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Saturday, April 08, 2006

Fool Me Twice

By Joseph Cirincione
Page 1 of 1
Posted March 27, 2006

I used to think that the Bush administration wasn’t seriously considering a military strike on Iran, because it would only accelerate Iran’s nuclear program. But what we're seeing and hearing on Iran today seems awfully familiar. That may be because some U.S. officials have already decided they want to hit Iran hard.

Destination: Iran? Pundits and experts are debating the merits of U.S. airstrikes against Iranian nuclear facilities.
Sgt. Ken Bergmann/U.S. Department of Defense

Does this story line sound familiar? The vice president of the United States gives a major speech focused on the threat from an oil-rich nation in the Middle East. The U.S. secretary of state tells congress that the same nation is our most serious global challenge. The secretary of defense calls that nation the leading supporter of global terrorism. The president blames it for attacks on U.S. troops. The intelligence agencies say the nuclear threat from this nation is 10 years away, but the director of intelligence paints a more ominous picture. A new U.S. national security strategy trumpets preemptive attacks and highlights the country as a major threat. And neoconservatives beat the war drums, as the cable media banner their stories with words like “countdown” and “showdown.”

The nation making headlines today, of course, is Iran, not Iraq. But the parallels are striking.

Three years after senior administration officials systematically misled the nation into a disastrous war, they could well be trying to do it again.

Nothing is clear, yet. For months, I have told interviewers that no senior political or military official was seriously considering a military attack on Iran. In the last few weeks, I have changed my view. In part, this shift was triggered by colleagues with close ties to the Pentagon and the executive branch who have convinced me that some senior officials have already made up their minds: They want to hit Iran.

I argued with my friends. I pointed out that a military strike would be disastrous for the United States. It would rally the Iranian public around an otherwise unpopular regime, inflame anti-American anger around the Muslim world, and jeopardize the already fragile U.S. position in Iraq. And it would accelerate, not delay, the Iranian nuclear program. Hard-liners in Tehran would be proven right in their claim that the only thing that can deter the United States is a nuclear bomb. Iranian leaders could respond with a crash nuclear program that could produce a bomb in a few years.

My friends reminded me that I had said the same about Iraq—that I was the last remaining person in Washington who believed President George W. Bush when he said that he was committed to a diplomatic solution. But this time, it is the administration’s own statements that have convinced me. What I previously dismissed as posturing, I now believe may be a coordinated campaign to prepare for a military strike on Iran.

The unfolding administration strategy appears to be an effort to repeat its successful campaign for the Iraq war. It is now trying to link Iran to the 9/11 attacks by repeatedly claiming that Iran is the main state sponsor of terrorism in the world (though this suggestion is highly questionable). It is also attempting to make the threat urgent by arguing that Iran might soon pass a “point of no return” if it can perfect the technology of enriching uranium, even though many other nations have gone far beyond Iran’s capabilities and stopped their programs short of weapons. And, of course, it is now publicly linking Iran to the Iraqi insurgency and the improvised explosive devices used to kill and maim U.S. troops in Iraq, though Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Peter Pace admitted there is no evidence to support this claim.

If diplomacy fails, the administration might be able to convince leading Democrats to back a resolution for the use of force against Iran. Many Democrats have been trying to burnish a hawkish image and place themselves to the right of the president on this issue. They may find themselves trapped by their own rhetoric, particularly those with presidential ambitions.
The factual debate during the next six months will revolve around the threat assessment. How close is Iran to developing the ability to enrich uranium for fuel or bombs? Is there a secret weapons program? Are there secret underground facilities? What would it mean if small-scale enrichment experiments succeed?

Fortunately, we know more about Iran’s nuclear program now than we ever knew about Iraq’s (or, for that matter, those of India, Israel, and Pakistan). International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors have been in Iran for more than 3 years investigating all claims of weapons-related work. The United States has satellite reconnaissance, covert programs, and Iranian dissidents providing further information. The key now is to get all this information on the table for an open debate.

The administration should now declassify the information it used to estimate how long it will be until Iran has the capability to make a bomb. The Washington Post reported last August that this national intelligence estimate says Iran is a decade away. We need to see the basis for this judgment and all, if any, dissenting opinions. The congressional intelligence committees should be conducting their own reviews of the assessments, including open hearings with independent experts and IAEA officials. Influential groups, such as the Council on Foreign Relations, should conduct their own sessions and studies.

An accurate and fully understood assessment of the status and potential of Iran’s nuclear program is the essential basis for any policy. We cannot let the political or ideological agenda of a small group determine a national security decision that could create havoc in a critical area of the globe. Not again.

Joseph Cirincione is director for non-proliferation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

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Iraq discovers oil in Kurdistan

IRAQ has announced the discovery of oil reserves in the mountainous Kurdish region of Zakho, close to its border with Turkey. "We have discovered oil at Zakho, 470km north of Baghdad," announced Iraq's deputy oil minister Motassam Akram. He said the oil wells were drilled by a Norwegian company, DNO and added that the actual crude reserves would be known "soon".

In March, the Kurdish authorities had announced the signing of a contract with a Canadian company, Western Oil Sands, to survey the region of Garmain, 120km south of Sulaimaniyah. Most of Iraq's crude reserves are in Shiite-dominated southern regions and are exported through the two southern terminals. Exports from Iraq's northern fields around Kirkuk, just south of Kurdistan, have effectively been shut down by insurgent attacks.

The self-rule Kurdish region, which groups the provinces of Sulaimaniyah, Arbil and Dohuk, has a small number of oil fields. In 2005, the country lost $US6.25 billion in oil revenues due to sustained insurgent attacks on its oil infrastructure.

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Corps sacks three commanders (under investigation - deaths of 15 Iraqis)

Corps sacks three commanders
Battalion under investigation in deaths of 15 Iraqi civilians

Three officers — including an infantry battalion commander and two of his company commanders — were fired April 7 for “lack of confidence,” a Corps spokesman said. Relieved were Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani, who commanded the Camp Pendleton, Calif.-based 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines; India Company commander Capt. James Kimber; and Kilo Company commander Capt. Luke McConnell, said 2nd Lt. Lawton King, a spokesman for 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton.

Officials previously have confirmed that Chessani’s battalion was under investigation for an alleged Nov. 19 rampage by the battalion’s Kilo Company Marines in the Iraqi city of Haditha that left 15 civilians dead, including seven women and three children.

The civilian deaths occurred after a roadside bomb killed one of 3/1’s Marines during a combat patrol.

The decision to relieve the three officers was made by Maj. Gen. Richard Natonski, 1st Marine Division commander, “due to lack of confidence in their leadership abilities stemming from their performance during a recent deployment to Iraq,” King said.

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US leak of Zarqawi letter riles Israelis

ISRAELI military intelligence officials have accused President George W Bush’s administration of undermining their attempts to infiltrate Al-Qaeda’s operations in Iraq by revealing the contents of a secret letter written by Osama Bin Laden’s second-in-command, writes Uzi Mahnaimi.

Israel passed the letter — in which Ayman al-Zawahiri outlined his Middle East strategy to Abu Musab al- Zarqawi, the Al-Qaeda leader in Iraq — to Washington last October on condition of strict anonymity.

Israeli officials were dismayed, however, when John Negroponte, the US director of national intelligence, made it available in both English and its original Arabic on his office web site.

Bush then referred to it during his weekly address. “The Al-Qaeda letter points to Vietnam as a model,” the president declared. “Al-Qaeda believes that America can be made to run again.

They are gravely mistaken. America will not run and we will not forget our responsibilities.”

Israeli intelligence sources said officials who had worked on “Operation Tiramisu” inside Iraq took emergency steps to protect their sources, but it was not clear how successful they had been in averting the damage to their intelligence network.

They said Bush’s indiscretion had undone months of painstaking effort.

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Web site exposes Air Force One defenses

Paul J. CafferaSaturday, April 8, 2006

Whenever the president travels, security is a prime consideration. Motorcade routes are kept secret, and premature release of information about a presidential trip aboard one of the twin Air Force One planes can result in the Secret Service canceling a visit.

Thus, the Air Force reacted with alarm last week after The Chronicle told the Secret Service that a government document containing specific information about the anti-missile defenses on Air Force One and detailed interior maps of the two planes -- including the location of Secret Service agents within the planes -- was posted on the Web site of an Air Force base.

The document also shows the location where a terrorist armed with a high-caliber sniper rifle could detonate the tanks that supply oxygen to Air Force One's medical facility.

As of Friday, the document was still posted online. The Secret Service refused to comment on the document's release.

"It is not a good thing" for that information to be in the public domain, said Lt. Col Bruce Alexander, director of public affairs for the Air Mobility Command's 89th Airlift Wing, Andrews Air Force Base, which operates the presidential air transport fleet. "We are concerned with how it got there and how we can get it out. This affects operational security."

