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Saturday, October 22, 2005

Letter Shows Authority to Expand CIA Leak Probe Was Given in '04

By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 23, 2005; Page A05

Weeks after he took over the investigation 22 months ago into the unauthorized disclosure of a CIA operative's identity, special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald got authority from the Justice Department to expand his inquiry to include any criminal attempts to interfere with his probe, according to a letter posted Friday on Fitzgerald's new Web site.

Fitzgerald is nearing a decision on whether he will prosecute anyone when the federal grand jury term ends Friday. The letter specified that he could investigate and prosecute "perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence and intimidation of witnesses."

According to a lawyer familiar with the case, the current speculation about such charges eventually arising appeared to have occurred to Fitzgerald in the first months of his inquiry.

In a letter dated Feb. 6, 2004, then-Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey said that he was clarifying, "at your [Fitzgerald's] request," the added authority to investigate and prosecute "crimes committed with intent to interfere with your investigation." Fitzgerald's appointment as special counsel on Dec. 30, 2003, after then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft recused himself, gave him specific authority to investigate "the alleged unauthorized disclosure of a CIA employee's identity," according to another letter from Comey posted on the Web site.

"The fact that he [Fitzgerald] asked for authority that he probably already had, but wanted spelled out, makes it arguable that he had run into something rather quickly," Washington lawyer Plato Cacheris said yesterday.

The investigation was triggered by a July 14, 2003, syndicated column by Robert D. Novak in which he identified Valerie Plame as a CIA operative. Plame's husband, former U.S. ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, had been sent to Niger to check whether Iraq was trying to get uranium from that country. Novak wrote that two senior administration officials had suggested that Wilson's wife had proposed him for the trip.

After Novak's column appeared, the CIA notified the Justice Department that publication of Plame's name and CIA employment was an unauthorized leak of classified information. The CIA then looked into whether the disclosure had caused damage to Plame and to people familiar with Plame and her job at the agency. The CIA's report went to the Justice Department, which determined in late September 2003 that a criminal investigation of the leak should be initiated.

Ashcroft recused himself because the inquiry would focus on White House personnel. Comey then named Fitzgerald, a highly regarded prosecutor and the U.S. attorney in northern Illinois, as special counsel.

From the start, the inquiry focused on a potential violation of a federal statute that prohibits the disclosure of the name of a covert CIA operative. Then the inquiry began looking at whether a conspiracy developed within the top levels of the Bush White House to leak Plame's name to discredit Wilson because of his statements criticizing the administration's use of intelligence in the buildup to the war in Iraq.

The possibility of perjury or obstruction charges emerged more recently, after the publication of reports on the testimony of journalists who said they were told about Plame either by White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove or by I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff.

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Jet presumed crashed with 114 on board

From correspondents in Lagos
October 23, 2005

A Nigerian airliner on a scheduled flight is missing and presumed crashed, officials said, adding that helicopters have been scrambled to find any survivors.

Once the plane had been missing for more than eight hours, officials from the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) confirmed that it may have plunged into the Atlantic Ocean shortly after takeoff.
"It was the Bellview flight from Lagos to Abuja. It took off at 7.50pm tonight. Two police helicopters are looking for it," FAAN spokesman Adamu Abdullahi said.

The official could not not say how many people had been on board, but confirmed that the plane was a Boeing 737 airliner which would normally carry around 110 passengers on the busy shuttle route.

Officials said the plane had dropped off radar shortly after take off over the sea, as it turned south of the city shortly before heading north over land.

Nigeria has a terrible record for aviation safety and has been the scene of numerous crashes, including an accident in May 2002 when an airliner plunged into a suburb of Kano, killing 115 on board and scores more on the ground.

There have been a number of recent near misses, including an incident last month in which an Air France jet arriving in the oil city of Port Harcourt from Paris hit a herd of cows. No-one was hurt, but the plane was badly damaged.
Bellview is a private airline operating routes within Nigeria and west Africa. Its service between Lagos, Nigeria's commercial capital, and Abuja is popular with diplomats and international businessmen.

In Lagos, friends of those on board began receiving worried calls late in the evening after the flight did not arrive as planned, but officials could offer them little comfort. "It's missing," Abdullahi said.

Lagos is Nigeria's biggest city and main port but the country's capital has been moved to Abuja and flights between the two cities are usually busy.

Some of the private, Nigerian-owned airlines plying the route are regarded as unsafe and shunned by foreign travellers. Bellview, however, has usually been regarded as a secure and professionally run airline.

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Mother Lode

These are the spoils for which George W. Bush

has killed more than 100,000 human beings.

By Chris Floyd

02/11/05 "Moscow Times" - - The hoary adage that "there are none so blind as those who will not see" should be carved in stone at the National Press Club in Washington. Surely there can be no better motto for the cozy clubhouse of America's media mavens, who seem preternaturally incapable of recognizing the truth -- even when it stands before them, monstrous and unavoidable, like a giant Cyclops smeared with blood.

For just as they botched the most important story of our time -- the Bush Administration's transparently deceptive campaign to launch a war of aggression against Iraq -- the clubby mavens are now missing the crowning achievement of this vast crime: the mother of all backroom deals, a cynical pact sealed by murder, unfolding before our eyes.

The Administration's true objective in Iraq is brutally simple: U.S. domination of Middle East oil. This is no secret. Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz began writing about this "strategic necessity" in 1992, as Alternet reminds us; and in September 2000, a group led by Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld openly called for a U.S. military takeover of Iraq -- even if the regime of Saddam Hussein was no longer in power. At every point in their savaging of Iraq, the Bushists have pressed relentlessly toward this oily goal.

The objective was revealed -- yet again -- in a recent Washington appearance by Iraqi Finance Minister Adil Abdel-Mahdi. Standing alongside a top State Department official, Abdel-Mahdi announced that Iraq's government wants to open the nation's oil fields to foreign investment -- not only the pumped product flowing through the pipes, but the very oil in the ground, the common patrimony of the Iraqi people. The minister said plainly that this sweet deal -- placing the world's second-largest oil reserves in a few private hands -- would be "very promising to the American investors and to American enterprise, certainly to oil companies," InterPress reports. These are the spoils for which George W. Bush has killed more than 100,000 human beings.

The American media completely ignored Abdel-Mahdi's declaration, but this is not surprising. After all, it occurred in the most obscure venue imaginable: an appearance before oil barons and journalists at the, er, National Press Club. Where better to hide open confessions of war crimes than in the very midst of the Washington hack pack? Yet here was a story of immense importance. For Abdel-Mahdi is not only a functionary in the discredited collaborationist government now in its last days. He is also one of the leading figures in the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), the Shiite faction that has been swept to somewhat more legitimate power by the national election that was forced on George W. Bush by Islamic fundamentalist Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. In fact, Abdel-Mahdi is frequently mentioned as a leading choice for prime minister in the new government; whatever happens, he will certainly play a primary role.

So we have a top official -- perhaps the top official -- in the incoming government offering American oilmen ownership rights in Iraqi oil. We have top American officials -- such as Cheney and Rumsfeld this week -- taking a benign view of the UIA's demand that the new Iraqi state be based solely on Islamic law, with crippling restrictions on women's rights, free expression, free association, plus, if Sistani has his way, Talibanic bans on music, dancing and even playing chess, Newsweek reports.

What we have, in other words, is the making of a monstrous, Cyclopean deal: not just "Blood for Oil," as the anti-war critics have said all along, but also "God for Oil." The Shiite clerics -- who eschew direct control but whose precepts can be translated into state power by secular representatives like Abdel-Mahdi -- seem willing to trade a goodly portion of Iraq's oil wealth in exchange for establishing a de facto "Islamic Republic" in the conquered land, with tacit American approval.

Sistani's word could move millions into the street to hamstring U.S. forces; but despite his notional disapproval of the occupation, he has stayed his hand, waiting for power to fall like a ripe fruit into the Shiite basket. Like Bush, he is apparently willing to countenance mass slaughter by the U.S.-led "Coalition" to achieve his objectives; but then, like Bush, Sistani is not an Iraqi either: He's an Iranian. Now these two foreigners are rolling dice to settle the nation's fate.

