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Saturday, November 05, 2005

Bush rebuked by the hand of God --(Señor Peligro (Mr Danger) )

The good people of Mar del Plata gave Bush a good sendoff by burning 'muriKan flags. Even the Mayor said "Bush probably doesn't even know that people here are so solidly against him," and in the past referred to Chimpy as "the most disagreeable person on the planet".

George Bush presumably knew before this weekend that the "hand of God" could be merciless. He certainly does now. Maradona, rather than Iraq, was uppermost on the US President's mind this weekend as he attended a summit of leaders from the Western hemisphere in the Argentinian beach resort of Mar del Plata.

As domestic polls informed him that he was increasingly mistrusted by his fellow Americans, Mr Bush was clearly mortified to be called "human trash" by Latin America's equivalent of Michael Jordan - the Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona.

Despite being a compatriot of Ché Guevara, Maradona is an unlikely revolutionary. He cheated at football but was forgiven on account of his genius on the field. He also screwed up with drugs and was forgiven for that, too, because he fought it and, so far, is overcoming it. But could he be a nail in George Bush's political coffin? Don't rule it out.

Anyone who has spent time in Latin America recently knows Mr Bush is the least popular US president among Latin Americans in history. Five Latin American countries have voted in left-of-centre governments since he took office. From the indigenous people through to the middle classes and even among the elite, Latin Americans increasingly seek not the American dream, but the Latin American dream. They are disillusioned with what Maradona yesterday called "the American Empire".

Retired Judge to Preside in DeLay Case

Go to Original

By R. Jeffrey Smith
The Washington Post

Friday 04 November 2005

Appointee was chosen for apparent nonpartisan stance.

The state of Texas finally found a judge yesterday to preside over the criminal trial of former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), but not without a new, last-minute dispute about partisan political interference.

Administrative Judge B.B. Schraub, who earlier this week removed a judge overseeing the proceedings against DeLay for alleged liberal bias, withdrew yesterday from decision making about a replacement judge after an official complaint about Schraub's links to Republicans.

Schraub passed the decision to the chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court, Wallace B. Jefferson. But within hours, political activists in Texas complained that Jefferson has close ties to individuals and political contributors at the heart of the allegations against DeLay.

By day's end, Jefferson seemed to settle the matter by appointing a retired judge from San Antonio, Pat Priest, whose only recent political donations were three checks of $150 each to Democratic candidates for the Texas House in 2004, according to the watchdog group Texans for Public Justice.

The task of finding a supposedly apolitical arbiter for DeLay's trial was complicated by the fact that Texas - like seven other states - elects its judges in partisan elections. It also allows elected judges to make financial contributions to partisan causes, and it even permits those with business before the courts to subsidize the judges' political campaigns.

DeLay, who says that the criminal charges against him were motivated by partisan politics, filed a motion last month seeking the removal of District Judge Bob Perkins, an elected Democrat who had contributed funds in 2004 to the liberal group MoveOn.Org. Schraub agreed to do so Tuesday without giving any reason, and promised to pick a replacement.

But prosecutor Ronnie Earle, who has overseen the DeLay investigation and who opposed Perkins's removal, then filed a motion seeking Schraub's removal on grounds that he had contributed to Texas Gov. Rick Perry's election campaign.

Perry, a DeLay ally, worked closely with the majority leader in 2002 to ensure that Republicans gained control of the Texas House, a key step in the DeLay-inspired plan to redraw the Texas congressional map so that the state elected more Republicans to Congress.

Schraub's subsequent withdrawal threw the responsibility to Jefferson, whom Perry appointed as chief justice in 2004 and who shared a campaign treasurer in 2002 with Texans for a Republican Majority, the group indicted along with DeLay for allegedly funneling illegal corporate contributions into the House elections that year. Jefferson also was endorsed by the group, and one of its brochures listed him as a VIP guest at one of the group's fundraisers.

Jefferson's letter did not explain the choice of Priest. Jefferson's office staff declined to comment.

Meanwhile, the House ethics committee - which DeLay has asked to investigate allegations that he improperly traveled overseas at the expense of lobbyists - announced yesterday that it hired a new chief counsel, William V. O'Reilly, a former partner in the Washington office of the Jones Day law firm.

The firm's Web site states that O'Reilly previously represented the R.J. Reynolds tobacco company in antitrust litigation. R.J. Reynolds is one of DeLay's longtime financial supporters - having given to both his election campaigns and his legal defense fund - and recently flew DeLay to Texas on one of its corporate jets for his first court appearance.

Campaign disclosure records state that O'Reilly contributed $1,000 last year to Sen. John F. Kerry's Democratic presidential campaign, $250 to Wesley K. Clark's Democratic presidential campaign, and $250 to the Democratic National Committee.

Link Here

War Drives Wedge Between Veteran Sons, Parents

CANTON, Ohio -- Two members of the Third Battalion, 25th Marines are still waiting to be welcomed home.

The unit came back to Ohio last month after losing 48 members in Iraq. But the parents of Jason and Johel Woodliff didn't come out for the homecoming.

Johel Woodliff said he begged his mother to greet him and his brother when they came back. He said his parents were upset with him when he turned down a college scholarship to enlist.

Jason Woodliff said he was kicked out of the house when he told his parents he wanted to join the Marines. He said he hasn't spoken with his father in five years.

(WA GOP) Wrongly Tries to Prevent >140 King Co. Residents from Voting

Steven Lacey is a regular voter whose plan for Election Day next Tuesday was to walk a few blocks from his Belltown apartment building and cast his vote, as usual, at his local precinct. At least, that was his plan until he received a letter last night informing him that his right to vote had been challenged by a woman from the east side named Lori D. Sotelo.

The letter reported that Sotelo had declared to King County election officials, “under penalty of perjury,” that Lacey’s voter registration was not valid because he couldn’t possibly be living at the address he was claiming. “Which is insane,” Lacey said. The 35-year-old insurance company account manager lives at the Watermark, a 60-unit downtown apartment building built in 1908. However, Sotelo appeared to believe the Watermark was a storage unit, a P.O. box, or some other location that Lacey could not legally be using as an address of record.

Furious, Lacey did a quick web search and realized that Sotelo was a leader in the King County Republican Party. He couldn’t understand how she came to think he was illegally registered, since the Watermark, Lacey said, “couldn’t more clearly be a physical residence.” He left Sotelo a phone message telling her as much, but he never heard back.

Then he asked around, and found that many people in his building had received the same letter, informing them that their votes would not be counted until they proved, at a hearing or through a signed affidavit, that they were legally registered.

It turns out that Lacey and his neighbors were just a few among at least 140 King County voters who were wrongly challenged by Sotelo, who chairs the King County Republican Party’s “Voter Registration Integrity Project.” Sotelo could not be reached for comment on Friday morning, when The Stranger first reported the mistakes on our blog, but Chris Vance, chairman of the state Republican Party later confirmed for The Stranger that a serious mistake had been made.


John Major/Blair UK's 'sleaziest' government

BRITISH Prime Minister Tony Blair is ruling the country's sleaziest ever government, his predecessor John Major said in a television interview to be broadcast today. Former Conservative Party leader Major, who lost the 1997 general election to Blair's Labour Party, made his comments after work and pensions secretary David Blunkett resigned last week amid a row over his private business dealings.

In an interview with the independent British television channel ITV, Major claimed that Blair's Labour had shown "hypocrisy" after having "dishonestly" accused his own government of sleaze. "This government has not only had more of what loosely one might call 'sleaze' than the previous government, or any previous government, it actually has been much closer to the prime minister," Major said.

He added: "I'm not smugly grinning to myself saying 'Good, they're
in trouble'. "But I think it does point out the hypocrisy of what they
said at the time: 'purer than pure', 'whiter than white', 'tough on sleaze; tough on the causes of sleaze'." Major said that such sound-bites from Labour before the 1997 election were "used with great effect, but actually unscrupulously and dishonestly against the Conservative party... (and) have come back to hit them pretty savagely."

