Saturday, January 21, 2006

Tucker Carlson: Bin Laden Getting 'Talking Points' from 'NY Times'

Tucker Carlson: Bin Laden Getting 'Talking Points' from 'NY Times'

Impeachment Cover-Up

Valley Advocate: Impeachment Cover-Up: "Bet you didn't know there's a growing desire, in Congress and among the general public, to see President Bush investigated for impeachable crimes. But wait: how could you know if the press won't tell you about it?
by Dave Lindorff - January 19, 2006

There are now eight members of Congress who have put their names to a bill calling for a special committee of the House to investigate impeachable crimes by the Bush administration. To date, all of them are Democrats.
So far, you'd be hard pressed to know about any of this--including the very fact that Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee, had even submitted such a bill--as well as two companion bills calling for censure of both Bush and Cheney for abuse of power.

Apparently in the editorial cloisters of our official Fourth Estate, where decisions get made as to what is safe or appropriate for us in the public to know, it has been determined that we do not need to know that the notion of impeachment of the president is starting to grow.

Most of the major corporate media have yet to let the public know that several respected polls have shown a majority of Americans to favor impeachment if Bush lied about the reasons for going to war against Iraq. That, if combined with polls showing that two-thirds of Americans or more think he did lie about those reasons, tells you all you need to know about the public attitude on impeachment.

The same paternalistic and pro-administration mindset was at work when the editor and publisher of the New York Times decided a year ago to squelch for a year a story they had about the NSA's warrantless spying program. They felt that we the people didn't need to know about that story in a presidential election year, even if the target of that spying may well have been the administration's electoral opponents, just as it was in the 1972 Watergate spying scandal.

There is a clear slide towards dictatorship taking place in America. The president, it turns out, has been signing executive letters along with many of the bills Congress passes, essentially asserting that as commander-in-chief in his "war" on terror, he reserves the right to ignore those bills. The latest such letter was signed by him as he signed the bill banning torture. In other words, he conceded to the bill, but then said he'll authorize torture anyway if he wants to, in his role as commander- in-chief.

The beauty of this presidential scam is that, since the "war" on terror will never end, neither will his self-claimed draconian powers. And what is the limit of those powers? Well, basically the limit is whatever Congress and the courts tell him those limits are. And are we seeing Congress and the courts setting any limits? No.

A major part of the problem is that the media that are supposed to inform the American public about what is happening are instead dropping the ball, or even hiding it.

I write these words in Rome, where I am, among other things, looking into one dark corner of the administration's crimes--the forgery of documents designed to make it appear that Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program and was trying to buy uranium. An Italian parliamentary committee concluded this past fall that the forgeries were the work of long-time right-wing con-man Michael Ledeen, who helped bring us the criminal Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages-and-stinger-missiles deal during the Reagan administration, along with Dewey Clarridge (another Iran-Contra veteran), convicted bank swindler Ahmed Chalabi and Frank Brookes, a PR man hired by the Pentagon to promote Chalabi's CIA-created Iraqi National Congress.

That's another story that we didn't see in most of our corporate media, though, given that all those people are connected tightly to the White House and the Pentagon, it suggests strongly that top White House officials were behind the whole Niger document scam.

If so, it would make Lyndon Johnson's Tonkin Gulf deception seem like child's play (and all by itself would be grounds for impeachment).

I should note that Italy provides a good model of where the U.S. is heading. Here virtually the entire media--and certainly the entire electronic media--are owned by the right-wing prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi. Except for some fortunately excellent independent newspapers, like La Repubblica, which did most of the investigative work into the Niger document forgery story, it's hard to get any information in Italy about what its government is doing.

Of course, Italy appears to have an advantage the United States lacks: its right wing faces genuine political opposition.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Abramoff's Great Grandfather names son 'Jack' with 'off' at the end. Family Tradition?

Abramoff's dad throws Hissy Fit: "You want to make fun. You can do that, but you don't make fun of someone else's hardships and misery,' the 78-year-old Abramoff said. 'We've gone through quite a bit, our family. But the political end of it and the media end of it and all the other areas are one thing. When you see something like that on a show for 500 million people, it was not only a slap in my son's face but in my father's.'"

5 Years Ago Today

The White House issued a memorandum on the Standards of
Official Conduct.
Everyone who enters into public service for the United
States has a duty to the American people to maintain the highest standards of
integrity in Government. On a related note, Karl Rove is lecturing
on how to use the issue of national security.

