Saturday, January 28, 2006

US audit finds 'spectacular' waste of funds in Iraq

Millions lost in 'chaotic misuse,' while report says many reconstruction projects won't be finished.
 
| csmonitor.com
"Spectacular misuse of tens of millions of dollars."

That is what The Australian says an audit by the the US Special Inspector-General for Iraq Reconstruction of the former Coalition Provisional Authority office in Hilla, Iraq, has uncovered. The newspaper says the report details bundles of money stashed in filing cabinets, a US soldier who gambled away thousands of dollars, and stacks of newly minted notes distributed without receipts.

The findings come almost a year after Stuart Bowen, the Inspector-General, found that more than $9 billion of Iraq's oil revenues, which was disbursed in 2004 by the then US-led CPA, could not be accounted for.

The audit, released on Wednesday ... describes a country in the months after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein awash with US dollars and a "wild west" atmosphere where even multi-million-dollar contracts were paid for in cash ...

The huge sums in cash were paid out with little or no supervision and often without any paperwork, the reconstruction spending audit found. The report found problems with almost 2000 contracts worth $US88.1 million.

The New York Times reports that the new audit found problems "in an area that includes half the land mass in Iraq, with new findings in the southern and central provinces of Anbar, Karbala, Najaf, Wasit, Babil, and Qadisiya."
Read On

Post-Katrina Promises Unfulfilled

On the Gulf Coast, Federal Recovery Effort Makes Halting Progress
 
....and why would anyone be surprised by this?

By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 28, 2006; A01

Nearly five months after Hurricane Katrina swamped New Orleans, President Bush's lofty promises to rebuild the Gulf Coast have been frustrated by bureaucratic failures and competing priorities, a review of events since the hurricane shows.

While the administration can claim some clear progress, Bush's ringing call from New Orleans's Jackson Square on Sept. 15 to "do what it takes" to make the city rise from the waters has not been matched by action, critics at multiple levels of government say, resulting in a record that is largely incomplete as Bush heads into next week's State of the Union address.

The problems include the slow federal cleanup of debris in Mississippi and Louisiana; a lack of authority for Bush's handpicked recovery coordinator, Donald E. Powell; the shortage and poor quality of housing for evacuees; and federal restrictions on reconstruction money and where coastal communities can rebuild.

With the onset of the hurricane season just four months away, there is no agreement on how to rebuild New Orleans, how to pay for that effort or even who is leading the cross-governmental partnership, according to elected leaders. While there is money to restore the city's flood defenses to protect against another Category 3 hurricane, it remains unclear whether merely reinforcing the levees will be enough to draw residents back.

New strains emerged this week when Bush aides rejected a plan by Rep. Richard H. Baker (R-La.) to set up a government corporation that would buy back the mortgages of storm-damaged homes around New Orleans. Instead, the government limited the use of $6.2 billion in grants to the rebuilding of 20,000 homes destroyed outside federally insured flood zones.

Dismayed state and local officials said the president's approach does not provide help for an additional 185,000 destroyed homes. They warned that the federal government's halting recovery effort is undermining, at a critical juncture, the confidence of homeowners, insurers and investors about returning.

"They gave us a ladder to reach all of our housing needs, but the top rungs are missing," Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D) said in statement from Baton Rouge. "You can't fix a $12 billion problem with $6 billion."

Without a government mechanism to compensate homeowners and then clean up and repackage entire, devastated neighborhoods for developers, much of the city will never be rebuilt, Baker said.

Below are some of the major promises Bush made in his Jackson Square speech, and how the government has fared:

· Housing. Bush promised to empty shelters quickly, meet the immediate needs of the displaced, register victims, and provide housing aid in the form of rental assistance and trailers.

In Mississippi, 33,378 occupied trailers are meeting 89 percent of the estimated housing needs. But there have been 34,000 repair requests and maintenance complaints, according to Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.).

In Louisiana, trailers have been provided for about 37 percent of the estimated 90,000 displaced families in need of housing. Officials acknowledge production bottlenecks and in-state battles over sites. Trailer costs have swelled from $19,000 to $75,000 apiece.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration are struggling to meet unprecedented demands. FEMA is providing rental assistance to 700,000 families, but about 75,000 people are still in hotels. In some places, there is a shortage of rental housing available for evacuees.

As of Jan. 16, 18,943 applications for rental help had yet to be processed. As of this week, the SBA said that 190,000 of 363,000 applications for disaster loans to homeowners and businesses are still pending.

"It just doesn't seem to be well organized," said Ronald D. Utt, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation who has written about disaster housing policy. "Things in some respects have gotten more confused than they were a couple weeks after the storm."

· Cleanup. The president vowed "to get the work done quickly . . honestly and wisely," but a key first step -- cleanup -- has not gone smoothly.

Thirty million cubic yards of debris remain uncollected -- enough to build a five-sided column more than 50 stories tall over the Pentagon -- provoking environmental concerns, fears of runaway spending abuses and a spirit-sapping despair. Layers of subcontractors have caused debris removal costs to quadruple from $8 per cubic yard to $32 per cubic yard, said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who visited the region on Jan. 17 as part of a Senate delegation.

Legal questions initially slowed the cleanup effort, along with red tape and contracting disputes.

"The worst fears of many policymakers are being realized," Coburn said. ". . Bureaucratic delays have caused the recovery effort to be appallingly slow and inefficient."

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said she is working with a bipartisan group of senators to broaden Powell's authority over people and funds.

· Rebuilding. On the broader question of rebuilding, Bush promised "a close partnership" with state and local leaders, with the federal government playing a secondary role. But the U.S. government is the key player because it provides money, determines access to flood insurance, and takes primary responsibility for infrastructure and cleanup.

Officials from both parties credit the president for committing $85 billion in federal funds and for approving tax relief and incentives such as the Gulf Opportunity Zone, which provides tax breaks for businesses in Mississippi and Louisiana. Still, they say the overall cost of the rebuilding is a major concern. "I want to remind the people in that part of the world, $85 billion is a lot," Bush said at a news conference on Thursday.

Baker's proposed Louisiana Recovery Corp. would cost another $10 billion to $30 billion, although supporters say the entity would recoup its costs as land values rise.

New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin's commission has recommended a plan that would not rebuild heavily damaged neighborhoods unless a critical mass of residents return, possibly shrinking the city and making it easier to defend against floods. But state and local governments say the Bush administration is thwarting their plans to take the next step by opposing Baker's bill.

