Thursday, March 31, 2005

Bush panel rips U.S. intelligence abilities
MSNBC News Services
Updated: 1:38 p.m. ET March 31, 2005

WASHINGTON - In a scathing report released Thursday, President Bush’s commission on weapons of mass destruction found that America’s spy agencies were “dead wrong” in most of their judgments about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction capabilities.

The commission was also highly critical of U.S. abilities to assess what existing adversaries have, stating that the United States knows “disturbingly little” about their weapons programs.

The president, after receiving the unsparing critique, said that “the central conclusion is one which I share. America’s intelligence community needs fundamental change.”

He said he had directed Fran Townsend, his White House-based homeland security adviser, to “review the commission’s finding and to assure that concrete actions are taken.”

On Saddam, the commission stated that “we conclude that the intelligence community was dead wrong in almost all of its prewar judgments about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. This was a major intelligence failure.”

'Analysis was based on assumptions'
The main cause, the commission said, was the intelligence community’s “inability to collect good information about Iraq’s WMD programs, serious errors in analyzing what information it could gather and a failure to make clear just how much of its analysis was based on assumptions rather than good evidence.

“On a matter of this importance, we simply cannot afford failures of this magnitude,” the report said.

But the commission also said that it found no indication that spy agencies distorted the evidence they had concerning Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, a charge raised against the administration during last year’s presidential campaign.

“The analysts who worked Iraqi weapons issues universally agreed that in no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter any of their analytical judgments,” the report said.

But it added: “It is hard to deny the conclusion that intelligence analysts worked in an environment that did not encourage skepticism about the conventional wisdom.”

And in what amounted to a direct assault on George Tenet, who was CIA director in the run-up to the Iraq war and gave the president his daily intelligence briefing, the commission found that “the daily reports sent to the president and senior policymakers discussing Iraq over many months proved to be disastrously one-sided.”

"Through attention-grabbing headlines and repetition of questionable data, these briefings overstated the case that Iraq was rebuilding its WMD programs,” the commission wrote.

Unanimous advice: Strengthen intel chief
The commission called for dramatic change to prevent future failures. It outlined more than 70 recommendations, saying that Bush must give John Negroponte, nominated to the new post of national intelligence director, broader powers for overseeing the nation’s 15 spy agencies.

“It won’t be easy to provide this leadership to the intelligence components of the Defense Department or to the CIA,” the commissioners said. “They are some of the government’s most headstrong agencies. Sooner or later, they will try to run around — or over — the DNI. Then, only your determined backing will convince them that we cannot return to the old ways,” the commission told Bush.

The panel, which was unanimous in its report and advice, also recommended that Bush demand more of the intelligence community, which has been repeatedly criticized for failures as various investigations have looked back on the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

“The intelligence community needs to be pushed,” the report said. “It will not do its best unless it is pressed by policymakers — sometimes to the point of discomfort.”

It said analysts must be pushed to explain what they don’t know and that agencies must be pressed to explain why they don’t have better information on key subjects. At the same time, the report said the administration must be more careful about accepting the judgment of intelligence agencies.

“No important intelligence assessment should be accepted without sharp questioning that forces the (intelligence) community to explain exactly how it came to that assessment and what alternatives might also be true,” the report said.

The commission also called for sweeping changes at the FBI to combine the bureau’s counterterrorism and counterintelligence resources into a new office.

Problems with 'Curve Ball'
The proposals were prompted in part by an Iraqi defector code-named “Curve Ball” who may have had a drinking problem and who provided suspect information on Saddam’s purported mobile weapons labs, officials said. The defector and the questions about his veracity have been described in recent government reports.

The information the defector provided was included in the much-maligned October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, a high-level collection of intelligence that the White House used to argue for invading Iraq. That document said Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, but no such weapons have been found.

The commission's report will single out that document, which said there was “compelling evidence” that Iraq sought uranium for nuclear weapons.

The document included dissent in the form of cautionary footnotes from the State Department’s intelligence bureau, the Energy Department and the Air Force.

But a senior administration official acknowledged in July 2003 that Bush and then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice did not read footnotes in the 90-page document.

By glossing over or omitting dissenting views about Iraq’s weapons programs, the estimate overstated the accuracy of U.S. intelligence, according to an official who described the commission’s report.

“There’s a need for more complete reporting,” the official said.