WHY WE FIGHT — a fresh look at the military-industrial complex

NOW with Bill Moyers. Politics & Economy. Inside the Pentagon: Defense Dollars PBS:

On July 31, 2003, Reuters led its business news coverage with the headline "Defense Spending Driving U.S. Economy." In January 1961 President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued a warning about this symbiotic relationship between government defense spending and the economy in his farewell address to the nation. Indeed, Department of Defense and related defense spending accounts for the majority of federal spending in nearly every state. And the U.S. accounts for 43 percent of world military spending. What are the actual numbers? Click to find out.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry
is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political,
even spiritual — is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the
Federal government. --President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Farewell Address to the Nation

The current U.S. defense budget one of the largest in American history. The defense budget has not reached the high percentage of discretionary spending that it held during the Reagan administration. (Discretionary spending is the the portion of the federal budget that Congress can disperse — in 1982 defense spending accounted for 61.1 percent of the total discretionary budget.) However, the 2003 and 2004 budget numbers do not include the costs of the war in Iraq or peacekeeping and reconstruction efforts. Current Pentagon estimates run to $3.9 billion a month to keep nearly 150,000 American troops in Iraq. White House budget director Joshua B. Bolten puts the total reconstruction costs for 2003 at about $7.3 billion.


U.S. Spending: As noted above, discretionary spending is the part of the budget over which Congress has control (the numbers exclude entitlements such as Social Security, Veterans Benefits and other mandated programs). The figures for the 2003 budget come from the most recent House Budget Committee documents as the full spending package has yet to be passed. These numbers are rendered in constant 1996 dollars for easier comparison. [Numbers were put into constant (1996) dollars by using the deflators 'total defense' and 'total nondefense' as presented in Table 10.1, Budget of the United States government, FY2004, Historical Tables.]

U.S. Budget Breakdown: The White House's Citizen's Tax Guide 2002 provides information on spending by agency and by function. The figures of spending by function reflect the discretionary budget. The figures by agency reflect the total federal outlay. Figures by function reflect interest payments on the national debt.

Sources: THE NEW YORK TIMES, July 31, 2003; Reuters: Defense Spending Driving U.S. Economy; Budget of the United States Government, 2004; Congressional Budget Office; Office of Management and Budget;
National Priorities Project

Bu$h terrorises school children with new 'Duck & Cover' fear campaign

Govt to prepare kids for terror, disasters: "After more than a year of delays, the Department of Homeland Security says it plans to launch a preparedness program next month aimed at alerting and preparing children for terror attacks and natural disasters.

The program, called Ready Kids, is scheduled to roll out with TV ads, school programs and other events.

"Ready Kids is a tool for parents and teachers to use to be able to speak to their students and children about how to be prepared for any type of disaster," said DHS spokeswoman Joanna Gonzalez.

Gonzalez said the program will include age-appropriate activities and lessons on preparedness.

FEMA, an agency within the DHS, already has a program preparing children for disasters. "FEMA for Kids" ( includes a pudgy and nervous-looking airplane leaking a trail of smoke, a hermit crab mascot named "Herman," and a song with a rap beat:

"Disaster . . . it can happen anywhere,

"But we've got a few tips, so you can be prepared,

"For floods, tornadoes, or even a 'quake,

"You've got to be ready - so your heart don't break."

Gonzalez said she didn't know how would differ from FEMA's program. FEMA spokeswoman Barbara Ellis said FEMA for Kids will include information about Ready Kids "as part of a coordinated promotional launch."

Federal officials originally announced plans to launch Ready Kids in September 2004, in conjunction with National Preparedness Month. Then the department announced launch for National Preparedness Month 2005, this past September. Gonzalez said she could not explain the delays, but said the program is definitely scheduled to launch Feb. 2 in Chicago.

Planned events include a roundtable discussion with Homeland Security officials, teachers, parents and psychologists, said PTA spokesman James Martinez, whose organization is working with the DHS on the program.

"The goal is to prepare kids and educate kids for emergencies," said Martinez. "It's something a little more elaborate but similar to preparing children for tornadoes by having them get under a desk."

Both Martinez and Gonzalez said they had no concerns that the preparedness program might frighten children.

