Friday, June 24, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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Karl Rove

Cognative Dissonance

"If [the insurgency] does go on for four, eight, 10, 12, 15 years, whatever … it is going to be a problem for the people of Iraq," Rumsfeld said. "They're going to have to cope with that insurgency over time. They are ultimately going to be the ones who win over that insurgency."

"Those who say we are losing this war are wrong. We are not." Donald Rumsfeld at the same hearing.

'US acknowledges torture at Guantanamo, Iraq, Afghanistan'
24 June 2005

GENEVA - Washington has for the first time acknowledged to the United Nations that prisoners have been tortured at US detention centres in Guantanamo Bay, as well as Afghanistan and Iraq, a UN source said on Friday.

The acknowledgement was made in a report submitted to the UN Committee against Torture, said a member of the ten-person panel, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“They are no longer trying to duck this, and have respected their obligation to inform the UN,” the Committee member told AFP.

“They they will have to explain themselves (to the Committee). Nothing should be kept in the dark.”

UN sources said it was the first time the world body has received such a frank statement on torture from US authorities.

The Committee, which monitors respect for the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, is gathering information from the US ahead of hearings in May 2006.

Signatories of the convention are expected to submit to scrutiny of their implementation of the 1984 convention and to provide information to the Committee.

The document from Washington will not be formally made public until the hearings.

“They haven’t avoided anything in their answers, whether concerning prisoners in Iraq, in Afghanistan or Guantanamo, and other accusations of mistreatment and of torture,” the Committee member said.

“They said it was a question of isolated cases, that there was nothing systematic and that the guilty were in the process of being punished.”

The US report said that those involved were low-ranking members of the military and that their acts were not approved by their superiors, the member added.

The US has faced criticism from UN human rights experts and international groups for mistreatment of detainees -- some of whom died in custody -- in Afghanistan and Iraq, particularly during last year’s prisoner abuse scandal surrounding the Abu Ghraib facility there.

Scores of US military personnel have been investigated, and several tried and convicted, for abuse of people detained during the US-led campaign against terrorist groups.

At the Guantanamo Bay naval base, a US toehold in Cuba where around 520 suspects of some 40 nationalities are held, allegations of torture have combined with other claims of human rights breaches.

The US has faced widespread criticism for keeping the Guantanamo detainees in a “legal black hole,” notably for its refusal to grant them prisoner of war status and allegedly sluggish moves to charge or try them.

Washington’s report to the Committee reaffirms the US position that the Guantanamo detainees are classed as “enemy combatants,” and therefore do not benefit from the POW status set out in the Geneva Conventions, the Committee member said.

Four UN human rights experts on Thursday slammed the United States for stalling on a request to allow visits to terrorism suspects held at the Guantanamo Bay naval base, and said they planned to carry out an indirect probe of conditions there.

Comment: Here we have the US admitting that it has tortured its prisoners. Of course, this is in an international report filed to a body in Geneva, that is, well outside of the US. We can count on the press doing its usual job of obfuscation, either ignoring the story or burying it in the back pages.

Of course, the report insists that the torture was carried out by people who are being punished, and that they were isolated cases, which anyone who has been following the story closely knows it just another lie. The decision to use torture was taken at the highest levels of the government, but done in such a way as to obscure the line of command so that only the grunts would be punished.

While this story was emerging outside of the US, the following story, with, shall we say, a slightly more fanciful take on Gitmo, was appearing inside the US.

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Cheney Says Guantanamo Prisoners Well Fed
Yahoo News

WASHINGTON - Defending the treatment of prisoners at the U.S. jail in Guantanamo Bay, Vice President Dick Cheney said they are well treated, well fed and "living in the tropics."

The Bush administration has faced allegations of inmate abuse at the jail and of unjustly detaining suspects. Amnesty International recently compared it to Soviet-era gulags, and Democrats and even some Republicans in Congress have questioned whether it should remain open.

President Bush called Amnesty's report "absurd" and last week and publicly challenged reporters to go to Guantanamo and see for themselves that detainees were being treated humanely there.

Comment: The UN has been trying to get the OK to go and inspect Gitmo for over a year. We had this story yesterday:


Investigators from the United Nations have accused the US of stalling over their repeated requests to visit detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

The US is holding hundreds of suspected members of the Taleban and al-Qaeda at the detention facility in Cuba.

The UN said for over a year there had been no response to its requests to check on the condition of detainees.

This suggested the US was "not willing to co-operate with the United Nations human rights machinery," the team said.

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If the UN can't get in to inspect, do we think that any reporters would be able to go for a visit? Well, other than reporters who are neocons and vetted by the administration to say exactly what the administration wants them to say...

Cheney on Thursday described prison conditions in more glowing terms, saying the United States spent heavily to build a new facility there.

"They're very well treated down there. They're living in the tropics. They're well fed. They've got everything they could possibly want," Cheney said in a CNN interview. "There isn't any other nation in the world that would treat people who were determined to kill Americans the way we're treating these people."

Asked if the detention center should be shut down and the prisoners transferred, Cheney said "it's a vital facility" and must continue operating.

The approximately 520 remaining detainees are "terrorists. They're bomb-makers. They're facilitators of terror. They're members of al-Qaida and the Taliban," Cheney said. "If you let them out, they'll go back to trying to kill Americans."

Comment: We watch the news 365 days a year. There are days we are depressed; there are days we are angry. There are other days that we really stand speechless before the audacity of the Bush liars. How the hell do they get away with saying the things they say?

This little riff by Dick Cheney on Gitmo is certainly among the most outrageous.

"They're very well treated down there. They're living in the tropics. They're well fed. They've got everything they could possibly want."

Cheney makes it sound like the Club Med. We're surpised he didn't mention the topless interrogators.

We've seen the photos from Abu Ghraib in Iraq. We saw the kind of games the Club Fed organises there. Are we really to believe that the same things don't go on at Gitmo? We're seen and heard the stories about the "pressure" techniques used on the prisoners: making them stand long hours, desecrating the Koran, preventing prisoners from washing before their daily prayers.

Moreover, there are no charges against the prisoners other than being "terrorists". They are being held because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. They were fighting the invasion of their country (Afghanistan for most of them) by a foreign power. How many Americans would fight were the US to be invaded?

The invasion of Afghanistan, although the world considers it "legal" because Bush was able to cobble together a coalition, was the result of 9/11, a traitorous act by Bush, Cheney, and the others, an act that was blamed on bin Laden in order to provide the excuse necessary to reclaim Afghanistan from the Taliban who had said no to a Unical pipeline deal in July 2001. Today, the permanent US bases in Afghanistan are arranged along the proposed route for the pipeline?

Coincidence? We think not.

However, there is one line from the VP with which we agree:

"There isn't any other nation in the world that would treat people who were determined to kill Americans the way we're treating these people."

Ain't it the truth! The only trouble is, many of the prisoners had no intention of killing Americans.

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Cheney Says Downing Street Memo Is Wrong
Drudge Report
Fri Jun 24 2005 09:43:30 ET

Vice President Dick Cheney was asked on CNN about the 'Downing Street memo' which said the Bush Administration had decided to go to war with Iraq and the intelligence would be fixed around that policy.

Asked if he disputes the memo's claim, Cheney said, "Of course. The memo was written sometime prior to when we actually got involved in Iraq.

"And remember what happened after the supposed memo was written. We went to the United Nations. We got a unanimous vote out of the Security Council for a resolution calling on Saddam Hussein to come clean and comply with the UN Security Council resolution. We did everything we could to resolve this without having to use military force. We gave him one last chance even, and asked him to step down before we launched military operations.

"The memo is just wrong. In fact, the president of the United States took advantage of every possibility to try to resolve this without having to use military force. It wasn't possible in this case. I am convinced we did absolutely the right thing. I am convinced that history will bear that out."

Comment: Uh, hey Dick. The resolution at the UN did not give the US authority to invade Iraq. Moreover, all of the reasons given to justify the invasion have proven to be more than wrong, they were conscious lying and deliberate forgeries to convince the US public that Saddam was a clear and immediate threat to the territorial US.

You lied. They died.

THen you started bombing the country in order to try and provoke a retaliation from Saddam that you could label an attack and use to justify the invasion. This is a favourite tactic of your Israeli friends who did the same thing in 1967 -- and who continue to use it against the Palestinians.

For those of you who have only recently tuned in to Signs of the Times, and who may not know something of the illustrious background of the VP, we have assembled a collection of articles today about Mr. Cheney.

First, an article by the journalist who first published the Downing Street memo. He shows just what a liar Mr Cheney if we still needed proof.

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The Real News in the Downing Street Memos
By Michael Smith
LA Times
June 23, 2005

It is now nine months since I obtained the first of the "Downing Street memos," thrust into my hand by someone who asked me to meet him in a quiet watering hole in London for what I imagined would just be a friendly drink.

At the time, I was defense correspondent of the London Daily Telegraph, and a staunch supporter of the decision to oust Saddam Hussein. The source was a friend. He'd given me a few stories before but nothing nearly as interesting as this.

The six leaked documents I took away with me that night were to change completely my opinion of the decision to go to war and the honesty of Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush.

They focused on the period leading up to the Crawford, Texas, summit between Blair and Bush in early April 2002, and were most striking for the way in which British officials warned the prime minister, with remarkable prescience, what a mess post-war Iraq would become. Even by the cynical standards of realpolitik, the decision to overrule this expert advice seemed to be criminal.

The second batch of leaks arrived in the middle of this year's British general election, by which time I was writing for a different newspaper, the Sunday Times. These documents, which came from a different source, related to a crucial meeting of Blair's war Cabinet on July 23, 2002. The timing of the leak was significant, with Blair clearly in electoral difficulties because of an unpopular war.

I did not then regard the now-infamous memo — the one that includes the minutes of the July 23 meeting — as the most important. My main article focused on the separate briefing paper for those taking part, prepared beforehand by Cabinet Office experts.

It said that Blair agreed at Crawford that "the UK would support military action to bring about regime change." Because this was illegal, the officials noted, it was "necessary to create the conditions in which we could legally support military action."

But Downing Street had a "clever" plan that it hoped would trap Hussein into giving the allies the excuse they needed to go to war. It would persuade the U.N. Security Council to give the Iraqi leader an ultimatum to let in the weapons inspectors.

Although Blair and Bush still insist the decision to go to the U.N. was about averting war, one memo states that it was, in fact, about "wrong- footing" Hussein into giving them a legal justification for war.

British officials hoped the ultimatum could be framed in words that would be so unacceptable to Hussein that he would reject it outright. But they were far from certain this would work, so there was also a Plan B.