The estimate was also the basis for then Secretary of State Colin Powell going to the United Nations Security Council in February 2003 to lobby for military action.

Powell this week told the German magazine Stern that he was “furious and angry” that he had been misinformed about Iraq’s capabilities.

“It was information from our security services and from some Europeans, including Germans. Some of this information was wrong. I did not know this at the time,” he said. “Hundreds of millions followed it on television. I will always be the one who presented it. I have to live with that.”

600-page report
The commission released its final report, spanning more than 600 pages, after more than a year of work that included closed-door sessions with Bush and other top administration officials.

Numerous government reports have detailed intelligence failures since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. This commission is the first formed by Bush to look at why U.S. spy agencies mistakenly concluded that Iraq had stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, one of the administration’s main justifications for invading in March 2003.

The panel also considered a range of intelligence issues beyond Iraq, including congressional oversight, satellite imagery and electronic snooping. Among numerous soft spots, officials familiar with the findings say “human intelligence” — the work of actual operatives on the ground — is lacking.

Some of the recommendations
Among other things, the report:

Recommends forming a new intelligence center to focus on weapons proliferation.
Chastises intelligence agencies for their continued failure to share information, despite numerous reforms aimed at improving coordination.
Stresses the need for ongoing training for analysts and operatives and new procedures for considering dissenting intelligence analysis.
Calls on intelligence agencies to take concrete steps to ensure information from their sources is valid — a move prompted in part by 'Curve Ball'.
Proposes updating the FBI’s computers and creating a new national security division within the Justice Department.
Bush formed the commission — led by Republican Laurence Silberman, a retired federal appeals court judge, and Democrat Charles Robb, a former senator from Virginia — as it became clear that U.S. weapons inspectors were not going to find stockpiles of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Little known about adversaries
The unclassified version of the report does not go into significant detail on the intelligence community’s abilities in Iran and North Korea because commissioners did not want to tip the U.S. hand to its leading adversaries. Those details are included in the classified version.

“The bad news is that we still know disturbingly little about the weapons programs and even less about the intentions of many of our most dangerous adversaries,” the report said.

The commission did not name any country, but appeared to be talking about nations such as North Korea and Iran.

“Our review has convinced us that the best hope for preventing future failures is dramatic change,” the report said. “We need an intelligence community that is truly integrated, far more imaginative and willing to run risks, open to a new generation of Americans and receptive to new technologies.”

In an implicit swipe at the Bush administration, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the report did not review how federal policy-makers used the intelligence they were given.

“I believe it is essential that we hold both the intelligence agencies and senior policy-makers accountable for their actions,” Reid said.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7331220/
Living Will

I, _________________________ (fill in the blank), being of sound mind and body, do not wish to be kept alive indefinitely by artificial means.

Under no circumstances should my fate be put in the hands of peckerwood politicians who couldn't pass ninth-grade biology if their lives depended on it.

If a reasonable amount of time passes and I fail to sit up and ask for a cold beer, it should be presumed that I won't do so ever again. When such a determination is reached, I hereby instruct my spouse, children and attending physicians to pull the plug, reel in the tubes and call it a day.

Under no circumstances shall the members of the Legislature enact a special law to keep me on life-support machinery. It is my wish that these boneheads mind their own damn business, and pay attention instead to the health, education and future of the millions of Americans who aren't in a permanent coma and who nonetheless may be in need of nourishment.

Under no circumstances shall any politicians butt into this case. I don't care how many fundamentalist votes they're trying to scrounge for their run for the presidency in 2008, it is my wish that they play politics with someone else's life and leave me alone to die in peace.

I couldn't care less if a hundred religious zealots send e-mails to legislators in which they pretend to care about me. I don't know these people, and I certainly haven't authorized them to preach and/or crusade on my behalf. They should mind their own damn business, too.

If any of my family goes against my wishes and turns my case into a political cause, I hereby promise to come back from the grave and make his or her existence a living hell.

___________________________________________ ____________________________
Name Date

__________________________________________ ____________________________
Witness Date

**Posted by Caleb's mother

On a side note-
Obviously this "living will" which I have signed and posted on my cork board at work, just in case, is somewhat satorical. Satire and joking aside I am sure the one thing we all agree on is our wish to convey our sympathies to the family and loved ones of Terry Shiavo. I can only hope that in the midst of this media circus those who are personally mourning her death can somehow be comforted by the prayers and thoughts of a nation.
Owens urged to sign rape bill
By Lynn Bartels, Rocky Mountain News
March 30, 2005

Some Republicans launched a full-court press on the governor Tuesday, bombarding him with petitions, postcards and phone calls in support of a bill requiring hospitals to provide information about emergency contraception to rape victims.