Bush said he opposes "creating additional federal bureaucracies." But Baker said that the White House should develop an alternative. "That is the discussion we need to have: What does their plan really mean -- what does this region of the world look like 10 years from now, versus what does our version look like?" Baker said.

· Reimbursement. Bush said the government would reimburse states for the costs of taking in evacuees and cities for emergency costs. But Mississippi and Louisiana officials say their needs are greater and will continue for years.

Searching for money to pay for reconstruction, Louisiana officials want a share of more than $5 billion in federal offshore oil and gas revenue generated from the state's industries. The administration opposes such a change.

Louisiana state and local governments say they face more than $8 billion in lost taxes and fees over the next four years.

Eddie Favre, the mayor of Bay St. Louis, Miss., whose population has fallen from 8,200 to 6,000 since the storm, noted that half the city's $7 million general fund came from a casino, a fourth from sales taxes and a fourth from property taxes.

But the casino is closed, sales tax revenue amounts to "a couple hundred thousand dollars" and income from property taxes is expected to fall to 10 percent of pre-storm levels. "The one thing we have not seen anything on to date . . is funding for the governmental entities to make up for lost revenue over the next three, five, seven years," Favre said.

· Levees. Bush said New Orleans and Louisiana "will have a large part in the engineering decisions" to protect New Orleans. But clear differences in federal and local interests are emerging.

State and local officials have said employers and investors will not take the risk of returning unless New Orleans's flood defenses are strengthened to withstand the strongest, Category 5, storms, an undertaking that could cost more than $30 billion.

Because of budgetary constraints and the approaching hurricane season, the administration has committed to spending $2.9 billion to restore levees to pre-Katrina (Category 3) design standards, with additional floodgates and concrete and steel reinforcement, and $8 million to study going further.

"It's a step where a leap is needed," said former New Orleans mayor Marc H. Morial, now president of the National Urban League. "We believe that everyone should have a right to return, and everyone should have a right to rebuild."

Beyond levees and housing, the region faces other huge challenges, Powell said, including jobs, schools and health care. One in every five Louisiana prime-rate mortgages is 30 days or more past due. One in six adults is unemployed. Only 15 percent of schools and 32 percent of hospitals are open in Orleans Parish, and one in three grocery stores and restaurants in the region are open.

Louisiana officials who are working with the president say that he is committed to help but that his administration has had to be pushed by Congress, and is failing to lead because its attention is focused on Iraq, the domestic spying debate and producing a new budget.

"This great city will rise again," said Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.). "The question is whether the city and the region will be doing it alone, dragging the federal government with us every step of the way, or will this administration get in gear and put their mind to the task at hand."

Louisiana officials say that they expect the president to offer new funding and initiatives, and that they will try to revive Baker's measure, a $2 billion health care relief plan and a $450 million business bridge-loan program.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company
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Most Americans want Bush to come clean on Abramoff

As usual, he doesn't care.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Three in four Americans want President George W. Bush to disclose his aides' links with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a demand the White House has rejected so far, according to a poll published on Saturday.

The Washington Post said the demand was supported by clear majorities of both Republicans and Democrats in the Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted between January 23 and January 26.

Abramoff pleaded guilty to fraud charges this month and agreed to help U.S. prosecutors in a corruption probe that has sparked calls for reform of the Washington practice of lobbying lawmakers with donations and favors to influence legislation.

At a White House news conference on Thursday, Bush said he did not know Abramoff and would not release photographs in which the two appeared together.

He said the release of the photographs would be used for "pure political purposes" by Democrats.

The Washington Post said 76 percent of those surveyed said Bush should release lists of all meetings between his aides and Abramoff. Eighteen percent disagreed.

"Two in three Republicans joined with eight in 10 Democrats and political independents in favoring disclosure," the paper said.

It said 1,002 people were interviewed and the poll's margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

LINK

- Poll: 51 percent of Americans support air strike in Iran

According to a Fox News poll published Thursday, 59 percent of Americans believe the United States should take all measures necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear arms.  

The poll also revealed 51 percent of Americans support an air strike in Iran, while 46 percent back aerial, as well as ground operations. (Yitzhak Benhorin, Washington)
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Hurricane Investigators See 'Fog of War' at White House - New York Times

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 — The White House was beset by the "fog of war" in the crucial days immediately after Hurricane Katrina, leaving it unable to respond properly to the unfolding catastrophe, House investigators said Friday after getting the most detailed briefing yet on how President Bush's staff had handled the events.

The closed-door briefing, attended mostly by House committee aides, was provided by Kenneth Rapuano, who as Mr. Bush's deputy domestic security adviser was the senior official in charge of managing storm events at the White House when the hurricane struck. The meeting was a compromise, a result of White House objections to the investigators' requests for copies of e-mail messages and other correspondence from top presidential aides.

Mr. Rapuano, those present said, acknowledged that he left the White House about 10 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 29, the night the storm hit. Some two hours later, the White House received a report indicating that a major levee in New Orleans had been breached and that most of the city had already been flooded. The report was sent by an official of the Federal Emergency Management Agency who had flown over the city late that afternoon.

But Mr. Rapuano said that before he left that night, the White House received a separate report from the Army Corps of Engineers saying an evaluation of the levees was still under way.

The White House, Mr. Rapuano said, finally received confirmation about the levee breach about 6 a.m. on Tuesday, the morning after it occurred. But even then, it does not appear that word got immediately to Mr. Bush, who was on vacation and who later said that he had had a "sense of relaxation" and had thought the city had "dodged a bullet."

"We are left with a picture of a White House that was plagued by the fog of war," said David Marin, the Republican staff director to the House committee investigating the government's response to the hurricane. "The committee is likely to find a disturbing inability by the White House to de-conflict and analyze information — and that had consequences."

Trent Duffy, the deputy White House press secretary, who also attended the briefing, acknowledged that all levels of the government had suffered from a lack of clarity about the events as they developed.

"There was a lack of situational awareness at all levels," Mr. Duffy said in an interview on Friday. "That is one of the biggest lessons everyone in emergency preparedness has learned because of the storm."