American media coverage of the Downing Street memo has largely focused on the assertion by Sir Richard Dearlove, head of British foreign intelligence, that war was seen as inevitable in Washington, where "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

But another part of the memo is arguably more important. It quotes British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon as saying that "the U.S. had already begun 'spikes of activity' to put pressure on the regime." This we now realize was Plan B.

Put simply, U.S. aircraft patrolling the southern no-fly zone were dropping a lot more bombs in the hope of provoking a reaction that would give the allies an excuse to carry out a full-scale bombing campaign, an air war, the first stage of the conflict.

British government figures for the number of bombs dropped on southern Iraq in 2002 show that although virtually none were used in March and April, an average of 10 tons a month were dropped between May and August.

But these initial "spikes of activity" didn't have the desired effect. The Iraqis didn't retaliate. They didn't provide the excuse Bush and Blair needed. So at the end of August, the allies dramatically intensified the bombing into what was effectively the initial air war.

The number of bombs dropped on southern Iraq by allied aircraft shot up to 54.6 tons in September alone, with the increased rates continuing into 2003.

In other words, Bush and Blair began their war not in March 2003, as everyone believed, but at the end of August 2002, six weeks before Congress approved military action against Iraq.

The way in which the intelligence was "fixed" to justify war is old news.

The real news is the shady April 2002 deal to go to war, the cynical use of the U.N. to provide an excuse, and the secret, illegal air war without the backing of Congress.

Comment: That the war was illegal was even admitted by Richard Perle.

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Flashback: Perle's confession
November 22, 2003

According to Oliver Burkeman and Julian Borger, writers for the Guardian, neocon guru Richard Perle has now admitted that the invasion of Iraq was illegal according to the tenets of international law, acknowledging that "international law ... would have required us to leave Saddam Hussein alone." But Perle insists that "international law stood in the way of doing the right thing."

Obviously, Perle contradicts the convoluted arguments of the Bush administration and its supporters that the war was legal in terms of international law — that it was a war of defense (against the non-existent WMD threat), in line with UN Security Council resolution 1441 (though the UN has never allowed countries to enforce such resolutions on their own without UN sanction).

One antiwar commentator credits Perle for his "honesty." I don't believe honesty is a prominent characteristic of Perle's when he is dealing with crucial matters of international policy. What Perle wants to do is pre- emptively justify American actions violating international law that might be necessary (from the neocon standpoint) in the future.

This is not to say that neocon apologists will abandon the effort to place any action they advocate within the confines of international law. They will continue their obfuscation and mystification in that regard. However, they will always be able to rely on the ultimate fall-back position that international law must take the back seat to what is "right" — that what is good for America (as interpreted by the neocons) justifies any military action.

The argument that "American," that is, U.S., interests trump international law will probably go over with the American people. Americans vaguely believe that the United States can do whatever it wants because it acts for the good of the world. However, the rest of the world sees the prohibition on aggressive war as the keystone of the international order of sovereign states.

As a consequence of the famous Nuremberg trial in 1946, a number of German military leaders were hanged for engaging in aggressive war. In his opening address for the United States at the Nuremberg Tribunal, Chief Prosecutor Robert Jackson declared "that to plan, prepare, initiate or wage a war of aggression ... is a crime." Jackson identified several actions as aggression, and therefore crimes against peace, including invasion of the territory of another state and attack by armed forces on the territory of another state. It is noteworthy that Jackson added:

It is the plot and the act of aggression which we charge to be crimes. Our position is that whatever grievances a nation may have, however objectionable it finds the status quo, aggressive warfare is an illegal means for settling those grievances or for altering those conditions.

Jackson was, of course, an American. And Americans traditionally have looked upon Nuremberg as being sacrosanct. The International Law Commission of the United Nations adopted the Principles of the Nuremberg Tribunal as constituting basic principles of international law. Foremost among the crimes defined as punishable under international law are crimes against peace, which include "planning, preparation, initiation or waging a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements, or assurances."

But most Americans today know little about the Nuremberg Trial. They think that it dealt only with the Holocaust, which is about the sum and total of what most Americans know about World War II. (It's quite understandable, considering the intensive public promotion of "Holocaust awareness.") Therefore, Americans can't understand why anyone would be upset over the United States attacking an evil country. They don't consider what would happen if all countries acted in a similar manner — that it would create a world of continual and ubiquitous war. Foreigners understand that; Americans are left in a fog.

However, Washington still preaches probity and restraint to other countries regarding the use of force; for example, the United States works to prevent war between India and Pakistan. International peace and stability have long been seen to be a fundamental American interest — and the United States has historically been a strong backer of international law. Hence, the United States's launching of a pre-emptive attack on a country in violation of international law has undoubtedly weakened its ability to restrain other countries from acting likewise. Those countries, too, may now recognize the need, and the right, to attack a neighbor to protect their national security, as they see it.

That the United States launched its attack on Iraq on the false rationale of the WMD danger sets an even worse precedent. The world becomes a global Hobbesian war of all against all, where only force prevails. The illegal war on Iraq involved the United States in a Middle East quagmire, created an immense financial burden, and exacerbated terrorism directed at the United States and its allies. But an even more fundamental reason the war was harmful to American interests is that it undercut established international standards for maintaining a peaceful world.

Mr. Perle's confession is incomplete.

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Anatomy of a Coverup
by Sanjoy Mahajan
June 23, 2005
On May 1 the London " Sunday Times " published leaked minutes -- the Downing Street Memo -- of a high-level British cabinet meeting held on 23 July 2002 that discussed contingencies, political and military, for invading Iraq. [...]

Beginning two months after the first " Sunday Times " article, the " New York Times " published several articles (other than opinion pieces) on the Downing Street Memo and on its cousin, a briefing paper prepared for the cabinet meeting.

A thought experiment helps explain the delay (seven weeks since the publication of the full memo). Imagine a symmetrical situation: An Iraq government memo, detailing plans to hide chemical weapons from UN inspectors, is leaked to and reported in the " Sunday Times". How long before the " NYT " reports the story? We can answer with data from a real experiment. On 22 April 2003 the London " Daily Telegraph " reported 'Galloway Was in Saddam's Pay, Say Secret Iraqi Documents'. The (forged) documents were found by the " Telegraph " reporter David Blair -- what an unfortunate name -- in a 'burned-out building' in Baghdad. The " NYT " headline 'A Briton Who Hailed Hussein Is Said to Have Been in His Pay' showed up on 23 April, as quick as a daily newspaper could be. The memo and briefing paper, however, being critical of the war, were unfit for American consumption for many weeks. [...]

The " NYT " headlines either ignore the memo [2,6]; deny its main point [4], quote others denying it [3], quote war critics or describe the memo's effect on them [1,7], or report the memo as being of mere clinical interest [5]. No headline states what was said in the meeting, a feat the " Sunday Times " managed back on March 20: 'MI6 chief told PM: Americans 'fixed' case for war'. One " Sunday Times " headline (22 May), like the " NYT " , mentions the effect of the memo, but it also reveals important information from the memo, the 'secret Iraq invasion plan'. [...]

The " NYT " articles -- masterpieces of delay, indirection, distraction, fake rebuttals, and elegant omission -- keep readers ignorant of the lies and the lying liars who tell them. No wonder so many Americans still support this gangster war.

No " NYT " article comments on perhaps the most revolting revelation of the memo. The UK Defence Secretary thought that the US military 'timeline [would begin] 30 days before the US Congressional elections.' Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi die so that Americans elect a crowd of pirates perched on the rotting platform of the war of terror.

Comment: For those US readers that still doubt that their mainstream news outlets are little more than a tool of their corrupt government, consider the following breakdown of news reporting on recent "important" events:

So we see that, on news stories dealing with the evidence that the US government LIED to the US people about the reasons for the Iraq invasion, the US media virtually ignored it compared to much more important stories like the Jackson trial and the Natalee Holloway disappearance case.

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'Protection Racket for Cheney'
by Jeffrey Steinberg and Edward Spannaus
LaRouche Publications

The burning questions in Washington and in world capitals today are: Why hasn't Vice President Dick Cheney, the leading chicken-hawk behind the suicidal perpetual-war push of the Bush Administration, been forced to resign yet—even after he has been implicated in the use of known forged documents to manipulate Presidential and Congressional support for the Iraq War? And why are the neo-conservatives still able to wield influence over the policies of the Bush Administration—as events on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq veer toward chaos and a growing body-count of American GIs, as the direct result of their fantasy forecasts about invading Americans soldiers being greeted as "liberators?"

The answer was given recently by Democratic Presidential pre-candidate Lyndon LaRouche: "The only reason Dick Cheney has not been forced to resign," LaRouche said in a statement issued June 25 by his LaRouche in 2004 Presidential campaign organization, "is because those Democrats who are under control of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) gang, are more enthusiastic supporters of the neo-conservatives than the Republicans.[...]

Comment: When looking at all of the effort and risk that went into the massive deceit that was the Iraq invasion, we are left wondering about the real reasons for the entire fiasco. Thankfully however, we don't have to ponder for too the man said: "follow the money"...

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U.S. was big spender in days before Iraq handover
Sue Pleming, Reuters

WASHINGTON, June 21 — The United States handed out nearly $20 billion of Iraq's funds, with a rush to spend billions in the final days before transferring power to the Iraqis nearly a year ago, a report said on Tuesday.

A report by Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California, said in the week before the hand-over on June 28, 2004, the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority ordered the urgent delivery of more than $4 billion in Iraqi funds from the U.S. Federal Reserve in New York. One single shipment amounted to $2.4 billion -- the largest movement of cash in the bank's history, said Waxman. Most of these funds came from frozen and seized assets and from the Development Fund for Iraq, which succeeded the U.N.'s oil-for-food program. After the U.S. invasion, the U.N. directed this money should be used by the CPA for the benefit of the Iraqi people.

Cash was loaded onto giant pallets for shipment by plane to Iraq, and paid out to contractors who carried it away in duffel bags. The report, released at a House of Representatives committee hearing, said despite the huge amount of money, there was little U.S. scrutiny in how these assets were managed. "The disbursement of these funds was characterized by significant waste, fraud and abuse," said Waxman.

An audit by the U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction said U.S. auditors could not account for nearly $8.8 billion in Iraqi funds and the United States had not provided adequate controls for this money. "The CPA's management of Iraqi money was an important responsibility that, in my view, required more diligent accountability, pursuant to its assigned mandate, than we found," said chief inspector Stuart Bowen in testimony.


Auditors found problems safeguarding funds including one instance where a CPA comptroller did not have access to a field safe as the key was located in an unsecured backpack. Bowen's office has referred three criminal cases to the U.S. Attorney's Office in the past two weeks for misuse of funds. Bowen declined to provide details at the hearing.

