Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Great Energy War

Not as tyrants have we come, but as liberators: Adolf  Hitler, 1938


An evil exists that threatens every man, woman, and child of this great nation. We must take steps to ensure our domestic security and protect our homeland: Adolph  Hitler : In 1933, Hitler used the burning of the Reichstag as a pretext to push through emergency decrees suspending the basic civil liberties of German citizens. The "emergency" decrees remained in effect until the fall of the Third Reich in 1945.


Now I shall ask you to imagine how/ Men under discipline of death prepare for war./ There is much more to it than armament/ . . . and for a while they join a terrible equality;/ Are virtuous, self-sacrificing, free;/ And so insidious is this liberty/ That those surviving it will bear/ An even greater servitude to its root:/ Believing they were whole, while they were brave;/ That they were rich because their loot was great;/ That war was meaningful because they lost their friends: Homer - Source: War Music A verse translation of Books 16 - 19 of the Illiad by Christopher Logue. 1981. King Penguin.


In modern war there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason: Ernest  Hemingway


So long as men worship the Caesars and Napoleons, Caesars and Napoleons will duly rise and make them miserable: Aldous  Huxley


A Time For Answers on Domestic Spying

Time for Answers

On Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold the first congressional hearings on President Bush's warrantless domestic spying program. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will be the lone witness. If his past statements are an indication, Gonzales will provide few details about the controversial program, hiding behind the guise of national security. Yet even if Gonzales continues to refuse to speak forthrightly and honestly about warrantless domestic spying, senators must at least press him to respond in detail to the facts and statements already in the public record. Senior administration officials -- including Gonzales -- have made demonstrably false statements about the program, sometimes under oath. Gonzales must be called to account. Below, some questions that he should answer:

WHY DID YOU TESTIFY UNDER OATH IN 2005 THAT WARRANTLESS WIRETAPPING WAS A 'HYPOTHETICAL SITUATION' THAT YOU WOULD NOT APPROVE OF? According to President Bush, Alberto Gonzales personally approved of the warrantless domestic spying program while serving as White House counsel. By circumventing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which (along with Title III) are the "exclusive means by which electronic surveillance" can be conducted on U.S. persons, the program violates federal law. During his confirmation hearings for Attorney General in January 2005, Gonzales was asked by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) about this precise issue: "I'm asking you whether in general the president has the constitutional authority, does he at least in theory have the authority to authorize violations of the criminal law under duly enacted statutes simply because he's commander in chief? Does he -- does he have that power?" Despite having personally approved of just this set of events, Gonzales called Feingold's inquiry "sort of a hypothetical situation," then stated, "Senator, this president is not -- I -- it is not the policy or the agenda of this president to authorize actions that would be in contravention of our criminal statutes."

As ThinkProgress first documented (which Newsweek notes this week), General Michael Hayden misled Congress about warrantless domestic surveillance in October 2002 while serving as NSA director. In sworn testimony before the Joint Select Intelligence Committee, Hayden stated that any surveillance of persons in the United States -- including surveillance related to known terrorists -- was done consistent with FISA. At the time of his statements, Hayden was fully aware of the presidential order to conduct warrantless domestic spying issued the previous year, but he stated false information anyway. Apparently, Hayden believed that he had been legally authorized to conduct the surveillance, but told Congress that he had no authority to do exactly what he was doing.

YOU HAVE CONTRADICTED GENERAL HAYDEN REGARDING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PROBABLE CAUSE AND REASONABLE BASIS IN RELATION TO FISA STANDARDS. WHO IS CORRECT? On January 23, Deputy Director of National Intelligence Michael Hayden affirmed that one of the functions of the NSA program was "to lower the standard from what they call for, which is basically probable cause to a reasonable basis," stating that the "trigger is quicker and a bit softer [for the NSA program] than it is for a FISA warrant." One day later, Alberto Gonzales contradicted Hayden's remarks. In an interview, Gonzales stated that the legal standard used for the NSA program was "equivalent to that required for complying with the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures." The reasonable basis standard, he said, "is essentially the same as the traditional Fourth Amendment probable cause standard."

WHY WOULD CONGRESS HAVE REFUSED TO LOWER FISA STANDARDS IF, AS YOU CHARGE, IT HAD ALREADY DONE SO? Alberto Gonzales has argued that "we believe [warrantless domestic spying] has been authorized by the Congress" via the September 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), though he did concede that "signals intelligence is not mentioned in the authorization to use force." Yet, when asked whether the Bush administration should have asked Congress to amend FISA to allow greater flexibility, Gonzales stated, "We've had discussions with members of Congress, certain members of Congress, about whether or not we could get an amendment to FISA, and we were advised that that was not likely to be -- that was not something we could likely get." In other words, as one analyst phrased it, "Congress would never have granted Bush permission to do something that, according to Gonzales, it had already granted him permission to do."

WAS PRESIDENT BUSH RIGHT WHEN HE SAID THE SUPREME COURT HAD AGREED THAT THE 2001 AUTHORIZATION OF FORCE SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED WARRANTLESS WIRETAPPING? On January 23, President Bush argued that the Congress' 2001 authorization of force, upheld by the Supreme Court in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, establishes his authority to conduct warrantless domestic spying. But as the Congressional Research Service noted in its January 5 review of the administration's legal rationale for the NSA program, "the Court [in Hamdi] appears to have relied on a more limited interpretation of the scope of the AUMF than that which the Administration had asserted in its briefs." Moreover, in 1972, the Supreme Court ruled in U.S. v. U.S. District Court, 407 US 297 that warrantless domestic surveillance was unconstitutional. According to the Court, Fourth Amendment freedoms "cannot properly be guaranteed if domestic security surveillances may be conducted solely within the discretion of the Executive Branch. The Fourth Amendment does not contemplate the executive officers of Government as neutral and disinterested magistrates. Their duty and responsibility are to enforce the laws, to investigate, and to prosecute." Since the passage of FISA in 1978, "the Supreme Court has not touched this issue in the area of national security," according to William Banks, a national security expert at Syracuse Law School.

Both President Bush and Attorney General Gonzales have argued that the Justice Department has repeatedly approved the legality of warrantless domestic spying. Last week, Bush said of the program, "[I]t's legal. ... And we review it a lot, and we review not only at the Justice Department, but with a good legal staff inside NSA." Likewise, Gonzales said, "My Department - the Department of Justice - has carefully reviewed this program for legality." Nevertheless, the Bush administration is stonewalling bipartisan requests for its classified legal opinions on the program from members of the judiciary committee.


Bush: still an idiot

DALLAS, Feb. 3 — President Bush told the nation's students on Friday that if they studied math and science they would not be joining the "nerd patrol" but helping their own futures and the economic health of the United States.

"You know, a lot of people probably think math and science isn't meant for me — it kind of seems a little hard, algebra," Mr. Bush said at a panel discussion, organized by the White House, outside Albuquerque at the Intel Corporation's largest chip-making plant. "I can understand that, frankly."

But Mr. Bush urged people to heed the story of a high school senior on the panel, Nicole Lopez, who told the assembled crowd that she had joined gangs in her freshman year and was on the wrong road until two teachers, now her mentors, helped steer her toward math and science. Ms. Lopez said she would attend the University of New Mexico and planned to major in civil engineering.

"I hope people listening and hear Nicole's story take a look at math and science," Mr. Bush said.

The president also said, "I'm looking for a mentor, by the way, both in math and English."

Mr. Bush was near Albuquerque, in the suburban city of Rio Rancho, as part of his post-State of the Union road show to promote major proposals in the address. In Rio Rancho, he pushed what the White House is calling the "American competitiveness initiative," which calls for, among other things, doubling federal spending on basic research grants in the physical sciences over 10 years, at a cost of $50 billion.

Later in the day, Mr. Bush flew to Dallas, where he and the first lady and a gaggle of reporters and camera crews visited an Advanced Placement biology classroom at the School of Science and Engineering in the Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Magnet Center.

While the Bushes watched, Michael Harrell, a 12th grader, demonstrated a science experiment that involved DNA and insulin. Mr. Bush listened carefully, then said, "I got it." Looking at some blank faces among reporters, he added, "I'm not sure if the press got it."

In his State of the Union address, Mr. Bush called for the training of 70,000 Advanced Placement teachers and the recruitment of 30,000 math and science professionals to help out in school classrooms.

"In order for America to be a competitive nation in the years to come, we have got to have a work force that is strong in engineering and science and physics," he said at the end of the classroom visit. "You know, some would hope that the competition around the world will go away. It's not going to. And so we have a choice to make: Do we want to retreat, become protectionist, or do we want to seize the moment and shape our future?"


A more democratic world rejects Bush's globalism

THE GOOD NEWS: Democracy is breaking out all over. The awkward news: The more that people freely vote, the more fervently they reject the global designs of George W. Bush and the America he projects.

In the Middle East, the people have freely chosen two governments that could not be more a repudiation of Bush's vision for the region, nor more alarming to broader hopes of peace and stability -- Hamas in Palestine and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran. Even in Iraq, whose election was held under direct American tutelage, our preferred henchmen were decisively ousted.

In Latin America, voters in Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, and most recently Chile, have chosen governments that are social-democratic at best and caudillo-populist at worst. Mexico, where a popular radical, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, leads all polls, is probably next. Some, like Chile's new president, Michelle Bachelet, are admirable, others less so. But none supports Bush's vision of corporate globalism.

America was once a universal beacon. Ever since America asserted global leadership in the mid-20th century, people around the world have expressed nothing so much as ambivalence.

They despised the US military might that frequently installed local dictators who served Washington and Wall Street, enriched themselves, and slaughtered domestic opponents; they continued to admire America's internal democracy and vitality.

They hated the economic imperialism that often made their local economies appendages of America's; they liked the consumer products and spread of advanced technologies.

They resented the universal projection of America's pop culture at the expense of their own; they wore the jeans, bought the records, and flocked to the movies.

The most effective of US postwar presidents deftly navigated this complex ambivalence. They maximized what people everywhere like about America -- the openness, the idealism, the dynamism, the support for universal human rights. American presidents sometimes resorted to force, but tried to do so after consultation and consensus. Until lately, global public opinion, on balance, respected America.

Enter George W. Bush. He offered the worst possible combination of strategies -- unilateral swagger, combined with loudly proclaimed promotion of democracy. Should anyone be surprised when the democratic elections produce a string of repudiations? Or that America dare not foment democracy in its faithful despotic allies, Egypt or Saudi Arabia, lest the people vote in two more radically Islamist regimes?

It used to be an article of faith that free elections and the American way of life went together. During the Cold War we reassured ourselves that no nation had ever freely voted in a communist government. But evidently the post-Cold War world is different.