But there's yet another glaring truth that's escaped the media mavens, and most of the war's opponents as well. Even if the grand objective of oil control slips away somehow -- through a falling-out with Sistani, say, or civil war -- Bush has already won the game. The war has transferred billions of dollars from the public treasuries of the United States and Iraq into the coffers of an elite clique of oilmen, arms dealers, investment firms, construction giants and political operatives associated with the Bush family. And this goes beyond the official, guaranteed-profit contracts to favored firms; Bush's own inspector general reported this month that $8.8 billion in unaccounted "reconstruction" funds have simply vanished -- much of it in bribes for Bush officials and corporate kickbacks, the BBC reported.

This blood money will further entrench the Bushist clique in unassailable power and privilege for decades to come, regardless of the bloody chaos they cause, or even the occasional loss of political office. The American power structure has been permanently altered by the war -- just as American society has been immeasurably corrupted by Bush's proud embrace of aggression, torture, lawlessness and militarism as national values.

Bush lied. He stole. He murdered. In broad daylight. And he got away with it. That's the story. But you'll never hear it at the Press Club

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Iraqi Oil Fields Link Here Link Here

New York: Grandmothers Against the War

밡ew York Granny Chicks?Slaying Audiences on the Peace Circuit

The Grandmothers Against the War singing group, 뱓he New York Granny Chicks,? has become a huge hit on the peace circuit in New York City since they emerged as socko entertainers a few months ago.

The group, consisting of veteran jingle, cabaret, TV and theatre performers Helen Miles, Rose Marie Jun, and Joan Wile (who writes the group뭩 original material), made their debut in April at a THAW (Theatres Against the War) FREEDOM FOLLIES. They were such a smash that they were immediately invited back for the next Follies. They have also appeared at a benefit for Progressive Democrat Congressional candidate Frank Barbaro and for a West Side Peace Action happening.

They are scheduled to sing on Thursday evening, October 21, for a PRID (Park River Independent Democrats) Get Out the Vote Party to be held at 241 West 72nd Street at the Council Senior Center, at 8:00 pm. They hope to fulfill the many other offers that are starting to flood in to them.

Grandmothers Against the War, founded by Joan Wile, has been holding a weekly peace vigil in front of Rockefeller Center on Fifth Avenue on Wednesdays from 4:30 to 5:30 pm. Other people, including several Veterans for Peace, join the grandmothers, and the vigil numbers have grown from their initial 2 people in January to at least 25. They have never missed a day, except they had to cut a vigil short on one occasion because of a terrible downpour.

The New York Granny Chicks will be recording their original songs, The Grannies Anti-War Song, and I뭭e Got to Take Back My Country, within the next two weeks.

Lyrics to the second song sung by the New York Granny Chicks are reproduced below:












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Poll shows Iraqis back attacks on UK, US forces

LONDON (Reuters) - Forty-five percent of Iraqis believe attacks on U.S. and British troops are justified, according to a secret poll said to have been commissioned by British defense leaders and cited by The Sunday Telegraph.

Less than 1 percent of those polled believed that the forces were responsible for any improvement in security, according to poll figures.

Eighty-two percent of those polled said they were "strongly opposed" to the presence of the troops.

The paper said the poll, conducted in August by an Iraqi university research team, was commissioned by the Ministry of Defense.

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Stomping on To Syria

Saturday, 22 October 2005

Richard K. , Empire Burlesque's Webmaster, is guest blogging on current events for Chris Floyd while he is off on holiday.

With Rice pounding on Syria all last week and now Bolton and Bush leaping on the Syrialiban bandwagon - the thumping drumbeat to expand the bloody war is continuing to echo throughout DC this week. As soon as the UN report on the death of Hariri came out the heat on Syria became even more palpable and has escalated.

Of course none of this matters perhaps - since Rice recently told the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee that expansion of the war was not off the table and would not rule out Bush hitting Syria and Iran next without Congress in his pocket. Could it somehow be covered under Bush's enhanced dictatorial rights bovinely passed for Iraq after 9-11?

US troops have allegedly already been over the Syrian border in a few skirmishes - much like they did in Cambodia from Vietnam 30 years ago, which is possibly a routing of the of the War Powers Act of 1973 - put in place to muzzle Nixon but possibly being undone by Bush.

Passed by Congress over President Nixon's veto, the War Powers Act of 1973 requires the president to "consult" with Congress before "introducing United States Armed Forces into hostilities or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances".

The real question is - will Bush and friends just utilise the Sept. 14, 2001 congressional resolution to justify invasion of Syria and Iran. Not without a terrorist attack on the US most likely - but Bush can, under the structure of the resolution, announce that he has determined that Syria or Iran is harbouring al Queda - and invade without even informing Congress until 48 hours after US troops are over the border

.With Bush's current poll ratings in the basement, possible upcoming indictments unwound by Patrick Fitzgerald in the Plame outing investigation fingering Libby and Rove, another lethal hurricane wobbling en route to Florida, and the American Convervative magazine about to unload a tirade on the administration in their upcoming cover story - the Oval Office is in a bit of a tempest at the moment. Capitol Hill Blue founder and well known DC insider Doug Thompson writes that gallows humor has descended on the White House, where the West Wing is now referred to as “death row” and Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, along with Vice Presidential Chief of Staff Scooter Libby, are known as “dead men walking..."

The beat goes on...

Of course - the mainstream media is bundling Syria and Lebanon, in that order, in the blame game on the death of Lebanese Politician Rafik Hariri - despite the fact that, the bit implicating the brother of Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria, and other insiders, was dropped from the report that was sent to the UN Security Council. And that seems to have been for good reason

.Perception around the world that leading politicians in Syria did indeed have a direct hand in the Lebanon bombing may now have some problems.

Der Spiegel, in Germany, revealed in an investigative piece today, that a central witness in UN-Hariri report is a convicted fraudster - who not only has been convicted several times for embezzlement and fraud (a la Chalabi), Zuheir Mohammed al-Siddiq received a large sum of money for his testimony from an unknown third party. Reportedly he called his brothers from Paris saying, "Now I'm a millionaire".

Link Here

Not One More Death: Not One More Dollar:

On the day after the 2,000th reported U.S. military death in Iraq, people will gather in communities across the U.S. to say that the country’s pro-peace majority wants Congress to stop the deaths by stopping the dollars that are funding the war.

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Cindy Sheehan: They Are Not Numbers

Cindy Sheehan shares letters she's received recently, little vignettes of pain from family members of US soldiers recently killed in Iraq. On the day that marks the 2000th soldier dead, Sheehan will be outside the White House, reminding officials that our people are not just numbers

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Iraq Slips Away

Go to Original

By Larry Johnson
Talking Points Memo Cafe

Friday 21 October 2005

Tired of the drum beat of bad news surrounding TreasonGate and the outing of CIA officer Valerie Wilson. How about some good news from Iraq? Sorry, nothing to report. Before you remind me about the apparent success of the recent election, keep reading.

The delusional happiness reflected in Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice's remarks this week to Congress about the so-called progress in Iraq ignores hard facts that point to a debacle. The international media appears to be finally catching on that the Washington spin about the purple thumb as a sign of democratic progress is pure nonsense. It is true that more people in Iraq voted in this election than last January. What Rice and other folks out of touch with reality ignore is that the increased number of Sunnis who voted came out to defeat the constitution. Unfortunately, the fix was in. Vote fraud was rampant. US TV crews caught one Shia on tape casting seven yes votes. That's sort of an old style American politics a la Chicago's Daley machine - you know, vote early, vote often. And, results are now, once again, being withheld to "investigate" the irregularities.

Here is a bold prediction: The Constitution will pass and Shia politicians will have a lock on the new Government of Iraq. Consequently, the civil war currently underway will escalate. As the Iraqi Army grows, comprised mostly of Shia and Kurds, attacks against Sunnis will also increase. And that will put the United States in an impossible situation. If we allow the Shia Army and militias to attack Sunni targets we will continue to be the target of Sunni insurgents. If we intervene to try to aid the Sunnis, the Shia's will turn on us. If you doubt that I would ask you to recall what happened in the Shia enclave, Sadr City, in April of 2004. That battle killed Casey Sheehan and left my cousin's son with a shattered leg.