Republican Gov. Bill Owens has the option of signing the bill into law, letting it become law without his signature or vetoing it. He hasn't made a decision, a spokesman said.

During a news conference Tuesday at the Capitol, backers of House Bill 1042 asked for Owens' support.

"It should be the survivor's decision, not the government's, whether to take emergency contraception," said Amanda Mountjoy, spokeswoman for the Colorado Republican Majority for Choice.

"As a fellow Republican and one of his constituents, I urge Gov. Owens to sign this bill into law," she said.

Although the bill was approved by the Democratic-controlled legislature, it has support from some conservative Republicans, including Rep. Lynn Hefley of Colorado Springs and Sen. Nancy Spence of Centennial. They say the bill is about preventing pregnancies and providing information.

Other Republicans disagree.

"It is not solely contraception," said Rep. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud. "It is abortion in the eyes of many people in Colorado. This is a very dangerous step."

The Catholic Church, in particular, has lobbied heavily against it because the measure would require religious hospitals to provide information about emergency contraception. The hospitals, however, would not have to dispense the pills.

Owens is Catholic, but as Mountjoy likes to point out, so is she.

Mountjoy said that as part of the push for the bill, Christie Todd Whitman, former administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, made taped phone calls to "thousands" of Colorado Republicans on Tuesday, asking them to call the governor and urge support of HB 1042.

This is the first time the bill has made it to Owens' desk. In the previous two sessions, it survived the GOP-controlled House but died in a GOP-led Senate committee.

"I think this is a very historic day in the state of Colorado," said Rep. Betty Boyd, D-Lakewood, after her bill passed its final hurdle Tuesday, when the House concurred with Senate amendments.

The pills are most effective when taken immediately after the assault but can work for up to 120 hours afterward.

"This bill is for someone who has just been sexually assaulted, who did not welcome that sperm into her body," said Rep. Fran Coleman, D-Denver. "It's just like wanting a bullet removed from your body."

Rape in Colorado

• 1,657 rapes were reported to police in 2003

• 16% (estimated) rape victims report their assaults

• 1-5% of rapes end in pregnancy; 50% end in abortionSource: Naral Survey, Am. Journal Of Obstetrics And Gynecology, Others

Copyright 2005, Rocky Mountain News. All Rights Reserved.


Please urge Gov. Owens to sign House Bill 1042. Click here to sign a petition telling Gov. Owens how important this really is.

Caleb Hayes

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Observation Test

See if you can find the three differences in these two photos. I thought it was hard.


Thursday, March 24, 2005

This is not an anti-Bush post. This is a post about the catastrophic impending crisis of Peak Oil and the subsequent decline of oil production, which, if it has not already been reached, will be upon us by the end of the decade.

As much as we may want to be in denial of this, it is an absolute, stark, frightening reality. And no current alternative energy source will provide the same amount of cheap energy as petroleum.

We can not bury our heads in the sand much longer, driving our SUV's, our Hummer's, shopping at Wal-Mart, and running our central air.

Choose the red pill and read more:



Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Bush Role in Schiavo Case Bothers Right
By JESSE J. HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Not all conservatives are happy with the decision by Congress and President Bush to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case. Some leaders said Tuesday the new law allowing a federal court review of the case is an example of the big government they have always opposed.

"To simply say that the 'culture of life,' or whatever you call it means that we don't have to pay attention to the principles of federalism or separation of powers is certainly not a conservative viewpoint," said former Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga.

Allan Lichtman, who chairs the history department at American University in Washington, said the intervention of Congress and Bush to try to overturn the decision by Schiavo's husband not to prolong her life is the antithesis of several conservative principles.

"It contradicts a lot of what those behind it say they believe: the sanctity of the family, the sacred bond between husband and wife, the ability of all of us to make private decisions without the hand of government intervening, deference to states and localities as opposed to the centralized government," said Lichtman.


Saturday, March 19, 2005

Congress: Democracy's day off


Sometimes it's inspiring to see American democracy in action. One can only imagine the great debates in Congress -- the ethical challenges against slavery, the creation of land grant universities or the push to end elderly poverty through an idea called Social Security.

