Sunday, October 31, 2004

Watch this great clip of Congressman Tim Ryan (D, Ohio) schooling his colleagues about why youth don't believe the Bush administration's hype. This man is standing up and telling the truth! What a guy. I tip my hat to you Congressman.


Saturday, October 30, 2004

I know I will be accused of being un-American for posting this (if not a traitor), but in the spirit of trying to understand what is going on in the world, I think it is important to listen. Can you open your mind? Can you forgive your enemies? By doing so, it could be possible to change the world.

Transcript of Bin Laden's speech

To begin: Peace be upon he who follow the Guidance.

People of United States, this talk of mine is for you and concerns the ideal way to prevent another Manhattan and deals with the war and its causes and results.

Before I begin, I say to you that security is an indispensable pillar in human life and that free men do not forfeit their security contrary to Bush's claims that we hate freedom.

If so, then let him explain why did not strike - for example - Sweden.

And we know that freedom haters do not possess defiant spirits like those of the 19 may Allah have mercy on them.

No, we fight because we are free men who do not sleep under oppression.
We want to restore freedom to our Nation and just as you lay waste to our Nation so shall we lay waste to yours.

But I am amazed at you. Even though we are in the fourth year after the events of September 11, Bush is still engaged in distortion, deception and hiding from you the real cause and thus the reasons are still there for a repeat of what occurred.

So I shall talk to you about the story behind those events and I shall tell you truthfully about the moments in which the decision was taken for you to consider.

I say to you Allah knows that it had never occurred to us to strike towers.

But after it became unbearable and we witnessed the oppression and tyranny of the America/Israeli coalition against our people in Palestine and Lebanon, it came to my mind.

The events that affected my soul in a difficult way started in 1982 when America permitted the Israelis to invade Lebanon and the American 6th fleet helped them in that.

And the whole world saw and heard but did not respond.

In those difficult moments many hard to describe ideas bubbled in my soul but in the end they produced intense feelings of rejection of tyranny and gave birth to a strong resolve to punish the oppressors.

And as I looked at those demolished towers in Lebanon it entered my mind that we should punish the oppressors in kind and that we destroy towers in America in order that they taste some of what we tasted and so that they be deterred from killing our women and children.

We have not found it difficult to deal with the Bush administration in light of the resemblance it bears to the regimes in our countries, half of which are ruled by the military and the other half of which are ruled by the sons of kings and presidents.

Our experience with them is lengthy and both types are replete with those who are characterised by pride, arrogance, greed and misappropriation of wealth.

This resemblance began after the visits of Bush Senior to the region at a time when some of our compatriots were dazzled by America and hoping that these visits would have an effect on our countries. All of a sudden he was affected by these monarchies and military regimes and became jealous of their remaining decades in their position to embezzle the public wealth of the Nation without supervision or accounting.

So he took dictatorship and suppression of freedoms to his son and they named it the Patriot Act under the pretences of fighting terrorism.

In addition, Bush sanctioned the installing of sons as state governors and did not forget to import expertise in election fraud from the regions presidents to Florida to be made use of in moments of difficulty.

All that we have mentioned has made it easy for us to provoke and bait this administration.
And for the record, we had agreed with the Commander-General Muhammad Ataa, Allah have mercy on him, that all the operations should be carried out within 20 minutes before Bush and his administration notice.

It never occurred to us that the Commander in Chief of the armed forces would abandon 50,000 of his citizens in the twin towers to face those great horrors alone at a time when they most needed him.

But because it seemed to him that occupying himself by talking to the little girl about the goat and its butting was more important than occupying himself with the planes and their butting of the skyscrapers we were given three times the period required to execute the operations. All praise is due to Allah.

Is it possible that Bin Laden is offering a way out of this mess (which is more than what George Bush is offering)? He clearly states his reason for continuing threats against the US and the justification for the 9/11 attacks. Since I am not of the mindset that all the terrorists should be eradicated by never-ending violence (since that would be impossible), wouldn't it be a sane and rational option to at least consider what he says in an effort to diffuse ongoing hostility? I am sure I will be villified for even suggesting this, when the current mentality is to kill Bin Laden and all his followers. I won't give up hope that there could be a peaceful conclusion.

Bin Ladin muscles into US election race

Transcript of bin Ladin's speech

Usama bin Ladin has burst into the US election campaign, issuing his first video tape in more than a year to deride President George Bush and warn of possible new September 11-style attacks.

Bin Ladin, taunting the man who has vowed to take him "dead or alive" for the past three years, said Bush had failed Americans with his Middle East policies, deceiving the nation and provoking Muslim groups like al-Qaida to strike again.

Looking healthy and defiant in a video released from hiding to Aljazeera just four days before the US presidential poll, Bin Ladin accused Bush of complacency during the September 11 attacks in 2001, mocking him for going on with a visit to a school.

"Despite entering the fourth year after September 11, Bush is still deceiving you and hiding the truth from you and therefore the reasons are still there to repeat what happened," he said, making his clearest claim yet of responsibility. In what seemed a deliberate attempt to influence Tuesday's US election, bin Ladin used the opening line: "O American people, I am speaking to tell you about the ideal way to avoid another Manhattan, about war and its causes and results."
But he made little mention of Bush's Democratic challenger John Kerry, saying: "Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or al-Qaida. Your security is in your own hands and each state which does not harm our security will remain safe."

Bush, who ordered US forces to capture Bin Ladin dead or alive after the September 11 attacks, vowed that "Americans will not be intimidated or influenced by an enemy of our country" and said "we will prevail" in the so-called "war on terror". A US Department of State official said Washington had asked the government of Qatar, where Aljazeera is based, to prevent the station from airing the latest Bin Ladin tape.

Kerry, Bush response

Kerry, who has criticised Bush for failing to capture Bin Ladin by diverting troops to Iraq, called him "a barbarian".

The Bush administration tried tostop the tape being aired"I will stop at absolutely nothing to hunt down and capture or kill the terrorists wherever they are, whatever it takes," he said. Kerry is currently running neck and neck with Bush in the opinion polls.

After vowing to hunt down and kill terrorists, and noting that America was united in that desire, Kerry said: "I regret that when George Bush had the opportunity in Afghanistan at Tora Bora, he didn't use our sources to hunt down and kill Usama bin Ladin. He outsourced to the war lords."

Bush later said the Democrat's charge that bad strategy let the al-Qaida leader escape US forces in late 2001 was "especially shameful".

"Unfortunately my opponent tonight continued to say things he knows are not true, accusing our military of passing up a chance to get Usama bin Ladin at Tora Bora," an Afghan stronghold in 2001. "As the commander in charge of that operation, [retired general] Tommy Franks has said: It's simply not the case," Bush said. "It is especially shameful in the light of a new tape from America's enemy."


Bin Ladin, speaking forcefully and jabbing his finger, said he thought of the idea of attacking the US skyscrapers when he saw Israeli aircraft bombing tower blocks in Lebanon in 1982, during an invasion which he accused Washington of supporting.

"It occurred to me to punish the unjust the same way ... to destroy towers in America so that it can taste some of what we are tasting"Usama bin Ladin"As I watched the destroyed towers in Lebanon, it occurred to me to punish the unjust the same way ... to destroy towers in America so that it can taste some of what we are tasting and to stop killing our children and women," said bin Ladin.

"God knows that it had not occurred to our mind to attack the towers, but after our patience ran out and we saw the injustice and inflexibility of the American-Israeli alliance toward our people in Palestine and Lebanon, this came to my mind," he said.

Describing Bush's actions at the school on September 11, he said: "It never occurred to us that the commander in chief of the American forces would leave 50,000 citizens in the two towers to face those horrors alone at a time when they most needed him." Iraqi children
Bin Ladin said millions of tonnes of bombs and explosives fell on Iraqi children, under the order of George Bush, just for the sake of ousting an old agent and replacing him by a new agent to help plunder Iraqi oil wealth.

Bin Ladin said Bush's Middle East policies have failedHe said the September 11 attacks came in response to those injustices. The al-Qaida leader, apparently sitting or standing at a table against a neutral brown background, wore a white turban and white tunic under a light brown cloak. His full beard was a mixture of white and dark grey.

The White House said there was no change in the US terror alert level despite the video. A US official said the video did not appear to contain a specific threat.

US intelligence agencies believed it appeared to be Bin Ladin on the tape, US officials said. No coincidence
Commenting on the tape, Edmond Garib, a professor of international relations at the American University in Washington said: "Bin Ladin did not submit the tape by coincidence."The object here is to influence the American elections and to send messages to the Americans, Arabs and Muslims."Garib, speaking to Aljazeera, said Bin Ladin's wording might be understood in two ways.