In one e-mail released in Waxman's report with the subject line "Pocket Change," a CPA official stressed the need to get money flowing fast before the handover. Rep. Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts, a Democrat, questioned why so much money had to be transferred so fast. Senior defense official Joseph Benkert said an infusion of funds was needed to address a wide variety of needs before the new Iraqi government took over. Part of the challenge in tracking how money was spent was the cash environment and lack of electronic transfers.

Contractors were told to turn up with big duffel bags to pick up their payments and some were paid from the back of pick-up trucks. One picture shows grinning CPA officials standing in front of a pile of cash said to be worth $2 million to be paid to a security contractor. Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut, a Republican, said the photograph disturbed him. "It looks a little loose to me," he said, of the smiling officials. "I share your concern," said Bowen. Citing documents from the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank in New York, Waxman said the United States flew in nearly $12 billion overall in U.S. currency to Iraq from the United States between May 2003 and June 2004. This money was used to pay for Iraqi salaries, fund Iraqi ministries and also to pay some U.S. contractors. In total, more than 281 million individual bills, including more than 107 million $100 bills, were shipped to Iraq on giant pallets loaded onto C-130 planes, the report said.

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The Evil Dick Cheney
June 22, 2002
By Jackson Thoreau

I have mixed feelings about attempts to impeach Dubya Bush. Sure, I want to see this liar/thief/hypocrite exposed as the traitor he is and driven from office as Nixon was, never again to utter a simplistic "dead or alive" comment in public again.

But then we'd be officially stuck with Dick Cheney as the main man in the White House, although many believe he already is. And that would be worse than having Bush in that position. My dream scenario would be a re-enactment of Watergate, where the vice president is forced to resign before the president follows suit. Add to that the resignation of Scalia, Ashcroft, and Rumsfeld, and I'd start believing that God does have more than a superficial effect on our political process. Thank you, Jesus, thank you, Lord.

Cheney's list of sins is as long as any Republican's transgressions. As CEO of Dallas-based Halliburton Co. from 1995 until 2000, Cheney did little about cleaning up asbestos in his buildings, leading to multimillion-dollar legal judgments against Halliburton. He presided over several rounds of job cuts, including of about 11,000 workers in 1999, a year that Halliburton showed a $438 million profit. Since those layoffs, Halliburton's profits rose, to $501 million in 2000 and $809 million in 2001.

Halliburton also raked in big bucks from dubious deals with Iraq under Cheney's tenure, according to the Washington Post and other sources. From 1997 through 2000, Cheney's Halliburton sold $73 million worth of oil equipment and services to Iraq through subsidiaries Dresser-Rand and Ingersoll Dresser Pump Co. to help rebuild Iraq's Gulf War-damaged infrastructure. That was more business than any other U.S. company, and Cheney later lied about his Iraqi connection to media types like Sam Donaldson. Talk about corporate hypocrisy - companies like Halliburton could make big profits on such oil deals, but human rights groups could not ship life-saving medicine to Iraqi children because of UN sanctions. And now, Cheney the Major League Hypocrite is standing in line to nuke Hussein after he profited - big time - from Iraq. Halliburton also did business with dictatorships that have committed human rights abuses, such as in Burma, Libya, and Iran. In fact, Houston-based Kellogg Brown & Root, a Halliburton subsidiary, was fined $3.8 million for exporting U.S. goods to Libya in violation of U.S. sanctions. Cheney did nothing to stop such fraud.

Brown & Root also had to pay a hefty fine after being accused of defrauding the U.S. military by submitting false claims for delivery orders between 1994 and 1998. Again, Cheney did nothing to stop such fraud. Halliburton was a corporate welfare hog under Cheney, obtaining at least $3.8 billion in federal contracts and taxpayer-insured loans, according to the Center for Public Integrity. All the while, Cheney blasted welfare mothers.

Then there is Halliburton's Enron-like accounting scheme under Cheney's watch. The dishonest accounting policies, adopted in 1998, were obviously designed to make it appear like Halliburton had more revenues than the firm did. Specifically, Halliburton labeled unresolved claims against some clients as revenue, even though the money was still disputed, including $234 million in 2001 and $89 million in 1998. And who was Halliburton's accountant? Andersen, of course, the same firm embroiled with Enron. Cheney was even featured in an Andersen video, saying "I get good advice, if you will, from their people based upon how we're doing business and how we're operating - over and above just the sort of normal by-the-books auditing arrangement." Sounds like a confession to me. Even with such phony accounting, Halliburton's stock nosedived below $10 in early 2002 after being as high as $49 last year. The stock has since gone up slightly. The SEC is investigating, but do you really expect anything to come of that?

There is a wide trail of lies told by Cheney. There is the Iraqi connection, the Enron ties, the India deal, the so on and so on. Cheney also lied about not living in Texas as late as November 2000 in apparent violation of the 12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. He didn't sell his Dallas-area mansion to a major Republican donor until Nov. 30, 2000, according to deed records. I have been by that $2.7 million home several times since Cheney sold it and have never seen any evidence anyone occupies it. The owner, Dianne T. Cash, owns another million-dollar home in Highland Park, one of the wealthiest suburbs in the country. So, she needs two mansions in the same tiny suburb, huh? From Sept. 2000 until June 2001, Cash - an appropriate name for a Republican, right? - gave a whopping $229,433 to national Republican organizations, in addition to buying Cheney's house, according to federal records. Interestingly, she also gave $1,000 to Democrat Bill Bradley in 1999 - her only contribution to a Democrat since then. Was that a ploy to foil Gore? Surely, this staunch Republican did not embrace Bradley's proposals, which were more liberal than Gore's.

Another lie concerns another basic piece of public information with a paper trail: Cheney's Texas driver's license. Dick's license is still active but lists his address as 500 N. Akard Street in Dallas, which is where he worked at Halliburton, not his home on Euclid Avenue in Highland Park. Lynne Cheney's driver's license lists the same Akard address. Texas law requires residency addresses to be placed on licenses. Even someone as paranoid as billionaire H. Ross Perot - remember his weird reason for getting out of the 1992 presidential election because the Bush campaign supposedly planned to disrupt his daughter's wedding? - has his home address, not work address, on his Texas driver's license. Even Bush listed the Texas governor's mansion - which was where he lived and worked (er, goofed off) - on his license. Other high profile politicians - such as former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, who is running as a Democrat for U.S. Senate, and his Republican challenger, Attorney General John Cornyn - list their home addresses, not work. Why were both Cheneys allowed to be above the law, once again?

That is another pattern in Cheney's - and Bush's - life, getting perks most others do not. As a tyrant, Cheney expects preferential treatment. He thinks nothing of holding closed-door White House meetings with Enron executives to discuss public energy policies. He is surprised when some question why such public meetings are allowed to be private. He thinks nothing of using public tax money to fly to India to demand that they pay a private company, Enron, a loan. He is surprised when some accuse him of abusing his office.

Let me say it because most will not: Dick Cheney is evil. There is a bit of evil in most human beings, but in Cheney it is easy to spot, although most people don't have the guts to say it. I especially hate it when I see Cheney on some Sunday morning media show talking like he's an authority figure and no one has the guts to question him. Can't they see through his BS? Granted, it's not as easy to see through as Bush's, who gives new meaning to the word, "shallow."

That's not to say Bush and Cheney are stupid; on the contrary, they know how to use people and cleverly turn things to their advantage. Bush's father's CIA background is apparent; in the CIA, you are trained to lie, to twist, to show different faces. That's what spies do. That's why I cannot understand someone like The Nation's John Nichols, who wrote an excellent book called Jews for Buchanan: Did You Hear the One About the Theft of the American Presidency?, actually saying he thinks Bush is a decent, nice guy. Nichols, who said that during an interview earlier this year with Internet radio host Meria Heller, should know better. Bush is trained to be nice to the media, to project a nice-guy public image. It gets him votes. That's what he cares about. Same with Mr. Big Time, Cheney.

Bush's and Cheney's real personas are closer to the ones where they did the major-league-asshole-big-time routine on New York Times journalist Adam Clymer during the 2000 campaign. Remember, these are people who thought nothing of trashing their own - war vet John McCain - with a below-the-belt smear campaign in South Carolina. These are people who thought nothing of trashing the Constitution and people's voting rights in 2000. These are people who thought nothing of using the legal system to not count legal votes as they trashed anyone who used that same legal system to attempt to gain some justice. These are people who thought nothing of getting a federal court to intervene in a state matter as they called for the federal government to stay out of state matters. I could list more hypocrises here, but that's enough, for now.

Anyways, Cheney is smarter, more experienced, and more dangerous than Bush. He's known as the enforcer on Capitol Hill, with his office known as the torture chamber. There is a reason for those nicknames, and it's not something I would be proud of, but Cheney probably is. It's obvious Cheney really thinks Bush is a lightweight and deals more with Bush Sr., who is running more of this show than many think. Cheney's CIA connections are long, including with his private firms and Defense Department position. He knows how to put on his spy costume and routine as well as Bush, probably better. Cheney is evil, I tell you. There's no other way to put it, in my book.

The media, most of whose members are as intimidated by Cheney as the major Democratic politicians, just continues to protect Cheney. A mid-June Associated Press article on Lynne Cheney's return to Dallas to promote a children's book - well, isn't that special? - said only that she and Dick "lived in the Dallas suburb of Highland Park in the 1990s when he was the head of Halliburton Co., an oil field services company." No way, AP. The Cheneys lived there in 2000, too.

But it's good to see some in the mainstream media aren't quite as intimidated. In June, Business Week pointed out how the White House was "compromised at this juncture in history by its once-incestuous relationship with Enron. The recent revelations of aggressive accounting techniques at Halliburton, one of the world's largest providers of products and services to the energy industry, during Vice President Dick Cheney's tenure as CEO doesn't help either." That relatively mild criticism is about as strong as the mainstream media gets against Cheney.

I'm at a loss at what to do about confronting Cheney's evil. I'm not sure essays like this one accomplish much, beyond getting something off my chest and on the record. Congress does not have the guts to impeach Bush, much less Cheney. The mainstream media is too corporate-controlled these days to pull another 1970s Watergate, when the media was a real force, a force that compelled me to jump aboard the profession. How disillusioned can I be?

Comment: But Cheney didn't just crawl fully formed out of the bloodied board rooms of Haliburton and into the White House. He was working with another lying war criminal named Rumsfeld at the White House in the 1970s.

Next, we see the power of Christian prophecy, this time from the fine folks over at Landover Baptist, our favourite American church.

