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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Weapons expert Dr David Kelly was assassinated, an MP claims today.
Campaigning politician Norman Baker believes Dr Kelly, who exposed the Government's "sexed-up" Iraq dossier, was killed to stop him making further revelations about the lies that took Britain to war.
He says the murderers may have been anti-Saddam Iraqis, and suggests the crime was covered up by elements within the British establishment to prevent a diplomatic crisis.

FLASHBACK 1988: George W. Bush defends Dan Quayle's combat-free Vietnam-era military service

Nick LangewisPublished: Saturday October 20, 2007
"They probably should have called the National Guard up in those days; maybe we'd have done better in Vietnam."--George W. Bush
In this vintage clip from 1988, George W. Bush, would-be Governor of Texas followed by 43rd President of the United States, shares with Connie Chung his stance on diverting draft-age men into National Guard service, in lieu of conscription and combat, during the Vietnam era.
1988 Convention: George Bush On National Guard
Pelosi condemns Democrat forrevealing spine, emotion
Republicans send troops to Iraq to "get their heads blown off for the president's amusement."--

Ex-spy takes aim in new memoir

Anne Davies, WashingtonOctober 20, 2007
Page 1 of 2 Single page
IT'S the spy scandal that continues to dog the White House even though many of its key players are already fading into history.
Four years after her CIA cover was blown in a newspaper column — allegedly at the behest of the White House — Valerie Plame, America's "Jane Bond", is about to get even.
On Monday her memoir will be released and the White House can expect to be in the firing line. She takes aim at staffers — notably President George Bush's former political adviser Karl Rove, and Vice-President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff Scooter Libby, as well as the journalists involved in leaking her name into the public domain.
The title says it all: Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House. Like other book releases, there's been a leak or two.
The book's title is drawn from a comment Mr Rove is said to have made about Plame being "fair game". "The next time we were in line for Communion," she writes, "I would pass him the wafer plate and whisper softly, 'My name's Fair Game, what's yours?"

Friday, October 19, 2007

Air Force calls B-52 nuke flyover "unacceptable mistake"

Source: AP
WASHINGTON — In its first explicit confirmation that nuclear-armed missiles were erroneously flown from an air base in North Dakota to a base in Louisiana in late August, the Air Force today called the episode an "unacceptable mistake" — of a sort that had never happened before.
"We are making all appropriate changes to ensure this has a minimal chance of ever happening again," Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne told reporters.
He spoke at a Pentagon news conference after Defense Secretary Robert Gates was briefed on the results of the Air Force's investigation into the Aug. 29-30 incident — one of the worst known breaches of nuclear weapons handling procedures in decades.
Appearing with Wynne was Maj. Gen. Richard Newton, the Air Force deputy chief of staff for operations, who attributed the episode to an "unprecedented string of procedural errors" beginning with a failure by airmen to conduct a required inspection of the missiles before they were loaded aboard the B-52 bomber that flew from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., to Barksdale Air Force Base, La.
"This was a failure to follow procedures — procedures that have proven to be sound," Newton said.

Save the Internet!

A Soldiers Battle

Lt. Ehren Watada: ‘Experience Makes You Stronger’
‘These Roots’
Born and raised in the farming community of Fort Lupton, Colorado, Ehren Watada’s father, Bob, remembers growing up amidst racism as one of the few Japanese in Colorado.
“Imagine going into a restaurant and sitting in the corner and not being served,” Bob Watada said. “You could sit there for two hours, and they wouldn’t serve you, even if they served everybody else. After a while, we would just walk out.”
But he would not continue to walk out quietly for long. “I was always an activist,” Bob Watada explained. From protesting the war in Vietnam and joining the Peace Corps in the 1960s, he instilled these values, “these roots” as he calls them, upon his son.
“My father has always been very community-minded, sometimes putting community things before family things,” says the younger Watada.
Ehren Watada’s mother, Carolyn Ho, a Chinese American born in Honolulu, is a descendant of a Chinese migrant who came to Hawai’i in the late 19th century to work on sugar plantations. Ehren was born in Honolulu in 1978, and Ho describes her son as always determined and a bit precocious. “Every time kids would fool around during soccer practice, I would see Ehren with a serious look on his face, calm and composed,” Ho laughingly recalled.
Growing up, Watada was a Boy Scout, which he views as a precursor to the military. “The rank, the discipline, the patriotism, the ribbons, the merit badges – it’s very similar.” Watada attained Eagle rank by the ninth grade — an extraordinary feat for a 13-year-old since the average Eagle Scout attains his rank at age 16.
Being a Boy Scout was a primary motivation for joining the military. “The sense of adventurism you get from scouting is the same that you perceive in the military,” he says, “Also, there’s that really deep sense of service and giving something back.”

The Syrian ‘Nuke’ Hoax

The serial liars running our foreign policy don’t care if their deceptions are exposed: the value of lying is the impression it leaves. Many heard about the Syrian “nukes,” few will notice the debunking.
US intelligence does not show Syrian nuclear weapons program, officials say

Not In My Name

The Silence of Sheep...

Layla Anwar, An Arab Woman Blues
I intuitively understood that Hassan Ali Al-Majeed was either being executed, about to be executed or already dead. I checked newswires but could not find anything except an article on al-Jazeerah stating that Al Hassan Al Majeed is to be executed soon, in the coming days... Why do I have a feeling it's already a done job? Maybe it is those eyes staring at me... The puppet government waited for after the Eid period...so as not to "fumble" it like they did the first, second, third and fourth time... Another Iraqi hanged. Another true Iraq hanged. And not one word... They called him "chemical" Ali. Should I call you "criminal" Americans, or "depleted uranium" Americans and Brits ? Or maybe I should call you "torturer, driller" Iranians, or maybe "cluster, phosphorus bombs" Israelis... The one with no sin should cast the first stone... Come forward if you can, if you dare. That includes you too, so called "Iraqis." Show me your innocent hands. Show me the hands who were not dipped in ink. Not tainted in any blood and above all show me your pockets...

Iraq's Brutally Wounded (Photo Essay)

By Nina Berman, AlterNet. Posted October 18, 2007.
As Americans scramble for funding to try to help the many wounded veterans returning from war, many more thousands in Iraq have suffered equally horrific injuries, yet have virtually no way of receiving care.

