Saturday, October 22, 2005

U.S. Attorney General linked to cover-up in House of Death mass murder

The ongoing cover-up of a U.S. government informant's participation in mass murder in a Mexican border town extends to the highest level of the U.S. Justice Department, recently obtained public documents show.
Court testimony from DEA Administrator Karen Tandy confirms that the attorney general at the time, John Ashcroft, was briefed on the U.S. prosecutor's and federal agents' complicity in the murders. However, to date, no one has been prosecuted for these "House of Death" homicides.
The informant helped carry out the slayings of a dozen people—all tortured, murdered and buried in the backyard of a house in Juárez, a sister city to El Paso, Texas. The murders occurred between August 2003 and mid-January 2004 while the informant was under the watch of federal agents and a U.S. prosecutor. The U.S. law enforcers allegedly allowed the homicides to occur in order to make a drug case against a narco-trafficker.
Tandy's testimony reveals that the trail of the cover-up extends from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents who handled the informant, to the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Antonio, to the administrator of the DEA and top officials within ICE, to the top gun in the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.

‘Cheney cabal hijacked US foreign policy,’ says former top aide to Secretary of State

Vice-President Dick Cheney and a handful of others had hijacked the government's foreign policy apparatus, deciding in secret to carry out policies that had left the US weaker and more isolated in the world, the top aide to
former Secretary of State Colin Powell claimed on Wednesday.In a scathing attack on the record of President George W. Bush, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Mr Powell until last January, said: “What I saw was a cabal between the vice-president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made.“Now it is paying the consequences of making those decisions in secret, but far more telling to me is America is paying the consequences.”Mr Wilkerson said such secret decision-making was responsible for mistakes such as the long refusal to engage with North Korea or to back European efforts on Iran.It also resulted in bitter battles in the administration among those excluded from the decisions.“If you're not prepared to stop the feuding elements in the bureaucracy as they carry out your decisions, you are courting disaster. And I would say that we have courted disaster in Iraq, in North Korea, in Iran.”

9/11 Panel Says Congress and White House Are Failing to Act

The members of the Sept. 11 commission will sharply criticize the Bush administration and Congress this week in a new, privately financed report expected to single out the F.B.I. as having failed to act on many of the panel's recommendations to protect the nation from terrorist attack, members of the bipartisan panel and its staff said.
They said the report, scheduled for release on Thursday by a private educational group created by the 10 former commissioners, will also criticize the White House as not doing enough to defend civil liberties and privacy rights as it expanded the government's surveillance powers after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. A civil liberties oversight board created by the White House earlier this year is toothless and underfinanced, some of the commissioners said.

23 Administration Officials Involved In Plame Leak

Very thorough and concise. MUST READ for those folowing Plame case closely.

NY Times Editor's Regrets Over Judy Miller Case

I wish we had dealt with the controversy over our coverage of WMD as soon as I became executive editor. At the time, we thought we had compelling reasons for kicking the issue down the road. The paper had just been through a major trauma, the Jayson Blair episode, and needed to regain its equilibrium. It felt somehow unsavory to begin a tenure by attacking our predecessors. I was trying to get my arms around a huge new job, appoint my team, get the paper fully back to normal, and I feared the WMD issue could become a crippling distraction.
So it was a year before we got around to really dealing with the controversy. At that point, we published a long editors' note acknowledging the prewar journalistic lapses, and -- to my mind, at least as important - - we intensified aggressive reporting aimed at exposing the way bad or manipulated intelligence had fed the drive to war. (I'm thinking of our excellent investigation of those infamous aluminum tubes, the report on how the Iraqi National Congress recruited exiles to promote Saddam's WMD threat, our close look at the military's war-planning intelligence! , and th e dissection, one year later, of Colin Powell's U.N. case for the war, among other examples. The fact is sometimes overlooked that a lot of the best reporting on how this intel fiasco came about appeared in the NYT.)
By waiting a year to own up to our mistakes, we allowed the anger inside and outside the paper to fester. Worse, we fear, we fostered an impression that The Times put a higher premium on protecting its reporters than on coming clean with its readers. If we had lanced the WMD boil earlier, we might have damped any suspicion that THIS time, the paper was putting the defense of a reporter above the duty to its readers.

FEMA Worker Reveals Katrina Emails

"Issues developing at the Superdome," the official, Marty J. Bahamonde, wrote in an agency e-mail message released Thursday by Congressional investigators. "The medical staff at the dome says they will run out of oxygen in about two hours."
Mr. Bahamonde sent a series of messages as the hours and days passed, desperation growing. Most startling, he told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Thursday, was that his supervisors in Washington did not seem to understand. In a series of e-mail messages in which he warned of worsening problems, he was told that the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency needed time to eat dinner at a restaurant in Baton Rouge, La., and to have a television interview.
"It was sad, it was inhumane, it was heartbreaking, and it was so wrong," Mr. Bahamonde said of the conditions and the response. "There was a systematic failure at all levels of government to understand the magnitude of the situation."