Blunkett, a key political ally of Blair, abruptly resigned last Wednesday. It was the second time in less than a year that the 58-year-old had quit Blair's cabinet, after being forced to resign last December as Home Secretary after he facilitated a visa for the nanny of his mistress. Blunkett's latest departure came amid a furore over his links to a technology firm in a position to bid for government contracts overseen by his department. Major's seven-year tenure at Downing Street was considered to have been severely weakened by a number of high-profile resignations, including over sex scandals and allegations of personal impropriety.

Pentagon withholds promised bonuses to state guard members who re-enlisted

NewsFlash Home More Washington State News

Pentagon withholds promised bonuses to state guard members who re-enlisted

The Associated Press

SEATTLE (AP) — At least 15 soldiers with the Washington State National Guard have been denied bonuses they were promised by the Pentagon if they re-enlisted, and at least one has hired an attorney.

The soldiers, many stationed in Iraq at the time, signed re-enlistment forms promising them a tax-free $15,000 bonus in return for their service, said Maj. Phil Osterli, a state Guard spokesman.

But the Department of Defense has since withdrawn the offer, saying the bonuses were canceled because they duplicated other programs and were prohibited.


"For them to offer a bonus when we're at war, when we're risking our lives, and then to turn around and not pay it when we return is the wrong message to send to me, to any soldier," said Latson, who served two years active duty with the Navy and the last 11 years with the National Guard.

Art For Everyone


New York Times Drops The Bombshell

To Justify War,

Administration Pushed

Claims By Known


During Wednesday’s gaggle, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan explained why there is no need to investigate the manipulation of intelligence prior to the Iraq war:

[T]hey wanted to look at how the intelligence was used. The intelligence — how the intelligence was used was all part of the public record.

Actually, that’s not true. Editor and Publisher previews an article that will appear in tomorrow’s New York Times based on a newly declassified memo:

It shows that an al-Qaeda official in American custody was identified as a likely fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained al-Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons, according to this Defense Intelligence Agency document from February 2002…

“The document provides the earliest and strongest indication of doubts voiced by American intelligence agencies about Mr. Libi’s credibility,” Jehl writes. “Without mentioning him by name, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Colin L. Powell, then secretary of state, and other administration officials repeatedly cited Mr. Libi’s information as ‘credible’ evidence that Iraq was training Al Qaeda members in the use of explosives and illicit weapons.”

Are there other memos floating around that will reveal more about how intelligence was used and abused to justify the Iraq war? That’s why we need a real investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Link Here

Chalabi, in Tehran, Meets With Iranian President Before Traveling to U.S.

Hell he is on his way to

America, the main

instigator of the war

with Georgie and his

Goons, Go figure

In a series of closed meetings, Mr. Chalabi saw Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the tough-talking Iranian president; Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mattaki; and Ali Larijani, the head of the Iranian National Security Council.

Mr. Chalabi said he also made clear to the Iranians that the Iraqi government would maintain close ties to the United States.

For their part, Iranian leaders asserted that they had indeed exercised a strong force in internal Iraqi politics, and they said they intended to continue to do so. Last January, after the Shiite coalition's selection of Ibrahim al-Jafaari as its choice to be prime minister, rumors swirled about Baghdad that the Iranians had intervened strongly on his behalf.

When asked about this, Mr. Larijani said the Iranians had indeed intervened strongly with Iraq's Shiite leaders, but he said the Iranians had not sided with a particular candidate.

Creepy Town



November 5, 2005
Release Number: 05-11-12C



TALLIL, Iraq – One U.S. service member was killed and three others were injured in a non-combat related vehicle accident near Tallil, Iraq at approximately 1:49 p.m. Nov 5.

The three injured service members were evacuated to a Combat Support Hospital at Tallil Air Base for further treatment.

The service members are all assigned to the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq in support of its mission to rebuild, train, equip and mentor the Iraqi security forces.

The names of the dead and injured are being withheld pending notification of next-of-kin.

The cause of the accident is under investigation.

Washington Post Caught Deliberately Withholding Evidence Of A High Crime

The Consequences

of Covering Up

Washington Post withholds info on secret prisons at government request


On November 2, the Washington Post carried an explosive front-page story about secret Eastern European prisons set up by the CIA for the interrogation of terrorism suspects. While the Post article, by reporter Dana Priest, gave readers plenty of details, it also withheld the most crucial information--the location of these secret prisons--at the request of government officials.

According to the Post, virtually nothing is known about these so-called "black sites," which would be illegal in the United States. Given the abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, news that the U.S. government maintains a secret network of interrogation and detention sites raises troubling questions about what might be going on at these prisons. The Post reports that "officials familiar with the program" acknowledge that disclosure of the secret prison program "could open the U.S. government to legal challenges, particularly in foreign courts, and increase the risk of political condemnation at home and abroad."

But the Washington Post did its part to minimize those potential risks:

The Washington Post is not publishing the names of the Eastern European countries involved in the covert program, at the request of senior U.S. officials. They argued that the disclosure might disrupt counterterrorism efforts in those countries and elsewhere and could make them targets of possible terrorist retaliation.

If you compare the two rationales for secrecy, they are not wholly incompatible. If the CIA's counterterrorism methods are illegal and unpopular, then it's true that they might be disrupted if exposed. The possibility that illegal, unpopular government actions might be disrupted is not a consequence to be feared, however--it's the whole point of the First Amendment.

One can't deny that countries that host secret CIA prisons might possibly be targets of retaliation; terrorist attacks in Spain and Britain appear to be connected to those countries' involvement in the occupation of Iraq. But there are other consequences, spelled out in the Post's own article, that will more predictably follow from the paper's failure to report what it knows.

Without the basic fact of where these prisons are, it's difficult if not impossible for "legal challenges" or "political condemnation" to force them to close. As the Post notes, there has been "widespread prisoner abuse" in U.S. military prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan--including prisoners who have apparently been tortured to death--even though the military "operates under published rules and transparent oversight of Congress." Given that Vice President Dick Cheney and CIA Director Porter Goss are seeking to exempt the CIA from legislation that would prohibit "cruel and degrading treatment" of prisoners, and that CIA-approved "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" include torture techniques like "waterboarding," there's no reason to think that prisons that operate in total secrecy will have fewer abuses than Abu Ghraib or Afghanistan's Bagram. Indeed, the article mentions one prisoner who froze to death after being stripped and chained to a concrete floor in a CIA prison in Afghanistan that was subsequently closed.

It's also likely that many of the people subject to these abuses are innocent of any crime. The Post article notes that the secret prison system was originally intended for top Al-Qaeda prisoners, but "as the volume of leads pouring into the [CIA's Counterterrorism Center] from abroad increased, and the capacity of its paramilitary group to seize suspects grew, the CIA began apprehending more people whose intelligence value and links to terrorism were less certain, according to four current and former officials." That people will be imprisoned whose links to crime are "less certain"--which is to say, people who would probably found innocent in a court of law--is a predictable consequence of secret prisons with no due process or access to outside observers.

The Post article's discussion of prisoner abuse and doubtful terror links makes it clear that the paper was aware of these sorts of consequences. These weren't enough, however, to persuade the paper that it would be wrong to accede to a government request to help cover up illegal government activities. (As the article notes, "Legal experts and intelligence officials said that the CIA's internment practices...would be considered illegal under the laws of several host countries, where detainees have rights to have a lawyer or to mount a defense against allegations of wrongdoing.")

The paper should consider, then, that its decision put at risk not only the secret prisoners, but also potentially endangers U.S. soldiers and civilians. As a Newsday investigation concluded (10/31/05), "the United States is detaining enough innocent Afghans in its war against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda that it is seriously undermining popular support for its presence in Afghanistan." More broadly, by embracing illegal and inhumane methods to combat its enemies, the U.S. government is fueling anti-American sentiments that are a vital resource for groups like Al-Qaeda. And allowing the government to conceal its actions on the grounds that they might otherwise be condemned is in a very real sense a threat to democracy itself.

