Saturday, September 30, 2006

"We are witnessing a silent coup"

Bush and Republican Congress Erase 800 Years of Human Rights

The Republican Congress, with the votes of all too many Democrats, has emasculated the Constitution and given the President dictatorial powers which have been denied even to English Kings since the 12th Century.

The basic principal of Habeas Corpus is that the executive (whether king, president or prime minister) cannot imprison a person or hold him or her indefinitely without trial without the imprisoned person having a right to come before a court for a determination of whether the executive has a right to hold such person.

Its basic principal is that the executive cannot be prosecutor, judge and jury. The great 19th century English jurist Albert Dicey wrote that the Habeas Corpus Acts "declare no principle and define no rights, but they are for practical purposes worth a hundred constitutional articles guaranteeing individual liberty."

The first Writs of Habeas Corpus were issued in the 12th Century during the reign of Henry II and have been a part of common law ever since. The right to petition for Habeas Corpus was first codified into parliamentary law in England in 1679. An earlier act of 1640 said that the command of the King was not a sufficient answer to deny a petition of Habeas Corpus. In other words, a King could not arbitrarily hold a person without an opportunity to petition a court.

This principal was enshrined in the US Constitution. Article One, section nine of the Constitution states that "The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."

As even Republican Arlen Specter stated on Thursday, "The Constitution is explicit in the statement that Habeas Corpus may be suspended only with rebellion or invasion. We do not have a rebellion or an invasion."

Shame on President Bush, the Republican Congress (and those Democrats who went along) for taking away one of our most precious liberties in the hope of short term electoral gain. Where will this stop? If a legal immigrant gives money to a Palestinian health care organization, could he or she be arrested and held indefinitely for supporting terrorism? Many Republicans have said that those who oppose Bush's Iraq policies are aiding the terrorists. Could those who oppose the war be thrown in jail for endangering national security and held indefinitely without trial?

And now that the Congress has taken away 800 years of fundamental civil liberties, it is poised this weekend to authorize wiretapping without a warrant in violation of the 4th Amendment.

We are witnessing a silent coup by President Bush and the Republican Congress to undo our basic liberties enshrined in the Constitution.

In this election campaign, Congressional Democrats cannot run in fear from Republican accusations that those who oppose this legislation are weak on terrorism. Democrats must stand up and say that they believe that our national security must be defended, but not at the price of letting the terrorists scare us into giving up our basic liberties that have served the nation from the beginning.

It is likely now that the Supreme Court will strike down these unconstitutional acts of Congress. However, if Bush gets another Supreme Court nomination, and Republicans continue to have enough votes in the Senate to bloc a filibuster, we may see a right wing Supreme Court majority allow our sacred liberties to be destroyed.

This is just one more reason why it is so important for the Democrats to take control of Congress in November. Then they have to be willing to stand strong for Americans' liberties.

P.S. I haven't even addressed the bill's legalization of torture. McCain's "Straight Talk Express" seems to have come
to a screeching halt.

Diebold Added Secret Patch

Diebold Added Secret Patch to Georgia E-Voting Systems in 2002, Whistleblowers Say

By Matthew Cardinale, News Editor, Atlanta Progressive News (September 28, 2006)

(APN) ATLANTA – Top Diebold corporation officials ordered workers to install secret files to Georgia’s electronic voting machines shortly before the 2002 Elections, at least two whistleblowers are now asserting, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.

Former Diebold official Chris Hood told his story concerning the secret “patch” to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., for Kennedy’s second article on electronic voting in this week’s Rolling Stone Magazine.

Hood’s claims corroborate a second whistleblower who spoke with Black Box Voting and Wired News in 2003.

Whistleblower Accounts

“With the primaries looming, [Chief of Diebold’s Election Division] Urosevich was personally distributing a ‘patch,’ a little piece of software designed to correct glitches in the computer program,” Rolling Stone Magazine reported.

"We were told that it was intended to fix the clock in the system, which it didn't do," Hood told Rolling Stone. "The curious thing is the very swift, covert way this was done."

"It was an unauthorized patch, and they were trying to keep it secret from the state," Hood told Rolling Stone.

"We were told not to talk to county personnel about it. I received instructions directly from Urosevich. It was very unusual that a president of the company would give an order like that and be involved at that level,” Hood told Rolling Stone.

The “patch” was applied to about 5,000 polling places in Fulton and DeKalb Counties in 2002, Rolling Stone reported.

Hood did not immediately return a text message from Atlanta Progressive News and his voicemail was not operational.

The second whistleblower, Rob Behler, was contracted to work with Diebold in the lead up to the 2002 Elections.

Two patches were applied in June and July 2002 respectively while Behler worked in the Diebold warehouse; another patch was applied in August 2002 after Behler left the warehouse, Wired News reported.

“Behler said Diebold programmers posted patches to a file-transfer-protocol site for him and his colleagues to apply to the machines,” Wired News reported.

Diebold officials first denied any patches were applied in an interview with Salon in 2003, according to Wired News.

"We have analyzed that situation and have no indication of that happening at all," Joseph Richardson, Diebold spokesperson, is reported to have told Salon at the time.

This story later changed.

Activists Speak Out

Elections integrity activists are outraged by the relevations, although they say the apparent secretive nature of “the patch” has only confirmed the things they already suspected and feared.

“The fact that they were doing any patch of any kind is very disturbing,” Garland Favorito of VoterGA, an organization that is suing the State of Georgia over the meaningless nature of elections here, told Atlanta Progressive News.

“It raises the distinct possibility the machines might have counted [in a] different [manner] on Election Night than when certified,” Favorito said.

“It corroborates two of our key points of the suit. One, machines can count differently on Election Night than when certified. So, the only way is to verify on Election Night. Two, it’s another example of how people have been removed from the counting of the votes,” Favorito said.

“I’m not surprised people are playing tricks. As far as the patch, I say ‘time out’ for that,” Donzella James, who is contesting her purported loss in the Democratic Primary in Georgia’s 13th Congressional District to US Rep. David Scott (D-GA), told Atlanta Progressive News.

“I’m definitely going to look into it. I’m glad there’s a credible person–Kennedy–who has brought this information forward,” James said.

An outspoken advocate for a voter verified paper trail since her days in the Georgia State Senate, James said she is getting ready to run again in 2008 whatever the outcome of her lawsuit.

“It immediately shows Diebold has not been telling the truth, has been covering up facts, in state after state, year after year. This is someone who knows. He has insider knowledge,” Brad Friedman of BradBlog told Atlanta Progressive News.

“These are things people suspected. He confirmed it. Diebold never gave a damn about security, accuracy, or transparency,” Friedman said.

What is worse, the use of last-minute patches on electronic voting machines are routine, Friedman said.

“It has happened all over the country. Because they find out about security issues at the last minute and apply them without going through the proper procedures,” Friedman said.

At a recent press conference called by Donzella James, poll watchers say one county official locked herself in a room with the machine for three unexplained minutes during the recent Primary.

Cathy Cox’s Role

Where was Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox during all this?

Apparently, Diebold leadership asked employees to not let her office know about the patch or patches.

And Diebold first alleged this application of patches wasn’t going on.

However, Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox appears to have found out anyway.

And Diebold appears to have at some point acknowledged the patches existed.

At least one patch was approved by Kennesaw State University, who got a state contract to do so, according to Wired News.

And Diebold admitted to the Elections Assistance Commission about the “0808" patch, Garland Favorito said.

Cox wrote a letter after the 2002 Elections, asking Diebold to address a total of 29 problems with the functioning of their E-voting machines, technology, and procedures, Rolling Stone reported.

This list of 29 items was also brought up in a press conference by US Rep. Cynthia McKinney, her first major press conference on electronic voting.

Cox referred to the item of the mysterious patch as “The application/implication of the 0808 patch.”

“The state was seeking confirmation that the patch did not require that the system ‘be recertified at national and state level’ as well as ‘verifiable analysis of overall impact of patch to the voting system,’” Rolling Stone Magazine reports.

But shouldn’t they be seeking her confirmation and not the other way around?

Diebold’s reply to Cox’s letter, if one exists, has not been made publicly available, according to Rolling Stone.

“She [Cox] should be the one confirming it, not the vendor. She’s the one responsible for running elections in Georgia,” Favorito told Atlanta Progressive News.

“She appears to be trying to privatize the election system to the point where she’s trying to ask the vendor to determine if they’re in compliance, rather that using their own resources,” within the Office of the Secretary of State, Favorito said.

“They claim [as an excuse] to have changed the operating system and not the tabulating software. We believe the law says the systems have to be re-certified with a patch of any kind. The State did not certify those patches. The State took Diebold’s word,” Favorito said.

“However, State Law does not seem to support Diebold’s testimony,” Favorito said.