With the House not yet in session, only one lawmaker from the investigative committee — its chairman, Tom Davis, Republican of Virginia — was present for the briefing. Mr. Rapuano told him and the staff investigators that the White House role had been to monitor the situation. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and its parent, the Department of Homeland Security, were operationally in charge, he said.

The investigators expressed frustration that the White House did not seem to have been more actively involved. But Mr. Duffy, echoing a point made by Mr. Rapuano, said: "The White House should not be making combat decisions in Iraq. The same is true for a domestic emergency response."

The committee staff members also asked why it had taken Mr. Bush until the following Saturday, nearly a week after the storm, to order a large number of federal troops to the Gulf Coast.

Mr. Rapuano said that the Pentagon had already started to send troops and that in fact 5,000 of them had arrived by that point.

Louisiana's governor, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, had asked for many more three days earlier, but Mr. Rapuano said the problem was that she had not provided specifics as to what kind of troops she needed.

If the investigators cannot determine, through either testimony or written correspondence, what various presidential aides knew, and when, it will be hard to pinpoint where failures occurred within the White House, said Mr. Marin, the staff director for the House committee.

"There is a difference between having enough information to find institutional fault, which we have," he said, "and having information to assign individual blame, which in large part we don't."


LINK

Iran to fire missiles if attacked

 

Iran would launch medium-range missiles if attacked, a military leader said, accusing Britain and the United States of arming rebels as international pressure mounts on Tehran over its nuclear plans.

Yahya Rahim Safavi, commander in chief of the Revolutionary Guard, told state television on Saturday: "If we come under a military attack, we will respond with our very effective missile defence."

    

Western states suspect Iran of secretly aiming to build a nuclear bomb. Tehran insists its nuclear facilities are intended to produce only electricity.

   

The United States and Israel have said they would prefer to solve the stand-off through diplomacy but have not ruled out a military strike.

   

Military experts reckon the Revolutionary Guard's Shahab-3 missiles have a range of some 2000 km, meaning Israel, US bases in the Gulf and foreign troops in Iraq lie within their range.

Read On

India changes tune, defends Iran: Way to go Bush

NEW DELHI, Jan 27: India on Friday distanced itself from US-led calls to isolate Iran at next week’s meeting of the IAEA after controversial remarks on the issue by Washington’s envoy to Delhi enraged the nation as seldom seen before.

The Indian foreign ministry, facing a barrage of criticism for apparent obsequiousness towards Washington that ranged from allies in the Left Front to former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, appeared to have rowed back from its recent bonhomie with the United States.

“During the past two weeks, India has been undertaking active consultations with all key members of the IAEA Board of Governors and with Iran, in order to avoid confrontation and to promote the widest possible consensus on handling the Iran nuclear issue,” a spokesman for the Indian foreign ministry said.

He explained that in all the consultations, India has urged “that Iran’s right to develop peaceful uses of nuclear energy for its development consistent with its international obligations and commitments should be respected”.

The spokesman said: “Iran’s willingness to work together with the IAEA to remove any outstanding issues, about its nuclear programme should be welcomed.” In this regard, the agency should be allowed to proceed according to its work programme and submit a detailed report, he said.

India, he said, also welcomes all initiatives, “including from Russia, which could enable a consensus to be reached on this issue and urges further intensive efforts in that direction”.

In the bargain India appealed to “all concerned countries (to) avoid confrontation and work in the spirit of seeking a mutually acceptable solution”.

The Indian clarification, which came in response to a question, coincided with comments by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that India should be ready to make hard choices ahead.

Earlier this week, US Ambassador David Mulford, in apparent eagerness to clinch a civil nuclear energy deal with India before President George W. Bush arrives here on March 1, said the move could die in the US Congress if India did not vote against Iran at the February 2 IAEA meeting.

The Indian Express, which supports the deal, cautioned: “India and the US are raucous democracies. Public statements from either side quickly feed into the domestic politics of the other and complicate the negotiations between the two governments. India and the US have made much progress in the last few years because they have learnt one hard lesson from the wasted decades of the past: avoid hectoring each other in public. Mulford’s remarks are an awful deviation from that sensible rule.”

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government is already under considerable pressure from the Left as well as sections of the Congress to reverse its IAEA vote, the Express wrote. “By linking the implementation of the nuclear pact and the Iran vote, Mulford has undercut the prospects of India moving forward on both.”

The Hindu said: “In publicly warning India, on Republic Day eve, to vote against Iran or else, (Mulford) has outrageously crossed the line of diplomatic propriety, inviting condemnation from political players ranging from the Left to Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

“But he has also done India a service by letting the cat out of the bag, if it was ever fully in. In his interview to the Press Trust of India, he has spotlighted the pitiful terms of the bargain struck by the Manmohan Singh government with Washington under the signboard of civilian nuclear cooperation,” The Hindu said.

“Who can, after Mr Mulford’s egregious forthcomingness, doubt that the bargain requires India to behave like a marionette — forced at every turn of major international events to go against its own national instincts and interests for fear of offending Washington? Today it is a fatwa on Iran, tomorrow it will be a diktat on India’s plan to separate its civil and military nuclear facilities, which Mr. Mulford has found to fall short of ‘minimum standards’.”

The Asian Age, commenting on Mr Mulford’s faux pas, observed: “Sometimes when you say something often enough, you start saying it in your sleep. This is what appears to have happened to US Ambassador to India David C. Mulford who stunned his own, and definitely Manmohan Singh’s, governments with his recent interview to a news agency.”
LINK

Gallup Asks the Classic Reagan Question...

Things are worse under Bush.
 
By E&P Staff

Published: January 27, 2006 1:15 PM ET

NEW YORK On the eve of the State of the Union message, Gallup pollsters last week posed the question Ronald Reagan asked in 1980 when he was running against Jimmy Carter for president: "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"

The reply from Americans represents "a strong rebuke of the Bush era," Gallup declared today, with nearly two-thirds saying things have gotten worse in the past five years. Only 28% say things have improved.

In reply to another question, 35% said they were "satisfied" with the direction of the country, and 65% are dissatisfied.

Does this represent merely the lingering fallout from 9/11? Not likely, since only 3% cited "terrorism" and 2% "homeland security" as a main reason for offering negative views. Most often cited as evidence that things have gotten worse: Iraq (cited by 26%) and "the economy" (24%).

Asked separately to list the "most important problem facing the country," 23% said the Iraq war, and only 7% terrorism. Various economic issues accounted for 30%.


