Categories
government

Bush Defense Dept lost most of Iraqi oil revenue

Oh come on!1 Why aren’t these criminals in jail? Realistically, how do you lose such massive amounts of money?

Continuing to Talk

The Defense Department is unable to properly account for $8.7 billion out of $9.1 billion in Iraqi oil revenue entrusted to it between 2004 and 2007, according to a newly released audit that underscores a pattern of poor record-keeping during the war.

Of that amount, the military failed to provide any records at all for $2.6 billion in purported reconstruction expenditure, says the report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, which is responsible for monitoring U.S. spending in Iraq. The rest of the money was not properly deposited in special accounts as required under Treasury Department rules, making it difficult to trace how it was spent.

Though there is no apparent evidence of fraud, the improper accounting practices add to the pattern of mismanagement, reckless spending and, in some instances, corruption uncovered by the agency since 2004, when it was created to oversee the total of $53 billion in U.S. taxpayer money appropriated by Congress for the reconstruction effort.

No apparent evidence of fraud? Simple accounting errors?

First, let’s look at those numbers in the proper context. With lots of zeros. $8,700,000,000. Out of $9,100,000,000. Missing. Gone. Poof.

Now, let’s do the math. $8,700,000,000 divided by $9,100,000,000. That comes to 0.9560. Or 95.6%. Missing. Of the Iraqi oil revenue entrusted to the Defense Department between 2004 and 2007. Which would be during the Bush-Cheney administration. Which would be mostly during the tenure of Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense.

(click to continue reading Daily Kos: Bush DoD lost $8,700,000,000 in Iraqi oil revenue.)

That is a lot of fracking money to be “unaccounted” for, no?

And just to say it again, because I had the same reaction as Laurence Lewis of Daily Kos: No evidence of fraud? Really? Really?

Footnotes:
  1. in my best Gob Bluth voice []
Categories
politics

War Criminals without Conscience

Damn it, these assholes need to serve time for the war criminals they are. Bush, Cheney Rumsfeld and all their minions of doom, ensuring that several generations of Iraqis and Afghanis and Muslims hate the US, and by proxy, all Americans.

Haymarket Riot Memorial

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld covered up that hundreds of innocent men were sent to the Guantánamo Bay prison camp because they feared that releasing them would harm the push for war in Iraq and the broader War on Terror, according to a new document obtained by The Times.

The accusations were made by Lawrence Wilkerson, a top aide to Colin Powell, the former Republican Secretary of State, in a signed declaration to support a lawsuit filed by a Guantánamo detainee. It is the first time that such allegations have been made by a senior member of the Bush Administration.

Colonel Wilkerson, who was General Powell’s chief of staff when he ran the State Department, was most critical of Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld. He claimed that the former Vice-President and Defence Secretary knew that the majority of the initial 742 detainees sent to Guantánamo in 2002 were innocent but believed that it was “politically impossible to release them”.

… Colonel Wilkerson, a long-time critic of the Bush Administration’s approach to counter-terrorism and the war in Iraq, claimed that the majority of detainees — children as young as 12 and men as old as 93, he said — never saw a US soldier when they were captured. He said that many were turned over by Afghans and Pakistanis for up to $5,000. Little or no evidence was produced as to why they had been taken.

He also claimed that one reason Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld did not want the innocent detainees released was because “the detention efforts would be revealed as the incredibly confused operation that they were”. This was “not acceptable to the Administration and would have been severely detrimental to the leadership at DoD [Mr Rumsfeld at the Defence Department]”.

Referring to Mr Cheney, Colonel Wilkerson, who served 31 years in the US Army, asserted: “He had absolutely no concern that the vast majority of Guantánamo detainees were innocent … If hundreds of innocent individuals had to suffer in order to detain a handful of hardcore terrorists, so be it.”

He alleged that for Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld “innocent people languishing in Guantánamo for years was justified by the broader War on Terror and the small number of terrorists who were responsible for the September 11 attacks”.

[Click to continue reading George W. Bush ‘knew Guantánamo prisoners were innocent’ – Times Online ]

These Bushites have no conscience, no remorse, they should stand trial at The Hague. All they cared about was winning elections, and raping and pillaging the world was just incidental damage to them.

Categories
News-esque

Iraq War Triumphalism Ignores Dead Civilians

David Corn counters the Iraq-War-was-a-Success-Chest-Thumpers who recently have crawled out of the wreckage of the Bush (mal)Administration to blather on the Sunday talk show circuit. By what metric was this voluntary and unnecessary war a successes?