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We Need Dick!
Landover Baptist Church

Landover Baptist Church applauds our next President's decision to name Dick Cheney as his running mate. Earlier in the campaign, many church members were understandably concerned that George W. Bush was turning soft, given all that "compassionate conservative" rhetoric. Bush has now proven that those words were nothing more than a slogan designed to appease moderate voters. His selection of Cheney proves Bush is more right-minded than any of us had imagined. Described as a "Jesse Helms Republican," Cheney has voted further to the right on contemporary social issues than even former House speaker, Newt Gingrich. Cheney has consistently voted against uppity minorities, feminazis, tree-huggers, lazy poor people and those who would restrict our right to own any weapon we choose. Cheney promises us eight years after Bush's eight years of good old-fashioned Old Testament values. A brief review of Cheney's voting record in the U.S. House of Representatives reveals why he has earned Landover's accolades.

1. Dick will thwart the liberals' goal of equality worldwide.

Cheney has revealed time and again that he recognizes everyone has his place in society. He knows that minorities have no business trying to obtain the jobs and income of true Americans and that women belong in the home. And he recognizes that homos belong nowhere. Cheney voted against every civil rights bill to pass his desk, including any attempt to desegregate schools. He voted against all hate crime initiatives, which we all know are just part of the homosexual conspiracy to turn the entire world into them. Not one to tolerate homos, Cheney even voted against efforts to define hate crimes.

Cheney has done his part to put colored people in their place worldwide as well. Cheney consistently voted against sanctions on South Africa for its policy of apartheid (which, translated in English, means "God's chosen few"). Cheney even had the courage to vote against every House resolution calling for the release from prison of Nelson Mandela. Cheney's Christian conviction that apartheid was right for South Africa (and Mandela belongs behind bars) has proven correct. While liberal Democrats were falling all over themselves to pander to the votes of penniless coloreds, whom our Godly forefathers brought to this blessed country just so those lazy creatures would have work, Cheney had the moral backbone to stand up and say, "Nelson Mandela is no different than most black men – he is a criminal." Spurred on by Satan, the liberals ultimately won. And look where South Africa is today. The coloreds can go anywhere they want and the country is in a state of ruin. The Lord said that servants and slaves should obey their masters with "fear and trembling" (Ephesians 6:5). And look what happened when the Lord and Cheney were ignored. Those South Africans can't even leave a Christmas tree air freshener in their parked cars without it being stolen.

2. Dick will let us have any weapon we want.

Most Republicans say they oppose gun control. And most vote against some regulations. But the vast majority cave in to political correctness when certain initiatives are proposed, like a ban on guns in nightclubs and schools. But not Cheney. He has voted against every gun control initiative he's ever examined. Recognizing that our worst enemy is the Godless government which has taken Jesus away from our children, Cheney voted against the ban on the sale of armor-piercing bullets so that we will have a means of fighting against law enforcement agents who try to close our churches and compounds. Recognizing that women as frail as Mrs. Judy O'Christian cannot carry heavy revolvers and shouldn't have to turn over their guns every time they board a plane, Cheney voted against the ban on 3.7 ounce metal guns – the so-called terrorist weapons. And to ensure that pesky metal detectors won't stop true Christians from fighting against the liberal forces of evil, Cheney even voted against any restriction on the sale of plastic guns that cannot be detected. With Cheney in power, every church will be able to arm its members and fight back against the Satanic forces that infiltrate Washington.

3. Dick will put an end to misguided concern for the environment.

Cheney recognizes that God gave everything on the planet to us to consume. And Cheney knows, as we do, that the End Times are right around the corner, so there's no reason to worry about the environment 20 or 30 years from now. So Cheney has voted against every piece of environmental legislation to visit his office. He supports abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency. He supports the elimination of existing environmental regulations. And he favors giving money to large U.S. oil corporations so they can prosper rather than those devils in the desert. Under Cheney, we will heat our homes with coal and nuclear energy, dump our waste in unused rivers rather than expensive burial sites, use high-quality Redwood to build our wine cellars and consume whatever meat we wish, without worrying about how many more of that particular animal happen to be alive.

4. Dick will stop the misplaced commitment to the poor and elderly.

Cheney recognizes that people are poor for one of two reasons: they're lazy or they come from bad stock. Either way, this should not be the concern of hard-working upper income Americans who are God's true children. We should not have to do without that extra car just so some poor child is properly fed so he makes it to his teen years where he can then rape and steal. And if an elderly couple raised their children right, the children will care for their parents in their old age. If the children don't, they weren't raised properly, and their parents should not benefit from their poor nurturing. Cheney voted against all benefits for the poor and elderly. He voted against tax cuts for working families. Cheney voted against welfare dependency even when it was politically difficult to do so. He voted against Head Start for the poorest of poor children, knowing that if you feed them once, they always come back looking for more.

In short, Dick Cheney is a dream come true for Landover and America. Some of us never thought we'd see the day when a politician would embody all the values we hold so dear and which have been expressed on this website time and again. Some of us have been at a loss to provide a single word to describe what we believe and who we really are. We now have that word: Dick.

Comment: When the Lord would that the truth be heard, he finds his prophet. The good Christians at Landover were on the prophetic ball when they wrote this back during the campaign of 2000. Truely, they were moved to speak by His Word.

Little did any of us imagine how bad it would actually get!

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Dick Cheney

[...] When Bush Sr. was drubbed by Bill Clinton in 1992, Cheney decided it was high time he became a titan of industry. With nothing but insider Washington credentials on his resume, he became chairman and CEO of Halliburton Corp. in 1995. Cheney made millions leading the massive oil industry construction company, while carefully "tweaking" its accounting practices. A 1998 accounting change improved the company's revenues by $234 million over the course of four years.

Prior to the change, Halliburton had booked sales when a client agreed to pay for cost overruns and contract disputes. After the change, the company took a guess at what they'd collect and booked the sales as a done deal. Despite the fact that the practice looks and sounds a bit sleazy, it's fairly commonplace in the industry. Of course, before Enron, off-balance sheet financing was pretty commonplace too.

The practice was further complicated by the fact that Halliburton was severely on the ropes at the time the change was made. In addition to suddenly boosting the company's bottom line just when Halliburton was going to get slaughtered on the stock market, Cheney and crew "neglected" to inform the SEC about the change until more than a year later. When Cheney quit Halliburton to take the vice presidential nomination in 2000, the company offered him a $20 million going-away gift, characterized as a "retirement package" for his many (five) years of service in the private sector. In a concession to public outrage and concerns that Halliburton was buying access to the White House, Cheney selflessly accepted only $13.6 million, indisputably preserving the ethical integrity of the Executive Branch.

During the 2000 elections, Cheney's history of heart troubles raised serious concerns among the electorate. Voters worried that if Cheney died while in office, his running mate George W Bush might be left in charge of the country. In a concession to these worries, Cheney had a super high-tech pacemaker installed in June of 2001.

Nevertheless, the heart issue would continue to haunt him. When al Qaeda attacked the Pentagon and the World Trade Center on September 11, the official version had the vice president shuttled to an emergency bunker in the basement of the White House. According to his own account, he was grabbed by a couple Secret Service agents and carried to the basement, despite being fully conscious and not at all having a heart attack. While the President of the United States jumped in a plane and began a daylong hiding spree, Cheney was running the country from the White House basement, or so the story goes. In the aftermath of the attacks, however, Cheney took a while to resurface.

The party line was very reasonable, pointing out that the vice president was being kept in a secret location so that he could take over the country in the event of another terrorist attack. But it was awfully tempting to speculate that he had in fact suffered yet another heart attack while watching the planes hit the Trade Centers. Regardless of what actually happened, Cheney gradually resurfaced, starting with short, limited appearances and expanding back into a somewhat normal role, as American life returned to somewhat normal.

However, Cheney was pissed. His old hawkish ways rapidly reasserted themselves as the hunt for Osama bin Laden began. Almost immediately after the attacks, Cheney and his old crony Donald Rumsfeld (now Secretary of Defense) began beating the war drums for a new invasion of Iraq, despite a complete absence of any evidence that Saddam Hussein had anything at all to do with September 11 or al Qaeda in general.

Cheney got his way, eventually. After a staged confrontation at the United Nations, where Secretary of State Colin Powell was roped into making the improbable case for an invasion, the Bush administration discarded all hopes of attracting allies (other than faithful lapdog Britain), despite Cheney's last-minute "can't we be friends" tour of Europe. The U.S. went ahead with the invasion in spring 2003.

Cheney's enthusiasm for the war wasn't solely driven by philosophy. His old buddies at Halliburton were finally seeing a return on that $13.6 million (and the $1 million a year in "deferred compensation" still being paid to supplement Cheney's measly six-figure government salary). Halliburton's first quarterly earnings report at the end of the short second Gulf War saw profits double from the previous period (more than $20 million), a gain which news reports comically characterized as coming "despite" the war.

Halliburton's construction and engineering subsidiary has been paid nearly $1 billion through government contracts containing profit-guarantees, and various other contracts initiated since the company's former CEO arrived in the White House. Halliburton has built military bases in the former Soviet Union and Turkey, and it made $33 million building jail cells for terrorists at Camp X-Ray. (In all fairness, even these contracts don't make up for Cheney's major accomplishment as CEO, an acquisition which is expected to cost Halliburton upwards of $4 billion in asbestos liabilities.)

Just before the Iraq war started, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded Halliburton an "emergency" contract for oil fields reconstruction, which was awarded without the usual government bidding process because of said "emergency" (and despite the fact that the invasion wasn't on any particular timetable and the fact it had been in the works for a year and a half).

The deal was authorized for up to $7 billion, but the Army didn't trash the country with sufficient enthusiasm to make the whole amount, and the actual size of the deal is now estimated at $600 million (assuming Halliburton survives the lawsuits from competitors who inexplicably feel that something fishy is going on here).

A disappointment to be sure, but Cheney has four more years to make it up to them. And then there's always Syria... And Iran... And...

Comment: Ah, yes. Syria and Iran. We'll have more to say about this below.

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The Curse of Dick Cheney
The veep's career has been marred by one disaster after another

Should George W. Bush win this election, it will give him the distinction of being the first occupant of the White House to have survived naming Dick Cheney to a post in his administration. The Cheney jinx first manifested itself at the presidential level back in 1969, when Richard Nixon appointed him to his first job in the executive branch. It surfaced again in 1975, when Gerald Ford made Cheney his chief of staff and then -- with Cheney's help -- lost the 1976 election. George H.W. Bush, having named Cheney secretary of defense, was defeated for re-election in 1992. The ever-canny Ronald Reagan was the only Republican president since Eisenhower who managed to serve two full terms. He is also the only one not to have appointed Dick Cheney to office.

This pattern of misplaced confidence in Cheney, followed by disastrous results, runs throughout his life -- from his days as a dropout at Yale to the geopolitical chaos he has helped create in Baghdad. Once you get to know his history, the cycle becomes clear: First, Cheney impresses someone rich or powerful, who causes unearned wealth and power to be conferred on him. Then, when things go wrong, he blames others and moves on to a new situation even more advantageous to himself.