Atlanta Progressive News will be looking more into how Diebold was, or was not, able to satisfy Cox’s 2002 concerns.

“Atlanta Progressive News is the only media outlet in Georgia that’s covering this story,” Garland Favorito of VoterGA said.

About the author:

Matthew Cardinale is the News Editor for Atlanta Progressive News. He may be reached at

Syndication policy:

This article may be reprinted in full at no cost where Atlanta Progressive News is credited.

Friday, September 29, 2006

October Surprise Bets

Last Call For 2006 "October Surprise" Bets!

Step right up!

Place your bets!

All wagering on the 2006 October Surprise will officially end midnight Saturday, so lay your money down now!

Karl Rove is already bragging to the Republican faithful that he's got a doozy of an October Surprise teed up for 2006. Karl hasn't seen fit to let us in on the secret of what this year's surprise will be, though.

So the betting atmosphere is in a frenzy.

Let's examine the current favorite picks, including some options that even Karl Rove doesn't have control over, and (of course) the long shots.

[First, a little housecleaning, to update the odds I set in my previous article from a month and a half ago:]

(+) Gas price relief at the pump for average Americans.
Now paying out at the posted odds: 5-to-1. If you bet on this one, you've already won! Technically, this happened before October, but prices will stay low into next month, which guarantees you a win. Please collect your winnings from the Department Of "That Money Is Rightfully Mine" (where everyone collects their imaginary Jeopardy! winnings nightly). Bets are no longer being accepted (at any odds) for this item.

[Bets are also no longer being accepted for any of the following:]

(-) Bombing Syria in support of Israel.
Since the conflict appears over for now, no longer accepting these bets. All bets placed at 8-to-1 odds are forfeit.

(-) Bombing Ned Lamont's house in Connecticut.
It wouldn't do them any good at all now, since either Lieberman or Lamont will vote for Democratic leadership in the Senate. All bets placed at 1000-to-1 are forfeit.

(-) Exploit the Fidel Castro situation in Cuba.
Castro lived, and things in Cuba seem to be under control for the moment. Previous bets will be honored at 20-to-1 (if it comes to pass), but no new bets are being accepted.

(-) The GOP brings the troops home from Iraq.
Although this was the Number One 2006 Republican Game Plan from early this year onwards, reality on the ground in Iraq has trumped this ace. They've actually built up troops in the past month or so, to 147,000 (from about 130,000), so this just isn't going to happen. All bets placed at 15-to-1 are forfeit.

(-) Announce that Barbara and/or Jenna Bush has joined the Marines and will soon be deploying to Iraq.
The house is sorry to report that we can no longer accept bets on this, ever since the odds increased to "The Number of Atoms in the Universe"-to-1. Previous bets placed at 17.5 billion-to-1 will indeed be honored -- if it happens -- but we're not too worried about it breaking the bank (if you know what I mean).

[OK, enough erasing previous bets from the chalkboard. Let's proceed to the current offerings, and their current odds:]

(1) Announce the capture and/or death of Osama Bin Laden. Odds: 4-to-1
The odds for this one have dropped (from 10-to-1 last month), due to the conspiracy theorists coming up with an interestingly plausible pattern of recent events. Consider the following:

* CIA disbands Osama Bin Laden (OBL) unit. Why would they still need the unit if they've already caught him?

* White House pressure for legalizing torture right now -- what better poster child for torture could there be than OBL in CIA custody?

* Turning over Afghanistan to NATO control -- we've achieved our main objective, so it's less of a concern.

* President Bush mysteriously repeatedly mentions OBL (seventeen times!) in a single speech -- after years of barely acknowledging his existence. If Bush knew in advance of an imminent public announcement of OBL's capture, it would make perfect sense to jump-start the anticipation.

* Pakistan's President Musharraf announces a pact with leaders in the tribal areas in his country which everyone assumes has been sheltering OBL. If OBL has been removed from the equation, it makes sense that tribal leaders would now be free to cut a deal with the central government.

* Emptying of "secret CIA prisons" and shipping all those contained within to Guantanamo Bay. Why would we need to continue torturing these people if our main objective -- capturing OBL -- had already been accomplished?

* Even Fox news is talking about OBL (to former President Clinton, of all people), and spinning the "it's all Clinton's fault" mantra again. Foreshadowing? You decide.

This one admittedly comes from the Tinfoil Hat Brigade, but when you look at all these disparate events as an aggregate, a pattern does begin to emerge. Hence the reasonable odds for this one.

[Memo from Karl Rove to the folks in French Intelligence: Ssssshhh! Don't let the secret out too early! It's not October yet!]

(1a) An Osama Bin Laden video surfaces, days before the election. Odds: 10-to-9
Variation on a theme. This did wonders for the Republicans in 2004. Remember that OBL video released three days before the election? Does OBL want the Republicans in control? Is he that savvy to American politics?

This is admittedly an externally-driven event (i.e., Karl Rove can't "manufacture" it out of thin air), but it has happened before. The chances of this actually happening again are quite good, hence the really bad return on your money (bet $9, and only get $10 total in return).

(2) Announce Cheney will step down as Vice President after the election. Odds: 25-to-1
Same odds as before, nothing changed. A relative long shot.

(3) Venezuela and Iran cut oil production to jack up US gas prices. Odds: 15-to-1
An October Surprise from external forces (and one designed to aid Democrats, perhaps a "Double-Whammy-Reverse October Surprise?"). If Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran really have become buddies after their recent anti-Bush speeches at the UN, they may consider trying to influence the outcome of the US election.

All they would have to do is announce that they're cutting oil production 50% until mid-November. The resulting chaos on the world oil market would jack US gasoline prices back up and sour the economic mood in America. This may benefit the Democrats with moderate voters.

The real question is: are Chavez and Ahmadinejad that concerned about the American political scene? That's really what you're betting on with this one.

(4) Announce the thwarting of huge terrorist plot to ... (fill in the blank). Odds: 50-to-49
From my previous post:

"Worst odds (for a return on your money) in the whole list, also meaning it's the most likely to happen. It would be relatively easy to manufacture out of almost nothing, and would be seen by Republicans as helping their cause enormously. ... Fear always works to Republican advantage, so the probability of this being announced at a fortuitous moment during the last days of the election is (unfortunately) extremely high."

Nothing has changed except the odds, which are now the second-worst of any choice on this list. The worst odds on the list are for the following new variation:

(4a) Terrorists caught sneaking across Mexican border. Odds: 100-to-99
This would solve two problems at once for the GOP -- it would vindicate all the "build a wall to seal the border" House Republicans, and it would increase the general fear of terrorism at the same time. Two birds, in other words, with one easy-to-manufacture stone. This is actually even more plausible than (4), but Republicans would have to be extremely devious to pull this one off successfully.

(5) Nancy Pelosi caught with child porn. Or drugs. Or WMD. Or something. Odds: 250-to-1
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is stopped at a TSA checkpoint in an airport and a cursory check of her laptop computer reveals graphic and disgusting child pornography -- apparently filmed (and participated in) by Pelosi herself. Later reports that the TSA screener has a doctorate in Computer Science from M.I.T. are quickly hushed up.

Or perhaps, Pelosi is stopped by the California Highway Patrol and 20 kilos of (fill in your favorite scary drug) are found in her trunk.

Or perhaps, Pelosi is found with anthrax in her makeup case which just happens to perfectly match the anthrax used in the 2001 mail attacks.

Or perhaps, Pelosi is found arriving on a flight from Detroit with the bones of Jimmy Hoffa in her suitcase. Or maybe the bones of the Lindbergh baby?

OK, the odds are high, but this has been the basis of the Republican party's attempt to "nationalize" the election in their favor: "Nancy Pelosi is dangerous; and America would go to Hell in a handbasket within two weeks of her becoming Speaker of the House." So framing her for some heinous crime isn't completely outside the realm of possibility. It is pretty far-out, though, which is reflected in the odds.

(5a) Widespread GOP smear campaign based on wiretapping Democratic candidates. Odds: 50-to-1
A remarkably well-orchestrated and simultaneous Republican smear campaign across dozens of congressional races, all with information gathered through wiretapping political opponents. Since Congress has basically abdicated all responsibility for wiretapping to the White House, what's to stop them from using such information politically? How the information was gathered would naturally not be made public until after the elections, so the outcome would be a fait accompli.

Although the odds are long, anyone who lumps this in with the Tinfoil Hat Brigade obviously does not remember the term "COINTELPRO" -- the reason we passed all those laws restricting intelligence-gathering in the first place. Before Bush gutted them all, of course.

(6) Bombing Iran's nuclear facilities. Odds: 5-to-4
This one has gotten so popular, it made the cover of Time magazine last week.

