, Texas. The usual suspects pushed policies we have come to expect from the conservative movement. These, according to a profile by PFAW, include "rolling back civil rights, challenging government restrictions on corporate pollution," as well as "limiting government regulations of commerce [and] privatizing public services."
George W. Bush was the keynote speaker, discussing how successful his tax cuts have been (if you care to, you can read his speech here). Grover Norquist, Dick Armey and Newt Gingrich rounded out the right's star power. (According to one of PFAW's observers, Norquist told a room full of legislators that "those on the left aren't stupid, they're evil.")
The main messages were that public pensions and Social Security should be privatized and Bush's tax cuts should become permanent (clearly a federal issue, but they pushed it nonetheless). Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings defended No child Left behind, which she argued wasn't "just good policy, it's good politics."
School vouchers -- a long-standing objective of ALEC -- were high on the agenda. There were two pieces of model legislation that advance vouchers. Related are the "Virtual Public Schools Act" and "The Family Tax Credit Program Act." Both are alternatives to public education that, unlike vouchers programs, divert public education funds to home-schooled children as well as those enrolled in private schools. Apparently it is, among other things, a sop to Christian conservatives.
Much was made of the need for "tort reform." There was talk of "judicial hellholes," where pesky consumer groups and environmentalists were "regulating" through litigation - ALEC's members call it a "tax on the consumer" -- and of limiting damage awards and "reforming" class-action suits.
Most of ALEC's model legislation sounds eminently reasonable at first glance. One initiative, the "Jury Patriotism Act" -- already passed in 13 states -- makes it more difficult for people to skip jury duty, but would also increase the amount paid to jurors, especially low-income jurors serving on long cases. That sounds like a good idea until you come to the fine print: the increased jury pay wouldn't come from general revenues, but from significantly increased fees required to bring suit, closing the courthouse doors to a growing number of people.
Another go-to issue for ALEC's members is the environment. In 2002, the organization issued a widely read report, "Global Warming and the Kyoto Protocol: Paper Tiger, Economic Dragon" [PDF], written by the CATO institute's "climate skeptic" Patrick Michaels. Exxon - the leading funder of efforts to "debunk" climatology - donated almost one million dollars to ALEC since 1998, according to ExxonWatch. Dupont, Dow and Edison electric are among the other firms that have paid millions to write ALEC's model legislation.
Some of ALEC's environmental initiatives include "environmental audit immunity" (wonky PDF), a legal regime whereby polluters could self-regulate and any environmental violations could not be punished as long as they inform the EPA of the damage done.
Another is attacking state and regional limits on greenhouse gas emissions. ALEC has fought what have been called "sons of Kyoto" state laws tooth and nail,calling global warming "the new mantra for environmentalists and non-governmental organizations in their quest to redistribute international and domestic wealth."
Perhaps the most troubling of ALEC's environmental aims is criminalizing activism. Its model "Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act" does just that. As Karen Charman wrote on TomPaine:
The Texas [version of the] bill defines an "animal rights or terrorist organization" as "two or more persons organized for the purpose of supporting any politically motivated activity intended to obstruct or deter any person from participating in an activity involving animals or ... natural resources." The bill adds that "'Political motivation' means an intent to influence a government entity or the public to take a specific political action." Language in the New York bill is similarly broad.
The Center for Constitutional Rights' Michael Ratner told Charman, "The definitional sections of this legislation are so broad that they sweep within them basically every environmental and animal-rights organization in the country."
Activism clearly frightens the big-business right. Aside from the over-the-top hostility towards environmental activists, there was much talk of campaigns such as the current effort - of which AlterNet has played a part -- to raise awareness of Wal-Mart's labor and environmental practices, and the harm the firm inflicts on Main Street America.
A panel on socially responsible investing likened the practice to a new form of Marxism. According to PFAW's observers, the moderator argued that "progressives control campuses, control foundations, control the media -- corporations are the last bastion of conservatism and if they take them over, it's game over."
A PLAN for Push-Back
The good news is that ALEC is not unopposed by groups on the left. Established organizations like USPIRG and the Center for Policy Alternatives offer progressive model legislation to state lawmakers, and community and labor activists have worked to shine a hard light on ALEC and its proposals.
But as is often the case, many of these efforts are single-issue, as opposed to ALEC's broad ideological umbrella of positions, and too often they act state-by-state instead of working as well-coordinated nationwide networks.