Yes, the roots of this backlash go far beyond the presidency of George W. Bush. They date back a century, to the era of gunboat diplomacy in Latin America, and the imperial carving-up of the former Ottoman empire into modern Mideast states of convenience, ruled by instant dynasties created by Winston Churchill and western oil companies.

More recently, the backlash reflects local resentment of the ''Washington consensus" -- the imposition of one-size-fits-all economic policies that have shredded local safety nets and advantaged a global corporate class at the expense of ordinary people. But however complex their roots, the festering resentments are now deeply embedded in local cultures.

Some of those cultures have features that are truly odious by universal standards, like repression of women, brutal versions of summary justice, and religious fanaticism. But they become more deeply popular, precisely to the extent that America misunderstands them and attempts unilaterally to impose its own order.

Bush is not a widely read or worldly man. What's truly astonishing is that the neo-conservative cabal of advisers who got control of his foreign policy, many of them serious intellectuals, could believe that the United States could simultaneously promote disdainful imposition of its military might and expect that proliferation of democracy would yield popular governments that were also faithful US clients.

Given this backlash, some neo-cons have lately put in a kind word for empire. This, at least, has the virtue of consistency. But empire is not exactly attractive to the global public, much less feasible.

The world that Bush inherited was not an easy place in which to promote US-style civil society, or a civil world order. But Bush has poured oil on the flames (or in his case, flames on the oil).

It will take decades to undo the damage and restore a world in which pro-democracy again equals pro-America. In the meantime, we need nothing so much as an outbreak of democracy at home.

Robert Kuttner is co-editor of The American Prospect. His column appears regularly in the Globe.  


More Concern about Detantion Camps...

By Tom Hennessy, Columnist
Maybe a lifetime in the news business makes one paranoid. Or maybe it was just a matter of timing.

The story showed up in Tuesday's Press-Telegram, as I was reading "Night," Elie Wiesel's horrifying autobiography of a teenager in Buchenwald and Auschwitz.

Appearing on page A5, the story said the federal government had awarded a $385 million contract for the construction of "temporary detention facilities." These would be used, the story said, in the event of an "immigration emergency."

Jamie Zuieback, an official with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), explained such an emergency like this: "If, for example, there were some sort of upheaval in another country that would cause mass migration, that's the type of situation that the contract would address."

That sounds a tad fuzzy, but let's concede that the camps do have something to do with immigration, illegal or not. In fact, there already are thousands of beds in place at various U.S. locations for the purpose of housing illegal immigrants.

But for anyone familiar with history U.S. or European the construction of detention camps for whatever purpose should prompt a chilling scenario.

Same folks

The new detention camps will be built by Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR), a subsidiary of Halliburton. The latter, as you likely know, is the defense-related corporate giant with fists full of contracts involving the war in Iraq.

Halliburton was led by Vice President Dick Cheney from 1995 to 2000. Democrats in Congress have accused the administration of favoring the company via no-bid contracts. But KBR says the detention contract was competitive.

Tuesday's story also said the contract was awarded by the Army Corps of Engineers. However, Halliburton says it was awarded by the Department of Homeland Security in support of ICE.

Read On

Draft Legislation Undercuts Bush Domestic Spying Rationale

A Justice Department memo written in 2003 may call into question the legal rationale the Bush administration has offered to justify electronic surveillance of Americans without court review.

Some critics of the ongoing National Security Agency (NSA) wiretapping program believe the 2003 memo undermines the position President Bush is taking today. The memo describes legislation drafted by Justice Department staff to expand surveillance powers under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

Critics say it is hard to understand why Justice Department attorneys felt this change was needed, if, as the administration now claims, it had even broader authority and could avoid judicial review. In recent days, the administration has said the inherent constitutional powers of the president and the congressional authorization of military force against al Qaeda gave President Bush the authority he needed to circumvent the court.

The memo and proposed Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, dubbed "Patriot II," were first obtained and posted on the Center for Public Integrity website in February 2003.

A public firestorm

Once made public, the proposal raised a firestorm of criticism among civil liberties advocates. They were concerned about attempts to broaden the government's powers over domestic intelligence gathering, and to decrease judicial review and public access to information.

Following its disclosure, the executive branch dropped consideration of "Patriot II," and never presented it to Congress. However, pieces were later considered and passed.

One "Patriot II" provision, which never passed, would have sought expanded wartime powers for the Attorney General. Under the heading, "Section 103. Strengthening Wartime Authorities Under FISA," the memo explains that current law authorizes surveillance for 15 days without court approval, once Congress has declared war.

But as formally declared wars are rare, the most recent being World War II, the Justice Department memo concludes, "this wartime exception is unnecessarily narrow." The proposed law sought to broaden powers "by allowing the wartime exception to be invoked after Congress authorizes the use of military force, or after the United States has suffered an attack creating a national emergency."

"After-the-fact rationalization..."

Georgetown law professor David Cole, a critic of the NSA surveillance program, says this 2003 draft is evidence that the government's current argument "is in fact an after-the-fact rationalization, and not one that the administration held when the president secretly authorized the NSA warrantless wiretapping now at issue."

The Republican staff director and chief counsel for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, William Duhnke, disagrees. He says proposed legislation such as "Patriot II" cannot be read as a concession that the president lacks certain powers.

Rumors Fly Over Google's Internet Plans

Google is working on a project to create its own global internet protocol (IP) network, a private alternative to the internet controlled by the search giant, according to sources who are in commercial negotiation with the company.

Last month, Google placed job advertisements in America and the British national press for "Strategic Negotiator candidates with experience in...identification, selection, and negotiation of dark fibre contracts both in metropolitan areas and over long distances as part of development of a global backbone network".

Read On

Now, we can be tracked by our own cell phones.

Ben Goldacre
Wednesday February 1, 2006
The Guardian

For the past week I've been tracking my girlfriend through her mobile phone. I can see exactly where she is, at any time of day or night, within 150 yards, as long as her phone is on. It has been very interesting to find out about her day. Now I'm going to tell you how I did it.

First, though, I ought to point out, that my girlfriend is a journalist, that I had her permission ("in principle ...") and that this was all in the name of science, bagging a Pulitzer and paying the school fees. You have nothing to worry about, or at least not from me.

But back to business. First I had to get hold of her phone. It wasn't difficult. We live together and she has no reason not to trust me, so she often leaves it lying around. And, after all, I only needed it for five minutes.

I unplugged her phone and took it upstairs to register it on a website I had been told about. It looks as if the service is mainly for tracking stock and staff movements: the Guardian, rather sensibly, doesn't want me to tell you any more than that. I ticked the website's terms and conditions without reading them, put in my debit card details, and bought 25 GSM Credits for £5 plus vat.

Almost immediately, my girlfriend's phone vibrated with a new text message. "Ben Goldacre has requested to add you to their Buddy List! To accept, simply reply to this message with 'LOCATE'". I sent the requested reply. The phone vibrated again. A second text arrived: "WARNING: [this service] allows other people to know where you are. For your own safety make sure that you know who is locating you." I deleted both these text messages.

On the website, I see the familiar number in my list of "GSM devices" and I click "locate". A map appears of the area in which we live, with a person-shaped blob in the middle, roughly 100 yards from our home. The phone doesn't go off at all. There is no trace of what I'm doing on her phone. I can't quite believe my eyes: I knew that the police could do this, and telecommunications companies, but not any old random person with five minutes access to someone else's phone. I can't find anything in her mobile that could possibly let her know that I'm checking her location. As devious systems go, it's foolproof. I set up the website to track her at regular intervals, take a snapshot of her whereabouts automatically, every half hour, and plot her path on the map, so that I can view it at my leisure. It felt, I have to say, exceedingly wrong.

By the time my better half got home, I was so childishly over-excited that I managed to keep all of this secret for precisely 30 seconds. And to my disappointment, she wasn't even slightly freaked out. I don't know if that says good or bad things about our relationship and I wouldn't want you to come away thinking it's all a bit "Mr & Mrs Smith" around here. Having said that, we came up with at least five new uses for this technology between us in a few minutes, all far more sinister than anything I had managed to concoct on my own.

And that, for me, was the clincher. Your mobile phone company could make money from selling information about your location to the companies that offer this service. If you have any reason to suspect that your phone might have been out of your sight, even for five minutes, and there is anyone who might want to track you: call your phone company and ask it to find out if there is a trace on your phone. Anybody could be watching you. It could be me.

Special reports
Mobile phones

Maxine Waters Says Bush deserves impeachment


Here's a short audio clip from the Alternative State of the Union event hosted by the Progressive Caucus, the Nation Magazine, and the Institute for Policy Studies. The only voice you'll hear will be that of Congresswoman Maxine Waters, speaking about Bush, and saying:

"His message tonight will not deal honestly with the mistakes that he's made. And I believe that the latest revelations about him and his spying on American citizens - no matter how he tries to frame it - are impeachable offenses. I believe that this president is not only spying on American citizens in the way that he's describing it, but to indicate in any shape form or fashion that he's been authorized by Congress to do it on the vote that was taken after 9-11 is plain dishonest. And further to try to imply that he's supported by the Constitution of the United States is even more dishonest. And so, I think that this issue that he's been caught red-handed on is really typical of who he is, how he handles this presidency, and what his leadership is all about: spying and lying. And I think it is important for us to understand that all of the other issues that we're going to talk about today - and particularly the war in Iraq - will continue to exemplify how he has lied and misled the American public."

Thank Rep. Waters for speaking up for impeachment:

Refineries cut production to protect gasoline profits

These greedy bastards ought to be strung up!

NEW YORK - Oil refiners cut fuel production in some states this week to counter slipping profit margins, drawing fire from critics already incensed by soaring gasoline prices and Big Oil's recent record profits.

Read On

More Than Half of Americans Feel Bush Deliberately Misled Country on Iraq WMD

By E&P Staff

Published: February 03, 2006 1:40 PM ET

A new Gallup Poll, conducted in late January, reveals that just 39% of Americans approve of the way President Bush is handling Iraq, with 58% disapproving.

Over half (53%) now say the administration "deliberately misled the American public about whether Iraq has weapons of mass destruction," with 46% disagreeing. Gallup notes that this finding is "essentially reversed" from one year ago.

Further, some 51% say the U.S. "made a mistake in sending troops to Iraq." Yet, despite this, only 17% expect a significant reduction of U.S. troops in Iraq in the next year.

The partisan divide on all these questions is enormous, but with Independents now aligning much more with Democrats. For example, 84% of Republicans feel the president did not mislead the country on WMD, the exact percentage of Democrats who feel the opposite.

One interesting new question asked if respondents would feel the war in Iraq was a "success" if the new government there is composed "mainly of Muslim religious leaders." Almost half said that it could still be called a "success."