"Cheney's manner and authority of voice far outstrip his true abilities," says Chas Freeman, who served under Bush's father as ambassador to Saudi Arabia. "It was clear from the start that Bush required adult supervision -- but it turns out Cheney has even worse instincts. He does not understand that when you act recklessly, your mistakes will come back and bite you on the ass."

Cheney's record of mistakes begins in 1959, when Tom Stroock, a Republican politician-businessman in Casper, Wyoming, got Cheney, then a senior at Natrona County High School, a scholarship to Yale. "Dick was the all-American boy, in the top ten percent of his class," Stroock says. "He seemed a natural." But instead of triumphing, Cheney failed. "He spent his time partying with guys who loved football but weren't varsity quality," recalls Stephen Billings, an Episcopalian minister who roomed with him during Cheney's freshman (and only full) year at Yale. "His idea was, you didn't need to master the material," says his other roommate, Jacob Plotkin. "He passed one psych course without attending class or studying, and he was proud of that. But there are some things you can't bluff, and Dick reached a point where you couldn't recover."

Cheney might have been flunking in the classroom, but he excelled at making connections. "Dick always had this very calm way of talking," recalls Plotkin, now a retired math professor at Michigan State University. "His thoughtful manner impressed people." Forty years before the son of a U.S. president picked Cheney to be his running mate, the son of a Massachusetts governor picked him to be his sophomore-year roommate. Mark Furcolo, whose father, Foster, had been elected governor as a Democrat, invited Cheney to Cape Cod for a visit. "Dick came back enraptured," Plotkin says. "He was fascinated by the official state cars and planes. The trappings of it got him."

It could have been the start of a brilliant career -- in the Massachusetts of the 1960s, it would not have been too great a leap from the Furcolos to the Kennedys. Instead, after only one term as a Yale sophomore, Cheney dropped out. "Dick never had the experience of learning from his mistakes," says Tom Fake, a Natrona classmate who also won a Yale scholarship. But he learned something perhaps more important to this future success. "He found a path that got him into powerful positions" is how Plotkin puts it.

After leaving Yale, Cheney had one of his few experiences working in the private sector, on a telephone-company repair crew. He showed no interest, one way or another, in the Vietnam War -- until a Texas president, nearly forty years before George W. Bush, turned a remote foreign struggle into a catastrophic, unwinnable war. Thanks to Lyndon Johnson's escalation of Vietnam, lounging around was suddenly no longer an option. Cheney snapped into action. First he enrolled in Casper Community College; then he went to the University of Wyoming. That kept him out of the draft until August 7th, 1964, when Congress initiated massive conscription in the armed forces. Three weeks later, Cheney married Lynne Vincent, his high school girlfriend, earning him another deferment. Then, on October 26th, 1965, the Selective Service announced that childless married men no longer would be exempted from having to fight for their country. Nine months and two days later, the first of Cheney's two daughters, Elizabeth, was born. All told, between 1963 and 1966, Cheney received five deferments.

In January 1967, when he was enrolled at the University of Wisconsin, Cheney passed his twenty-sixth birthday, making him safe from the draft -- and making it safe for him to abandon work on a doctoral degree. He had taken to hanging out with local politicians and acted as an unpaid assistant to Wisconsin's moderate Republican governor, Warren Knowles. In 1968, he used Knowles to get a progressive Wisconsin Republican congressman named William Steiger to let him work as an intern in his office in Washington.

For the first time, Cheney went to live in a city with a population of more than 200,000 people. What happened next occurred with amazing ease and speed. Having used Knowles as a steppingstone to Steiger, Cheney used Steiger as a steppingstone to a Nixon appointee named Donald Rumsfeld, then head of the Office of Economic Opportunity. "What I saw was a young fellow, intelligent, purposeful, laid-back," Rumsfeld later remembered, when asked why he'd hired Cheney. His greatest utility, then and later, was that he lapped up work that higher-ranking officials were happy to see disappear from their plates. "He would take a problem, worry it through and move things to a conclusion," Rumsfeld recalled.

In 1973, while Nixon was self-destructing, Cheney, then thirty-two, got a job at the investment firm of Bradley, Woods and Company. "Dick needed to make some money," Bruce Bradley explained. "He and Lynne and their girls lived in a modest house, and he drove a used Volkswagen Beetle." Both Bradley and Cheney were Republicans, but they differed on Watergate. Bradley recognized that Nixon had violated fundamental American values; Cheney saw Watergate as a power struggle. They even debated each other, in a forum arranged for Bradley's clients.

"He claimed it was just a political ploy by the president's enemies," says Bradley. "Cheney saw politics as a game where you never stop pushing. He said the presidency was like one of those giant medicine balls. If you get ahold of it, what you do is, you keep pushing that ball and you never let the other team push back."

Nixon's resignation opened the way for Cheney's first truly astonishing inside move up. When Gerald Ford succeeded to the presidency, he needed experienced loyalists by his side who were untainted by the Nixon scandal, so he named Rumsfeld his chief of staff. Rumsfeld brought Cheney right along with him into the Oval Office.

The period between August 1974 and November 1976, when Ford lost the election to Jimmy Carter, is essential to understanding George W. Bush's disastrous misjudgments -- and Dick Cheney's role in them. In both cases, Cheney and Rumsfeld played the key role in turning opportunity into chaos. Ford, like Bush later, hadn't been elected president. As he entered office, he was overshadowed by a secretary of state (Kissinger then, Powell later) who was considered incontestably his better. Ford was caught as flat-footed by the fall of Saigon in April 1975 as Bush was by the September 2001 attacks. A better president, with more astute advisers, might have arranged a more orderly ending to the long and divisive war. But instead of heeding the country's desire for honesty and reconciliation, Rumsfeld and Cheney convinced Ford that the way to turn himself into a real president was to stir up crises in international relations while lurching to the right in domestic politics.

Having turned Ford into their instrument, Rumsfeld and Cheney staged a palace coup. They pushed Ford to fire Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, tell Vice President Nelson Rockefeller to look for another job and remove Henry Kissinger from his post as national security adviser. Rumsfeld was named secretary of defense, and Cheney became chief of staff to the president. The Yale dropout and draft dodger was, at the age of thirty-four, the second-most-powerful man in the White House.

As the 1976 election approached, Rumsfeld and Cheney used the immense powers they had arrogated to themselves to persuade Ford to scuttle the Salt II treaty on nuclear-arms control. The move helped Ford turn back Reagan's challenge for the party's nomination -- but at the cost of ceding the heart of the GOP to the New Right. Then, in the presidential election, Jimmy Carter defeated Ford by 2 million votes.

In his first test-drive at the wheels of power, Cheney had played a central role in the undoing of a president. Wrote right-wing columnist Robert Novak, "White House Chief of Staff Richard Cheney . . . is blamed by Ford insiders for a succession of campaign blunders." Those in the old elitist wing of the party thought the decision to dump Rockefeller was both stupid and wrong: "I think Ford lost the election because of it," one of Kissinger's former aides says now. Ford agreed, calling it "the biggest political mistake of my life."

Back in Wyoming, Cheney used his connections to skim along to yet another success. "Some fellows from Casper called me," recalls former Sen. Alan Simpson, "told me they had found this amazing young man and were going to promote him for Congress. They gave a big to-do for him. I went to take a look. It was the first time I set eyes on Dick Cheney. You could tell right away he was a smart cookie." In the 1978 election, Cheney became Wyoming's sole member of the House.

"The top people had decided it would be Dick, so that basically settled it," recalls John Perry Barlow, a fourth-generation Wyomingite who campaigned for Cheney. "Dick had been chief of staff to a president. That made everyone assume he knew what he was doing."

In an overwhelmingly Republican state, Cheney now had a safe seat in Congress for as long as he wanted. On Capitol Hill, he combined a moderate demeanor with a radical agenda. People who find Cheney's extremism as vice president surprising have not looked at his congressional voting record. In 1986, he was one of only twenty-one members of the House to oppose the Safe Drinking Water Act. He fought efforts to clean up hazardous waste and backed tax breaks for energy corporations. He repeatedly voted against funding for the Veterans Administration. He opposed extending the Civil Rights Act. He opposed the release of Nelson Mandela from jail in South Africa. He even voted for cop-killer bullets.

"I don't believe he is an ideologue," says former Sen. Tim Wirth of Colorado. "But he is the most partisan politician I've ever met." Many weekends, while Congress was in session, Wirth and Cheney would take the same flight to Chicago, where they'd change planes for Colorado and Wyoming. "I spent a lot of time waiting for planes with Dick Cheney," Wirth, a Democrat, says. "He never talked about ideology. He talked about how the Republicans were going to take over the House of Representatives." Wirth adds, "It seemed impossible, but that's exactly what happened."

Cheney knew precisely who should lead the GOP takeover. "Dick and Lynne had their eyes on the speakership," says Professor Fred Holborn of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. "He and Lynne wrote a book on the speakership." As the subtitle of Kings of the Hill indicates, it is about how "powerful men changed the course of American history" through control of the House.

Cheney's strategy for gaining power was the same one he and Rumsfeld had foisted on Ford: making sure no one in the Republican Party outflanked him to the right. This was a deeply divisive approach, because it involved pandering to racial and religious extremists and using complex matters of national security as flag-waving wedge issues. "Dick's votes against civil rights and the environment were parts of complex deals aimed at enhancing his own power," says Barlow, his former supporter.

In 1988, Cheney was named House minority whip, the second-ranking post in his party's hierarchy. Had he stayed in the House, it is possible that he would have become speaker. But the following year, another powerful person decided to confer great nonelective power on Cheney. When President George H.W. Bush named him to head the Defense Department, the Senate unanimously confirmed the choice. Not a single senator seems to have considered it anomalous that control of the strongest armed forces on earth was being conferred on a person who had gone to notable lengths to avoid service in those same armed forces.

Appointed to another powerful position, Cheney promptly went about screwing it up. He pushed to turn many military duties over to private companies and began moving "defense intellectuals" with no military experience into key posts at the Pentagon. Most notable among them was Paul Wolfowitz, who later masterminded much of the disastrous strategy that George W. Bush has pursued in Iraq. In 1992, as undersecretary of defense, Wolfowitz turned out a forty-page report titled "Defense Planning Guidance," arguing that historic allies should be demoted to the status of U.S. satellites, and that the modernization of India and China should be treated as a threat, as should the democratization of Russia. "We must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role," the report declared. It was nothing less than a blueprint for worldwide domination, and Cheney loved it. He maneuvered to have the president adopt it as doctrine, but the elder Bush, recognizing that the proposals were not only foolish but dangerous, immediately rejected them.