Report: Blackwater Took Iraqi Military Planes, Refused To Give Them Back

AP Richard Lardner October 19, 2007 05:06 PM
Blackwater USA tried to take at least two Iraqi military aircraft out of Iraq two years ago and refused to give the planes back when Iraqi officials sought to reclaim them, according to a congressional committee investigating the private security contractor.
Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wants the company to provide all documents related to the attempted shipment and to explain where the aircraft are now

"The Moment Has Come to Get Rid of Saddam": Bush's Faith Run Over by History

Travesty of Justice? You decide
Georgies Illegal War and Occupation
1.2million Iraqi Citizens Dead, 2 million Displaced The only thing that worries me about you is your optimism.-
- Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar to President Bush, from the Crawford Transcript of February 22, 2003
Mark Danner, writing for TomDispatch.com, says, "Surely one of the agonizing attributes of our post-September 11 age is the unending need to reaffirm realities that have been proved, and proved again, but just as doggedly denied by those in power, forcing us to live trapped between two narratives of present history, the one gaining life and color and vigor as more facts become known, the other growing ever paler, brittler, more desiccated, barely sustained by the life support of official power."

Mukasey Endorses Expansive Presidential Authority

Dan Eggen and Paul Kane for The Washington Post write, "Attorney general nominee Michael B. Mukasey suggested today that the president could ignore federal surveillance law if it infringes on his constitutional authority as commander in chief."

Democrats: Bush Ties May Have Led to Iraq Oil Contract

Dave Michaels for The Dallas Morning News reports that "Democratic lawmakers moved Monday toward investigating Hunt Oil's exploration contract in Iraq, saying the company's ties to President Bush raised questions about whether it had insider information that helped it reach the deal."

Republicans Head for the Exits

Janet Hook and Theo Milonopoulos report for The Los Angeles Times: "This is crunchtime for members of Congress who must decide whether to seek reelection next year or leave office, and so far Republicans seem to be lunging for the exits. While 16 GOP lawmakers have decided to throw in the towel on their Capitol Hill careers, only two Democrats so far have called it quits - and they both are seeking higher office."

NYC Rejects Listing Worker as 9/11 Death

The Associated Press reports:
"James Zadroga, the 34-year-old retired police detective who died of respiratory failure after working hundreds of hours at the World Trade Center site, was often cited by those advocates as a 'sentinel case' -- the first health-related casualty linked to ground zero, suggesting there would be more to follow. The city's medical examiner stunned that community this week in a letter declaring that Zadroga's death had nothing to do with the toxic air he breathed while working at ground zero."

Elizabeth Holtzman | Richardson's Confirmation, a Guide for Mukasey's

By Elizabeth Holtzman t r u t h o u t Op-Ed
Friday 19 October 2007
New revelations of secret opinions indicate the Justice Department under former Attorney General Gonzales actually authorized head slaps, freezing temperatures, simulated drownings and other abusive interrogation techniques. They are all the more reason to view Bush administration interrogation policies as possible violations of anti-torture laws. It is now imperative that we have a special prosecutor investigate them.
Congressional Democrats have issued subpoenas, demanded testimony of key White House aides, negotiated in good faith with the White House to obtain release of relevant documents to inform confirmation hearings for Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey - all to no avail.
The White House may continue to try to stonewall Congress on documents and testimony, claiming executive privilege. But it would not be able to stonewall subpoenas from a special prosecutor investigating a possible crime - the Supreme Court has already ruled in the Nixon tapes case that such subpoenas trump presidential secrecy claims. That's a compelling reason for the Senate to use upcoming hearings to demand that Mukasey appoint a special prosecutor if confirmed as Attorney General.
In fact, that is exactly what happened in 1973, in a Watergate precedent that closely parallels the Mukasey nomination today: Attorney General Richard Kleindeinst had resigned under a cloud. President Nixon, faced with a hostile, Democratically controlled Senate, proposed a "consensus" candidate, Elliot Richardson, for Attorney General. Like Mukasey, Richardson was a respected figure whose qualifications were not seriously questioned.

The American inquisition?

From Where I Stand by Joan Chittister, OSB
There are some things that being born in the United States simply does not prepare a person to imagine. One of them is a headline on the front page of a local newspaper reporting a "debate" going on in Congress on the use of torture as a part of U.S. military policy. A debate? What's to debate about it? Unless, of course you, were working for the court of Philip IV in 14th century France.
But, no, it's here now. In the United States. In our generation. In fact, they're now making movies about it.
This column, be assured, is not a film review. Others closer to the industry will do that very well once the film is released Oct. 19. But film quality is not the issue at hand. Content is the problem.
"Rendition" is a film dealing with the newly refined U.S. practice of outsourcing U.S. military prisoners to other countries for incarceration and "questioning." (I use the word loosely.) "Enhanced questioning," the President calls it. "Torture," the rest of the world is calling it.
That such a thing can happen here, by us, with little public response to it, is almost impossible to believe if you grew up bathed in the honor, integrity and high moral ground of this country. In fact, to say otherwise -- to say almost anything about maintaining traditional national standards -- is to be accused of "blaming America first." So much for "removing the speck in your neighbor's eye and ignoring the log in your own." Let alone "freedom and justice for all." But what a log it is. And what an injustice it can create. Which makes you wonder who are the real conservatives here.
The most startling public awareness of U.S. torture came in 2006. But not in this country. Oh, no. Instead, the British Broadcasting Corporation released a documentary in London detailing the work of plane spotters from one end of Europe to the other who had traced the routes of secret U.S. aircraft involved in the transport of "disappeared' detainees to clandestine prisons. The sites ranged from Eastern European countries to Egypt, Syria and Yemen. And all of it with the support and collaboration of European countries that simply looked the other way as the U.S. crossed their airspace hauling men taken in a "sweep," meaning without clear cause to do it, to secret, unknown prisons for what Washington later called "aggressive interrogation." "This can't be true," I thought, as I watched the methodical detailing of British investigative journalism. "We wouldn't do such a thing."
But Amnesty International had also been gathering information on the process. April 6, 2006, AI published its damning and definitive report titled Below the radar: Secret flights to torture and 'disappearance.'
The article detailed with chilling specificity the systematic breaking down of human beings to gain information that they did --- or didn't have.
So, I give up, tell me again: What's the debate about?
The government says it's about "keeping the American people safe." But from what? From decency, from humanity, from morality, from law? Because by now, the stories of official U.S. atrocities are pouring out from all over the world. Just surf over to this page, www.thegully.com/essays/torture/torture2.html, skim the headlines. Surely that ought to be enough to tell us that we are up to our necks in tactics too close to sadism to overlook. Tactics that break the minds of innocents and decay the soul of those who call themselves victors.
But forget the morality question in an era when annihilation is a tactic on tap. What can we possibly hope for in human standards in an age when destruction of the globe is one possible option. And anyway, it's for a good cause, isn't it? After all, the very phrase, "the war on terror," is a magic phrase. It justifies anything we do, doesn't it? Peccadillos all, I'm sure, as long as we're the ones who are doing them.
For those with enough conscience left to question the project, however, maybe it wouldn't hurt to look instead at another news story from Oct. 13, 2007.
This story (Vatican to tell true knights' tale) records that the Vatican has just recently published secret documents about the inquisition and heresy trial of the Knights Templar in 1307. Pope Clement V, it seems, initially absolved the medieval religious order of heresy. But under pressure from King Philip IV of France, who saw the wealth of the Knights as a threat to his kingdom, Clement suppressed the order. Then Philip used the accusations to arrest the leaders of the order and extract, under torture, confessions of heresy that justified Philip's seizing of their property.
Now what's to regret? It was a good cause, after all. No doubt King Philip was "saving the church" as well as "saving his country." Just as we are. The confessions he got under torture, unfortunately, belied the findings of the trial. But they did, conveniently, even if wrong, give the king a way to seize the riches of the order.
I'm sure the Vatican was sorry about it all.
But therein lies the lesson: Material gained under torture is simply not credible, a conclusion reached by Eyemeric, the Grand Inquisitor of Aragon himself in 1357, who said, information gained under torture "is deceptive and ineffectual." Which means that the torturer isn't credible either. Or, to put it another way, how can we ever hope to stop the school shootings and gang warfare we abhor while we're doing it ourselves? How do we tell our children that their violence is bad but our violence is good?
From where I stand, torture is too unreliable an item to build the morality, the credibility, the integrity of a church -- or a nation -- on it. After all, we can't have it both ways. Either the Inquisition was good -- or it wasn't.