The Post's decision has struck some experts as enormously significant. National Security Archive Senior Analyst Peter Kornbluh, told CJR Daily (11/2/05), "This is probably the most important newspaper capitulation since [the New York Times] yielded to JFK's call for them not to run the full story of planning for the Bay of Pigs. By withholding the country names, the Post is directly enabling the rendition, secret detention, and torture of prisoners at these locations to continue. That is a ghastly responsibility."

But the Post is not the only U.S. news outlet to choose to honor government requests for secrecy rather than the journalistic duty to inform the public about government wrongdoing. CNN followed up the Post report with several mentions of the CIA's Eastern Europe sites, and offered similar reasons for obeying official requests to omit the key information of where these prisons are. CNN reporter David Ensor said (11/2/05), "U.S. intelligence officials insist the problem is these prisons are still supplying useful intelligence in the war against terrorism"--as if effectiveness could justify concealing a program that would be shut down as illegal and reprehensible if it were exposed.

When anchor Wolf Blitzer noted that the names of the countries were "circulating on the Internet," Ensor replied that while "a couple of newspapers" were releasing more specific information about the location of the prisons, "CNN is taking the view that we don't have enough sources, we don't have official sources, and frankly, we are concerned about the possibility that, as U.S. officials have said to us, lives could be as stake." Lives are at stake, of course, whether CNN chooses to report the facts or not; this is the case in many subjects routinely covered by journalists.


House Speaker Rep. Dennis Hastert Caught In Lobbyist Abramoff's Scandal?...

In June 2003, House Speaker Dennis Hastert sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton urging her to act in favor of clients of the scandal-plagued lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported yesterday that investigators believe that Abramoff and his staff provided the congressmen with the letter's text.

Three other representatives, including former House Majority leader Tom DeLay and the current majority leader Roy Blunt, co-signed the letter. Both DeLay and Blunt have close ties to Abramoff and have received thousands of dollars from his clients.

The letter endorsed a view of gambling law that would block the Jena Band of Choctaw Indians from opening a casino nearby one owned by the Coushattas, an Abramoff client.

In September 2004, the Washington Post quoted V. Heather Sibbison, a lobbyist at the time for the Jena Band: "I have never seen a letter like that before. It was incredibly unusual for that group of people, who do not normally weigh in on Indian issues, to express such a strong opinion about a particular project not in any of their home states."

Accoring to FEC reports, since 1999 Hastert has taken $49,000 from American Indian tribes while they were Jack Abramoff's clients. On June 3, 2003, Hasteret held a fundraiser at Signatures, a Washington restaurant owned by Abramoff. He did not pay for the space until more than two years later, when Business Week began an in-depth investigation into use of Signatures.


Link Here

Bush Orders Staff to Attend Ethics Briefings

Ohhhhhh Hell Cristy this is your White House, Please this has to be a bad joke. ETHICS please, they dont know the meaning of the word.

White House Counsel to Give

'Refresher' Course
By Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff WriterSaturday,
November 5, 2005; Page A02

President Bush has ordered White House staff to attend mandatory briefings beginning next week on ethical behavior and the handling of classified material after the indictment last week of a senior administration official in the CIA leak probe.

According to a memo sent to aides yesterday, Bush expects all White House staff to adhere to the "spirit as well as the letter" of all ethics laws and rules. As a result, "the White House counsel's office will conduct a series of presentations next week that will provide refresher lectures on general ethics rules, including the rules of governing the protection of classified information," according to the memo, a copy of which was provided to The Washington Post by a senior White House aide.

Link Here

Democrats: Probe Can't Be Rushed

Panel to Begin 'Phase Two' of Inquiry Into Prewar Data

By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 5, 2005; Page A06

The Republican staff director of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said yesterday that the next phase of the panel's probe of prewar intelligence on Iraq could continue for weeks, after key Democrats on the committee complained there is still much investigative work to be done.

On Tuesday, a bipartisan group of senators plans to meet and launch what the panel has labeled "Phase Two" of its investigation. That phase will focus in part on how the Bush administration handled prewar intelligence, including whether the information was misrepresented in statements to the public. The group of six senators is to meet over three days and report back on the intelligence committee's plan for this second phase. >>>cont


A $223 million bridge is to replace a 7-minute ferry ride

A $223 million bridge is to replace a 7-minute ferry ride between Ketchikan, Alaska, left, and Gravina Island. The island, right, has a population of 50.

Report Warned Bush Team About Intelligence Suspicions

Too bad your 12 mths to late with your journalistic coverage of the Iraq war, I hold you just as accountable for this illegal war and occupation of Iraq, as your so called illiterate president and his bunch of goons murderous rampage on a unarmed nation, but then isnt that Georgie and his bunch of goons style.

November 6, 2005

WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 - A high Qaeda official in American custody was identified as a likely fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained Al Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons, according to newly declassified portions of a Defense Intelligence Agency document.

The document, an intelligence report from February 2002, said it was probable that the prisoner, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, "was intentionally misleading the debriefers" in making claims about Iraqi support for Al Qaeda's work with illicit weapons.

The document provides the earliest and strongest indication of doubts voiced by American intelligence agencies about Mr. Libi's credibility. Without mentioning him by name, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Colin L. Powell, then secretary of state, and other administration officials repeatedly cited Mr. Libi's information as "credible" evidence that Iraq was training Al Qaeda members in the use of explosives and illicit weapons.

Among the first and most prominent assertions was one by Mr. Bush, who said in a major speech in Cincinnati in October 2002 that "we've learned that Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb making and poisons and gases."

The newly declassified portions of the document were made available by Senator Carl M. Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Mr. Levin said the new evidence of early doubts about Mr. Libi's statements dramatized what he called the Bush administration's misuse of prewar intelligence to try to justify the war in Iraq. That is an issue that Mr. Levin and other Senate Democrats have been seeking to emphasize, in part by calling attention to the fact that the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee has yet to deliver a promised report, first sought more than two years ago, on the use of prewar intelligence.

A White House spokeswoman said she had no immediate comment on the D.I.A. report on Mr. Libi. But Senate Republicans, put on the defensive when Democrats forced a closed session of the Senate this week to discuss the issue, have been arguing that Republicans were not alone in making prewar assertions about Iraq, illicit weapons and terrorism that have since been discredited.

Mr. Libi, who was captured in Pakistan at the end of 2001, recanted his claims in January 2004. That prompted the C.I.A. , a month later, to recall all intelligence reports based on his statements, a fact recorded in a footnote to the report issued by the Sept. 11 commission.

Mr. Libi was not alone among intelligence sources later determined to have been fabricating accounts. Among others, an Iraqi exile whose code name was Curveball was the primary source for what proved to be false information about Iraq and mobile biological weapons labs. And American military officials cultivated ties with Ahmad Chalabi, the head of the Iraqi National Congress, an exile group, who has been accused of feeding the Pentagon misleading information in urging war.

The report issued by the Senate intelligence committee in July 2004 questioned whether some versions of intelligence report prepared by the C.I.A. in late 2002 and early 2003 raised sufficient questions about the reliability of Mr. Libi's claims.

But neither that report nor another issued by the Sept. 11 commission made any reference to the existence of the earlier and more skeptical 2002 report by the D.I.A., which supplies intelligence to military commanders and national security policy makers. As an official intelligence report, labeled DITSUM No. 044-02, the document would have circulated widely within the government, and it would have been available to the C.I.A., the White House, the Pentagon and other agencies. It remains unclear whether the D.I.A. document was provided to the Senate panel.

In outlining reasons for its skepticism, the D.I.A. report noted that Mr. Libi's claims lacked specific details about the Iraqis involved, the illicit weapons used and the location where the training was to have taken place.

"It is possible he does not know any further details; it is more likely this individual is intentionally misleading the debriefers," the February 2002 report said. "Ibn al-Shaykh has been undergoing debriefs for several weeks and may be describing scenarios to the debriefers that he knows will retain their interest."

Mr. Powell relied heavily on accounts provided by Mr. Libi for his speech to the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 5, 2003, saying that he was tracing "the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these weapons to Al Qaeda."