"First, that Bin Ladin's attacks against Bush will push Americans to gather around Bush as they hate Bin Ladin, and will support Bush's position. Bin Ladin's target is to appear that he is a strong man who challenges the United States in the Arab and Islamic worlds. This will win him more money and followers."

Garib added that the appearance of Bin Ladin "in sight and sound will remind people that Bush, who used to talk about him and vowed to capture him dead or alive, stopped to mention him lately".

"This will support Kerry's position," he added.

Saudi-born Bin Ladin, who is in his late 40s, last appeared in a video broadcast by Aljazeera in September 2003, showing him and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri descending a mountainside calling for jihad and praising the September 11 hijackers. In April, Arab television stations broadcast an audio tape purportedly from Bin Ladin offering a three-month truce to Europeans if they withdrew troops from Muslim nations. The deadline expired with no word from Bin Ladin.

Friday, October 29, 2004

And Bush's reaction to all this? His usual disassociation from reality with his canned response, "Freedom is on the march".

Bad News Dogs Bush As Election Nears
By SCOTT LINDLAW, Associated Press Writer

YARDLEY, Pa. - The presidency comes with powerful tools that can help incumbents keep their jobs: a mighty public-relations machine, a bully pulpit, a famous airplane. Yet President Bush has been powerless to halt a recent tide of bad news, from surging violence and missing weapons in Iraq, to missteps by his own campaign, to a potentially damaging new probe by his own FBI. (Aside: Hmmm, I wonder who's going to be fired next.)

The inconvenient news has been magnified in the superheated atmosphere of the final week of Bush's tight race with Democrat John Kerry.

In a Friday speech, Kerry hoped to stoke the latest revelation: news that the FBI has begun investigating whether the Pentagon improperly awarded no-bid military contracts to Halliburton Co., formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney.

His running mate, John Edwards, said, "The special treatment of Halliburton is wrong."

For four straight days, Bush had been dogged by a report that nearly 400 tons of explosives disappeared from Iraq's Al-Qaqaa military installation.

Bush aides winced when former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a frequent Bush campaign partner and surrogate, said the troops in Iraq, not Bush, bore the responsibility for searching for the explosives. (Aside: Shame on you Rudy. At least have the balls to blame Rumsfeld, if not Bush, after all, the troops are only taking orders from their commanders, who get their orders from their higher-ups.)

"No matter how you try to blame it on the president, the actual responsibility for it really would be for the troops that were there. Did they search carefully enough — didn't they search carefully enough?" Giuliani said on NBC's "Today" program.

There was more: The U.N. nuclear agency said U.S. officials were warned about the vulnerability of explosives stored at the installation after another facility was looted.

Minneapolis ABC affiliate KSTP-TV, which had a crew embedded with the 101st Airborne Division during the war, released videotape that it said showed soldiers examining explosives at the massive Al-Qaqaa facility nine days after the fall of Baghdad. The video could possibly undermine Bush's suggestion the explosives were looted before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. (Aside: Yes, a rather explosive expose...pardon the pun.)

The presidency is a mixed blessing for incumbents seeking a second term, said Ken Khachigian, who worked in the Nixon and Reagan White Houses.

"You have to take the good with the bad," Khachigian said. "The good is, you're the president of the United States, flying on Air Force One and military helicopters. It's pretty impressive, and that's been helping the president."

At the same time, "there's a natural tendency in the media to try to expose the incumbent," he said.

But some of the headlines hurting Bush are not directly related to the campaign.

Thursday, there was new horror from Iraq: Insurgents slaughtered 11 Iraqi soldiers, beheading one, then shooting the others execution-style.

Two more U.S. soldiers were killed — one in a car bombing in Baghdad, and the other in an ambush near Balad, 40 miles north of the capital. More than 1,100 U.S. service members have died since Bush launched the Iraq war in March 2003.

A new survey of deaths in Iraqi households estimates that as many as 100,000 more people may have died throughout the country in the 18 months since the U.S.-led invasion than would be expected based on the death rate before the war.

Voters were reminded in the week before the election that the cost in dollars is soaring too.

Bush plans to send Congress a request of up to $75 billion early next year for additional money to finance wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and operations against terrorism, congressional aides said earlier this week. That's on top of $215 billion that lawmakers have provided since 2001 to wage war in Iraq and Afghanistan and begin rebuilding those countries. (Aside: HELLO AMERICA $300 billion spent waging war and cleaning up the mess. I repeat $300 billion. Money better spent AT HOME, educating children and shoring up our homeland security.)

Bush's camp prides itself on its professionalism, but his re-election campaign acknowledged Thursday that it had doctored a photograph used in a television commercial to remove the president and the podium where he was standing. The campaign said the ad will be re-edited and reshipped to TV stations. (Aside: Not really surprising, as it continues their trend of doctoring reality to fit their ulterior motives...nice parallel.)

A group of soldiers in the crowd was electronically copied to fill in the space where the president and the podium had been, aides say.

In his addresses Thursday, Bush skated past the bad news, sticking to his prepared remarks and avoiding reporters. On Iraq, he emphasized that elections are scheduled for January.
"Think how far that society has come from the days of torture chambers and mass graves," Bush said in Saginaw, Mich. "Freedom is on the march!" (Aside: What was it that I just said about doctoring reality...how quickly we forget Abu Grahib.)

Khachigian said the Bush White House should counterattack vigorously.

"I'm not going to second-guess what they're doing, but I'd encourage the president to be very aggressive, and it would be to his political advantage to lay the strap to Kerry," Khachigian said. Specifically, Bush should step up his denunciations of Kerry for whipping up the missing-explosives affair, Khachigian said.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Still undecided? Take this to the polls with you.

Ten Reasons America Needs a Change

PORTLAND--George W. Bush has been a busy boy these past four years. Because his Administration's policies are so radical and his attempts to change our country so far-reaching, it is sometimes difficult to remember them all. Here's a summary of why Bush and his gang of bloodthirsty corporate goons must go; voters may take them along to the polls to help them cast their ballots.

1. He stole the 2000 election. Voting to "reelect" an illegitimate commander-in-chief who seized power by judicial coup d'état is a tacit endorsement of how he got into the White House in the first place. How the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Bush v. Gore is irrelevant. As a federal court, the five runaway Supreme Court justices had no right to agree to hear the case. Under our system of government, elections--and election disputes--fall under state jurisdiction. Their decision to take the case, the way they fixed the outcome in Bush's favor, and Bush's willingness to assume the presidency extraconstitutionally are outrages that no patriotic American, even if they agree with his policies, can forgive.

2. He politicized 9/11. During the early days after the attacks on New York and Washington, a stunned nation came together to mourn, and to assess the motivations of the 19 men who despised us so much they were willing to commit suicide as mass murderers to drive home the point. Rather than channel our newfound solidarity into positive initiatives, however, Bush used 9/11 to push for the USA Patriot Act, fast-track signing authority on free trade, tax cuts for the wealthy, lax regulations for polluters and a multitude of items from the partisan Republican Party wish list. He portrayed Democrats and others who disagreed with him as un-American traitors.

3. He let the terrorists get away while giving them a payraise. The 9/11 hijackers were Egyptians and Saudis recruited by an Egyptian group, Islamic Jihad, with funding from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, some of whom received training at camps which were mostly in Pakistan, all of which were funded by Pakistani secret intelligence. Osama bin Laden, who may have funded all or part of the operation via Al Qaeda, was in Pakistan on 9/11. So who does Bush go after? Afghanistan, at best a back lot of Pakistani-backed Islamists and Iraq--which had nothing to do with 9/11. And what does he do about our real enemies in Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia? He sells them more weapons. Egypt becomes the second largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid after Israel, collecting over $2 billion annually. Pakistan, ruled by a pro-Taliban general who jailed and tortured his democratically elected predecessor, is encouraged to develop its nascent nuclear capabilities. The 3,000 victims of 9/11 remain unavenged--and the stage is set for future attacks.

4. He murdered nearly 100,000 people. The war in Afghanistan killed at least 10,000 civilians and 20,000 Afghan soldiers (of which 10,000 were POWs allegedly massacred by Northern Alliance soldiers as U.S. Special Forces troops supervised the slaughter.) As of three weeks after the fall of Baghdad, General Tommy Franks estimated Iraqi dead at 30,000 civilians and 30,000 Iraqi soldiers, men who were fighting to defend their country from a hostile invasion army. At least 10,000 more civilians and 5,000 Iraqi resistance soldiers have died since then. Neither Afghanistan nor Iraq have anything to do with the war on terrorism, which has yet to start. Both wars were waged to expand American military and economic hegemony and Dick Cheney's policy of "total energy dominance" over oil and natural gas resources. The world would be safer if Charles Manson, a mere amateur killer by comparison, were released and Bush was sitting in prison.