The latest poll was taken Jan. 20-22, based on interviews with 1,006 adults.


Warrantless wrietapping a dream of Rummy and the Dick for30 years

Docs: Similar Wiretap Debate 30 Years Ago

By MARGARET EBRAHIM, Associated Press Writer

Fri Feb 3, 7:16 PM ET

An intense debate erupted during the Ford administration over the president's powers to eavesdrop without warrants to gather foreign intelligence, according to newly disclosed government documents. George H.W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney are cited in the documents.

The roughly 200 pages of historic records obtained by The Associated Press reflect a remarkably similar dispute between the White House and Congress fully three decades before President Bush's acknowledgment he authorized wiretaps without warrants of some Americans in terrorism investigations.

"Yogi Bera was right: It's deja vu all over again," said Tom Blanton, executive director for the National Security Archives, a private research group that compiles collections of sensitive government documents. "It's the same debate."

Senate Judiciary Committee hearings begin Monday over Bush's authority to approve such wiretaps by the ultra-secretive National Security Agency without a judge's approval. A focus of the hearings is to determine whether the Bush administration's eavesdropping program violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the 1978 law with origins during Ford's presidency.

"We strongly believe it is unwise for the president to concede any lack of constitutional power to authorize electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes," wrote Robert Ingersoll, then-deputy secretary of state, in a 1976 memorandum to President Ford about the proposed bill on electronic surveillance.

George H.W. Bush, then director of the CIA, wanted to ensure "no unnecessary diminution of collection of important foreign intelligence" under the proposal to require judges to approve terror wiretaps, according to a March 1976 memorandum he wrote to the Justice Department. Bush also complained that some major communications companies were unwilling to install government wiretaps without a judge's approval. Such a refusal "seriously affects the capabilities of the intelligence community," Bush wrote.

In another document, Jack Marsh, a White House adviser, outlined options for Ford over the wiretap legislation. Marsh alerted Ford to objections by Bush as CIA director and by Rumsfeld, Henry Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft over the scope of a provision to require judicial oversight of wiretaps. At the time, Rumsfeld was defense secretary, Kissinger was secretary of state and Scowcroft was the White House national security adviser.

Some experts weren't surprised the cast of characters in this national debate remained largely unchanged over 30 years.

"People don't change their stripes," said Kenneth C. Bass a former senior Justice Department lawyer who oversaw such wiretap requests during the Carter administration.

The National Security Archives separately obtained many of the same documents as the AP and intended to publish them on its Web site Saturday.

The documents include one startling similarity to Washington's current atmosphere over disclosures of classified information by the media. Notes from a 1975 meeting between Cheney, then White House chief of staff, then-Attorney General Edward Levi and others cite the "problem" of a New York Times article by Seymour Hersh about U.S. submarines spying inside Soviet waters. Participants considered a formal FBI investigation of Hersh and the Times and searching Hersh's apartment "to go after (his) papers," the document said.

"I was surprised," Hersh said in a telephone interview Friday. "I was surprised that they didn't know I had a house and a mortgage."

One option outlined at the 1975 meeting was to "ignore the Hersh story and hope it doesn't happen again." Participants worried about "will we get hit with violating the First Amendment to the Constitution?"

CIA Director Porter Goss told lawmakers this week that recent disclosures about sensitive programs were severely damaging, and he urged prosecutors to impanel a grand jury to determine "who is leaking this information." The National Security Agency earlier asked the Justice Department to open a formal leaks investigation over press reports of its terrorism wiretaps.


Associated Press writer Ted Bridis contributed to this report.


Iraq, Niger, And The CIA

By Murray Waas, special to National Journal
© National Journal Group Inc.
Thursday, Feb. 2, 2006

Vice President Cheney and his then-Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby were personally informed in June 2003 that the CIA no longer considered credible the allegations that Saddam Hussein had attempted to procure uranium from the African nation of Niger, according to government records and interviews with current and former officials. The new CIA assessment came just as Libby and other senior administration officials were embarking on an effort to discredit an administration critic who had also been saying that the allegations were untrue  Read On

Rove and Bush and Their Non-9/11 Worldview

Gary Hart

Sat Feb 4, 2006

For Karl Rove to say, as he did last week, that "Democrats have a pre-9/11 worldview" is the greatest irony. Given his position, presumably Rove participated in the decision of the new president Bush to ignore the warnings of the bi-partisan U.S. Commission on National Security for the 21st Century. We warned that terrorists would attack the United States and that "Americans will die on American soil, possibly in large numbers." They ignored our first (of 50) specific recommendations to create a consolidated federal capability to protect our shores in the form of a Department of Homeland Security. President Bush had this recommendation and warning a full eight months before 9/11 and only acted on it nine months after 9/11. Then, by appointing the infamous "Brownie," he made a hash of it.

The historical record is now clear: the Bush administration neocons were obsessed by Saddam Hussein as they entered office; this obsession did not permit them to take terrorist warnings seriously; they concocted false reasons for invading Iraq; and they have totally mismanaged our unanticipated occupation. They now, finally, call it "the long war." What if they had said that in March, 2003?

So it is totally outrageous for Karl Rove to condemn Democrats (too many of whom voted to invade Iraq.) It is Mr. Rove and president Bush who had a non-9/11 worldview.

Gary Hart
Co-chair, U. S. Commission on National Security for the 21st Century and author of the new book, The Shield and The Cloak: The Security of the Commons.


Iraq errors show West must act fast on Iran; Perle

Twisted, twisted, twisted!
Anyone who lives according to this kind of logic should be made to shut up, at least publicly.
04 Feb 2006 15:23:21 GMT
Source: Reuters
MUNICH, Germany, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Richard Perle, a key architect of the U.S.-led war against Iraq, said on Saturday the West should not make the mistake of waiting too long to use military force if Iran comes close to getting an atomic weapon.

"If you want to try to wait until the very last minute, you'd better be very confident of your intelligence because if you're not, you won't know when the last minute is," Perle told Reuters on the sidelines of an annual security conference in Munich.

"And so, ironically, one of the lessons of the inadequate intelligence of Iraq is you'd better be careful how long you choose to wait."

Perle said Israel had chosen not to wait until it was too late to destroy the key facility Saddam Hussein's secret nuclear weapons programme in Osirak, Iraq in 1981. The Israelis decided to bomb the Osirak reactor before it was loaded up with nuclear fuel to prevent widespread radioactive contamination.

"I can't tell you when we may face a similar choice with Iran. But it's either take action now or lose the option of taking action," he said.

Asked if he thought a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities was an inevitability, Perle said: "I hope that can be avoided but that's always a possibility. We are talking about physical facilities and they're always vulnerable."

Perle is one of the top U.S. neoconservatives who advocated a pre-emptive invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam and seize alleged stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. No such stockpiles were found after the war and U.S. President George W. Bush has acknowledged that the intelligence was bad.

Perle served under U.S. President Ronald Reagan as an assistant secretary of defense and on the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee from 1987 to 2004. He was an influential chairman of the Board from 2001 to 2003.

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Rumsfeld Likens Chavez's Rise to Hitler's

Rummy the Dummy strikes again!

What a fool.....

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld likened Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to Adolf Hitler, reflecting continuing tension in relations between the United States and the Latin American government.

Rumsfeld, asked during a National Press Club appearance Thursday about indications of a deteriorating general relationship between Washington and parts of Latin America, said he believes such a characterization "misses the mark."

"We saw dictatorships there. And then we saw most of those countries, with the exception of Cuba, for the most part move towards democracies," he said. "We also saw corruption in that part of the world. And corruption is something that is corrosive of democracy."

What about the massive corruption in Washington, eh?

The secretary acknowledged that "we've seen some populist leadership appealing to masses of people in those countries. And elections like Evo Morales in Bolivia take place that clearly are worrisome."

"I mean, we've got Chavez in Venezuela with a lot of oil money," Rumsfeld added. "He's a person who was elected legally — just as Adolf Hitler was elected legally — and then consolidated power and now is, of course, working closely with Fidel Castro and Mr. Morales and others."

Hitler was elected. Bush wasn't, but he is still a danger to us all.

There have been increasing signs of hostility between Washington and Caracas, and on Monday Chavez said Venezuela's intelligence agencies have "infiltrated" a group of military officials from the U.S. Embassy who were allegedly involved in espionage.

Venezuelan authorities, including the vice president, have accused officials at the U.S. Embassy of involvement in a spying case in which Venezuelan naval officers allegedly passed sensitive information to the Pentagon.

It was not the first such charge by Chavez.

He has accused President Bush of backing efforts to overthrow his leftist government, and specifically has charged that the United States supported a short-lived coup in 2002, fomented a devastating strike in 2004 and expelled some American missionaries from Venezuela for alleged links to the CIA.

Washington has repeatedly rejected the allegations.

Responding to Venezuela's expulsion of a U.S. naval officer from Caracas, the State Department on Friday declared a senior Venezuelan diplomat persona non grata and gave her 72 hours to leave the country.

Spokesman Sean McCormack said Jeny Figueredo Frias, the embassy chief of staff, has been ordered to leave.

On Thursday, Chavez had said that Venezuela was expelling naval attache John Correa for allegedly passing secret information from Venezuelan military officers to the Pentagon.

McCormack said the U.S. action was a direct response to Correa's expulsion.

"They initiated this and we were forced to respond," he said.


Friday, February 03, 2006

Senate Session on Security Erupts in Spying Debate

February 3, 2006

Senate Session on Security Erupts in Spying Debate

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2 — Senate Democrats on Thursday angrily accused the Bush administration of mounting a public relations campaign to defend the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program while withholding details of the secret eavesdropping from Congressional oversight committees.

An annual hearing on national security threats, led for the first time by John D. Negroponte, director of national intelligence, was overtaken by acrimonious partisan debate about the program. In response to the Democrats' complaints, Republicans and top administration intelligence officials said the real problem was leaks about N.S.A. eavesdropping and other classified matters.

Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, the Senate Intelligence Committee's ranking Democrat, compared the administration's public disclosures of limited information about the N.S.A. program in the six weeks since it was first disclosed to what he described as a similarly misleading use of intelligence before the war in Iraq.

"I am deeply troubled by what I see as the administration's continued effort to selectively release intelligence information that supports its policy or political agenda while withholding equally pertinent information that does not do that," Mr. Rockefeller said.

Another Democrat, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, said the administration had engaged in "consistent stonewalling" to prevent the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees from carrying out their oversight duties. Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, suggested the administration's public accounts of the eavesdropping program were contradictory, noting that President Bush had described the agency's interception, without court warrants, of "a few" messages, while Michael Chertoff, the homeland security secretary, had referred to "thousands" of messages.