Brits to investigate possible complicity in U.S. war crimes

by Turkana
Fri Oct 19, 2007 at 03:20:09 AM PDT
The story, out of England, is pretty straight-forward, but the implications are stunning; or, they would be stunning, if the repeated crimes and inhumanity of the Bush Administration had not fried whatever synapses allow us to feel stunned.
The Guardian reports:
Allegations that the CIA held al-Qaida suspects for interrogation at a secret prison on sovereign British territory are to be investigated by MPs, the Guardian has learned. The all-party foreign affairs committee is to examine long-standing suspicions that the agency has operated one of its so-called "black site" prisons on Diego Garcia, the British overseas territory in the Indian Ocean that is home to a large US military base.

Stark's War Comments Enrage Republicans

The Associated Press reports: Congressman Pete Stark, "who's in his 18th term representing the liberal East Bay near San Francisco, took to the floor to accuse Republicans of funding the Iraq war but not children's health. 'You don't have money to fund the war or children,' Stark declared. 'But you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the President's amusement.'"
CNN Quick Vote Poll
Congressman Pete Stark accused Republicans of sending troops to Iraq to "get their heads blown off for the president's amusement." Should he apologize?
Yes 11% 414
No 89% 3314
Total Votes: 3728
Quick Poll

Most fake bombs missed by screeners

By Thomas Frank, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — Security screeners at two of the nation's busiest airports failed to find fake bombs hidden on undercover agents posing as passengers in more than 60% of tests last year, according to a classified report obtained by USA TODAY.
Screeners at Los Angeles International Airport missed about 75% of simulated explosives and bomb parts that Transportation Security Administration testers hid under their clothes or in carry-on bags at checkpoints, the TSA report shows.

Senators Clash With Nominee About Torture

Mukasey Hedges On Torture Question
New York Times PHILIP SHENON October 18, 2007 10:31 PM
President Bush's nominee for attorney general, Michael B. Mukasey, declined Thursday to say if he considered harsh interrogation techniques like waterboarding, which simulates drowning, to constitute torture or to be illegal if used on terrorism suspects.
On the second day of confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mr. Mukasey went further than he had the day before in arguing that the White House had constitutional authority to act beyond the limits of laws enacted by Congress, especially when it came...

Blasts Near Bhutto Kill 126 wounds 248 in Pakistan

People assist injured at the scene of devastation caused by a bomb explosion at a procession of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in Karachi, Pakistan on Thursday, Oct 18, 2007. Two explosions went off near the vehicle carrying former Pakistan premier Benazir Bhutto, killing or wounding dozens of people. Party workers and police said Bhutto was unhurt. (AP Photo/Shakil Adil)

Criminal probe into U.S. Embassy in Iraq construction

By Warren P. Strobel and Jonathan S. Landay McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON — A mortar shell smashed into the hulking new U.S. Embassy that's under construction in Baghdad last May, damaging a wall and causing minor injuries to people inside the building. It also exposed enormous problems in the management of what's become a $592 million government construction project.
The State Department contractor in charge of the project, James L. Golden, attempted to alter the scene of the blast, according to government officials familiar with the incident. The State Department inspector general prevented Department officials from investigating the incident, according to interviews and documents.
A congressional committee is examining whether the walls of the still-unfinished embassy complex, which are supposed to be blast-resistant, performed as they should have during the mortar attack.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Privatizing Terror, Outsourcing Diplomacy

By Wajahat Ali
"Isn't it interesting that the same government individual, who has been reported by one investigative committee to have made the initial decision for Blackwater to get its first contract, is the brother of the current State Department Inspector General, who was found, by the same committee, to have intervened in preventing an investigation into Blackwater's illegal activity?"

How can man kill innocent people so simply?

By Laith
I don't know how to express my feelings when Leila my boss and I visited the man who lost his wife in the incident of Al Nosoor Square 13 days ago. I saw him fighting his tears and he didn't allow them to run away from his eyes. I could feel the difficulty he faced when he was talking.

By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press Writer Wed Oct 17, 7:08 PM ET
WASHINGTON - The Pentagon is preparing to alert eight National Guard units that they should be ready to go to Iraq or Afghanistan beginning late next summer, The Associated Press learned Wednesday.
The U.S. military is reaching out to more Guard units in an effort to maintain needed troop levels, ease some of the strain on the active duty Army and provide security for ports, convoys and other installations.
According to defense officials, seven of the units would deploy to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the orders had not yet been signed and the announcement is not expected until the end of this week.