"Personally I can remember learning to get under a desk for tornadoes and that that didn't frighten me," said Martinez.

Last year, Homeland Security officials refused to release proposals, drafts or any budget information about the Ready Kids campaign in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from The Associated Press. They said the program was still being developed.

The program is part of the Department of Homeland Security's $100 million campaign to prepare American citizens for terrorism disasters.

Earlier announcements about Ready Kids from the DHS have said it is "a tool to help parents and teachers educate children ages 8-12 about emergencies and how they can help get their family prepared." In August 2004, the DHS said the program would include a mascot of a dog, or a "homeland security hound," following in the pawsteps of McGruff, the Crime Dog. That year, the DHS also put the idea for a mascot-naming contest into the federal register for an open comment period.

The Ready Kids campaign is part of the larger Ready campaign, which debuted in February 2003, under contract with the Ad Council. The Ad Council described the Ready campaign as one of the most successful campaign launches in its 62-year history. That program focuses primarily on terrorism, and features a slogan: "Terrorism forces us to make a choice. Don't be afraid. Be ready."

The New York-based Alfred P. Sloan Foundation donated more than $5 million to the Ad Council in support of the Ready campaign when it faced cost overruns.

"Although the campaign has been a success, a number of developments resulted in major cost overruns," said a report on the donation prepared by the nonprofit foundation, which supports educational, anti-terror and other initiatives. "The original plan included a Web site that would exist as part of Homeland Security's Web site. However, it turned out that Homeland Security could not host the READY Web site with confidence that it would be secure and able to withstand high traffic."

The Sloan Foundation said about $1.8 million was needed to hire outside vendors to provide appropriate hosting and security for the site in 2002 before the launch. Other foundation funds were for production of advertising materials when it became apparent that donated ad space was available on billboards and in magazines.

The DHS assumed the costs of going forward with the READY program after Oct. 1, 2003."

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Alleged bin Laden tape threatens U.S. - Alleged bin Laden tape threatens U.S.: " Jan. 19, 2006. 10:58 AM

CAIRO, Egypt - Al-Jazeera on Thursday broadcast portions of an audiotape purportedly from Osama bin Laden, saying Al Qaeda is making preparations for attacks in the United States but offering a possible truce to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan.
The voice on the tape said heightened security in the United States is not the reason there have been no attacks there since the Sept. 11, 2001, suicide hijackings.

Instead, the reason is “because there are operations that need preparations,” he said.

“The delay in similar operations happening in America has not been because of failure to break through your security measures. But the operations are happening in Baghdad and you will see them here at home the minute they are through (with preparations), with God’s permission,” he said.

“We do not mind offering you a long-term truce with fair conditions that we adhere to,” he said. “We are a nation that God has forbidden to lie and cheat. So both sides can enjoy security and stability under this truce so we can build Iraq and Afghanistan, which have been destroyed in this war. There is no shame in this solution, which prevents the wasting of billions of dollars that have gone to those with influence and merchants of war in America.’’

The speaker did not give conditions for a truce in the excerpts aired by Al-Jazeera.

There was no immediate confirmation of the tape’s authenticity, although the voice resembled that of bin Laden’s in previous messages.

It has been more than a year since the last confirmed message from bin Laden — the longest period without a video or audiotape from the Al Qaeda leader. The last audiotape purported to be from bin Laden was broadcast in December 2004 by Al-Jazeera. In that recording, he endorsed Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi as his deputy in Iraq and called for a boycott of Iraqi elections.

Al-Jazeera’s editor-in-chief Ahmed al-Sheik would not comment on when or where the tape was received. He said the full tape was 10 minutes long. The station aired four excerpts with what it ``considered newsworthy,” he said, but would not say what was on the remainder.

Al-Sheik said the tape seemed to have been made “recently” but would not saw what led him to that conclusion.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Think Progress � FLASHBACK: Gingrich Said Democrats Think They �Run The Plantation�

Gingrich: Democrats Think They Run The Plantation": "“I clearly fascinate them,” Gingrich said of the Democrats. “I’m much more intense, much more persistent, much more willing to take risks to get it done. Since they think it is their job to run the plantation, it shocks them that I’m actually willing to lead the slave rebellion.” [Washington Post, 10/20/94] "

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

FBI flooded with useless intelligence after 9/11

CBC News: FBI flooded with useless intelligence after 9/11, paper says:
U.S. electronic surveillance generated so many tips for investigators after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks that FBI investigators were swamped and the information was not of much use, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

The U.S. National Security Agency, which gathered the information by monitoring international phone calls and e-mails of some Americans, provided the tips, including names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses. It was then the FBI's job to investigate them.