By the end of the first Bush administration, others had come to the conclusion that Cheney and his followers were dangerous. "They were referred to collectively as the crazies," recalls Ray McGovern, a CIA professional who interpreted intelligence for presidents going back to Kennedy. Around the same time, McGovern remembers, Secretary of State James Baker and National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft counseled the elder President Bush, "Keep these guys at arm's length."

In November 1992, when George H.W. Bush lost to Bill Clinton, Cheney had his second president shot out from under him. He knocked around Washington at various neoconservative think tanks for two years, and the old pattern repeated itself: Powerful benefactors once again gave Cheney a big break. As Dan Briody recounts in his book The Halliburton Agenda, Cheney was on a fishing trip in New Brunswick, Canada, with a group of high-powered corporate CEOs. "The men were discussing the ongoing search for a CEO at Halliburton," Briody reports. "Cheney was asleep back at the lodge and, in his absence, the men decided that Cheney would be the man for the job, despite the fact that he had never worked in the oil business."

Halliburton was Cheney's first real chance to get rich; he grabbed it with both hands. His principal action was his acquisition of a subsidiary called Dresser Industries. Dresser struck lucrative deals with Saddam Hussein; Halliburton did business with Muammar el-Qaddafi and the ayatollahs of Iran. By the time Cheney left in 2000, Halliburton's stock was near an all-time high of fifty-four dollars a share. Then it turned out that Dresser had saddled Halliburton with asbestos lawsuits that could cost the company millions, and the stock plummeted to barely ten dollars a share. Even with the bounce Halliburton stock has received from the war, an investor who put $100,000 into the company just before Cheney became vice president would have less than $60,000 today. Cheney, meanwhile, continues to receive $150,000 a year in deferred compensation from Halliburton, even though he is supposed to divest himself of all conflicts of interest. The company has been awarded $8 billion in contracts by the Bush-Cheney administration for its work in Iraq.

It could be argued that the vice presidency was the first job Cheney got entirely on his own -- by appointing himself to it. Bush initially asked Cheney only to advise him on whom to choose. After assuring Bush that he himself had no ambition to be vice president, Cheney then arranged it so that all options narrowed down to him.

Since Cheney lived in Texas at the time, choosing him led Bush into a situation that, if the words of our Founding Fathers still have any meaning, is unconstitutional. The Constitution forbids a state's electors from voting for candidates for president and vice president who are both "an inhabitant of the same state as themselves." Yet by voting for Bush and Cheney, electors in Texas did precisely that. Cheney lived in Texas, had a Texas driver's license and filed his federal income tax using a Texas address. He had also voted in Texas, not in Wyoming, a state where he had not lived full-time for decades.

As vice president, Cheney has been the decisive force pushing America into war. In the inner councils of the administration, it was he who emasculated Colin Powell, cut the State Department out of effective policymaking, foisted fake reports on the intelligence agencies and supplanted the National Security Council. It was also Cheney who placed appointees personally loyal to him, including Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, in charge of the Pentagon and speckled the warmaking bureaucracy with desk officers culled from neoconservative Washington think tanks -- ideologues with no military experience.

"They were like cancer cells," says retired Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, who worked on the Defense Department's Near East and South Asia desk during the buildup to the Iraq war. "They didn't care about the truth. They had an agenda. I'd never seen anything like it. They deformed everything."

Even within the State Department, officials of Cheney's choosing -- not Powell's -- controlled the key positions when it came to maneuvering the United States into the Iraq war. "Even when there was a show of Defense listening to State, it was just one Cheney operative talking to another," says Greg Thielmann, a former member of the State Department Intelligence Agency. "We were simply bypassed from the start."

Over at Defense, competent intelligence professionals were purged in order to ease the way to war. Douglas Feith, brought in under Rumsfeld to serve as undersecretary of defense for policy, applied an ideological test to his staff: He didn't want competence; he wanted fervor. Col. Pat Lang, a Middle East expert who served under five presidents, Republican and Democratic, in key posts in military intelligence, recalls being considered for a job at the Pentagon. During the job interview, Feith scanned Lang's impressive resume. "I see you speak Arabic," Feith said. When Lang nodded, Feith said, "Too bad," and dismissed him.

Cheney suffered his biggest failure in March 2002, when he visited nine Arab and Muslim countries six months after the 9/11 attacks. The vice president anticipated a triumphal tour of the region as, one by one, he enlisted the countries he visited in the cause of "taking out" Saddam Hussein. In the end, not a single country Cheney visited provided troops for the Bush-Cheney war -- including staunch American allies in Jordan and Turkey -- and almost all refused to let their territory be used for the attack.

Once again, however, Cheney did not let reality dissuade him from his course. As the disaster has unfolded in Iraq, he has continued to insist against all evidence that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction, that the dictator was aiding Al Qaeda, that nothing the Bush administration has done was a mistake. Those who have known him over the years remain astounded by what they describe as his almost autistic indifference to the thoughts and feelings of others. "He has the least interest in human beings of anyone I have ever met," says John Perry Barlow, his former supporter. Cheney's freshman-year roommate, Steve Billings, agrees: "If I could ask Dick one question, I'd ask him how he could be so unempathetic."

It's a question Cheney is unlikely ever to answer. Throughout the years, he has sealed himself off from the possibility of such inquiries. The most famous example is his draft evasion during the Vietnam War. He has never candidly discussed his feelings about the war, the traumatic, formative event for American males of his age. Only once, in fact, has he even answered a question as to why he avoided serving.

"I had other priorities," was all he has ever said.

Comment: Notice the comment about Cheney's lack of empathy. This is, as regular readers are aware, a hallmark of the psychopath. But he's not alone is having this trait....

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Bush's Empathy Shortage

Why do families with the shakiest grip on the American dream support the Bush equivalent of taking bread from the poor and giving it to the rich?

By Arlie Hochschild, The American Prospect and Tomdispatch. Posted June 24, 2005.

Let's consider our political moment through a story.

Suppose a chauffeur drives a sleek limousine through the streets of New York, a millionaire in the backseat. Through the window, the millionaire spots a homeless woman and her two children huddling in the cold, sharing a loaf of bread. He orders the chauffeur to stop the car. The chauffeur opens the passenger door for the millionaire, who walks over to the mother and snatches the loaf. He slips back into the car and they drive on, leaving behind an even poorer family and a baffled crowd of sidewalk witnesses. For his part, the chauffeur feels real qualms about what his master has done, because unlike his employer, he has recently known hard times himself. But he drives on nonetheless. Let's call this the Chauffeur's Dilemma.

Absurd as it seems, we are actually witnessing this scene right now. At first blush, we might imagine that this story exaggerates our situation, but let us take a moment to count the loaves of bread that have recently changed hands and those that soon will. Then, let's ask why so many people are letting this happen.

  • On average, the 2003 tax cut has already given $93,500 to every millionaire. It is estimated that 52% of the benefits of George W. Bush's 2001-03 tax cuts have enriched the wealthiest 1% of Americans (those with an average annual income of $1,491,000).
  • On average, the 2003 tax cut gave $217 to every middle-income person. By 2010, it is estimated that just 1% of the benefits of the tax cut will go to the bottom 20% of Americans (those with an average annual income of $12,200).
  • During at least one year since 2000, 82 of the largest American corporations -- including General Motors, El Paso Energy, and, before the scandal broke, Enron -- paid no income tax.

In the meantime, the poor are being bled. Long-term unemployment has risen while the Bush administration has cut long-term unemployment benefits. Most American cities are looking at 15% cuts in already bare-boned budgets, which will close more libraries, cancel more after-school and esl programs, and limit access to health clinics.

Proposed budget cuts beginning in 2006 are threatening the funding given to low-income programs. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, with these cuts in place, low-income programs will be significantly reduced over the next five years.

By 2010, elementary and secondary education funding will be cut by $4.6 billion, or 12%; 670,000 fewer women and children will receive assistance through the Women, Infants, and Children Supplemental Nutrition Program; Head Start, which currently serves about 906,000 children, will serve 100,000 fewer children; and 370,000 fewer low-income families, elderly people, and people with disabilities will receive rental assistance with rental vouchers. Bush proposes to cut housing and community-development aid by more than 30% in 2006 alone.

It's not hard to understand why the millionaire, with the power to satisfy so many desires, might want to claim another's bread. But why does the chauffeur open the door? Why do about half of lower- and middle-income Americans approve of tax cuts that favor the rich and budget cuts that deprive the poor?

The Slipping of the American Dream

We often hear two explanations for this. First, George W. Bush has deflected public attention from the bread transfer at home to political enemies abroad. Second, Americans have been repeatedly told over the last three decades that the government -- military spending aside -- is grossly wasteful and hopelessly inefficient. So why not pocket a little money yourself, no matter who gets the lion's share, if it's being wasted anyway?

But, by itself, can anti-government propaganda -- added to war fever -- explain why so many Americans are rolling over in the face of such an extraordinary transfer from poor to rich? Most Americans used to believe, after all, that the government could help people achieve the American dream.

In 1970, when America had far fewer homeless children and millionaires, it helped people more, and taxpayers begrudged it less. Most people were proud that the United States was a middle-class society, without much in the way of an overclass or an underclass. They credited their government for fostering this ideal. Many Christians among them thought taxes on the rich and programs for the poor expressed a vital Christian ideal: sharing.

But three things have changed since 1970: attitudes toward governmental redistribution, economic times, and the shape of empathy. Attitudes toward redistribution are different -- even among those who would stand to benefit the most.

When asked in a 2003 Hart and Teeter poll, "Do you think this (Bush) tax plan benefits mainly the rich or benefits everyone?" 56% of blue-collar men (those without a college degree) who answered "yes" (the plan favors the rich) still favored the plan. For blue-collar men living on annual family incomes of $30,000 or less, half supported it.

Apart from the super-rich, who overwhelmingly vote Republican, an interesting pattern emerges: Even many of those with a fragile grip on the American dream go along with taking bread from the poor and giving it to the rich.

What is being forged, then, is a strange, covert moral deal between the millionaire and the hard-pressed chauffeur, sealed by the right-wing church. It is a deal that says, in essence, "Let's ignore the needy at home, exacerbate the class divide, wage war after war abroad, and sustain the idea that all this is morally good."

The Empathy Squeeze

What is happening in the heart of the chauffeur? He has himself known hard times, and is as capable as anyone else of compassion. What about his circumstances, his religious beliefs, and Bush's manipulation of these might lead him to harden his heart?

For some time now, many families have felt squeezed between high hopes and declining prospects. Most Americans strongly believe in working hard and moving up the ladder of success. They "identify up" with people more rich, famous, and lucky than they, rather than "identifying down" with people more poor, obscure, and unlucky. However underpaid, our chauffeur dreams of becoming a millionaire more than he dreads lying homeless in the street. If others can rise to the top, he figures, why can't he?