Do You Know the Ambassador?

When introduced to former ambassador Wilson at the June 14 [2003] conference, I wasted no time asking him-rather naively, it turned out-if he knew who the former U.S. ambassador who went to Niger was. He smiled and said, "You're looking at him." I asked when he intended to go public; in a couple of weeks, was the answer.
Wilson then turned dead serious and, with considerable emphasis, told me the White House had already launched a full-court press in an effort to dredge up dirt on him. He added, "When I do speak out, they are going to go after me big time. I don't know the precise nature the retaliation will take, but I can tell you now it will be swift and vindictive. They cannot afford to have people thinking they can escape unscathed if they spill the beans on the dishonesty undergirding this war." (Sad to say, the White House approach has worked. There are perhaps a hundred of my former C.I.A. colleagues who know about the lies; none-not one-has been able to summon the courage to go public.)
Wilson's tone was matter of fact; the nerves were of steel. Hardly surprising, thought I. If you can face down Saddam Hussein, you can surely face down the likes of Dick Cheney. Wilson's New York Times op-ed of July 6, 2003, "What I Didn't Find in Africa," pulled no punches. Worse still from the administration's point of view, Wilson then dropped the other shoe during an interview with the Washington Post also on July 6.
Consummate diplomats like Wilson typically do not speak of "lies." So outraged was Wilson, though, that this bogus story had been used to "justify" an unprovoked war, that he made a point to note that the already proven dishonesty begs the question regarding "what else they are lying about."
It was a double whammy. And, as is now well known, the White House moved swiftly-if clumsily (and apparently illegally)-to retaliate. [thanks, Mint]

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Bunny Greenhouse Isn't Backing Down

Bunny Greenhouse was once the perfect bureaucrat, an insider, the top procurement official at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Then the 61-year-old Greenhouse lost her $137,000-a-year post after questioning the plump contracts awarded to Halliburton in the run-up to the war in Iraq. It has made her easy to love for some, easy to loathe for others, but it has not made her easy to know.
In late August, she was demoted, her pay cut and her authority stripped. Her former bosses say it's because of a years-long bout of poor work habits; she and her lawyer say it's payback for her revelations about a politically connected company.
Now Bunnatine Hayes Greenhouse is becoming one of the most unusual things known in the upper echelons of government and industry -- a top-shelf bureaucrat who is telling all she knows. For honesty's sake, she says.
"It's not a process for the weak-hearted," says Jeffrey Wigand, the former tobacco company executive whose high-profile whistle-blowing inspired the film "The Insider."
Greenhouse, whose case has also become a media event, unloaded more of her burn-the-house-down allegations on PBS's "Now" last week because, let her tell you, Bunny Greenhouse didn't grow up on the black side of the segregated tracks in Rayville, La., to run from a fight -- even if that includes the vice president of the United States.

What's Jesus Waiting For?

Word spread quickly in some conservative Christian circles when Israeli troops captured the Old City of Jerusalem from Arab forces in June 1967. This was it: Jesus was coming.
But Jesus did not return that day, and the world did not end with the culmination of that Arab-Israeli war.
Neither did it end in 1260, when Joachim of Fiore, an influential 12th-century Italian monk calculated it would, nor in February 1420, as predicted by the Taborites of Bohemia, nor in 1988, 40 years after the formation of Israel, nor after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
But after last week's devastating earthquake in Pakistan, coming as it did after a succession of recent disasters, the apocalyptic speculation, bubbled up again with impressive fervor on many Christian blogs, in some pews and among some evangelical Christian leaders.
Combined with fears of a global pandemic of avian flu, the calamitous flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina and last year's tsunami in Asia, the predictions of the end of the world are to be expected, religious historians said. After all, Christians have been predicting the end of history since the beginning of theirs.
"The doomsday scenarios are fairly cyclical," said Randall Balmer, a professor of American religious history at Barnard College. "The theology they are based on is a very linear view of history. They believe we are now ramping up to the end of time."