5. He bankrupted the treasury. When Bush took the oath of office in January 2001, the U.S. Congressional Budget Office projected a surplus of $5 trillion over the next ten years. Now, after two expensive wars of aggression and two series of extravagant tax cuts for the ultrarich--including the elimination of inheritance taxes on multimillionaires' estates--the federal budget is facing a $5 trillion shortfall. That's a $10 trillion net deficit--ten times more than the Reagan deficit that took Clinton his entire tenure to pay off--for giveaways to Bush-connected defense contractors like Halliburton and a fraction of one percent of wealthy individuals. Most Americans will get nothing out of this but the bill which, if history serves a guide, won't be repaid until our children are dead. Goodbye national healthcare, sayonara help with college tuition. Bush has stolen our future.

6. He threw thousands of innocent people into concentration camps. Drawing from another of fascism's greatest hits, Bush used his fictional war on terrorism as a lame pretext to throw thousands of Muslims and Arabs into a new gulag archipelago spanning the globe from secret CIA-run prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq--including the infamous Abu Ghraib--to INS detention centers in Brooklyn to the naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Detainees caught in battle were denied their Geneva Convention rights as POWs, tortured and even murdered. Illegal immigrants who should have been deported were jailed indefinitely without access to attorneys, or visits from family. In the ultimate Orwellian twist, they were turned into "unpersons"; even their names were withheld from the media. Any president who endorses such atrocities, as Bush has repeatedly done in speeches, is against everything that America purports to stands for. Bush has even signed a secret directive authorizing himself with the right to assassinate anyone, anywhere--including American citizens--as "enemy combatants."

7. We are more feared than Al Qaeda. Bush's radical new policy of "preemption"--a self-ascribed right to invade other countries based on a presumed hunch--has terrorized then international community. Even though they have never threatened us, nations like Iran and Syria wonder whether or not Bush will invade them next--and are racing to develop nuclear weapons to protect themselves from the U.S. threat. Our traditional allies, who still want to engage themselves with the rest of the world, have been forced to distance themselves from our bull-in-a-china-shop foreign policy. We, not Islamist terrorists, are the world's most feared power. We are feared, which is why we are hated. Because we are hated, we are in greater danger.

8. Bush has done nothing to improve the economy. At one of the presidential debates, Bush was asked what he would tell someone who had lost their job to outsourcing overseas. He answered that the unemployed had received their $300 tax cuts, and that within five years his education policies would start to help children. The truth is, Bush did nothing to jumpstart the weak post-dot-com economy he inherited in 2000. Like most Republicans, he favors high unemployment as a way to keep labor week and salaries cheap. A Bush victory would ensure more of the same--fewer jobs, lower salaries, reduced unemployment benefits. A president can do a lot to stimulate the economy: jobs programs funded by the government, tax cuts for the working class. But Bush won't act because it would run counter to his ideological beliefs.

9. Bush will appoint the next Supreme Court justice. Whether they're values issues like abortion or gay marriage, or the next election dispute, the Supreme Court is balanced on the razor's edge between reason and right-wing fascism. Sandra Day O'Connor and William Rehnquist, who originally intended to step down during the last four years but evidently decided not to do so because of Bush's lunacy, are over 80 years old. They may not last another four years. We can't let Bush have the chance to appoint their successors.

10. We deserve a president who can speak English and doesn't look like a chimpanzee. John Kerry is a far from ideal prospect but he's a huge leap forward from an evolutionary standpoint.

(Ted Rall is the author of two new books, "Wake Up, You're Liberal!: How We Can Take America Back From the Right" and "Generalissimo El Busho: Essays and Cartoons on the Bush Years." Ordering information is available at amazon.com.)

Why would the FBI feel the need to investigate this if there was no hint of impropriety? The corruptness of this administration knows no bounds...

FBI Investigating Halliburton Contracts
By JOHN SOLOMON, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - The FBI has begun investigating whether the Pentagon improperly awarded no-bid contracts to Halliburton Co., seeking an interview with a top Army contracting officer and collecting documents from several government offices.

The line of inquiry expands an earlier FBI investigation into whether Halliburton overcharged taxpayers for fuel in Iraq, and it elevates to a criminal matter the election-year question of whether the Bush administration showed favoritism to Vice President Dick Cheney's former company.

FBI agents this week sought permission to interview Bunnatine Greenhouse, the Army Corps of Engineers' chief contracting officer who went public last weekend with allegations that her agency unfairly awarded KBR, a Halliburton subsidiary, no-bid contracts worth billions of dollars for work in Iraq, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

Asked about the documents, Greenhouse's lawyers said Thursday their client will cooperate but that she wants whistleblower protection from Pentagon retaliation.

"I think it (the FBI interview request) underscores the seriousness of the misconduct, and it also demonstrates how courageous Ms. Greenhouse was for stepping forward," said Stephen Kohn, one of her attorneys.

"The initiation of an FBI investigation into criminal misconduct will help restore public confidence," Kohn said. "The Army must aggressively protect Ms. Greenhouse from the retaliation she will encounter as a result of blowing the whistle on this misconduct."

FBI agents also recently began collecting documents from Army offices in Texas and elsewhere to examine how and why Halliburton got the no-bid work.

"The Corps is absolutely cooperating with the FBI, and it has been an ongoing effort," said Army Corps spokeswoman Carol Sanders. "Our role is to cooperate. It's a public contract and public funds. We've been providing them information for quite a while."

Wendy Hall, a Halliburton spokeswoman, said the company is cooperating with various investigations, but she dismissed the latest revelation as election politics. She noted Congress' auditing arm, the Government Accountability Office, found the company's no-bid work in Iraq was legal.

"The old allegations have once again been recycled, this time one week before the election," Hall said. "The GAO said earlier this year that the contract was properly awarded because Halliburton was the only contractor that could do the work.

"We look forward to the end of the election, because no matter who is elected president, Halliburton is proud to serve the troops just as we have for the past 60 years for both Democrat and Republican administrations," she said.

Democrats have tried hard to make Halliburton an election-year issue
Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a Democrat on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee who has been investigating Halliburton's contracts, said his office was told the FBI recently sought documents from various government offices. The requests focused on how and why Halliburton got the Iraq contracts.

"This multibillion dollar no-bid contract to Halliburton was suspicious from day one, and now our worst suspicions are confirmed," Lautenberg said. "The FBI doesn't get involved unless there are possible criminal violations."

In a formal whistleblower complaint filed last week, Greenhouse alleged the award of contracts without competition to KBR puts at risk "the integrity of the federal contracting program as it relates to a major defense contractor." The contracts were to restore Iraq's oil industry.

Among the evidence cited in the complaint was an internal 2003 Pentagon e-mail that says the Iraq contract "has been coordinated" with Cheney's White House office.

The vice president, who continues to receive deferred compensation from when he was Halliburton's chief executive in the late 1990s, has steadfastly maintained he has played no role in the selection of his former company for federal business.

The Army last week referred Greenhouse's allegations to the Defense Department's inspector general. Documents show FBI agents from Quad Cities, Ill., asked Tuesday to interview Greenhouse. Her lawyers declined to discuss the contacts.

Greenhouse alleged in her complaint that after her superiors signed off on the Iraq business in February 2003, a month before the war began, and returned it for her necessary approval, she specifically asked why the work was being extended for several years.

Beside her signature, Greenhouse wrote: "I caution that extending this sole-source effort beyond a one-year period could convey an invalid perception that there is not strong intent for a limited competition," the complaint said.

The oil restoration work was given to KBR without competitive bidding through 10 separate work assignments called "task orders." The orders were issued under an existing contract between Halliburton and the U.S. military that was awarded competitively in December 2001.

While the Corps was authorized to spend up to $7 billion for the oil restoration work, the actual cost so far has been $2.5 billion. Halliburton is still working on the oil facilities, but it is now operating under a new, competitively awarded contract.

Hate Bush? Then make some phone calls with me to get this jerk out of office! Click here to make some calls to swing states.


Tuesday, October 26, 2004

This is it

Now is the time to give it our all. We need to be out there working minute we can, to defeat Bush. This is my plea, talk to everyone you can! Go to your democratic HQ and volunteer. Work your butt off. Now is our last chance! We can't complain if we don't do something about it when we get the chance. Now is our chance lets do it! We can beat Bush we just have to make for phone calls and knock on more doors than the other guys we have to want it more, and not only want it more but work for it more. No more time to write I gotta call voters in swing states!!!!

Caleb Hayes
And then there's this...absolutely disgusting.

Voter fraud alleged
Group accused of trashing Democrats' registration forms
By Adrienne Packer

Federal and state authorities are looking into Democratic Party allegations that a voter registration group hired by the Republican Party tossed out registration forms signed by Democrats.

The FBI and state officials are reviewing comments by Eric Russell, a former employee of Voter Outreach of America, who claims to have witnessed supervisors throwing away Democrats' voter registration forms.