And in decades past, he had good reason to aim high. For every decade in the 150 years before 1970 -- including the decade of the Great Depression -- real earnings rose. As University of Massachusetts economist Rick Wolff points out, however tough a man's job or long his hours, he could usually look forward to a bigger paycheck.

But after 1970, the real earning power of male wages -- and I focus here on men, for they are the closer fit to the profile of the chauffeur -- stopped rising. Their dream was linked, it turned out, to jobs in an industrial sector that been automated out or outsourced abroad. Their old union-protected, high-wage, blue-collar jobs began to disappear as new non-union, low-wage, service-sector jobs appeared. Indeed, the man with a high-school diploma or a few years of college found few new high-opportunity jobs in the much-touted new economy while the vast majority ended up in low-opportunity jobs near the bottom. As jobs in the middle have become harder to find, his earning power has fallen, his benefits have shrunk, and his job security has been reduced.

As a result, Wolff argues, two things happened. First, life at home became tougher. Wives took paid jobs -- and this in a society that had given little thought to paid parental leave or family-friendly policies. For men as well as women, hours of work have increased. From 1973 to 1996, average hours per worker went up 19%. Since the 1970s, increases have occurred in involuntary job loss, in work absences due to illness or disability, and in debt and bankruptcy. The proportion of single mother families rose from 12% in 1970 to 26% in 2003.

Tougher times have led, in turn, to an "empathy squeeze." That is, many people responded to this crisis by withdrawing into their own communities, their own families, themselves. If a man gets fired or demoted, if he can't make his house payments, if his wife is leaving him, or if his son is failing in school, he feels like he's got enough on his hands. He can't afford to feel sorry for so many other people. He's trying to be a good father, a helpful neighbor, and friend to people he knows who themselves need more help. He localizes empathy. He narrows his circle of empathy in a way that coincides with George W. Bush's hourglass America. Pay a tax to help a homeless mother in another city? Forget it. Charity begins at home.

Despite this, many people who voted for Bush may feel real qualms about the homeless mother and her hungry children. They experience the chauffeur's dilemma. In his heart of hearts, the chauffeur feels bad that he has put such space between himself and the homeless woman's plight. If he goes to a Christian church, he wants to be a good, giving, sharing Christian.

And here is where Bush and his social-issues team make a stealthy empathy grab. How? They "privatize" the chauffeur's morality, and in two ways. They do it first by redefining "good" as a matter not of giving or of sharing but of judging. The chauffeur is offered the chance to feel good by disapproving of homosexuals and of economic failures while quietly setting aside the idea of helping the poor, the disabled, the mentally ill, and the unemployed.

Second and more importantly, Bush proposes the idea of giving through private, religious channels, and thus offers moral cover for the idea of giving less. We will stop giving to the less fortunate as citizens through our government and start giving as parishioners through our churches. But, quite apart from this as a bid to expand the fold, it is a way of offering a moral free pass to the act of replacing a lake with a drop of water.

Rather than fixing the problems that make people anxious, Bush takes advantage of the very feelings of anxiety, frustration, and fear that insecurity creates -- and that his policies exacerbate -- while deflecting hopes away from government help. He makes life quietly harder at home while pointing a finger of blame at one enemy after another abroad. He is, I think, deregulating American capitalism with one hand while regulating the resulting anxiety with the other. And to do this, he has enlisted powerful allies on the corporate and religious right.

The Chauffeur and the Rapture

This leads me to a second effect of economic distress that Wolff notes: rising membership in nontraditional Protestant churches. Among these are some churches that promote the belief that the world is coming to an end, and that, following this, Christians will ascend to heaven in a Rapture while all others will suffer in hell. Those who hold to these beliefs are not a minor group. According to a recent Gallup Poll, 36% of Americans believe that the world is coming to an end. The 12-volume Left Behind series of Christian novels has sold more than 62 million copies.

We can understand the appeal of the idea of a Rapture, though not, or not only, in the believer's terms. There is a world literally coming to an end -- the industrial world of the well-paid blue-collar worker. It is a world to which the working man and woman have already sacrificed much time and from which the promised rewards are disappearing.

Belief in the Rapture provides, I would speculate, an escape from real anxiety over this very great earthly loss. Internet images of the Rapture often portray thin, well-dressed white people rising up into heaven to join awaiting others. The excluded are welcomed. The rejected are accepted. The downwardly mobile become upwardly mobile. The Rapture creates a celestial split between haves and have-nots, with no one in the middle. And in this vision, those caught in a social class squeeze are at last securely on top. The Rapture absorbs the sting of being hardworking losers in the harsh and rigged winner's culture of the radical right.

In a just society, of course, there need be no permanent economic losers. It is well within the capacity of a wisely led American government to restore a living wage to every worker. The power of the people once pointed in that direction. Popular uprisings in the 1930s led to massive demonstrations, strikes, and eventually Works Progress Administration projects, unemployment insurance, and our Social Security system.

But today's impulse to protest goes into blockading abortion clinics and writing Darwin out of school textbooks. The inner-city homeless, children in overcrowded public schools, unemployed in need of job retraining, and the 18% of American children who don't get enough to eat each day become part of the glimpsed world the chauffeur passes by, and his church can only do so much for them.

Like many others, I felt moved by the Christians who knelt in prayer for the family of the late Terri Schiavo, the comatose patient on life support in Florida. But it made me wonder why we don't see similar vigils drawing attention to near-comatose victims of winter living on city sidewalks. They've been taken off life support, too.

The chauffeur knows this and wants to do the moral thing. But he's worse off himself. He feels he has less to give. Bush offers him a way to feel good about giving less -- make a general ethic of giving less. He can downsize his conscience and still feel good. This deal, first struck between right-wing anti-tax interests and evangelicals back in the 1970s, offers a way to satisfy the chauffeur's better angel while getting his OK to take the bread. If right-wing ministers have talked our chauffeur into believing in the Rapture, this belief, too, can become just another reason to drive on.

In a sense, Bush is exploiting the common man twice over -- once by ignoring his own plight and that of the poor and twice by covering it over with military drums and tin-man morality. We really need to turn both things around. But to do that, we need to remind the chauffeur, wherever he is, that it's within his power to stop the car -- tax the millionaire, help the homeless, and offer new hope to those in between. Otherwise, the deal Bush is brokering between millionaire and chauffeur will impoverish the chauffeur -- in his pocketbook and in his soul.

This article appears in the July issue of The American Prospect magazine (Vol. 16, No. 7).

Arlie Hochschild is a professor of sociology at University of California, Berkeley and the author of "The Commercialization of Intimate Life" as well as "The Time Bind" and "The Second Shift."

Comment: Our society has taken the lack of empathy of the psychopath and made it the societal standard. In other words, our culture works to transform each of us into psychopaths. In order to survive, we must give up empathy, we must isolate ourselves from our neighbor and his or her suffering. In America, where anyone can succeed if only they work long and hard enough, failure is a moral indictment of the "loser".

Societies that claim there can be social justice through a different use of the state are condemned as socialistic and communistic, and the words have taken on a sinister aura that taps into people's emotions in order to short-circuit their reason. Capitalism has killed as many or more people than communism, but Americans believe they have clean hands while portraying the commies as bloodthirsty tyrants.

Is there a country in the world in the period since WWII that has more deaths on its hands than the US?

In spite of the complete control of the mainstream media by the new American fascists, the American people themselves are having second thoughts about their commander in chief. Recent polls show Bush at dangerously low ratings, and we say dangerously low because these killers have already killed 3,000 people on 9/11 in order to jack up the president's ratings.

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At 34%, Bush popularity among Californians hits its lowest level

By Bill Ainsworth
June 24, 2005

SACRAMENTO – President Bush's popularity has sunk to an all-time low in this state, with just 34 percent of Californians giving him favorable job reviews, a new Field Poll shows.

The nonpartisan reports that 57 percent disapprove of his job performance, and 9 percent offered no opinion.

The statewide survey also shows that his handling of two key aspects of the job – the war in Iraq and the economy – have faded to new lows.

Sixty-eight percent disapprove of his leadership on the war, with just 28 percent approving. On the economy, 58 percent give him negative reviews, while 36 percent view his actions favorably.

Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll, said the war is driving the president's unfavorable ratings, especially the daily violence in Iraq. "The war has this steady, drip, drip quality about it. It's so far removed from the original idea of a quick war," he said.

Opinions about the president are sharply partisan. Eighty-five percent of Democrats disapprove of his job performance, while 71 percent of Republicans hold a favorable view.

Those not affiliated with a major party view the president in negative terms, with 59 percent disapproving and 30 percent favoring his performance.

Even though he lost the state twice by large margins during his election campaigns, the president has enjoyed periods of popularity in California.

Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Bush got rave reviews. In December 2001, 74 percent of Californians approved of his performance, but his popularity has declined since then.

This February, 41 percent approved of his performance.

DiCamillo said the president's volatile ratings are similar to those of his father, President George H.W. Bush.

"It's uncanny that the two Bushes are showing parallel receptions from Californians," he said.

The elder Bush's approval rating soared to 77 percent in February 1991 after the Gulf War, then dropped to 37 percent in July 1992 when the economy soured.

Other presidents have also registered approval ratings in the mid-30s, DiCamillo said, including Carter and Nixon. Nixon dropped to 24 percent around the time he resigned in August 1974.

President Bush still has time to recover his popularity should the economy improve or the war end, DiCamillo said.

The Field Poll was based on interviews with 491 California adults conducted June 13 through Sunday. The margin of error is 4.5 percentage points.

Comment: The poll shows that the split between his supporters and his detractors grows ever wider. Given the crimes the right have been willing to commit to ensure their continued stay in power, including rigging two elections, the attacks of 9/11, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, we have a really bad feeling about these current poll figures. Karl Rove, who has specialised in dirty tricks throughout his career, won't take this lightly.

Which makes us curious about the following:

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Bush to address Americans from Fort Bragg
Netscape News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush will deliver a major address to U.S. troops and the nation about Iraq on Tuesday night from the U.S. military base at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the White House said.

"This is a critical moment in Iraq," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said on Friday in announcing the speech. "This is a real time of testing."

McClellan said the speech would be delivered at 8 p.m., and that the White House has asked U.S. television networks to air the address live.

Bush is expected to use the prime time speech to outline his strategy in Iraq amid increasing public doubts about the war.

McClellan said Bush will be "very specific about the way forward in Iraq."

McClellan said Americans have been "seeing disturbing images" of bloodshed in Iraq, but that the president was "confident that the American people understand the importance of succeeding in Iraq."