Biological alarm in Washington

On Sept. 24, 2005, tens of thousands of protesters marched past the White House and flooded the National Mall near 17th Street and Constitution Avenue. They had arrived from all over the country for a day of speeches and concerts to protest the war in Iraq. It may have been the biggest antiwar rally since Vietnam. A light rain fell early in the day and most of the afternoon was cool and overcast.
Unknown to the crowd, biological-weapons sensors, scattered for miles across Washington by the Department of Homeland Security, were quietly doing their work. The machines are designed to detect killer pathogens. Sometime between 10 a.m. on Sept. 24 and 10 a.m. on Sept. 25, six of those machines sucked in trace amounts of deadly bacteria called Francisella tularensis. The government fears it is one of six biological weapons most likely to be used against the United States.
It was an alarming reading. The biological-weapons detection system in Washington had never set off any alarms before. There are more than 150 sensors spread across 30 of the most populated cities in America. But this was the first time that six sensors in any one place had detected a toxin at the same time. The sensors are also located miles from one another, suggesting that the pathogen was airborne and probably not limited to a local environmental source.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Excellent Explanation of What Plame Outing Means

The Importance of the Plame Affair
By George Friedman

excerpt: The CIA is divided between the Directorate of Intelligence, which houses the analysts, and the Directorate of Operations, which houses the spies and the paramilitary forces. The spies are, in general, divided into two groups. There are those with official cover and those with non-official cover. Official cover means that the agent is working at the U.S. embassy in some country, acting as a cultural, agricultural or some other type of attaché, and is protected by diplomatic immunity. They carry out a variety of espionage functions, limited by the fact that most foreign intelligence services know who the CIA agents at the embassy are and, frankly, assume that everyone at the embassy is an agent. They are therefore followed, their home phones are tapped, and their maids deliver scraps of paper to the host government. This obviously limits the utility of these agents. Being seen with one of them automatically blows the cover of any potential recruits.
Then there are those with non-official cover, the NOCs. These agents are the backbone of the American espionage system. A NOC does not have diplomatic cover. If captured, he has no protection. Indeed, as the saying goes, if something goes wrong, the CIA will deny it has ever heard of him. A NOC is under constant pressure when he is needed by the government and is on his own when things go wrong. That is understood going in by all NOCs.

American Conservative: Corruption and Waste in the Iraq War

The United States invaded Iraq with a high-minded mission: destroy dangerous weapons, bring democracy, and trigger a wave of reform across the Middle East. None of these have happened.
When the final page is written on America’s catastrophic imperial venture, one word will dominate the explanation of U.S. failure—corruption. Large-scale and pervasive corruption meant that available resources could not be used to stabilize and secure Iraq in the early days of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), when it was still possible to do so. Continuing corruption meant that the reconstruction of infrastructure never got underway, giving the Iraqi people little incentive to co-operate with the occupation. Ongoing corruption in arms procurement and defense spending means that Baghdad will never control a viable army while the Shi’ite and Kurdish militias will grow stronger and produce a divided Iraq in which constitutional guarantees will be irrelevant.
The American-dominated Coalition Provisional Authority could well prove to be the most corrupt administration in history, almost certainly surpassing the widespread fraud of the much-maligned UN Oil for Food Program. At least $20 billion that belonged to the Iraqi people has been wasted, together with hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars. Exactly how many billions of additional dollars were squandered, stolen, given away, or simply lost will never be known because the deliberate decision by the CPA not to meter oil exports means that no one will ever know how much revenue was generated during 2003 and 2004.

Indictment Bingo

Today the Washington Post backs up what we'd been hearing: Indictments in the CIA leak investigation may come down as early as tomorrow. With that in mind, we'd like to ask the Wonkette audience to play Indictment Bingo. Send us your picks for who will get indicted and what they will be indicted for (UPDATE: People seem to be forgetting this part of the contest. It's important!); the three entries coming closest to the actual grand jury report will receive lovely parting gifts:

• Third Prize: Air Force One M&Ms
• Second Prize: A DVD of "Animal House"
• First Prize: Breakfast for two at the St. Regis

Send your entries to , with "Indictment Bingo" in the subject line. We'll accept submissions right up until the report is released, so make sure your computer's time stamp is correct!

Cheney's Office Is A Focus in Leak Case

As the investigation into the leak of a CIA agent's name hurtles to an apparent conclusion, special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has zeroed in on the role of Vice President Cheney's office, according to lawyers familiar with the case and government officials. The prosecutor has assembled evidence that suggests Cheney's long-standing tensions with the CIA contributed to the unmasking of operative Valerie Plame.
In grand jury sessions, including with New York Times reporter Judith Miller, Fitzgerald has pressed witnesses on what Cheney may have known about the effort to push back against ex-diplomat and Iraq war critic Joseph C. Wilson IV, including the leak of his wife's position at the CIA, Miller and others said. But Fitzgerald has focused more on the role of Cheney's top aides, including Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, lawyers involved in the case said.