Memorials

But, of course, the ultimate outcome of the Iraq war — whatever the results of the latest election — remains unknown. And we can continue to debate whether Bush was justified in launching the war, whether he bamboozled the public about the threat Saddam Hussein supposedly posed, and whether Bush’s late surge did help nudge Iraq in a better (or less worse) direction. (It does take chutzpah to hail the Bush administration for the surge, after this crew spent years screwing up in Iraq.) Yet what is galling is the frequent absence from these discussions of a central fact: tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Iraqis are dead because of the war, and millions have been displaced, driven out of their homes and out of their country. …

In the United States, debates about the war often cover the obvious costs: U.S. military casualties (4,380), taxpayer money ($711 billion), and opportunities missed (Afghanistan). What often goes unmentioned is the high cost that was imposed upon the Iraqi people. Have you seen George W. Bush or Dick Cheney ever directly talk about the thousands who died and the millions who had to flee?

There’s no precise number of the Iraqi civilians who lost their lives due to the war. In August 2008, a Congressional Research Service report surveyed the various estimates. It noted that a World Health Organization study covering the first three years of the war had placed the civilian death toll at 151,999. A Brookings Institution study put the number at 113,616 for the first five years. Whatever the figure, it’s a lot — and this doesn’t include Iraqis who were physically or mentally injured and did not die. In per capita terms, the equivalent death figure for the United States would be over a million people. And war-related deaths are far from over in Iraq. Last month, the civilian death toll jumped to 211 people from 135 in January.

[Click to continue reading Iraq War Triumphalism Ignores a Key Matter: Dead Civilians — Politics Daily]

It isn’t too late to hold war crime trials in the Hague, is it?

Categories
politics

Rumsfield and Torture Lawsuit to Proceed

Wonder how the torture apologists will spin this case? Two American citizens were tortured after bringing forth allegations of bribery. Whistleblowers should be feted, not treated as enemy combatants. Hope Rummy has to defend his actions in open court, and soon.

Two Americans claim they were tortured by US officials after making bribery allegations

A federal judge in Chicago ruled on Friday that a lawsuit against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, brought by two Americans who had worked for an Iraqi contractor, can be allowed to proceed.

In his ruling (PDF), US District Judge Wayne R. Andersen said the plaintiffs had provided enough concrete evidence of torture to allow the suit to go forward. The judge dismissed Rumsfeld’s arguments that his position near the top of the executive branch immunized him from lawsuits involving the authorization of torture

According to court documents, Nathan Ertel and Donald Vance went to Iraq in 2005 to work for an Iraqi contractor, Shield Group Security. Once there, they say they witnessed SGS employees handing money over to “Iraqi sheikhs.” After they notified two FBI agents in Baghdad and one in Chicago of what they say, they say their employer cut off their access pass to Baghdad’s Green Zone and were struck in the city’s dangerous “Red Zone.”

But the lawsuit claims things got really bad once they were “rescued” from the Red Zone by US authorities. Instead of being treated as witnesses to potential crimes, the two plaintiffs say they were told they could be classified as “enemy combatants”

[Click to continue reading Judge allows lawsuit against Rumsfeld over torture of US citizens | Raw Story]

Judge Wayne Anderson describes the details (click here for PDF version of MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER):

Plaintiffs allege that they then were taken by United States forces to the United States Embassy. Plaintiffs allege that military personnel seized all of their personal property, including their laptop computers, cellular phones, and cameras. At the Embassy, plaintiffs claim they were separated and then questioned by an FBI agent and two other persons from United States Air Force Intelligence. Plaintiffs contend that they disclosed all their knowledge of the SGS transactions and directed the officials to their laptops in which most of the information had been documented. Plaintiffs also assert that they informed the officials of their contacts with Agent Carlisle in Chicago and Agents Nagel and Treadwell in Iraq. Following these interviews, plaintiffs claim they were escorted to a trailer to sleep for two to three hours.

Next, plaintiffs claim they were awakened by several armed guards who placed them under arrest and then handcuffed and blindfolded them and pushed them into a humvee. Plaintiffs contend that they were labeled as “security internees” affiliated with SGS, some of whose members were suspected of supplying weapons to insurgents. According to plaintiffs, that information alone was sufficient, under the policies enacted by Rumsfeld and others, for the indefinite, incommunicado detention of plaintiffs without due process or access to an attorney. Plaintiffs claim to have been taken to Camp Prosperity, a United States military compound in Baghdad. There they allege they were placed in a cage, strip searched, and fingerprinted. Plaintiffs assert that they were taken to separate cells and held in solitary confinement 24 hours per day.

After approximately two days, plaintiffs claim they were shackled, blindfolded, and placed in separate humvees which took them to Camp Cropper. Again, plaintiffs allege they were strip searched and placed in solitary confinement. During this detention, plaintiffs contend that they were interrogated repeatedly by military personnel who refused to identify themselves and used physically and mentally coercive tactics during questioning. All requests for an attorney allegedly were denied.

Despicable behavior, rule of law, my ass. Just because some official asserts a suspect is an enemy combatant, does not make it so, and even enemy combatants still deserve consideration under the Geneva Convention and so forth.