That's beginning to change. ALICE (the American Legislative Issue Campaign Exchange) is trying to create a similarly broad network at the local level. A collaboration of the Center on Wisconsin Strategy, the Economic Analysis and Research Network and several other progressive groups, ALICE is a clearinghouse of information and legislation that's trying to back up tens of thousands of progressives in local government.
Another organization that's promising -perhaps the most ambitious of its kind -- is the Progressive Legislative Action Network (PLAN). Launched with much fanfare in August and co-chaired by the Center for American Progress' David Sirota and former Montana legislator Steve Doherty, PLAN most resembles the structure of ALEC. It not only provides model legislation across state and issue lines, it also helps push those bills by joining grass-roots activists and state lawmakers with the "strategic advocacy tools" they need to advance "progressive economic and social policies."
Joshua Holland is an AlterNet staff writer.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Assimilate or Die
by Mark LeVine
About 130 years ago, Josiah Strong, celebrated evangelical preacher and a chief ideologue of American empire, offered a stark choice to the "inferior races" the United States would encounter as it fulfilled its "manifest destiny" across the seas. Their only hope would be a "ready and pliant assimilation" to the wishes of the new, "peculiarly" vital and aggressive Anglo-Saxon-Christian civilization bursting forth from the United States. Assimilate or die -- in Strong's terminology, become "extinct" -- those were the only alternatives for the weaker races in what Strong, in most respects no fan of Charles Darwin, believed was a contest that could only be described as the "survival of the fittest."
At the same historical moment, France was defining its own imperial and nationalist identities, based on the concept of "assimilation" to a republican consensus founded on liberté, egalité and fraternité. For those deemed truly French (vrais français) -- from Brittany to the Basque regions, from the Germanized-Moselle to the Italian-speaking Savoie -- innumerable distinct ethnic and regional identities could be subsumed in the citizen and his beloved republic.
Outre mer, across the sea, in France's colonies, the choice was to be much starker. While the official goal of French colonial policy, particularly in Algeria, was the "assimilation" of Muslims into modern French culture, in practice the two communities were kept largely separate. Just as today in France's urban areas, there was virtually no mixing between European and Muslim populations. A recent description in the French daily Liberation could (with minor changes) describe either era: "The paths of the people of the cités and of the graduates of the elite School of National Administration never cross." Rather, Strong's admonishment to assimilate meekly or die was the reality the conquered faced. Resistance, as the saying goes, was futile, except at the cost of millions of lives.
At the turn of the twentieth century large numbers of the colonized began migrating to their autre mère -- France -- to work at the kinds of jobs the French, facing a severe labor shortage, didn't want to do. Not surprisingly, the republican ideal of equality for all citizens remained a distant dream. Indeed, the binary and hierarchical divisions of French colonialism only intensified in the mother country. There, the danger that the vrais français might be contaminated by the backward and (even today in the view of Interior and Religion Minister Nicolas Sarkozy) not-fully-human Other, was that much greater. Indeed, the republican ideals of liberty and equality, when adopted by immigrants from the colonies, threatened both French rule abroad and white supremacy at home. Segregating immigrants into ghettos, where they could be better monitored by security forces specifically created for such purposes, seemed an effective solution.
The policy hasn't worked. The last two weeks have laid bare how a century of faux promises of republican equality have produced what no less an authority than French President Jacques Chirac has described as a "reign of soft terror" and dead-end lives in the banlieues. As he admits, such a situation cannot but lead the ghetto young "to revolt" every generation or so. What has made this most recent revolt so much more intense than the "intifadah of the cities" of a generation ago is precisely that it is occurring in the context of France's slow, painful incorporation into the neoliberal globalized order of things.
However historically unprecedented its supporters believe globalization to be, it is more accurately understood as an expansion and amplification of processes that were born in the last great era of global integration -- that of European high imperialism in which France's Republican identity was shaped. What gives contemporary globalization its special disintegrative force, however, is the way it weakens the protective power of the nation-state which, until recently, acted as a buffer (however problematic) against the "assimilation" of whole societies into the global economic and cultural order.
Translated into the French situation, this means that a government continually accused of presiding over a "bloated welfare state" actually has increasingly less funds at its disposal to spend on the kinds of reconstruction and amelioration programs once again being promised to the inhabitants of the banlieues in hopes of quelling the current violence. Indeed, in France as in most countries, the state is constantly forced to choose between spending shrinking resources on addressing urgent inequalities or continuing to provide an acceptable level of services to, in France's case, millions of petite-bourgeois citizens and retired functionaires (state employees) who are only a few euros away from moving to the extreme right and into the embrace of Jean-Marie Le Pen's Front National.