Oh, speaking of the war. The road from downtown Baghdad to the International Airport still has not been secured and remains the most dangerous road in the world. Meanwhile, as of 21 October, Americans are dying in Iraq at a rate of almost three per day. This is the highest loss of life since January 2005. So much for Rosy Scenario and the dawn of peace and understanding.

Finally, there is the ham handed attempt to pass off as legitimate a letter allegedly written by Bin Laden's number two guy, Ayman Zwahiri, to the Jordanian terrorist, Abu Musab Zarqawi. This appears to be a rather crude "Information Operation" designed to sow confusion in the ranks of the jihadists battling US forces in Iraq. While well intentioned (i.e., trying to create confusion among the insurgents) the execution of this op was pitiful. Having the newly christened National Director of Intelligence release this travesty ends up calling into question the professionalism and competence of the organization that was supposed to fix the mess in the intelligence community. Rather repairing damage, Negroponte and his crew seem to be causing more mayhem.

Taken as a whole, a lousy week in Iraq as that country slips to a new level of hell and the competence of US authorities to mange this debacle is called increasingly into question.


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Woman of Mass Destruction

Go to Original

By Maureen Dowd
The New York Times

Saturday 22 October 2005

I've always liked Judy Miller. I have often wondered what Waugh or Thackeray would have made of the Fourth Estate's Becky Sharp.

The traits she has that drive many reporters at The Times crazy - her tropism toward powerful men, her frantic intensity and her peculiar mixture of hard work and hauteur - never bothered me. I enjoy operatic types.

Once when I was covering the first Bush White House, I was in The Times' seat in the crowded White House press room, listening to an administration official's background briefing. Judy had moved on from her tempestuous tenure as a Washington editor to be a reporter based in New York, but she showed up at this national security affairs briefing.

At first she leaned against the wall near where I was sitting, but I noticed that she seemed agitated about something. Midway through the briefing, she came over and whispered to me, "I think I should be sitting in the Times seat."

It was such an outrageous move, I could only laugh. I got up and stood in the back of the room, while Judy claimed what she felt was her rightful power perch.

She never knew when to quit. That was her talent and her flaw. Sorely in need of a tight editorial leash, she was kept on no leash at all, and that has hurt this paper and its trust with readers. She more than earned her sobriquet "Miss Run Amok."

Judy's stories about WMD fit too perfectly with the White House's case for war. She was close to Ahmad Chalabi, the con man who was conning the neocons to knock out Saddam so he could get his hands on Iraq, and I worried that she was playing a leading role in the dangerous echo chamber that former Senator Bob Graham dubbed "incestuous amplification." Using Iraqi defectors and exiles, Mr. Chalabi planted bogus stories with Judy and other credulous journalists.

Even last April, when I wrote a column critical of Mr. Chalabi, she fired off e-mail to me defending him.

When Bill Keller became executive editor in the summer of 2003, he barred Judy from covering Iraq and W.M.D issues. But he admitted in The Times' Sunday story about Judy's role in the Plame leak case that she had kept "drifting" back. Why did nobody stop this drift?

Judy admitted in the story that she "got it totally wrong" about WMD "If your sources are wrong," she said, "you are wrong." But investigative reporting is not stenography.

The Times' story and Judy's own first-person account had the unfortunate effect of raising more questions. As Bill said in an e-mail note to the staff on Friday, Judy seemed to have "misled" the Washington bureau chief, Phil Taubman, about the extent of her involvement in the Valerie Plame leak case.

She casually revealed that she had agreed to identify her source, Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney's chief of staff, as a "former Hill staffer" because he had once worked on Capitol Hill. The implication was that this bit of deception was a common practice for reporters. It isn't.

She said that she had wanted to write about the Wilson-Plame matter, but that her editor would not allow it. But Managing Editor Jill Abramson, then the Washington bureau chief, denied this, saying that Judy had never broached the subject with her.

It also doesn't seem credible that Judy wouldn't remember a Marvel comics name like "Valerie Flame." Nor does it seem credible that she doesn't know how the name got into her notebook and that, as she wrote, she "did not believe the name came from Mr. Libby."

An Associated Press story yesterday reported that Judy had coughed up the details of an earlier meeting with Mr. Libby only after prosecutors confronted her with a visitor log showing that she had met with him on June 23, 2003. This cagey confusion is what makes people wonder whether her stint in the Alexandria jail was in part a career rehabilitation project.

Judy is refusing to answer a lot of questions put to her by Times reporters, or show the notes that she shared with the grand jury. I admire Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and Bill Keller for aggressively backing reporters in the cross hairs of a prosecutor. But before turning Judy's case into a First Amendment battle, they should have nailed her to a chair and extracted the entire story of her escapade.

Judy told The Times that she plans to write a book and intends to return to the newsroom, hoping to cover "the same thing I've always covered - threats to our country." If that were to happen, the institution most in danger would be the newspaper in your hands.

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The Cost of War at Walter Reed

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By Stewart Nusbaumer
Intervention Magazine

Thursday 20 October 2005

Inside Walter Reed Army Hospital is the horrible reality of the Iraq War, a reality that few Americans see, and fewer want to see.

Washington, DC - In the dining hall is a family of three. The mother's shirt says "Thank a Soldier," the father's hat says "Vietnam Veteran," and the son's T-shirt says "Seattle Sonics." A normal family, except the son has no legs.

The tough talking lions of the Bush Administration proclaimed "shock and awe" would destroy the Iraqi will to fight and then it would be a simple "cakewalk." So the cocky civilians unleashed the "mother" of all air assaults on Baghdad and then our strutting commander in chief - decked out in a fine flight suit - proclaimed, "Mission Accomplished."

But the flight-suit President dodged the Vietnam War, hiding in the Air National Guard's "Champagne Unit," strongly supporting the war from Texas. The Vice-President "had other options," although he insisted other Americans had no option but to fight the war. The Secretary of Defense enrolled in Princeton University instead of the Korean War; after the war he enrolled in the Navy. All the hawkish Neocons were too busy arguing for the Vietnam War to actually fight in that war. Shame, they missed their "noble" causes. So when it came to Iraq, none of these men had a clue about the will to fight.

I see in the halls of Walter Reed hospital soldiers with leg braces and neck supports, soldiers with faces slashed by bombs and stitched up by doctors. Soldiers with legs terribly mangled, soldiers with no legs - amputees with short stumps, with long stumps, without any stumps since entire limbs are missing. A man walks by without an arm. I suddenly travel back in time to another war, to another hospital when I was one of those young men without a limb. But the human carnage and waste in Walter Reed is too overwhelming to escape for more than a flash of time.

At the Army's flagship medical facility, where thousands of wounded soldiers pass through, there is no political spin, no media filter, no presidential lies, and no patriotism without cost as there is in America. There are only the wounded and mangled from Iraq. There is the ground zero for ugly war reality. For these men and women there was no safe "Champagne Unit," no other options, no Ivy League hiding, no just talking while others did the fighting. At Walter Reed there are no Chickenhawks.

Dining Made Difficult

In the large dining room, mothers prepare their son's food, applying ketchup to hamburgers, cutting pork chops, raising tables for their wheelchairs to clear. Fathers mostly sit with slight smiles on their faces. The conversations are mundane, and sedate. Talk about family, talk about the weather, talk about the future. Recuperating from serious wounds is slow so it's best not to go too far into the future.

In a wheelchair, a young man who barely looks 17 years old rolls by with a pair of ugly "road kill" legs - the spaghetti I'm eating rumbles in my stomach - followed by a soldier on crutches, doing a Frankenstein walk with stiff legs thrown outward. Several tables away, a slightly older soldier, in his early 30s, with a nasty looking scarred leg propped up on a chair, rubs his fingers over the smooth surface of his Purple Heart Medal. This is the medal given for combat wounds, to everyone wounded by enemy fire. This is the medal that delegates at the Republican Party mocked.... I need some fresh air.

In front of the hospital a man in his mid-20s sits down on the bench next to me. His right leg is bloated to at least double its normal size. Most of the top layer of skin had been removed, it's raw reddish. Puss glistens in the sun light, or maybe it's some kind of ointment.

"Looks like you had a bad day," I wisecrack gently.