Odds have gotten a bit worse, meaning it's more likely. Odds for variations have not changed (read my previous article for full details on this one). To wit:

(6a) Israel carries out the bombing. Odds: 3-to-1

(6b) Force Congress to vote on the issue, without actually bombing (yet). Odds: 2-to-1

(6c) U.S. drops a nuclear bomb on Iran. Odds: 100-to-1

(7) Middle East Peace Process Restarted. Odds: 15-to-1
The Bush administration could reverse itself and agree to recent overtures by the Arab League in the U.N. to restart the peace process for Israel and Palestine. This would be a brilliant move by the Republicans to change the Middle East subject from "Iraq" to "peace." Which would go a long way towards convincing moderate "soccer mom" voters that the Republicans really are interested in peace in the long run, and are willing to work towards it.

My guess is that many independent voters really do hope for some sort of positive outcome in the region, but they're so soured on the Iraq war that they're thinking of staying home (or even voting Democratic) on election day. Moving the peace process forward would encourage them to vote GOP.

However, this still has long odds, since Condoleezza Rice and John Bolton have already objected to the Arab League proposal. And we all know how loathe the Bush administration is to reverse itself.

(8) Massive Hurricane Strikes America. Odds: It's Not Nice To Bet On Mother Nature (cue lightning flash and thunder)
The other Double-Whammy-Reverse October Surprise in the list, as it would almost certainly help Democrats. Unless Bush's FEMA did a bang-up job and everyone was taken care of in a timely fashion with no screwups (Sorry, I fell out of my chair laughing there).

Reminding voters of the FEMA incompetence after Katrina is going to dampen Republican voter turnout. But this is also an externally-driven event. There's nothing either party could do to make it happen or not. And this year's hurricane season has been relatively mild. Hence the inscrutable odds.

(9) Terrorist attack on American soil. Odds: 200-to-1 (or, hopefully, even worse)
Too many possible scenarios here to list more than a few obvious examples: San Francisco gets hit by dirty bomb. American water supplies are attacked. Power grid is sabotaged in multiple places simultaneously. Attack on a chemical plant by explosives hidden in a train.

Everyone has their own nightmare about what form such an attack would take.

Some argue that this would hurt Republicans in the elections ("You haven't kept us safe!"). Others argue that it would help Republicans ("You were right about the War on Terror, please protect us!"). My guess is that it would depend on the timing. If it happened less than a week before election day, I bet it would help Republicans. If it happened any further out than that, voters might have time to reflect, and pin the blame for the attack on the Republicans.

Either way, it is horrifying to consider. And the variations are even more horrifying, but they must be acknowledged:

(9a) Terrorist attack elsewhere in the world. Odds: 150-to-1
Attack happens outside the United States. Another Madrid or London terrorist attack. Against the Vatican, for example. It's even less clear which party this would help or hurt in the elections.

(9b) Tet-style push by Iraqi insurgents. Odds: 20-to-1
Massive push by Iraqi insurgents to create so much mayhem and death in the weeks leading up to the election that it would lead the American television news every day. Picture the Tet Offensive, in Baghdad. But are the Iraqi insurgents really that media aware?

(9c) Faked Iranian attack in Iraq. Odds: 100-to-1
Massive bombing or other insurgent attack in Baghdad. Bush claims to have proof that Iran is directly involved (such proof could either be faked or authentic, and it wouldn't even matter -- because it wouldn't be discovered until after the election). Becomes casus belli for airstrikes on Iran's nuclear facilities -- see option (6).

(9d) Faked terrorist attack on American soil (Operation Northwoods lives again). Odds: 1,000,000-to-1
Serious Tinfoil Hat Brigade territory. The American government launches an attack on American soil, and then blames it on terrorists. Many already believe the 9/11 conspiracies which currently abound -- and there is that history of "Operation Northwoods" -- so I had to set odds on this one even if I don't think it's going to happen.

(10) National emergency declared (for some reason or another), midterm elections cancelled. Attorney General Gonzales, backed by the Supreme Court, announces that all congressional elections are null and void, as the President as Unitary Executive (all praise His Name) will be dictating who will be allowed to serve in Congress, due to a Presidential signing statement that, unfortunately, you can't read (for reasons of national security, and the fact that we're at war, dammit); and due to the Omniscient Power of Our Fearless Leader George W. Bush -- long may His Holy Name be revered by the loving populace. Odds: too scary to compute

If you believe this is outside the bounds of possibilities, then you didn't read enough Robert A. Heinlein as a kid (Google the name "Nehemiah Scudder" to be enlightened). Or you've never heard Sinclair Lewis' famous quote: "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

But I wouldn't advise betting on this one. After all, if it happens, betting will be highly illegal.

And so we come to the end of the final October Surprise odds list. Sorry it was so long, but I wanted it to be as comprehensive as possible.

Get your bets in before the windows slam shut!

Put your money down!

Better odds than the lottery!

[As before, feel free to propose other items, just be sure to post odds for them when you do.]

Great Stress Reliever

Just click on the fists, and do it often.

Hillary Clinton says no to Torture

Hillary Clinton says no to Torture


How would General Washington treat these men? The British had already committed atrocities against Americans, including torture. As David Hackett Fischer describes in his Pulitzer Prize winning book, "Washington’s Crossing," thousands of American prisoners of war were "treated with extreme cruelty by British captors." There are accounts of injured soldiers who surrendered being murdered instead of quartered. Countless Americans dying in prison hulks in New York harbor. Starvation and other acts of inhumanity perpetrated against Americans confined to churches in New York City.

full transcript

On a Lighter Note

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Republican Senate tries to hijack "cell phone privacy" bill to help Bush's domestic spying program, and help telcoms keep you less safe

Republican Senate tries to hijack "cell phone privacy" bill to help Bush's domestic spying program, and help telcoms keep you less safe
by John in DC - 9/28/2006 10:22:00 AM

You gotta love the Republicans. Never miss an opportunity to throw some pork onto legislation that should be a no-brainer and shouldn't be partisan.

Their latest? Taking the cell phone privacy legislation that they've been sitting on for nine months and finally moving it forward. Oh but there's a catch. They'll only pass the bill if it somehow saves George Bush's domestic spying program (why are the two related? I'm a bit creeped out now.) AND, they want the federal legislation to pre-empt state legislation already in place on the matter - why? - because many states require the telcoms to actually have better procedures in place to protect your privacy. And God forbid the phone companies actually protect their customers' privacy. So the Republicans controlling the Senate are working out a deal to repeal those state laws. Nice. Never miss a chance to help a donor.

Honestly, this smacks of an effort to kill the legislation, a poison pill. And it stinks. Why doesn't the Republican congress want to protect your phone records from complete strangers who can simply buy them on the Internet?
Differences over whether to pre-empt existing state laws reportedly is the sticking point to a Senate consensus on a federal bill against "pretexting," a practice in which Internet-based brokers fraudulently obtain and sell telephone records, sources said late Tuesday.

Several Capitol Hill sources and consumer watchdogs said that Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, is insisting that language negotiated with the Senate Judiciary Committee pre-empt state laws on the subject.

Stevens' measure, S. 2389, would override state mandates that require telecommunications carriers or Internet-enabled voice services to "develop, implement or maintain procedures for protecting confidentiality of customer proprietary network information," according to a staff working draft. ...

If a pretexting bill with state pre-emption is enacted, it could halt state investigations by utility commissions into the lawfulness of electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency, the American Civil Liberties Union argues.
This is absolutely disgusting. Kill this bill. I'd rather have pre-texting remain legal - and I'll start buying member of Congress' phone records - than to have them use this legislation as a chance to let the phone companies off the hook on protecting our privacy, AND to use this to somehow exonerate George Bush's domestic spying. That is just sick. And people wonder why the Republicans are losing control of the Congress.

Smith - Stern get married


Posted Thursday, Sept. 28 / 2 pm ET

Anna Nicole Smith
married her long-time attorney and close confidante, Howard K. Stern, this morning just shortly before 10:30 am in Nassau, Bahamas. The wedding occurred only 18 days after the death of Anna's son Daniel, 20, from an accidental drug overdose in her Nassau hospital room on September 10.

In a
world-exclusive report, an eyewitness tells Star that Anna, 38, and Howard, 37, tied the knot shortly before 10:30 am on the morning of September 28, while sailing on a white catamaran off of Nassau!

"There was heavy security around the yacht, plus extra speedboats to deliver more supplies as needed (including unlimited Dom Perignon champagne) from the mainland to the catamaran," says the eyewitness, who adds that the wedding party celebrated the union afterwards by having a swim party around the yacht — "and Anna was wearing a pink bikini! Later on, she changed into a colorful, one-piece suit with a wrap around her waist."

Two days before, on September 26, Stern appeared live on the Larry King Show via satellite from the Bahamas, to announce that he was the father of Anna's newborn daughter Danilynne Hope, that he and Anna "love each other" — and that the duo would get married "at some point."