Yesterday was not one of those days.

This Congress seems ready to substitute rants on Fox News for a deliberative legislative process.

In one packed hearing room, members of Congress -- Democrats and Republicans -- jockeyed for attention before the live televised audience, ready to take swift and strong action against the abuse of steriods in baseball. The testimony of retired slugger Mark McGwire -- refusing to name names -- even brought back memories of the House Un-American Activities Committee.

But the bizarre legislation wasn't on screen.

The House passed on a voice vote, without hearing or thought, a measure to give federal courts jurisdiction to review decisions to withhold food, fluids or medical treatment from an incapacitated person, saying that it violates either the Constitution or U.S. law. They'll probably call this "Terry's law" because it's designed to prevent the husband of Terry Schiavo from removing a feeding tube.

This is one of those really tough decisions that families make every day. But the bill's sponsors would prefer that federal judges overrule spouses.

One House member who opposed the bill, Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., called it "a dangerously reckless way to deal with some serious issues. ... It does not deal just with feeding tubes. It would allow intervention in any decision affecting any kind of medical care. Read the bill."

The Senate is expected to weigh in quickly, too. It may consider a similar measure as soon as today.

Then with a war on, national deficits reaching record levels and the continuing challenges of international terrorism, it's interesting to see that Congress can get excited about something.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

The list of the top ten Democracy's in the world just came out and guess who they forgot. The free-est nation of them all, the one thats constantly spreading democracy. How could they do such a thing?

1. Finland
2. Denmark
3. New Zealand
4. Sweden
5. Switzerland
6. Norway
7. Netherlands
8. Australia
9. Canada
10. UK

... 13. United States

In all seriousness, why aren't we considered #1? I want to know what you think. Could it be because we have such arrogant leaders?


Monday, March 07, 2005

Clinton sleeps on floor so elder Bush can have bed

NEW YORK (AP) -- On their tour of tsunami damage in Southeast Asia, former President Bill Clinton once allowed his predecessor, former President George H.W. Bush, to sleep on the plane's only bed while he stretched out on the floor.

The government plane in which the presidents toured the disaster area had one large bedroom and another room with tables and seats, according to an interview with Bush in this week's Newsweek.

Bush, 80, said Clinton offered ahead of time to give the older former president the bedroom so he could lie flat and avoid paining his body. Clinton, 58, decided to play cards in the other room that night.

The next morning, Bush said he peeked in and saw Clinton sound asleep on the plane's floor.

"We could have switched places, each getting half a night on the bed, but he deferred to me. That was a very courteous thing, very thoughtful, and that meant a great deal to me," Bush said.

Bush said he and Clinton are not close, but have been compatible on the tour, partly because Clinton respects his age.

The March 14 issue of Newsweek hits newsstands Monday.
The Top 10 Conservative Idiots


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Bush has some nerve lecturing Putin

WASHINGTON -- It was remarkable to see President Bush lecture Vladimir Putin on the importance of checks and balances in a democratic society.

Remarkably brazen, given that the only checks Bush seems to believe in are those written to the "journalists" Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher and Karen Ryan, the fake TV anchor, to help promote his policies. The administration has given a whole new meaning to checkbook journalism, paying a stupendous $97 million to an outside PR firm to buy columnists and produce propaganda, including faux video news releases.

The only balance W. likes is the slavering, Pravda-like "fair and balanced" coverage Fox News provides. Bush pledges to spread democracy while his officials strive to create a Potemkin press village at home. This White House seems to prefer softball questions from a self-advertised male escort with a fake name to hardball questions from journalists with real names; it prefers tossing journalists who protect their sources into the gulag to giving up the officials who broke the law by leaking the name of their own CIA agent.

W., who once looked into Putin's soul and liked what he saw, did not demand the end of tyranny, as he did in his second Inaugural address. His upper lip sweating a bit, he did not rise to the level of his hero Ronald Reagan's "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." Instead, he said that "the common ground is a lot more than those areas where we disagree." The Russians were happy to stress the common ground, as well.

An irritated Putin compared the Russian system with the American Electoral College, perhaps reminding the man preaching to him about democracy that he had come in second in 2000 according to the popular vote, the standard most democracies use.

More at http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/213878_dowd01.html

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