"Yeah," he snickers.

"An IED?" (Improvised Explosive Device, roadside bomb or land mine.)

"Nope, bullet, it splattered bone."

The sergeant has been back from Iraq since January, nine months in Walter Reed, and his leg remains ugly looking. It will probably always be ugly looking. But in Walter Reed looks mean nothing, what matters is walking. I remember my obsession to walk, an obsession that overcame the pain and the blood, anything to be able to walk again. And the sergeant is walking, with crutches. But I doubt this sergeant will do much walking in his lifetime.

Sometimes it's best to just cut the leg off, but doctors can not always do what is best. The sergeant stands up, struggles to walk five feet, stops for a rest. He looks over his shoulder and says, "I'll make it, I have to make it."

"Yes you will," I say, knowing clearly that as the years pass his walking will become even more difficult, until there is no walking. All this sergeant from North Carolina ever wanted was a normal life, with a normal family, a boy and a girl. A smile broke his straight face when he said, "a boy, and a girl." But his normal life is gone and all he has is the dream of returning home to North Carolina, and hopefully that boy and girl.

The Rules of War

In America's shock and horror at Walter Reed there are rules. I will give you the four that I believe are most important.

Rule 1: talk to the person and not to the wound. This can be difficult in the beginning since ugly wounds tend to overwhelm. But the bearer of ugly wounds remains much more than a wounded person, and this you need to respect. You can ask about the wound, but you cannot talk to only the wound.

Rule 2: allow wounded soldiers to do what they can do themselves. Give them the space and the opportunity to have control over their lives, even when severely dependent upon other people.

When I was in Bethesda Naval hospital in the late 1960s, leg amputated and bed ridden, frustrated with my constant dependence on others, a visitor asked me for a cigarette - in those days you could smoke right in the hospital - and I was ecstatic to hand him one. It felt great to do something on my own, in this case hand another human being an simple item.

Rule 3: forget your moral questions about the war. Morality is for those who support the war and for those who oppose the war, not for those in the war. Those seriously wounded are still fighting the war so clam up about the immorality of this stupid war.

A corollary to this rule is never protest against a war in front of a military facility, especially a military hospital. That is a no-brainer. You demonstrate against those who made the policy to go to war, not against those who are sworn to carry out the order to go to war.

Rule 4: don't assume this is a sad time for these recuperating men. For most their physical pain is receding or is being managed by drugs, and the true mental anguish has yet to sink in. They are focused on their future which after a close call with death looks darn rosy.

"Hey, man how you doing?" a soldier greets another stepping into the elevator.

"Great," he replies. I notice out of the corner of my eye he is missing a chunk of his cheek, it's ugly.

"Guess what, man? Smithy's coming up!"


"Yeah, he's driving up this weekend."

"That's great, man."

This is the spirit that America sees when it sees anything of these wounded soldiers. It makes Americans feel good, proud of their country, confident about their military. But it is only part of the truth. There is a hidden truth. It is ugly.

The "For What" Questions

With spirits high - hey, they just "cheated" death - surrounded by fellow soldiers day and night, with family and friends visiting and attentive, life is not bad. But this is the easy middle, coming after the initial shock of being seriously wounded and before the tortuous work of transforming one's identity to accept the new reality. The easy middle is relatively easy.

When discharged from the hospital, their tight support network disappears and the strong optimism in the wake of a close call begins to wane. There is now time and space to think, and to ask questions. Sitting alone in an apartment, probably a spartanly furnished apartment, maybe in a dingy bar with their back against the wall, the questions start. They always do, for those severely wounded. Those "for what" questions: for what do I have to put on an artificial limb every morning? For what must I live with this horrible pain every day? For what did my buddy die? For what was all the horror for?

Some will attempt to evade these questions, but that's not possible. They paid too high a price. Some will turn to stock replies, such as, "It was for God, country, and family." To the degree this works is the degree that they cut themselves off from reality. Vietnam was not for God, America, and family, and neither is Iraq. Most of the wounded will learn this, and then they will demand a real answer to, "For what?"

The only satisfactory answer is for defense of country. Nothing else justifies the sacrifices, sacrifices Americans quickly forget but endure a lifetime for these men and women. The other answers, to rebuild another country, to stay the course so others won't perceive America as weak, to fulfill a president's fantasy of a great legacy, to fill our vehicles' gas tanks, to save the world from the latest new evil, they cannot withstand the ugly questions that come from horror and suffering. "For what?" is too strong for weak answers.

Barbara Porchia, whose son Jonathan was killed in Iraq, said if he had died in Afghanistan that would have probably been easier to accept - still horribly difficult, of course, but easier than Jonathan dying in the worthless Iraq War. In defense of country is the only justification for our dead and wounded soldiers and marines, nothing else is acceptable in the long run. Nothing else is ever acceptable.

I am walking through Ward 57, the amputee ward, walking on the 5th floor. There are grisly sights here. Sights that the dinning room and outside benches do not want to see, that I do not want to see. Bodies wrapped in blood soaked bandages. Eyes covered in agony. Nurses' huddled over broken bodies. The air is thick on the 5th floor, hard to breath. The flag of patriotism is less intensely displayed here. The pain of war is stronger. I feel a deep anger at America rising in me. Then I see - I walk quickly, I need some fresh air.

But at Walther Reed, ground zero for ugly war, there is no break from horror. A young man sits down on the bench next to me - "blew the lower part of my leg off ... an IED ... getting my first leg next week ... going to college when I get out ... girl friend visits...."

Whether the "For what?" is answered with a closed mind, or with an honest answer, many seriously disabled veterans will in time turn bitter and cynical. But others will swallow hard, refusing to let the injustice crush them, and move on in life. But all will be deeply scarred. If their sacrifices were truly for the defense of our country, that helps a lot. That cause can justify the sacrifices, but an unworthy cause justifies nothing.

A veteran with Iraq Veterans Against the War recently commented that after the guys return home and realize that on the home front Americans barely cared about the war, that here patriotism is an empty gesture because no one sacrifices anything, they will become angry.

To this day, some 38 years later, when I hear someone on the radio discuss the World Series in 1967, or some similar remark about 1967, I cringe. That was the year I was fighting in Vietnam. That was the year thousands of young Americans were dying and losing limbs and their minds for, supposedly, their country. But our country was excited about the World Series, and.... If a war is important enough for soldiers to be maimed and to die for, it is important enough for all Americans to sacrifice something. Something!

The World Series of baseball should have been cancelled in 1967, as it should be cancelled today, because America has young men fighting in a war.

But Americans are barely paying attention and would refuse to give substance to their patriotism, a clear indication this is not a war for the defense of America. We have an administration that won't fully fund veterans' health care, while it does not properly equip our troops in war. And we are a people not insisting our veterans have adequate health care and our soldiers have proper equipment. This is wrong, America. Wrong to those with "road kill" legs, wrong to those with partial faces, wrong to those with missing limbs.

I stand up from the bench, it's hard for me to sit for too long, and it's hard for me to walk for very far. Instead of returning to the 5th floor, I return to my car. Driving through the gate of Walter Reed and onto Connecticut Avenue - a cab whizzes by, a speeding van honks, a couple on the sidewalk hugs - my head shoots back as pain rips through my stump, just as fast it leaves. But I know the pain will be back. This is for a lifetime. What's inside Walter Reed is also for a lifetime.

Stewart Nusbaumer is editor of Intervention Magazine. You can email Stewart at Stewart@interventionmag.com.

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White House Makes Contingency Plans To Pull Miers…

The White House has begun making contingency plans for the withdrawal of Harriet Miers as President Bush's choice to fill a seat on the Supreme Court, conservative sources said yesterday.
"White House senior staff are starting to ask outside people, saying, 'We're not discussing pulling out her nomination, but if we were to, do you have any advice as to how we should do it?' " a conservative Republican with ties to the White House told The Washington Times.

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I sincerely hope so

* I hope he ends up at the Hague, and is convicted for mass murder committed by the duplicity of the White House.

Iraq: We Broke it.

We Bought It.