But none of the Republicans on the panel joined the Democrats in their criticism. And in a statement issued later, Senator Pat Roberts, the Kansas Republican who is chairman of the committee, accused Mr. Rockefeller and other Democrats of derailing the discussion about security threats with their concerns about the eavesdropping program.

"I am concerned that some of my Democrat colleagues used this unique public forum to make clear that they believe the gravest threat we face is not Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, but rather the president of the United States," Mr. Roberts said. "There is no doubt in my mind there are marching orders to the minority members of this committee to question and attack, at every opportunity, the president, the vice president, the secretary of state, attorney general and now members of our intelligence agencies."

At the four-hour hearing, Mr. Negroponte and other senior intelligence officials made clear that the decision to limit briefings on the eavesdropping program to just eight members of Congress — the leaders of the Senate and House and the heads of the Intelligence Committees from both parties — had been made by President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. He also objected to the Democrats' characterization of the program.

"This was not about domestic surveillance," Mr. Negroponte said. "It was about dealing with the terrorist threat in the most agile and effective way possible."

While the Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a public hearing next week to explore legal issues surrounding the N.S.A. program, the entire Senate Intelligence Committee has not yet been briefed on it. Mr. Roberts tried to head off the Democratic attack by announcing that the panel would be briefed in closed session on the program on Feb. 9 by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and Gen. Michael V. Hayden, principal deputy director of national intelligence. In addition, he said, the committee would hold a closed business session on Feb. 16 to discuss whether to hold further hearings or open an inquiry into the program, as Mr. Rockefeller has urged.

Mr. Roberts and other Republicans said that the most serious issue was the unauthorized leak of sensitive information on intelligence.

Porter J. Goss, the C.I.A. director, concurred, asserting that leaks had done "very severe" damage to national security and declared that the leakers would be found.

"I've called in the F.B.I., the Department of Justice," Mr. Goss said. "It is my aim and it is my hope that we will witness a grand jury investigation with reporters present, being asked to reveal who is leaking this information."

Mr. Negroponte's recitation of a 25-page prepared text on threats to the nation, including Al Qaeda as well as nuclear weapons programs of Iran and North Korea, contained few surprises. He called terrorism the "pre-eminent threat" and warned of the consequences of failure in the effort to create a stable Iraq.

"We assess that should the jihadists thwart the Iraqis' efforts to establish a stable political and security environment, they could secure an operational base in Iraq and inspire sympathizers elsewhere to move beyond rhetoric to attempt attacks against neighboring Middle Eastern nations, Europe, and even the United States," said Mr. Negroponte, a former ambassador to Iraq.

But as soon as senators were permitted to question Mr. Negroponte and other spy chiefs who flanked him, an emotional debate ensued over the conduct of the intelligence agencies and the proper degree of public and Congressional knowledge of their activities.

President Bush approved the eavesdropping without warrants shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks, but since the program's existence was revealed in December by The New York Times, some legal experts and members of Congress have asserted that it violates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

In a pointed exchange, Senator Russell D. Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, asked Mr. Negroponte whether there were any other "intelligence collection" programs that had not been revealed to the full Intelligence Committees.

Mr. Negroponte replied, "Senator, I don't know if I can comment on that in open session."

In other action on national security, the Senate voted 95 to 1 on Thursday night for a second five-week extension of the antiterrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act. The extension, which was approved by the House on Wednesday, now goes to President Bush to be signed into law. It gives negotiators until March 10 to work out a deal.


The Republicans' Democracy Disorder -- In These Times

By Rep. Barney Frank

The Republicans are bulimic when it comes to democracy in the House. It causes them serious digestive unrest.

The House of Representatives is the only part of the American government where the principle of one person, one vote obtains.

But the Republicans have been running the House in a way that purposefully abuses this principle. They have found a way to shelter many of their members from taking positions that they know to be unpopular with voters. To counter this short-circuiting of democracy, I and three Democratic colleagues have proposed a package of reforms, "Amending the Rules of the House to Protect the Integrity of the Institution."

Our goal is to allow the House of Representatives to create public policy that is democratically sustainable. Representative democracy is being thwarted by current Republican practice. The Republican leadership has gotten very good at holding roll call votes open and marshalling its troops. This gives them the ability to win by changing only as many votes as they need to pass legislation, thereby allowing some Republican members of Congress who support this ruse to vote against the legislation. Their purpose is to let Republican members hide from the public, so that they can give their constituents an impression that is contrary to where they really stand. That allows members to boast about how they voted against the Republican leadership 40, 50, 60, 70 percent of the time, when in fact they voted with the Republican leadership 100 percent of the time when they were needed.

The last time we had a scare of an airplane going over the Capitol and we had to evacuate, we were in the midst of a roll call vote. Every member exited, waited to receive word that it was safe and then returned to continue the vote. That roll call was still concluded in less time than the roll call on prescription drugs. But that's only one example.

In our attempt to reform and provide oversight of the Government Sponsored Enterprises of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, we had a proposal to take 5 percent of the after-tax profits and put it into affordable housing. The conservatives on the Financial Services Committee moved to strike that provision and they lost 53-17. They then got the Republican leadership not to strike it, but to impose outrageous restrictions so that radical groups like the Catholic Church could not participate in providing such housing and that groups that did provide it could not do any voter registration. They knew that would fail if it was voted on, so they put that into a manager's amendment that had many other things in it that were appealing to people, including a preference for the hurricane victims. Even then the Republican leadership wouldn't allow a vote on it.

All we were asking for was a vote. But they knew that if we had voted on that provision, they would have lost. Under the proposal we've made, I as a ranking member of the committee could have said, "I want a vote on this."

And that's why we have introduced this proposal to try to vindicate democracy, particularly the principle that constituents ought to know how their representatives are voting. Rep. Tom Allen (D-Maine), one of my co-sponsors, put it this way: "As with the adage that absolute power corrupts absolutely, the centralization of authority in the House of Representatives has come at a disastrous cost for democracy, decency and the public interest. The public has awoken to the folly of current leaders' practice of passing bills only with a majority of the majority. The result is votes held open for hours to allow for vote buying; huge bills, with nefarious special interest riders attached, rushed to the floor after midnight so Members and the public can't read them; budget rules routinely waived to permit deficit-adding tax cuts. It's time to put the people's voice back into the People's House."

The Republicans are bulimic when it comes to democracy in the House. It causes them serious digestive unrest and the reason is--this is not an abstraction--that they are pushing public policies that they understand to be unpopular. In some cases, that could be courageous if you are standing up for something that is right and just but not publicly popular. However, in general, it is wrong to have a set of procedures that musters majorities of the House of Representatives on unpopular issues by allowing the members to hide behind various rules and procedures so that their constituents don't know what they are really doing.

The United States is now trying to instruct the people of Iraq and Afghanistan in democracy. We have helped to form legislative bodies. But if they get C-SPAN in Iraq and Afghanistan, we should have a line running across the bottom of the screen that warns, "Please do not try this at home."

More information about Rep. Barney Frank

Judge Sets Trial for Libby in CIA Leak

Oh, yeah , right! 

The Associated Press
Friday, February 3, 2006; 6:00 PM

WASHINGTON -- The perjury trial of Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff won't begin until January 2007, after the midterm congressional elections, in timing that Democrats consider favorable to Republicans.

U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton on Friday set Jan. 8 for jury selection in the trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the former top White House aide charged with lying to investigators and a grand jury in the CIA leak inquiry.

Walton, appointed to the court by President Bush, said he had wanted to start the trial in September but agreed to push the date back when one of Libby's lawyers had a scheduling conflict.

Democrats had hoped Libby's trial would be held before the November elections to help bolster their attacks on Republican congressional candidates over the CIA leak investigation, the bribery scandal involving former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and Bush's domestic spying program.

"The Republicans dodged a bullet," said Democratic strategist Dane Strother. "It's a whole menu of corruption ... and it's a shame we have to wait to have Scooter Libby for dessert."

Charles Franklin, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said putting Libby on trial during the fall campaigns could have hurt Republican candidates.

"There's something stronger about testimony under oath in public" rather than information that trickles out in the run-up to a trial, Franklin said.

Libby, 55, was indicted late last year on charges that he lied about how he learned CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity and when he subsequently told reporters.

Plame's identity was published in July 2003 by columnist Robert Novak after her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, accused the administration of twisting intelligence about Iraq's efforts to buy uranium "yellowcake" in Niger. The year before, the CIA had sent Wilson to Niger to determine the accuracy of the uranium reports.

Ted Wells, one of Libby's lawyers, said the defense team was "very happy" with the January 2007 trial date. "The defense will show that Mr. Libby is totally innocent, that he has not done anything wrong," Wells said outside the courthouse.

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald did not oppose the date during the hearing, and his team left the courthouse without commenting.

Lawyers for both sides made clear Friday that a significant part of their cases will rely on testimony from reporters.

Walton told the lawyers that he wants them to identify soon the reporters that each side wants to testify at trial to give news organizations time to fight the subpoenas.

Fitzgerald said both sides should know which reporters they want to subpoena by early spring.

Fitzgerald told Walton that he has finished turning over all of the evidence he believes he is obligated to give to the defense. Wells disagreed, saying "thousands and thousands and thousands" of pages of evidence have been withheld by the special prosecutor.

One of the most pressing problems for prosecutors and government agents is deciphering hundreds of pages of Libby's handwritten notes. Wells said Libby has agreed to help agents make sense of his jottings so they can determine whether the notes contain classified information and, if not, turn them over to the defense team.

© 2006 The Associated Press

World Can't Wait-Drive Out the Bush Regime

FEBRUARY 3, 2006
12:17 PM

CONTACT: World Can't Wait-Drive Out the Bush Regime
Travis Morales at 713-240-3192
Ariel Vegosen 516-732-0579 or

Tomorrow Feb. 4: Massive March to the White House; A New Movement With a Single Demand: Bush Step Down

WASHINGTON - February 3 -

Tomorrow Feb. 4: Massive March to the White House; A New Movement With a Single Demand: Bush Step Down


-- Kathleen Chalfant, Broadway and TV actress

-- Ann Wright, former U.S. diplomat and military officer quit in protest of war

-- Martin Garbus, trial lawyer and author

-- Doris "Granny D" Haddock, walked across the country for campaign finance reform

-- Michael Ratner, Center for Constitutional Rights

-- Boots Riley, The Coup (Hip-Hop artist)

-- Rev. Al Sharpton, long time activist

-- Thousands of People: taking to the streets and circling the White House


11 a.m. rally, 2 p.m. march to White House: 30 foot statue of Bush will be toppled.