Destruction of the forms is a federal crime, according to Clark County attorneys.
"We are gathering preliminary information and we'll discuss that information with the U.S. Attorney," said FBI Special Agent David Schrom. "Based on what his guidance is, we'll see whether there is a potential federal violation and whether we can initiate an investigation."
Secretary of State Dean Heller also said Wednesday he is reviewing state and federal laws to determine which might have been violated.

Russell, who was paid $8.50 an hour to register voters, said he was fired last month after protesting his supervisors' destruction of Democratic forms.

"I didn't think it was right to register Republicans when there are others out there that should also be allowed the opportunity to register," Russell said Wednesday. A supervisor "right in front of me was tearing up the Democratic registration forms."

A Chandler, Ariz., political consulting firm, Sproul & Associates, was hired by the Republican National Committee to register Republicans in Nevada, according to the Associated Press. In Nevada, a hotly contested swing state in the presidential election, Voter Outreach carried out the registration effort.

Nathan Sproul, head of Sproul & Associates and a former director of the Arizona Republican Party, denied Voter Outreach workers tore up forms, the Associated Press reported. He called Russell a disgruntled employee.

But Russell isn't the only former Voter Outreach employee to express concerns about the method used to collect Republican voter registration forms. And Sproul's tactics have also been called into question in Oregon, where officials are investigating his group's voter registration efforts.

Tyrone Mrasak said when he worked for the organization the daily goal was to register 18 Republican voters. If they reached their goal in two hours, for example, they could leave and still be paid for eight hours of work, Mrasak said.

"We didn't get credit for forms we brought back marked Democrat," he said.

Mrasak said he often loitered in front of homeless shelters and rewarded homeless people with cigarettes for registering Republican.

"As long as they have an address, they can register," Mrasak said. "If they were looking to bum a cigarette I'd say, `I'll trade you a cigarette if you sign this.' "

Democrats said they have done no investigation of the allegations themselves and have based their claims on a local television news report that aired Tuesday.

Their claims are the latest in a series of allegations from both parties that either Democrats or Republicans are trying to taint November's already contentious general election.

"Republicans are trying to steal this election," Democrat Steven Horsford said during a Wednesday press conference held to respond to Russell's comments.

"This is a horrible thing that has happened in this state," said Clark County Commissioner Yvonne Atkinson Gates, who also serves as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee's Black Caucus. "It's something we will not tolerate."

Brian Scroggins, chairman of the Clark County Republican Party, said the Republicans have "zero tolerance" for voter registration fraud. He added that Democrats have "selective outrage" over such matters.

"Some groups they've been involved with in the past have had allegations of voter fraud and they weren't outraged at that time," Scroggins said. "We are not out there trying to disenfranchise anybody or keep people from going to the polls."

In Oregon, officials opened their investigation on the heels of a local television report in which a paid-per-registration canvasser for Sproul & Associates said he had been instructed only to accept registrations from Republicans, and that he "might" destroy those from Democrats, the Associated Press reported.

News of the alleged destruction of Democratic registration forms reached Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, prompting Democratic National Committee chairman Terence McAuliffe to fire off a letter to his Republican counterpart. In it, he demanded to know why Republicans are funding "an organization that is ripping up voter registration forms of Democrats."

"We are deeply concerned these reports of Republican National Committee funded felonious activities ... could serve to discourage all voters from voting because of concerns of problems with their ballot," McAuliffe wrote in a letter to Ed Gillespie, chairman of the Republican National Committee.

McAuliffe urged Gillespie to refrain from paying voter registration organizations such as Voter Outreach until investigations are completed.

Voters who show up at the polls, but do not appear on registration rolls, may request to vote provisionally. Provisional votes are counted in federal races and only in case of a close election.
If provisional voters bring voter registration receipts with them to the polls it increases the likelihood their votes will be counted, according to county election officials.
County officials said if provisional votes come into play, the battle over which provisional votes count will likely end up in court.

Wednesday's denouncement of what Democrats labeled political "trickery" came one day after they decried Republican Dan Burdish's challenge to 17,000 Democratic voters.
Burdish, a Republican businessman and former state party executive director, challenged the voters in the 3rd Congressional District, arguing that as "inactive voters" they do not live at the address associated with their voter registration.

The accusations from both parties could lead to lawsuits should either John Kerry or President Bush win the state by a small margin.

The parties might be casting doubt on the registration process to lay the groundwork for lawsuits, said David Damore, a political science professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
"It doesn't surprise me they're trying to get this out there, put the doubt out there so they have some basis for a legal challenge," Damore said. "American political history is rife with these types of activities. It's unfortunate, but it goes to the issue of how intense this campaign is being fought in the sense people care about the outcome and that might lead them to bend the rules."

The Democrats have set up a phone line to answer questions about infringements on voters' rights. Voters can call 877-WE-VOTE-2 if they have questions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

An ironic endorsement...

President wins endorsement from admirers in the 'axis of evil'

AP in Tehran
Saturday October 23, 2004
The Guardian

He has accused the country of being part of the axis of evil, a harbourer of al-Qaida terrorists and a nuclear menace threatening global stability.

So President George Bush may view with suspicion a ringing election endorsement from one of America's current enemies. Iran has thrown its weight behind the Bush campaign, saying it is unimpressed with John Kerry.

"We haven't seen anything good from the Democrats," said Hasan Rowhani, head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, on state television. "We do not desire to see Democrats take over ... We should not forget that most sanctions and economic pressures were imposed on Iran during the time of [former Democratic president Bill] Clinton. And we should not forget that during Bush's era - despite his hardline and baseless rhetoric against Iran - he didn't take, in practical terms, any dangerous action against Iran."

Iran's declaration, however, is unlikely to be used on the stump by Mr Bush, despite the closeness of the race.

"It's not an endorsement we'll be accepting any time soon," said a Bush spokesman, Scott Stanzel, who suggested that Tehran should concentrate on pledging to "stop its pursuit of nuclear weapons".

With the adage that "with friends like these, who needs enemies" probably springing to mind, Mr Kerry's spokeswoman, Allison Dobson, said: "It is telling that this president has received the endorsement of a member of the 'axis of evil'."

Washington severed diplomatic ties with Iran after militants stormed the US embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. America supported Iraq in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, and relations plummeted again when Mr Bush accused Iran of being part of an "axis of evil" with North Korea and pre-war Iraq.

Since then, US forces have accused the Iranians of fomenting violence in Iraq.

However, Mr Rowhani did not seem to think that Iran would be targeted next. "At least Republicans have come to the conclusion in our region that militarism and invasion has not only failed to bring any results but, on the contrary, it is threatening their interests."

(NOTE on Rowhani's comment: I don't think GWB sees it that way, the way he has refused to admit a mistake and insists freedom is on the march.)

Not widely reported in the US media...

Al-Qaida’s vote for Bush
By Imad Khadduri

Monday 25 October 2004

Who would the 'terrorists' like to see elected in the upcoming US presidential elections?
Predictions about how they would try to influence this form of the democratic process were sparked by the train bombings in Madrid last March.

The timing of the attack, coming immediately before presidential elections in Spain, produced a backlash of anger against Jose Maria Aznar’s right-wing government, leading to the victory of the Socialist Party (PSOE).

The bombing was seen by many as a consequence of Aznar’s support for the US-led war in Iraq, a war opposed by the overwhelming majority of Spaniards. Aznar’s attempt to exploit the bombings to push the agenda of his Popular Party backfired and lead to his defeat.

But what does this augur for the US? National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was one of the first to speculate on this event's impact on the US presidential elections.

In an 18 April interview on the US news talk show Face the Nation, she said: "I think that we do have to take very seriously the thought that the terrorists might have learned, we hope (sic), the wrong lesson from Spain. I think we also have to take seriously that they might try during the cycle leading up to the election to do something."

This statement was followed by one from Attorney General John Ashcroft. In a 26 May press conference, Ashcroft said: "The Madrid railway bombings were perceived by Usama bin Ladin and al-Qaida to have advanced their cause. Al-Qaida may perceive that a large-scale attack in the United States this summer or fall would lead to similar consequences."

Ashcroft's supposition is that Bin Ladin would like to influence the US elections in the same way al-Qaida influenced Spain's.

What would similar consequences mean for the US? Defeat for the hawkish incumbent, Bush, at the polls and the derailment of a neo-conservative policy on Iraq.

Ashcroft all but said 'Usama bin Ladin wants you to vote for John Kerry'.

"The message the terrorists learned in Madrid is that attacks can change elections and change policy."

A handful of reporters chimed in, among them David Sanger of the New York Times.
In a May article, he issued what could be seen as a serious warning to the American people. Entitled Calculating the Politics of Catastrophe, the piece describes "obsessive" talk within political and national security circles about the possible electoral consequences of another terror attack in the US.