Bad Pawns

Layla Anwar, An Arab Woman Blues
So, America has finally woken up to the Armenian Genocide in a perfect timing that just haphazardly coincides with: a) matter of fact talks in D.C about the partition plan of Iraq. b) with incursions by Turkey into Northern Iraq to fight off another brand of potential Kurdish warlords the PKK backed by our own warlords Talabani and Barazani. This latter fled to Najaf, hiding behind the skirts of Ammar al Hakeem of the SIIC or maybe behind Muqtada al Sadr's – Go figure. And Turkey,the other day, said through its military spokesman "ties with the U.S might be irreversibly damaged." A combo of the bill on the Armenian Genocide and this headache of the PKK. Now you really don’t want to mess with the Turks...A humble piece of advice from me....And, last but not least c) a full backing by Ammar Al Hakeem, head of SIIC, member of the puppet government in Baghdad, in support of the partition plan...

Federal Agency Recommends Closing Saudi School in Va.

AG nominee won't say if waterboarding is torture

Leahy: Intel Committee About To 'Cave' To Bush On Wiretapping Immunity

Dodd Vows To Put Hold On Immunity Bill
The Hill Manu Raju October 18, 2007 03:07 PM
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Thursday condemned Intelligence Committee Democrats for brokering a deal with the White House that would provide retroactive immunity for telephone companies that assisted the Bush administration's controversial warrantless wiretapping program.
At the second day of confirmation hearings for President Bush's Attorney General-nominee Michael Mukasey, Leahy warned that "the Intelligence Committee is about to cave on this," citing pressure from the White House and press reports suggesting the administration had gotten its way.

Gonzales Investigated Subordinates Who Were Likely To Testify Against Him

Reported by Murray Waas for the Huffington Post.
Alberto Gonzales was briefed extensively about a criminal leak investigation despite the fact that he had reason to believe that several individuals under investigation in the matter were potential witnesses against him in separate Justice Department inquiries.
While Attorney General, Gonzales oversaw the probe into the disclosure of the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program to the New York Times. However, many of those under scrutiny in that investigation were likely to be crucial witnesses about whether Gonzales himself had violated the law while promoting the program as White House counsel and testifying about it to Congress.
Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine is currently investigating whether Gonzales gave false or misleading testimony about the eavesdropping program while under oath.

At Least 51 Reported Dead In Blasts Near Bhutto Convoy

AP PAISLEY DODDS October 18, 2007 03:56 PM
Two explosions went off Thursday night near a truck carrying former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on her celebratory return to Pakistan after eight years in exile. Police said she was unhurt, but witnesses reported seeing dozens of dead and wounded.
Footage from the scene showed what appeared to be three bodies on the ground, lying motionless, plus a dozen or more injured who were moving.

This is a demonstration of the famous Family Values.

GOP To Poor Kids: Better Not Get Sick
The House has failed to override President Bush's veto of a bill expanding a children's health insurance program.

Mum's the word.

Andrea Stone, USA TODAY
The Army, Navy and Air Force unwittingly advertised for recruits on a website for gays, who are barred from military service if they are open about their sexual orientation. When informed Tuesday by USA TODAY that they were advertising on GLEE.com, a networking website for gay professionals, recruiters expressed surprise and said they would remove the job listings.
"This is the first I've heard about it," said Maj. Michael Baptista, advertising branch chief for the Army National Guard, which will spend $6.5 million on Internet recruiting this year. "We didn't knowingly advertise on that particular website," which he said does not "meet the moral standards" of the military.
Capt. Jack Hanzlik, a Navy recruiting spokesman, said his service ordered more than 8,000 ads taken off GLEE, which stands for Gay, Lesbian & Everyone Else. By late Wednesday, most were gone.
Marine Corps ads on GLEE were only for two civilian jobs not covered by the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which allows gays to serve in uniform only if they keep quiet about their sexual orientation.

"The Bush Administration Abusers.

by Casey Morris
Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 10:17:25 AM PDT
When someone asks you to give them an example of the Executive Branch of our government abusing the privileges granted them to protect the public, be sure to point to this latest and stunning example by the Bush Administration:
Three telecommunications companies have declined to tell Congress whether they gave U.S. intelligence agencies access to Americans' phone and computer records without court orders, citing White House objections and national security.
Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell "formally invoked the state secrets privilege to prevent AT&T from either confirming or denying" any details about intelligence programs, AT&T general counsel Wayne Watts wrote in a letter to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Qwest and Verizon also declined to answer, saying the federal government has prohibited them from providing information, discussing or referring to any classified intelligence activities.
By Laura McGann - October 17, 2007, 3:36PM
A federal judge in Detroit wants to know if politics motivated the prosecution of lawyer and former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Geoffrey Fieger, who is accused of illegally donating $127,000 to John Edwards' campaign in 2004, the Detroit Free Press reports.
U.S. District Judge Paul Borman also wanted to know why it took 75 to 80 federal agents to raid Fieger's law office and confront 32 employees on the doorsteps after dark in November 2005.
"I'm just trying to figure out how it went down," Borman told Assistant U.S. Attorney Lynn Helland. He said he couldn't recall that many agents involved in any other raid during his 13 years on the federal bench.
Borman is considering a request from Fieger's lawyers to allow them to investigate whether the White House or former Justice Department officials instigated the prosecution. That investigation could include deposing former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Karl Rove.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Face-Off: Airbrushing Accountability in the Terror War

Does the butcher mourn the meat he makes his money from?
Chris Floyd , Empire Burlesque
...We're seeing this kind of thing writ large in Iraq right now, as the Bush-connected Blackwater continues to deny -- against all the evidence -- that its mercenaries went beserk on a Baghdad street and gunned down 17 innocent people -- again, as in London, without provocation. The mercenary firm's warlord, Eric Prince, has defiantly declared that he "will not allow" his shooters to be face justice in Iraq. He blamed the "accusations" against his company on the "far left," who went after Blackwater after being "unsuccessful in attacking Petraeus [Yes, he quite shamelessly omitted the Congressionally protected general's title!] and defunding the war, forcing a pullback of U.S. troops." As for those dead bodies in the street, those grieving families, those tsunamis of anger and cries for revenge ringing across the conquered land after the atrocity -- Prince had nothing to say in his interview with the friendly folks at the cultic Washington Times. Why should he? Does the butcher mourn the meat he makes his money from?...


From day one of his presidency, Bush positioned himself as a savior of U.S. morals while trying to export this piety to the rest of the world. In reality, he is more akin to the charlatan preachers of old who traveled the nation selling snake oil remedies from the back of their wagons.