As the French historian Emmanuel Todd pointed out recently in Le Monde, the immigrants and petite bourgeoisie, who otherwise have "profoundly divergent interests," together produced the stunning "no" vote on the European Union Constitutional referendum, precisely because both saw the Constitution as forcing France along a neoliberal path not faintly in their interests. But as Interior Minister Sarkozy's comments at the start of the violence laid bare, neoliberal globalization has a nasty habit of intensifying the prejudices and suspicions alternatively nurtured and suppressed by France's republican-nationalist ideology.
In fact, Sarkozy's language makes even more sense when we recognize that, in the present advanced era of globalization, the order is no longer "assimilate or die," but rather (as a New York Times editorial described it years ago), "dominate or die." In this zero-sum context, the refusal of the banlieues' Muslim inhabitants to "readily and pliantly assimilate" to either the republican or the neoliberal order has left the forces of law and order little choice but to (threaten to) cleanse them from the body politic. How else are the true French to retain some semblance of their thirty-five hour work-week and generous retirement benefits?
If globalization produces many economic dilemmas, it creates cultural crises no less potent in their threat to the status quo. As a recent article in Liberation argued, "The French model" in which people have "to forget their identity" to assimilate "cannot survive globalization." This is not necessarily a bad thing, of course. Decades of discriminatory assimilationism have produced, geographically at least, a "ghetto Islam" that is now viewed as a primary breeding ground for al-Qa'eda's global jihadis. But if the violence of the last two weeks has revealed anything positive, it is how unsuccessful extremist Muslim groups have been in significantly penetrating the urban youth culture of the banlieues. Islam is not the problem, then; rather the problem is that the majority of the residents of the banlieues are Muslim and/or black, and have been discriminated against on account of this for the entire history of the Republic.
Muslims might be physically ghettoized, but hundreds of interviews with teenage youth in the French and American press since the start of the violence offer a striking picture of those in revolt: They are rebelling precisely because they still dream of being accepted as French, not because they've given up on such a project. (Indeed, how one defines French identity is certainly one crucial issue that is up for grabs here). Several thoughtful French commentators even interpret the violence as a "refusal of marginalization" that reflects a deep acceptance of fundamental French values expressed in the "coupling of liberty and equality."
That may be. But if French society supports Sarkozy's push to crush the violence by cleansing the ghettos of their "troublemakers," the next "intifadah of the cities" could well be in honor not of Marianne, France's national emblem and the personification of liberty and reason, but of Musab al-Zarqawi and his successors.
Mark LeVine, professor of modern Middle Eastern history, culture, and Islamic studies at the University of California at Irvine, is the author of a new book, Why They Don't Hate Us: Lifting the Veil on the Axis of Evil (Oneworld Publications, 2005). His website is www.culturejamming.org.
© 2005 Tom Engelhardt
Former U.S. Army Interrogator Describes the Harsh Techniques He Used in Iraq, Detainee Abuse ... “Torture is the Worst Possible Thing We Could Do"
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With deep remorse, former U.S. Army interrogator Specialist Tony Lagouranis talks about his own involvement with abusing detainees in Iraq and torture carried out by the Navy Seals. He apologizes to the Iraqi people and urges U.S. soldiers to follow their conscience. Lagouranis returned from Iraq in January and until now had given no live interviews. But Lagouranis says he now feels it his duty to speak out about what he witnessed in Iraq:
MemoryBlog: Huge Lexicon of Official Secrecy & Transparency
Dr. Susan Maret - who gave The Memory Hole rare documents on chem-bio-rad warfare (which I'm still in the process of scanning and posting) - has recently finished her monumental encyclopedic dictionary of terms relating to official information as used in the past and present by the intelligence community, the military, the White House, federal agencies, etc. At over 300 pages, "On Their Own Terms: A Lexicon With an Emphasis on Information-Related Terms Produced by the US Federal Government" is a key addition to the literature of governmental secrecy.
With around 600 entries and (I would estimate) at least 1,000 references, this should be in the form of an expensive book from a specialized publisher, yet the whole thing is available as a free Acrobat file here.
Everyone should have a copy on their hard drive.