Information about Air Force One's anti-missile systems is considered particularly sensitive.
"Having information about a target's countermeasures does two things," said Daniel Goure of the Lexington Institute. "It gives you an opportunity to choose a different weapon and to choose a different attack style ... perhaps choosing to launch a salvo attack, or choose a missile that uses an active beam."

"It is tough enough for the Secret Service to do its job without this," said Leon Panetta, former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, who now runs a public policy study center at California State University at Monterey Bay. "If I were still chief of staff, I would order the damned site (to) pull it down."

Page A - 4 URL: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/04/08/MNGESI5U6C1.DTL

©2006 San Francisco Chronicle

Petition in Support of the Resolution of Censure

Yes, Tom! Please let your colleagues in the Senate know that the American people demand accountable, law-abiding democracy here at home, not just rhetoric about democracy abroad! I want you to mobilize support for Senator Feingold's Resolution of Censure so that when the Senate returns to session after the Easter recess, a vote on the Senate floor will tell President Bush that no American can be above the law!

Please use the form below to sign the petition.

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Outed CIA officer was working on Iran, intelligence sources say

Larisa Alexandrovna
Published: February 13, 2006

The unmasking of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson by White House officials in 2003 caused significant damage to U.S. national security and its ability to counter nuclear proliferation abroad, , RAW STORY has learned.

According to current and former intelligence officials, Plame Wilson, who worked on the clandestine side of the CIA in the Directorate of Operations as a non-official cover (NOC) officer, was part of an operation tracking distribution and acquisition of weapons of mass destruction technology to and from Iran.

Speaking under strict confidentiality, intelligence officials revealed heretofore unreported elements of Plame's work. Their accounts suggest that Plame's outing was more serious than has previously been reported and carries grave implications for U.S. national security and its ability to monitor Iran's burgeoning nuclear program.

While many have speculated that Plame was involved in monitoring the nuclear proliferation black market, specifically the proliferation activities of Pakistan's nuclear "father," A.Q. Khan, intelligence sources say that her team provided only minimal support in that area, focusing almost entirely on Iran.

Plame declined to comment through her husband, Joseph Wilson.

Valerie Plame first became a household name when her identity was disclosed by conservative columnist Robert Novak on July 14, 2003. The column came only a week after her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, had written an op-ed for the New York Times asserting that White House officials twisted pre-war intelligence on Iraq. Her outing was seen as political retaliation for Wilson's criticism of the Administration's claim that Iraq sought uranium from Niger for a nuclear weapons program.

Her case has drawn international attention and resulted in the indictment of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, on five counts of perjury, obstruction of justice, and making false statements. Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald, who is leading the probe, is still pursuing Deputy Chief of Staff and Special Advisor to President Bush, Karl Rove. His investigation remains open.

The damages

Intelligence sources would not identify the specifics of Plame's work. They did, however, tell RAW STORY that her outing resulted in "severe" damage to her team and significantly hampered the CIA's ability to monitor nuclear proliferation.

Plame's team, they added, would have come in contact with A.Q. Khan's network in the course of her work on Iran.

While Director of Central Intelligence Porter Goss has not submitted a formal damage assessment to Congressional oversight committees, the CIA's Directorate of Operations did conduct a serious and aggressive investigation, sources say.

Intelligence sources familiar with the damage assessment say that what is called a "counter intelligence assessment to agency operations" was conducted on the orders of the CIA's then-Deputy Director of the Directorate of Operations, James Pavitt.

Former CIA counterintelligence officer Larry Johnson believes that such an assessment would have had to be done for the CIA to have referred the case to the Justice Department.

"An exposure like that required an immediate operational and counter intelligence damage assessment," Johnson said. "That was done. The results were written up but not in a form for submission to anyone outside of CIA."

One former counterintelligence official described the CIA's reasons for not seeking Congressional assistance on the matter as follows: "[The CIA Leadership] made a conscious decision not to do a formal inquiry because they knew it might become public," the source said. "They referred it [to the Justice Department] instead because they believed a criminal investigation was needed."

The source described the findings of the assessment as showing "significant damage to operational equities."

Another counterintelligence official, also wishing to remain anonymous due to the nature of the subject matter, described "operational equities" as including both people and agency operations that involve the "cover mechanism," "front companies," and other CIA officers and assets.

Three intelligence officers confirmed that other CIA non-official cover officers were compromised, but did not indicate the number of people operating under non-official cover that were affected or the way in which these individuals were impaired. None of the sources would say whether there were American or foreign casualties as a result of the leak.

Several intelligence officials described the damage in terms of how long it would take for the agency to recover. According to their own assessment, the CIA would be impaired for up to "ten years" in its capacity to adequately monitor nuclear proliferation on the level of efficiency and accuracy it had prior to the White House leak of Plame Wilson's identity.

A.Q. Khan

While Plame's work did not specifically focus on the A.Q. Khan ring, named after Pakistani scientist Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the network and its impact on nuclear proliferation and the region should not be minimized, primarily because the Khan network was the major supplier of WMD technology for Iran.

Dr. Khan instituted theproliferation market during the 1980s and supplied many countries in the Middle East and elsewhere with uranium enrichment technology, including Libya, Iran and North Korea. Enriched uranium is used to make weaponized nuclear devices.

The United States forced the Pakistan government to dismiss Khan for his proliferation activities in March of 2001, but he remains largely free and acts as an adviser to the Pakistani government.

According to intelligence expert John Pike of GlobalSecurity.org, U.S. officials were not aware of the extent of the proliferation until around the time of Khan's dismissal.

"It slowly dawned on them that the collaboration between Pakistan, North Korea and Iran was an ongoing and serious problem," Pike said. "It was starting to sink in on them that it was one program doing business in three locations and that anything one of these countries had they all had."

After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Pakistan became the United States' chief regional ally in the war on terror.

The revelation that Iran was the focal point of Plame's work raises new questions as to possible other motivating factors in the White House's decision to reveal the identity of a CIA officer working on tracking a WMD supply network to Iran, particularly when the very topic of Iran's possible WMD capability is of such concern to the Administration

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NY Times: Confidential US Report On Iraq Disputes Bush Admin. Optimism...

New York Times ERIC SCHMITT and EDWARD WONG April 8, 2006 at 05:40 PM
READ MORE: George W. Bush, Saddam Hussein, Iraq, Halliburton, Dick Cheney

An internal staff report by the United States Embassy and the military command in Baghdad provides a sobering province-by-province snapshot of Iraq's political, economic and security situation, rating the overall stability of 6 of the 18 provinces "serious" and one "critical." The report is a counterpoint to some recent upbeat public statements by top American politicians and military officials.

The report, 10 pages of briefing points titled "Provincial Stability Assessment," underscores the shift in the nature of the Iraq war three years after the toppling of Saddam Hussein. Warnings of sectarian and ethnic frictions are raised in many regions, even in those provinces generally described as nonviolent by American officials.


Bush, GOP Approval Ratings Hit New Lows

Bush, GOP Approval Ratings Find New Lows

Take this poll to see some eye opening results.

Evidence Suggests White House Conspiracy

By Jason Leopold t r u t h o u t Report
Thursday 06 April 2006

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald stated in a court filing late Wednesday in the CIA leak case that his investigators have obtained evidence during the course of the two-year-old probe that proves "multiple" White House officials conspired to discredit former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a critic of the administration's pre-war Iraq intelligence.

This is the first time the special counsel has acknowledged that White House officials are alleged to have engaged in a coordinated effort to undercut the former ambassador's credibility by disseminating classified intelligence information that would have contradicted Wilson's public statements.

Fitzgerald's court filing was made in response to attorneys representing I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, who was indicted on five counts of perjury, obstruction of justice, and lying to investigators related to his role in the leak. The attorneys are desperately trying to obtain evidence from the government that will prove Libby did not intentionally lie to the grand jury when he was asked how he found out about Plame Wilson and whether he shared that information with the media.

Furthermore, Libby's attorneys have argued that they are entitled to the evidence in order to prove Libby was not engaged in a "plot" to discredit Wilson. However, Fitzgerald says the evidence he has obtained proves there was a coordinated effort by White House officials to discredit Wilson.

Fitzgerald wrote in the filing, "There exist documents, some of which have been provided to defendant and there were conversations in which defendant participated, that reveal a strong desire by many, including multiple people in the White House, to repudiate Mr. Wilson before and after July 14, 2003."

Although Fitzgerald makes it abundantly clear that Libby is not charged with conspiracy, he argues that Libby's suggestion that there was no White House plot to discredit Wilson is ludicrous, given the amount of evidence Fitzgerald has in his possession that suggests otherwise.
"Once again, defendant ignores the fact that he is not charged with participating in any conspiracy, much less one defined as a 'White House-driven plot to punish Mr. Wilson,'" the filing states. "Moreover, given that there is evidence that other White House officials with whom defendant spoke prior to July 14, 2003, discussed Wilson's wife's employment with the press both prior to, and after, July 14, 2003 - which evidence has been shared with defendant - it is hard to conceive of what evidence there could be that would disprove the existence of White House efforts to 'punish' Wilson."

Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame Wilson, was an undercover CIA operative whose identity was unmasked to reporters, in what the former ambassador claims was an attack after he penned an op-ed in the New York Times in July 2003 exposing the administration's use of flawed intelligence on the Iraqi nuclear threat.

Fitzgerald did not name the other White House officials who were involved in the effort to undercut Wilson, but sources close to the case said that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley are the officials who were involved in the alleged plot.

A footnote in the court filing states that Hadley was involved in conversations and meetings at Cheney's office in which White House officials discussed how to respond to Wilson's statement that the administration used bogus intelligence to make a case for war.

Hadley suggested declassifying a portion of the highly sensitive National Intelligence Estimate and leaking it to reporters as a way of responding to Wilson's statements.

"The government is producing to defendant Mr. Hadley's notes of meetings and conversations in which both defendant and Mr. Hadley participated, and in which the potential declassification of the NIE was discussed," the court filing says.

Moreover, Wednesday's court filing lays out for the first time how White House press secretary Scott McClellan came to publicly exonerate Libby and Rove during a press briefing in October 2003, three months after Plame Wilson's identity was unmasked.

The filing suggests that Libby lied about his role in the leak when McClellan asked him about it in October 2003. Libby, with Vice President Cheney's backing, persuaded the press secretary to clear his name during one of his morning press briefings, and prepared notes for him to use.

"Though defendant knew that another White House official had spoken to Novak in advance of Novak's column and that official had learned in advance that Novak would be publishing information about Wilson's wife, defendant did not disclose that fact to other White House officials (including the Vice President) but instead prepared a handwritten statement of what he wished White House Press Secretary McClellan would say to exonerate him:

People have made too much of the difference in How I described Karl and Libby I've talked to Libby. I said it was ridiculous about Karl. And it is ridiculous about Libby. Libby was not the source of the Novak story. And he did not leak classified information."

"As a result of defendant's request, on October 4, 2003, White House Press Secretary McClellan stated that he had spoken to Mr. Libby (as well as Mr. Rove and Elliot Abrams) and "those individuals assured me that they were not involved in this."

McClellan's public statement and the fact that President Bush vowed to fire anyone in his office involved in the leak were motivating factors that led Libby to lie during an interview with FBI investigators in November 2003, Fitzgerald states in the court filing: "Thus, as defendant approached his first FBI interview he knew that the White House had publicly staked its credibility on there being no White House involvement in the leaking of information about Ms. Wilson and that, at defendant's specific request through the Vice President, the White House had publicly proclaimed that defendant was 'not involved in this.'"

Jason Leopold spent two years covering California's electricity crisis as Los Angeles bureau chief of Dow Jones Newswires. Jason has spent the last year cultivating sources close to the CIA leak investigation, and is a regular contributor to t r u t h o u t.

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Would President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb?
Issue of 2006-04-17Posted 2006-04-10

The Bush Administration, while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack. Current and former American military and intelligence officials said that Air Force planning groups are drawing up lists of targets, and teams of American combat troops have been ordered into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting data and to establish contact with anti-government ethnic-minority groups. The officials say that President Bush is determined to deny the Iranian regime the opportunity to begin a pilot program, planned for this spring, to enrich uranium.

American and European intelligence agencies, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.), agree that Iran is intent on developing the capability to produce nuclear weapons. But there are widely differing estimates of how long that will take, and whether diplomacy, sanctions, or military action is the best way to prevent it. Iran insists that its research is for peaceful use only, in keeping with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and that it will not be delayed or deterred.

There is a growing conviction among members of the United States military, and in the international community, that President Bush’s ultimate goal in the nuclear confrontation with Iran is regime change. Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has challenged the reality of the Holocaust and said that Israel must be “wiped off the map.” Bush and others in the White House view him as a potential Adolf Hitler, a former senior intelligence official said. “That’s the name they’re using. They say, ‘Will Iran get a strategic weapon and threaten another world war?’ ”

A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was “absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb” if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do “what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,” and “that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.” >>>cont

There is a friking crazy man in the White House!!!! read on

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Lobbying Cases Shine Spotlight on Family Ties

Published: April 9, 2006

WASHINGTON, April 8 — On Dec. 3, 2003, Aeneas Enterprises opened for business in the Woodland Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, and judging by its bank records, the small consulting company with no listed telephone number was an instant success. Within a month, its records show, Aeneas had taken in $2.3 million from a single client.

A Family Affair

Aeneas is under scrutiny by the Justice Department and Congressional investigators. Its founder, Robert Abramoff, a lawyer and sometime Hollywood movie producer, is the brother of Jack Abramoff, the Republican lobbyist at the center of a Washington influence-peddling scandal involving several members of Congress.

The company's records show that the $2.3 million was received from another consulting firm, GrassRoots Interactive of Silver Spring, Md., which was established by Jack Abramoff and where he directed some of his huge lobbying fees. Billing statements prepared by Aeneas do not show what service Robert Abramoff provided to warrant millions of dollars in payments from his brother's company.

Robert Abramoff did not return phone calls for comment. His apparent entanglement in his brother's business is an example of what investigators say is something remarkable about the criminal inquiry centered on Jack Abramoff and his Washington lobbying network.

To a surprising degree, the spouses and other family members of the investigation's central targets are being caught up in the inquiry, dealing with subpoenas and interviews with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with at least the possibility that some of them could face civil or criminal charges themselves.

Lawyers with detailed knowledge of the Justice Department's investigation, who were granted anonymity because of rules barring public discussion of grand jury evidence, say that so many of the wives of lawmakers and lobbyists have become tied up in the investigation that F.B.I. agents have begun referring to them as "The Wives Club."

The lawyers said the scrutiny of the families would increase the leverage of prosecutors, since the targets might be willing to plead guilty and incriminate others to spare family members from being charged.

At least one of the wives, Julie Doolittle, who is married to Representative John T. Doolittle, Republican of California, has been subpoenaed in the investigation of Mr. Abramoff and questioned by the F.B.I. The June 2004 subpoena sought information about Mrs. Doolittle's marketing and events-planning work for Mr. Abramoff's lobbying firm and for his Washington restaurant, Signatures, which he later sold. Her lawyer, William L. Stauffer, said Mrs. Doolittle was contacted by the Justice Department again last year and asked for additional records.
Mr. Stauffer said that Mrs. Doolittle's consulting firm, Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions, has "complied fully with the subpoena."

Lisa Rudy, who is married to Tony Rudy, the former deputy chief of staff to Representative Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas, received $50,000 in consulting fees as a result of what her husband has acknowledged was a corrupt scheme with Mr. Abramoff to influence the workings of Mr. DeLay's office and promote the concerns of Mr. Abramoff's clients on Capitol Hill.
Mr. Rudy pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges last month. The Justice Department has said that Mrs. Rudy has agreed to cooperate with the investigation and will sign her own agreement with prosecutors. The Rudy family's lawyer, Laura A. Miller, did not return phone calls for comment.

Christine A. DeLay, Mr. DeLay's wife, received $115,000 in consulting fees from 1998 to 2002 from a lobbying firm set up by her husband's former chief of staff, Edwin A. Buckham, who is also under scrutiny by the Justice Department because of his lobbying contacts with Mr. DeLay's House office.

Although there is no suggestion of any criminal investigation focused on Mrs. DeLay, lawyers involved in the investigation say prosecutors have asked about the circumstances of her hiring by Mr. Buckham and whether it was an effort to influence Mr. DeLay, the former House majority leader. Mr. DeLay announced this week that he was resigning from Congress, saying he wanted to avoid an "ugly" re-election fight this fall that might focus on ethical issues.

A lawyer for the DeLays, Richard Cullen, said Mrs. DeLay had been employed by Mr. Buckham's firm, the Alexander Strategy Group, to gather information on the favorite charities of members of Congress. "Christine DeLay is a very talented woman with a keen political mind, and the project she was working on was one that had substance and added value to Alexander," he said.

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Censure...Not In My Job Description...

but a swell picture of a servant of the people trying to do the right thing.

Censure: Time to Do the Right Thing

and Christy at Firedoglake breaks it down for you:

Hey, Team Libby… (Part I)

Hey, Team Libby…(Part II)

"The second paragraph on page 11 is guaranteed to give all the wingnuts fits, so I’m going to spend a little bit of time typing this in very slowly, so that even the most kool-aid imparied individual might understand: when Fitz says "…indeed, it is irrelevent whether Mr. Wilson’s wife actually did work at the CIA or actually did play a role in aranging the trip, or how State Department employees viewed the results of the Wilson trip," the only thing to which he is referring in that context is irrelevant to the particular charges in Libby’s indictment — namely perjury, obstruction and false statements. And he is correct — that information is irrelevant to the consideration as to whether or not Scooter Libby lied — under oath and/or to FBI agents — and blocked the further investigation of the case."