Apparently, that point arrived much
sooner than later. A source adds: "Stern was making all the arrangements in the days before the wedding."

This is apparently Stern's first marriage, but the third for Smith. She was a teen bride with Billy Wayne Smith (Daniel's father) in Texas in 1985; they divorced two years later. Smith then married 89-year-old oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall in June 1994. He died in 1995, and Anna — who recently became a legal resident of the Bahamas — is still battling in court for her share of his estate.

Read next week's Star for all the incredible details!

When contacted by Star about our breaking story of Anna Nicole Smith's wedding to Howard K. Stern, celebrity photographer Larry Birkhead, 31 — the former Smith boyfriend who has steadfastly claimed to be the father of Anna's new daughter Danilynne Hope — stated: "That’s not a grief-stricken
mother. He [Howard] wants to take over paternity and that’s his maneuver. Nothing shocks me now. It gets crazier and crazier.”

CNN Fact Checks Inhofe’s Diatribe Against Global Warming Science

CNN Fact Checks Inhofe’s Diatribe Against Global Warming Science

On Monday, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) took to the Senate floor and launched into a 45-minute diatribe on global warming science. Repeating his claim that global warming is a hoax, Inhofe said, “The American people know…when they are being used and when they are being duped by the hysterical left.”

In particular, he attacked the news media. According to Inhofe, “During the past year, the American people have been served up an unprecedented parade of environmental alarmism by the media and entertainment industry.”

This morning, CNN hit back with a segment documenting that virtually everything Inhofe said was flatly contradicted by the facts. Watch it:


The CNN segment concluded: “Inhofe challenged the media to get this story straight in that speech, but when we asked for an interview with him we were told he’s just too busy to speak with us this week.”

Read another debunk of Inhofe’s speech at Gristmill.


O’BRIEN: But some Republicans are fighting a different battle. Listen to the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Environment.

INHOFE: I’m going to speak today about the most media-hyped environmental issue of all time, is the word that gets everybody upset when you say it and the word that many or the phrase that many politicians are afraid to say and that is global warming.

O’BRIEN: It’s not new ground for Oklahoma’s senior senator. Jim Inhofe has repeatedly called global warming a hoax. Despite a steady stream of stark evidence, melting ice caps, rising sea levels, the warmest temperatures in 12,000 years, the senator is not convinced.

INHOFE: During the past year, the American people have been served up an unprecedented parade of environmental alarmism by the media.

O’BREIN: In a 45-minutes speech on the Senate floor, he voiced skepticism over this graph called the hockey stick. Despite some flaws, most climate scientists consider it the best t depiction of Global Warming. Inhofe says there’s evidence that the an arctic is actually cooling, even though most scientific findings suggest the contrary and point to the loss of major chunks of ice sheets and shelves. And he says the polar bears of the arctic are thriving, even though two of the most influential wildlife agencies say they are veering toward endangered status. Inhofe is all but alone on capitol hill these days. Most Republicans believe the scientific juror is in.

REP. CHRIS SHAYS (R-CT): We have seen too much documentation to know that the world is getting warmer. We know that the ice shelves are melting. And for him to say otherwise just is like putting a bag over his head and not seeing it.

O’BRIEN: Undaunted, Inhofe also took on Al Gore.

INHOFE: In May our nation was exposed to one of the slickest science propaganda films of all time, former Vice President Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.

O’BREIN: Inhofe offers a 12-point indictment of Gore’s documentary on climate change. He says the list might have been longer if he had actually seen the movie.


O’BRIEN: We should point out in the recent five-year period, Senator Inhofe received more than $850,000 in campaign donations from the oil and gas industry. Inhofe challenged the media to get this story straight in that speech, but when we asked for an interview with him we were told he’s too busy to speak with us this week.

A Vote That Will Live in Infamy

A Vote That Will Live in Infamy -- Who Will Betray Their Country Today and Who Will Stand Up for America?

You must read this New York Times editorial on the detainee bill that Senators will be voting on today. They are not the only ones saying this, it is just a simple summary of the one of the worst bills in American history. This piece of legislation guts what this country is founded on.
As the New York Times explains, it is our Alien and Sedition Acts.

There is no excuse. Democrats who vote for this bill because of cowardly political expediency will forever be tainted. We will never forget. This is the most un-American bill I have ever seen. Republicans have proven themselves to be craven sycophants who will do Vice President Cheney's bidding no matter what, over and over. There is almost no hope for any of them. They will go down in history as the leaders of the worst Congress of all time. But the Democrats ...

For the love of God, you are supposed to be our last line of defense. You are about to gut our whole system of government. Torture. Indefinite detentions. Unlimited and arbitrary executive power. What on God's green earth is American about any of that? You're going to let them turn us into a third rate banana republic.

I can understand if the average citizen doesn't comprehend the idea of habeas corpus, but a United States senator? It is the foundation of western government. An accused must be allowed to see a judge. If the executive branch has the sole authority to hold people indefinitely without ever charging them, we cease to be a civilized country. That is nearly the textbook definition of tyranny. What is left of America?!

What have you let Al Qaeda do to us? You let them win by destroying who we are.
No more excuses. Any Republican who votes for this tomorrow can never be called anything but radical. Any journalist that calls any of them moderate again should be fired on the spot. Any Democrat who votes for this is the worst kind of coward. I am tired of giving them one more chance. Stand up, you spineless weaklings. You have the right to filibuster to protect all of us against this very thing. Use it!!!

It is your job to protect the republic. Do your job!

The House has already voted and already passed the bill. They have betrayed us. Only 7 brave Republicans stood against the bill. Some of them are as conservative as it gets and I vehemently disagree with them on fundamental issues. Nonetheless, I will forever see them as American heroes. There is a bottom line. This is it.

34 useless Democrats voted for the bill. One of them is Harold Ford, Jr. who was a classmate of mine in college. One of them is Sherrod Brown who has been very helpful to our show and appeared many times with us. But this is not the time for personal friendships to get in the way of what is right. They have abdicated their duty. They have let us down. This is not the time for political expediency. This is the time for men of courage.

How many will we find tomorrow? Who will vote for this atrocity? Who still up against it? Who has enough courage to say -- not on my watch. Somebody, for the love of God, filibuster this thing. If you don't, you will live to regret it forever. Not because of political implications, but because of what it says about you. When it counted, were you willing to sell out America and all that she stands for?

Keith Olbermann takes a “look back” at Bush’s first months in office leading up to 9/11

Keith Olbermann takes a “look back” at Bush’s first months in office leading up to 9/11
Countdown-BushCabinet.jpg Keith Olbermann responds to Bush’s non-response to Bill Clinton. He goes over his first months in office leading up to 9/11. It’s not a pretty picture.
Video -WMP Video -QT
(rough transcript)
Olbermann: The political debate still raging over Mr. Clinton’s remarks in a Fox News interview Sunday has overshadowed the debate Mr. Clinton suggested the nation ought to have… a discussion of what steps the Bush administration took to get Osama bin Laden or destroy al Qaeda before September 11th.
Yesterday, Mr. Bush declined to address Mr. Clinton’s remarks, saying we’ve already had the "look-back this" and "look-back that."
But if we are to look forward with any clarity, it is important to know the facts about where we have been, and how we got where we are.
Mr. Clinton is not in office.

Mr. Bush is.
His policies determine how the U.S. fights al Qaeda, so it is important that we understand how he has done so in the past.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

back-up plans for voting machines on election day

Kerry-Feingold resolution urges back-up plans for voting machines on election day

Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and John Kerry (D-MA) introduced a resolution urging state and local governments to have back-up systems in place on election day to ensure that every eligible voter who wants to vote is able to, according to a press release obtained by RAW STORY.

"The Senators’ Sense of the Senate resolution notes the difficulties that voters in many states have experienced with new voting technology and urges states to do whatever is necessary to ensure that voters are actually able to cast a vote on November 7, 2006, including providing emergency paper ballots in the event of a voting machine failure," states the press release.
Excerpts from press release:
“We cannot allow the American people to lose faith in the most fundamental aspect of our democratic system – the right to vote,” Feingold said. “Some of the problems we saw this year, like voters in Maryland being told to come back later because the machines weren’t working, are simply unacceptable. A back-up plan as simple as having emergency paper ballots on hand is essential to preventing election day disasters.”

Kerry said, “It’s a disgrace that a Congress and an Administration which talks about exporting democracy around the world ignores the challenges of our own democracy right here at home. We have seen American citizens disenfranchised in our elections for the simple reason that no effective back up system was in place. That’s a national scandal. But here we are, 42 days away from another election, and Congress has again dragged its feet even after we mobilized 35,000 citizens to demand a hearing for our Count Every Vote Act, even after what we saw just this month in Montgomery County."