MemoryBlog: Honored by POGO
I'm extremely pleased to announce that the Project on Government Oversight - a prominent watchdog organization in Washington DC - has selected me for their annual Beyond the Headlines Award. The honor stems from my work running The Memory Hole, which involves digging up, preserving, and disseminating important documents, most often of a governmental nature.
There will be a ceremony in DC this Thursday. Two Senators (Leahy and Cornyn) will also be receiving an award for their efforts to beef up the Freedom of Information Act and otherwise make public information available to the public.
Click here for further info.
Thank you, POGO!"
Aljazeera.Net - Red Cross probes CIA 'secret jails'
The Washington Post said on Wednesday the CIA had been hiding and interrogating inmates at a secret Soviet-era facility in Eastern Europe.
The detention facility is one of several so-called 'black sites' that formed a global network set up after the 11 September 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.
'We are concerned at the fate of an unknown number of people captured as part of the so-called global war on terror and held at undisclosed places of detention,' Antonella Notari, chief ICRC spokeswoman, said.
'Access to detainees is an important humanitarian priority for the ICRC and a logical continuation of our current work in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay,' she added.
Spain to probe CIA flight claims
Announcing the move on Tuesday in Madrid, Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso said the matter could damage relations between Madrid and Washington.
He told Teleconco television that using Spanish airports for secret flights to transport terrorist suspects was 'a serious and intolerable issue' and one which could affect 'the level of relations between the two governments.'
The US embassy here refused to comment on what it termed 'such a sensitive issue'.
Earlier, Spanish daily El Pais quoted a police report as saying CIA planes carrying alleged extremists made at least 10 secret stopovers in the Balearic Islands off Spain's Mediterranean coast.
When informed of the report, the main branch of the Spanish secret service, the National Intelligence Centre, asked the CIA not to use Spanish airports for ferrying prisoners, El Pais said, quoting unidentified government sources."
Democrats slam Rove again; Call for revocation of security clearances
Following the Senate’s adoption last week of a Democratic Senate amendment to strip the security clearance of anyone who knowingly reveals classified information, a group of Senators today called on the White House Security Officer to reevaluate Karl Rove’s security clearance, RAW STORY has learned.
The list has grown from last week. In addition to Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) who first proposed the amendment on clearances, Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL), Jack Reed (D-RI),Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Mark Dayton (D-MN) have also signed the letter.
During debate last Thursday on the Defense Authorization bill, the Senate adopted an amendment by U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) to revoke the security clearance of anyone who knowingly reveals classified information vital to the national security of the United States, including the identity of a covert intelligence agent.
In order to avoid a roll call vote on the amendment, Republicans employed a rare procedure known as a “Standing Division” to approve the measure, Lautenberg's office told RAW STORY.
AlterNet: It's Obstruction Time
AlterNet: It's Obstruction Time By Stephen Pizzo, News for Real. Posted November 15, 2005.
We know now that George W. Bush is not trainable. What we see is what we get -- and that's exactly what we're going to get for three more years unless we stop
I spent the long weekend thinking about damage control. No, not the countless
damage control operations underway within the Bush administration now. I was
thinking about what we, the nearly 60 percent of Americans who believe
President Bush is doing a bad job, are going to do now.
Bush has three more years at the wheel. How are we going to keep this guy
from creating any more messes we, our children, and our grandchildren will have
to clean up?
I'm serious. We need a damage control strategy, and we need one fast. I wrote
a piece many months ago entitled "Obstructionists of America, Unite!" I
suggested that sometimes obstructionism can be the passive-aggressive exercise
of true patriotism. But the idea must have been launched too soon, because the
response to that piece was underwhelming.
Not now, though. If ever there was a time to employ massive obstruction, it's
now. After all the damage the Bushites have already done, are we really going to
just let these Typhoid Marys continue infecting everything they touch,
everything Americans hold dear?
I proposed back then that House and Senate Democrats stop running from
Republican charges that they are being obstructionists, and instead turn
obstructionism into a virtue. When Republicans accuse them of obstructing
administration plans, programs or appointees, instead of launching into some
convoluted, triangulated response, just thank them for the compliment.