While the administration said the program was effective, the Times reported that current and former anti-terrorism investigators said few of the tips were useful, and agents were forced to stop other work to follow them.

"We'd chase a number, find it's a school teacher with no indication they've ever been involved in international terrorism – case closed," a former unidentified FBI official said.

However, "I can say unequivocally that we have gotten information through this program that would not otherwise have been available," the Times quoted NSA director Gen. Michael Hayden as saying.

The program may have turned up people with links to al-Qaeda that the FBI had not previously known about, and may have led to arrests outside the U.S.

The FBI complained to the NSA about the volume of tips.

The agency also raised issues about the legality of spying on Americans, which is illegal inside the U.S. without the approval of a special secret court.

But the Justice Department told the FBI that it was legal, the paper said.

FROM DEC. 16, 2005: Bush stands ground in bugging furor

The Times reported in December that U.S. President George W. Bush had authorized the NSA to monitor conversations within the U.S.

Bush and other officials have defended the program, saying it was legal, necessary and useful.

Monday, January 16, 2006

After Raw Story article, Republican National Committee modifies website

The Raw Story : "The Republican National Committee has revised their website in the wake of a RAW STORY article revealing that the Party had listed nonprofit organizations as 'GOP groups.'

An article this morning revealed that the Party listed non-partisan, tax-exempt nonprofits as 'GOP groups.' By this afternoon, the RNC had changed their website to list nonprofits and other groups illegally listed as Republican Party groups as 'Other Organizations.'

RAW STORY's earlier article follows. At left is a small screenshot of how the page appeared Monday morning.

James Risen (Patriot): Ottawa okayed `ghost flights' - Ottawa okayed `ghost flights': author"WASHINGTON—CIA rendition flights that fly in Canadian space or land at Canadian airports are doing so with Ottawa's permission, says the Washington journalist and author who uncovered the controversial wiretapping program approved by U.S. President George W. Bush.

James Risen, a national security writer for The New York Times and author of State of War, a study of the CIA under Bush, said such flights are operating with the complicity of foreign governments around the world.

The Canadian Security and Intelligence Service and Prime Minister Paul Martin would have approved the use of Canadian airspace, but kept other government agencies in the dark, Risen said.

"That's clearly what has happened in Italy, for example, where the local law enforcement and prosecutors are indicting CIA officials and it is fairly clear that somebody in Italian intelligence must have known what was going on," he said. "It stretches credulity to think the CIA is doing this without some local government approval."

Washington has come under fire in a number of European capitals for the use of other countries' airspace for its practice of "extraordinary rendition" in which terrorist suspects are flown to third countries, many with dubious human rights records, for interrogation.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has denied suspects are tortured, but one victim of rendition was Maher Arar of Ottawa, who has outlined the torture he endured during a prison stay in Syria.

There have been Canadian media reports indicating at least 55 "ghost flights" have passed through Canada in recent years, but the government of has been reticent to raise any questions with Washington.

A federal review of landings by alleged CIA flights at Canadian airports has found no evidence of "illegal activities," Public Safety spokeswoman Zuwena Robidas told Canadian Press.

But Robidas said the department cannot discuss "operational details" of the investigation, launched in the fall after word of the flights emerged.

Risen and his Times colleague Eric Lichtblau revealed the secret wiretapping by the National Security Agency before Christmas, handing the Bush administration a crisis, but also sparking a justice department quest to find the leakers and raising questions about the newspaper.

The Times sat on the story for a year, choosing not to publish it in the heat of the 2004 election campaign.

Risen will not discuss the internal deliberations at the newspaper, but senior editors there have said they were aware of concerns about national security ramifications raised by the Bush administration and spent some of that year toughening its story.

Risen concedes he spent much of the year fearful that another news outlet would break the story, but now he must worry about the Bush administration coming after him and forcing him to reveal his sources — something he has said he will not do.

"I don't think they should come after us," he said.

"I think that would be a tragedy for democracy.

"I think it's a big mistake if they start to use leak investigations as a proxy for curbing press freedoms in the United States.