"We need emergency action now. That is why I am co-sponsoring the Dodd-Boxer legislation to provide emergency paper ballots and that is why Russ Feingold and I are introducing our resolution today demanding election day back-up plans. We have a duty to ensure that no citizen will be denied the right to vote in 2006.”

Feingold and Kerry are also co-sponsoring legislation with Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT) to help states make paper ballots available in case of election day problems with electronic voting machines. Feingold and Kerry introduced the resolution ahead of Congress’ adjournment for the 2006 elections. With the problems some voters have already experienced during primary elections this year, the senators believe the Senate should be on record supporting state efforts to be prepared in the event of problems on Election Day. Earlier this month, problems with new voting technology were reported in a number of primaries around the country.
PDF copy of Kerry-Feingold resolution can be viewed at this link

Jim Marrs: 9/11 Truth in 10 Minutes

Daily Show Rips Cable News for Clinton Coverage

Daily Show Rips Cable News for Clinton Coverage
TDS-Stewart-Wallace.jpg Jon Stewart and Samantha Bee weigh in on the FOX-Clinton interview. Jon makes an
astute point which the responsible, serious mainstream media seems to miss; Clinton’s record on bin Laden is strong. Much stronger than Bush who is STILL not doing anything about him.

Video-WMP Video-QT

The CIA shut down their bin Laden unit in July and a recent article says the trail has gone "stone cold." Then, we have this report that says Pakistan signed a deal with the forces who control the area where bin Laden is believed to be hiding (or dying depending on
how gullible you are) Yea…REAL serious about terrorism.

(guest blogged by Mike L)

What Did Bush Do About The Cole?

What Did Bush Do About The Cole?
Yesterday former 9/11 commission member Richard Ben-Veniste was on the situation room to talk about what Bush did in the months leading up to
Video - WMV Video - QT
BLITZER: So you the asked the president in the Oval Office — and the vice president — why didn’t you go after the Taliban in those eight months before 9/11 after he was president. What did he say?
BEN-VENISTE: Well, now that it was established that al Qaeda was responsible for the Cole bombing and the president was briefed in January of 2001, soon after he took office, by George Tenet, head of the CIA, telling him of the finding that al Qaeda was responsible, and I said, "Well, why wouldn’t you go after the Taliban in order to get them to kick bin Laden out of Afghanistan?"

Maybe, just maybe, who knows — we don’t know the answer to that question — but maybe that
could have affected the 9/11 plot.

BLITZER: What did he say?

BEN-VENISTE: He said that no one had told him that we had made that threat. And I found that very discouraging and surprising.
Yeah - because every time Clinton brought up Osama, he was just "Wagging the Dog".
Full transcript available below the fold (via CNN)
(Read the rest of this story…)

The Top 10 Conservative Idiots

The Top 10 Conservative Idiots, No. 261

September 25, 2006
Ass-Handing Edition

On this week's list: The Bush Administration (1) has made our country less safe. Chris Wallace (2) gets his backside handed to him. And we celebrate "Fox News Day" along with Mitt Romney (10).



P.R. Group That Paid Off Iraqi Papers Gets New $6.2 Million Media Contract by John in DC - 9/26/2006 11:13:00 PM
Hell, why don't we give 'em a medal.

A public relations company known for its role in a controversial U.S. military program that paid Iraqi newspapers for stories favorable to coalition forces has been awarded another multimillion dollar media contract with American forces in Iraq.Washington-based Lincoln Group won a two-year contract to monitor a number of English and Arabic media outlets and produce public relations-type products such as talking points or speeches for U.S. forces in Iraq, officials said Tuesday.

Memo proves Condi lied to the press yesterday by John in DC - 9/26/2006 10:43:00 PM
Gee, no one could have ever imagined a member of the Bush administration lying about the war on terror. Raw Story has the details.

A memo received by United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice shortly after becoming National Security Advisor in 2001 directly contradicts statements she made to reporters yesterday, RAW STORY has learned."We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al Qaeda," Rice told a reporter for the New York Post on Monday. "Big pieces were missing," Rice added, "like an approach to Pakistan that might work, because without Pakistan you weren't going to get Afghanistan."Rice made the comments in response to claims made Sunday by former President Bill Clinton, who argued that his administration had done more than the current one to address the al Qaeda problem before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. She stopped short of calling the former president a liar.However, RAW STORY has found that just five days after President George W. Bush was sworn into office, a memo from counter-terrorism expert Richard A. Clarke to Rice included the 2000 document, "Strategy for Eliminating the Threat from the Jihadist Networks of al-Qida: Status and Prospects." This document devotes over 2 of its 13 pages of material to specifically addressing strategies for securing Pakistan's cooperation in airstrikes against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Bush Administration’s Pre-9/11 Focus Was Missile Defense, Not Terrorism

Bush Administration’s Pre-9/11 Focus Was Missile Defense, Not Terrorism »

In her interview with the New York Post, Condoleezza Rice falsely claimed that President Bush’s pre-9/11 anti-terror efforts were “at least as aggressive” as President Clinton’s. In fact, the 9-11 Commission disputes that account. While the Bush administration should have been preparing for a potential terrorist attack, it was instead focused on developing a costly missile defense system. Here are the facts:

Clarke Handed Over Plan To “Roll Back” Al Qaeda. “The terrorism briefing [in the White House Situation Room in Jan. 2001] was delivered by Richard Clarke … [S]enior officials from both the Clinton and Bush administrations…say that Clarke had a set of proposals to ‘roll back’ al-Qaeda. In fact, the heading on Slide 14 of the Powerpoint presentation reads, ‘Response to al Qaeda: Roll back.’ Clarke’s proposals called for the ‘breakup’ of al-Qaeda cells and the arrest of their personnel.” [Time, 8/4/02]

Bush Said “Most Urgent Threat” Was Ballistic Missiles. In a speech on May 1, 2001, Bush said, “Unlike the Cold War, today’s most urgent threat stems not from thousands of ballistic missiles in the Soviet hands, but from a small number of missiles in the hands of these states, states for whom terror and blackmail are a way of life.” [Bush, 5/1/01]

Bush’s Priorities Did Not Include Al Qaeda. “After his first meeting with NATO heads of state in Brussels in June 2001, Bush outlined the five top defense issues discussed with the closest U.S. allies. Missile defense was at the top of the list, followed by developing a NATO relationship with Russia, working in common purpose with Europe, increased defense spending in NATO countries, and enlarging the alliance to include former East European countries. The only reference to extremists was in Macedonia, where Bush said regional forces were seeking to subvert a new democracy.” [Washington Post, 4/1/04] expand post »

Clarke memo to Rice in 2001 shows claims on Clinton, terror false

Clarke memo to Rice in 2001 shows claims on Clinton, terror false

Are YOURS the actions of a true American?

Olbermann’s Special Comment: Are YOURS the actions of a true American?


Keith pulled no punches and launched another smack down on Bush and FOX News…

Video - WMV Video - QT

And finally tonight, a Special Comment about President Clinton’s interview. The headlines about them are, of course, entirely wrong. It is not essential that a past President, bullied and sandbagged by a monkey posing as a newscaster, finally lashed back.

It is not important that the current President’s "portable public chorus" has described his predecessor’s tone as "crazed."

Our tone should be crazed. The nation’s freedoms are under assault by an administration whose policies can do us as much damage as Al-Qaeda; the nation’s "marketplace of ideas" is being poisoned, by a propaganda company so blatant that Tokyo Rose would’ve quit. Nonetheless.

The headline is this: Bill Clinton did what almost none of us have done, in five years. He has spoken the truth about 9/11, and the current presidential administration.

"At least I tried," he said of his own efforts to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden. "That’s the difference in me and some, including all of the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They had eight months to try; they did not try. I tried."

Thus in his supposed emeritus years, has Mr. Clinton taken forceful and triumphant action for honesty, and for us; action as vital and as courageous as any of his presidency; action as startling and as liberating, as any, by anyone, in these last five long years.

The Bush Administration did not try to get Osama Bin Laden before 9/11.

The Bush Administration ignored all the evidence gathered by its predecessors.

The Bush Administration did not understand the Daily Briefing entitled "Bin Laden Determined To Strike in U.S."

The Bush Administration… did… not… try.—

Moreover, for the last five years one month and two weeks, the current administration, and in particular the President, has been given the greatest "pass" for incompetence and malfeasance, in American history!

President Roosevelt was rightly blamed for ignoring the warning signs — some of them, 17 years old — before Pearl Harbor.

President Hoover was correctly blamed for — if not the Great Depression itself — then the disastrous economic steps he took in the immediate aftermath of the Stock Market Crash.

Even President Lincoln assumed some measure of responsibility for the Civil War — though talk of Southern secession had begun as early as 1832.

But not this President.

To hear him bleat and whine and bully at nearly every opportunity, one would think someone else had been President on September 11th, 2001 — or the nearly eight months that preceded it.