Then use the opportunity to ask them why, in light of the administration's
abysmal track record, they are not helping obstruct this out-of-control wrecking
operation. In case they forgot, or weren't paying attention the last five years,
hand them this list:
First-term Damage Report
- They blew the Clinton $5.6 trillion surplus
- Cut taxes by nearly $2 trillion benefiting mostly wealthy earners
- Ran up national debt to
over $8 trillion -- and growing $3.5 billion a day
- Created record high energy prices and record high earnings for energy
- Started a war on false pretenses
- Global warming is on a tear (just ask the folks in Florida and Louisiana.)
- Treats real
scientists the same way the Catholic Church treated Galileo.
And he's not done. We know now that George W. Bush is not trainable. What we
see is what we get -- and that's exactly what we're gonna get for three more
years unless we stop him. Under our system of government, the only legal way to
stop a sitting president is to block his every move and abscess him off from the
We must especially stop him from creating damage that will persist long after
he's finally out of our hair. That means stopping him from stacking the Supreme
Court with right-wing Christian fundamentalists. The confirmation of Judge
Samuel Alito is certain only if Democrats allow it to come to a vote.WASHINGTON, Nov. 13 -- A coalition of liberal groups is preparing a
national television advertising campaign against the Supreme Court nomination of
Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. that seeks to move the debate over his selection
beyond abortion rights and focus instead on subjects like police searches and
employment discrimination, several leaders of the coalition said. (Full
If Senate Republicans try blackmailing Democrats out of filibustering Alito
by trying to change Senate rules -- the "nuclear option" -- and limiting the
filibuster, Democrats should shut the whole damn place down again, just as Harry
Reed did two weeks ago.
Then, behind closed doors, tell Republicans that if they persist with the
nuclear option, Democrats will shut the Senate down everyday from that day
forward until they relent. Nothing will get done. (Which is a win in itself,
considering most of what the administrations wants to get done shouldn't get
But real obstructionism is not for sissies. Democrats are going to have to be
ready to confront the GOP counterattacks. They will accuse Democrats of
everything from hurting our troops overseas, to giving aid and comfort to
terrorists, to putting all Americans at risk, to flat out accusing them of being
To which Democrats must respond, "Bring it on." Unpatriotic you say? Well
Mr./Ms. Republican, explain this to American voters:
- How patriotic is it for US kids to get killed to fulfill some neocon
wet-dream of democratizing the Middle East?
- How patriotic is it to lie to the US Congress, to the United Nations and the
American people to justify that deadly fool's errand?
- How patriotic is it to get over 2000 America kids killed just so we can turn
Iraq over to a convicted embezzler, serial liar and human scum like Ahmed
- How patriotic was it to appoint a certifiable imbecile to run America's lead
emergency response agency?
- How patriotic is it to turn America's once-robust middle class into a bunch
of underpaid Wal-Mart surfs?
- How patriotic is it to allow nearly 60 million American men, women and
children, to face life without even the most basic health coverage?
- How patriotic is it to saddle working families with skyrocketing energy
prices while energy companies pocket obscenely large profits? (Might this be why
they insist on keeping secret the Vice President's energy task force
- How patriotic is it to toss tax cut crumbs to hardworking Americans while
giving the already wealthy windfall tax cuts?
- How patriotic is it to stand by while your nation runs secret dungeon-
prisons offshore and tortures foreign prisoners in America's name?
- How patriotic is it to let large drug companies monopolize the market on
lifesaving drugs, and then pass a law prohibiting bankrupt Medicare from
negotiating lower prices for such drugs?
- How patriotic is it for top administration officials to lie to a federal
Democrats should tell GOP attackers they will be happy to explain to them why
obstructionism is patriotic, just as soon as they answer those questions. That
is, if they still need such an explanation.
Stephen Pizzo is the author of numerous books, including "Inside Job: The
Looting of America's Savings and Loans," which was nominated for a
Cheney Is on the Way Out!
In a momentous development, the Democratic leadership in the United States Senate, on Nov. 8, directly targetted Vice President Dick Cheney, with what amounted to a bill of impeachment.
Following the weekly meeting of the Senate Democratic caucus on Nov. 8, Minority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), flanked by Senators Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Richard Durbin (Ill.), announced the release of an Open Letter to President George Bush, demanding that Bush pledge, now, that he will not issue a Presidential pardon to anyone found guilty of a crime in the Fitzgerald investigation.
The letter read, in part: "It is crucial that you make clear in advance that, if convicted, Mr. Libby will not be able to rely on his close relationship with you or Vice President Cheney to obtain the kind of extraordinarily special treatment unavailable to ordinary Americans. In addition, you should do nothing to undermine Mr. Fitzgerald's investigation or diminish accountability in your White House. A pardon in these circumstances would signal that this White House considers itself above the law."