"People who came forward, did so for the right reasons. They are whistleblowers. They thought something illegal was going on.

"I think they are real heroes."

U.S. Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales said Friday a justice department investigation into the leak is "very serious."

Bush, who has launched an aggressive defence of his right to wiretap without warrant during wartime, called the leak "shameful" and said it would only help America's enemies.

"I think it's too early to make decisions regarding whether or not reporters should go to jail," Gonzales said.

"We have an obligation to ensure that our laws are enforced. There's been a serious disclosure of classified information that's occurred in connection with this case and obviously we're going to look at it very, very seriously."

In State of War (Simon and Schuster) and newspaper articles, Risen points out that email between Germany and Italy, for example, or Pakistan and Yemen is routed through the United States.

"The secret presidential order has given the NSA the freedom to peruse that international email traffic — along with the email of millions of Americans," he wrote.

Risen also points out that globalized phone switching systems now mean that switches carrying calls from Cleveland to Chicago may also be carrying calls from Islamabad to Jakarta.

In the interview, he said he assumed it was possible that some of the phone conversations and emails which have been tapped originated or were received in Canada.

"I don't think any other countries knew about this program. It was very secret," he said.

Calls made from Toronto to overseas destinations may have gone through the United States and could have been intercepted, he said, but he did not know whether that meant the NSA was breaking laws in other countries as well.

Risen says the Bush administration says it is tracking the phone and email communication of about 7,000 persons outside the U.S. and about 500 people inside the country.

If it can be assumed that each of these people are making several phone calls and sending several emails each day, he wrote, that would mean the NSA is eavesdropping on thousands of telephone calls and email messages each day and "over time, the NSA has certainly eavesdropped on millions of telephone calls and email messages on American soil."

The wiretapping program will be the subject of hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee next month.

Gonzales has agreed to testify that Bush had the right under the U.S. constitution to engage in such an operation during wartime.

"We believe the legal authorities are there and that the president acted consistent with his legal authorities and in a manner that he felt was necessary and appropriate to protect this country against this new kind of threat," Gonzales said.

National Security Agency Whistleblower Warns Domestic Spying Program Is Sign the U.S. is Decaying Into a Police State

Democracy Now! | EXCLUSIVE: : "Former NSA intelligence agent Russell Tice condemns reports that the Agency has been engaged in eavesdropping on U.S. citizens without court warrants. Tice has volunteered to testify before Congress about illegal black ops programs at the NSA. Tice said, “The freedom of the American people cannot be protected when our constitutional liberties are ignored and our nation has decayed into a police state."

Gore: "America's Constitution is in grave danger"

The Raw Story | Text of Gore speech, January 16, 2006
Congressman Barr and I have disagreed many times over the years, but we have joined together today with thousands of our fellow citizens-Democrats and Republicans alike-to express our shared concern that America's Constitution is in grave danger.

In spite of our differences over ideology and politics, we are in strong agreement that the American values we hold most dear have been placed at serious risk by the unprecedented claims of the Administration to a truly breathtaking expansion of executive power.

As we begin this new year, the Executive Branch of our government has been caught eavesdropping on huge numbers of American citizens and has brazenly declared that it has the unilateral right to continue without regard to the established law enacted by Congress to prevent such abuses.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

TV crime dramas 'distort jurors' view of US justice' "JURORS in the United States are having their expectations distorted by popular television shows such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Law & Order, legal experts believe.
The influence of the two hit shows has permeated American law to such an extent that lawyers are now asking would-be jurors whether they watch the programmes, then changing strategies depending on the answers. "

Neo-Cons Accuse Chavez of Anti-Semitism "WASHINGTON, Jan 13 (IPS) - Despite objections by major Jewish organisations in Venezuela and the United States, some influential U.S. neo-conservatives are charging President Hugo Chavez with anti-Semitism, which they say is consistent with the country's friendly relations with Iran.

In what appears to be a new line of attack against the populist leader, two of the White House's favourite publications this week ran articles denouncing remarks made by Chavez in a televised address to the nation Christmas Eve as anti-Semitic.

Quoting Chavez as declaring that "minorities, the descendants of those who crucified Christ, have taken over the riches of the world", the Wall Street Journal's "Americas" columnist, Mary Anastasia O'Grady, charged that his words constituted an "ugly anti-Semitic swipe that was of a piece with an insidious assault over the past several years on the country's Jewish community".