At the time of Mr. Powell's speech, an unclassified statement by the C.I.A. described the reporting, now known to have been from Mr. Libi, as "credible." But Mr. Levin said he had learned that a classified C.I.A. assessment at the time went on to state that "the source was not in a position to know if any training had taken place."

In an interview on Friday, Mr. Levin also called attention to another portion of the D.I.A. report, which expressed skepticism about the idea of close collaboration between Iraq and Al Qaeda, an idea that was never substantiated by American intelligence agencies but was a pillar of the administration's prewar claims.

"Saddam's regime is intensely secular and is wary of Islamic revolutionary movements," the D.I.A. report said in one of two declassified paragraphs. "Moreover, Baghdad is unlikely to provide assistance to a group it cannot control."

At the time of his capture, Mr. Libi was the most senior Qaeda official in American custody. The D.I.A. document gave no indication of where he was being held, or what interrogation methods were used on him.

Mr. Libi remains in custody, apparently at in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where he was sent in 2003, according to government officials.

Link Here


Bush has borrowed more from

foreign nations than the past 42

presidents combined.

Link Here

'So I'm not sure exactly how much more evidence is required towards the point that Republicans simply want poor children to go to hell.'

Shameless. Absolutely Shameless.

Link Here

U.S. Should Repay Millions to Iraq, a U.N. Audit Finds

November 5, 2005
An auditing board sponsored by the United Nations recommended yesterday that the United States repay as much as $208 million to the Iraqi government for contracting work in 2003 and 2004 assigned to Kellogg, Brown & Root, the Halliburton subsidiary.

The work was paid for with Iraqi oil proceeds, but the board said it was either carried out at inflated prices or done poorly. The board did not, however, give examples of poor work.

Some of the work involved postwar fuel imports carried out by K.B.R. that previous audits had criticized as grossly overpriced. But this is the first time that an international auditing group has suggested that the United States repay some of that money to Iraq. The group, known as the International Advisory and Monitoring Board of the Development Fund for Iraq, compiled reports from an array of Pentagon, United States government and private auditors to carry out its analysis.

A spokeswoman for Halliburton, Cathy Mann, said the questions raised in the military audits, carried out in a Pentagon office called the Defense Contract Auditing Agency, had largely focused on issues of paperwork and documentation and alleged nothing about the quality of the work done by K.B.R. The monitoring board relied heavily on the Pentagon audits in drawing its conclusions.

"The auditors have raised questions about the support and the documentation rather than questioning the fact that we have incurred the costs," Ms. Mann said in an e-mail response to questions. "Therefore, it would be completely wrong to say or imply that any of these costs that were incurred at the client's direction for its benefit are 'overcharges.' "

The Pentagon audits themselves have not been released publicly. Ms. Mann said Kellogg, Brown & Root was engaged in negotiations over the questioned costs with its client in the work, the United States Army Corps of Engineers and Developmentas been set for resolution of these issues," Ms. Mann said. The monitoring board, created by the United Nations specifically to oversee the Development Fund - which includes Iraqi oil revenues but also some money seized from Saddam Hussein's government - said because the audits were continuing, it was too early to say how much of the $208 million should ultimately be paid back.

But the board said in a statement that once the analysis was completed, the board "recommends that amounts disbursed to contractors that cannot be supported as fair be reimbursed expeditiously."

The K.B.R. contracts that have drawn fresh scrutiny also cover services other than fuel deliveries, like building and repairing oil pipelines and installing emergency power generators in Iraq. The documents released yesterday by the monitoring board did not detail problems with specific tasks in those broad categories, but instead summarized a series of newly disclosed audits that called into question $208,491,382 of K.B.R.'s work in Iraq.

A member of the monitoring board said questions about the contracts "had been lingering for a long time." Once the audits are completed, said the board member, who asked not to be identified because he did not want to be seen as speaking for the United Nations, the results will give the Iraqi government "the right to go back to K.B.R. and say, 'Look, you've overbilled me on this, this is what you could repay me.' "

The monitoring board authority extends only to making recommendations on any reimbursement. It would be up to the United States government to decide whether to make the payments, and who should make them. But Louay Bahry, a former Iraqi academic who is now at the Middle East Institute in Washington, said the board's findings would stoke suspicions on the street in Iraq, where there had always been fears that the United States invaded the country to control its oil resources.

"Something like this will be caught in the Iraqi press and be discussed by the Iraqi general public and will leave a very bad taste in the mouth of the Iraqis," Mr. Bahry said. "It will increase the hostility towards the United States."

The audits may also come at a bad time for the Bush administration, since Vice President Dick Cheney's former role as chief executive of Halliburton has led to charges, uniformly dismissed by Mr. Cheney and the company, that it received preferential treatment in receiving the contracts. The early Kellogg, Brown & Root contracts in Iraq were "sole sourced," or bid noncompetitively.

"The Bush administration repeatedly gave Halliburton special treatment and allowed the company to gouge both U.S. taxpayers and the Iraqi people," Representative Henry A. Waxman, a California Democrat who is the ranking minority member of the House Committee on Government Reform, said in a statement on the new audits. "The international auditors have every right to expect a full refund of Halliburton's egregious overcharges."

Some of those contracts were paid for with American taxpayer money, but others were financed by Iraqi oil proceeds. Because the monitoring board was created to oversee those proceeds, its audits focus only on the work that was financed with Iraqi money. The board consists of representatives from the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Iraqi government.

Besides the Pentagon audits, reports from the private auditing firm K.P.M.G. and the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, a United States government office, were used by the monitoring board.

Because Kellogg, Brown & Root employs K.P.M.G. separately for its own internal audits, the firm recused itself from some of the work on K.B.R. The recusal temporarily threw some of the auditing work into disarray, since K.P.M.G. had initially said that the conflict would not prevent it from proceeding. Ultimately, the special inspector general took over some of the work that K.P.M.G. dropped.

But some of the K.P.M.G. audits that were carried out, relying on Iraqi ministry documents, turned up what appears to be clear evidence of mismanagement and corruption among Iraqi officials that was apparently unrelated to the K.B.R. work. In its report on the Iraqi Oil Ministry, the auditing firm used the euphemism "nonrefundable fees" for bribes in the awarding of oil contracts. "We found two cases," the report said, "where nonrefundable fees ($10,000 and $20,000) were charged to obtain tender documents (total contract value $150,302,897)."

Other entries suggest the existence of $600,000 in ghost payrolling in the Electricity Ministry and additional evidence of bribes.

The K.P.M.G. audits also show ample evidence of the chaos that permeated the early reconstruction effort in Iraq, with paperwork on hundreds of millions of dollars of contracts won by firms other than K.B.R. that were lost or never completed, making it difficult or impossible to tell if the work was carried out properly.

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Source of Forged Niger-Iraq Uranium Documents Identified

November 4, 2005


ROME, Nov. 3 - Italy's spymaster identified an Italian occasional spy named Rocco Martino on Thursday as the disseminator of forged documents that described efforts by Iraq to buy uranium ore from Niger for a nuclear weapons program, three lawmakers said Thursday.

The spymaster, Gen. Nicolò Pollari, director of the Italian military intelligence agency known as Sismi, disclosed that Mr. Martino was the source of the forged documents in closed-door testimony to a parliamentary committee that oversees secret services, the lawmakers said.

Senator Massimo Brutti, a member of the committee, told reporters that General Pollari had identified Mr. Martino as a former intelligence informer who had been "kicked out of the agency." He did not say Mr. Martino was the forger.

The revelation came on a day when the Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed that it had shut down its two-year investigation into the origin of the forged documents.

The information about Iraq's desire to acquire the ore, known as yellowcake, was used by the Bush administration to help justify the invasion of Iraq, notably by President Bush in his State of the Union address in January 2003. But the information was later revealed to have been based on forgeries.

The documents were the basis for sending a former diplomat, Joseph C. Wilson IV, on a fact-finding mission to Niger that eventually exploded into an inquiry that led to the indictment and resignation last week of Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby.

Mr. Martino has long been suspected of being responsible for peddling the false documents.

News reports have quoted him as saying he obtained them through a contact at the Niger Embassy here. But this was the first time his role was formally disclosed by the intelligence agency.