"What I read overall from page 18: 'I’ve got you by the short hairs on this.'"

Hey Team Libby…

(Part III)

"Bottom line here: George Bush jumped the shark with all of his public protestations about leakers being bad — because his sureptitious attempt to plant stories via Judy Miller through a Scooter Libby who clearly was trying to hide his identity behind a "former Hill staffer" attribution far away from the WH makes Bush look like a weasel. A weasel who has been pointing fingers at his critics, at the press, at everyone — but hasn’t taken any responsiblity on himself for his own mistakes, and his cherry-picking of intelligence that he used to lie our way into war with Iraq.

President Bush been exposed as a snake oil salesman, whose holier than thou attitude about leakers was designed to hide the fact that — all along — he’s been pulling the strings behind the scenes as the Leaker-in-Chief."

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Shootout at the Plantation: Colonial Masters Turn on the Hired Help

***Chris Floyd***

Thursday, 06 April 2006

So now we are down to the raw meat at last. One by one, the justifications mouthed by the makers of the Iraq War have been stripped away, revealed as gossamer tissues of lies and obfuscation: weapons of mass destruction, Iraqi involvement in 9/11, reducing terrorism in the world and of course, bringing democracy to the poor Iraqi people. This last rag has been the one clutched most fiercely of late by the warlords in Washington and London, but now it too has been cast aside into the blood and muck. All that's left is the naked, slathering beast of power, imposing its will on a conquered land – and blaming its victims, even as it chews them to pieces.

This past week saw an astounding display of murderous hypocrisy and bad faith by those twin towers of the American Establishment: the government – or rather the unconstitutional military junta fronted by George W. Bush – and the corporate media. Together they made it abundantly clear that the elite now regard Iraqis as ungrateful, useless trash, unfit to choose their own leaders – and unworthy of the "great sacrifice" America has made in looting and savaging their country in an unprovoked war of aggression.

First the junta dispatched hit-gal Condi Rice (with her gormless valet Jack Straw in tow) to expedite the removal of Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the man selected as prime minister in the "democratic process" established by the Bush Faction itself. The cover story is that Jaafari has not been vigorous enough in suppressing the Shiite militias. But this is an odd criticism indeed, considering that it was the Occupation Coalition that brought many of these deadly sectarian gangs – including the notorious "Wolf Brigade" – into the Iraqi government in the first place, as The Times of London and the Wall Street Journal, among many others, report.

No, the real reason for the frost job is that Jaafari is insufficiently enthusiastic about the Bush gang's long-running project to impose their own sectarian dogma on Iraq: i.e., their extremist faith in the "free market" – by which of course they mean a market controlled by handful of foreign fat-cats operating without any restraints. They much preferred the man Jaafari defeated, by one vote, to become premier: current Iraqi vice president Adel Abdul Mahdi.

As I reported in The Moscow Times in February 2005, Mahdi, then finance minister, endeared himself to the Bush Regime by openly declaring – in front of the National Press Club in Washington, no less – that Iraq would throw its oilfields wide open to foreign investment. This offer, placing the world's second-largest oil reserves in a few private hands, will be "very promising to the American investors and to American enterprise, certainly to oil companies," Mahdi announced. What's not to love about this guy?

But then those ungrateful wretches chose Jaafari – an open admirer of Noam Chomsky, for God's sake! – over the Regime's favorite. Such brazen uppityness was not to be borne. From then on, Jaafari's every step toward forming a government was hobbled by American sniping and backroom maneuvering, with the petulant Bushists perfectly willing to let the country slide into anarchy and civil war while they scheme to get Mahdi or some other pliant tool into the catbird seat. After all, what are few more thousand dead Iraqis at this point? Who's counting?

For it's not just oil at stake, of course. Over the past three years, the Bushists have quietly forced a vast program of "economic shock therapy" on Iraq, policies that have "administered a series of death blows to locally-based enterprises" by allowing foreign companies to take full control of Iraqi businesses then ship the loot – down to the last dinar – out of the country, as Professor Michael Schwartz reports at TomDispatch.com. This economic despoliation – with the resultant poverty and unemployment – has been one of the primary causes driving Iraqi discontent, Schwartz notes; early peaceful protests by ordinary citizens about the effects of the Bushist rapine were met with such savage repression that thousands joined the nascent insurgency.

But the extremist dogma of the free fat-cat market must be preserved at all costs. So Rice and Straw were sent to Baghdad to slip the shiv into the bumbling Jaafari's back and sternly chide the Iraqis for their failure to form a government that will permanently enshrine the economic rape program and finalize a new petroleum law that will activate the dozens of exploitation deals already signed with foreign oil companies, as the Houston Chronicle reports. Rice berated the Iraqis for their ingratitude, noting that America has put "a lot treasure, a lot of human treasure" on the line for them, the NY Times reports. No doubt her hosts – who have seen 100,000 of their civilians killed and at least $9 billion looted from their treasury to pay for the occupation of their own country – were deeply chastened.

But the NYT even surpassed stern Condi in haranguing the Arab ingrates. In an astonishing turn from a paper that more than any other helped sway mainstream opinion in favor of Bush's criminal invasion, a Times editorial blasted Iraqis for letting their nation sink into a shameful state of violence, chaos and repression, and declared that if the hapless Jaafari were allowed to stay in power, then the whole damn place should be written off as unworthy of American "protection." Dripping with the haughty contempt of a plantation owner lambasting the hired help, the editorial clearly signaled the emerging conventional wisdom of the American Establishment on the war: we tried to do good, but as always, the darkies let us down.Then again, isn't that the America Establishment's standard reaction to all of its bloody misadventures?

Chris Floyd/This is an extended version of the column appearing in the April 7 edition of the Moscow Times.

Link Here

NBC News Plants "Muslim-Looking Men" In Nascar Stands To Try And Provoke Crowd...

Associated Press JENNA FRYER April 8, 2006 at 11:27 AM

American stock car racing's governing body called a network television news magazine "outrageous" on Wednesday, saying it tried to provoke anti-Muslim reaction
s from spectators at last week's race for a story about growing U.S. sentiment against Islam.

The National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing said the NBC network's "Dateline NBC" confirmed it was sending Muslim-looking men to a race, along with a camera crew to film fans' reactions. The NBC crew was "apparently on site in Martinsville, Virginia, walked around and no one bothered them," NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said Wednesday.


Senior Pentagon Advisor: WH Wants To "Change The Power Structure In Iran, And That Means War"...

New Yorker SEYMOUR M. HERSH April 8, 2006 at 12:33 PM
READ MORE: George W. Bush

The Bush Administration, while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack. Current and former American military and intelligence officials said that Air Force planning groups are drawing up lists of targets, and teams of American combat troops have been ordered into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting data and to establish contact with anti-government ethnic-minority groups. The officials say that President Bush is determined to deny the Iranian regime the opportunity to begin a pilot program, planned for this spring, to enrich uranium.

American and European intelligence agencies, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.), agree that Iran is intent on developing the capability to produce nuclear weapons. But there are widely differing estimates of how long that will take, and whether diplomacy, sanctions, or military action is the best way to prevent it. Iran insists that its research is for peaceful use only, in keeping with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and that it will not be delayed or deterred.


DeLay Gets $1.3M In Pension Payouts Even If Convicted...

Houston Chronicle SAMANTHA LEVINE April 8, 2006 at 02:05 PM

When he resigns in a few months, U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay immediately will be eligible for a congressional pension of nearly $67,000 a year.

The Sugar Land Republican, who will turn 59 on Saturday, would get a total of about $1.3 million in pension payouts in the next 20 years alone. DeLay also will be eligible to participate in the health plan available to all federal retirees.


NY Daily News: Letter To Rupert Murdoch Sparked Scandal...

NY Daily News WILLIAM SHERMAN April 8, 2006 at 10:04 AM
READ MORE: News Corp, Fox News

Last Dec. 16, California billionaire Ron Burkle penned a personal letter to Rubert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp., which owns the New York Post.

The letter set in motion a chain of events that would trigger an unprecedented scandal in journalism, devastate the Post and rock its franchise column.


Oh Shit. The Forger Of The Niger Documents Have Been Named

Link Here


According to NATO sources, the investigation has evidence that Niger's consul and its ambassador's personal assistant faked a contract to show Saddam Hussein had bought uranium ore from the impoverished west African country.

The documents, which emerged in 2002, were used in a State Department fact sheet on Iraq's weapons programme to build the case for war. They were denounced as forgeries by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) shortly before the 2003 invasion.

The revelation spawned a series of conspiracy theories, most alleging that the British, Italians, or even Dick Cheney, the American vice-president, had had a hand in forging them to back the case for war.