Help Wanted:

Pompous, arrogant unilateralist nation has contract entry-level (cannon fodder) positions available at our exciting new Iraq location! Duties include search and destroy functions; rounding up and interrogating locals; guarding oil facilities and other places deemed important by employer; dodging bullets, RPGs, and assorted home-made munitions; pretending to be hot on the trail of Saddam Hussein, al Qaida, or WMD; and looking upbeat while your comrades are wounded or killed on a daily basis. No experience necessary. We'll train the right nations. Required skills: A willingness to lean into the strike zone and take one for the team. Benefits: An increase in terrorist activity inside the applicant's borders. Chance for advancement: None. Non-UNion only.

Remember before the Iraq war started? George W. Bush and his flock of chicken hawks at the White House told us that America would disarm Saddam Hussein with or without the help of the rest of the world. Colin Powell was dispatched to the United Nations to make a couple of half-hearted attempts to persuade other nations to join us. He told the U. N. Security Council in February that Saddam Hussein must be stopped:

We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction, is determined to make more. Given Saddam Hussein's history of aggression, given what we know of his grandiose plans, given what we know of his terrorist associations, and given his determination to exact revenge on those who oppose him, should we take the risk that he will not someday use these weapons at a time and a place and in a manner of his choosing, at a time when the world is in a much weaker position to respond?

Gosh, we sure "knew" a lot back then, didn't we? This might be a good time to discuss the difference between the phrase "we think" and the phrase "we know." Had Powell used "we think" in the preceding quote, the world would now think "we" made a mistake. Because Powell chose to say "we know" instead, the world now is pretty sure that "we" are liars. But Powell was tasked with slinging this bucket of manure at the security council, so he did. For some strange reason, the United Nations considered Powell's factually questionable request to start a war with Iraq and politely told him, "No, thank you." And with that little formality out of the way, Bush and company were free to roll up their sleeves and save the world without being bothered by all of those pesky foreign military units getting in the way.

Several thousand deaths later, it turns out that the world didn't need saving from Iraq after all. In addition, it appears that the Iraqis aren't all thrilled with being saved, either. Our soldiers are being killed on an almost daily basis, maintaining our presence in Iraq is costing us $4 billion a month, and there's no end in sight. In other words, it turns out that the Bush administration was absolutely wrong about the necessity of a war in Iraq, and we liberals, the U. N., the international community, the Pope, and NATO were all absolutely right. More importantly, going it alone now has a cost that even a moron like George W. Bush can understand. When you put together a real coalition, then you have help with the financing, the fighting, and the dying. Yes, kids, sometimes the right thing to do is also the most popular, cheapest, and least dangerous. Dubya's dad could have told him that.

And so Colin Powell, still red-faced from his embarrassing attempt to mislead the United Nations into following the Coalition of the Stupid into battle, is in front of the U. N. again, hat in hand, placing the above advertisement on the break room bulletin board. It's a simple request. Send your nation's troops to Iraq for service under American command. Send your cash to Iraq to be spent as America sees fit. But don't bother to ask for a say in how your troops are deployed or your money is spent. Americans are particularly familiar with this concept. It's called taxation without representation. Man, I've seen everything now.

For any nation thinking of signing on to Bush's little political science project, I urge them to consider this: Do you know how smart your nation was to stay out of Iraq? You got to find out that Saddam Hussein was no threat to any of us. You lost no lives in battle. You wasted none of your own tax dollars. And finally, you are pretty much guaranteed that retaliation for Bush's unqualified fiasco in Iraq will be against coalition members, with the United States as the most likely target. Why would any other nation want to lend its name, soldiers, and treasure to this illegal undertaking and change the above equation? Any nation that signs on to this mess now must realize that nothing good can possibly come from its involvement. Of course, as an American, I hope they will ignore everything I just said and help us climb out of the deep hole that the Bush administration dug for us. But if any nations join us at this point, it would be out of a charitable feeling for us poor suckers who are stuck with George W. Bush as our leader rather than any urgent need to oust Saddam Hussein or round up them nu-cue-lur weapons and stuff.

The single best phrase that describes our situation in Iraq is this: We broke it. We bought it. If we weren't interested in the world's help before the war, we shouldn't be interested now. Before the war, Bush and his henchmen did everything possible to sideline the United Nations, not just on the Iraq issue, but on the world stage. For America to seek the help of the United Nations after being voted down and proven wrong is an admission that the Bush administration simply is in over its empty head. Bush conducted the Iraq crisis like a child running away from home. Now that dusk is falling in Iraq, little Georgie is cold and hungry and wants to come home to the U. N.

To see and raise Dixie Chick Natalie Maines, I can only say this: Earlier today, Koko the gorilla signed that she's embarrassed that George W. Bush descended from her relatives.


Sadly my Nation joined this illegal war and occupation.

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Big Tobacco Jets Delay To Court…

[...] DeLay's staff disclosed that he flew to Houston on Thursday morning on a corporate jet owned by R.J. Reynolds, a longtime contributor that has flown him to Puerto Rico and other destinations; they said the jet was "used in compliance with regulations." The company, which has also given $17,000 to DeLay's legal defense fund, did not have a comment Friday.
DeLay was indicted on Sept. 28 and Oct. 3 on charges of conspiring to inject illegal corporate funds into that 2002 campaign, and of laundering some of those funds through an arm of the Republican Party in Washington to conceal their corporate origin.

NOTE:::::They have got to be kidding? At least I hope they are.

Perkins said his contribution to MoveOn.org was intended to benefit Democrat John F. Kerry's presidential campaign. The judge who will decide the jurisdictional matter, B.B. Schraub, has made donations to national and local Republican candidates, according to public records.

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Is this info accurate about Plame's covert status?

I've heard (forget where) that her cover was as an executive for some type of global communications company. Also, other covert agents used this company as a cover for their operations. When she was outed, not only did it affect her, but any agent who had previously used or was using this company as a cover. Is this accurate? And if so, why is it not being rammed down the MSM's throat????

Yes, that's largely accurate.

Not everyone who used the company as cover may neccessarily have been revealed, but most of them are probably compromised to one degree or another--having been associated with a CIA front company, they'll probably be on intelligence watch lists until they jump to a new identity. Not to mention the retroactive damage that's done: because now foreign intel agencies know that employees of this company were potentially spies, they can go back and look over past events and possibly learn new things, break some people's cover, and compromise certain operations.

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DeLay judge seeks hearing on motion for his removal

Ex-lottery boss claiming Miers kept 'lid' on Bush Guard controversy


Miers panel to hear
'explosive testimony'?
Gag order lifted for ex-lottery boss claiming Miers kept 'lid' on Bush Guard controversy

Released from a gag order, Larry Littwin – the controversial former director of the Texas Lottery under Harriet Miers – is free to appear at the upcoming Supreme Court confirmation hearings to give "potentially explosive" testimony damaging both to President Bush and his nominee, according to WND columnist Jerome Corsi.

As WorldNetDaily has reported, Littwin allegedly was fired by Miers because he wanted to investigate improper political influence-buying by lobbyists for GTECH, the firm contracted to run the lottery.

Corsi believes that Littwin, according to an examination of hundreds of contemporary Texas newspaper accounts, will be able to establish under oath that the GTECH contract was preserved on a no-bid basis by then-chairwoman of the Lottery Commission Miers in order to "keep the lid on" the National Guard controversy involving then-Gov. Bush.

The lobbyists included Ben Barnes, the former Texas lieutenant governor who claims he pulled strings to get Bush into the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.

GTECH agreed to release Littwin from his gag order under pressure from Senate Judiciary Committee attorneys, Corsi said.

Littwin, who was hired by Miers in June 1997 and fired just five months later, wanted to reopen the GTECH contract for competitive bid, according to Corsi.

The Rhode Island company has held the operating contract on the Texas Lottery since the lottery began in 1991.

When Littwin sued GTECH over losing his job, Barnes gave a five-hour deposition. But GTECH settled with Littwin for $300,000, under the condition that he destroy all documents pertaining to the litigation, including the Barnes deposition.

Until now, Corsi reports, Littwin has been under a gag order as part of his "negotiated settlement" with GTECH, under which he would suffer a $50,000 penalty if he discussed openly any details of his Texas Lottery employment.

Corsi says insiders following the Texas Lottery Commission scandals believe Littwin's testimony is "potentially explosive."