As expected a whopping 92% of Democrats gave a negative reply to question of have-things-improved-under-Bush, while 60% of Republicans went positive. But, critically, 70% of Independents gave that "not improved" assessment.

Only 6% cited gas prices and 3% poverty as reasons for a negative view.


LINK

GDP Nosedive Could Handcuff Bush

Jan. 27, 2006 —  A surprising government report this morning showed U.S. economic growth slowed considerably in the fourth quarter of 2005, an indication that skyrocketing energy prices were hitting consumers' wallets and slowing spending.

The Department of Commerce report showed that the nation's economy grew at an anemic 1.1 percent — the worst performance in three years.

Read On: The final Nail

Kerry Steps Up: As for the rest...put up or shut up!

By Matthew Rothschild
January 27, 2006

Here, here, for John Kerry.

Finally, a Democrat willing to take a principled and courageous stance against Alito, and to do what needs to be done: and that’s to filibuster.

Though New York Times reporter David Kirkpatrick, in an ostensible news story, mocked Kerry for “hobnobbing” in Davos, Switzerland, during the early parts of the Senate debate, millions of progressives are cheering Kerry on—and Ted Kennedy, for that matter, who also has endorsed the filibuster tactic.

The filibuster was designed for just such an occasion.

The majority party is trying to railroad through one of the most reactionary judges ever nominated to the Supreme Court, a judge who has been consistently hostile to abortion rights, a judge who advertised to the Reagan Administration that he belonged to a racist and sexist organization in college, a judge who lied to the Senate years ago when he said he’d recuse himself from cases involving his own investments.

Most grievous of all, this is a judge who doesn’t seem to believe in the powers of the judiciary or the powers of Congress when they conflict with the powers of the Presidency.

Today, we have a President who is carving out the most gargantuan slices of power all for himself. This is not the time to confirm a justice who will applaud that carving.

In announcing his decision, Kerry presented the strong case against Alito: “He will take America backwards,” Kerry said, adding: “He’s consistently made it harder for the most disadvantaged Americans to have their day in court.

“He routinely defers to excessive government power regardless of how extreme or egregious the government’s actions are.

“And to this date,” Kerry said, Alito’s “only statement on record regarding a woman’s right to privacy is that she doesn’t have one.”

Kerry and Kennedy can’t pull off this filibuster by themselves.

They need the support of every Democrat who opposes Alito. They need the support of Minority Leader Harry Reid, who should step down, as buzzflash.com insists, if he can’t unite the caucus around such a pivotal battle. They need the support of any Democrat who aspires to lead the party in 2008, and that includes Evan Bayh, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Russ Feingold.

This is put up or shut up time.

And progressives will not look favorably upon those who don’t have the courage of their convictions at this critical moment.

LINK

Why Democrats are united against Alito, or should be

Solidarity against the high court nominee could aid electoral gains, they say, even if he's confirmed.
 
| Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
With Senate math against them, Democrats see scant prospect of blocking Judge Samuel Alito's rise to the Supreme Court - a final call to be made in a caucus meeting Wednesday.

But their push for a party-line vote on Alito signals another prize in this week's confirmation debate: a possible takeover of the Senate in next fall's elections.

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Halliburton Unit Gets Deal for "Detention Centers."

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) - Defense, engineering and construction services contractor Halliburton Co. on Tuesday said its KBR subsidiary received a five-year, $385 million contract from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement department.

The pact provides for establishing temporary detention, processing and deportation facilities if there is "an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S.," Halliburton said. Under the contract, KBR will also provide planning and, if required, engineering and logistics support to establish or operate expansion facilities.

 
Detention Centers, eh? For a huge influx of migrants, eh? Does anyone believe this?

NBC News PR Department Gets Down and Dirty... with Arianna

Somebody's feeling the heat...

How else to explain the widely-off-the-mark responses from NBC's PR department in Lloyd Grove's column to our reporting on Russert's multitude of journalistic ethical conflicts.

Instead of dealing with the charges head on, the media giant and its Washington bureau chief Tim Russert have astonishingly decided to get down and dirty, dredging up and faxing to at least one reporter a 12-year-old false claim that I hired a private detective to snoop on Russert's wife Maureen Orth while she was preparing a hit piece on me for Vanity Fair in 1994.

I've denied this ludicrous charge, put forward without a shred of evidence many times before -- including directly to Russert during the '96 GOP convention in San Diego. But that's not the point. The point is that instead of addressing the issue of his failure to come clean with his audience on a host of ethical questions, Russert has turned the NBC publicity machine into a vehicle for sleaze and rumor-mongering.

How can one of the major news organizations in the world condone this abysmal behavior? Doesn't NBC News have ethical guidelines when it comes to this kind of thing? (And incidentally, why does NBC News refuse to publish its ethical guidelines, claiming that they are an internal document?)

Look, I know NBC News and Russert would much prefer to debate hoary charges against me rather than the real issues at hand. So let me remind them what those issues are.

Russert refuses to come clean with his audience about his role in Plamegate. He is a participant. He was interviewed under oath by Fitzgerald. But he continued to report on Plamegate as if he were a disinterested observer rather than a major player. And he still refuses to come clean and explain why he fought to keep from testifying in front of the Plamegate grand jury about his fateful chat with Scooter Libby -- even after Libby signed a waiver allowing him to do so.

Plamegate is the perfect segue to another unanswered question. How can someone with these ethical issues go and speak on ethics in the media, as Russert is about to do at Ripon College in Wisconsin next Thursday? And why is NBC refusing to disclose what his speaking fee is?

Russert's latest ethical lapse is his unseemly use of Meet the Press to promote James Carville's new XM radio sports show while refusing to come clean about the fact that Carville's co-host is Russert's college-age son, Luke.

NBC News' diversionary strategy might have worked in the days before blogs started holding the MSM's feet to the fire. But not anymore. One thing is for sure: the Huffington Post and many others in the blogosphere will keep asking the questions Tim Russert doesn't want to answer.


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We Wiil Fight For The Constitution; who needs the feakin' politicians?.

 

Harry Reid, What Will be Your Excuse for Defeat Next Time?  The Democratic Leadership in the Senate May Not Fight for the Constitution, But We Will.

January 28, 2006

A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL

Harry Reid, what will be your excuse for defeat next time?