That hardly reflects the honesty nor manliness we expect of the Executive.


But if his own fitness to serve is of no true concern to him, perhaps we should simply sigh and keep our fingers crossed, until a grown-up takes the job three Januarys from now.

Except… for this:

After five years of skirting even the most inarguable of facts — that he was President on 9/11 and he must bear some responsibility for his, and our, unreadiness, Mr. Bush has now moved, unmistakably and without conscience or shame, towards re-writing history, and attempting to make the responsibility, entirely Mr. Clinton’s.

Of course he is not honest enough to do that directly.

As with all the other nefariousness and slime of this, our worst presidency since James Buchanan, he is having it done for him, by proxy.

Thus, the sandbag effort by Fox News, Friday afternoon.

Consider the timing: The very same weekend the National Intelligence Estimate would be released and show the Iraq war to be the fraudulent failure it is — not a check on terror, but fertilizer for it!

The kind of proof of incompetence, for which the administration and its hyenas at Fox need to find a diversion, in a scapegoat.

It was the kind of cheap trick which would get a journalist fired — but a propagandist, promoted:

Promise to talk of charity and generosity; but instead launch into the lies and distortions with which the Authoritarians among us attack the virtuous and reward the useless.

And don’t even be professional enough to assume the responsibility for the slanders yourself; blame your audience for "e-mailing" you the question.

Mr. Clinton responded as you have seen.

He told the great truth un-told… about this administration’s negligence, perhaps criminal negligence, about Bin Laden.

He was brave.

Then again, Chris Wallace might be braver still. Had I — in one moment surrendered all my credibility as a journalist — and been irredeemably humiliated, as was he, I would have gone home and started a new career selling seeds by mail.

The smearing by proxy, of course, did not begin Friday afternoon.

Disney was first to sell-out its corporate reputation, with "The Path to 9/11."

Of that company’s crimes against truth one needs to say little. Simply put: someone there enabled an Authoritarian zealot to belch out Mr. Bush’s new and improved history.

The basic plot-line was this: because he was distracted by the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Bill Clinton failed to prevent 9/11.

The most curious and in some ways the most infuriating aspect of this slapdash theory, is that the Right Wingers who have advocated it — who try to sneak it into our collective consciousness through entertainment, or who sandbag Mr. Clinton with it at news interviews — have simply skipped past its most glaring flaw.

Had it been true that Clinton had been distracted from the hunt for Bin Laden in 1998 because of the Lewinsky nonsense — why did these same people not applaud him for having bombed Bin Laden’s camps in Afghanistan and Sudan on August 20th of that year? For mentioning Bin Laden by name as he did so?

That day, Republican Senator Grams of Minnesota invoked the movie "Wag The Dog."

Republican Senator Coats of Indiana questioned Mr. Clinton’s judgment.

Republican Senator Ashcroft of Missouri — the future Attorney General — echoed Coats.

Even Republican Senator Arlen Specter questioned the timing.

And of course, were it true Clinton had been "distracted" by the Lewinsky witch-hunt — who on earth conducted the Lewinsky witch-hunt? Who turned the political discourse of this nation on its head for two years?

Who corrupted the political media?

Who made it impossible for us to even bring back on the air, the counter-terrorism analysts like Dr. Richard Haass, and James Dunegan, who had warned, at this very hour, on this very network, in early 1998, of cells from the Middle East who sought to attack us, here?

Who preempted them… in order to strangle us with the trivia that was… "All Monica All The Time"?

Who… distracted whom?

This is, of course, where — as is inevitable — Mr. Bush and his henchmen prove not quite as smart as they think they are.

The full responsibility for 9/11 is obviously shared by three administrations, possibly four.

But, Mr. Bush, if you are now trying to convince us by proxy that it’s all about the distractions of 1998 and 1999, then you will have to face a startling fact that your minions may have hidden from you.

The distractions of 1998 and 1999, Mr. Bush, were carefully manufactured, and lovingly executed, not by Bill Clinton… but by the same people who got you… elected President.

Thus instead of some commendable acknowledgment that you were even in office on 9/11 and the lost months before it… we have your sleazy and sloppy rewriting of history, designed by somebody who evidently redd the Orwell playbook too quickly.

Thus instead of some explanation for the inertia of your first eight months in office, we are told that you have kept us "safe" ever since — a statement that might range anywhere from Zero, to One Hundred Percent, true.

We have nothing but your word, and your word has long since ceased to mean anything.

And, of course, the one time you have ever given us specifics about what you have kept us safe from, Mr. Bush — you got the name of the supposedly targeted Tower in Los Angeles… wrong.

Thus was it left for the previous President to say what so many of us have felt; what so many of us have given you a pass for in the months and even the years after the attack:

You did not try.

You ignored the evidence gathered by your predecessor.

You ignored the evidence gathered by your own people.

Then, you blamed your predecessor.

That would be the textbook definition… Sir, of cowardice.

To enforce the lies of the present, it is necessary to erase the truths of the past.

That was one of the great mechanical realities Eric Blair — writing as George Orwell — gave us in the novel "1984."

The great philosophical reality he gave us, Mr. Bush, may sound as familiar to you, as it has lately begun to sound familiar to me.

"The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power…

"Power is not a means; it is an end.

"One does not establish a dictatorship to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.

"The object of persecution, is persecution. The object of torture, is torture. The object of power… is power."

Earlier last Friday afternoon, before the Fox ambush, speaking in the far different context of the closing session of his remarkable Global Initiative, Mr. Clinton quoted Abraham Lincoln’s State of the Union address from 1862.

"We must disenthrall ourselves."

Mr. Clinton did not quote the rest of Mr. Lincoln’s sentence. He might well have.

"We must disenthrall ourselves — and then… we shall save our country."

And so has Mr. Clinton helped us to disenthrall ourselves, and perhaps enabled us, even at this late and bleak date… to save… our… country.

The "free pass" has been withdrawn, Mr. Bush…

You did not act to prevent 9/11.

We do not know what you have done, to prevent another 9/11.

You have failed us — then leveraged that failure, to justify a purposeless war in Iraq which will have, all too soon, claimed more American lives than did 9/11.

You have failed us anew in Afghanistan.

And you have now tried to hide your failures, by blaming your predecessor.

And now you exploit your failure, to rationalize brazen torture — which doesn’t work anyway; which only condemns our soldiers to water-boarding; which only humiliates our country further in the world; and which no true American would ever condone, let alone advocate.And there it is, sir:

Are yours the actions of a true American?

I’m K.O., good night, and good luck.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Full Interview

Bush dismisses bloodshed in Iraq as 'just a comma'

Bush dismisses bloodshed in Iraq as ‘just a comma’
cnn_le_blitzer_bush_iraq_060924a1.jpg Steve
finds this piece of revealing data..
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BLITZER: Let’s move on and talk a little bit about Iraq. Because this is a huge, huge issue, as you know, for the American public, a lot of concern that perhaps they are on the verge of a civil war–if not already a civil war–We see these horrible bodies showing up, tortured, mutilation. The Shia and the Sunni, the Iranians apparently having a negative role. Of course, al Qaeda in Iraq is still operating.
BUSH: Yes, you see — you see it on TV, and that’s the power of an enemy that is willing to kill innocent people. But there’s also an unbelievable will and resiliency by the Iraqi people…. Admittedly, it seems like a
decade ago. I like to tell people when the final history is written on Iraq, it will look like just a comma because there is — my point is, there’s a strong will for democracy. (emphasis added)
This is an appalling statement to make. With a civil war full of Iraqi bloodshed and over 20,000 of our men and women killed or wounded since the war started–one would think this might matter more than a simple pause. Apparently, it doesn’t. Steve has more

Arianna on Clinton

Arianna Huffington

Bill Clinton's Bipartisan Love-In Blows Up in His Face

Hooray! Good for Bill Clinton. He finally called Fox News and the right-wing on their BS, right? Well, sort of.

Sure, Clinton said exactly what he should have said during his interview this weekend with Chris Wallace on Fox News. Sure, it felt good to hear Wallace's RNC talking points thrown back at him.

But instead of popping champagne corks, let's make use of this moment by stepping back and giving it some context. What can we learn from what happened?

More specifically, what can Bill Clinton learn? That the bipartisan love-in he's been engaged in over the last several years has resulted in jack-squat.

After providing President Bush cover for his disastrous handling of Katrina, after trying to get himself adopted by George Bush, Sr., after giving Laura Bush the keynote slot at his Global Initiative Conference, after going along with Rupert Murdoch's fundraiser for Hillary -- after all that, he got exactly nothing.

All of Bill Clinton's tireless "bipartisanship" has been of no benefit to him, of no benefit to the country, and has only benefited George Bush and the right-wing.