Judge Anderson concludes:

In ruling that the lawsuit can go forward, Judge Andersen said the decision “represents a recognition that federal officials may not strip citizens of well settled constitutional protections against mistreatment simply because they are located in a tumultuous foreign setting.”

[via GapersBlock]

Categories
government politics

Bush Interference Seen in Blackwater Inquiry

Criminals and thugs. That is the description future historians will often use to describe members of the Bush Administration.

An official at the United States Embassy in Iraq has told federal prosecutors that he believes that State Department officials sought to block any serious investigation of the 2007 shooting episode in which Blackwater Worldwide security guards were accused of murdering 17 Iraqi civilians, according to court testimony made public on Tuesday.

David Farrington, a State Department security agent in the American Embassy at the time of the shooting in Baghdad’s Nisour Square, told prosecutors that some of his colleagues were handling evidence in a way they hoped would help the Blackwater guards avoid punishment for a crime that drew headlines and raised tensions between American and Iraqi officials.

[Click to continue reading Interference Seen in Blackwater Inquiry – NYTimes.com]

and if you don’t have the mental stamina to click the link1


“Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army [Revised and Updated]” (Jeremy Scahill)

In a closed-door hearing, they also contended that they had evidence that, in the immediate aftermath of the shootings, there had been a concerted effort to make the case go away, both by Blackwater and by at least some embassy officials.

In fact, prosecutors were told that the embassy had never conducted any significant investigation of any of the numerous shooting episodes in Iraq involving Blackwater before the Nisour Square case, according to the documents.

In his October testimony, Mr. Kohl described how the Justice Department had “serious concerns” about obstruction of justice in the case. He also said prosecutors briefed Kenneth Wainstein, then an assistant attorney general, on evidence of obstruction by Blackwater management.

Mr. Kohl disclosed that prosecutors had discovered that five Blackwater guards who were on the convoy involved in the Nisour Square shootings reported to Blackwater management what they had seen. One guard, he said, described it as “murder in cold blood.” Mr. Kohl said that Blackwater management never reported these statements by the guards to the State Department.

He said that prosecutors informed senior Justice Department officials as early as 2007 that they were investigating whether Blackwater managers “manipulated” the official statements made by the guards to the State Department.

But he testified that prosecutors also had evidence of embassy officials thwarting the inquiry. In addition to the testimony of Mr. Farrington, Mr. Kohl said that United States military officials had told prosecutors that they witnessed State Department investigators “badgering” Iraqi witnesses

and I’d add, scum, to the description of Bushies cited above. Rule of Law, hah. Murderers for hire. Hessians were at least conscripted soldiers, not necessarily believers in the Divine Mission of their masters.

Footnotes:
  1. really, you should []
Categories
politics

Bin Laden was within US reach in 2001

A Senate report with an agenda? Of course, doesn’t mean the facts are not true. The Afghanistan conflict would be quite different if Bush and Rumsfield weren’t so hell-bent to attack Iraq.

Messages from Above

Osama bin Laden was unquestionably within reach of US troops in the mountains of Tora Bora when military leaders made the costly decision not to pursue him with massive force, a Senate report says.

The report asserts that the failure to kill or capture Bin Laden when he was at his most vulnerable, in December 2001, has had lasting consequences beyond the fate of one man. The al-Qaida leader’s escape laid the foundation for today’s reinvigorated Afghan insurgency and inflamed the internal strife now endangering Pakistan, it says.

Staff of the Senate foreign relations committee’s Democratic majority prepared the report [pdf] at the request of the chairman, John Kerry, as Barack Obama prepares to increase US troop numbers in Afghanistan.

Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, has long argued that the Bush administration missed a chance to attack the al-Qaida leader and his deputies when they were holed up in the mountainous area of eastern Afghanistan three months after the September 11 attacks.

[Click to continue reading Bin Laden was within US reach in 2001, says Senate report | World news | guardian.co.uk ]

Specifically, the Committee On Foreign Relations of the US Senate spends 49 pages documenting how this puzzling decision was a policy blunder with long-term consequences:

More pointedly, it seeks to affix a measure of blame for the state of the war today on military leaders under George Bush, specifically Donald Rumsfeld, as defence secretary, and his senior military commander, Tommy Franks.

“Removing the al-Qaida leader from the battlefield eight years ago would not have eliminated the worldwide extremist threat,” the report says. “But the decisions that opened the door for his escape to Pakistan allowed Bin Laden to emerge as a potent symbolic figure who continues to attract a steady flow of money and inspire fanatics worldwide. The failure to finish the job represents a lost opportunity that forever altered the course of the conflict in Afghanistan and the future of international terrorism.”

Mountain Goats Herbert

From pages 12-13 of the report:

On November 21, 2001, President Bush put his arm on Defense Secretary Rumsfeld as they were leaving a National Security Council meeting at the White House. ‘‘I need to see you,’’ the president said. It was 72 days after the 9/11 attacks and just a week after the fall of Kabul. But Bush already had new plans.