For 5 years, we have taken some potshots at some people in the Democratic Party, as we should. But, generally, we stood in support of the Dem Party leadership because when you have had a choice between a party that -- in general -- claims to work for the common good and -- on the other hand -- a dictatorship run by incompetent law-breaking, torturing elitists, you go with the former.

Besides, we cherish the tradition of Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy -- and the politically reborn Jimmy Carter and Al Gore.

But we aren't going to give the benefit of the doubt to the current Congressional Democratic leadership anymore. We have had enough excuses.

And through Tom Daschle's repeated capitulations to Bush -- his occasional criticisms followed by quick apologies or retreats -- and now the same from Harry Reid, we were still promised that the Dems were only giving ground to the most heinous legislation and betrayals of the Constitution from the White House -- time after time -- in order to hold their fire to prevent the Supreme Court from being radicalized into a partisan right wing arm of the extremist Republican Party.

But now that time has nearly come and gone -- and Harry Reid, the highest ranking Democratic officer holder in America -- shrugs his shoulders and says that there is nothing he can do to prevent a man who believes that a Republican president is entitled to dictatorial powers, that there is nothing that Harry Reid can do to prevent such a man from being seated on the Supreme Court.

We have been betrayed by our own party.

From now on, our first and only priorities are citizen patriots who stand up for the Constitution, Democracy, Voting Rights, Justice, Honesty, Accountability -- Winning.

We have had enough excuses and "retreats to fight another day" to know that the Democratic leadership doesn't have the gut check to restore America to its Constitutional balance of powers, resist the Republican juggernaut to return us to a pre-Civil War era, the illegalities in the White House, exposing the truth behind the Republican lies, framing the issues at stake, supporting the likes of John Murtha who is speaking out for the military -- for Christ's sake -- in opposition to a ruinous war that is degrading our armed forces, and, most importantly, to do battle. To fight the good fight, and to win. The Democratic leadership is too busy wandering around dazed and confused to accomplish these tasks.

Their rare temporary win on Social Security is only testament to what they could do if they acted with strength, passion and conviction more than once or twice in five years.

From now on, it's up to us. Yes, by all means continue to bombard senators with phone calls demanding that they defend the Constitution and support the filibuster. (We have several headlines on BuzzFlash that link to senate office and fax numbers. Here is one from Democrats.Com: http://www.democrats.com/we-can-stop-alito)

Remember, it's your government. These people are elected by you and their salaries and perks are paid with your hard-earned tax dollars.

But, also remember this, we, the citizens of America with passionate commitment, are the last hope. We will fight for America and our rule of law -- as Harry Reid won't, and Tom Daschle, before him, didn't.

We are tired of being shown speeches that criticize Bush. That is not putting up a fight. That is providing an alibi.

Hasta la vista to the likes of Joe Biden. We are holding Bush accountable and we are holding the Dems who function as enablers accountable, the Dems who shrink from a fight and then hold forth with political babble on Sunday morning talk shows.

You know why half the public still thinks Bush is strong on national security when he is really undermining our nation at every turn and putting our lives at risk with his dreadfully misguided policies?

There are two reasons: the Democratic leadership doesn't know or doesn't care to expose how Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld endanger our national security (and we're not talking about press releases from Harry Reid here as being sufficient); and half of the American public doesn't care that Cheney and Bush were cowards during the Vietnam War. Why? Because Cheney and Bush are Sons of Bitches now -- and half of America wants a Son of a Bitch in the White House when they are living in a state of fear, because the Democrats are too scared to challenge the Bush lies about his failed "war on terror."

Franklin Roosevelt said, "There is nothing to fear but fear itself." The Republicans say, "Live in a state of fear and vote for us." The Democratic leadership sits on their haunches and lets the political shakedown go unchallenged -- and Roosevelt died more than 60 years ago, so we can't bring him back to set the Party straight.

No one cares about politicians who talk about strength and then roll over like doormats whenever the highly vulnerable and corrupt Republicans intimidate them. If the Democrats want to be perceived as strong, then stop backing down from almost every fight in the Senate. Not one Democrat in the Senate -- not one -- should be leaving Kerry and Kennedy hanging in the win.

This should not be a symbolic filibuster. This should be a filibuster to keep the Supreme Court as one independent branch as specified in the Constitutional balance of powers, not as an extension of the monarchal, dynastic goals of Bush and his one-party government.

If you can't beat a White House that should be in jail instead of occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, then you are not perceived as strong. You are perceived as weak, and rightfully so.

The excuses are over. We'll finish up what Howard Dean tried to start (and is continuing at the DNC largely without the support of the Democratic Congressional leadership). We'll have to take back our party before we can get back our Constitution.

Odd, isn't it, the DLC Democrats spend more time fighting off patriotic, grassroots Dems than they do fighting the Republicans. They capitulate to the GOP, but battle their own base. What idiots!

So, on Monday morning, don't stop calling your senators. They still legally represent us -- and we aren't giving up on a filibuster, even if it looks grim. The Republicans always talk up their vote, even when they are losing and create an air of inevitability. That's what they did to pull George Bush through the Florida vote in 2000, long enough to fool the public and get him illegitimately installed as President.

Harry Reid and his predecessor, however, talk down their vote, thus signaling defeat before a vote has even been taken.

We say to the Democratic Congressional leadership, "Enough!"

The time for excuses is over. If the Democratic leadership wants a battle, they got one -- from the patriots of America.

The Constitution comes first. We'll fight through the entrenched Washington Dems if we have to.

We believe in the Spirit of 1776 and the legacy of the American Revolution.

We believe it's worth battling for.

A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL

 

BuzzFlash Afternote: The vote for cloture will probably be on Monday. The White House wants Bush to triumphantly announce Alito's confirmation during his State of the Union Address on Tuesday. It's all part of the big Republican show.

Cenesored: 2005

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 27, 2006
5:01 AM

CONTACT: Project Censored  / WanttoKnow.info
wecare@wanttoknow.info

 
Censored News Stories of 2005: Top 10 Project Censored News Stories
 

WASHINGTON - January 27 -

Project Censored specializes in covering the top news stories which were either ignored or downplayed by the mainstream media each year. Project Censored is a research team composed of nearly 200 university faculty, students, and community experts who review about 1,000 news story submissions for coverage, content, reliability of sources, and national significance. The top 25 stories selected are submitted to a panel of judges who then rank them in order of importance. The results are published each year in an excellent book available for purchase at their website, amazon.com, and most major book stores.