Saturday Feb. 4: 11 a.m. rally, 2 p.m. march


17th and Constitution, then march to the White House


On Saturday, Feb. 4, tens of thousands will travel from across the country to the national seat of government with a single demand: Bush Step Down And Take Your Program with You. The crowd will rally beginning at 11am, then encircle the White House at 2 p.m.

World Can't Wait is quickly attracting a surprising and broad range of well-known people in public life including U.S. Congressional Representatives JOHN CONYERS, CYNTHIA MCKINNEY, MAXINE WATERS, BOBBIE RUSH, and MAJOR OWENS, along with HARRY BELAFONTE, LEWIS LAPHAM, MARK RUFFALO, SEAN PENN, SUSAN SARANDON, GLORIA STEINEM, SERJ TANKIAN, CORNEL WEST, HAROLD PINTER, and PAUL HAGGIS. Two full-page ads have appeared in the New York Times and spots are running nationally on Air America radio.

Debra Sweet, national coordinator of World Can't Wait-Drive Out the Bush Regime, states, "Torture, war, the rule of law and separation of church state eviscerated, an extreme rightwing Supreme Court nominee goes essentially unopposed... The hour is late. This whole regime is illegitimate and criminal, and politics as usual have failed to stop it. Bush will not be indicted, impeached, or driven from office without massive, determined, unrelenting protest with the concrete demand that BUSH STEP DOWN. This is what we set out to do."

On the night of the State of the Union address, at exactly 9 p.m. as Bush stepped to the podium, there were World Can't Wait rallies to "drown-out Bush's lies" in over 60 U.S. cities, including Greensboro, N.C., where 7 protesters were arrested, and in Iraq where several U.S. soldiers shot rounds of artillery into the air at 9 p.m. EST to drown out Bush.

US Media at 'All-Time Low

Published on Friday, February 3, 2006
by the Guardian / UK
by Julia Day
Arabic-language media have an unprecedented chance to take over as the world's premier news source because trust in their US counterparts plummeted following their "shameful coverage" of the war in Iraq, a conference heard today.

The US media reached an "all-time low" in failing to reflect public opinion and Americans' desire for trusted information, instead acting as a "cheerleader" for war, said Amy Goodman, the executive producer and host of US TV and radio news show Democracy Now!, at a news forum organised by al-Jazeera.

Newsweek's Paris bureau chief, Christopher Dickey, said the US media were dying because of cutbacks and weren't interested in covering the world outside America.

But other delegates questioned whether Arabic media were up to the challenge.

"The US media have done a shameful job of reporting on the Arab world. With the rise of al-Jazeera and independent media there is a chance for the Arab media to react back, but instead what we get is a clash," said Ethan Zuckerman, the co-founder of Global Voices Online and research fellow at the Berkman Centre for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School.

"I would urge everyone involved with new Arabic media not just to report on this [Arabic] world more fairly and accurately, but to report on the whole world more fairly and accurately. I challenge al-Jazeera and the new Arabic media players to do a better job that the US in covering the rest of the world," he said.

Ms Goodman said in the run-up to the Iraq war a study of NBC, CBS, ABC and PBS newscasts over a fortnight recorded 393 interviews on the conflict, of which only three reported the anti-war movement.

"This is a media cheerleading for war and does not represent mainstream opinion in the US," she added.

Ms Goodman said she believed the policy of embedding reporters with coalition forces was "a total failure for independent journalism .. western audiences need to see the other side of the story - from communities and hospitals".

"If people in the US had a true picture of war - dead babies, women with their legs blown off, dead and dying soldiers - they would say 'no'," she said.

"There is nothing more important than the media - it is more powerful than any bomb or missile and we have to take it back ... we need a media that is independent and honestly showing us the images, the hell, ugliness and brutality of war, not selling us war."

Mr Dickey, the Middle East regional editor and Paris bureau chief at Newsweek magazine, said US media were "dying".

"After 25 years as a foreign correspondent I know what the US wants from the rest of the world: to forget about it."

"There's this idea that the US media is controlling the agenda. In fact the US media is dying. Resources, money and staff are being cut back. Twenty years ago Newsweek had 25 staff in Paris, today it has one: me," said Mr Dickey.

He added that the gap between what the US and Arabic media reports was widening, with American reports being "all about victory and the Arabic being all about victims".

Faisal al-Kasim, host of al-Jazeera's The Opposite Direction show, said that as a result of a perceived failure of western media to reflect the full picture more people were turning to Arabic media.

"Even Arabs who live in the west are giving up watching western networks and tuning to Arabic networks instead," Mr al-Kasim said.

However, concerns were aired at today's conference about the ability of the Arabic media to operate independently.

Lawrence Pintak, a director of the Adham Centre for Electronic Journalism and a former CBS foreign correspondent, urged delegates against thinking that Arabic media were allowed the freedoms to which western journalists were accustomed.

"I am concerned that someone from the US or Europe who doesn't know the Arabic world will think that all is goodness and light when we know that is not the case," he said, citing the beating of journalists during the Egyptian elections and the detention of journalists in Yemen and Morocco.

However, Mr Pintak there was a "great sense of possibility" about journalism in the Arabic world, likening it to the interest in the profession in the US following Watergate.

Concerns were also aired about the ability of al-Jazeera's soon-to-launch English language station, al-Jazeera International, to reproduce the success of its main Arabic network across the world.

"We might as well buy a new channel in the US," Mahmud Shammam, the bureau chief for the Dar Al Watan newspaper and Newsweek Arabic.

"[Al-Jazeera International] will not have Arabic characteristics and that's a big challenge."

Hugh Miles, a journalist and United Nations media consultant, said al-Jazeera was massively popular in north Africa but because conspiracy theories about its agenda were rife, the new English-language channel would be watched very carefully.

"If al-Jazeera International is perceived to be biased or insensitive to Islam - on the Danish cartoon issues for example - there will be a loss of faith in the al-Jazeera brand," he said.

"The Arabic service has done a tremendous job in establishing al-Jazeera as a trusted name. It would be a terrible shame to see that image jeopardised."

But the director of al-Jazeera's research centre, Mostefa Souag, attempted to allay fears about the new channel, saying the network's managing director, Wadah Khanfar, has confirmed its editorial stance "will not be far away" from its sister station.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006

Angry soldiers demand 'trade' federation

The Associated Press
Friday, February 3, 2006; 6:00 PM

WASHINGTON -- The perjury trial of Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff won't begin until January 2007, after the midterm congressional elections, in timing that Democrats consider favorable to Republicans.

U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton on Friday set Jan. 8 for jury selection in the trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the former top White House aide charged with lying to investigators and a grand jury in the CIA leak inquiry.

Walton, appointed to the court by President Bush, said he had wanted to start the trial in September but agreed to push the date back when one of Libby's lawyers had a scheduling conflict.

Democrats had hoped Libby's trial would be held before the November elections to help bolster their attacks on Republican congressional candidates over the CIA leak investigation, the bribery scandal involving former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and Bush's domestic spying program.

"The Republicans dodged a bullet," said Democratic strategist Dane Strother. "It's a whole menu of corruption ... and it's a shame we have to wait to have Scooter Libby for dessert."

Charles Franklin, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said putting Libby on trial during the fall campaigns could have hurt Republican candidates.

"There's something stronger about testimony under oath in public" rather than information that trickles out in the run-up to a trial, Franklin said.

Libby, 55, was indicted late last year on charges that he lied about how he learned CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity and when he subsequently told reporters.

Plame's identity was published in July 2003 by columnist Robert Novak after her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, accused the administration of twisting intelligence about Iraq's efforts to buy uranium "yellowcake" in Niger. The year before, the CIA had sent Wilson to Niger to determine the accuracy of the uranium reports.

Ted Wells, one of Libby's lawyers, said the defense team was "very happy" with the January 2007 trial date. "The defense will show that Mr. Libby is totally innocent, that he has not done anything wrong," Wells said outside the courthouse.

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald did not oppose the date during the hearing, and his team left the courthouse without commenting.

Lawyers for both sides made clear Friday that a significant part of their cases will rely on testimony from reporters.

Walton told the lawyers that he wants them to identify soon the reporters that each side wants to testify at trial to give news organizations time to fight the subpoenas.

Fitzgerald said both sides should know which reporters they want to subpoena by early spring.

Fitzgerald told Walton that he has finished turning over all of the evidence he believes he is obligated to give to the defense. Wells disagreed, saying "thousands and thousands and thousands" of pages of evidence have been withheld by the special prosecutor.

One of the most pressing problems for prosecutors and government agents is deciphering hundreds of pages of Libby's handwritten notes. Wells said Libby has agreed to help agents make sense of his jottings so they can determine whether the notes contain classified information and, if not, turn them over to the defense team.

© 2006 The Associated Press

Daily Kos: Pre-1776 Mentality

Pre-1776 Mentality

Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 08:58:01 AM PDT

I've seen some strange things in my life, but I cannot describe the feeling I had, sitting on the House floor during Tuesday's State of the Union speech, listening to the President assert that his executive power is, basically, absolute, and watching several members of Congress stand up and cheer him on.  It was surreal and disrespectful to our system of government and to the oath that as elected officials we have all sworn to uphold. Cheering? Clapping? Applause?  All for violating the law?

The President and his administration continue their spin and media blitz in attempts to defend the fact that they broke, and continue to break, the law.  Their weak and shifting justifications for doing so continue.  The latest from the President seems to be that basically the FISA law, passed in 1978, is out of date.  His decision that he can apparently disregard "old law" fits the pattern with the President and his administration.  He's decided to disregard a statute (FISA) and the Constitution (the 4th Amendment) by continuing to wiretap Americans' phone calls and emails without the required warrant, while at the same time claiming powers of the presidency that do not exist. (Perhaps he feels the Constitution is too "old," as well.)  This administration reacts to any questions about spying on American citizens by saying that those of us who stand up for our rights and freedoms are somehow living in a "pre-September 11th, 2001 world."  

In fact, the President is living in a pre-1776 world.

Our Founders lived in dangerous times, and they risked everything for freedom.  Patrick Henry said, "Give me liberty or give me death."   The President's pre-1776 mentality is hurting America and fracturing the foundation on which our country has stood for 230 years.  The President can't just bypass two branches of government, and obey only those laws he wants to obey.  Deciding unilaterally which of our freedoms still apply in the fight against terrorism is unacceptable and needs to be stopped immediately.    

Many of you saw this week's story in the Washington Post on the exchange Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and I had during his confirmation hearing in January of last year.  Mr. Gonzales misled me and the Senate Judiciary Committee under oath about whether the President could spy on Americans without a warrant.  (Many of you blogged about it when the story first broke and I thank you for getting the word out.)  That exchange is extremely telling about the depths to which this administration will go to grab power.  I look forward to a little more honesty from the Attorney General when he testifies about the spying program before the Judiciary Committee on Monday.  