Sanger quotes a senior administration official as saying, "The message the terrorists learned in Madrid is that attacks can change elections and change policy.

"It’s a very dangerous precedent to have out there."

Immediately following the elections, administration officials and right-wing media pundits in the US denounced the Spanish population for learning the "wrong lesson" from the terrorist attacks and for "appeasing" terrorism.

According to Sanger, however, the Bush administration is making its own calculations over whether a terrorist attack can "change elections" in the US - in Bush's favour.

He writes: "Mr Bush's political aides - speaking only on background, because no one dissects terror on the record - argue that the crazier the world gets, the more it plays to the theme of the campaign: Now more than ever, the country needs a president who has proved to be strong on terror."

A more authoritative political aide, Vice President Dick Cheney, announced on 7 September that the US will risk another terrorist attack if voters make the wrong choice on election day, suggesting Senator John Kerry would follow a pre-9/11 policy of reacting defensively.

"It's absolutely essential we make the right choice on 2 November because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again and we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States," Cheney told supporters at a town hall meeting.

If Kerry were elected, Cheney says the nation risks falling back into a "pre-9/11 mindset" where terrorist attacks are seen merely as criminal acts that require a reactive approach. Instead, he says Bush's offensive approach roots out terrorists where they plan and train, and pressures countries that harbour them.

In all of this, little notice has been given by the Western media to an al-Qaida declaration following the Madrid bombing and published in full on 17 March in the Arabic-language dailies al-Quds al-Arabi and al-Hayat in the UK.

A week after the Madrid attack, the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, which claims to act on behalf of al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for the bombing and declared a truce in Spain to see if the new government would withdraw its troops from Iraq, but warned that it was gearing up for new attacks.

This part of the declaration was widely reported. However, very few mentioned the more ominous part of that declaration, short of excerpts which were reported by the BBC and Reuters.

The declaration turned its attention to President Bush, saying: "A word for the foolish Bush. We are very keen that you do not lose in the forthcoming elections as we know very well that any big attack can bring down your government and this is what we do not want.

"We cannot get anyone who is more foolish than you, who deals with matters with force instead of wisdom and diplomacy.

"Your stupidity and religious extremism is what we want as our people will not awaken from their deep sleep except when there is an enemy.

"Kerry will kill our nation while it sleeps because he and the Democrats have the cunning to embellish blasphemy and present it to the Arab and Muslim nation as civilisation.
"Because of this we desire you [Bush] to be elected."

A political tactic of this calibre should have perhaps appealed to pundits and political scientists in the media.

However, al-Qaida gravely underestimates the likely political result of an attack against the US in the months leading up to the election. It would lead to a landslide victory for Bush as it would resonate with the American culture's "circle the wagons" mentality and take orders from John Wayne.

Such an attack would play to Americans' deep inner insecurity and violent reaction to any threat has had disastrous effects, and not only to the American Indians.

Whether that threat is real, or manufactured, as that of Cheney's dire threat of an Iraqi invasion of Saudi Arabia in 1991 citing satellite photos (that have not been shown or proven to this day) which induced Saudi Arabia to invite US forces to invade Iraq, or his pushing the assertion and spin of an Iraqi nuclear threat in 2002 and 2003 (he was claiming that US intelligence had proof of Iraq's nuclear weapons up to two days before Iraq's occupation) and ended with the disastrous occupation of Iraq, the American people's reaction is explosive and dangerous.

What is a cause for concern is that half the American people still wrongly believe that Iraq had links with al-Qaida and a hand in the 9/11 attacks, and that cushions the outrage they should feel after tens of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians, as well as more than a thousand of their soldiers.

The wide-eyed view of America's "war on terror" is dangerous to the whole world.

Monday, October 25, 2004

More bad news from Iraq. How can any doubts remain that this effort was a catastrophic disaster? But...freedom is on the march...according to Bush. That would be laughable if this whole thing wasn't so tragic.

Iraq Suspects Infiltrators in Massacre
By ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqi officials suspect that about 50 U.S.-trained Iraqi soldiers slain by insurgents — many of them execution-style — may have been set up by rebel infiltrators in their ranks.

Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group claimed responsibility for the weekend attack, the deadliest ambush of the 18-month insurgency. The claim was posted Sunday on an Islamist Web site but its authenticity could not be confirmed.

On Monday, a suicide car bomber attacked a U.S. convoy in Khaldiyah, a town about 50 miles west of the capital, destroying at least two Humvees. Police said there were American casualties, but the number was not immediately known. The U.S. military had no immediate comment.

In Baghdad, a car bomb targeting an Australian military convoy exploded near the Australian Embassy, killing three Iraqis and wounding eight others, including three Australian soldiers, according to Iraqi and Australian officials. A separate roadside bomb killed one American soldier and wounded five others in western Baghdad.

The 50 unarmed Iraqi soldiers were killed on their way home after completing a training course at the Kirkush military camp northeast of Baghdad when their buses were stopped Saturday evening by rebels about 95 miles east of Baghdad, Interior Ministry spokesman Adnan Abdul-Rahman said.

Some accounts by police said the rebels were dressed in Iraqi military uniforms. The insurgents forced many of the soldiers to lie down on the ground and then shot them in the head, officials said Sunday.

There was confusion over the precise number of Iraqi soldiers killed in the ambush, although the Iraqi National Guard said 48 troops and three drivers were killed.

Abdul-Rahman said 37 bodies were found Sunday on the ground with their hands behind their backs, shot execution-style. Twelve others were found in a burned bus, he said. Some officials quoted witnesses as saying insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades at one bus.

"After inspection, we found out that they were shot after being ordered to lay down on the earth," Gen. Walid al-Azzawi, commander of the Diyala provincial police, said, adding that the bodies were laid out in four rows, with 12 bodies in each row.

The killing of so many Iraqi soldiers in such an apparently sure-footed operation reinforced American and Iraqi suspicions that the country's security services have been infiltrated by insurgents.

Iraqi police and soldiers have been increasingly targeted by insurgents, mostly with car bombs and mortar shells. However, the fact that the insurgents were able to strike at so many unarmed soldiers in such a remote region suggested the guerrillas may have had advance word on the soldiers' travel.

"There was probably collusion among the soldiers or other groups," Diyala's deputy Gov. Aqil Hamid al-Adili told Al-Arabiya television. "Otherwise, the gunmen would not have gotten the information about the soldiers' departure from their training camp and that they were unarmed."

Last week, a U.S. defense official said in Washington that some members of the Iraqi security services have developed sympathies and contacts with the guerrillas. In other instances, infiltrators were sent to join the security services, the official said on condition of anonymity.

He cited a mortar attack Tuesday on an Iraqi National Guard compound north of Baghdad as a possible inside job. The attackers apparently knew when and where the soldiers were gathering and dropped mortar rounds in the middle of their formation. At least four Iraqis were killed and 80 wounded.

The extent of rebel infiltration is unknown. However, it raises concern about the American strategy of handing over more responsibility to Iraqi security forces so U.S. forces could be drawn down.

In a Web site posting, the al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility for the ambush, saying "God enabled the Mujahedeen to kill all" the soldiers and "seize two cars and money."

Al-Zarqawi and his movement are believed to be behind dozens of attacks on Iraqi and U.S.-led forces and kidnappings of foreigners. Many of those hostages, including three Americans, have been beheaded — some purportedly by al-Zarqawi himself.

The United States has put a $25 million bounty on al-Zarqawi — the same amount as for Osama bin Laden. U.S. officials believe al-Zarqawi's group is based in Fallujah, an insurgent bastion 40 miles west of Baghdad.

Elsewhere, a U.S. diplomat was killed Sunday morning when a rebel-fired rocket or mortar shell crashed into an American base near the Baghdad airport, the U.S. Embassy announced.

Edward Seitz, 41, an agent with the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, was believed to be the first U.S. diplomat killed in Iraq since the war began in 2003. Al-Jazeera television reported Sunday that the militant Islamic Army of Iraq claimed responsibility for the attack.

One American soldier also was wounded in the pre-dawn attack that killed Seitz. The attack occurred at Camp Victory, the headquarters of the U.S.-led coalition's ground forces command.

Seitz was believed to be the first full-time State Department officer killed in Iraq. In October 2003, a female U.S. Foreign Service officer was severely wounded in the arm in a rocket barrage on the Rasheed Hotel.

In other developments Monday:

_ Police said a city council leader was gunned down Monday during a drive-by shooting in Mahmoudiya, about 25 miles south of Baghdad. Dhari Ali was killed outside his home, police said.

_ Insurgents launched two near-simultaneous bomb attacks on a government compound and a military convoy in the northern city of Mosul, the U.S. military and Iraqi officials said. Three people inside the compound were killed and another one was injured in the morning blast, provincial government spokesman Hazem Jalawi said. An Iraqi general was slightly injured in the convoy attack.