Malcom Lagauche
The Republican Party in the U.S. unleashed the powerful tool of religion in the 1990s and has obtained a fanatic base of voters ever since. After Bush’s appointment as president in 2000, the world had to put up with his religious statements, especially the one in which he said God told him to run for president. At first, the Democrats tried to downplay the role of religion in U.S. politics and criticized Bush for being so pious in public. That ploy did not last long. The leadership of the Democratic Party came up with a strategy that Democrats should challenge Republicans as to who is more religious. They even came up with standard terms for candidates. Environmentalist Democrats were told to use the term "God’s green Earth" in speaking about environmental issues. Instead of taking the religiosity of the Republican Party and trying to make it a liability, the Democrats decided to attack the Republicans right at their strongest point...

Reading, writing, recruiting? Debate rages as city's newest facility is dedicated

The Chicago Tribune (10/15, Banchero, Sadovi) mreported, "Chicago Public Schools (CPS), which already has the largest junior military reserve program in the nation," has created "the country's first public high school run by the U.S. Marines, much to the chagrin of activists who have fought to keep the armed services out of city schools." The city also "announced plans to open an Air Force academy high school in 2009." The move would make CPS "the only public school district in the nation to have academies dedicated to the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines," serving over 11,000 students. Students are not required to enlist in the military after graduating from the schools. "But despite a stated focus on college prep, the city's military academies have had mixed academic records since the first academy opened in 2000," with none of the schools meeting federal No Child Left Behind testing standards last year.

Record: oil reaches $89 per barrel

Oil prices jumped Wednesday to a record high 89 dollars on simmering tensions in the crude-rich Middle East that could further stretch tight global energy supplies, traders said.

After Comments, U.S. Terror Chief Resigns

October 17, 2007 3:07 PM
Justin Rood Reports:
Three days after Americans saw the Bush administration's counterterrorism chief say the Iraq war has likely not made the United States safer from terrorism, the official announced his resignation, citing health reasons.

Simply Amazing Hypocracy

A defiant Blackwater Chairman Erik Prince said yesterday he will not allow Iraqi authorities to arrest his contractors and try them in Iraq's faulty justice system. But they sure as hell tried and hung Sadam, by that same FAULTY IRAQ JUSTICE SYSTEM
CEO says he won't let contractors be tried in 'faulty' Iraq justice system.
The Pentagon has paid more than $100 million in bonuses to veteran Green Berets and Navy SEALs, reversing the flow of top commandos to the corporate world where security companies such as Blackwater USA offer big salaries.
The retention effort, started nearly three years ago and overseen by U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla., has helped preserve a small but elite group of enlisted troops with long experience fighting the unconventional wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Defense Department statistics.

CBS's Logan tells Leno, 'Things are going very very badly in Iraq'

Mike Aivaz and Muriel KanePublished: Wednesday October 17, 2007
CBS News foreign correspondent Lara Logan talked to Jay Leno on Monday about growing up in apartheid South Africa, how she became a reporter, and what it's been like reporting on so many wars over 17 years. "You see the absolute worst of humanity and then you see ... something that's so incredible," she told Leno.
"How are we doing [in Iraq] from your point of view?" Leno asked.
"We're doing extremely badly," Logan replied. She said that because of the suppression of pictures of American casualties, most people have no idea how bad things are.
Logan emphasized that, although the alliance of the US military with former Sunni insurgents has had an impact on al Qaeda in Iraq, "to say that we have crippled them is suicide. That's one of those things that you say and you live to regret."
She added that the surge is "working in certain places, temporarily," but hasn't altered the fundamental dynamics of the situation.
The following video is from NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno, broadcast on October 15, 2007

Hatred of U.S. drives al-Qaida recruiting

As Americans become desensitized, violence radicalizes ordinary Arabs
The Bush administration rejects the idea that the war in Iraq has driven young Arab men into the arms of al-Qaida. But if you believe the young men themselves, the administration is wrong.
At a Baghdad jail for prisoners who have attacked U.S. forces, everyone — to a man — says it was the U.S. occupation of Iraq that drove them to violence. And they are not alone. Across the Middle East and South Asia, the same story can be heard in Internet cafes, mosques, safe houses and prisons.
“The U.S. says this war is part of the global war on terrorism,” Saedi Farhan, an Iraqi engineer who took part in an attack on U.S. forces, said in a weekend interview with NBC News. "But people here say that the war has increased fanaticism and brought terrorism to Iraq."
Interviews with Farhan and other radicals reveal that many young men were torn when it came time to choose sides. Even though they fight alongside al-Qaida, they insist that — contrary to what U.S. officials say — they do not support al-Qaida. Many, in fact, say they hate al-Qaida.
But they hate the United States more.
Turned against the Americans“An aggressor occupied my country, destroyed it and made millions [of] refugees. It is an honor to fight this,” said Hamid Ali, the owner of a construction company who also admitted attacking U.S. troops.
At a government rehabilitation center in Saudi Arabia, many radicals say they now reject the al-Qaida philosophy. But at the same time, they admit that the U.S. occupation of Iraq drove many of them to join the movement and that it still drives their hatred of America. Some, in fact, were arrested for trafficking in Internet videos about Iraq designed specifically to motivate and recruit for al-Qaida.
One of them, Saddam Sogoby, says he was recruited over the Internet, seduced by videos of Iraqis fighting America.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

'Many in the US Military Think Bush and Cheney Are Out of Control'

In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, the Amsterdam-based military historian Gabriel Kolko talks about the prospect of war with Iran and argues that many in the US military now view the White House as being 'out of control.'
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Mr. Kolko, editorials in US papers like the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard and the National Review are pushing for military action against Iran. How does the leadership in the US military view such a conflict?
Gabriel Kolko: The American military is stretched to the limit. They are losing both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Everything is being sacrificed for these wars: money, equipment in Asia, American military power globally, etc. Where and how can they fight yet another? The Pentagon is short of money for procurement, and that is what so many people in the military bureaucracy live for. The situation will be far worse in the event of a war with Iran.

No Need to Discuss, Just Watch


President Bush Honors Motorola Leadership in American Innovation and Competitiveness

Motorola Awarded National Medal of Technology during White House Ceremony

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 13, 2006 – Today at the White House, President George W. Bush presented Motorola, Inc. (NYSE: MOT) with the 2004 National Medal of Technology. The prestigious annual award recognizes Motorola for its outstanding contributions to America’s technological innovation and competitiveness. The National Medal of Technology, established in 1980 by an act of Congress, is the highest honor awarded by the President to America’s leading innovators.
Full article here:

Cemetery also making space for WWII veterans

A Bag of Second Hand Memoirs...