According to Bob Woodward’s book, Plan of Attack, the president said to Rumsfeld: ‘‘What kind of a war plan do you have for Iraq? How do you feel about the war plan for Iraq?’’ Then the president told Woodward he recalled saying: ‘‘Let’s get started on this. And get Tommy Franks looking at what it would take to protect America by removing Saddam Hussein if we have to.’’ Back at the Pentagon, Rumsfeld convened a meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to draft a message for Franks asking for a new assessment of a war with Iraq. The existing operations plan had been created in 1998 and it hinged on assembling the kind of massive international coalition used in Desert Storm in 1991.

In his memoir, American General, Franks later described getting the November 21 telephone call from Rumsfeld relaying the president’s orders while he was sitting in his office at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida. Franks and one of his aides were working on air support for the Afghan units being assembled to push into the mountains surrounding Tora Bora. Rumsfeld said the president wanted options for war with Iraq. Franks said the existing plan was out of date and that a new one should include lessons about precision weapons and the use of special operations forces learned in Afghanistan.

‘‘Okay, Tom,’’ Rumsfeld said, according to Franks. ‘‘Please dust it off and get back to me next week.’’

Franks described his reaction to Rumsfeld’s orders this way: ‘‘Son of a bitch. No rest for the weary.’’

For critics of the Bush administration’s commitment to Afghanistan, the shift in focus just as Franks and his senior aides were literally working on plans for the attacks on Tora Bora represents a dramatic turning point that allowed a sustained victory in Afghanistan to slip through our fingers. Almost immediately, intelligence and military planning resources were transferred to begin planning on the next war in Iraq. Though Fury, Berntsen and others in the field did not know what was happening back at CentCom, the drain in resources and shift in attention would affect them and the future course of the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan.

Categories
politics

George Bush is Insane

Any politician who is this fanatical should not be allowed to be near nuclear weapons, for all of our sakes.

Getchyer Kitschhere

James A. Haught reports:

Incredibly, President George W. Bush told French President Jacques Chirac in early 2003 that Iraq must be invaded to thwart Gog and Magog, the Bible’s satanic agents of the Apocalypse.

Honest. This isn’t a joke. The president of the United States, in a top-secret phone call to a major European ally, asked for French troops to join American soldiers in attacking Iraq as a mission from God.

Now out of office, Chirac recounts that the American leader appealed to their “common faith” (Christianity) and told him: “Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”

This bizarre episode occurred while the White House was assembling its “coalition of the willing” to unleash the Iraq invasion. Chirac says he was boggled by Bush’s call and “wondered how someone could be so superficial and fanatical in their beliefs.”

After the 2003 call, the puzzled French leader didn’t comply with Bush’s request. Instead, his staff asked Thomas Romer, a theologian at the University of Lausanne, to analyze the weird appeal. Dr. Romer explained that the Old Testament book of Ezekiel contains two chapters (38 and 39) in which God rages against Gog and Magog, sinister and mysterious forces menacing Israel. Jehovah vows to smite them savagely, to “turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws,” and slaughter them ruthlessly. In the New Testament, the mystical book of Revelation envisions Gog and Magog gathering nations for battle, “and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.”

In 2007, Dr. Romer recounted Bush’s strange behavior in Lausanne University’s review, Allez Savoir. A French-language Swiss newspaper, Le Matin Dimanche, printed a sarcastic account titled: “When President George W. Bush Saw the Prophesies of the Bible Coming to Pass.” France’s La Liberte likewise spoofed it under the headline “A Small Scoop on Bush, Chirac, God, Gog and Magog.” But other news media missed the amazing report.

Subsequently, ex-President Chirac confirmed the nutty event in a long interview with French journalist Jean-Claude Maurice, who tells the tale in his new book, Si Vous le Répétez, Je Démentirai (If You Repeat it, I Will Deny), released in March by the publisher Plon.

[Click to continue reading Council for Secular Humanism : A French Revelation, or The Burning Bush]

Scary stuff.

Categories
politics

Sibel Edmonds claims bin Laden worked with US right up to 9-11

No wonder Sibel Edmonds got fired, and silenced, the Bush-ites would have been very embarrassed if this allegation had been made in the election of 2004, for instance.

Former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds dropped a bombshell on the Mike Malloy radio show, guest-hosted by Brad Friedman (audio, partial transcript).

In the interview, Sibel says that the US maintained ‘intimate relations’ with Bin Laden, and the Taliban, “all the way until that day of September 11.”

These ‘intimate relations’ included using Bin Laden for ‘operations’ in Central Asia, including Xinjiang, China. These ‘operations’ involved using al Qaeda and the Taliban in the same manner “as we did during the Afghan and Soviet conflict,” that is, fighting ‘enemies’ via proxies.