_ Rebels and U.S. forces battled in the central town of Ramadi, and hospital officials reported three Iraqis were killed. Insurgents bombed one American security patrol and ambushed a separate convoy with small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and an improvised explosive, the U.S. military said. No Americans were injured.

_ About 150 Iraqis rallied Monday in front of the Baghdad offices of CARE International to demand the release of aid worker Margaret Hassan, its Iraqi director who was abducted Oct. 20. Hassan, 59, who holds British, Irish and Iraqi citizenship, is married to an Iraqi and has spent nearly half her life in humanitarian work in this country. No group has acknowledged holding her but a videotape broadcast last week by Al-Jazeera showed a terrified Hassan begging for her life and pleading with British Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites) to remove British soldiers from Iraq.


Associated Press reporters Rawya Rageh in Baghdad, Hanna Daghestani in Baqouba and Abdul Razzak Jabr in Kut contributed to this report.

I doubt we will get an answer from the White House as to why the explosives on this military facility were not secured, beyond Bush's rhetoric that he is the best candidate to keep America safe. How much more apparent can it be that it is Bush that we need to be protected from???

IAEA Says Tons of Iraq Explosives Missing
By WILLIAM J. KOLE, Associated Press Writer

VIENNA, Austria - Several hundred tons of conventional explosives are missing from a former Iraqi military facility that once played a key role in Saddam Hussein's efforts to build a nuclear bomb, the U.N. nuclear agency confirmed Monday.

International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei will report the materials' disappearance to the U.N. Security Council later Monday, spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told The Associated Press.

"On Oct. 10, the IAEA received a declaration from the Iraqi Ministry of Science and Technology informing us that approximately 350 (metric) tons of high explosive material had gone missing," Fleming said.

"The most immediate concern here is that these explosives could have fallen into the wrong hands."

In Washington, Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry's campaign said the Bush administration "must answer for what may be the most grave and catastrophic mistake in a tragic series of blunders in Iraq."

"How did they fail to secure ... tons of known, deadly explosives despite clear warnings from the International Atomic Energy Agency to do so?" senior Kerry adviser Joe Lockhart said in a statement.

The Iraqis told the nuclear agency the materials had been stolen and looted because of a lack of security at governmental installations, Fleming said.

"We do not know what happened to the explosives or when they were looted," she told AP.
Nearly 380 tons of powerful explosives that could be used to build large conventional bombs are missing from the former Al Qaqaa military installation, The New York Times reported Monday. The 380 tons is the U.S. equivalent of the figure of 350 metric tons mentioned by the Iraqis, the IAEA said.

The newspaper said they disappeared after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq last year.
The explosives included HMX and RDX, which can be used to demolish buildings, down jetliners, produce warheads for missiles and detonate nuclear weapons. HMX and RDX are key ingredients in plastic explosives such as C-4 and Semtex — substances so powerful that Libyan terrorists needed just 1 pound to blow up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, killing 170 people.

Bush's national security adviser, Condoleeza Rice, was informed of the missing explosives in the past month, the report said. It said Iraq's interim government recently warned the United States and U.N. nuclear inspectors that the explosives had vanished.

"Upon receiving the declaration on Oct. 10, we first took measures to authenticate it," Fleming said. "Then on Oct. 15, we informed the multinational forces through the U.S. government with the request for it to take any appropriate action in cooperation with Iraq's interim government."
"Mr. ElBaradei wanted to give them some time to recover the explosives before reporting this loss to the Security Council, but since it's now out, ElBaradei plans to inform the Security Council today" in a letter to the council president, she said.

Before the war, inspectors with the Vienna-based IAEA had kept tabs on the so-called "dual use" explosives because they could have been used to detonate a nuclear weapon. Experts say HMX can be used to create a highly powerful explosion with enough intensity to ignite the fissile material in an atomic bomb and set off a nuclear chain reaction.

IAEA inspectors pulled out of Iraq just before the 2003 invasion and have not yet been able to return despite ElBaradei's repeated urging that the experts be allowed back in to finish their work.

ElBaradei told the U.N. Security Council before the war that Iraq's nuclear program was in disarray and that there was no evidence to suggest it had revived efforts to build atomic weaponry.

Al Qaqaa, a sprawling former military installation about 30 miles south of Baghdad, was placed under U.S. military control but repeatedly has been looted, raising troubling questions about whether the missing explosives have fallen into the hands of insurgents battling coalition forces.
Saddam was known to have used the site to make conventional warheads, and IAEA inspectors dismantled parts of his nuclear program there before the 1991 Gulf War. The experts also oversaw the destruction of Iraq's chemical and biological weapons.

The nuclear agency pulled out of Iraq in 1998, and by the time it returned in 2002, it confirmed that 35 tons of HMX that had been placed under IAEA seal were missing. HMX and RDX are the key components in plastic explosives, which insurgents have widely used in a series of bloody car bombings in Iraq.

"These explosives can be used to blow up airplanes, level buildings, attack our troops and detonate nuclear weapons," Lockhart said.

"The Bush administration knew where this stockpile was, but took no action to secure the site. They were urgently and specifically informed that terrorists could be helping themselves to the most dangerous explosives bonanza in history, but nothing was done to prevent it from happening," he said.

"This material was monitored and controlled by U.N. inspectors before the invasion of Iraq. Thanks to the stunning incompetence of the Bush administration, we now have no idea where it is," Lockhart said. He demanded the White House explain "why they failed to safeguard these explosives and keep them out of the hands of our enemies."

ElBaradei told the United Nations in February 2003 that Iraq had declared that "HMX previously under IAEA seal had been transferred for use in the production of industrial explosives, primarily to cement plants as a booster for explosives used in quarrying."
"However, given the nature of the use of high explosives, it may well be that the IAEA will be unable to reach a final conclusion on the end use of this material," ElBaradei warned at the time.
"A large quantity of these explosives were under IAEA seal because they do have a nuclear application," Fleming said Monday.

The nuclear agency has no concrete evidence to suggest the seals were broken, Fleming said, but a diplomat familiar with the agency's work in Iraq said the seals must have been broken if the explosives were stolen.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Bush's Blinkers
Published: October 22, 2004

Does President Bush even tip his hat to reality as he goes breezing by?

He often behaves as if he sees - or is in touch with - things that are inaccessible to those who are grounded in the reality most of us have come to know. For example, with more than 1,000 American troops and more than 10,000 Iraqi civilians dead, many people see the ongoing war in Iraq as a disaster, if not a catastrophe. Mr. Bush sees freedom on the march.

Many thoughtful analysts see a fiscal disaster developing here at home, with the president's tax cuts being the primary contributor to the radical transformation of a $236 billion budget surplus into a $415 billion deficit. The president sees, incredibly, a need for still more tax cuts.

The United States was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, by Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. The president responded by turning most of the nation's firepower on Saddam Hussein and Iraq. When Mr. Bush was asked by the journalist Bob Woodward if he had consulted with former President Bush about the decision to invade Iraq, the president replied: "He is the wrong father to appeal to in terms of strength. There is a higher father that I appeal to."

Last week the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University said in a report:
"During the past year Iraq has become a major distraction from the global war on terrorism. Iraq has now become a convenient arena for jihad, which has helped Al Qaeda to recover from the setback it suffered as a result of the war in Afghanistan. With the growing phenomenon of suicide bombing, the U.S. presence in Iraq now demands more and more assets that might have otherwise been deployed against various dimensions of the global terrorist threat."

There are consequences, often powerful consequences, to turning one's back on reality. The president may believe that freedom's on the march, and that freedom is God's gift to every man and woman in the world, and perhaps even that he is the vessel through which that gift is transmitted. But when he is crafting policy decisions that put people by the hundreds of thousands into harm's way, he needs to rely on more than the perceived good wishes of the Almighty. He needs to submit those policy decisions to a good hard reality check.

Here's one good reason why:
Dr. Gene Bolles spent two years as the chief of neurosurgery at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, which is where most of the soldiers wounded in Iraq are taken. Among his patients was Pfc. Jessica Lynch. In an interview posted this week on the Web site AlterNet.org, Dr. Bolles was asked: "What kind of cases did you treat in Landstuhl? And these were mostly kids, right?"

He said: "Well, I call them that since I'm 62 years old. And they were 18, 19, maybe 21. They all seemed young. Certainly younger than my children. As a neurosurgeon I mostly dealt with injuries to the brain, the spinal cord, or the spine itself. The injuries were all fairly horrific, anywhere from the loss of extremities, multiple extremities, to severe burns. It just goes on and on and on. ... As a doctor myself who has seen trauma throughout his career, I've never seen it to this degree. The numbers, the degree of injuries. It really kind of caught me off guard."