I'm glad the Chris Wallace interview is flying all over the internet, but I really hope that one person who will watch it over and over again is Bill Clinton. And that on the fifth or sixth viewing it might occur to him that the more cover he gives Bush and his cronies, the more they're able to increase and entrench their power. Power they use to destroy everything that Clinton purports to stand for.

Taking the "high-road" has a nice sound to it, but Clinton shouldn't fool himself -- and insult the rest of us -- by thinking that the time he's spent traveling that elevated path has made the world a better place. Or made the gang at Fox News hate him any less than they did the day he left office.

The people who tried to hound him out of office haven't changed much, though they do now control both houses of Congress and the White House. Back then, he seemed to think fighting them was worthwhile. Now that he's got his back up again, maybe he'll rejoin the battle. Nov. 7 is only six and a half weeks away. And nothing less than oversight of the fanatics of the White House is at stake.

Crooks and Liars has a clip of me on CNN's Reliable Sources talking about Bill Clinton.

Right Wingers don't get it right

In 1998, right wingers were howling "Wag the Dog" when Clinton went after Bin Laden. Here's the evidence. 9/25

Now We Have All Top 16 U.S. Intelligence Agencies Agreeing That Bush's Iraq Fiasco Has Increased the Threat of Terrorism. Will the Democrats Finally Ride the Truth to Victory, or Cower in the Face of the GOP Thuggish Intimidation and Twisting of Reality? "The political impact depends on "how skillful the Democrats are in exploiting" the newly disclosed intelligence findings. "Never underestimate the Republicans' ability to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, and never underestimate the Democrats' ability to make a sow's ear out of a silk purse." We Hope the Dem Leadership Doesn't Let the Truth be a One-Day Story Again? 9/25

Why didn't Bush take on Osama befor 9/11?

George Bush knew Al Qaeda was a problem for just as long as Bill Clinton did. So why didn't Bush take Osama on before September 11? by John in DC - 9/24/2006 02:24:00 PM

It's a cute game the Republicans like to play, claiming that George Bush didn't have enough time to take on Osama before September 11. But that's bull.Bush and his neo-con cronies would like you to believe that somehow history started fresh on the day Bush took office in January of 2001. But it didn't. Bush knew, just like all the rest of us knew, that the World Trade Center was attacked in February of 1993 and that the threat to the Trade Center continued unabated. Bush knew that our embassies were attacked in Africa in 1998. And Bush knew that the USS Cole was bombed on October 12, 2000.None of this was "news" when the Bush team came into office just three months after the Cole attack, and a good eight years after the first WTC attack. George Bush didn't have 8 months warning that terrorists were trying to get us. He had eight years warning.So why didn't Bush do anything? Especially in view of all the criticism the Republicans like to heap on Clinton, claiming he didn't do enough to respond after the first WTC (uh, yeah, he only captured the guys who did it).The Republicans also criticize Clinton for not invading Afghanistan after the attack on the USS Cole. Of course, the attack was 3 weeks before the US presidential election of 2000 - no president starts a major war with that little time left in his term, only to saddle the next president with the military mess he's just created. Oh, I stand corrected - George Bush senior invaded Somalia right before leaving office and handed the mess to Clinton - yes, Somalia was the failure of yet another Bush.But putting all of that aside, George Bush entered office in January of 2001 "knowing" (per the neo-cons) that Clinton supposedly didn't do enough after the WTC attacks in 1993, eight years berfore, so why didn't Bush do something?But "knew" in January of 2001 that supposedly Bill Clinton didn't do enough following the embassy attacks in 1998, 3 years before, so why didn't Bush do something?And Bush "knew" in January of 2001 that supposedly Bill Clinton didn't act quickly enough in declaring war on Afghanistan following the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole. So why didn't Bush attack Afghanistan? Clinton had 3 months in office following the attack on the Cole and he didn't invade Afghanistan. Yet Bush had nearly nine months in office before September 11 and he didn't invade Afghanistan either. Why is that?The simple fact is that George Bush and the Republicans did nothing to "fix" Bill Clinton's alleged "errors" in dealing with Al Qaeda and the war on terror. George Bush sat on his ass (and spent 40% of his time on vacation, true fact) while Osama was preparing to kill 3,000 Americans, just as he promised to do. (Osama bin Laden determined to strike in the US, ring a bell?)So FOX News wants to have this debate, let's have it.Why didn't George Bush do everything he could to stop Al Qaeda before 9/11?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Bush didn't try

Bush didn't try to stop Bin Laden in 2001, now he's made terrorism worse by Joe in DC - 9/24/2006 05:03:00 PM

The White House is in a panic mode. They're trying to rebut the one-two punch thrown at them by Bill Clinton and the US intelligence community showing Bush is a complete failure at fighting terror:

Mr. Clinton noted that he rarely criticized Mr. Bush on the battle against terrorism, but then asserted that the Bush administration had done too little to fight Al Qaeda in its time in office before the Sept. 11 attacks.“They had eight months to try,” Mr. Clinton said. “They did not try.”The new intelligence report, the National Intelligence Estimate, implicitly questioned assertions from Bush administration officials that the United States is now safer from terrorism than it was before Sept. 11, 2001, if not yet entirely safe, and that it would be less so under Democratic leadership. Bush has failed on national security since he took office. Bush intends to campaign for Republicans this year on his alleged anti-terror credentials. Every time he speaks about terror, the media better cover the truth: Bush has made the terror problem in the world worse because of Iraq. Instead of going after the real terror threat, he went to war against Saddam Hussein who had nothing to do with 9/11. Bush never goes after the real terror threat.And, it's not like he wasn't warned. Clinton mentioned Richard Clarke's book, Against All Enemies, during his interview on FOX. Read that book and you realize that Bush was warned that invading Iraq would incite the jihadists. This passage from Clarke on page 246 comports with the new intelligence report:

Nothing America could have done would have provided al Qaeda and its new generation of of cloned groups a better recruitment device than our unprovoked invasion of an oil-rich Arab country. Nothing else could have so well negated all our other positive acts and so closed Muslim eyes and ears to our subsequent calls for reform in their region. It was as if Usama bin Laden, hidden in some high mountain redoubt, were engaging in long-range mind control of George Bush, chanting "invade Iraq, you must invade Iraq."Frightening words from the former terror czar that have proven to be true.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Italian military mission is over

The Italians have handed over military duties to the Iraqi army in Dhi Qar province, with its capital at Nasiriyah. The Italians will continue to contribute economic development assistance, but their military mission is over.

3,000 Demonstrate in Tikrit for Saddam Return Muqtada: US DoD has File on Shiite Messiah

Saturday, September 23, 2006

3,000 Demonstrate in Tikrit for Saddam Return Muqtada: US DoD has File on Shiite Messiah The Associated Press reports Friday's major events in Iraq:

' In the city of Tikrit north of Baghdad, 3,000 persons came out on Friday to demonstrate for the return of Saddam Hussein to power. Tikrit is his birthplace. 'In the mixed Hurriyah district of Baghdad, guerrillas attacked Sunni Arab homes and mosques. The guerrillas shot down 4 persons.Muqtada al-Sadr called for a joint Sunni-Shiite nonviolent campaign against the presence of US troops in Iraq.In a worrisome sign that Muqtada al-Sadr has gone deep into an apocalyptic sense of the end of the world [Ar.], al-Zaman reports that the young nationalist Shiite cleric maintained that the US Department of Defense has compiled an enormous file on the hidden Twelfth Imam, that is virtually complete save that it lacks his photograph. [For Shiite Muslims, the Twelfth Imam or Imam Mahdi is a little like Jesus Christ for evangelical Christians. Shiites believe that the Imam was translated by God into a supernatural realm, from which he secretly rules the world and from which he will one day return to restore the world to justice.]Al-Sadr said during his Friday prayer sermon in Kufa that "The United States has been preparing for ten years a rapid reaction force against the awaited Imam Mahdi and the US provoked the Gulf War so as to fill the region with military outposts for this purpose."He said that he had not stood against the elections held under conditions of foreign military occupation, because he wanted to see a political opposition to the Occupation develop. He said that nevertheless, conflicts between him and the Americans had continued and would continue.He added, "I want it to be a peaceful war against them. I do not want a single drop of blood to be spilled, since [Iraqi lives] are dear to me. Fight them with a popular, nonviolent, political war."Of the recent arrest in Najaf by the US forces of his lieutenant, Salah al-Ubaidi, Muqtada alleged, "This is an extension of the attacks on Islam." He added, "Have you asked yourselves what the US has given the Iraqi people save the killing and destruction that you see? . . . That is only a preparation for the advent of the Imam Mahdi." Oliver Poole reports from Baghdad that the Mahdi Army militia of Muqtada al-Sadr had taken over gasoline stations in Baghdad and were smuggling petroleum from them, earning $1 mn. a day. Apparently the US considers the Sadrists' control of the Ministry of Transportation worrisome in this regard. Muqtada seems to be losing control of local branches of the Mahdi Army, often to Shiite clerics who have taken a more radical position vis-a-vis the new government and the Americans than has he. An example is Abu Dara' in Baghdad, said to be extremely violentIn addition, Reuters reports 18 killed and dozens wounded in Iraq's civil war. One of the dead was a US GI. Among the major incidents:
' BAGHDAD - Two car bombs in Shi'ite districts of southern Baghdad wounded 16 people late on Friday, an Interior Ministry source said. Five were hurt in a market in the Abu Chehr district and 11 in a street near an Agriculture Ministy office in Zaafaraniya . . .BAGHDAD - Police found 10 bodies [AP says 17], including those of two women, in different parts of Baghdad. Most bore signs of torture and had been shot, police said. The two women were found in the western Shi'ite district of Shula. None of the bodies was immediately identified. '

New York City's Reservists Are Asked to Return Iraq Pay

New York City's Reservists Are Asked to Return Iraq Pay
When they were called up for military service in the wake of 9/11, hundreds of uniformed city workers in the Reserves faced the suspension of their city health and pension benefits. The city offered them an option: it would keep paying their salaries and continue their benefits, but when they returned they would have to repay the city their city salary or their military pay, whichever was less.