A brief summary of last year's top 10 censored news stories provided below proves quite revealing and most informative. The headline of each news story contains a link for those who want to read the entire article. Links to sources are also provided for verification. Thanks to the Internet and wonderful, committed groups like Project Censored, the news is getting out to those who want to know. By revealing these censored news stories, we can stop the excessive secrecy and work together to build a brighter future. Please help to spread the word, and have a great day!

With best wishes,
Fred Burks for the
WantToKnow.info Team
Former language interpreter for Presidents Bush and Clinton


http://www.projectcensored.org/censored_2006 - Top 25 Project Censored news stories
http://www.projectcensored.org/store - Order book "Censored 2006" here for full news stories


1. White House Erodes Open Government

While the White House has expanded its ability to keep tabs on civilians, it's been working to curtail the ability of the public—and even Congress—to find out what the government is doing. One year ago, Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., released an 81-page analysis of how the administration has administered the country's major open government laws. The report found that the feds consistently "narrowed the scope and application" of the Freedom of Information Act, the Presidential Records Act and other key public-information legislation, while expanding laws blocking access to certain records—even creating new categories of "protected" information and exempting entire departments from public scrutiny. When those methods haven't been enough, the administration has simply refused to release records—even when requested by a congressional subcommittee or the Government Accountability Office. Given the news media's interest in safeguarding open government laws, one wonders why these findings weren't publicized far and wide.

Source: "New Report Details Bush Administration Secrecy" press release, Karen Lightfoot, Government Reform Minority Office, posted on www.commondreams.org, Sept. 14, 2004.


2. Media Coverage on Iraq: Fallujah and the Civilian Death Toll

The civilized world may well look back on the assaults on Fallujah in 2004 as examples of utter disregard for the most basic wartime rules of engagement. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour called for an investigation into whether the Americans and their allies had engaged in "the deliberate targeting of civilians, indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, the killing of injured persons, and the use of human shields," among other possible "grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions" considered war crimes under federal law. More than 83 percent of Fallujah's 300,000 residents fled the city. Men between the ages of 15 and 45 were refused safe passage, and all who remained—about 50,000—were treated as enemy combatants. Numerous sources reported that coalition forces cut off water and electricity, shot at anyone who ventured out into the open, executed families waving white flags while trying to swim across the Euphrates, shot at ambulances, and allowed corpses to rot in the streets and be eaten by dogs. Medical staff reported seeing people with melted faces and limbs, injuries consistent with the use of phosphorous bombs. But you likely know little of this as the media hardly mentioned it.

Sources: "The Invasion of Fallujah," Mary Trotochaud and Rick McDowell, Peacework, Dec. 2004-Jan. 2005; "Fallujah Refugees Tell of Life and Death in the Kill Zone," Dahr Jamail, New Standard, "The War in Iraq: Civilian Casualties, Political Responsibilities," Richard Horton, Lancet, Oct. 29, 2004; Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, April 15, 2004.


3. Distorted Election Coverage

The mainstream media largely ignored evidence that electronic voting machines were susceptible to tampering and downplayed political alliances between the machines' manufacturers and the Bush administration. Then came Nov. 2, 2004. President Bush prevailed by 3 million votes—despite exit polls that projected John Kerry winning by a margin of 5 million. "Exit polls are highly accurate," wrote Professor Steve Freeman of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Organizational Dynamics in an article co-authored with statistician Josh Mitteldorf of Temple University. "They remove most of the sources of potential polling error by identifying actual voters and asking them immediately afterward who they had voted for." The discrepancy of 8 million votes was well beyond the poll's recognized margin of error of less than one percent. The official result deviated by more than five percent, which is considered a statistical impossibility. Freeman and Mitteldorf analyzed the data and found that "only in precincts that used old-fashioned, hand-counted paper ballots did the official count and the exit polls fall within the normal sampling margin of error." The discrepancy between the exit polls and the official count was considerably greater in the critical swing states.

Sources: "A Corrupted Election," Steve Freeman, Josh Mitteldorf, In These Times, Feb. 15, 2005; "Jim Crow Returns to the Voting Booth, Greg Palast and Rev. Jesse Jackson, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Jan. 26, 2005.


4. Surveillance Society Quietly Moves In 

It's a well-known dirty trick in the halls of government: If you want to pass unpopular legislation that you know won't stand up to scrutiny, just wait until the public isn't looking. That's precisely what the White House did Dec. 13, 2003, the day American troops captured Saddam Hussein. President Bush celebrated the occasion by privately signing into law the Intelligence Authorization Act—a controversial expansion of the PATRIOT Act that included items culled from the "Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003," a draft proposal that had been shelved due to a public outcry after being leaked. Specifically, the IAA allows the government to obtain an individual's financial records without a court order. The law also makes it illegal for institutions to inform anyone that the government has requested those records, or that information has been shared with the authorities. The law also broadens the definition of "financial institution" to include insurance companies, travel and real estate agencies, stockbrokers, the U.S. Postal Service, jewelry stores, casinos, airlines, car dealerships, and any other business "whose cash transactions have a high degree of usefulness in criminal, tax or regulatory matters." In one fell swoop, this act has decimated our rights to privacy, due process, and freedom of speech.

Sources: "PATRIOT Act's Reach Expanded Despite Part Being Struck Down," Nikki Swartz, Information Management Journal, March/April 2004; "Grave New World," Anna Samson Miranda, LiP, Winter 2004; "Where Big Brother Snoops on Americans 24/7," Teresa Hampton, www.capitolhillblue.com, June 7, 2004.


5. U.S. Uses Tsunami to Military Advantage in Southeast Asia

The American people reacted to the tsunami that hit the Indian Ocean last December with an outpouring of compassion and private donations. Across the nation, neighbors got together to collect food, clothing, medicine and financial contributions. The White House initially offered an embarrassingly low $15 million in aid. More importantly, the government exploited the catastrophe to its own strategic advantage. Establishing a stronger military presence in the area could help the United States keep closer tabs on China. It could also fortify an important military launching ground and help consolidate control over potentially lucrative trade routes. The United States currently operates a base out of Diego Garcia—a former British mandate about halfway between Africa and Indonesia, but the lease runs out in 2016. Consequently, in the name of relief, the U.S. revived the Utapao military base in Thailand it had used during the Vietnam War and reactivated its military cooperation agreements with Thailand and the Visiting Forces Agreement with the Philippines.