If you're the president and you're contemplating a war in which thousands of deaths and tens of thousands of these kinds of injuries will take place, you have an obligation to seek out the best sources of information and the wisest advice from the widest possible array of counselors. And you have an absolute obligation to exercise sound judgment based upon facts, and not simply faith.

In a disturbing article in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine, the writer Ron Suskind told of a meeting he'd had with a senior adviser to the president. The White House at the time was unhappy about an article Mr. Suskind had written.

According to Mr. Suskind, "The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' " The aide told Mr. Suskind, "That's not the way the world really works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act we create our own reality."

Got that? We may think there are real-world consequences to the policies of the president, real pain and real grief for real people. But to the White House, that kind of thinking is passé. The White House doesn't even recognize that kind of reality.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Here it is again...anyone who says anything negative about the Bush administration is a liar. What exactly would be Pat Robertson's motivation for lying? It's not like he's a Kerry supporter. As one of the religious right, I can't imagine he would back anybody but Bush.

Robertson: Bush told him there'd be no war casualties
Televangelist's recall is disputed by White House
New York Times

WASHINGTON - The evangelical broadcaster Pat Robertson set off a partisan firefight Wednesday after telling a television interviewer that President Bush had serenely assured him that, "Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties" in the invasion of Iraq.

In an interview on CNN broadcast Tuesday night, Robertson said Bush's comment came in a meeting in Nashville, Tenn., in March 2003, at which he warned the president before the invasion to prepare the public for casualties.

Robertson, a former Marine who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, said he had had "deep misgivings" about the war but that the president looked "like a contented Christian with four aces," as Robertson put it, using a quotation from Mark Twain.

"I mean, he was just sitting there like, 'I am on top of the world,' " Robertson said.

"The Lord told me it was going to be A, a disaster, and B, messy," Robertson continued, adding that he wished Bush would acknowledge his mistake.

The White House disputed Roberston's recollections and Democrats pounced on the chance to make Bush contradict the televangelist, a prominent supporter.

"Is Pat Robertson telling the truth when he said you didn't think there'd be any casualties, or is Pat Robertson lying?" Mike McCurry, a spokesman for Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate, asked on the campaign trail in Waterloo, Iowa.

"I think given the prominence of Rev. Robertson's remarks today, it would be important for the president to indicate whether in fact he told Pat Robertson that he did believe there'd be casualties in Iraq," McCurry said.

A chorus of White House officials denied that Bush had ever uttered the remark. Karl Rove, Karen Hughes and Scott McClellan all said in Eau Claire, Wis., on Wednesday that Robertson was mistaken.

"Of course the president never made such a comment," said McClellan, the White House press secretary. "The president both publicly and privately was preparing the American people for the possibility of a military conflict and the possibility that sacrifices may be necessary."
Rove, the president's chief political adviser, said that he attended Bush's meeting with Robertson in Nashville in February 2003 and that he had not heard those remarks.
"I was right there," Rove said.

Some political and theological allies quickly dismissed Robertson's account.
"I think he speaks for an ever diminishing group of evangelicals on most issues," said Dr. Richard Land, president of the ethics and religious liberties commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

This is interesting, especially the part in which states Saddam Hussein found it prestigious to be an ally of the US...

So, did Saddam really try to kill Bush's dad?
By Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON - Now that US President George W Bush's allegations about former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's ties to al-Qaeda and ambitious weapons programs have been thoroughly discredited, another outstanding charge remains to be resolved. During a campaign speech in September 2002, Bush cited a number of reasons - in addition to alleged terrorist links and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) - concerning why Saddam was so dangerous to the United States, noting in particular, "After all, this is the guy who tired to kill my dad."

He was referring, of course, to an alleged plot by Iraqi intelligence to assassinate Bush's father, former president George H W Bush, during his triumphal visit to Kuwait in April 1993, 25 months after US-led forces chased Iraqi troops out of Kuwait in the first Gulf War and three months after Bush Sr surrendered the White House to Bill Clinton.

Although he did not name his father, Bush Jr also cited the assassination attempt in his September 2002 address at the United Nations General Assembly, where he called on the UN Security Council to approve a tough resolution demanding that Saddam fully give up his (non-existent) WMD and weapons programs.

While the alleged plot was never cited officially as a cause for going to war, some pundits - including Maureen Dowd of the New York Times - have speculated that revenge or some oedipal desire to show up his father may indeed have been one of the factors that drove him to Baghdad - as the sign of one demonstrator suggested in a big anti-war march here just before the war: "I love my dad, too, but come on!"

The circumstances of the alleged plot, which ended in a trial and the conviction of 11 Iraqis and three Kuwaitis, have always evoked skepticism, although Clinton himself was apparently sufficiently convinced after receiving reports from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to order a missile strike on the Iraqi intelligence headquarters in Baghdad that killed six civilians in June 1993.

But a closer look at the 11-year-old plot, particularly in light of the findings by the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), the special team of experts that spent 15 months investigating Baghdad's WMD programs, that they were all dismantled in 1991 shortly after the end of the Gulf War, may now be warranted, especially if Bush is still laboring under the impression that Saddam "tried to kill [his] dad".

While the ISG's 960-page report, known as the Duelfer Report, does not address the assassination attempt, its chronology and depiction of Saddam's world view - adduced through lengthy interviews by one Arabic-speaking FBI investigator and other interviews of Saddam's closest advisers - make the notion that the Iraqi dictator tried to kill Bush all the more implausible.

For one thing, Saddam, according to the report, was convinced that the CIA had thoroughly penetrated his regime and thus would know not only that he had dismantled his WMD (which the CIA apparently did not), but also would know about his plans for important intelligence operations. Under those circumstances, it is hard to understand why he would then order an assassination attempt on the former US president.

Even more interesting, according to the report, was Saddam's "complicated" view of the United States. While he derived "prestige" from being an enemy of the US, he also considered it to be "equally prestigious for him to be an ally of the United States - and regular entreaties were made during the last decade to explore this alternative".

Indeed, beginning already in 1991, according to the report, "very senior Iraqis close to the president made proposals through intermediaries for dialogue with Washington".

"Baghdad offered flexibility on many issues, including offers to assist in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Moreover, in informal discussions, senior officials allowed that, if Iraq had a security relationship with the United States, it might be inclined to dispense with WMD programs and/or ambitions," it added.

The report even concluded that Iraq was willing to be Washington's "best friend in the region bar none".

The fact that the US, under Bush Sr and Clinton, did not show interest was apparently a source of bewilderment to the Iraqi leader, according to the Duelfer report. If Saddam had tried to kill the ex-president, he probably would not have been bewildered by Washington's lack of interest, but, by all accounts, he was.

"From the report, Saddam seems to be not a madman, but someone who would understand very well the consequences of an assassination," noted Gregory Thielmann, a former senior State Department analyst who specialized in Iraq's WMD programs. "If his top priority was getting the [UN economic] sanctions lifted [as indicated by the report], then it doesn't follow that he would try to kill the president of the United States."

As portrayed by both the alleged assassins and the Kuwaitis who grabbed them, the plot was itself deeply amateurish, dependent on the leadership of Wali Abdelhadi Ghazali; Raad Abdel-Amir al-Assadi, from Najaf; and a dozen Iraqi whiskey smugglers led by the owner of a coffee shop in Basra that was a meeting place for cross-border smugglers.

Ghazali, who initially said he was approached and supplied with explosives and cars by the the Iraqi intelligence service, the Mukhabarat, was the only person in the group who knew that Bush was the target. Other defendants confessed to transporting explosives across the border from Iraq but insisted they had no idea what they were for.

Both Ghazali and Assadi retracted their confessions during the trial, claiming that they were extracted by repeated beatings. At the time, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International expressed strong doubts that the trials could be fair, noting that there had been credible reports of severe beatings meted out to defendants accused of capital crimes in Kuwait. Assadi insisted that he was asked by the Mukhabarat to plant bombs around shopping centers in Kuwait City.

US investigators, however, reported that they believed the confessions were not coerced and noted the similarity in the construction of the bombs found with the Iraqis with one known to have been built in Iraq in 1991.

In October 1993, however, New Yorker investigative journalist Seymour Hersh assailed the US government's case as "seriously flawed", noting among other problems that seven bomb experts had told him that the devices were mass-produced and probably not even manufactured in Iraq.

Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who met with Saddam when he served as US charge d'affaires in Baghdad during the Gulf War, said he found the plot "odd". Saddam "had to have had some idea that his ability to run operations outside Iraq was not very good, because we had foiled so many things before the war. So you have to ask why someone who was a risk-taker but clearly not suicidal would undertake to assassinate a former president of the United States," Wilson pointed out.

Larry Johnson, a top counter-terrorist official at the State Department, said he still has "no doubts" about the plot, recalling Saddam's "gangster" ethic. "Personal honor was involved," he said.