Layla Anwar, An Arab Woman Blues
Memories of this period of my life are terribly vivid, still...
I consider teen-age years as the most difficult, in any case that was true for me.
One is not really an adult, not a child, just a someone, hovering somewhere in between.
Rejecting authority yet seeking its safety...
Not a woman but not a girl either. A body that changes, an identity that emerges, pulsations that manifest themselves and you don’t know what to do with them and where they will lead you...
I sublimated mine in books, "causes" and the search after the "perfect love."
The only thing that really lasted were the books. And I don’t even remember half of them...
As for "causes," they have not only remained unresolved but have worsened...
As for "love," I smile–laugh when I look back...How could I have been so bloody naive, I keep repeating to myself.
But then, those were the teen-age years and everything was possible. Change, revolutions and eternal love...
But a rebel, I was. I think it is genetic in my case.
I simply could not accept the given status quo. I had to question which I still do...A problematic attitude if you want to get on in life “smoothly.”
But then my life has not exactly been a smooth ride either. War after war after war after war...And my name is Layla Anwar.
These wars have shaped me more than I care to admit, intimately shaped me...leaving marks inside, like the foot-prints of some soldier's boot on wet mud, that eventually dry up in the sun and become like some old totem that one carries around one's neck...
And with each “war” and there has been so many of them, the totem becomes alive again and that rebellious spirit against the madness that injustice engenders, re-emerges...as if it has just woken up from some temporary hibernation.
A lost cause? Maybe...But I told you, in my case it's genetic.
Which reminds of a saying by some “good old feminists” who used to repeat,
“If I am determined by my biological make-up, do me a favor, do not tell me how to behave.”
So I guess, am determined by my “biological make-up.” So kindly spare me your comments.
A few had difficulty dealing with my “biological make-up.” In particular my mother and some of my "eternal loves". I guess I was not obedient enough and was not easily molded the way she/they would have liked me to be.
My mother for instance, one of the things that used to literally drive her up the wall, was my love for second hand clothes. She could not understand why on earth I would go out of my way and buy second hand clothes when I could buy something brand new.
She would flip when she saw me sneak in old, worn out army shirts, jackets and trousers...made in the USA.
She would go ballistic and say: “Do you have to be dressed like a soldier and like an American soldier for that matter?"
To which I would reply: “ All soldiers look alike – I, on the other hand, am a rebel, a guerilla fighter.”
And she would go even crazier and say: “ Guerilla fighters don’t wear shirts with the U.S. flags on them and they are not called Tom either...” referring to one of my favorite army shirts which had the name Tom sewn on it.
I guess she had a point there. But that was the closest I could get to look like a guerilla fighter...then.
Of course, today, am laughing my head off as am typing this...
"L’habit ne fait pas le moine” goes an old French proverb – the “uniform” does not make the monk. But I did not know it then. I was full of good intentions and...lousy discernment.
I think one other reason for my “love” for second hand clothes, was the fact that I could escape to the souk downtown called “al Balat.”
A souk where you can rummage for hours, amidst the tumult and noise...And escape, I did.
It all felt so alive for me. Finally real people, I’d say to myself. Nothing like my class mates, all fake and disjointed from the reality that surrounded them.
That was real life for me - the souk for second hand clothes.
I witnessed with my own eyes, some of the deprivation and that was like fuel for my rebelliousness...my “eternal” revolt. But I was nothing but a teenager then...
Three decades have elapsed since and I still remember these second hand stalls. Strange don’t you think ?
In fact, I remembered them yesterday, when I opened my closet and chose a look alike khaki army trouser (made in China.)
Okay, I agree, some things never change. I admit to that. But how do you explain the following part?
“Hit by war, unemployment, sectarian violence and the flight of capital, beleaguered residents of the Iraqi capital have taken to rummaging through piles of imported second hand clothing..."
It is more important to buy new things for the kids. We can manage ourselves from the second hand shops," said the 53-year-old father of five.
"Life has changed a lot in the past few years. It is a problem for badly paid state employees and those with limited incomes," he said.
"I try to pool my resources to buy what the boys and girls need. As for me, I will buy second hand items...said Jabbar...”
The owner of this second hand shop is jubilant: “Due to increased demand, Abu Hussein has set up agents in other parts of the country. “I now have many outlets to sell my goods," he said. (full article here)
Little did I know then, that the second hand souks I loved, would turn as the only outlets for clothing...
Little did I know then, that the majority of Iraqis would be wearing second hand clothes...
And, little did I know then, that the majority of Iraqi teenagers would be working to support their families, forsaking their studies and future...
While yours are sitting around TV screens getting pissed and smashed out of their brains...and whilst you arm with them weapons to carry to school, as if these were some lunch bag...encouraging them to become a new Tom...
And surely, I did not know then, that some Tom in an American army shirt was responsible for all of that.
Over three decades have elapsed, my love for second hand clothes has disappeared, but the “guerilla” fighter’s spirit in me has not died...
How can it, when there are so many Iraqis carrying bags of second hand clothes, when Iraqi teenagers have been robbed of their youth...and when American Toms in army clothes are roaming around?
Mother, hope you understood by now...All of my past revolt was nothing but a preparation for...today.
Oh, and you were so right about those Toms in army clothes.
I will no longer buy second hand, promise. It's all brand new and untouched from now on...
Virgin like some undiscovered territory, clean and fresh like some morning dew, and as ardent as a budding desert flowery cactus...
No second hand here, Mother. Its a daily, new surprise...in every souk, behind each house, in every alley way, around every corner...
Painting : Abdel Ameer Alwan, 1992.

The Iraqi Genocide

One can only marvel at the insouciance of the US Congress to the current Iraqi Genocide while condemning Turkey for one that happened 90 years ago.
Paul Craig Roberts
Why has not the Turkish parliament given tit for tat and passed a resolution condemning the Iraqi Genocide? As a result of Bush’s invasion of Iraq, more than one million Iraqis have died, and several millions are displaced persons. The Iraqi death toll and the millions of uprooted Iraqis match the Armenian deaths and deportations. If one is a genocide, so is the other....
continua / continued

Separate attacks kill 5 Iraqi journalists

Four reporters' deaths follow the slaying of a Washington Post correspondent in Baghdad.
Christian Berthelsen, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
Five Iraqi journalists were killed in three separate attacks this weekend, marking the deadliest day for reporters covering the country in a year. Four reporters for Iraqi newspapers were reported shot to death Sunday in ambushes near Kirkuk in northern Iraq. Previously reported was the death of Salih Saif Aldin, a correspondent for the Washington Post who was apparently shot to death Sunday too while on assignment in the Sadiya neighborhood of southwest Baghdad. Iraqi journalists have faced the greatest dangers covering the war in Iraq, and they have borne the brunt of deaths among reporters. Western media organizations rely on Iraqi journalists for street reporting. But Iraqi reporters often face their own threats: Iraqis discovered working for Western media organizations are treated as enemy collaborators....
Oil prices hit new high
Oil prices jumped today on a weak dollar and rising tensions between Turkey and Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq. Light, sweet crude for November delivery rose $1.74 to $87.86 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after reaching a record trading high of $88.20 earlier in the session.
I ask you, has this business plan not played out brilliantly for the two Oil Men in the White House and their investors, er, supporters?