I don't have to tell you how important this issue is.  It gets to the core of what we as a country are all about.  We all agree that we must defeat the terrorists who threaten the safety and security of our families and loved ones.  Why does this President feel we must sacrifice our freedoms to fight terrorism?  This is a gut check moment for members of Congress.  Do we sacrifice our liberty?  Do we bow to those who try to use security issues for political gain? Do we stand and applaud when the President places himself above the law?  Or, do we say enough?  

Stop the power grab, stop the politics, stop breaking the law.

It's time to stand up - not to cheer, but to fight back.  

Tags: Russ Feingold, domestic spying, NSA, Recommended, bravery, wiretapping (all tags) :: Add Tags to this Story

NASA's Inspector General Probed

Failure to Investigate Safety Violations Is Among the Charges

By Guy Gugliotta
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 3, 2006; Page A01

An FBI-led watchdog agency has opened an investigation into multiple complaints accusing NASA Inspector General Robert W. Cobb of failing to investigate safety violations and retaliating against whistle-blowers. Most of the complaints were filed by current and former employees of his own office.

Written complaints and supporting documents from at least 16 people have been given to investigators. They allege that Cobb, appointed by President Bush in 2002, suppressed investigations of wrongdoing within NASA, and abused and penalized his own investigators when they persisted in raising concerns.

Read On

The Pestilent Presidency

 Nation Conditioned

By Manuel Valenzuela

02/02/06 "ICH" -- -- The continued dismantling of America’s very essence, the decimation of its founding core and its evolving surface, has been a product of both purposeful malevolence as well as incompetent ignorance.  While the lives of hundreds of millions of Americans continue to deteriorate, each day losing more knowledge, freedom, democracy and economic survivability – though with many remaining ignorant or blinded to their actual plight – the other America, that of the elite and the corporate world, has risen in exponential fashion to take the complete reigns of power away from the rest of us. As a result, the America of times past, where the People still ruled, has given way to the America of tomorrow, a corporatist ruled land where citizens are pawns and corporations kings.    

In the five years since George W. Bush was anointed to the presidency a pestilence of decrepit efficiency has overtaken the nation, accelerating and magnifying what was already an empire in rapid decline. Since early 2001, very little has gone right in the America of working and middle class citizens, both of progressive and conservative beliefs, young and old, hundreds of millions strong, divided by differing opinion yet bonded by economic and social interests. At the same time, however, the reign of George Bush the Lesser has become a bonanza to the corporate and elite world as the nation is plundered of treasure and altered from deep within the halls of Washington, its wealth and resources reallocated to and misappropriated by the Establishment, thereby transforming a government once of, by and for the People into one strictly and efficiently receptive only to the interests of corporations. 

The America born in 2001, first with the ascension of Bush and later with the psychological war on Americans begun on 9/11, has degenerated according to plan, methodically and perniciously engineered by entities intent on corporatist control, molded into an immovable ship on a collision course with a giant iceberg. In order for America to sink its people had to be molded to one day accept the fate awaiting us. Our brains had to be programmed and altered, our minds controlled and conditioned, our beliefs brainwashed and engineered.  For years this has been achieved by the systematic evisceration of education, gutting knowledge and reason and learning in schools, transforming young sponge-like brains into rotting grey matter devoid of free thought.   

Millions upon millions of citizens never stood a chance as the decrepit state of American education gutted all semblance of knowledge, our innate ability to learn manipulated instead to follow, obey and never question, with schools slowly but surely creating a nation of soldier ants and worker bees, teaching us historical propaganda and patriotic drivel, programming us to place unyielding devotion to flag and country, instructing us about the vast consortium of lies and fictions that comprise American history.  We were brainwashed into always placing blind faith and trust in government and leaders, told to never question or dissent or protest the actions rising out of Washington.   

Over years of anemic education, lacking the tools that makes the human mind free, devoid of reason, logic and analytical thought, with parental roles having become extinct, indoctrinated, taught and reared by the warm glow of television and the corporate world that controls it, our brain waves reprogrammed to the fictions and fantasy radiating from our monitors, with the brainwashing and controlling manipulations of our church, and with our minds becoming the receptive antennas to the voices and opinion of paid talking heads and media hacks tens of millions of us became, naturally, the very essence of the automatons our upbringing had systemically sculpted.  

With schools under funded, subsisting in financial abandonment and teeming with reckless indifference, the state and the corporate world were free to educate us and our children through the monitor at home and propaganda laced schoolbooks, teaching only what was necessary to mold and create an army of unthinking drones through the purposeful evisceration of enlightened classes and curriculum. Over decades of discarded education, parenting and rearing, millions of children became the conduits and tools to power, enabling, through their large numbers, the continued decimation of the nation and giving rise, after years of patient lurking, to the debasement, corruption and corporatism that was resurrected with the appointment to power of the ultimate instrument of corporatist control, George W. Bush.      

We became, over a series of subsequent decades, what we had allowed ourselves to become, following the blueprints of corporatist control, from birth mesmerized by the familiar warmth of television, absorbing the sounds and images carefully concocted by the corporate world which, as always, worked its magic, molding, caressing and reprogramming brainwaves along with the eventual destinies of millions of people.   Over the years we allowed ourselves to be programmed and conditioned, engineered to become a society more and more willing to serve the interests of the powerful, in the process unknowingly sacrificing our own interests and becoming, by early 2001, a readied army standing silent, prepared, at the sound of corporatist trumpets, to march lockstep towards blind compliance, corporatist control and an ominous future.  

Those trumpets calling Americans to arms would sound the last throes of the America of yesterday with the horrific implosion and subsequent destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.  Like a giant hypnotizing pendulum, 9/11 became the psychological instrument that brought life to an army molded over years of careful manipulation and conditioning. Falling towers and psychological operations thus acted in unison to enthrall millions who instinctively and blindly followed the emotions and behaviors that naturally arise from years of programmed conditioning.  

Suddenly sprung to life after years waiting in the wings, millions of engineered Americans began doing what they had been taught to do for decades, becoming the rabidly patriotic and xenophobic citizenry unable to see forward because of myopic views and cloud covered thoughts, becoming the bed-wetting and fright-smeared beings gravitating to the only entity they had been taught was capable of protecting them from the evil bogeymen: the president.   

Thus came to pass that George W. Bush, weak in character and in mind, failure in life and born to privilege, unlearned, unwise and incurious, corrupt and incompetent beyond repair, was thrust upon a paradigm shift of time, where differing dimensions crashed into each other, creating parallel universes and alternate realities, transforming America into a nation whose past would never again be allowed to thrive.  In the engineered Americans he would find absolute power, along with the ingredients necessary to manipulate the fear and terror that have invariably become the oxygen-rich air feeding his oil thirsty veins.  Thus, into the dawn of corporatist America George W. Bush stepped in, assuring the world that nothing would ever be the same again. 

Bush’s Past, America’s Present 

Upon the trail of tears following in the footsteps of democracy lost, a curse was birthed from Atlantic to Pacific, its dark fog covering the light of enlightenment and reality, replaced instead with the blackness of ignorance and blind faith. Into our lives has risen a most contemptuous figure, a man whose immorality knows no bounds, whose ability to lie in perpetuity is as great as his inability to competently lead a nation.   

A man who was destined to become but a small herpes pimple appearing but once on history’s ass was granted a gift that has only kept on giving, becoming, since 9/11, the sustenance springing forth an oasis of political power to Republicans and to George W. Bush in particular.  Without the horrific events that transpired on that fateful day, Bush would have been a certain one-term president, remembered more for his stolen election and both his subversion and contempt for democracy than for anything he could have ever done in the Oval Office.  

Even before 9/11 his incompetence and lack of intelligence were readily apparent; yet his corruption was growing and evolving; his hunger to appease the corporatist world was evident. Hugely unpopular in his first few months in office, his administration was sinking even before sailing, for tens of millions of informed Americans had quickly realized the criminality of a man willing to selfishly place his stolen election over the interests and will of the People.  

Yet his appointment to office was never designed to benefit the People, for inside political theater of compassionate conservatism chicanery festered and deception thrived.  His was to be a presidency of, by and for the corporate world, an ascension to absolute power by the elite in control of corporations.  He was to become the puppet of corporatism, doing the bidding for the powerful, his last name used as a marketing ploy to manipulate the minds of millions of voters.  With a dynastic last name, an ignorant mind and an ever-weakening character, he became the perfect tool for the corporate world to clandestinely insert their powerful tentacles inside the highest office in the land.  

Born to wealth and aristocracy, with a silver spoon in his mouth and a dark-skinned maid to acquiesce to his every demand, Bush never learned what life was like to the vast majority of Americans.  Protected from the reality of the “real world,” the world of you and me, he never learned the lessons or the harshness of life difficult and unexpected, never suffering hunger, thirst, cold or the uncertainty of living paycheck to paycheck.  He never experienced difficulty paying bills or sacrificing happiness for health.  

Sequestered in the life of royalty, hidden from reality by his attending elitist prep schools, he was unable to empathize with anything other than the society he was born into.  Needing the affirmative action of influence and legacy in order to attend Ivy League universities, he became a complacent and spoiled fraternity boy, growing from male cheerleader to partier extraordinaire, as always looking down upon the rest of America’s social classes with contempt, feeling himself superior by birth, failing to understand our ways of living life and our struggles, our needs and wants, forever devoid of a humanity and an understanding of life at the opposite end of the tracks.   

Preferring to dwell in the spirits of the bottle instead of the philosophies of books, yet possessing all the resources needed by which to pursue a truly enlightened age of reason and age of discovery, he instead subsisted trailing behind his much more intelligent father’s footsteps, living off the laurels of his parents, in time branching off on his own, though as always using the vast resources of the family, not to mention the powerful influence of his last name that instantly opens doors and transcends the inertia of business, that would be the envy of any seemingly competent entrepreneur trying to succeed in life. 


Yet even with the incredible opportunities granted him throughout his life, Bush could never succeed on his own.  Time after time he needed the salvation and money of his father to bail him out of the trouble that usually followed him around.  With the powerful influence of Bush the Wiser, Bush the Lesser, in spite of all his shortcomings, inevitably always found partners and business opportunities.  It can safely be assumed that these individuals took in the son as a favor or to gain favor with the father, always knowing how incompetent the son was yet wanting to secure friendship with a man whose influence in Washington only grew.