Neither Mr. Martino nor his lawyer, Giuseppe Placidi, were available for comment.

Senator Brutti also told reporters that Italian intelligence had warned Washington in early 2003 that the Niger-Iraq documents were false.

"At about the same time as the State of the Union address, they said that the dossier doesn't correspond to the truth," Senator Brutti said. He said he did not know whether the warning was given before or after President Bush's address.

He made the claim more than once, but gave no supporting evidence. Amid confusing statements by various lawmakers, he later appeared to backtrack in conversations with both The Associated Press and Reuters, saying that because Sismi never had the documents, it could not comment on their merit.

There had long been doubts within the United States intelligence community about the authenticity of the yellowcake documents, and references to it had been deleted from other presentations given at the time.

Senator Luigi Malabarba, who also attended Thursday's hearing, said in a telephone interview that General Pollari had told the committee that Mr. Martino was "offering the documents not on behalf of Sismi but on behalf of the French" and that Mr. Martino had told prosecutors in Rome that he was in the service of French intelligence.

A senior French intelligence official interviewed Wednesday in Paris declined to say whether Mr. Martino had been a paid agent of France, but he called General Pollari's assertions about France's responsibility "scandalous."

General Pollari also said that no Italian intelligence agency officials were involved in either forging or distributing the documents, according to both Senator Brutti and the committee chairman, Enzo Bianco.

Committee members said they were shown documents defending General Pollari, including a copy of a classified letter from Robert S. Muller III, the director of the F.B.I., dated July 20, which praised Italy's cooperation with the bureau.

In Washington, an official at the bureau confirmed the substance of the letter, whose contents were first reported Tuesday in the leftist newspaper L'Unità. The letter stated that Italy's cooperation proved the bureau's theory that the false documents were produced and disseminated by one or more people for personal profit, and ruled out the possibility that the Italian service had intended to influence American policy, the newspaper said.

As a result, the letter said, according to both the F.B.I. official and L'Unità, the bureau had closed its investigation into the origin of the documents.

The F.B.I. official declined to be identified by name.

After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Italy's military intelligence service sent reports to the United States and Britain claiming that Iraq was actively trying to acquire uranium, according to current and former intelligence officials.

Senator Brutti told reporters on Thursday that indeed Sismi had provided information about Iraq's desire to acquire uranium from Niger as early as the 1990's, but that it had never said the information was credible.

Thursday's hearing followed a three-part series in La Repubblica, which said General Pollari had knowingly provided the United States and Britain with forged documents. The newspaper, a staunch opponent of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, also reported that General Pollari had acted at the behest of Mr. Berlusconi, who was said to be eager to help President Bush in the search for weapons in Iraq.

Mr. Berlusconi has denied such accounts.

La Repubblica said General Pollari had held a meeting on Sept. 9, 2002, with Stephen J. Hadley, then the deputy national security adviser. Mr. Hadley, now the national security adviser, has said that he met General Pollari on that date, but that they did not discuss the Niger-Iraq issue.

"Nobody participating in that meeting or asked about that meeting has any recollection of a discussion of natural uranium, or any recollection of any documents being passed," Mr. Hadley told a briefing on Wednesday in Washington. "And that's also my recollection."

At the time, Mr. Hadley took responsibility for including the faulty information in Mr. Bush's State of the Union address.

David Johnston contributed reporting from Washington for this article.

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No War For Israel

Meet just a few of your Jewish Supremacist Warmongers
From left to right: William Kristol, Richard Perle, Ari Fleischer, Israeli Prime Minister and Mass-Murderer Ariel Sharon, Paul Wolfowitz, Elliott Abrams, Douglas Feith

It is now official:
Israeli spies fed fake evidence to US government through Jewish US Government officials!


Link Here

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Inquiry Of Ousted Public Broadcasting Head To Look At Emails With Friend Karl Rove, Other White House Officials…

Spending Inquiry for Top Official on Broadcasting
Published: November 5, 2005

WASHINGTON, Nov. 4 - Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, the head of the federal agency that oversees most government broadcasts to foreign countries, including the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, is the subject of an inquiry into accusations of misuse of federal money and the use of phantom or unqualified employees, officials involved in that examination said on Friday.

Mr. Tomlinson was ousted from the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting on Thursday after its inspector general concluded an investigation that was critical of him. That examination looked at his efforts as chairman of the corporation to seek more conservative programs on public radio and television.

But Mr. Tomlinson remains an important official as the chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. The board, whose members include the secretary of state, plays a central role in public diplomacy. It supervises the government's foreign broadcasting operations, including Radio Martí, Radio Sawa and al-Hurra; transmits programs in 61 languages; and says it has more than 100 million listeners each week.

The board has been troubled lately over deep internal divisions and criticism of its Middle East broadcasts. Members of the Arab news media have said its broadcasts are American propaganda.

People involved in the inquiry said that investigators had already interviewed a significant number of officials at the agency and that, if the accusations were substantiated, they could involve criminal violations.

Last July, the inspector general at the State Department opened an inquiry into Mr. Tomlinson's work at the board of governors after Representative Howard L. Berman, Democrat of California, and Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, forwarded accusations of misuse of money.

The lawmakers requested the inquiry after Mr. Berman received complaints about Mr. Tomlinson from at least one employee at the board, officials said. People involved in the inquiry said it involved accusations that Mr. Tomlinson was spending federal money for personal purposes, using board money for corporation activities, using board employees to do corporation work and hiring ghost employees or improperly qualified employees.

Through an aide at the broadcasting board, Mr. Tomlinson declined to comment Friday about the State Department inquiry.

In recent weeks, State Department investigators have seized records and e-mail from the Broadcasting Board of Governors, officials said. They have shared some material with the inspector general at the corporation, including e-mail traffic between Mr. Tomlinson and White House officials including Karl Rove, a senior adviser to President Bush and a close friend of Mr. Tomlinson.

Mr. Rove and Mr. Tomlinson became friends in the 1990's when they served on the Board for International Broadcasting, the predecessor agency to the board of governors. Mr. Rove played an important role in Mr. Tomlinson's appointment as chairman of the broadcasting board.

The content of the e-mail between the two officials has not been made public but could become available when the corporation's inspector general sends his report to members of Congress this month.

That inspector general examined several contracts that were approved by Mr. Tomlinson but not disclosed to board members. The contracts provided for payments to a researcher who monitored the political content of several shows, including "Now" with Bill Moyers, and payments to two Republican lobbyists who were retained to help defeat a proposal in Congress that would have required greater representation of broadcasters on the corporation's board.

The inspector general also examined the role of a White House official, Mary C. Andrews, in Mr. Tomlinson's creation of an ombudsman's office to monitor the political balance of programs.

Mr. Tomlinson has said he took those steps to counter what he called a clear liberal tilt of public broadcasting. But broadcasting executives and critics of the corporation say the steps violated the corporation's obligations to insulate broadcasting from politics.

On Thursday Mr. Tomlinson was forced to step down from the corporation, which directs nearly $400 million in federal money to public radio and television, after the board was briefed about the conclusions by its inspector general. In that inquiry, examiners looked at accusations that Mr. Tomlinson improperly used corporation money to promote more conservative programming.

State Department officials said on Friday that al-Hurra, the Arabic language satellite television network set up by the board of governors, was also being examined by the inspector general for possibly problematic procurement practices. That audit was first disclosed on Friday by The Financial Times.

The audit began at the request of al-Hurra, the officials said. A statement by the broadcasting board said that the agency had "no indication of any wrongdoing."

The network, which receives nearly $50 million in federal financing and is broadcast in 22 countries, was set up to compete with al-Jazeera and other Arab news media. One State Department official said Karen P. Hughes, under secretary of state for public diplomacy, had been briefed on the subject and "awaits the findings of the inspector general's audit."

Steven R. Weisman contributed reporting for this article.