In a psychologically damning aside, Senator Reid told reporters, "We're asking President Bush to avoid following in the footsteps of his father, who pardoned six men—some were convicted, some were indicted in the Iran-Contra scandal."
While the only person so far indicted is Cheney's ex-chief of staff Lewis Libby, Reid began the press conference dramatically, by focussing directly on Cheney: "There is a dark cloud hanging over the White House," he said. "The Vice President ... sadly is in the middle of that storm.
"The manipulation of intelligence to sell the war in Iraq, Vice President Cheney's involved in that.
"The White House energy policy that puts big oil ahead of the American consumer, Vice President Cheney is behind that.
"Leaking classified information to discredit White House critics, the Vice President is behind that.
"Halliburton, contracting abuse—the list goes on and it goes on. Certainly, America can do better than that."
Briefed on the Reid press conference, Lyndon LaRouche declared, "This will blow the world wide open. This is tantamount to a bill of impeachment against Cheney. Now, no one can doubt that the Vice President is targetted. The whiff of impeachment is in the air, as of today."
Senate Democrats have been laser-focussed on Cheney since the Oct. 28 indictment of Libby on five counts of obstruction of justice and perjury. The indictment of Libby made clear that it was Vice President Cheney, personally, who gave Libby the identity of Valerie Plame Wilson, the CIA officer and wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson, and that both men knew that she was involved in covert work for the Agency, by her assignment to the Counterproliferation Division in the Directorate of Operations.
When the White House attempted to divert attention from Cheney with the Oct. 31 8:00 a.m. Bush press conference, announcing the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court, LaRouche immediately warned Senate Democrats not to be suckered by the typical Karl Rove ploy.
The very next day, Nov. 1, Senator Reid pulled off a masterful parliamentary stroke, by convening the Senate in a closed session, to demand that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) go forward with its "phase two" investigation into how Administration policymakers subverted the intelligence process to get their Iraq war.
The action by Reid not only put the focus back on Cheney. It forced the hand of Cheney, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), and SSCI Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.). During a heated closed-door Senate session, the Republicans, caught off guard and plagued by a simmering GOP revolt against Cheney, agreed to appoint a group of three Republican and three Democratic members of the Senate intelligence panel, to review the status of "phase two" and set ground rules for thorough completion of the probe.
"Phase two" referred to the Senate intelligence panel's agreement, in February 2004, to produce a detailed review of the role of the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Doug Feith, the office of the Vice President, the Iraqi National Congress, and other neo-conservative hubs, in the manipulation of intelligence to win support for the Iraq War.
On Nov. 7, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) issued a press release spelling out his criteria for a serious "phase two" probe, warning, "First and foremost, we cannot allow the delay in proceeding with Phase II to compromise the quality of the investigation and the report. We must apply the same standards of professionalism that were used to produce the first report, which dealt exclusively with the quality and objectivity of prewar intelligence assessments."
He elaborated: "The committee must be prepared to interview witnesses, including but not limited to individuals in the White House, the Office of the Vice President, as well as other senior policymakers. We must also have the ability to interview individuals in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy. If the committee is denied testimony or documentation, we must be prepared to issue subpoenas."
After two contentious days of SSCI closed-door negotiations Nov. 8-9, it appeared that Democrats had won important concessions from Chairman Roberts.
Cheney was dealt another bipartisan Senate blow, when Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and ranking Democrat Patrick Leahy (Vt.) reached an agreement that the Alito confirmation hearings would not begin until Jan. 9, 2006. This, despite heavy White House pressure to put the confirmation on a fast track, to divert Senate attention to what promises to be a contentious ideological and partisan fight.
Cheney's Tortured Life
The issue that has moved to the center stage of the Cheneygate battle, however, is the Vice President's longstanding support for the right of the United States to violate the Geneva Convention, the UN Convention Against Torture, and other U.S. and international laws, pertaining to the rights of prisoners.
Cheney, the Bush Administration's leading advocate of the right of American interrogators to use torture of prisoners in the "war on terrorism," has claimed that he only supports this flagrant violation of international law because of the "new situation" following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. But EIR last week published an exclusive exposé, showing that Cheney covered up Cold War torture programs, and one "national security murder," during his tenure as Deputy Chief of Staff and Chief of Staff at the Gerald Ford White House in the mid-1970s (see EIR, Nov. 11 or www.larouchepub.com for the full text of the exposé).