The story was still reverberating around Washington last week with claims that President George W Bush had authorised the leaking of the identity of a CIA agent whose husband cast doubt on the Niger link.

According to the sources, an official investigation believes Adam Maiga Zakariaou, the consul, and Laura Montini, the ambassador's personal assistant, known as La Signora, forged the papers for money.


georgie is setting us up

U.S. Says Venezuela Complicit in Attack

Link here

Missing Congressional Candidate Found Alive With Bump On His Head...

AP April 7, 2006 at 09:54 PM

A congressional hopeful wrecked his car and wandered a mile in a daze, swimming across a river and then huddling under leaves for warmth until he was found alive a day later, officials and
Gary Dodds, 41, was taken to Portsmouth Hospital to be treated for hypothermia late Thursday. His wife, Cynthia, said Friday that he was doing well but had only foggy memories of his ordeal and "definitely had a good bump to the head."

Dodds crashed on the Spaulding Turnpike on Wednesday evening, but emergency workers who arrived a few minutes later found his car empty. When Dodds failed to come home or contact his family, authorities began a search by air and on foot.


Local Teacher's Run-In With Homeland Security Creates Insecurities

Thu Apr 6, 5:29 PM ET

A local school employee said a rough run-in with a couple of Homeland Security officers has left him with a strong sense of insecurity.

Leander Pickett, a teacher's assistant at Englewood Elementary, said he was manhandled and handcuffed by two plain clothed Homeland Security officers in front of the school Tuesday for no reason at all.

"I would like to treat people the way I would want to be treated, and yesterday I wasn't treated that way," Pickett said.

Pickett has been working at Englewood for two years, and his principal and colleagues told Channel 4 they have never met a harder worker or nicer guy.

"He's well loved by everyone because he's willing to do anything to help children," said the Englewood Elementary Principal Gail Brinson.

However, Tuesday afternoon Pickett's niceness turned to anger, disappointment, and betrayal when, as Pickett was directing bus traffic, he said he was handcuffed and roughed up and humiliated by the very people that were supposed to protect him.

"I walked up to him and said, 'Sir, you need to move.' That's when he said 'I'm a police officer. I'm with Homeland Security ... I'll move it when I want to.' That's when he started grabbing me on my arm," Pickett said.

However, Homeland Security tells a different story.

The department said the only reason the officers were at the school was because they pulled over to look at a map.

The department also said it's looking into what happened, and that Pickett's version is wrong. It claims he was antagonizing the officers.

Several people were outside of the school, watching the incident take place, and those witnesses agree with Pickett's story.

"Mr. Pickett asked the guy blocking the bus loading zone to move, and the guy told him he would move his car when he got ready to move it," said Englewood coach Alton Jackson.

"At that point I intervened and I went up to the gentleman and said, 'Mr. Pickett is an employee here,' and they said that didn't matter," said Englewood media specialist, Terri Dreisonstok.

"'We're with Homeland Security,' and on and on they went, and pretty soon, before you know it, he's handcuffed and slammed against a car," Brinson said. "All the children are watching, they're all upset."

After about 30 minutes, the men released Pickett.

"The part that really upsets me is all these students were watching, and that and it isn't good," Jackson said.

Pickett said he plans to sue.

"You now you hear these stories everyday and say, 'This will never happen to me,' but yesterday it happened to me," Pickett said.

"If this is Homeland Security, I think we ought to be a little afraid," Brinson said.

The central office of Homeland Security contacted Channel 4 about the incident and stated that it considers all allegations seriously and the matter has been referred to a neutral investigative entity.

Link here

Bush, GOP Approval Ratings Find New Lows

By RON FOURNIER, AP Political Writer
Fri Apr 7, 9:58 AM ET

WASHINGTON - President Bush's approval ratings hit a series of new lows in an AP-Ipsos poll that also shows Republicans surrendering their advantage on national security — grim election-year news for a party struggling to stay in power.

Democratic leaders predicted they will seize control of one or both chambers of Congress in November. Republicans said they feared the worst unless the political landscape quickly changes.

Just 36 percent of the public approves of Bush's job performance, his lowest-ever rating in AP-Ipsos polling. By contrast, the president's job approval rating was 47 percent among likely voters just before Election Day 2004 and a whopping 64 percent among registered voters in October 2002.

By comparison, Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan had public approval in the mid 60s at this stage of their second terms in office, while Dwight Eisenhower was close to 60 percent, according to Gallup polls. Richard Nixon, who was increasingly tangled up in the Watergate scandal, was in the high 20s in early 1974.

As bad as Bush's numbers may be, Congress' are worse.

Just 30 percent of the public approves of the GOP-led Congress' job performance, and Republicans seem to be shouldering the blame.

"These numbers are scary. We've lost every advantage we've ever had," GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio said. "The good news is Democrats don't have much of a plan. The bad news is they may not need one."

There is more at stake than the careers of GOP lawmakers. A Democratic-led Congress could bury the last vestiges of Bush's legislative agenda and subject the administration to high-profile investigations of the Iraq war, the CIA leak case, warrantless eavesdropping and other matters.>>>cont

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Hell Yeah

Oh. Fuck.

Link Here


Florida Power and Light Company (FPL) is offering a 100,000-dollar reward for information leading to the person or persons responsible for a small hole drilled into a pipe in the pressurized cooling system.

New Poll. Shocking But Then Again, Not Really.

Do you believe President Bush misled the nation in order to go to war with Iraq?

81314 responses



Link Here

Friday, April 07, 2006

Bush, GOP Approval Ratings Find New Lows

By RON FOURNIER, AP Political Writer
Fri Apr 7, 9:58 AM ET

WASHINGTON - President Bush's approval ratings hit a series of new lows in an AP-Ipsos poll that also shows Republicans surrendering their advantage on national security — grim election-year news for a party struggling to stay in power.

Democratic leaders predicted they will seize control of one or both chambers of Congress in November. Republicans said they feared the worst unless the political landscape quickly changes.

Just 36 percent of the public approves of Bush's job performance, his lowest-ever rating in AP-Ipsos polling. By contrast, the president's job approval rating was 47 percent among likely voters just before Election Day 2004 and a whopping 64 percent among registered voters in October 2002.

By comparison, Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan had public approval in the mid 60s at this stage of their second terms in office, while Dwight Eisenhower was close to 60 percent, according to Gallup polls. Richard Nixon, who was increasingly tangled up in the Watergate scandal, was in the high 20s in early 1974.

As bad as Bush's numbers may be, Congress' are worse.

Just 30 percent of the public approves of the GOP-led Congress' job performance, and Republicans seem to be shouldering the blame.

"These numbers are scary. We've lost every advantage we've ever had," GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio said. "The good news is Democrats don't have much of a plan. The bad news is they may not need one."

There is more at stake than the careers of GOP lawmakers. A Democratic-led Congress could bury the last vestiges of Bush's legislative agenda and subject the administration to high-profile investigations of the Iraq war, the CIA leak case, warrantless eavesdropping and other matters.>>>cont

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Go leave a Thank You to a Man among Men who spoke truth to power

Thank You Harry Taylor.
A First Amendment Moment, as citizen criticizes Bush in Charlotte

Bush Faces Rare Audience Challenge in N.C.

DailyKos Coverage


National Thank You Event. April 15, 12:00 Noon

Reports going around that Georgie will no longer take questions from the public, at any venue.

Poor Georgie was done in by the truth,

They are looking for 1 million Thank Yous I think they should get that easy.

Link Here

Calling all Americans

Can I interject into this whole immigration debate to set straight something that is driving me crazy?

When you, as a US Citizen, say 'I am an American'... I would like to know what exactly you think it is that makes you AMERICAN..? Would that be because you are sitting in a country that is located in North America..? So what does that make Canadians?

I will tell you what it makes them. It means they are AMERICANS TOO. And so are Mexicans, Panamanians, Brazilians and Chileans. Like it or not THEY ARE THE OTHER AMERICANS.

The term AMERICAN does not exclusively apply to US Citizens. Why does everyone keep acting as if it does?

From here all the way down to the most southern tip of South America, it is ALL American as far as you can go. Everyone born in the AMERICAS is an AMERICAN.

Now. What exactly makes US citizens so damn arrogant to believe you can somehow put yourself above Mexicans because YOU are an AMERICAN? Where does that kind of obvious ignorant arrogance come from to think you are an American and no one else is, simply because they are not ALSO a US citizen...?

You know before ANY of you keep talking about immigration and the different races that are involved, perhaps you could all take a moment to get the damn basics down.

I am an American. So are Canadians. So are Mexicans. And guess what? So are are Cubans, by default . North, Central, and South AMERICANS all have a stake in this. It would be nice if we atleast looked smart enough to understand our own continant and its' people.