“I Don't Think The Prospect Of A Firestorm Would Deter” Him From Seeking Indictments…

Published: October 22, 2005

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 - In 13 years prosecuting mobsters and terrorists in New York, Patrick J. Fitzgerald earned a public reputation for meticulous preparation, a flawless memory and an easy eloquence. Only his colleagues knew that these orderly achievements emerged from the near-total anarchy of his office, where the relentless Mr. Fitzgerald often slept during big cases.

"You'd open a drawer, looking for a pen or Post-it notes, and it would be full of dirty socks," recalled Karen Patton Seymour, a former assistant United States attorney who tried a major case with him. "He was a mess. Food here, clothes there, papers everywhere. But behind all that was a totally organized mind."

That mind, which has taken on Al Qaeda and the Gambino crime family, is now focused on the most politically volatile case of Mr. Fitzgerald's career. As the special prosecutor who has directed the C.I.A. leak investigation, he is expected to decide within days who, if anyone, will be charged with a crime.

To seek indictments against the White House officials caught up in the inquiry would deliver a devastating blow to the Bush administration. To simply walk away after two years of investigation, which included the jailing of a reporter for 85 days for refusing to testify, would invite cries of cover-up and waste.

Yet Mr. Fitzgerald's past courtroom allies and adversaries say that consideration of political consequences will play no role in his decision.

"I don't think the prospect of a firestorm would deter him," said J. Gilmore Childers, who worked with Mr. Fitzgerald on high-profile terrorism prosecutions in New York during the 1990s. "His only calculus is to do the right thing as he sees it."

Stanley L. Cohen, a New York lawyer who has defended those accused of terrorism in a half-dozen cases prosecuted by Mr. Fitzgerald, said he never detected the slightest political leanings, only a single-minded dedication to the law.

"There's no doubt in my mind that if he's found something, he won't be swayed one way or the other by the politics of it," Mr. Cohen said. "For Pat, there's no such thing as a little crime you can ignore."

Mr. Fitzgerald, 44, whose regular job is as the United States attorney in Chicago, is a hard man to pigeonhole. The son of Irish immigrants - his father, Patrick Sr., was a Manhattan doorman - he graduated from Amherst College and Harvard Law School. Though he is a workaholic who sends e-mail messages to subordinates at 2 a.m. and has never married, friends say the man they call Fitzie is a hilarious raconteur and great company for beer and baseball. Ruthless in his pursuit of criminals, he once went to considerable trouble to adopt a cat.

"He's a prankster and a practical joker," said Ms. Seymour, who now practices law in New York, recalling when Mr. Fitzgerald drafted a fake judge's opinion denying a key motion and had it delivered to a colleague. "But he's also brilliant. When he's trying a complicated case, there's no detail he can't recall."

Mr. Fitzgerald was appointed in December 2003 by James B. Comey, then the deputy attorney general and an old friend, to investigate the disclosure in a column by Robert Novak of the identity of an undercover operative for the Central Intelligence Agency, Valerie Wilson, also referred to by her maiden name, Valerie Plame. Her husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former diplomat who had traveled to Niger on behalf of the C.I.A. to check on reports that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was seeking uranium there, had publicly accused the White House of twisting the evidence to justify war against Iraq.

Lawyers involved in the case say Mr. Fitzgerald appears to be examining whether high-level officials who spoke to reporters about the Wilsons sought to mislead prosecutors about their discussions. Those under scrutiny include Karl Rove, the top political adviser to President Bush, and I. Lewis Libby Jr., the chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.

In grand jury sessions, Mr. Fitzgerald has struck witnesses as polite and exacting. Matthew Cooper, a Time magazine reporter who wrote about his two and half hours of testimony, said that the prosecutor's questions were asked "in microscopic, excruciating detail."

Before he testified, Mr. Cooper recalled that Mr. Fitzgerald counseled him to say what he remembered and no more. "If I show you a picture of your kindergarten teacher and it really refreshes your memory say so," Mr. Cooper wrote, quoting Mr. Fitzgerald. "If it doesn't, don't say yes just because I show you a photo of you and her sitting together."

Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter who wrote about her two grand jury appearances, said that Mr. Fitzgerald asked questions that reflected a deep knowledge of the leak case as he led her through her dealings with Mr. Libby.

Mr. Fitzgerald has drawn criticism from press advocates for his aggressive pursuit of journalists he believes may have been told about the secret C.I.A. employment of Ms. Wilson. Ms. Miller served nearly three months in jail this summer before agreeing to testify. In pursuing leads that have made him a threat to the White House, Mr. Fitzgerald is following a pattern set by previous special prosecutors. Some allies of the White House complain privately that he has taken on some of the worst traits of his predecessors. Republicans criticized Lawrence E. Walsh for his handling of the Iran-Contra scandal in the Reagan administration, while Democrats attacked Kenneth W. Starr's performance in the Whitewater probe and Monica Lewinsky sex scandal under President Clinton. The two prosecutors operated under the independent counsel law, which both parties let die in 1999.

Katy J. Harriger, a political scientist at Wake Forest University who has studied special prosecutors, said that Mr. Fitzgerald had some advantages over his predecessors. He has essentially all the powers of the attorney general to chase evidence, question witnesses and seek charges. Unlike Mr. Walsh and Mr. Starr, both former judges, Mr. Fitzgerald is a career prosecutor. And as a Bush administration appointee, he is less vulnerable to attack from the White House.

"It will be much harder than it was with Starr to say this is a partisan prosecution," Ms. Harriger said.


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Alleged 9/11 Cover Up

Time: Stench made troops burn corpses

US Soldiers claim Taliban bodies were an 'unbearable presence;' Graphic video.

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Militants, World Taunted; Troops endangered, Pentagon plays dumb (VIDEO) Smoke Em' Out! Karen Hughes to the Rescue!

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Old Bush vs. New

WASHINGTON, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- The Bush administration is bracing for a powerful new attack by Brent Scowcroft, the respected national security adviser to the first President George Bush.

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A Message from Bill Keller:

A Message from Bill Keller:

As you can imagine, I've done a lot of thinking -- and a lot of listening -- on the subject of what I should have done differently in handling our reporter's entanglement in the White House leak investigation. Jill and John and I have talked a great deal among ourselves and with many of you, and while this is a discussion that will continue, we thought it would be worth taking a first cut at the lessons we have learned.

Aside from a number of occasions when I wish I had chosen my words more carefully, we've come up with a few points at which we wish we had made different decisions. These are instances, when viewed with the clarity of hindsight, where the mistakes carry lessons beyond the peculiar circumstances of this case.

I wish we had dealt with the controversy over our coverage of WMD as soon as I became executive editor. At the time, we thought we had compelling reasons for kicking the issue down the road. The paper had just been through a major trauma, the Jayson Blair episode, and needed to regain its equilibrium. It felt somehow unsavory to begin a tenure by attacking our predecessors. I was trying to get my arms around a huge new job, appoint my team, get the paper fully back to normal, and I feared the WMD issue could become a crippling distraction.

So it was a year before we got around to really dealing with the controversy. At that point, we published a long editors' note acknowledging the prewar journalistic lapses, and -- to my mind, at least as important - - we intensified aggressive reporting aimed at exposing the way bad or manipulated intelligence had fed the drive to war. (I'm thinking of our excellent investigation of those infamous aluminum tubes, the report on how the Iraqi National Congress recruited exiles to promote Saddam's WMD threat, our close look at the military's war-planning intelligence! , and th e dissection, one year later, of Colin Powell's U.N. case for the war, among other examples. The fact is sometimes overlooked that a lot of the best reporting on how this intel fiasco came about appeared in the NYT.)

By waiting a year to own up to our mistakes, we allowed the anger inside and outside the paper to fester. Worse, we fear, we fostered an impression that The Times put a higher premium on protecting its reporters than on coming clean with its readers. If we had lanced the WMD boil earlier, we might have damped any suspicion that THIS time, the paper was putting the defense of a reporter above the duty to its readers.