Now the bills from the city are coming due, for far more than many veterans imagined they would have to pay — as much as $200,000 — and oThe city is demanding that the veterans repay their gross salaries, even though they never saw about a third of the money, which went for taxes and other deductions. The commissioner of administrative services, Martha K. Hirst, said veterans should be able to get back the difference between gross and take-home pay by amending their tax returns. But several tax accountants said the city had created an accounting quagmire.ften for more money than they ever received.

Larry Silverstein, WTC 7, and the 9/11 Demolition

Larry Silverstein, WTC 7,
and the 9/11 Demolition

The above photograph shows fires in World Trade Center 7 at roughly 3 p.m., as does this wmv video of the building. If the FEMA collapse report were true then the fires shown would have been burning throughout entire floors, not just in a few rooms.
Larry Silverstein, the controller of the destroyed WTC complex, stated plainly in a PBS documentary that he and the FDNY decided jointly to demolish WTC 7 late in the afternoon of 9/11. In the documentary "America Rebuilds", aired September 2002, Silverstein makes the following statement;

"I remember getting a call from the, er, fire department commander, telling me that they were not sure they were gonna be able to contain the fire, and I said, 'We've had such terrible loss of life, maybe the smartest thing to do is pull it.' And they made that decision to pull and we watched the building collapse." [wmv download] In the same program a cleanup worker referred to the demolition of WTC 6: "... we're getting ready to pull the building six." [wmv download]
There can be little doubt as to how the word "pull" is being used in this context.

Note how WTC 6 collapses - straight down, lots of dust

Firemen evacuated the area as they prepared for the collapse of Building Seven. [Ground Zero Spirit]

"We heard a Mayday for
everybody to get out of the building [140 West] -- no, I'm sorry, an urgent, three urgents, and we came out of the building [before 4 p.m.]. ... We were then positioned on Vesey Street between North End and the West Side Highway because there was an imminent collapse on 7 World Trade, and it did collapse." [Brian Fitzpatrick, Firefighter (F.D.N.Y.)]
"It's blowin' boy." ... "Keep your eye on that building, it'll be coming down soon." ... "The building is about to blow up, move it back." ... "Here we are walking back. There's a building, about to blow up..." WMV video download (1 MB)
When buildings such as WTC 7 are demolished the collapse is initiated by an explosion in the central area of the basement. This causes the building to collapse in on itself and minimizes damage to surrounding structures [full details]. The video enlargement on the right shows part of WTC 7's roof crumbling seconds before the collapse. The only logical reason for this occurrence is the building was rocked by a powerful
Molten steel was found “three, four, and five weeks later, when the rubble was being removed [from WTCs 1 & 2],” Loizeaux said. He said molten steel was also found at 7 WTC, which collapsed mysteriously in the late afternoon. [American Free Press] Molten steel is a by-product of a thermite reaction.
A combination of an uncontrolled fire and the
structural damage might have been able to bring the building down, some engineers said. But that would not explain steel members in the debris pile that appear to have been partly evaporated in extraordinarily high temperatures, Dr. Barnett said. [New York Times]
Burning diesel can't produce enough heat to melt steel, so it certainly can't evaporate it, but thermite can.

Consider the facts:
  • The fires in WTC 7 were not evenly distributed, so a perfect collapse was impossible.
  • Firemen anticipated the building's collapse (even though fire had never brought down a fire-protected steel building
    prior to 9/11).
  • Silverstein said of the building "the smartest thing to do is pull it."
  • WTC 7's roof crumbled and the building subsequently collapsed perfectly into its footprint at a speed of ~7 floors per second (47 floors collapsed in 6.6 seconds).
  • Molten steel and partially evaporated steel members were found in the debris.

Note the white smoke
When you add to the above the fact that Madrid's Windsor Building remained standing after an 18+ hour 800°C fire there can be only one conclusion as to what happened to WTC 7: it was demolished.

The fires in WTC 7 were supposedly started by the collapse of WTC 1 meaning there would have been no time the rig the building for demolition on 9/11, therefore this had to have been done whilst the building was still occupied prior to 9/11. Doesn't this strike you as an odd and dangerous thing to do?
If there were no terrorist attacks on 9/11 then a disgruntled employee could have brought down WTC 7
by simply thumping a red button.

"You can stick your lousy job up your ass!"
There had to be a very good reason for this building to be rigged for demolition whilst it was still occupied. Did Silverstein, the new World Trade Center owner who wisely invested in insurance against terrorism, have prior knowledge of the attacks? One thing is for sure, the decision to 'pull' WTC 7 would have delighted many people:
The SEC has not quantified the number of active cases in which substantial files were destroyed [by the collapse of WTC 7]. Reuters news service and the Los Angeles Times published reports estimating them at 3,000 to 4,000. They include the agency's major inquiry into the manner in which investment banks divvied up hot shares of initial public offerings during the high-tech boom. ..."Ongoing investigations at the New York SEC will be dramatically
affected because so much of their work is paper-intensive," said Max Berger of New York's Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann. "This is a disaster for these cases." [New York Lawyer]
Citigroup says some information that the committee is seeking [about WorldCom] was destroyed in the Sept. 11 terror attack on the World Trade Center. Salomon had offices in 7 World Trade Center, one of the buildings that
collapsed in the aftermath of the attack. The bank says that back-up tapes of corporate emails from September 1998 through December 2000 were stored at the building and destroyed in the attack. [TheStreet] Inside [WTC 7 was] the US Secret Service's largest field office with more than 200 employees. ..."All the evidence that we stored at 7 World Trade, in all our cases, went down with the building," according to US Secret Service Special Agent David Curran. [TechTV]
One other thing, insurance payments from WTC 7's collapse profited Silverstein Properties to the tune of ~$500
Footnote: Silverstein's explanation for the "pull it" comment:
In the afternoon of September 11, Mr. Silverstein spoke to the Fire Department Commander on site at Seven World Trade Center. The Commander told Mr. Silverstein that there were several firefighters in the building working to contain the fires. Mr. Silverstein expressed his view that the most important thing was to protect the safety of those firefighters, including, if necessary, to have them withdraw from the building.

Later in the day, the Fire Commander ordered his firefighters out of the building and at 5:20 p.m. the building collapsed. No lives were lost at Seven World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

The State Department website then comments,

As noted above, when Mr.
Silverstein was recounting these events for a television documentary he stated, “I said, you know, we've had such terrible loss of life. Maybe the smartest thing to do is to pull it.” Mr. McQuillan has stated that by “it,” Mr. Silverstein meant the contingent of firefighters remaining in the building. [Prison Planet]
The New York Times stated on November 29, 2001 "By 11:30 a.m., the fire commander in charge of that area, Assistant Chief Frank Fellini, ordered firefighters away from [WTC 7] for safety reasons", and Popular Mechanics "debunk of 9/11 myths" states "there was no firefighting in WTC 7".
The absence of
firefighters in and around WTC 7 at the time of its collapse demonstrates that Silverstein's excuse is feeble at best, especially when you consider the following:
"...I'm on top of building 7 just pulling out rubbish. Pulled out a Port Authority cop at about 11 o'clock in the morning..." WMV video download (597kB)
"When 7 World Trade Center came down on Sept. 11, an agent on loan from Washington, special officer Craig Miller, perished..." [PDF download (link expired)] The Secret Service New York Field Office was located in 7 World Trade Center ... Master Special Officer Craig Miller, died during the rescue efforts. [PDF download]
Are we now going to be told that Silverstein's "it" didn't include Secret Service personnel?

See also:

What Really Happened