The Tragic Irony of John McCain's Faustian Bargain

A lot of people are angry at John McCain -- and with good reason. His contemptible performance on this week's Meet the Press was enough to make any sentient person's blood boil.

For a dose of this ire, check out georgia10 at Kos who proclaims "the death of McCain the Maverick", Paul Krugman who raises the notion that McCain has become "a cynical political opportunist", Cenk Uygur who says McCain "is a shell of his former self." and Rachel Sklar who slams his "transparent political backtracking."

But I come here not to condemn John McCain but to weep for him.

Watching a true American hero hang a For Sale sign on his principles is a profoundly sad thing. Especially for me.

I've long admired, respected -- indeed loved -- John McCain. I've written many columns about him citing his courage and integrity, traveled with him on the Straight Talk Express, been to his home and met his wonderful family, and introduced him as the keynote speaker at the 2000 Shadow Convention I helped organize by calling him "the most prominent voice for reform within the political system." In fact, I am still on the advisory committee of his Reform Institute.

Even though we've frequently disagreed on issues, I have always been impressed with the unfailingly above-board way he has navigated the often choppy waters of political leadership. Until now.

Back in December, following another dispiriting McCain appearance on Meet the Press in which he repeatedly provided cover for Bush's woeful mishandling of Iraq, I wrote: "The big question now -- a question left unanswered on today's show -- is: which is the real McCain? The captain of the Straight Talk Express, or the one who showed up today trying to have it both ways -- expressing just enough gentle criticism to keep his 'maverick' bona fides, while at the same time assuring Bush's right wing supporters they have nothing to worry about?

"Sadly, that big question is unanswered no more. McCain has clearly convinced himself that the only way he can become president is to sell his soul -- making a pact with the devils of the religious right and turning into what Jim Pinkerton dubbed "a born-again Bushophile".

There he was on Sunday, disavowing his 2000 claim that Jerry Falwell is "an agent of intolerance," offering the very telling insight that "the Christian right has a major role to play in the Republican Party" because "they're so active, and their followers are." In other words: there are votes in them thar pews so principles be damned. Liberty University commencement, here I come!

McCain was equally transparent in his repeated efforts to carry water for Bush. He backed the president's handling of Iraq -- and even went so far as to call Bush's recent speeches on the war "fairly eloquent" (is this the first time Bush and eloquence have been linked, other than by Harriet Miers-types?). He told us he "applauds" the president's efforts in Iran. And he shamelessly turned his back on his powerful explanation for being one of only two Republican Senators to vote against Bush's 2001 tax cuts. Here's what he said then: "I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us at the expense of middle-class Americans who need tax relief." Now, when asked to defend his recent vote to extend these same cuts, McCain offered the GOP boilerplate: "I do not believe in tax increases."

There can be no doubt: McCain's blatant desire for the White House has caused him to abandon the Straight Talk Express and hop on board the Bullshit Express. Talk about "pimping your ride."

I find it deeply ironic that, at a time when voters are desperately longing for a political leader with authenticity, a man who defined the authenticity brand has now decided to screw with the formula.

The New McCain is the political equivalent of New Coke -- and will meet with the same disastrous results.

It's worse than a Faustian bargain. At least Faust got what he desired in exchange for his soul. McCain, in giving up the core of who he is -- as a man and as a leader -- may actually be destroying his chances of getting what he so desires.

The saddest thing is not how McCain has betrayed us -- it's how he has betrayed himself.

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Army Hired Criminals as Security Guards, Report Says

The US Army and private contractors employed convicted criminals as security guards across the country despite repeated warnings in the past three years of the "risky situations" that could present, according to a new federal report.

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The Century of the Self

This a must watch video

How politicians and business learned to create and manipulate mass-consumer society.

The Century of the Self tells the untold and sometimes controversial story of the growth of the mass-consumer society in Britain and the United States. How was the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interests?

Download file - Real Media

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- Windows Media

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Those ungrateful Iraqis!

By Rosa Brooks:

04/07/06 "Los Angeles Times" -- -- AT LAST, there's consensus on who's to blame for the mess in Iraq: the Iraqis!

From the beginning, there were ominous signs that the Iraqis weren't going to play the game right. More than a few neocon hearts were broken by the Iraqi refusal to greet us with flowers and champagne as we marched into Baghdad, and the snub still hurts. Just this week, Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum and an unrepentant hawk, complained about "the ingratitude of the Iraqis for the extraordinary favor we gave them: to release them from the bondage of Saddam Hussein's tyranny."

What really rankles most politicos these days is the Iraqis' refusal to get cracking on the formation of a multiethnic government. Four months after the elections, Iraqi factions still haven't come up with a power-sharing arrangement that satisfies all constituencies.

In Baghdad on Monday for a joint appearance with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Condoleezza Rice suggested that we've now given the Iraqis all the help a liberated people can reasonably expect: We "have forces on the ground and have sacrificed here," she told reporters, so we have "a right to expect that this process [of government formation] will keep moving forward."

Chiming in, Straw called on the Iraqis to shape up and select a prime minister, pronto: "The Americans have lost over 2,000 people [in Iraq]. We've lost over 100…. And billions — billions — of United States dollars, hundreds of millions of British pound sterlings have come into this country. We do have, I think, a right to say that we've got to be able to deal with Mr. A or Mr. B or Mr. C. We can't deal with Mr. Nobody."

The "after all we've done for you!" theme is more than a little jarring, coming as it does from the architects of the war. The Iraqis didn't beg us to invade their country. We invaded Iraq for reasons quite unrelated to the welfare of the Iraqi people (and, it turned out, for reasons unrelated to the welfare of the American people as well).

Though most Iraqis were delighted to see the last of Hussein, the war that caused his ouster has had a far higher price tag for Iraqis than for Americans. Iraq's economy is in a shambles, and insurgent and sectarian violence continue unabated. Although solid figures are impossible to come by, most estimates suggest that at least 30,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed as a result of the war in Iraq, along with thousands of Iraqi soldiers and police.

Last week, Rice breezily acknowledged the "thousands" of "tactical errors" the U.S. has made in Iraq. She later insisted she was speaking "figuratively, not literally," but even if our bloopers only numbered in the dozens, some of them were pretty big, and all of them have contributed to the current fiasco.

When coalition forces brought regime change to Iraq, they also released from their bottles the genies of ethnic and sectarian conflict. Hussein had kept Iraq intact through terror and brute force. Coalition forces ousted Hussein, but neither Washington nor the Iraqis have been able to come up with a recipe for peace and political stability post-Hussein.

U.S. pressure for an instant political fix has been one of our many "tactical errors." In September, the International Crisis Group warned that "a rushed constitutional process has deepened rifts and hardened feelings" among Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. Undaunted, Washington kept pushing, and the consequences are unlikely to be better this time. The only thing that currently seems to unite Iraq's mutually hostile factions is the conviction that the hectoring remarks by Rice and Straw have just made a bad situation worse.

If Rice is concerned that we're not getting a great return on our investment in Iraqi democracy, she should consider that — despite the ringing pro-democracy rhetoric — direct U.S. investments in Iraqi democracy have been embarrassingly small. The lion's share of U.S. funding for Iraq has gone to the Pentagon, with little left over for the slow but essential work of training legislators, building accountable political parties and fostering strong civil-society institutions, all crucial to the development of sustainable democratic institutions.

On the eve of the Iraq war, former Secretary of State Colin Powell is said to have cautioned President Bush by citing the "Pottery Barn Rule": "You break it, you own it." Rice's suggestion that the Iraqis now owe it to the United States to move forward with democratic reform is a twisted echo of her predecessor's words. Today, Iraq is broken — and even though we're the ones who broke it, our current secretary of State thinks we deserve a refund.

Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times

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Channel 4 Video Report on UK Mercenaries shooting Iraqi Civilians:

"We don't know whether it was an innocent civilian or whether that was an insurgent - we don't know, because we never stop". The words of a former security consultant, explaining the story behind the video footage.

Link Here

40,000 Sunnis killed in Iraq during al-Jaafari’s tenure - report :

“During the time Ibrahim Jaafari has been Prime Minister, 40,000 Iraqi Sunnis have been killed”, Sheikh Hareth al-Zari, secretary general of the Association of Muslim Scholars, told the popular satellite channel al-Jazeera on Wednesday.

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Gunmen Kill 5 Truck Drivers:

South of Baghdad, gunmen in three cars ambushed five Shiite truck drivers on their way to the capital from the town of Mahawil, killing all of them and stealing their trucks.

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Retired CIA Official Says Bush Is A War Criminal

An in-depth interview with former high-level CIA analyst Ray McGovern; McGovern talks about his work as an advisor to Bush 1 and his belief that Bush 2 is a war criminal and should be tried for crimes against humanity.