(Inter Press Service)

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

I think the last paragraph in this article (taken from the Times article that I have already posted) is most telling. I believe, and have stated in the comments section of one of my posts, that there are Americans who believe Bush, with his malaprops and his religious faith is some twisted version of the "every man". Some of them were presented in Suskind's article. Here's a news flash! Bush is NOT like you, or me, or the other 99% of America. He is a spoiled, arrogant, wealthy zealot who seems determined to stifle any views opposed to his by labelling the people presenting them as liars or having them arrested. Yes, these are dangerous times we live in, but not because of the terrorists in the Middle East, because of the terrorist in the White House. What's he going to do next? Have people arrested and tortured for disagreeing with his administration?

Team Bush declares war on the New York Times

The Bush White House's attacks on one of America's grandest newspapers mark a clear break with Republican tradition, writes Eric Boehlert
Tuesday October 19, 2004

During the closing weeks of the 2000 presidential campaign, at a campaign rally, George Bush spotted a veteran political reporter and turned to Dick Cheney, standing next to him on the platform, to remark: "There's Adam Clymer, major league asshole from the New York Times." "Oh yeah, big time," replied Cheney. Unbeknownst to them, their locker room exchange was caught by an open microphone. Four years later, nobody connected with the Bush-Cheney campaign appears even slightly concerned about being caught denigrating the Times; they are more than happy to do it on the record, as the White House has all but declared open warfare on the nation's leading newspaper.

The latest volley came over the weekend when Republican campaign officials accused the Times's Sunday magazine of fabricating a provocative quote from Bush in which he bragged - behind closed doors and speaking to wealthy supporters - that he would announce plans for "privatising of social security" early next year, after his re-election. When Democrats jumped on the remark, dubbing it the "January surprise", the Republican National Committee chairman, Ed Gillespie, dismissed the Times's work as "Kitty Kelley journalism", insisting Bush had never uttered the phrase attributed to him. But the Times stands by the 8,300-word story by Ron Suskind, author of The Price of Loyalty: George W Bush, the White House and the Education of Paul O'Neill, a revealing account of the former secretary of the treasury published earlier this year.

That confrontation, and the Bush campaign's harsh accusation that respected journalist Suskind and the editors of the Times are liars, come on the heels of a series of denigrations by the White House: the Times reporter was recently banned from Cheney's campaign plane; and in his acceptance speech before the Republican Convention Bush mocked the paper by distorting, out of context, one of its columnist's writings of almost 60 years ago. Early in his administration, Bush set the contentious tone when he broke with tradition by refusing to sit for an interview with the Times. He finally granted the paper a sit-down, just 30 minutes long, in August.

"Presidents like spin and secrets; journalists don't, so this is a relationship fraught with potential discomfort," says Times executive editor Bill Keller. He observes that the paper has dealt with difficult episodes with various White Houses in the past, but adds. "I admit we're puzzled over what seems to be a more intense antipathy at this White House, especially since the campaign heated up.

"I can only speculate, but some of it may be that they think whacking a big newspaper with 'New York' in its name plays well with the [conservative] base. Perhaps they think if they beat up on us, we'll go soft on them. Or maybe they have decided to blame the newsroom for our opinion pages, though they certainly know that the editorial writers and columnists operate completely independent of reporters and editors." (On Sunday, the Times published an endorsement of Senator John Kerry, in which it commented: "The Bush White House has always given us the worst aspects of the American right without any of the advantages. We get the radical goals but not the efficient management.")

The controversial quote from Suskind's story came near the end of a lengthy feature article, Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W Bush, which examines the extraordinary degree to which Bush and his senior aides rely on their "faith" and their "gut" to make key policy decisions, and how those who raise questions based on facts or "reality" are cut out of the inner circle. According to Suskind, Bush recently told a closed meeting of major contributors: "I'm going to come out strong after my swearing in with fundamental tax reform, tort reform, privatising of social security." Suskind reported that the statements were relayed to him by sources present at the event.

On Sunday the RNC sent out emails - one complete with Suskind's photo and voter registration information - that attacked him professionally and said the passages in question were "third-hand, made-up quotes" designed to "scare seniors." But the editor of the Times magazine, Gerald Marzorati, told Salon in an email: "Ron Suskind's reporting was carefully reported and vigorously fact-checked."

If Times readers did not already know the paper's relationship with the White House was in serious disrepair, they found out on September 18. That day, Times reporter Rick Lyman wrote a front-page piece about how, despite having been assigned by the country's most influential newspaper to cover Cheney's re-election campaign, he was not welcome on Air Force Two, where 10 seats were reserved for the travelling press corps. None was available for him, or for the previous Times reporter assigned to the Cheney beat. Lyman's article, headlined Chasing Dick Cheney, was written with a slightly tongue-in-cheek tone (as much irony as the still-staid Times allows) but could not mask the strain between the paper and the White House, the kind of rift usually kept from public view as administration and news officials exchange behind-the-scene phone calls to try to patch things up.

Cheney had already made clear this summer that he had no intentions of maintaining cordial relations with the Times when he blasted its coverage of the 9/11 commission as "outrageous" and "malicious."

And in August, during his convention acceptance speech just 10 blocks from the Times newsroom, Bush derided the paper, suggesting it was a fount of wrongheaded pessimism. "In 1946, 18 months after the fall of Berlin to allied forces, a journalist wrote in the New York Times: 'Germany is ... a land in an acute stage of economic, political and moral crisis. [European] capitals are frightened. In every [military] headquarters one meets alarmed officials doing their utmost to deal with the consequences of the occupation policy that they admit has failed.' End quote. Maybe that same person is still around, writing editorials."

Bush was referring to Anne O'Hare McCormick, the pioneering, Pulitzer prize-winning Times journalist. And he twisted her dispatch about Germany: in fact she was criticising the "moral crisis" in the British and French sectors while reporting that Americans were doing a better job of reconstruction. She also urged the US to commit more troops to the occupation. Times columnist Maureen Dowd, discussing the speech, wrote: "Bush swift-boated her."

"It takes a certain amount of gall to criticise the New York Times in the middle of Madison Square Garden, on the paper's home turf," says Susan Tifft, co-author with Alex Jones of The Trust: The Private and Powerful Family Behind the New York Times."

On one level the Times seems an odd choice for the White House's wrath: during the 2000 campaign, despite Bush's "asshole" remark, the paper's coverage of the candidate was considered to be among the most generous of any of the major dailies', particularly the work of Frank Bruni, the beat reporter who travelled extensively with the Bush campaign. In his book about that time, Ambling Into History, published in 2002, Bruni wrote that while watching the first debate from the audience, he thought Bush had done so poorly that he was sure he had lost the election. Yet Bruni never mentioned his sinking feeling to readers during his generally upbeat coverage of the Bush campaign. The Times was also very reserved in its coverage of the exposure during the final weekend of the campaign of Bush's old drink-driving arrest.

During the period leading up to the Iraq war, the Times was instrumental in the administration's political choreography of its case that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, in particular that he was producing nuclear weapons. But this year, the newspaper felt compelled to essentially apologise for what amounted to its participation in an elaborate disinformation campaign. "The Times didn't cover itself in glory during that period," says Michael Massing, author of Now They Tell Us: The American Press and Iraq. "The paper", he says, "was far too credulous towards the administration during the run-up to the war. The irony is the Times helped the administration's case before the war."

The Bush White House's open feud with the Times represents a clear break with the tradition of most Republican presidents - including the current president's father - tolerating the major mainstream press outlets despite misgivings or unhappiness with their coverage. The days when the Times publisher Arthur "Punch" Sulzberger Sr travelled to the White House during the height of the Reagan administration for a cordial lunch with the president, his vice-president, George Bush Sr, and the secretary of state, George Shultz, are long gone. While President Nixon "had no love for the New York Times ... even he felt he had to deal with them. Bush officials do not feel like they have to deal with the gatekeepers," says Tifft. "They have taken advantage of cable channels and talk radio and websites that are sympathetic toward them. What they have basically done by words and deeds is to say to the New York Times: 'We don't need you. We can get our message out without you.'"

Bush and his campaign apparently see little political downside to a public fight with the allegedly liberal press. That very point was made in Suskind's Times magazine article, which quoted Bush political consultant Mark McKinnon as saying: "All of you ... up and down the west coast, the east coast, a few blocks in southern Manhattan called Wall Street, let me clue you in: we don't care. You see, you're outnumbered two to one by folks in the big, wide middle of America - busy, working people who don't read the New York Times or Washington Post or The LA Times. And you know what they like? They like the way he walks and the way he points, the way he exudes confidence. They have faith in him. And when you attack him for his malaprops, his jumbled syntax, it's good for us. Because you know what those folks don't like? They don't like you!"

Eric Boehlert is a senior writer at Salon

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