The bombshell here is obviously that certain people in the US were using Bin Laden up to September 11, 2001.

It is important to understand why: the US outsourced terror operations to al Qaeda and the Taliban for many years, promoting the Islamization of Central Asia in an attempt to personally profit off military sales as well as oil and gas concessions.

[Click to continue reading Daily Kos: State of the Nation]

Despite all sorts of pressure from the federal government, Ms. Edmonds refuses to fade away, she continues to try to get her understanding of the truth out.

Such as:

Last year, Sibel came up with a brilliant idea to expose some of the criminal activity that she is forbidden to speak about: she published eighteen photos, titled “Sibel Edmonds’ State Secrets Privilege Gallery,” of people involved the operations that she has been trying to expose. One of those people is Anwar Yusuf Turani, the so-called ‘President-in-exile’ of East Turkistan (Xinjiang). This so-called ‘government-in-exile’ was ‘established‘ on Capitol Hill in September, 2004, drawing a sharp rebuke from China.

Also featured in Sibel’s Rogues Gallery was ‘former’ spook Graham Fuller, who was instrumental in the establishment of Turani’s ‘government-in-exile’ of East Turkistan. Fuller has written extensively on Xinjiang, and his “Xinjiang Project” for Rand Corp is apparentlythe blueprint for Turani’s government-in-exile. Sibel has openly stated her contempt for Mr. Fuller.

from the Brad Friedman interview:

Sibel Edmonds: (interrupts) I have to jump in here and say that I have information about things that our government has lied to us about. I know. For example, to say that since the fall of the Soviet Union we ceased all of our intimate relationship with Bin Laden and the Taliban – those things can be proven as lies, very easily, based on the information they classified in my case, because we did carry very intimate relationship with these people, and it involves Central Asia, all the way up to September 11.

I know you are going to say ‘Oh my God, we went there and bombed the medical factory in the 1990s during Clinton, we declared him Most Wanted’ and what I’m telling you is, with those groups, we had operations in Central Asia, and that relationship – using them as we did during the Afghan and Soviet conflict – we used them all the way until September 11.

[Click to continue reading Let Sibel Edmonds Speak: Sibel Edmonds on Mike Malloy]

Categories
Arts Links Music

Reading Around on June 15th

Some additional reading June 15th from 08:19 to 13:13:

  • Et Tu Google – Pay the artist, simple as that. “So, one of the things I hear constantly from my wife is her…annoyance at people who think they can get weeks of work out of her, but in lieu of cash, they’ll give her “exposure”.”Exposure” is a barely nicer way of saying “I’m not paying shit for your work, but maybe someone who isn’t a cheap douchebag will see your art and throw you a bone. Besides, aren’t artists against money?
  • Oklahoma Highway Patrol finally releases video of trooper attack on paramedicBefore the encounter is over, [Officer ] Martin has assaulted the paramedic, frightened the patient, and created a neighborhood scene that is so unprofessional that it’s just about unbelievable. Enraged, he calls for backup, repeatedly threatens the unit’s operators, curses, chokes and slams White up against the ambulance several times–an action the patient later said rocked the unit, frightening her. He also keeps screaming “you insulted me.” The trooper later says that Franks made an obscene hand gesture as Martin passed the ambulance, a charge Franks denies. Martin plans a press conference on Monday, according to Fox 23. Martin, who had his wife in the patrol car with him for an as-yet unknown reason, later declared that he’d recently come back from service in Iraq
  • Troubleshoot your Internet connection – some good tips
  • Q and A: eMusic CEO Explains Controversial Price Increase, Sony Deal | Epicenter | Wired.com – “artists with albums soon to be sold on eMusic as part of the deal include Captain Beefheart, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Kate Bush, Miles Davis, The Clash, Miles Davis, Franz Ferdinand, Robert Johnson, Kings of Leon, Modest Mouse, Psychedelic Furs, Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Spiritualized and the Stone Roses”

Categories
Links

Reading Around on June 7th through June 10th

A few interesting links collected June 7th through June 10th:

  • Don’t mess with Kris – "“One of country music’s brightest stars,” by the way, was Toby Keith — the Jonah Goldberg of country music. It was 2003, remember: Dickhead Nation was in the ascendant and Keith was whoopin’ along with the rest of the rumpus room warriors all lathered up to start bombing brown-skinned people in Iraq. He’d had a hit with “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue,” so Keith felt entitled to play pompous ass in the presence of Paul Simon and Ray Charles, who had recorded more classics than Toby Keith could ever hope to make, years before Toby Keith was even out of grade school.

    That little encounter between Keith and Kristofferson is one of the most entertaining things I’ve read since “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” in which Gay Talese described young writer Harlan Ellison facing down Ol’ Blue Mouth during an encounter at a night club."

  • Firedoglake » Breaking: Lieberman-Graham Dropped From Supplemental – "According to sources on the Hill, the Lieberman-Graham detainee photo suppression amendment is out of the conference report of the supplemental.