Ex-Taliban Elected to Afghan Parliament

A former regional governor who oversaw the destruction of two massive 1,500-year-old Buddha statues during the Taliban's reign was elected to the Afghan parliament last month, officials said Tuesday as results from two provinces were finalized.

Times reporter entangled in leak case had unusual relationship with military and INC

Embattled New York Times reporter Judith Miller acted as a “middleman” between an American military unit and the Iraqi National Congress while she was embedded with the U.S. armed forces searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in April 2003, and “took custody” of Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law, one of 55 most wanted Iraqis, RAW STORY has found.
Moreover, in one of the most highly unusual arrangements between a news organization and the Department of Defense, Miller sat in on the initial debriefing of Jamal Sultan Tikriti, according to a June 25, 2003 article published in the Washington Post.
The Post article sheds some light on her unusual arrangement in obtaining a special security clearance from the Department of Defense which is now the subject of a Democratic congressional inquiry. On Monday, Reps. John Conyers and Ira Skelton, the ranking Democrats on the House Judiciary and Armed Services committees sent Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld a letter demanding an explanation to Miller’s top secret security clearance, which Rumsfeld reportedly personally authorized.

Monday, October 17, 2005

**Plame Leak May Extend to Case of Falsified Pre-War Abuse of Intelligence

Evidence is building that the probe conducted by Patrick Fitzgerald, special prosecutor, has extended beyond the leaking of a covert CIA agent's name to include questioning about the administration's handling of pre-Iraq war intelligence.
According to the Democratic National Committee, a majority of the nine members of the White House Iraq Group have been questioned by Mr Fitzgerald. The team, which included senior national security officials, was created in August 2002 to “educate the public” about the risk posed by weapons of mass destruction on Iraq.

UN: Parts of America are as Poor as Third World

Parts of the United States are as poor as the Third World, according to a shocking United Nations report on global inequality.
Claims that the New Orleans floods have laid bare a growing racial and economic divide in the US have, until now, been rejected by the American political establishment as emotional rhetoric. But yesterday's UN report provides statistical proof that for many - well beyond those affected by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina - the great American Dream is an ongoing nightmare.
The document constitutes a stinging attack on US policies at home and abroad in a fightback against moves by Washington to undermine next week's UN 60th anniversary conference which will be the biggest gathering of world leaders in history.
The annual Human Development Report normally concerns itself with the Third World, but the 2005 edition scrutinizes inequalities in health provision inside the US as part of a survey of how inequality worldwide is retarding the eradication of poverty.
It reveals that the infant mortality rate has been rising in the US for the past five years - and is now the same as Malaysia. America's black children are twice as likely as whites to die before their first birthday.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Science Journal: Scientists marvel at crystals' 'spooky' behavior

The crystals in Paul Kwiat's physics lab have none of the sparkling facets and points that New Agers believe heal the body and "enhance the life force." But his chunks of beta-barium borate do something even more magical.
The crystals produce special particles of light that, no matter how far apart they ever travel, will always have an eerie connection to one another across the vastest reaches of time and space. If a scientist makes a measurement on one particle, the other will "feel" it instantaneously.
Einstein called this "spooky action at a distance," and the very idea gave him fits. But in the 70 years since the great man insisted that spooky action had to be wrong, and dreamed up thought experiments to disprove it, evidence for it has gotten only stronger. Studies such as Prof. Kwiat's, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, are closing the loopholes in earlier research. And although spooky action gives philosophers a lifetime's worth of enigmas to ponder, it may also become the basis of revolutionary technologies, such as quantum computing and quantum cryptography.

Federal report on outsourcing delayed, gutted, rewritten, then released only after FOIA request

The report was requested by Congress in an appropriations bill in December 2003, with a six-month deadline of June 2004. A 12-page version, entitled "Six-Month Assessment of Workforce Globalization In Certain Knowledge-Based Industries," was released on September 8, 2005, as the result of a Freedom of Information Act request that MTN had filed on March 17, 2005. The report, which carries a July 2004 date, has not been posted on the Technology Administration's Web site and is not available to the public.
According to those who have tracked the report's whereabouts, it was completed well before the November 2004 presidential election but was delayed for clearance by the White House and the Republican-controlled Congress due to the controversial nature of the subject. Outsourcing had become a contentious campaign issue, particularly in the swing states.

Medical marijuana user extradited from Canadian hospital for prosecution in America

An Army veteran who fled to Canada to avoid prosecution for growing marijuana to treat his chronic pain was yanked from a hospital by Canadian authorities, driven to the border with a catheter still attached, and turned over to U.S. officials, his lawyer says.
He then went five days with no medical treatment and only ibuprofen for the pain, attorney Douglas Hiatt said.