According to Capitol Hill sources, the EIR story hit Congress like a ton of bricks, escalating the resistance, particularly among Republicans in the Senate, to Cheney's obsessive one-man campaign to exempt the CIA from restrictions on torture.
Cheney crossed the line with a number of Republican Senators on Nov. 1, when he used the closed-door weekly meeting of the Senate Republican Caucus to launch into a tirade against Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), for his defense appropriations bill amendment, banning torture interrogations. Cheney had been lobbying for weeks for the CIA to be exempted from the ban, and he staged an angry attack on McCain at the caucus session.
This added to an already growing rift between Cheney and a large number of Senate Republicans. Already, 46 GOP Senators had voted for the McCain Amendment, delivering a 91-9 veto-proof defeat to the White House on an issue that has taken central stage in the battle to oust Cheney.
Senate GOP sources have told EIR that when Cheney appointed his general counsel, David Addington, as his new chief of staff, following the resignation of Scooter Libby, this was viewed as a slap in the face to lawmakers battling to stop the torture. Addington is known as the author of the White House "torture memo" that sanctioned the brutality from the top, following the 9/11 attacks.
What's more, just days after the EIR exposure of Cheney's longstanding policy of protecting government secret torture, The New Yorker magazine came out with its own exposé of the Abu Ghraib prison torture, detailing the murder-by-torture of prisoner Manadel al-Jamadi. The article, by Jane Mayer, provided new details on the killing of al-Jamadi, by CIA interrogators on Nov. 4, 2003—just months after Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had sent Army Gen. Geoffrey Miller to Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, to ramp up the interrogation operations, to gain more operational intelligence, at the point that the Iraqi insurgency had signficantly escalated operations against the U.S. occupation forces.
LaRouche characterized Cheney's fit at the Senate session, which was soon leaked to major news outlets, as a major blunder. LaRouche further described Cheney as a "Satanic personality," who will now make characteristic mistakes, accelerating his own political downfall. "Cheney can't help himself," LaRouche explained. "His political days are numbered, and this is good for the nation and the world."
Monday, November 14, 2005
Let them eat Merde
Sunday, November 13, 2005
'Man is born free and everywhere is in chains' was said by a Frenchman,
Jean Jacques Rousseau. Two centuries after Rousseau, another Frenchman, one
Nicholas Sarkozy describes millions of his fellow citizens as 'scum', among
several other pungent epithets directed at them because they happen not to
belong to what Sarkozy clearly conceives of as the master race."
The pundits of the western world are sure that all France needs to overcome
these problems is to embrace globalisation and to tear down its welfare state.
The problem, as millions in France and in this hemisphere see it, is that
globalisation is another word for imperialist exploitation and competitiveness
is a euphemism for slavery.
When Chirac says, "Whatever our origins, we are
all the children of the Republic and we can all expect the same rights", he is
in direct opposition to the rightwing globaliser, Sarkozy, who dismisses
Chirac's "children of the Republic" as "yobs", "fundamentalists" , "riff-raff"
and "vermin" and speaks of the need for the suburban ghettos to "to be cleaned
out with Karsher", an industrial cleanser Sarkozy's problem, and George Bush's,
is that 50 years on there are millions of Rosa Parkses around the world who are
refusing to be moved to the back of the bus.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: Fox News' Global Warming Special: Putting the Conserve Back into Conservatism
U.S. calls medics to Iraq police detention center - Nov 14, 2005
Brig. Gen. Karl Horst of the 3rd Infantry Division said the prisoners were found Sunday 'in need of medical care -- so I brought medics in.'
Iraqi police went further, telling CNN that many detainees in the Baghdad building 'had obviously endured torture' and were 'detained in poor health conditions.'"
Vietnam study shows bird flu virus mutating--media
Haunted by "The Iceman" -- Nov. 21, 2005 -- Page 1
Posted Monday, Nov. 14, 2005
Military Police at Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib prison dubbed him the Iceman; others used the nickname Mr. Frosty. Some even called him Bernie, after the character in the 1989 movie Weekend at Bernie's, about a dead man whose associates carry him around as if he were still alive. The prisoner is listed as Manadel al-Jamadi in three official investigations of his death while in U.S. custody, a death that was ruled a homicide in a Defense Department autopsy"