    For everyone who made phone calls — pat yourself on the back.

    Let us all now sit back and enjoy the spectacle of Joe Lieberman throwing a tantrum. "

  • Hullabaloo – Goldilocks Journalists – But the media critiques of the left and the right are substantially different. The right thinks the media is filled with liberal operatives pushing the Democratic agenda. The left thinks the media is filled with insular, shallow and out of touch stenographers. If it makes Milbank and his friends think the anger at the media stems from the last election it's just more proof that the left's critique is correct.
Categories
government

KBR Sleazy Until the End

KBR, the Halliburton company who specializes in cutting corners to increase profits, found an easy way to steal more taxpayer money: do a half-assed job and kiss-up to the Pentagon.

Navy Exchange

Far from suffering for its shoddy military contracting in Iraq, Congressional investigators have found that KBR Inc. was awarded $83 million in performance bonuses. Even worse, more than half came after Pentagon investigators linked faulty KBR wiring to the electrocution of four soldiers intent on relaxation. One soldier died taking a shower and another in a swimming pool.

How such settings became part of harm’s way for the military was the question put to an electrical engineer hired by the Army who reported finding that 90 percent of KBR’s wiring work in Iraq was not done safely. Some 70,000 buildings where troops lived and worked were not up to code, according to the engineer, who told a Congressional hearing of “some of the most hazardous, worst-quality work I have ever inspected.”

Officials of KBR, the offshoot of the Halliburton conglomerate once run so lucratively by former Vice President Dick Cheney, deny responsibility and say the work met the British code used in the war zone. Flat denial is an all-too-familiar refrain from this most favored and most questionable of military contractors. The electrical engineer found most wirers were not experienced in the British code and many were third-country nationals with no electrical training at all.

[Click to continue reading: Editorial – KBR Does It Again – NYTimes.com]

Take away their corporate charter, throw the executives in Supermax prison, KBR will clean up their act.

Categories
Film Links politics

Reading Around on May 19th

Some additional reading May 19th from 19:48 to 22:04:

  • AND HE SHALL BE JUDGED: GQ Features on men.style.com – AND HE SHALL BE JUDGED Former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld has always answered his detractors by claiming that history will one day judge him kindly. But as he waits for that day, a new group of critics—his administration peers—are suddenly speaking out for the first time. What they’re saying? It isn’t pretty
  • O Lucky Man! – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia – As one of the film’s songs says: Smile while you’re makin’ it, Laugh while you’re takin’ it, Even though you’re fakin’ it, Nobody’s gonna know. In O Lucky Man!, Travis progresses from coffee salesman (working for Imperial Coffee in the North East of England and Scotland), a victim of torture in a government installation and a medical research subject, under the supervision of Dr Millar (Crowden).
  • Donald Ewen Cameron – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia – In addition to LSD, Cameron also experimented with various paralytic drugs, as well as electroconvulsive therapy at 30 to 40 times the normal power. His “driving” experiments consisted of putting subjects into drug-induced coma for months on end (up to three in one case) while playing tape loops of noise or simple repetitive statements. His experiments were typically carried out on patients who had entered the institute for minor problems such as anxiety disorders and post-partum depression, many of whom suffered permanently from his actions. It was during this era that Cameron became known worldwide, serving as the second President of the World Psychiatric Association, as well as president of the American and Canadian psychiatric associations. He was also a member of the Nuremberg medical tribunal a decade earlier, where he accused German medics of things he himself did between 1934–60 or later, though his scientific work during World War II for the OSS has never been a secret.

Categories
politics

Rumsfeld the Manipulator

Donald Rumsfeld was never a pious man, but, evil as he is, Rummy realized the easy way to manipulate George Bush was simply to cite biblical verse. So Rummy did. Bush considered himself some sort of medieval Crusador, so slurped up the rhetoric, and asked for more.

Two Sides to Every Midnight Tale

This Sunday, GQ magazine is posting on its Web site an article adding new details to the ample dossier on how Donald Rumsfeld’s corrupt and incompetent Defense Department cost American lives and compromised national security. The piece is not the work of a partisan but the Texan journalist Robert Draper, author of “Dead Certain,” the 2007 Bush biography that had the blessing (and cooperation) of the former president and his top brass. It draws on interviews with more than a dozen high-level Bush loyalists.

Draper reports that Rumsfeld’s monomaniacal determination to protect his Pentagon turf led him to hobble and antagonize America’s most willing allies in Iraq, Britain and Australia, and even to undermine his own soldiers. But Draper’s biggest find is a collection of daily cover sheets that Rumsfeld approved for the Secretary of Defense Worldwide Intelligence Update, a highly classified digest prepared for a tiny audience, including the president, and often delivered by hand to the White House by the defense secretary himself. These cover sheets greeted Bush each day with triumphal color photos of the war headlined by biblical quotations. GQ is posting 11 of them, and they are seriously creepy.