I wish that when I learned Judy Miller had been subpoenaed as a witness in the leak investigation, I had sat her down for a thorough debriefing, and followed up with some reporting of my own. It is a natural and proper instinct to defend reporters when the government seeks to interfere in our work. And under other circumstances it might have been fine to entrust the details -- the substance of the confidential interviews, the notes -- to lawyers who would be handling the case. But in this case I missed what should have been significant alarm bells. Until Fitzgerald came after her, I didn't know that Judy had been one of the reporters on the receiving end of the anti-Wilson whisper campaign. I should have wondered why I was learning this from the special counsel, a year after the fact. (In November of 2003 Phil Taubman tried to ascertain whether any of our correspondents had been offered similar leaks. As we reported last Sunday, Judy seems to have misled Phil Taubman about the extent of her involvement.) This alone should have been enough to make me probe deeper.

In the end, I'm pretty sure I would have concluded that we had to fight this case in court. For one thing, we were facing an insidious new menace in these blanket waivers, ostensibly voluntary, that Administration officials had been compelled to sign.! But if I had known the details of Judy's entanglement with Libby, I'd have been more careful in how the paper articulated its defense, and perhaps more willing than I had been to support efforts aimed at exploring compromises.

Dick Stevenson has expressed the larger lesson here in an e-mail that strikes me as just right: "I think there is, or should be, a contract between the paper and its reporters. The contract holds that the paper will go to the mat to back them up institutionally -- but only to the degree that the reporter has lived up to his or her end of the bargain, specifically to have conducted him or herself in a way consistent with our legal, ethical and journalistic standards, to have been open and candid with the paper about sources, mistakes, conflicts and the like, and generally to deserve having the reputations of all of us put behind him or her. In that way, everybody knows going into a battle exactly what the situation is, what we're fighting for, the degree to which the facts might counsel compromise or not, and the degree to which our collective credibility should be put on the line."

I've heard similar sentiments from a number of reporters in the aftermath of this case.

There is another important issue surfaced by this case: how we deal with the inherent conflict of writing about ourselves. This paper (and, indeed, this business) has had way too much experience of that over the past few years. Almost everyone we've heard from on the staff appreciates that once we had agreed as an institution to defend Judy's source, it would have been wrong to expose her source in the paper. Even if our reporters had learned that information through their own enterprise, our publication of it would have been seen by many readers as authoritative -- as outing Judy's source in a backhanded way. Yet it is excruciating to withhold information of value to our readers, especially when rival publications are unconstrained. I don't yet see a clear-cut ! answer t o this dilemma, but we've received some thoughtful suggestions from the staff, and it's one of the problems that we'll be wrestling with in the coming weeks.

Best, Bill

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Hurricane Wilma tears into Mexico

Tourists flee; Latin MTV awards delayed;

Florida evacuations begin.

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Friday, October 21, 2005

The Great Martingale Massacre Or, The Mathematics of the Double-Down Presidency

By Stirling Newberry
t r u t h o u t Perspective

Thursday 20 October 2005

Imagine there is a good for nothing gambler. He has only two resources: First, he's good for nothing, he's got an unlimited amount of time. Second, he's well born, and has an unlimited amount of credit at no interest. He offers you a chance to play a game, a simple game. It's the flip of a coin. If he loses, then you get what he bet; if he wins, you pay him what he bet, plus a dollar. He can stop any time he wants to, but you always have to accept his bet. Here's the catch: it is with a very loaded coin, and you get to choose which side. You might think that if the coin were loaded enough, the good for nothing gambler would be a fool. He certainly sounds like one.

But the reality of mathematics takes hold. He has an unlimited amount of credit. Each time he loses, he doubles the bet. You can't stop him from placing a new bet, and he has an unlimited amount of time. Eventually, even if the coin is very loaded, he will get back everything and pay back his creditors. Because the payoff is, effectively, one dollar for every time he wins, and the rest doesn't matter. Eventually, no matter how loaded the coin, your money will drizzle into his pocket. This strategy of betting is called a "martingale," and the term has entered into financial theory. The martingale betting strategy doesn't work at the casino, because casinos don't pay off true odds and because even normal runs of bad luck will bankrupt the gambler. The gambler has to have access to astronomical amounts of money to make it work. But rational economic actors, so long as they are convinced there is enough money, will lend to him, because eventually there is risk-free profit to be had.

This is the basic mathematics of George Bush, the double-down President. Each time he fails, he goes back to his backers among the privileged and doubles the bet. Eventually, he will bankrupt anyone with a finite amount of money. And compared to any ordinary player, the government has an infinite amount of money. In fact, the key economic theory of the rational expectations school of economics is exactly that: the government has an infinite amount of money. This idea is embodied in the work of Robert J. Barro, who wrote an influential paper entitled "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?"

His argument is complex and relies on the mathematics of a concept known as the "rational economic actor." In it, he concludes that under very interesting sets of conditions, if a government runs a deficit, then people will just buy government bonds to pay the expected future tax increases. While this doesn't apply to most governments, or to people, it does apply to the anchor currency in a financial system and to other governments. In effect, the hegemonic power has unlimited credit, so long as they can credibly show to other governments that someday, there will be a shortage of the anchor currency. This is the method that George Bush, the double-down President, is using - going to foreign central banks, and telling them that if they don't back his next throw, they will lose their money and that, anyway, eventually his luck will turn.

Now if you think about this situation, you will start to realize why the very wealthy look and act the way they do. In essence, those who want to be wealthy run around playing this game. The skills they need are (1) the ability to secure credit, (2) the willingness to keep playing no matter how far in the hole they are, and (3) the ability to keep securing people who will play this game with them.

The first requires absolute certainty. The theory of a martingale is absolutely certain, provided you are certain you have unlimited time, and unlimited credit. The second is an iron-clad faith in yourself, the ability to get to the table, smile, flip the coin, knowing that it will probably go against you, but, so long as you keep smiling, it will come out in the end. The third, of course, is the ability to make yourself look stupid, because that is how you find people who are willing to bet all their money to take what looks like a sure thing.

In short, there are going to be people who have complete faith that, in the infinite time horizon, the world will be on their side, people who have absolute assurance - and yet the ability to look disorganized and like a mark, to the public. Look on television, almost every commercial tells you how much you are "saving" by buying a product at 100% over the cost of making it in China.

Time arbitrage is, more or less, the ability to play this game: realizing that, while the short-term cost of a dollar from a particular game is very high, over time it will be less than a dollar. Then there is the bet that one can secure enough credit to keep playing. This is what Long Term Capital Management did; in fact, the mathematics I described was applied to financial theory by many of the people who ran LTCM. And the lesson they learned was that even if the bet didn't work, it didn't matter - they walked away rich and honored, and other people paid the bill. At that point, one would have to be a fool not to try it.

In fact, this situation, in which the privileged can play with the public's money, was described in outline by Berle and Means in the 1930s - and in great detail in the work of John Kenneth Galbraith. "Financial genius," he quipped, "is leverage and a rising market." It is why his biographer, Richard Parker, waxes poetic about the failure of "rational expectations" as a way of bringing general economic prosperity; all it is, is an excuse for the rich to gamble against the poor, with the poor's money.

It would be like finding out that you were playing this game with a gambler, and at the same time loaning him the money. Which, since Bush is playing with the full faith credit of the American public, is exactly what is happening.

Stirling Newberry is an internet business and strategy consultant, with experience in international telecom, consumer marketing, e-commerce and forensic database analysis. He has acted as an advisor to Democratic political campaigns and organizations and is the co-founder, along with Christopher Lydon, Jay Rosen and Matt Stoller, of BopNews, as well as the military affairs editor of The Agonist.
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Quote of the Week:

"Oh, God. I love Karl Rove. He deserves better. He's magnificent. He elected Bush. The country owes him a debt."

-- Dick Morris

US troops fighting losing battle for Sunni triangle

By Adrian Blomfield
(Filed: 22/10/2005)

The mob grew more frenzied as the gunmen dragged the two surviving Americans from the cab of their bullet-ridden lorry and forced them to kneel on the street.

Killing one of the men with a rifle round fired into the back of his head, they doused the other with petrol and set him alight. Barefoot children, yelping in delight, piled straw on to the screaming man's body to stoke the flames.

It had taken just one wrong turn for disaster to unfold. Less than a mile from the base it was heading to, the convoy turned left instead of right and lumbered down one of the most anti-American streets in Iraq, a narrow bottleneck in Duluiya town, on a peninsular jutting into the Tigris river named after the Jibouri tribe that lives there.