In time, exploiting his last name, his family’s wealth, his father’s influence and the corruption and lack of integrity by which he has become well known today, he amassed a small fortune.  Meanwhile, sinister demons lurked about, and over time, a fondness for alcohol developed, haunting him for years until he became a born again Christian, a natural result befalling truly lost souls possessing weak and vulnerable minds.  It was in Scripture that he found meaning, it was in the Church structure that he found comfort, needing, like all lost souls, to find meaning to life both through control of his impulses and by placing blind faith in an unseen and unknown god.


His born again belief in the Almighty was in part a consequence of his psychologically fragile mind that had resulted after years of being unable to duplicate the success of his father, knowing that he would never surpass a legacy set in wisdom and intelligence, in better genes and talent.  The deep psychological manifestation between an overachieving father and an underachieving son, so full of insecurities, an inferiority complex and internal conflict, resulted for Bush in a contempt for life only drowned either by filling the mind with alcoholic spirits and the high of drugs, or from kneeling down in subservient obedience to a metaphysical god demanding complete control and power over the individual.


One can suspect that it is this deep psychological vacuum – of a desire to be greater than his always competent father – that has driven Bush the Lesser during his presidency, trying desperately in every way possible to become a better president than his father.  This quest, however, has been fruitless, resulting in even greater incompetence and in a further fogging of logic, reason, decision making and analytical thought, becoming a growing threat to the Republic, as can be clearly seen over the last five years, for Bush the Lesser is fighting a lost cause, demons that cannot be exorcised, his mental faculty never being able to reach or surpass that of Bush the Wiser.     


It was this utterly weak-minded individual, bereft of inner strength and strong will, haunted by the deep insecurities of never being able to surpass the talents and abilities of his father, that would go on to become governor of Texas and later, President of the United States, once again using and exploiting his last name, not to mention the reputation of George Bush the Wiser, to carry him into power.  For Bush the Lesser knew that his assets were not his mind or his talent, but something much more superficial, the legacy and reputation established by his father, the human infrastructure loyal to his father, the family wealth and the ever important Bush family name. 


Even though he could not carry the weight of his father on his shoulders, Bush nonetheless exploited every mechanism established and left over by his father, knowing that if he could not surpass him, he could at least use his legacy to reach otherwise unattainable heights.  Using all these weapons at his disposal, even a complete incompetent and buffoon such as Bush could achieve success.  It was this infrastructure of assets established by his father that would eventually condemn America to a Pestilent Presidency and the world to an increased sense of threat and insecurity.



Bush’s Base



Nobody has benefited more from the tragedy of 9/11 than George W. Bush.  He has exploited its emotions, its deep scars and its echoing voices from the grave.  Without it he would be nothing, an insignificant one term has-been troubled by the psychological fragility his limitations engender.  Yet because of his incompetence, and some would say willful negligence, America’s new Pearl Harbor was allowed to occur, as ever under his watch, as ever under his disastrous leadership, or lack thereof, that has followed him since birth. Because of 9/11 tens of millions have become addicted to his existence, to his smirk and his strut, mesmerized at the charade created by marketing geniuses, of a Napoleon-like being leading the herd through the forest of ghosts and goblins, with sword in hand slaying evildoer Arabs trying to destroy the sacred lands of America. 


He is perceived by his base, tens of millions of individuals sharing many characteristics, composed of Christian fundamentalists, the conservative, the unenlightened, the selfish, the apathetic, the easily led, the weak-minded, the unthinking, the ignorant, those blinded by flag and cross, those more likely to hate based on race, gender and sexual preference, the xenophobic, the extreme patriotic, the war mongers, the greed addicts, the super wealthy, the corporatists, the neocons and the elite, as the father figure destiny has chosen to protect and defend them and their rights in these most “hideous times of trouble.”  It is these individuals who blindly swear allegiance to a man of embarrassing ineptitude for various reasons, voting for him in droves, not wanting to listen to reason or logic even as their nation crumbles from underneath their legs and as their cherished freedoms and liberties vanish right in front of their eyes.    


Even as he appeals to this collection of self-destruction and self-exploitation his interests lie in protecting, defending and expanding the powers of those like himself, namely, the elite and corporatists among his base.  While courting the rest of his followers, he promises heaven and delivers hell, forever weaving and dealing and conniving in a clear pattern of deception.  In Orwellian fashion, Bush uses terms for policies that signify the exact opposite of what he intends to do.  He makes the unthinking in his base come to the conclusion that he has their best interests at heart. 


Yet the blind and the deaf and those that cannot think for themselves fail to understand that they are but pawns in the game of power, used only for their vote, contribution and political power, never to see the benefits of what the Dear Leader preaches. In time he grants them the morsels and crumbs and bones of what is left over, enough to appease their illogical minds.  These bits and pieces keep the base at ease, happy enough to chew on their given bones, content that a small sliver of what they asked for has been given them. 


For years they are kept servile to the interests of Bush’s real base, yet they think themselves the true recipients of power.  Deluded and easily manipulated, they feverishly support the myriad of policies that will, in the end, be of great detriment to their lives, wallets and future of their children.  Blinded by the incapacity to understand or to read policy, knowledgeable only in the ten second sound bites shouted out, thirty second advertisements saturated with lies and the slogans written in cardboard propaganda, and possessing the attention span of a gnat, the majority of those that support Bush will invariably shoot themselves, and their children, in the foot, their lives made worse thanks to the ardent following of a man that undoubtedly sneers behind their backs, pillages their wages, robs them of jobs, increases their many expenses and sends them or their children to war.  Even as they blindly follow, even as they sign loyalty pledges, Bush is working to eviscerate their country and their lives.


In reality he cares not an ounce for their plight or their lives, seeing in them only the exploited energy to be used by his corporate allies.  The average American is alien to people like George W. Bush, enigmas that never encompassed the elitist lifestyle of families like the Bushes.  George W. Bush only saw the masses through a looking glass, in small timeframes where by happenstance two differing social classes would meet.  We were the hired help, the fish beyond the six inch compressed glass, the beings represented by television, far removed from the mansions and estates of northeastern aristocracy.  To Bush the common man might be seen and touched for periods of time, but we are never understood and never seen as equals.  We are the peasants to the ruling class, our lives made better if only someone like Bush would look our way. 


The fa├žade of Bush as a Texan cowboy, wearing his hat and his boots, strutting around with his cowboy demeanor, is but a clever public relations campaign designed to give Bush the appearance of normalcy.  His Crawford ranch is but a hollow illusion created to make out of this pampered east coast elite a common folk that appeals to the masses.  Yet most of his years were spent in Connecticut, living the life of luxury, attending institutions of prestige and landed gentry. It is this group of people that Bush represents, for they have been present throughout his bubble existence.  He is them just as much as they are him.  The rest of Bush’s followers lie far, far behind, walking where footprints disappear to an approaching wave, to be used and abused, like they have throughout American history, by the upper echelons of America’s hierarchy.    


It is the corporate world, and the corporatists that control it, that are Bush’s true constituents.  To this group he has been a raving success, one of the greatest presidents to ever take office.  Through him they have hijacked the White House and the entire nation, transforming government into a prostitute for the corporate world.  He has appointed a multitude of corporate executives, hacks, lackeys and talking heads to the middle and highest levels of governance, creating, inside Washington, a nest of corporatists gorging on a once-proud government of the People from the inside, mutating it into a breadbasket containing the tasty and succulent pastries making obese the bank accounts of both corporations and the elite. The halls of governance are littered with cronies and criminals, inept and talentless individuals whose only abilities are incompetence, donating money and smearing their noses with the fecal matter of power.   


Since his anointment, Washington has become a bordello of cheap prostitutes, a red light district where government officials eagerly wait in street corners, ready to exchange money flows, anticipating unbuckling belts, bending over, spreading cheeks and selling their souls to corporate demons.  The Beltway has become a city of corruption and debauchery, of greed and love of the Almighty Dollar, a perfect place for corporate interests to prevail.  Laws, rules, regulations and appropriations have been written and rewritten, altered or created, amended or clandestinely introduced, the vast majority of which favor in some way, shape or form the corporate world. Science, education, reality and truth are being suppressed in order to grant favor to corporations whose profits rely on truth not being made public.


The nation’s treasure has been pillaged in one of the world’s greatest heists, a highway robbery that has left the nation and its economy close to imminent collapse.  Untold billions of dollars have disappeared, given to cronies or to corporatist buddies, their companies made vastly wealthy thanks to the misappropriation of a treasure earned by the blood, sweat and tears of hard working Americans.  Meanwhile, Bush has orchestrated, along with the Republican Party, one of the largest tax cuts to the wealthy in our history, at the expense of the middle class, making the rich richer and the poor poorer, leaving the nation without adequate funding and severely compromising the future economic prospects of the nation. 


George W. Bush has declared that he is a ‘war president’ and indeed he has become one.  The only problem is that he has declared a war against the American people, along with his ill-conceived war in Iraq, in the process inflicting severe damage to both working and middle class citizens, in a preemptive strike against the very foundations of America.  This war has been planned for years, becoming a platform for Republican success.  By robbing the nation of its treasure, by indebting America so severely, there will come a time when we will be forced, in order to maintain economic stability, to eviscerate the many social programs that are the hallmark of American principles of justice and equality. 


With a war that will cost a trillion dollars, with tax cuts for the wealthy and for the corporate world, with almost $500 billion going to the military-industrial complex yearly, the corporatists in power will declare that in order to maintain a reasonable budget, social programs such as education, healthcare, welfare assistance, work assistance and any policy to help the poor will have to be gutted.  We are seeing this already.  For years social services have been hated by a Republican Party that has no empathy or understanding for the plight of the less fortunate.  A party ideology that believes in social Darwinism and in the power of unfettered capitalism has wanted to do away with social safety nets for decades, as usual ignorant or unconcerned to the ramifications to their actions.  Bush, ever the Jesus lover and conduit of the Almighty that he is, is helping to destroy these very foundations.


Almost every law and regulation enacted benefits corporations at the expense of average Americans.  Today, corporations are free to run unobstructed as they race to make as much profit as possible, caring nothing for the people they harm in the process.  Corporate profits today, along with CEO salaries, have become a ridiculous display of arrogance, with some companies earning profits of $10 billion per quarter.  Thanks to Bush, war has been declared against average Americans, as corporations do as they wish, lowering wages, raising prices, cutting thousands of jobs, outsourcing their employees to bottom dwelling nations, using cost cutting mechanisms to further exploit workers or compromise customers.  Pensions are being cut, healthcare is ever-more expensive, prescription pills are not affordable, gasoline is as expensive as ever and all around, laws are being enacted to further the interests of the corporate world at the expense of hundreds of millions of Americans. 