[Click to read more Frank Rich – Obama Can’t Turn the Page on Bush – NYTimes.com]

Getchyer Kitschhere

Like this one:

dated April 3, 2003, two weeks into the invasion, just as Shock and Awe hit its first potholes. Two days earlier, on April 1, a panicky Pentagon had begun spreading its hyped, fictional account of the rescue of Pvt. Jessica Lynch to distract from troubling news of setbacks. On April 2, Gen. Joseph Hoar, the commander in chief of the United States Central Command from 1991-94, had declared on the Times Op-Ed page that Rumsfeld had sent too few troops to Iraq. And so the Worldwide Intelligence Update for April 3 bullied Bush with Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Including, as it happened, into a quagmire.)

What’s up with that? As Draper writes, Rumsfeld is not known for ostentatious displays of piety. He was cynically playing the religious angle to seduce and manipulate a president who frequently quoted the Bible. But the secretary’s actions were not just oily; he was also taking a risk with national security. If these official daily collages of Crusade-like messaging and war imagery had been leaked, they would have reinforced the Muslim world’s apocalyptic fear that America was waging a religious war. As one alarmed Pentagon hand told Draper, the fallout “would be as bad as Abu Ghraib.”

Cynical, and evil.

Categories
politics

The Guam Option

I remember my grandfather, Joe Murphy, while still editor-at-large of the Pacific Daily News, oft telling the story of his failed attempts to sell an article about the Kurds being airlifted to Guam during the Clinton administration, and my grandfather’s disgust because no major media outlet was interested in the story. Maybe George Packer read it?

Kurds in Guam

[Kurds being processed at Anderson Air Force Base, Guam, 1996]

In the fall of 1996, the U.S. military evacuated more than six thousand Iraqis—Kurds and others who had worked with American agencies in the north, and whose lives were directly threatened by Saddam’s army—halfway across the world to Guam. There they were screened, processed for asylum, and assigned sponsors in an effort that involved more than a thousand American soldiers and civilians. Almost all of the evacuees ended up Stateside within seven months. Major General John Dallager, the Joint Task Force commander of Operation Pacific Haven, said, “Our success will undoubtedly be a role model for future humanitarian efforts.”

Undoubtedly. Major General Dallager didn’t count on the moral abdication of the Bush Administration in the face of a similar but much larger and more compelling humanitarian crisis. Recently, some conscience-stricken American officials have privately begun to ask why the model of Operation Pacific Haven can’t be emulated today. Flying Iraqis to Guam would solve every problem, real and invented, that the Administration claims is holding up resettlement: the inability of Homeland Security interviewers to meet with refugees in Syria; the near-impossibility of Iraqis getting into neighboring countries; the supposed security concerns that prevent the U.S. from screening Iraqis inside Iraq. With the Guam option, none of this would matter.

[From The Guam Option: Interesting Times: Online Only: The New Yorker]

Sinajana Guam 1945

[Sinajana, Guam in 1945 ]

Mr. Packer wants President-elect Obama to at least consider the Guam option for Iraqi refugees:

I know Iraqi refugees are somewhere around 87th on anyone’s agenda. I know I should be writing about Gaza or economic stimulus—another day. But today, let me call your attention away from those pressing matters to a new report, scheduled for release on Monday, by Natalie Ondiak and Brian Katulis of the Center for American Progress (soon to be the Obama Administration’s Heritage or A.E.I.). It’s called “Operation Safe Haven Iraq 2009,” and it’s a detailed proposal for an airlift of the tens of thousands of Iraqis who have worked with Americans there and whose lives are in danger, in perpetuum, as a result.

The report establishes the rationale for such an operation, familiar to readers of this blog (where the “Guam option” was first proposed over a year ago). It also lays out, in the careful manner of Washington think-tank papers, the steps that the new President would need to take, to wit:

1. Appoint a White House coordinator
2. Review current efforts
3. Finish background checks of qualified Iraqis
4. Begin a four-to-eight-week airlift, probably to Guam
5. Make sure all government agencies—State, Homeland Security, the military—work together
6. Resettle eligible Iraqis here after they’ve been “processed” outside the country

[From Obama’s Guam Option: Interesting Times: Online Only: The New Yorker]

Categories
politics

War Dead Project

My aunt Michelle writes:

My husband Bob, who is an artist, a poet, a veteran, a registered Republican and something of a nut, decided last spring that he wanted to create something that would express his deep feelings about the Iraq war. Starting in August he began to write, with a black sharpie, the names of the more than 4,000 soldiers who were killed in the war. He pasted the names written on wallpaper liner to the wall in front of our house which faces the Pacific ocean and a busy pedestrian walk. Above the list he wrote: “These Are the Brave Men and Women Our Government Sent to Die in Iraq.” It took about a month to complete the project and he added a statement at the end of the list. As more die he adds their names to the list.