Her column, entitled "The New Tehran-Caracas Axis", came in the wake of another article published Thursday in the neo-conservative Weekly Standard that also focused on Chavez' Christmas Eve broadcast as evidence, along with his "alliance" with Iran, of anti-Jewish animus.

"On Christmas Eve, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez's Christian-Socialist cant drifted into anti-Semitism," began the article, titled "Blast from the Past: Hugo Chavez Veers into anti-Semitism while explaining how to create a workers' paradise," by Aaron Mannes, author of the "TerrorBlog" and a book on Middle East terrorism published by the Jewish Institute of National Security Affairs.

To his credit, Mannes' rendition of Chavez' remarks included a phrase in the middle of the sentence that was omitted by O'Grady, which identified "the descendants" not only as those "that crucified Christ", but also "the descendants of the same ones that kicked (South American liberator Simon) Bolivar out of here and also crucified him in their own way over there in Santa Marta, in Colombia..."

As additional evidence of Chavez' anti-Semitism, Mannes cited his past association with "Holocaust-denying Argentine social scientist Norberto Ceresole", his praise of imprisoned terrorist Illich Ramirez Sanchez, better known as the retired terrorist "Carlos the Jackal", and his meetings with former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Mannes also cited Chavez' "alliance" with the Islamic Republic of Iran and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel's destruction.

Nor was this the first time that the Weekly Standard, which, along with the Journal, has depicted Chavez as a dangerous demagogue inimical to U.S. interests in South America and beyond, has charged the Venezuelan leader with anti-Semitism.

In another article last August, for example, it wrote that "(h)ostility to Jews has become one of the hallmarks of the Venezuelan government" under Chavez... and of Chavismo, the neo-fascist ideology named for him".

The article pointed in particular to a raid carried out on the "Hebraica" Jewish elementary school in Caracas in November 2004 by police commandos who were allegedly searching for weapons linked to the bombing that killed a local prosecutor, amid rumours that the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad may have equipped the perpetrators.

"The Hebraica raid was not an isolated or random act of state-sponsored anti-Jewish violence," wrote the Standard's Thor Halvorssen, president of a New York-based group called the Human Rights Foundation, who noted that the raid coincided with Chavez' visit to Teheran. As O'Grady wrote Friday, the raid was "a way to show Tehran that Venezuela is on board".

What is remarkable, however, is that the charge of anti-Semitism, which recalls remarkably similar accusations by the Reagan administration, neo-conservatives, and the Wall Street Journal against Nicaragua's Sandinista government 20 years ago, does not appear to be shared either by close observers of Venezuelan politics here, nor by some prominent U.S. Jewish organisations or even by the leadership of the Jewish community in Venezuela.

"Chavez has a lot of rage," noted Michael Shifter, an influential and oft-quoted Andean specialist and vice-president of the Inter-American Dialogue, who has been outspoken in his criticism of the Venezuelan leadership, "but it hasn't been driven toward Jews in particular."

The Hebraica raid was ordered by a local judge acting on his own initiative without the approval or direction of the central government, according to Shifter.

As to the anti-Semitic interpretation of Chavez' Christmas Eve remarks by O'Grady and Mannes, who in fact were echoing a formal protest to Caracas last week by the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre, it was explicitly rejected by Fred Pressner, president of the Confederation of Jewish Associations of Venezuela (CAIV), as well as two major U.S. Jewish groups.

"You have interfered in the political status, in the security, and in the well-being of our community," according to a draft letter from the CIAV to the Wiesenthal Centre obtained by The Forward, the largest-circulation Jewish newspaper in the United States. "You have acted on your own, without consulting us, on issues that you don't know or understand."

"We believe the president was not talking about Jews and that the Jewish world must learn to work together," according to the draft letter, which noted that the latest protest was the third time that the Wiesenthal Center had publicly criticised Chavez without first consulting the local community.

The two U.S. groups -- the American Jewish Committee and the American Jewish Congress, both of which have Latin America divisions -- echoed Pressner's contention that Chavez' comments, when considered in their full context, including sentences that both preceded and followed the (already-abridged) sentence quoted by O'Grady and Mannes, were not aimed at Jews.