Real audio

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Trillion Dollar War

Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz

Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, 63, discusses the true $1 trillion cost of the Iraq conflict. The only people benefiting in this war are Bush's friends in the oil industry. He has done the American economy and the global economy an enormous disfavor, but his Texan friends couldn't be happier


Want to remain a Constitutional Democracy?

This ad has been placed in the NY Times,the SF Chronicle, and the Boston Globe
The fact that Bush has not already had articles of impeachment filed in the House of Representatives is clear evidence that the people must act forcefully as the true guardians of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.


George Orwell's classic novel 1984 is a chilling glimpse into what was supposed to be the not too distant future. But it's now happening…here…RIGHT NOW.

Orwell's "Big Brother" depended on suppression of information, individual freedom and a complete surrender of privacy. It included rabid Nationalism and slogans like




Blood-soaked corporate oil wars wrapped in the flag is of course for PEACE.

Making a slave class out of immigrants is their FREEDOM.

Suppression of news to keep you ignorant of course makes you STRONGER.

Orwell was warrior and an artist who fought fascism where ever he saw it up until he drew his last breath. And he knew, just like the Neocons do, that resistance and reform is always possible with a large, healthy, informed middle class willing to speak truth to power.

Once you understand that, you can understand the motivation behind every move Bush makes from tax cuts for the ultra rich, to importing cheap labor from Mexico, to turning healthcare over to pharmaceutical and insurance companies.

Every move keeps the poor poor and further weakens the middle class.

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Head On Radio Special Report from Charlotte NC

George Bush visited Charlotte, NC today and I was there to cover the event for our network. Instead of being credentialed and going inside, I hung out with the folks who weren’t invited to the event.

You can download this report here.

This is Harry Taylor, the gentleman who challenged Bush in Charlotte, NC

And here is the Norman Rockwell Painting, “Freedom of Speech”

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Photo/Graphic: Harry Taylor reminiscent of Norman Rockwell

Bush cracking down on leakers…what a load of crap.

While Bush and his goons have been jailing journalists and conducting which hunts for patriotic whistleblowers, as usual all the wrongdoing and National Security compromises point right back at them.

Hypocritical bunch of liars…More TreasonGate ArticlesOutside of those who bathe in Neocon Kool Aid, the American people have had it with Bush and his criminal enablers in Congress.

More record low polling.

Link Here

William Rivers Pitt | The Leaker-in-Chief

By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t Perspective

Friday 07 April 2006

Is there not some chosen curse,
Some hidden thunder in the stores of heaven,
Red with uncommon wrath, to blast the man
Who owes his greatness to his country's ruin?

- Joseph Addison

"I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information," said George W. Bush on September 30, 2003. "If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action."

"If someone leaked classified information," said White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan on October 7, 2003, "the President wants to know. If someone in this administration leaked classified information, they will no longer be a part of this administration, because that's not the way this White House operates, that's not the way this President expects people in his administration to conduct their business."

"I'd like to know if somebody in my White House did leak sensitive information," said Bush on October 28, 2003. On this same day, Bush said, "I have no idea whether we'll find out who the leaker is, partially because, in all due respect to your profession, you do a very good job of protecting the leakers."

On Thursday, we found out who the leaker is.

TruthOut investigative reporter Jason Leopold wrote in the first of two reports that, "Attorneys and current and former White House officials close to the investigation into the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson said Thursday that President Bush gave Vice President Dick Cheney the authorization in mid-June 2003 to disclose a portion of the highly sensitive National Intelligence Estimate to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward and former New York Times reporter Judith Miller."

In the second of Leopold's reports, he writes, "Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald stated in a court filing late Wednesday in the CIA leak case that his investigators have obtained evidence during the course of the two-year-old probe that proves several White House officials conspired to discredit former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a critic of the administration's pre-war Iraq intelligence. This is the first time the special counsel has acknowledged that White House officials are alleged to have engaged in a coordinated effort to undercut the former ambassador's credibility by disseminating classified intelligence information that would have contradicted Wilson's public statements."

So there it is. We have Bush authorizing the disclosure of classified information, and we have that disclosure taking place for no other reason than to discredit an administration critic. Bush is often fond of defending his wildly inappropriate and often illegal activities by claiming that he has every right to do whatever he wants because America is "at war."

Never mind that no war has actually been declared. If we take his premise that we are in fact at war, than the disclosure of classified information for political gain must be defined simply and directly.

It is treason.

Representative Jane Harman, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, made the following statement on Thursday. "Leaking classified information to the press when you want to get your side out or silence your critics is not appropriate. The reason we classify things is to protect our sources - those who risk their lives to give us secrets. Who knows how many sources were burned by giving Libby this 'license to leak?' If I had leaked the information, I'd be in jail. Why should the President be above the law?"

"The President has the legal authority to declassify information," continued Harman, "but there are normal channels for doing so. Telling an aide to leak classified information to the New York Times is not a normal channel. A normal declassification procedure would involve going back to the originating agency, such as the CIA, and then putting out a public, declassified version of the document. I am stunned that the President won't tell the full the Intelligence Committee about the NSA program because he's allegedly concerned about leaks, when it turns out that he is the Leaker-in-Chief."

We can even take this a step further. The name of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame was all over the classified National Intelligence Estimate Bush ordered to be leaked. The pertinent text of the 1947 National Security Act reads as follows:

SEC. 601. (50 U.S.C. 421) (a) Whoever, having or having had authorized access to classified information that identifies a covert agent, intentionally discloses any information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent's intelligence relationship to the United States, shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

(b) Whoever, as a result of having authorized access to classified information, learns the identity of a covert agent and intentionally discloses any information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent's intelligence relationship to the United States, shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

(c) Whoever, in the course of a pattern of activities intended to identify and expose covert agents and with reason to believe that such activities would impair or impede the foreign intelligence activities of the United States, discloses any information that identifies an individual as a covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such individual and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such individual's classified intelligence relationship to the United States, shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not more than three years or both.
George W. Bush and his people lied with their bare faces hanging out about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

They lied about connections between al Qaeda and the Iraqi government, lied about Iraqi connections to September 11, and further lied about the threat to America posed by Iraq.

They made a decision to invade that had nothing to do with those weapons, and even conspired with their British counterparts to goad Hussein into a war regardless of whether the weapons were there or not.

They used September 11 against the American people to frighten them into a fearfully subservient acceptance of the invasion.

They bypassed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in order to spy illegally on thousands of American citizens.

They leaked classified intelligence information in order to destroy a political foe, and in the process annihilated an intelligence network run by Valerie Plame. That network, it should be noted, was dedicated to tracking any person, nation or group that would deliver weapons of mass destruction to terrorists.

Every time they broke the law, their cronies in Congress manipulated those laws to make the actions taken legal.

Tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians are dead. Tens of thousands more have been maimed. Millions live with the wretched deprivations caused by this war. The new Shia-dominated government wants no part of American involvement in this, and their so-called armed forces are in truth death squads masquerading as police and soldiers.

2,345 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq, with 17 of those deaths coming in the first six days of April alone. Tens of thousands more have been grievously wounded; nearly two thirds of all injuries suffered by American soldiers in Iraq are brain injuries, and amount to permanent debilitation.

We will be generations digging out from under the vomitous refuse left behind by this administration. From this day forward, any politician who claims that censure is not appropriate and impeachment is a waste of time should have their head examined by a whole team of medical experts. Bush and his people have committed treason, and did so for the lowest of reasons: personal gain and political protection.

"The dead cannot cry out for justice," said Lois McMaster Bujold. "It is a duty of the living to do so for them." So very many have died at the hands of this administration, its lies, and its crimes. If there is to be no reckoning for this, even after all this time, there will never again be a person in America who can speak of justice while keeping a straight face.
William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know and The Greatest Sedition Is Silence.

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In Notification of Army Deaths, More Pain

By Lizette Alvarez
The New York Times

Friday 07 April 2006

After Neil Santorello heard the news that his son, a tank commander, had been killed in Iraq, from the officer in his living room, he walked out his front door and removed the American flag from its pole. Then, in tears, he tore down the yellow ribbons from his tree.

Rather than see it as the act of a man unmoored by the death of his 24-year-old son, the officer, an Army major, confronted Mr. Santorello, saying,

"Don't be disrespectful," Mr. Santorello recalled. Then, the officer, whose job it is to inform families of their loss, quickly disappeared without offering any comfort.

Later, the Santorellos heard a piece of crushing but inaccurate news: They would not be allowed to look inside their son's coffin. First Lt. Neil Santorello, of Verona, Pa., had been killed by an improvised bomb. His body, the family was told, was unviewable.

The Santorellos eventually learned that families have the right to see a loved one's body.

"I asked them to open the casket a few inches so I could reach in and touch his hand," recalled Mr. Santorello, who is still struggling with his son's death, in large part because he was not allowed to see him.

"The government doesn't want you to see servicemen in a casket, but this is my son. He is not a serviceman. You have to let his mother and I say goodbye to him."