As the lorries desperately tried to reverse out, dozens of Sunni Arab insurgents wielding rocket launchers and automatic rifles emerged from their homes.

The gunmen were almost certainly emboldened by the fact that the American soldiers escorting the convoy would not have been able to respond quickly enough.

"The hatches of the humvees were closed," said Capt Andrew Staples, a member of the Task Force Liberty 1-15 battalion that patrols Duluiya and other small towns on the eastern bank of the Tigris, who spoke to soldiers involved.

Within minutes, four American contractors, all employees of the Halliburton subsidiary Kellog, Brown & Root, were dead. The jubilant crowd dragged their corpses through the street, chanting anti-US slogans. An investigation has been launched into why the contractors were not better protected.

Perhaps fearful of public reaction in America, where support for the war is falling, US officials suppressed details of the Sept 20 attack, which bore a striking resemblance to the murder of four other contractors in Fallujah last year.

Duluiya, located in the notorious Sunni triangle, is much smaller than Fallujah but no less violent, even if events here rarely make the news.

The violence here seems to encapsulate the growing difficulties the US military is facing in trying to defeat the insurgency. Pinned down by a constant stream of hit-and-run attacks from former Saddam regime loyalists, American soldiers are unable to focus their attention on the foreign extremists who pose a far more dangerous threat to the future of Iraq.

Yet it is here that the battle against the suicide bombers must be won.

The isolated towns east of the Tigris supply the foreign fighters and their allies and provide a haven where they can regroup after American offensives on their urban strongholds.

If the Americans do not close off these boltholes, it seems unlikely the war can be won.

But hopes for progress are growing more remote. The insurgency in eastern Salahuddin province is growing more intense, more deadly and more sophisticated.

Lt Col Gary Brito, the battalion's commanding officer, said that in recent months the number of roadside bombs targeting his men had increased by a third - even though journeys out of base have been cut back. They are having a more devastating effect too.

"Before only two out of 10 used to be effective," he said. "Now four or five have a catastrophic effect, blowing away a vehicle or causing casualties." In the past few months at least four American soldiers in this battalion alone have been killed. Another 39 have been wounded.

Even routine patrols are fraught with danger.

"What the hell was that," shouted Lt Chris Baldwin as a huge explosion rocked Baker Company's convoy of humvees trundling along a street in Dour, another town under Lt Col Brito's watch.

"Contact! Contact!" he bellowed into his radio as the gunners opened fire on a row of nearby houses from where the rocket-propelled anti-tank missile was fired.

As the gunfire died down, the soldiers burst into house after house, their facades peppered with bullet holes.

But, as is so often the case, the attacker had vanished down one of Dour's maze-like alleys.

Instead the Americans were confronted with sullen Iraqis, holding their terrified children to their sides. An old woman sat on her bed, clutching her heart, as the soldiers interrogated the family.

"They heard nothing, they saw nothing, same as ******* usual," said Sgt Jody Miller. Taking another deep drag from his cigarette, he turned to the company's translator.

"Tell them to tell us where the bad guys are so we stop frigging shooting up their houses," he said.

Nobody was hurt but the mutual distrust between the Americans and the local community deepened just a little bit more.

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Starbucks to Serve Up God With a Cappucino-Religious Message On Mugs

Starbucks to serve up God with a skinny cappuccino

Gary Younge in New York
Saturday October 22, 2005
The Guardian

Coffee drinkers in the US could soon get Jesus with their morning jolt as Starbucks plans to put a religious message on its cups next spring.

The cups will carry a religious quote from the Rev Rick Warren, the author of the blockbuster self-help book The Purpose-Driven Life. Mr Warren said he had had the idea after seeing a quote on one of the store's cups on evolution by the paleontologist Louise Leakey.

His quote reads: "You are not an accident. Your parents may not have planned you, but God did. He wanted you alive and created you for a purpose. Focusing on yourself will never reveal your real purpose. You were made by God and for God, and until you understand that, life will never make sense. Only in God do we discover our origin, our identity, our meaning, our purpose, our significance and our destiny."

Starbucks has printed 63 quotes from writers, performers, academics and politicians on its cups over the past year as part of a campaign called The Way I See It. This is the first one that is explicitly religious. Last month a contractor for Baylor University, a Baptist institution in Texas, removed cups carrying a quote by the author Armistead Maupin saying: "My only regret about being gay is that I repressed it for so long ... life is too damn short."

Attack Syria? Invade Iran? By What Constitution?

By Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith
t r u t h o u t Perspective

Friday 21 October 2005

Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on October 19, Condoleezza Rice was asked whether the Bush administration was planning military action against Syria. She answered, "I don't think the President ever takes any of his options off the table concerning anything to do with military force."

Last time we read the US Constitution, the grave decision to use military force against another country was a matter for Congress to decide - not an "option" for a President.

And last time we read the UN Charter, it provided that "all members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state."

We've been here before. President Bush used trumped-up fears (like mushroom clouds over American cities) and frauds (like imaginary "yellowcake" uranium) to fool the American people into attacking Iraq. Now we and the Iraqi people are paying the price.

With the American military bogged down in what Lt. Gen. William Odom, director of the National Security Agency under Ronald Reagan, calls "the greatest strategic disaster in United States history," and with a majority of the American people saying the US made the wrong decision in using military force against Iraq, it may be hard to believe that the Bush administration is really contemplating further adventures.

But regimes facing military embarrassment are notorious for expanding the theater of war - witness Nixon's expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia. And the same delusions that got us into Iraq - from imaginary threats of illicit weapons to dreams of welcome from cheering crowds - are being repeated about Iran and Syria.

War with Syria is already dangerously close. A series of clashes between US and Syrian troops have killed Syrians and, according to current and former US officials, raise the prospect that cross-border military operations may become a dangerous new front in the Iraq war. According to press accounts, US forces have crossed the border into Syria, sometimes by accident, sometimes deliberately. An October 1 meeting of top Bush officials in the White House considered "options," including "special operations" against Syria. Bush administration officials are already laying the groundwork for attacks with the kinds of justifications they used to ensnare the US in Iraq.

The Bush administration seems to believe that the President has the power to make war on anybody it chooses without even having to consult with Congress. Senator Chafee observed to Secretary Rice, "Under the Iraq war resolution, we restricted any military action to Iraq." Then he asked, "So would you agree that if anything were to occur on Syrian or Iranian soil, you would have to return to Congress to get that authorization?" Rice's reply? "Senator, I don't want to try and circumscribe presidential war powers. And I think you'll understand fully that the President retains those powers in the war on terrorism and in the war on Iraq."

The provisions of the Constitution that limit the power of the President to make war are wisely designed to protect the people of our country from just the kind of dubious war that the Bush administration conducted against Iraq - and that the great majority of Americans now believe was a mistake. Similarly the restrictions on aggressive war in the UN Charter protect not only countries that might be attacked, but also the people of countries whose leaders may be tempted to conduct such attacks. Nothing could do more for American's national security today than a reinvigoration of these constraints on military adventurism.

While we are debating how to extricate ourselves from our quagmire in Iraq, the Congress and the American people need to make one thing perfectly clear: Attack on Iran, Syria, or any other country without the explicit endorsement of the US Congress and the UN is not an "option" for the President.

As the old saying goes, "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me!" Congress and the American people allowed President Bush to fool us into war with Iraq. Shame on us if we allow him to do it again in Syria, Iran, or anywhere else!

Legal scholar Brendan Smith and historian Jeremy Brecher are the editors, with Jill Cutler, of In the Name of Democracy: American War Crimes in Iraq and Beyond.

[Sources: Anne Gearan, "Rice: US May Still Be in Iraq in 10 Years," Associated Press, October 19, 2005. / Evan Lehman, "Retired general: Iraq invasion was 'strategic disaster,'" Lowell Sun, September 30, 2005 / Princeton Survey Research Associates/Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, interviews conducted October 6-10, 2005. / James Risen and David E. Sanger, "GI's and Syrians in Tense Clashes on Iraqi Border," New York Times, October 15, 2005. / CQ Transcriptions, October 19, 2005.]
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