Rather, they believe the target was the white oligarchy that has dominated Venezuela's and South America's economy since colonial times -- a theme that has dominated much of Chavez' political rhetoric for the past seven years.

Whether that will make any difference in the public or internal administration debate over U.S. policy towards Chavez is doubtful, however, as both the Journal and the Standard reach a much wider audience than The Forward and are particularly influential in key administration offices, notably that of Vice President Dick Cheney. The New York Times has reported that the White House receives 50 copies of the Standard, which is edited by William Kristol.

Ironically, Kristol's father, Irving Kristol, and the Journal's editorial page to which he contributed, led a public campaign to discredit Argentine publisher Jacobo Timerman when he emerged in 1980 from two-and-a-half years of imprisonment in secret prisons in Argentina claiming that Jews like himself had been systematically singled out for the worst treatment and torture by a military regime whose ideology was as close to Nazism as any since World War II.

Unlike Venezuela today, Argentina was then seen by the incoming Ronald Reagan administration (1981-1989) and its neo-conservative backers as a vital Cold-War ally."

Lobbying: The Web Widens

Newsweek : "Jan. 23, 2006 issue - Ohio Rep. Robert Ney personally lobbied the then Secretary of State Colin Powell to relax U.S. sanctions on Iran. Who asked him to? A convicted airplane broker who had just taken the congressman and a top aide on an expense-paid trip to London, NEWSWEEK has learned. Ney's lawyer confirmed to NEWSWEEK that federal prosecutors have subpoenaed records on Ney's February 2003 trip paid for by Nigel Winfield, a thrice-convicted felon who ran a company in Cyprus called FN Aviation. Winfield was seeking to sell U.S.-made airplane spare parts to the Iranian government�a deal that would have needed special permits because of U.S. sanctions against Tehran. Ney's lawyer, Mark Tuohey, said Ney had no idea of Winfield's criminal past, which included a 1982 conviction for trying to swindle Elvis Presley in an airplane deal and two more in the late 1980s for tax evasion. Tuohey said there was 'absolutely nothing improper' about Ney's raising the issue of Iranian sanctions with Powell and other Bush administration officials. At the time, there had been a number of civilian plane crashes in Iran attributable to a lack of spare parts. Ney, who had a longstanding interest in Iran, considered easing sanctions to allow spare-parts sales a 'humanitarian' matter, Tuohey said." News - CIA policy on terror suspects is 'illegal'
US POLICIES in the war on terror are contravening international laws on human rights, a top European investigator has said.

"The strategy in place today respects neither human rights nor the Geneva Conventions," said Dick Marty, the head of a European investigation into alleged CIA prisons in Europe.

"The current administration in Washington is trying to combat terrorism outside legal means, the rule of law."

Marty, a Swiss politician leading the inquiry on behalf of the Council of Europe, said there was no question that the CIA was undertaking illegal activities in Europe in its transportation and detention of prisoners.

"The question is, 'Was the CIA really working in Europe?'" Marty said. "I believe we can say today, without a doubt, 'yes'."

The Council of Europe, based in Strasbourg, began its investigation after allegations surfaced in November that US agents interrogated key al-Qaeda suspects at clandestine prisons in Eastern Europe and transported some suspects to other countries via Europe.

New York-based Human Rights Watch identified Romania and Poland as possible sites of secret US-run detention facilities. Both countries have denied involvement.

Marty said European countries had "a fairly shocking attitude" toward US policies, and that attention should not be focused solely on Romania and Poland.

"All the indications are that this 'extraordinary rendition' was already known about," Marty said, referring to the CIA programme of transferring terrorism suspects to third countries where some allegedly were subjected to torture.

Marty referred to the case of the abduction of Egyptian cleric and terrorist suspect Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr from a Milan street in 2003 to back up his claim.

Italian prosecutors claim he was taken by the CIA to a joint US-Italian air base, flown to Germany and then to Egypt. The prosecutors have sought to extradite 22 purported CIA operatives from the US, although the Justice Ministry in Italy has not yet decided whether to forward the requests to Washington.

Italy also has issued European arrest warrants for them, meaning they could be detained if they travel to any of the 25 countries in the EU.

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  • CBC - Fifth Estate - "The Unauthorized Biography of Dick Cheney " ...After seeing THIS documentary you will wonder why Cheney has'nt been FROGMARCHED to the Hague!!
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