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A Cheney-Libby Conspiracy, Or Worse? Reading Between the Lines of the Libby Indictment

By JOHN W. DEAN ----
Friday, Nov. 04, 2005

In my last column, I tried to deflate expectations a bit about the likely consequences of the work of Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald; to bring them down to the realistic level at which he was likely to proceed. I warned, for instance, that there might not be any indictments, and Fitzgerald might close up shop as the last days of the grand jury's term elapsed. And I was certain he would only indict if he had a patently clear case.

Now, however, one indictment has been issued -- naming Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby as the defendant, and charging false statements, perjury and obstruction of justice. If the indictment is to be believed, the case against Libby is, indeed, a clear one.

Having read the indictment against Libby, I am inclined to believe more will be issued. In fact, I will be stunned if no one else is indicted.

Indeed, when one studies the indictment, and carefully reads the transcript of the press conference, it appears Libby's saga may be only Act Two in a three-act play. And in my view, the person who should be tossing and turning at night, in anticipation of the last act, is the Vice President of the United States, Richard B. Cheney.

The Indictment: Invoking the Espionage Act Unnecessarily

Typically, federal criminal indictments are absolutely bare bones. Just enough to inform a defendant of the charges against him.

For example, the United States Attorney's Manual, which Fitzgerald said he was following, notes that under the Sixth Amendment an accused must "be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation." And Rule 7(c)(1) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure requires that, "The indictment . . . be a plain, concise and definite written statement of the essential facts constituting the offense charged." That is all.

Federal prosecutors excel at these "plain, concise and definite" statement indictments - drawing on form books and institutional experience in drafting them. Thus, the typical federal indictment is the quintessence of pith: as short and to the point as the circumstances will permit.

Again, Libby is charged with having perjured himself, made false statements, and obstructed justice by lying to FBI agents and the grand jury. A bare-bones indictment would address only these alleged crimes.

But this indictment went much further - delving into a statute under which Libby is not charged.
Count One, paragraph 1(b) is particularly revealing. Its first sentence establishes that Libby had security clearances giving him access to classified information. Then 1(b) goes on to state: "As a person with such clearances, LIBBY was obligated by applicable laws and regulations, including Title 18, United States Code, Section 793, and Executive Order 12958 (as modified by Executive Order13292), not to disclose classified information to persons not authorized to receive such information, and otherwise to exercise proper care to safeguard classified information against unauthorized disclosure." (The section also goes on to stress that Libby executed, on January 23, 2001, an agreement indicating understanding that he was receiving classified information, the disclosure of which could bring penalties.)

What is Title 18, United States Code, Section 793? It's the Espionage Act -- a broad, longstanding part of the criminal code.

The Espionage Act criminalizes, among other things, the willful - or grossly negligent -- communication of national-defense related information that "the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation." It also criminalizes conspiring to violate this anti-disclosure provision

But Libby isn't charged with espionage. He's charged with lying to our government and thereby obstructing justice. So what's going on? Why is Fitzgerald referencing the Espionage Act?

The press conference added some clarity on this point.

Libby's Obstruction Has Blocked An Espionage Act Charge

The Special Counsel was asked, "If Mr. Libby had testified truthfully, would he be being charged in this crime today?" His response was more oblique than most.

In answering, he pointed out that "if national defense information which is involved because [of Plame's] affiliation with the CIA, whether or not she was covert, was classified, if that was intentionally transmitted, that would violate the statute known as Section 793, which is the Espionage Act." (Emphasis added). (As noted above, gross negligence would also suffice.)

But, as Fitzgerald also noted at his press conference, great care needs to be taken in applying the Espionage Act: "So there are people," he said, "who argue that you should never use that statute because it would become like the [British] Official Secrets Act. I don't buy that theory, but I do know you should be very careful in applying that law because there are a lot of interests that could be implicated in making sure that you picked the right case to charge that statute."

His further example was also revealing. "Let's not presume that Mr. Libby is guilty. But let's assume, for the moment, that the allegations in the indictment are true. If that is true, you cannot figure out the right judgment to make, whether or not you should charge someone with a serious national security crime or walk away from it or recommend any other course of action, if you don't know the truth.... If he had told the truth, we would have made the judgment based upon those facts...." (Emphases added.)

Finally, he added. "We have not charged him with [that] crime. I'm not making an allegation that he violated [the Espionage Act]. What I'm simply saying is one of the harms in obstruction is that you don't have a clear view of what should be done. And that's why people ought to walk in, go into the grand jury, you're going to take an oath, tell us the who, what, when, where and why -- straight." (Emphasis added)

In short, because Libby has lied, and apparently stuck to his lie, Fitzgerald is unable to build a case against him or anyone else under Section 793, a provision which he is willing to invoke, albeit with care.
And who is most vulnerable under the Espionage Act? Dick Cheney - as I will explain.

Libby Is The Firewall Protecting Vice President Cheney

The Libby indictment asserts that "[o]n or about June 12, 2003 Libby was advised by the Vice President of the United States that Wilson's wife worked at the Central Intelligence Agency in the Counterproliferation Division. Libby understood that the Vice President had learned this information from the CIA."

In short, Cheney provided the classified information to Libby - who then told the press. Anyone who works in national security matters knows that the Counterproliferation Division is part of the Directorate of Operations -- the covert side of the CIA, where most everything and everyone are classified.

According to Fitzgerald, Libby admits he learned the information from Cheney at the time specified in the indictment. But, according to Fitzgerald, Libby also maintained - in speaking to both FBI agents and the grand jury - that Cheney's disclosure played no role whatsoever in Libby's disclosure to the media.

Or as Fitzgerald noted at his press conference, Libby said, "he had learned from the vice president earlier in June 2003 information about Wilson's wife, but he had forgotten it, and that when he learned the information from [the reporter] Mr. [Tim] Russert during this phone call he learned it as if it were new."

So, in Fitzgerald's words, Libby's story was that when Libby "passed the information on to reporters Cooper and Miller late in the week, he passed it on thinking it was just information he received from reporters; that he told reporters that, in fact, he didn't even know if it were true.

He was just passing gossip from one reporter to another at the long end of a chain of phone calls."

This story is, of course, a lie, but it was a clever one on Libby's part.

It protects Cheney because it suggests that Cheney's disclosure to Libby was causally separate from Libby's later, potentially Espionage-Act-violating disclosure to the press. Thus, it also denies any possible conspiracy between Cheney and Libby.

And it protects Libby himself - by suggesting that since he believed he was getting information from reporters, not indirectly from the CIA, he may not have had have the state of mind necessary to violate the Espionage Act.

Thus, from the outset of the investigation, Libby has been Dick Cheney's firewall. And it appears that Fitzgerald is actively trying to penetrate that firewall.

What Is Likely To Occur Next?

It has been reported that Libby's attorney tried to work out a plea deal. But Fitzgerald insisted on jail time, so Libby refused to make a deal. It appears that only Libby, in addition to Cheney, knows what Cheney knew, and when he knew, and why he knew, and what he did with his knowledge.

Fitzgerald has clearly thrown a stacked indictment at Libby, laying it on him as heavy as the law and propriety permits. He has taken one continuous false statement, out of several hours of interrogation, and made it into a five-count indictment. It appears he is trying to flip Libby - that is, to get him to testify against Cheney -- and not without good reason. Cheney is the big fish in this case.

Will Libby flip? Unlikely. Neither Cheney nor Libby (I believe) will be so foolish as to crack a deal. And Libby probably (and no doubt correctly) assumes that Cheney - a former boss with whom he has a close relationship -- will (at the right time and place) help Libby out, either with a pardon or financially, if necessary. Libby's goal, meanwhile, will be to stall going to trial as long as possible, so as not to hurt Republicans' showing in the 2006 elections.

So if Libby can take the heat for a time, he and his former boss (and friend) may get through this. But should Republicans lose control of the Senate (where they are blocking all oversight of this administration), I predict Cheney will resign "for health reasons."

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Summit hit by violent protests

Don't Cry for Me, Argentina

Background on FTAA

Link Here

From correspondents in Mar Del Plata
November 05, 2005

THE 34-nation Summit of the Americas opened here overnight with major, violent protests against the presence of US President George W. Bush and his free trade agenda.