Sources: "US Turns Tsunami into Military Strategy," Jane's Foreign Report, Feb. 15, 2005; "US Has Used Tsunami to Boost Aims in Stricken Area," Rahul Bedi, Irish Times, Feb. 8, 2005; "Bush Uses Tsunami Aid to Regain Foothold in Indonesia," Jim Lobe, Inter Press Service, Jan. 18, 2005.


6. The Real Oil for Food Scam

The United Nations allegedly allowed Saddam Hussein to rake in $10 billion in illegal cash through the Oil for Food program. New York Times columnist William Safire referred to the alleged U.N. con game as "the richest rip-off in world history." According to the GAO, Hussein smuggled $6 billion worth of oil out of Iraq—most of it through the Persian Gulf. Yet most of the oil that left Iraq by land did so through Jordan and Turkey—with the approval of the United States. The first Bush administration informally exempted Jordan from the ban on purchasing Iraqi oil—an arrangement that provided Hussein with $4.4 billion over 10 years, according to the CIA's own findings. The U.S. later allowed Iraq to leak another $710 million worth of oil through Turkey, all while U.S. planes enforcing no-fly zones flew overhead. Scott Ritter, a U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq during the first six years of economic sanctions against the country, unearthed yet another scam: The United States allegedly allowed an oil company run by Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov's sister to purchase cheap oil from Iraq and resell it to U.S. companies at market value—purportedly earning Hussein "hundreds of millions" more.

Sources: "The UN Is Us: Exposing Saddam Hussein's Silent Partner," Joy Gordon, Harper's, December 2004; "The Oil for Food 'Scandal' Is a Cynical Smokescreen," Scott Ritter, UK Independent, Dec. 12, 2004.


7. Journalists Face Unprecedented Dangers to Life and Livelihood

Last year was the deadliest year for reporters since the International Federation of Journalists began keeping tabs in 1984. A total of 129 media workers lost their lives, and 49 of them—more than a third—were killed in Iraq. As far as anyone has yet proved, no commanding officer ever ordered a subordinate to fire on journalists. But what can be shown is a pattern of tacit complicity, side by side with a heavy-handed campaign to curb journalists' right to roam freely. The Pentagon has refused to implement basic safeguards to protect journalists who aren't embedded with coalition forces, despite repeated requests by Reuters and media-advocacy organizations. To date, U.S. authorities have not disciplined a single officer or soldier involved in the killing of a journalist. Meanwhile, the interim government the United States installed in Iraq raided and closed down Al-Jazeera's Baghdad offices almost as soon as it took power and banned the network from doing any reporting in the country. In November, the interim government ordered news organizations to "stick to the government line on the U.S.-led offensive in Fallujah or face legal action," in an official command sent out on interim prime minister Eyad Allawi's letterhead.

Sources: "Dead Messengers: How the US Military Threatens Journalists," Steve Weissman, www.truthout.org, Feb. 28, 2005; "Media Repression in 'Liberated' Land," Dahr Jamail, Inter Press Service, Nov. 18, 2004.


8. Iraqi Farmers Threatened By US Mandates

Historians believe it was in the "fertile crescent" where Iraq now lies, that humans first learned to farm. "It is here...that mankind first domesticated wheat," wrote Jeremy Smith in the Ecologist. "The U.S., however, has decided that Iraqis don't know what wheat works best in their own conditions." Smith was referring to Order 81, penned by Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, and left as a legacy by the American government when it transferred operations to interim Iraqi authorities. The regulation sets criteria for the patenting of seeds that can only be met by multinational companies like Monsanto or Syngenta, and it grants the patent holder exclusive rights over every aspect of all plant products yielded by those seeds. The new scheme effectively launches a process whereby Iraqi farmers will soon have to purchase their seeds rather than using seeds saved from their own crops or bought at the local market. Native varieties will be replaced by foreign—and genetically engineered—seeds. Order 81 fit nicely into the outlines of a U.S. "Economy Plan," a 101-page blueprint for the economic makeover of Iraq, formulated with ample help from corporate lobbyists. BBC journalist Greg Palast reported that someone inside the State Department leaked the plan to him a month prior to the invasion. Smith put it simply: "The people whose forefathers first mastered the domestication of wheat will now have to pay for the privilege of growing it for someone else. And with that, the world's oldest farming heritage will become just another subsidiary link in the vast American supply chain."

Sources: "Iraq's New Patent Law: A Declaration of War Against Farmers,"Grain, October 2004; "Adventure Capitalism," Greg Palast, www.tompaine.com, Oct. 26, 2004; "US Seeking to Totally Re-Engineer Iraqi Traditional Farming System into a US Style Corporate Agribusiness," Jeremy Smith, Ecologist, Feb. 4, 2005.


9. Iran’s New Oil Trade System Challenges U.S. Currency

The Bush administration has been paying a lot more attention to Iran recently. Part of that interest is clearly Iran's nuclear program—but there may be more to the story. One bit of news that hasn't received the public attention it merits is Iran's declared intent to open an international oil exchange market, or "bourse." Not only would the new entity compete against the New York Mercantile Exchange and London's International Petroleum Exchange (both owned by American corporations), but it would also ignite international oil trading in euros. A shift away from U.S. dollars to euros in the oil market would cause the demand for petrodollars to drop, perhaps causing the value of the dollar to plummet. Russia, Venezuela and some members of OPEC have expressed interest in moving towards a petroeuro system. And it isn't entirely implausible that China, which is the world's second largest holder of U.S. currency reserves, might eventually follow suit. Barring a U.S. attack, it appears imminent that Iran's euro-dominated oil bourse will open in March 2006. Logically, the most appropriate U.S. strategy is compromise with the EU and OPEC towards a dual-currency system for international oil trades. But you won't hear any discussion of that alternative on the 6 o'clock news.

Source: "Iran Next US Target," William Clark, www.globalresearch.ca, Oct. 27, 2004.