PUTIN CALLS ON IRAN border nations to refuse US use of territory.

By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 26 minutes ago
TEHRAN, Iran - Russian leader Vladimir Putin met his Iranian counterpart Tuesday and implicitly warned the U.S. not to use a former Soviet republic to stage an attack on Iran. He also said countries bordering the Caspian Sea must jointly back any oil pipeline projects in the region. At a summit of the five nations that border the inland Caspian Sea, Putin said none of the nations' territory should be used by any outside countries for use of military force against any nation in the region. It was a clear reference to long-standing rumors that the U.S. was planning to use Azerbaijan, a former Soviet republic, as a staging ground for any possible military action against Iran.
"We are saying that no Caspian nation should offer its territory to third powers for use of force or military aggression against any Caspian state," Putin said.

CNBC learns not to 'mess with' Ron Paul, followers

The Real Iraq We Knew

By 12 former Army captains
Tuesday, October 16, 2007; 12:00 AM
Today marks five years since the authorization of military force in Iraq, setting Operation Iraqi Freedom in motion. Five years on, the Iraq war is as undermanned and under-resourced as it was from the start. And, five years on, Iraq is in shambles.
As Army captains who served in Baghdad and beyond, we've seen the corruption and the sectarian division. We understand what it's like to be stretched too thin. And we know when it's time to get out.
What does Iraq look like on the ground? It's certainly far from being a modern, self-sustaining country. Many roads, bridges, schools and hospitals are in deplorable condition. Fewer people have access to drinking water or sewage systems than before the war. And Baghdad is averaging less than eight hours of electricity a day.
Iraq's institutional infrastructure, too, is sorely wanting. Even if the Iraqis wanted to work together and accept the national identity foisted upon them in 1920s, the ministries do not have enough trained administrators or technicians to coordinate themselves. At the local level, most communities are still controlled by the same autocratic sheiks that ruled under Saddam. There is no reliable postal system. No effective banking system. No registration system to monitor the population and its needs.
The inability to govern is exacerbated at all levels by widespread corruption. Transparency International ranks Iraq as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. And, indeed, many of us witnessed the exploitation of U.S. tax dollars by Iraqi officials and military officers. Sabotage and graft have had a particularly deleterious impact on Iraq's oil industry, which still fails to produce the revenue that Pentagon war planners hoped would pay for Iraq's reconstruction. Yet holding people accountable has proved difficult. The first commissioner of a panel charged with preventing and investigating corruption resigned last month, citing pressure from the government and threats on his life.

Dad: Blackwater blew up son's and wife's 'skulls' The Square of lost souls

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Haythem could only recognize his oldest boy from his tall and slim physique as well as what was left of his shoes. His son's head had been blown away, his body charred beyond recognition. His wife of more than 20 years was torn apart.
Choking back tears, he said, "Killing them was not enough, blowing up their skulls, they burned them and disfigured them."
Haythem's wife, Mahassen, and his 20-year-old son, Ahmed, were among the 17 Iraqi civilians killed and 27 others wounded in a hail of gunfire September 16 in Baghdad.
Guards working for private security firm Blackwater USA are accused of opening fire on the Iraqis.
The Iraqi government has said the Blackwater guards shot without provocation -- something the U.S.-based contractor has denied, saying the guards were in a firefight with gunmen.
An Iraqi government report has accused Blackwater of "premeditated murder," saying the company's guards randomly fired at civilians. An Iraqi panel investigating the shootings has asked Blackwater to pay the families of each of the victims $8 million in compensation.
"Money will not compensate us for what we have lost, even if it were piles of it," Haythem said. "No one can put a price on the lives of those killed."
Haythem, 46, a doctor who specializes in blood diseases, spoke from his temporary home in an upscale Baghdad neighborhood where he is living with his mother and two remaining children -- daughter Maryam, 18, and son Haidar, 17.
While he spoke, his mother sat in a corner of the room, moaning and sobbing, rocking back and forth on a couch. She wore all black.
All Haythem and the family know about the final moments of their loved ones is what two Iraqi police officers who witnessed the shootings have told them -- that Ahmed was shot as he was driving his car in Nusoor Square and his mother clutched him tight as he was bleeding.
"Those who witnessed the incident say that my son's head was scattered and my wife held him and hugged him," Haythem said. "She was screaming, 'My son, my son! Help me! Help me!' "
The car slowly rolled forward until Blackwater guards unleashed more shots that turned the vehicle into a fireball, according to the witnesses.
"They understood the call for help. They sprayed her with bullets," he said.
Blackwater has not discussed specifics about the case, saying the FBI is investigating the matter. Blackwater CEO Erik Prince told CNN Sunday one of the Blackwater vehicles was damaged by small arms fire and that his guards committed no "deliberate violence."
Haythem's wife also was a doctor and his son was attending medical school with hopes of becoming a surgeon.
"They destroyed my family and they killed my beloved wife, my better half," Haythem said calmly. "They deprived me of my eldest son who I have raised into a strong, young man. They deprived him of fulfilling his dream to be a doctor and a surgeon. They planted pain and misery in the hearts of my two younger kids."

Randi Rhodes is the Victim of a Violent Attack

Randi Rhodes was mugged on Sunday night on 39th Street and Park Ave, nearby her Manhattan apartment, while she was walking her dog Simon.
According to Air America Radio late night host Jon Elliott, Rhodes was beaten up pretty badly, losing several teeth and will probably be off the air for at least the rest of the week. At of late Monday night we have not able to locate any press accounts of the attack and nothing has been posted on the AAR website.
Elliott was extremely agitated when he reported on the incident. He opened his show by saying "it is with sadness that tonight I inform you that my Air America colleague Randi Rhodes was assaulted last night while walking her dog near her New York City home."
Pointing out that Rhodes was wearing a jogging suit and displayed no purse or jewelry, Elliott speculated that "this does not appear to me to be a standard grab the money and run mugging."
"Is this an attempt by the right wing hate machine to silence one of our own," he asked. "Are we threatening them. Are they afraid that we're winning. Are they trying to silence intimidate us."