Riot police fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators throwing stones and molotov cocktails at security forces some 600 metres from the hotel where leaders were meeting in this southern beach resort.
Hundreds of protesters in ski-masks confronted police as a larger group of thousands of peaceful demonstrators rallied at a football stadium to voice their anger at US policies.

"Bush, fascist, you are a terrorist," protestors shouted, as they packed rainy streets in a rally through the streets.

The US leader acknowledged the tensions during a meeting with Argentine President Nestor Kirchner. "It's not easy to host all these countries. It's particularly not easy to host, perhaps me," said Bush who is fending off record low popularity at home as well as abroad.

Among anti-US activists in Mar del Plata were Nobel Peace Prize holder Adolfo Perez Esquivel, the populist frontrunner in Bolivia's presidential race, Evo Morales, and Argentine football hero Diego Maradona.

Maradona called Bush "human rubbish" as he travelled to Mar del Plata from Buenos Aires in a special train.

The soccer legend donned a "Stop Bush" T-shirt as he rode into Mar del Plata just before dawn.

Strikes and protests against Bush were staged in cities across Argentina. Organisers said several hundred thousand people took part.

At the southern city of Neuquen, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse demonstrators who threw eggs and stones at a Blockbuster video store, part of a US-owned chain.

In Buenos Aires, protesters covered the Obelisk, the capital's central monument, with a banner declaring "Bush Out". Demonstrators burned a US flag nearby.

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, a virulent critic of the United States, addressed a rally in the football stadium before joining the leaders at the summit.

President Chavez is a leftist ally of Cuba's President Fidel Castro, the only Americas leader not invited to the event. Chavez has strongly opposed the US-inspired Free Trade Area of the Americas.

On arrival, Chavez said "the FTAA is dead and we are going to bury it here."

The summit nations failed to agree a declaration that would have backed the proposed free trade area. Instead, ministers adopted a compromise calling for addressing poverty and unemployment.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim confirmed that his country, along with Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, opposed fixing a date for the resumption of negotiations on the FTAA.

The United States, as well as Mexico, Canada and Central American governments had pushed for negotiations on the project to resume in 2006.

Bush acknowledged this week that efforts to create the FTAA were "stalled" but the United States still wants to push a free trade agenda with other American countries.

The vast Western Hemisphere is divided with Canada and the United States among the richest nations in the world, while some 220 million of Latin America's 512 million residents live in poverty.

Some 96 million people in the region survive on less than one dollar per day, according to the United Nations.

Many observers fear mounting tensions between the Venezuelan leader and the US administration will divert attention at the summit.

While Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, insisted that the summit was "not about Hugo Chavez," other US officials have underscored the two nations' differences.

"Our respective governments have very different visions for the hemisphere," said Tom Shannon, the chief US diplomat for the Western Hemisphere.

Shannon said Bush would work at the summit on a "positive agenda" to create jobs and "help the poor and traditionally marginalized group fully join the economic life of their countries.

"For our point of view, for the region to get the kind of growth it needs, to really begin to address some of the social problems... it needs a stronger trade base," he said.

The counter summit organised by demonstrators, which ended late Thursday, adopted a statement opposing the FTAA and Bush. It called Bush "the world's biggest warmonger".

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Friday, November 04, 2005

House Stalls Vote on Torture

Go to Original

House Delays Vote on Terror Suspect Treatment
By Eric Schmitt
The New York Times

Friday 04 November 2005

Washington - The House Republican leadership has delayed a vote on a proposed ban against cruel and degrading treatment of prisoners in American custody, and Democrats say the move is an effort to spare Vice President Dick Cheney an embarrassing defeat.

House Democrats had planned to offer a motion this week to endorse language in a military spending bill, written by Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, that would prohibit abusive treatment of terror suspects. The motion would instruct House negotiators to adopt Mr. McCain's precise language, which the Senate approved last month, 90 to 9. The White House has threatened to veto any bill containing the provision, saying it would restrict the president's ability to fight terrorism and protect the country.

The White House, in negotiations led by Mr. Cheney, is insisting that the Central Intelligence Agency be exempted from the proposed ban.

While not binding, the motion would put pressure on conferees who are trying to wrap up work on the underlying $453 billion military spending bill this week. House Republicans have warned the White House that the motion is likely to pass.

But Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Republican of Illinois, has not formally appointed the House conferees, and with no conferees there can be no motion to instruct them.

Democrats on Thursday were quick to accuse Mr. Hastert, a close friend and political ally of Mr. Cheney, of taking steps to postpone a vote that would embarrass the vice president at a time when his former chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby Jr., is under indictment in the CIA leak case.

"At a time when we should be protecting American service men and women from torture and improving our sullied international reputation, the majority in the House is more interested in protecting the vice president and this administration from embarrassment," said Representative Ellen O. Tauscher, a California Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.

Representative Jane Harman of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a telephone interview that the White House's opposition to Mr. McCain's provision was damaging the United States' image aboard. "It's hurting the US moral position to have it be perceived that some in our government want no rules," Ms. Harman said.

A spokesman for Mr. Hastert, Ron Bonjean, said that he had no knowledge of the speaker's delaying work on the military spending bill because of Mr. McCain's language, and that consultations were still under way with the Appropriations Committee on the timing of House conferees' formal appointment,

Republican and Democratic aides said there were other possible reasons for the House leadership to delay a decision on the conferees.

They said the leaders might want to keep the military spending bill in reserve as must-pass legislation to which other bills could be attached in a final session-closing measure later this month.

A Democratic aide added that there were still knotty substantive issues, including shipbuilding matters, that had not been resolved and that could be contributing to the delay.

But the attention of many legislators was focused on Mr. McCain's language. Last week, 15 House Republicans wrote Representative C. W. Bill Young, a Florida Republican who heads the Appropriations Committee, in support of Mr. McCain's provision.

The lawmakers said that they strongly endorsed Mr. Bush's efforts to defeat terrorism, but that the McCain provision would aid American troops in the field without interfering with presidential prerogatives. "We believe the anti-torture provisions are vital to protecting American service members in the field both now and in the future," they wrote on Oct. 27.

The Republicans who signed the letter were Representatives Michael N. Castle of Delaware; Christopher Shays, Nancy L. Johnson and Rob Simmons of Connecticut; James T. Walsh, Sherwood Boehlert and John R. Kuhl Jr. of New York; Joe Schwartz and Vernon J. Ehlers of Michigan; Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania; Wayne T. Gilchrest of Maryland; Tom Petri of Wisconsin; Ron Paul of Texas; Jim Leach of Iowa; and Jeb Bradley of New Hampshire.

Last month, Mr. Cheney and the CIA director, Porter J. Goss, urged Mr. McCain to support an exemption for the agency, arguing that the president needed maximum flexibility in dealing with global terrorism.

Mr. McCain rejected the proposed exemption, which stated that the measure "shall not apply with respect to clandestine counterterrorism operations conducted abroad, with respect to terrorists who are not citizens of the United States, that are carried out by an element of the United States government other than the Department of Defense and are consistent with the Constitution and laws of the United States and treaties to which the United States is a party, if the president determines that such operations are vital to the protection of the United States or its citizens from terrorist attack."

A spokeswoman for Mr. Cheney, Lea Anne McBride, said Thursday that Mr. Cheney frequently met with members of Congress to discuss legislative issues, but she declined to characterize his stand on Mr. McCain's provision or the proposed motion to instruct House conferees.


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More Dispatches From the War on the Poor

Thursday, 03 November 2005

Another bulletin from the front in George W. Bush's ongoing -- and highly succesful -- War on the Poor (and on all those labor and are heavy-laden: the weak, the sick, the old, the damaged, the children, the working folk). This time, it's Fightin' Joe Conason coming out smoking in the NY Observer with a battlefield round-up of the latest triumphs in the Bush Blitzkrieg. There has never been such a sustained, deliberate and relentless assault on the well-being of ordinary Americans in the nation's history. And it is here -- in the gutted ruins of once-good lives, once-strong communities and a once-thriving republic -- that Bush will leave his true legacy. For make no mistake: even if this little yapping twerp, this corporate pimp, this slack-jawed, drink-addled dullard posing as a president were to be impeached tomorrow, it will take at least a generation -- and probably longer -- to repair even some of the social, political, spiritual and financial destruction he will leave behind.