Is it any wonder why companies in the oil/energy, pharmaceutical and defense industries have had some of the highest profits ever recorded? When your representative lives inside the White House, when his job is to empower and enlarge corporate control over America, all the while destroying the middle class and its freedoms and liberties, making hundreds of millions of citizens slaves subservient to the corporate world, you can declare mission accomplished.  This, to all who can see clearly, is the reason for Bush’s ascension to the highest office in the land.  The most powerful man in the world has as his objective the rise to total control of the corporate world, altering the balance of power away from We the People and towards the direction of corporatist control. This is Bush’s true base and to them, he has been a rousing success, a truly great President.



Rise of the Dictator



Since Bush took the reigns of power, corruption has become endemic in Washington.  With the love of the Almighty Dollar running rampant throughout the corridors of governance, with politics becoming more important than policy, with public relations given more precedence than truth and with charlatans, criminals and callous destroyers of human life prevalent and in control, the ingredients exist to make of Washington a putrid cocktail of immorality representing everything that is wrong with America and the rise of unfettered capitalism. 


The secrecy of government has never been as noticeable as it is today.  With an arrogant contempt for the People’s right to know that has seldom been seen in our history, the Bush administration has sequestered, hidden, whitewashed, trashed, covered up and made to disappear what it does not want known.  Whistleblowers are ruined, investigations are squashed, investigators are promoted away from their investigations, reports are quieted, science is trashed and true patriots are prevented from speaking truth.  Transparency and accountability have become things of the past, as the activities of the executive have vanished from the public record.  They do whatever they want, trash the Constitution when they so feel, creating rules and laws beneficial to their interests, hiding their criminality behind layers of newly concocted opinions and Constitutional interpretations by their hired cronies and lackeys. 


Since 9/11 Bush has eroded many civil liberties, freedoms and rights, enveloping the nation into the grip of corporatism, more commonly called fascism. Wherever Bush travels, to give a speech or a fundraiser, is turned into a police state, with so-called “free speech zones,” with mandatory “loyalty oaths” to those attending Bush’s propaganda-laced speech and with a small army of police and secret service bullying and frightening. As opposition to the Iraq war has grown, suppressions of dissent and protest has increased, with police forces becoming the brownshirts and blackshirts of the Administration, intimidating and threatening peaceful protesters.  Free speech is a dying right, and inside Bush’s gatherings, where he sits comfortably in his infallible bubble, only those who agree with his policies or support him are allowed inside.


With the arrival of Bush into office thanks to his illegal anointment, the erosion of democracy since 2000 has only accelerated, with questionable election results in 2002 and once again with the presidential election of 2004, where millions of votes, it is now known, were manipulated in favor of Bush.  With two stolen presidential elections, easily provable and apparent to anyone with half a brain, American democracy has ceased to exist, becoming an archaic antique in the minds of those still able to remember the last clean election.  The use of electronic voting, using Republican controlled machines such as Diebold, has cast an enormous cloud over the continued vitality of American democracy.  For now, with electronic voting machines becoming the rule rather than the exception, their numbers growing throughout the nation, what we once knew as democracy has died, buried six feet under the crumbling foundations of what was once America.  The question, then, becomes: Why does Bush hate us for our democracy? Why does he fear the principle of one person, one vote?


He has done more damage to America in this so-called war on terror than Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, destroying our freedoms and rights, severely compromising habeas corpus and due process, allowing for arrests without probable cause, surveillance of peaceful anti-war groups and unlawful wiretapping of American citizens.  He has granted the right to spy on us as well as the right to enter our homes without warrants or permission or knowledge.  Our computers can be hacked, our libraries can be asked to provide private information and private companies, it is now known, are cooperating with the government, providing private information regarding the accounts of Americans. Yet he has failed to adequately protect our ports and borders, our nuclear and chemical plants.  The question should now be asked: Why does Bush hate us for our rights and freedoms? Does he want to destroy our way of life?


More importantly, Bush has introduced a reign of terror and fear upon the American people.  Like a darkness that does not dissipate he has imported perpetual fear, perpetual war and perpetual terror to our shores.  He has become the ultimate terrorist, greater than any Arab bogeyman, greater than any ghoul or goblin lurking in our closets, much more dangerous than any Muslim.  Injecting fear into our consciousness, making millions feel insecure and unprotected, making them dependent on him and on government for psychological comfort enables Bush to expand his powers and his dominion over the citizens of the nation.  It is the only way he can govern, and the only way he can maintain power. Both he and 9/11 were born on the same day, creatures of symbiotic affection, one unable to survive without the other.  September 11, 2001, with its memories, engendered emotions and massive exploitation, is his twin sister.


Thus he, his handlers and his marketers terrorize the American public, manipulating fears and emotions and psychological fragility, eroding our inner strength and confidence, making us willingly sacrifice our remaining freedoms and rights.  Through our fear his power grows, through our trust in him our nation is destroyed more each day. Little do they care about our health, our stress and our worries, preferring to continue haunting minds rather than alleviating them.  To them, 9/11 remains manna from heaven, the essence of their power, the darkness enveloping and hiding every one of their lies, deceptions and manipulations.


Fear and terror must be maintained in the national spotlight, creating a nation of bed-wetters, underwear-soilers and cry babies asking Father Bush for protection.  The Dear Leader belief must be kept alive.  It is this fear that sustains and feeds George W. Bush, becoming his opiate, his new drug of choice.  Without it he would be finished, his popularity eviscerated, his lies exposed, his ego trampled, his purple robe burned. With it he rules like an emperor, a dictator whose arrogance to ignore checks and balances becomes ever more dangerous the longer absolute power corrupts. The fear of tens of millions of Americans allows him to lie and deceive and manipulate and whitewash and escape all accountability, granting him powers never granted an executive, making him, to millions of rabid and blind supporters, a living god.


It is the terror he exposes and markets that makes submissive to his grip millions of Americans, robbing them of free thought or reason. It is the terror that he manufacturers and exaggerates that suppresses our freedoms and rights.  It is the power we cede him that grants him the ability and desire to torture, kidnap, imprison and bomb, killing over 150,000 thousand innocent Iraqis and over 2,200 American soldiers. Our fears and insecurities have allowed him to build a network of gulags around the world, beginning with the concentration camp in Guantanamo.  How many people have disappeared in these prisons, never to see daylight again?  How many people in Iraq have been tortured, raped and sodomized, with Bush’s silent consent? 


It is the terror he unleashes on the Arab world that is making our lives more dangerous, increasing our insecurity and the risk of further attacks.  He has contributed in mass murder and devastating destruction, maiming, injuring and causing incredible amounts of suffering.  He has completely and utterly destroyed the nation of Iraq.  Under international definitions of terrorism, George W. Bush is the greatest terrorist alive today. 


The Jesus he claims to follow is not the Jesus that guides him as a politician.  Claiming to converse with the Almighty, claiming to be a conduit of the Almighty’s path for humanity, Bush as President has acted more like the God of the Old Testament than the one of the New, unleashing death, destruction and untold suffering on hundreds of thousands of people, most of whom are the descendents of those that first concocted the myth of Bush’s god.  He has shown no remorse, no pity, no forgiveness and no love as he has unleashed the instruments and weapons of war upon millions of innocent civilians, waging his own personal jihad against Arabs and Muslims. And people by the millions think him a Christian?


He is an amateur dictator enraptured and corrupted by absolute power, depending on the army of conditioned Americans to continue his devastation, both in the Middle East and in the United States.  Nothing he has ever done has been a success, and now he is sending one more business venture, the nation called America, down the precipice of failure.  Never succeeding, always failing, forever bailed out by Bush the Wiser, he has never learned what it is like to suffer hardship and pain, never experiencing hunger and struggle.  He is a callous and cold-hearted individual with deep psychological problems, weak-minded in character and a bully in spirit.  His arrogance and hubris will be the demise of us all.  Unfortunately, his father cannot save him, or the nation, any longer.  He will fail on his own, becoming a curse upon our land, a pestilence infecting our principles and our virtues, our rivers and lands, our children and future. 


Nothing has gone right since the curse called Bush entered office. His is a Pestilent Presidency, a rotting manifestation of corruption and immorality, a fraud and conniver, a most unethical human being incapable of honor or integrity.  When we should be running away from scum such as this we instead allow him to steal two elections and remain the pestilence that he is, creating a diseased society devoid of the freedom it once possessed and the civil rights it fought so hard to attain. 


George W. Bush is a corporatist without intelligence, an unknowing, incurious, detached and ignorant human beings, a puppet to much brighter individuals, a tool for the corporate world.  He does not care for the unenlightened souls that see him as Dear Leader, nor the soldiers he sends to either die or sacrifice mental health.  In reality, he does not care about America, at least the America of you, me and everyone else.  He is changing our lands, our society, giving our government to corporations and the corporatists that run them.  In time, and with reflection, after the hypnosis of this most devastating of Presidents has passed, he will be seen for what he presently is, namely, the worst person to ever occupy the White House, becoming, through infamy, the mistake that was and the lesson learned. 


The Pestilent Presidency was given all the tools in life to become a success, yet throughout his life, he has failed at everything, only succeeding in politics thanks to his last name and the power of his father.  Born to wealth beyond our dreams, he became not a competent and able leader, but a man devoid of talent and ability, a person squandering the opportunity given him.  Rapped inside a bubble of luxury and elitism, he failed to understand the mass of humanity, seeing it as easily exploitable, easily suppressed and easily controlled.  In his upbringing can we see the destruction he has unleashed upon our nation.  In his failures can we understand today’s most troubled times.  

The Pestilent Presidency has been a malignant tumor to the America of you, me and everyone else.  He has been a grand success to the corporate world.  Who do you think he represents?  Whose interests does he help further?  Only when he departs and exits our lives will the curse of Bush lift from our country, dissipating like a long, permanent haze, and perhaps only then can we try and reclaim what has been lost, if it is not already too late. The ruins of what George W. Bush will leave behind after he leaves our reality will be strewn all around us, rotting and eroding, the whispers of a better America barely audible, yet its horizon ready to be radiant once again.   

With him gone we will finally try to rebuild and move forward, trying to erase memories of the Pestilent Presidency from our midst, trying, desperately, to make right the direction of America, trying, as much as possible, to never again allow a pestilence to destroy what we stand for, in the process inoculating ourselves with the antidote of harsh lessons learned, finally eradicating the diseases and fears that most ail us. 

Manuel Valenzuela is a social critic and commentator, international affairs analyst and Internet columnist. His articles as well as his archive can be found at his blog,  and at as well as at other alternative news websites from around the globe.  Mr. Valenzuela is also author of Echoes in the Wind, a fiction novel. Mr. Valenzuela welcomes comments and can be reached at