Congress suckered on surveillance. Telco immunity, next?

by Kagro X
Sat Oct 13, 2007 at 02:12:11 PM PDT
This is something that's now being whispered in nearly every conversation on the subject, but might as well be repeated here: the filings in the appeal of former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio's insider trading case reveal that the Bush "administration" was pressuring telecommunications companies to cooperate in a massive domestic spying operation well before 9/11.
Nacchio's account, which places the NSA proposal at a meeting on Feb. 27, 2001, suggests that the Bush administration was seeking to enlist telecommunications firms in programs without court oversight before the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon. The Sept. 11 attacks have been cited by the government as the main impetus for its warrantless surveillance efforts.
The Associated Press reports: "The American Civil Liberties Union said Sunday that newly uncovered documents show that the Pentagon secretly sent hundreds of letters seeking the financial records of private citizens without court approval."

Monday, October 15, 2007

David Kelly: Fresh doubts over his death

Slaughter of the Innocents

Something is Rotten in Iraq and the Pentagon
Isn't it odd that in the air attack that the US military claims killed 19 high-ranking leaders of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and 15 civilians, all the slain Al Qaeda members were men and all the men were Al Qaeda, while all the civilians were women (6) and children (9)? Think about this a minute. This means that no women were Al Qaeda--and yet we know that women also fight, and also blow themselves up as suicide bombers. Yet these women were all civilians. The children, of course, were children. And we're to believe that there were no men who were innocent bystanders? All those adult males who were killed were "bad guys." Yet there were innocent bystanders: the women and the children. Somehow, any innocent bystanding men managed to duck out of the way, or the bullets and bomb fragments (and I'm sure they were fragmentation bombs that were used, as well as a withering spray of machine-gun fire) that hit all those poor women and kids, just somehow (magically?) missed the men. Pretty amazing huh? Except that it's an absurd claim that should insult our intelligence....

Where are the images of Syria nuclear site?

Roads to Iraq
Is this propaganda report published by the nytimes two days ago "Israel Struck Syrian Nuclear Project, Analysts Say" is the same propaganda published by washingtonpost "Israel, U.S. Shared Data On Suspected Nuclear Site" three weeks ago? Syrian newspapers doesn’t even bothered to answer, surprisingly the answer came from the Syrian opposition. They said: The question which no media asked until now, if these claims are true and that the target was a nuclear reactor, why the American administration or Israel didn’t publish photographs of the site before and after the bombing. There is one answer, they can’t show these images because there are no images to prove these claims, all what they did was the bombing of empty buildings or missiles stores...
continua / continued

Kurds sign oil deals beyond regional borders – former minister

Iraqi Kurds’ oil contracts with foreign firms are not only illegal but even cover portion of territory officially outside the borders of their semi-independent enclave, a former oil minister said. Isam al-Jalabi, who held the oil portfolio under the former regime of Saddam Hussein, said the latest deal the Kurds struck with Texas-based Hunt Oil Company gives it the right to explore and dig wells in areas which are under the jurisdiction of the Province of Nineveh. The Kurdish enclave now includes the provinces of Dahouk, Sulaimaniya and Arbil. The Kurds are trying to add the Province of Taameem of which the oil-rich city of Kirkuk is the capital....
continua / continued

Group Plans to Provide Investigative Journalism: Funded by Democrats critical of Bush

Published: October 15, 2007
As struggling newspapers across the country cut back on investigative reporting, a new kind of journalism venture is hoping to fill the gap. Paul E. Steiger, who was the top editor of The Wall Street Journal for 16 years, and a pair of wealthy Californians are assembling a group of investigative journalists who will give away their work to media outlets.
The nonprofit group, called Pro Publica, will pitch each project to a newspaper or magazine (and occasionally to other media) where the group hopes the work will make the strongest impression. The plan is to do long-term projects, uncovering misdeeds in government, business and organizations....“It is the deep-dive stuff and the aggressive follow-up that is most challenged in the budget process,” said Mr. Steiger, who will be Pro Publica’s president and editor in chief. He gave up the title of managing editor of The Journal in May, but is staying on through the end of the year as editor at large; during his tenure, the newsroom won 16 Pulitzer Prizes.
Pro Publica is the creation of Herbert M. and Marion O. Sandler, the former chief executives of the Golden West Financial Corporation, based in California, which was one of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders and savings and loans. They have committed $10 million a year to the project, while various foundations have provided smaller amounts. Mr. Sandler will serve as chairman of the group, which will begin operations early next year.
The Sandlers are also major Democratic political donors and critics of President Bush. Last year, they sold Golden West to the Wachovia Corporation for about $26 billion, a deal which valued their personal shares at about $2.4 billion.
Pro Publica plans to establish a newsroom in New York City and have 24 journalists, one of the biggest investigative staffs in any medium, along with about a dozen other employees....

The Brethren Express

Reporter: Quentin McDermott
Broadcast: 12/10/2007
They don't vote and they repudiate any organised role in politics. It's God's call, they say, whether governments stand or fall.
But behind the scenes, members of the small, publicity-shy Exclusive Brethren sect have developed a political muscle that surpasses their numerical strength - and they enjoy flexing it.
In August, it was revealed that Exclusive Brethren elders had met with the Prime Minister and the Treasurer, despite earlier disturbing exposes (including on Four Corners) about how the church splits up families. The Brethren have been linked sporadically to several recent election campaigns, most notably in New Zealand.
But as Four Corners reveals, the Brethren have a vigorous and largely untold political history going back at least to 1993, when John Hewson lost the "unloseable" election to Paul Keating.
Four Corners follows the political trail of the Brethren over 14 years and spells out how in the past few years its members have ramped up campaigning, spending millions in state and federal elections and overseas, including the USA.
U.S. Military Rethinks Counterinsurgency Strategy


Morning Edition, March 30, 2006 · The U.S. Army is trying to figure out how to deal more effectively with the insurgency in Iraq. Steve Inskeep talks with the lead author of the soon-to-be-published manual on insurgencies, retired Army Col. Conrad Crane. He's the director of the U.S. Army Military History Institute at the Army War College.

Conrad Crane's website: click here
Link to the NPR podcast: click here
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