Here are some excerpts from Conason's excellent compendium:

...Unmoved by the plight of the poor—who are growing poorer and hungrier, according to the latest government data—Congressional leaders last week decided that the best way to pare spending is to reduce the number of families that qualify for food stamps. A bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee on Oct. 28 would make roughly 300,000 Americans ineligible to receive food stamps and cut the program by about $850 million over the next five years. The fiscal impact of all those cuts will be negligible, especially compared with the subsidies that these same Christian gentlemen insist on providing to energy, agribusiness and other major interests. But these gratuitous acts of unkindness will surely harm the unfortunate children who have less to eat as a result...

Of course, these “compassionate conservatives” did not content themselves with cutting food stamps. They are also contemplating cutbacks in Medicaid, the health-insurance program that serves the poor, specifically targeting millions of low-income children for reduced services and co-payments. Kids living in poverty are going to be deprived of eyeglasses, hearing aids and other crucial care. School lunches are also going to be cut for some of those little losers whose families need food stamps, incidentally. And kids who need child support will also be out of luck, because the powerful House Ways and Means Committee has determined to cut back enforcement efforts against deadbeat parents. The Republicans, who deem themselves “pro-family,” are determined to squeeze a few more bucks from low-income foster families and student-loan recipients as well.

What these politicians will not consider, as they ponder legislation between fund-raising banquets and golf outings, is any measure that might demand sacrifice from those who can well afford it.....Consider the energy industry, which has just reported record profits while gouging the public with the highest gasoline and heating-oil prices ever seen in this country. Three months ago, President Bush signed legislation passed by the Congressional Republicans that awards $14.5 billion in subsidies to the oil and gas industry. But that wasn’t enough, because in early October the House passed still another round of oil subsidies...

But oilmen aren’t the only beneficiaries of this Congress of the absurd. While households with annual incomes above $1 million have reaped an average benefit of more than $100,000 from the Republican tax cuts, the Congressional leaders, in their wisdom, want to award still more breaks to that tiny aristocracy of wealth. According to the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities, the plan is to strip out a pair of obscure tax laws signed by the President’s father in 1990. Repealing those provisions would lavish another $20,000 a year on households with incomes over $1 million—at a cost to the Treasury of nearly $150 billion over the next 10 years.

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When I Think Of America, I See This Picture In My Mind


Shortly after this photo was taken, these men were murdered.

The United States military ran them down, along with their women and children; and crushed them into the earth. They gunned down the old and babies and erased entire bloodlines from history.

You are looking at a last glimpse of Wounded Knee, before it became a place of slaughter.

No matter how hard they try to stop it, the ghosts have never stopped dancing. And we are now the most haunted nation on earth.

Why do I feel that everything about my beloved nation is a big fat LIE?

Sow the wind. Reap the whirlwind.

Retired Judge to Preside in DeLay Case

Appointee Was Chosen for Apparent Nonpartisan Stance

By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 4, 2005; Page A04

The state of Texas finally found a judge yesterday to preside over the criminal trial of former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), but not without a new, last-minute dispute about partisan political interference.

Administrative Judge B.B. Schraub, who earlier this week removed a judge overseeing the proceedings against DeLay for alleged liberal bias, withdrew yesterday from decision making about a replacement judge after an official complaint about Schraub's links to Republicans.

Schraub passed the decision to the chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court, Wallace B. Jefferson. But within hours, political activists in Texas complained that Jefferson has close ties to individuals and political contributors at the heart of the allegations against DeLay.

By day's end, Jefferson seemed to settle the matter by appointing a retired judge from San Antonio, Pat Priest, whose only recent political donations were three checks of $150 each to Democratic candidates for the Texas House in 2004, according to the watchdog group Texans for Public Justice. >>>cont

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Oh man, Have another drink!

November 4th, 2005

U.S. President Bush pauses as he speaks to White House reporters on the sidelines of the fourth Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata, Argentina, Friday, Nov. 4, 2005. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

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Alito's failure to recuse himself looked at as possible conflict of interest

In 2002, Judge Samuel L. Alito Jr., who owned $390,000 in Vanguard mutual funds, ruled in favor of Vanguard in a case involving a Massachusetts woman who was trying to regain the assets of her late husband's IRA's. The funds were frozen by Vanguard following a court ruling in favor of the husband's business partner.

The woman, Shantee Maharaj, requested Alito's financial disclosure forms after he ruled against her appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeal, Third Circuit, and it was then that she discovered Alito's ownership of Vanguard funds. It turns out that in 1990, when Alita was seeking Senate approval for his judgeship on the appeals court, he told members of the Senate that he would recuse himself from any cases involving Vanguard. However, when Maharaj tried to have him removed from her case, Alito argued that he was not required to recuse himself.

In 2004, Alito said that his holdings did not constitute a conflict of interest because his investments were in mutual funds, making him an investor in Vanguard, not an owner. Federal judicial ethics rules permit judges to rule on cases involving some mutual funds in which they have a stake, but not those in which shares comprise ownership. The Vanguard Fund describes itself as owned by the ''fund's shareholders."

Posted by Diane E. Dees on 11/03/05 at 08:40 AM

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Alito and Abortion

So Samuel A. Alito, Jr. will be the new Supreme Court dude. Emphasis on "dude". Or emphasis on "fascist". Whatever. Anyway, I've been reading his infamous dissent on Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the one in which he upheld a spousal notification law for abortions, and it's important to hash this out. The conservative defense of Alito will be that it wasn't his job to decide whether the law was good public policy or not, merely to decide whether it was constitutional; and on the latter, he was upholding what he thought were the precedents on abortion at the time. That's not implausible; see this passage:

Taken together, Justice O’Connor’s [earlier] opinions reveal that an undue burden does not exist unless a law (a) prohibits abortion or gives another person the authority to veto an abortion or (b) has the practical effect of imposing "severe limitations," rather than simply inhibiting abortions "to some degree'" or inhibiting "some women."In Alito's defense, it's sometimes hard to figure out exactly what Sandra Day O'Connor intends in her opinions—often only she knows for sure—and prior to Planned Parenthood, the Supreme Court had placed restrictions on abortion that, while not "severe," probably did prevent some women from getting abortions. So Alito's ruling partially stems from previous Supreme Court sloppiness, it seems. Meanwhile, the plaintiffs who opposed the spousal notification law had not shown that the 5 percent of women who don't notify their husbands would in fact be harmed by the new law. (The law leaves an out for women who have "reason to believe that notification is likely to result in the infliction of bodily injury upon her.") On one level, then, Alito's opinion is sort of reasonable.

But on another level, it's not. It's ridiculous. It's dangerous. It's wrong. According to Alito, because only a small number of women might face an "undue burden" in theory, but that's not known for sure, the law is just fine and dandy? What kind of legal principle is that? The Supreme Court obviously disagreed with Alito, noting that regardless of whether 95 percent of women would be unharmed by the law, "[l]egislation is measured for consistency with the Constitution by its impact on those whose conduct it affects." And that includes women potentially affected.

This all matters very, very much because in an upcoming abortion case, Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood, the Supreme Court will decide just this sort of dry procedural issue: on whether litigants need to show that an abortion restriction places an "undue burden" on women in the abstract—and is therefore unconstitutional—or must show that it places an "undue burden" in a particular case. Alito would appear to side with the latter view, and a ruling this way would make it very hard for women to challenge abortion restrictions (litigants would have to show that parts of the law affect them personally), and the net effect would be that Roe v. Wade, for all practical purposes, would be crippled—states could leave restrictions on the book for many years before ever being challenged.

The political issue here is that over 70 percent of Americans support spousal notification laws, and if Democrats try to fight on that terrain, they'll face an uphill battle (but one very much worth fighting). But there's so much more at stake here.

Posted by Bradford Plumer on 10/31/05 at 08:49 AM

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