He placed a spiral notebook near the project and urged people to write down their reactions and thoughts. Passing walkers from several countries and varied political persuasions have left dozens of their ideas in the notebook.

[From War Dead Project]

Robert Contemplative
[a photo I took of Bob last summer, somewhere off the coast of Alaska]

If you don’t get a chance to stroll by, reflect, and add your own comments, here is Bob’s statement:

Dear Neighbors,I honor these dead, the over 30,000 American wounded, and the hundreds of thousands who have served during this war. A veteran myself I understand some of their sacrifice, and understand that U.S. Troops do not choose their missions. The government chooses the war, and we the people choose the government.

These deaths are doubly sad because in Iraq our government ordered an attack, invasion and now occupation against the will of its people*of a country smaller than California* which did not threaten us, did not attack us,* and was an enemy of both Iran and Al Qaeda. this war insults our American tradition that every nation (starting with our own, in 1776) has the right to choose its own government, a tradition which has made us a beacon for freedom. We do not bully small nations. We justly act when strong nations – Nazi German, the USSR and Iraq in 1991 for examples – invade weaker ones.

Yes, al Qaeda earned our wrath on 9/11. Iraq, though, had nothing to do with 9/11,* yet we spill our soldier’s blood and rain terror in Iraq. Terror? Consider: our war (not our troops, but our war) has killed over 87,000 Iraqi civilians,* meaning that, per capital, it has killed more Iraqi civilians every week for 5 years than we lost on 9/11. * Whether you call that “shock and awe” or terrorism, it is unworthy of America.This doesn’t diminish the valor of our men and women. They have properly done their duty to follow the orders of the government we elected. But if we support freedom, if we support America’s principles, we will now do our duty and choose a government that will end this war without pursuing a “victory” which could further disgrace us by killing or cowing those Iraqis who don’t support the government George Bush or John McCain* impose.On November 4, please vote to save our lives, our treasure and our sacred honor by demanding an end to this immoral war.

* You can check these facts. See the “Sources and Calculations” page in the comments book (see below)
SOURCES AND CALCULATIONS

*”over 30,000 american wounded”: see . the names on the wall are only of the dead, but their numbers match the official ones.
*”against the will of its people”: see reporting several polls over a long time for the BBC, ABC and other. This March’s, for example, showed 72% of all Iraqis (including Kurds) oppose continued occupation and 61% think our forces make their country less secure.

*”smaller than California”: See CIA Fact Book (you can google it) The CIA estimates Iraq’s present population at 28,221,180. California’s in 2000 was over33,000,000 and has grown since.
*”didn’t attack us”: See The 9/11 Commission, at “A Pentagon Study of 600,000 Iraqi Documents Finds No Link Between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.”

President Bush also acknowledged this:

“Q What did Iraq have to do with that?

THE PRESIDENT: What did Iraq have to do with what?

Q The attack on the World Trade Center?

THE PRESIDENT: Nothing except for it’ part of —and nobody has ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack. Iraq was a—the lesson of September the 11th is, take threats before they fully materialize, Ken. Nobody has even suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq.”


*”starting with our own,in 1776”: see the Declaration of Independence
*”We were so menaced on 9/11 but not by Iraq.” See “didn’t attack us”, above
*Over 87,000 Iraqi civilians”: See This is a very conservative number. Most estimates are much higher, but iraqbodycount.org does not do estimates at all. It only counts verifiable violent deaths of noncombatants that are reported in the press or official reports, and cross checks those.
*”per capita, our war has killed more Iraqi civilians every week for five years than we lost on 9/11.” Here’s the calculation: On the five-year anniversary of our attack, March 20, 2008, the numbers were: The U.S. population was 301,139,947 (source CIA factbook). 2998 people (including military but not the terrorists) died in the 9/11 attacks (source Wikipedia), or .000996% of our population.Iraq’s population was 27,499,638 (source CIA factbook). (Those population numbers have grown slightly since then, in both countries). At that time, iraqbodycount had counted 81,874 Iraqi civilians killed. that’s .2977% of their population. Divide that by 5 years and again by 52 weeks per year and you bet .001145%, a greater per capita loss each week that we suffered on 9/11. Since March 18, over 5,000 more civilians have been killed, so if you repeat the math using today’s numbers you’ll find we have now inflicted a 9/11 a week for nearly 5 and a half year.
*”victory…John McCain”: See where Senator McCain clarifies his “100 years” in Iraq statements to the effect that he would be in favor of continuing to occupy Iraq that long, though he does not favor 100 years of American losses. See also Senator McCain’s web site,
*”our lives, our treasure and our sacred honor”: See the Declaration of Independence.

Michelle has been typing up people’s handwritten comments to the War Dead Project, and adding them to the blog. Check it out.