Scores of families whose loved ones have died fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan have gone head-to-head with a casualty system that, in their experience, has failed to compassionately and competently guide them through the harrowing process that begins after a soldier's death.

When the system works smoothly, and it often does, families say they feel a profound sense of comfort. But others have seen their hurt deepen.

They have complained about coffins placed in cargo bays alongside crates, personal belongings that disappear, questions about how their loved ones died that go unanswered for months or even years, and casualty assistants who are too poorly trained to walk them through the labyrinth of their anguish.

After three years of war in Iraq, with the number of active-duty deaths there surpassing 2,330, the military is scrambling to improve the way it cares for surviving relatives and honors soldiers who have been killed in battle. Even senior officials, including the secretary of the Army, have acknowledged flaws in the system.

Not since the Vietnam War have so many service members in dress uniforms knocked on so many doors to deliver such somber news.

The Army, which has suffered the largest number of deaths, 1,589 as of March 28, has faced an enormous challenge and has received the sharpest criticism for its treatment of surviving families and soldiers killed in action.

Now it is rushing through new regulations to overhaul the casualty process, which has been tinkered with, but not fully revised, since 1994. "We take it to heart whenever something is not done properly and are painfully aware of the additional grief it brings to the family concerned," said Col. Mary Torgersen, the director of the Army's Casualty and Memorial Affairs Operation Center, in an e-mail response to questions, adding that some changes have already been put in place.

For some grieving families, the cracks in the system have deepened their distress and many have been turned to Congress, state officials and private lawyers for help.

Many wonder why it has taken the military so long to address their concerns. The answer appears straightforward: The military did not expect to be fighting this long. It also did not expect to lose this many soldiers.

Lapses in the past few years run from the heart-wrenching to the head-scratching. Families have said that items like cameras and computers containing treasured e-mail messages and photographs have been lost or damaged.

Gay and Fred Eisenhauer, of Pinckneyville, Ill., whose son, Wyatt, an Army scout, was killed last May in Iraq by an improvised bomb, are still hoping to receive their son's watch, eyeglasses and cellphone. The phone is precious because it holds a recording of their son's voice. A combat patch they were promised has never arrived.

"I know these are little things," Mrs. Eisenhauer said. "What makes it important to me is that my son was good enough to go over there to fight, but he is not important enough to get his stuff back to his family."

Colonel Torgersen said the Casualty and Memorial Affairs Operation Center "aggressively monitors the movement" of personal effects. Mortuary specialists inventory, photograph, clean and then ship belongings to the center via Federal Express.

Soldiers, in their coffins, usually arrive from Dover Air Force Base in the belly of a commercial flight. But honor guards have not always been present as the coffins come off the plane.

The Eisenhauers had hoped to take comfort in the military rituals. Instead, the airline placed Private Eisenhauer's coffin in a cargo warehouse with crates and boxes stacked high around it. There was no ceremony, no flag over the coffin.

Only the airport firefighters did their bit to honor him, hoisting flags on their ladder trucks.

"I just wanted to scream," Mrs. Eisenhauer said. "My son was owed that. He was owed that."

When Joan Neal of Gurnee, Ill., went to the airport for the body of her son, Specialist Wesley Wells, 21, she was aghast. "To glance over and see your child's casket on a forklift is not really the kind of thing you want to see," Ms. Neal said.

News of a death has also been delivered at awkward times. Ms. Neal was at work when she was notified in September 2004 that her son had been killed in Afghanistan, and Mrs. Eisenhauer's 6-year-old niece was in the room when Mrs. Eisenhauer received the news.

As parents to a married son, the Santorellos experienced something that is commonplace: The Army focuses on the spouse and has often left parents to fend for themselves.

The Santorellos were not assigneda casualty assistant and were expected to pay their own way to a memorial ceremony in Fort Riley, Kan., and to find transportation to the burial at Arlington Cemetery.

"We were not considered next of kin," said Mr. Santorello, who with his wife, Dianne, opposes the war. "He was my son for 25 years. He was her husband for 22 months, and I had no say."

Recognizing the distress of parents with married children, the Army in mid-February began assigning casualty assistants to mothers and fathers.

Unanswered Questions

Some families say that the most upsetting aspect of the casualty process may be the lack of information about how the loved ones died.

In a 2005 survey of 50 military families by The Military Times, about half of the families said they did not know enough about their loved ones' deaths.

Parents and spouses crave details to help them cope, particularly because they cannot visit the spot where loved ones died: Who held his hand? Did he say anything?

"You know what my casualty assistant said? 'These are just questions you will never get answers to,'" Ms. Eisenhauer said. "But there were men there. Why can't I get answers?"

The Santorellos were told by the Army that their son had died instantly. A few weeks later, they received a letter saying he had lived for four hours.

Mrs. Santorello learned the time of death by reading the autopsy report. "I don't think anyone should be forced to read an autopsy report to find out when their son died," she said.

Ms. Neal's casualty officer told her that her son had been killed in action by a gunshot wound to the chest. After her son's funeral, Ms. Neal learned that he might have been killed by his own forces.

She had been told that she would be notified in 30 days. Seven months later, when she still had not received further news, she took a plane to Hawaii, where her son had been stationed, to talk with his superiors, who greeted her warmly.

"They did confirm he was killed by American bullets," she said. "The autopsy was done within a week of his death. They knew that when they did the autopsy."

A Personal Apology

Karen Meredith's son Lt. Ken Ballard, 26, a fourth-generation Army officer and a tank commander, was killed in Iraq in May 2004.

Her experience went so awry that she received a personal letter of apology last September from the secretary of the Army, Francis J. Harvey.

The problems began when her casualty officer abandoned her after 10 days, just as the process was beginning. It also took five months to receive Lieutenant Ballard's personal belongings. His clothes were returned washed, which might have made some families thankful, but devastated her. But there was worse to come.

The week her son died, Ms. Meredith was told that he had been killed by enemy fire.

Fifteen months later, there was a knock on the door. Ms. Meredith was told by an Army casualty official that her son's death had been accidental. Her son had been killed when his tank backed into a tree branch, setting off an unmanned machine gun.

"It was not a secret," said Ms. Meredith, now an outspoken critic of the war. "It was incompetence."

"The subliminal assumption is that they take care of everything," added Ms. Meredith, who credits the Army for responding to her complaints and working to fix the system. "They don't. I was tenacious."

Even when soldiers are alive, it can be difficult to get answers. Laura Youngblood, 27, was seven months pregnant with their second child in New York last July when her husband was wounded by an improvised bomb in Iraq.

Because of the pregnancy, she said, the corpsman assisting her did not want to tell her that her husband was "very seriously injured." When she was finally told he was off his ventilator, she recalls saying, "Good, because you never told me he was on one."

Six days after being wounded, he died.

A Sensitive Duty

Many casualty assistants say they recognize the sensitive nature of their task and are assiduous about getting it right. Although all services have different casualty policies. The Marines, steeped in tradition, have been mostly praised for the way they handle the jobs. But all agreed that the job of a casualty assistant is a difficult one. At times, they have become the focus of a family's anger. Sometimes they suffer emotionally, watching as wives crumble or children hysterically cry "Daddy."

Afterward, some casualty assistants seek counseling.

"It's hard," said Sgt. First Class Julio Correa, 44, who is based at Fort Bragg, N.C., and has notified two families of deaths and assisted two others. "You see the kids screaming. You think, 'It could be my kids.' "

But typically the Army's notification officers, who bring news of the death, and its casualty assistants, who help families afterward, are picked simply because they are nearby. Their training often amounts to reading a manual and watching a video. Casualty duty is a side job. The officers and assistants are told to focus on families as long as needed, typically six weeks. Sometimes they retire or are reassigned midstream. Eric K. Schuller is a senior policy adviser for the Illinois lieutenant governor, Pat Quinn, whose office has dealt with distraught families, including the Eisenhauers and Ms. Neal.

"This had to be fixed," Mr. Schuller said. "There were so many of them over a large period of time."

Still, the casualty process has improved since the Vietnam War, when it amounted to little more than face-to-face notification of a death.

"It is dramatically different now in terms of how they respond and the number of survivor benefits," said Morton Ender, a West Point sociology professor. "They really embrace the family."

The Army acknowledges that more can be done. Mr. Harvey, the Army secretary, ordered an investigation last September to help address families' concerns.

The report, issued in January, included suggestions that the Army is planning to implement, including upgrading training materials, creating a 24-hour hot line and sending mobile casualty assistance training teams across the country.

The Army now requires commanders to telephone families within a week of a death and to cross-check casualty reports.

Congress has asked for an investigation by the Government Accountability Office.

These instances, Colonel Torgersen said, "do cause us to reflect on our processes."

She added, "In the end, however, this work is carried out by human beings and however hard we may strive, none of us are invulnerable to error on occasion."


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