10. Mountaintop Removal Threatens Ecosystem and Economy

On Aug. 15, environmental activists created a human blockade by locking themselves to drilling equipment, obstructing the National Coal Corp.'s access to a strip mine in the Appalachian Mountains 40 miles north of Knoxville, Tenn. It was just the latest in a protracted campaign that environmentalists say has national implications, but that's been ignored by the media outside the immediate area. Under contention is a technique wherein entire mountaintops are removed to access the coal underneath—a practice that is nothing short of devastating for the local ecosystem, but which could become much more widespread. As it stands, 93 new coal plants are in the works nationwide. Areas incredibly rich in biodiversity are being turned into the biological equivalent of parking lots. Is this the final solution for 200-million-year-old mountains?

Source: "See You in the Mountains: KatĂșah Earth First! Confronts Mountaintop Removal," John Conner, Earth First!, November-December 2004.


Below are the headlines and links to Project Censored news stories 11 to 25

11. Universal Mental Screening Program Usurps Parental Rights

12. Military in Iraq Contracts Human Rights Violators

13. Rich Countries Fail to Live up to Global Pledges

14. Corporations Win Big on Tort Reform, Justice Suffers

15. Plan to Override Academic Freedom in the Classroom

16. U.S. Plans for Hemispheric Integration Include Canada

17. U.S. Uses South American Military Bases to Expand Control of the Region

18. Little Known Stock Fraud Could Weaken U.S. Economy

19. Child Wards of the State Used in AIDS Experiments

20. American Indians Sue for Resources; Compensation Provided to Others

21. New Immigration Plan Favors Business Over People

22. Nanotechnology Offers Exciting Possibilities, Health Effects Need Scrutiny

23. Plight of Palestinian Child Detainees Highlights Global Problem

24. Ethiopian Indigenous Victims of Corporate, Government Resource Aspirations

25. Homeland Security Was Designed to Fail


For several previous censored news stories even more important that those above, see our two-page media cover-up summary at http://www.WantToKnow.info/mediacover-up


Final Note:
Remember that with your help, we can and will build a brighter future for us all. And for some deeply inspiring stories to provide balance to all of this: http://www.WantToKnow.info/coverupnews#inspiration


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US Plans to 'Fight the Net' Revealed

Published on Friday, January 27, 2006
by BBC
by Adam Brookes
 
WASHINGTON - A newly declassified document gives a fascinating glimpse into the US military's plans for "information operations" - from psychological operations, to attacks on hostile computer networks.

Bloggers beware.

As the world turns networked, the Pentagon is calculating the military opportunities that computer networks, wireless technologies and the modern media offer.

From influencing public opinion through new media to designing "computer network attack" weapons, the US military is learning to fight an electronic war.

The declassified document is called "Information Operations Roadmap". It was obtained by the National Security Archive at George Washington University using the Freedom of Information Act.

Officials in the Pentagon wrote it in 2003. The Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, signed it.

The "roadmap" calls for a far-reaching overhaul of the military's ability to conduct information operations and electronic warfare. And, in some detail, it makes recommendations for how the US armed forces should think about this new, virtual warfare.

The document says that information is "critical to military success". Computer and telecommunications networks are of vital operational importance.

Propaganda

The operations described in the document include a surprising range of military activities: public affairs officers who brief journalists, psychological operations troops who try to manipulate the thoughts and beliefs of an enemy, computer network attack specialists who seek to destroy enemy networks.

All these are engaged in information operations.

Perhaps the most startling aspect of the roadmap is its acknowledgement that information put out as part of the military's psychological operations, or Psyops, is finding its way onto the computer and television screens of ordinary Americans.

"Information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and Psyops, is increasingly consumed by our domestic audience," it reads.

"Psyops messages will often be replayed by the news media for much larger audiences, including the American public," it goes on.

The document's authors acknowledge that American news media should not unwittingly broadcast military propaganda. "Specific boundaries should be established," they write. But they don't seem to explain how.

"In this day and age it is impossible to prevent stories that are fed abroad as part of psychological operations propaganda from blowing back into the United States - even though they were directed abroad," says Kristin Adair of the National Security Archive.

Credibility problem

Public awareness of the US military's information operations is low, but it's growing - thanks to some operational clumsiness.

Late last year, it emerged that the Pentagon had paid a private company, the Lincoln Group, to plant hundreds of stories in Iraqi newspapers. The stories - all supportive of US policy - were written by military personnel and then placed in Iraqi publications.

And websites that appeared to be information sites on the politics of Africa and the Balkans were found to be run by the Pentagon.

But the true extent of the Pentagon's information operations, how they work, who they're aimed at, and at what point they turn from informing the public to influencing populations, is far from clear.

The roadmap, however, gives a flavour of what the US military is up to - and the grand scale on which it's thinking.

It reveals that Psyops personnel "support" the American government's international broadcasting. It singles out TV Marti - a station which broadcasts to Cuba - as receiving such support.

It recommends that a global website be established that supports America's strategic objectives. But no American diplomats here, thank you. The website would use content from "third parties with greater credibility to foreign audiences than US officials".

It also recommends that Psyops personnel should consider a range of technologies to disseminate propaganda in enemy territory: unmanned aerial vehicles, "miniaturized, scatterable public address systems", wireless devices, cellular phones and the internet.

'Fight the net'

When it describes plans for electronic warfare, or EW, the document takes on an extraordinary tone.

It seems to see the internet as being equivalent to an enemy weapons system.

"Strategy should be based on the premise that the Department [of Defense] will 'fight the net' as it would an enemy weapons system," it reads.

The slogan "fight the net" appears several times throughout the roadmap.

The authors warn that US networks are very vulnerable to attack by hackers, enemies seeking to disable them, or spies looking for intelligence.

"Networks are growing faster than we can defend them... Attack sophistication is increasing... Number of events is increasing."

US digital ambition

And, in a grand finale, the document recommends that the United States should seek the ability to "provide maximum control of the entire electromagnetic spectrum".

US forces should be able to "disrupt or destroy the full spectrum of globally emerging communications systems, sensors, and weapons systems dependent on the electromagnetic spectrum".

Consider that for a moment.

The US military seeks the capability to knock out every telephone, every networked computer, every radar system on the planet.

Are these plans the pipe dreams of self-aggrandising bureaucrats? Or are they real?

The fact that the "Information Operations Roadmap" is approved by the Secretary of Defense suggests that these plans are taken very seriously indeed in the Pentagon.

And that the scale and grandeur of the digital revolution is matched only by the US military's ambitions for it.

© BBC MMVI