Comment: As Rove's strategy is to attack, attack, attack, we are wondering who the prez is going to blame this time for his failures. Iran? Liberals? Will the ante be upped on Americans who disapprove of the war? Will CIA asset bin Laden be located in Iran?

Or will Bush finally admit it was all a mistake?

That was just to check if you were paying attnetion, er, attention.

While the poll shows many Americans are fed up with their president, their noble chicken-hawk Commander-in-Chief, their essential goodness, shall we say, makes them blind to the true horror that surrounds them. The following article is a case in point.

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Karl Rove's "Understanding of 9/11"
Kristen Breitweiser

Mr. Rove, the first thing that I would like to address is Afghanistan - the place that anyone with a true “understanding of 9/11” knows is a nation that actually has a connection to the 9/11 attacks. One month after 9/11, we invaded Afghanistan, took down the Taliban, and left without capturing Usama Bin Laden - the alleged perpetrator of the September 11th attacks. In the meantime, Afghanistan has carried out democratic elections, but continues to suffer from extreme violence and unrest. Poppy production (yes, Karl, the drug trade) is at an all time high, thus flooding the world market with heroin. And of course, the oil pipeline (a.k.a. the Caspian Sea pipeline) is better protected by U.S. troops who now have a “legitimate” excuse to be in that part of Afghanistan. Interesting isn't it Karl that the drug “rat line” parallels the oil pipeline. (Yet, with all those troops guarding that same sliver of land, can you please explain how those drugs keep getting through?)

Now Karl, a question for you, since you seem to be the nation's self-styled sensei with regard to 9/11: Is Usama Bin Laden still important? Lately, your coterie of friends seems to be giving out mixed messages. Recall that in the early days, Bin Laden was wanted “dead or alive.” Then when Bin Laden slipped through your fingertips in Tora Bora, you downgraded his importance. We were told that Bin Laden was a "desperate man on the run,” and a person that President Bush was not "too worried about". Yet, whenever I saw Bin Laden's videos, he looked much too comfortable to actually be a man on the run. He looked tan, rested, and calm. He certainly didn't look the way I wanted the murderer of almost 3,000 innocent people to look: unkempt, panicked, and cowering in a corner.

Karl, I mention Bin Laden because recently Director of the CIA, Porter Goss, has mentioned that he knows exactly where Bin Laden is located but that he cannot capture him for fear of offending sovereign nations. Which frankly, I find ironic because of Iraq--and let's just leave it at that. But, when you say that “moderation and restraint” don't work in fighting terrorists, maybe you should share those comments with Mr. Goss because he doesn't seem to be on the same page as you. Unless of course, Porter is holding out to announce that Bin Laden is in Iran. (Karl, I want Bin Laden brought to justice, but not if it means starting a war with Iran - a country that possesses nuclear weaponry. The idea of nuclear fallout in any quadrant of the world is just not an acceptable means to any ends, be it capturing Bin Laden, oil or drugs. But, Afghanistan and Bin Laden are old news. Iraq is the story of today. And of course, it appears that Iran will be the story of next month. But, I digress.)

More to the point, Karl when you say, “Conservatives saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and prepared for war,” what exactly did you do to prepare for your war? Did your preparations include: sound intelligence to warrant your actions; a reasonable entry and exit strategy coupled with a coherent plan to carry out that strategy; the proper training and equipment for the troops you were sending in to fight your war? Did you follow the advice of experts such as General Shinseki who correctly advised you about the troop levels needed to actually succeed in Iraq? No, you didn't.

It has always been America's policy that you only place soldiers' lives in harm's way when it is absolutely necessary and the absolute last resort. When you send troops into combat you support those troops by providing them with proper equipment and training. Why didn't you do that with the troops that you sent into Iraq? Why weren't their vehicles armored? Why didn't they have protective vests? Why weren't they properly trained about the rules of interrogation? And Karl, when our troops come home – be it tragically in body bags or with missing limbs – you should honor and acknowledge their service to their country. You shouldn't hide them by bringing them home in the dark of night. Most importantly, you should take care of them for the long haul by giving them substantial veteran's benefits and care. To me, that is being patriotic. To me, that is how you support our troops. To me, that is how you show that you know the value of a human life given for its country.

For the record Karl, does Iraq have any connection to the 9/11 attacks? Because, you and your friends with your collective “understanding of 9/11” seem to be contradicting yourselves about the Iraq-9/11 connection, too. First, we were told that we went to war with Iraq because it was linked to the 9/11 attacks. Then, your rationale was changed to "Iraq has WMD". Then you told us that we needed to invade Iraq because Saddam was a "bad man". And now it turns out that we are in Iraq to bring them "democracy."

Of course, the Downing Street memo clarifies many of these things, but for the record Karl: Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11; there were few terrorists in Iraq before our invasion, but now Iraq is a terrorist hot-bed. America had the sympathy and support of the whole world before Iraq. Now, thanks to your actions, we find ourselves hated and alienated by the rest of the world. Al Qaeda's recruitment took a nose-dive after the 9/11 attacks, but has now skyrocketed since your invasion of Iraq; and most importantly, nearly 2,000 U.S. soldiers have been killed because of your war in Iraq. These facts speak for themselves. (And, they speak very little about effectively winning any war on terror.)

Karl, you say you “understand” 9/11. Then why did you and your friends so vehemently oppose the creation of a 9/11 Independent Commission? Once the commission was established, why did you refuse to properly fund the Commission by allotting it only a $3 million budget? Why did you refuse to allow access to documents and witnesses for the 9/11 Commissioners? Why did we have to fight so hard for an extension when the Commissioners told us that they needed more time due to your footdragging and stonewalling? Why didn't you want to cooperate so that all Americans could “understand” what happened on 9/11?

Since the release of the 9/11 Commission's Final Report, have you helped bring to fruition any of the commission's recommendations? Have you truly made our homeland safer by hardening/eliminating soft targets? Because, to me rebuilding a tower that is 1,776 feet tall where the World Trade Center once stood seems to be only providing more soft targets for the terrorists to hit. Moreover, your support for the use of nuclear energy seems to be providing even more soft targets. Tell me, while you write your nifty little speeches about nuclear power, do you explain to your audience how our nuclear plants will be protected against terrorist attack or infiltration? What assurances do you give that nuclear waste will not find its way into terrorist's dirty bombs and onto our city streets? And, how do you assure your audience that the shipment of radioactive material will not become a terrorist target as it rolls through their own backyards?

To date, you have done practically nothing to secure our ports, nuclear power plants, and mass transportation systems. Imagine if the billions of dollars you spent in Iraq were spent more wisely on those things here at home. Imagine what sort of alternative energy resources (bio-diesel, wind power, solar power, and hybrid automobiles) could have been researched and funded in the past three years. Talk about regaining the respect and support of the world, that is the one way to do it.

Karl, if you “understand 9/11”, then why don't you understand that until we have a more environmentally friendly energy policy, we cannot effectively fight the war on terrorism. By being dependent on foreign oil, we have no choice but to cozy up to nations that sponsor terrorists. Moreover, because of oil, we may end up placing our troops and our nation at greater risk by having to invade certain oil-rich countries. Our invasion of these countries merely serves to inflame would-be terrorists by reinforcing their notion that we are gluttonous and self-centered -- invading sovereign nations solely to steal their oil. Forgive me Karl, but is that how you think you "win hearts and minds"? Does that help in any way to "spread democracy"?

Finally Karl, please “understand” that the reason we have not suffered a repeat attack on our homeland is because Bin Laden no longer needs to attack us. Those of us with a pure and comprehensive “understanding of 9/11” know that Bin Laden committed the 9/11 attacks so he could increase recruitment for al Qaeda and increase worldwide hatred of America. That didn't happen. Because after 9/11, the world united with Americans and al Qaeda's recruitment levels never increased.

It was only after your invasion of Iraq, that Bin Laden's goals were met. Because of your war in Iraq two things happened that helped Bin Laden and the terrorists: al Qaeda recruitment soared and the United States is now alienated from and hated by the rest of the world. In effect, what Bin Laden could not achieve by murdering my husband and 3,000 others on 9/11, you handed to him on a silver platter with your invasion of Iraq - a country that had nothing to do with 9/11.

Which leads me to my final questions for you Karl: What are your motives when it comes to 9/11 and are you really sure that you understand 9/11?

Comment: This woman's heart may be in the right place, but boy is she delusional about Rove and the gang! First, she is still suffering from the principal delusion of the American liberal that Bush and Co weren't responsible for 9/11. If you can't even get that right, how can you understand what the Bush crew are trying to accomplish? How can you understand the lengths and depths to which they will be willing to go to accomplish their agenda?

How many more people will die from false flag operations blamed on their enemies while these liberals bemoan the lost America of their imagination?

Then there is her teary-eyed listing of how America was until somehow the Bush crew changed the rules that doesn't match with the historical record. US governments have been willing to sacrifice lives for business in foreign wars since the end of the 19th century. And if there weren't any before then, it is because these lives were being lost colonising the continent. The US is a culture of violence, and it has reaped today what it has sown in the past.

Certainly, many Americans are horrified by this past. They do not agree with the neocon plan for world domination. But they are living in an illusion that prevents them from confronting the real dangers they face because they somehow think that even if these guys want to dominate the world, they are above using the methods used by every other empire. American exceptionalism is a hard cancer to root out. They project onto the psychopath the sentiments that they themselves have. But psychopaths aren't built with those brain circuits. That is why that can have such a scornful discourse against "bleeding-heart liberals". These people really do not care at all about other human beings, and that is something that is just too hard for many people who do to acknowledge.

Thus, they are blinded, unable to see the enemy for what it is: ruthless, uncaring, and willing to kill to get its way. That isn't a description of Arab "terrorists"; it is a description of Cheney, Bush, Rove, and Rumsfeld. They are the true terrorists, and they are backed by the largest military force the world has ever seen. Now, they are being backed into a corner. They are losing in Iraq. In spite of their control over the news, their kidnapping of foreign journalists who are attempting to tell the truth about war crimes such as Fallujah, their secret deals with Tony Blair, the truth is getting out, a dribble at a time, and the polls are showing that Bush's policies are being questioned.

If this continues, then maybe, just maybe, people will start to question the sacred rock upon which this modern crusade is built: 9/11.

And the guilty cannot allow that to happen.

They can't.

If you were a high official in the Bush Administration with the blood of 3,000 Americans killed on 9/11 on your hands, not to mention the tens of thousands more of Afghans and Iraqis killed since, the American soldiers killed since, and you were worried that the truth about your guilt might come out, what lengths would you go to prevent that from happening, from preventing your arrest and conviction for the crime of high treason?

How many people would you be willing to sacrifice to preserve your own life and reputation?

Think about that and then see how scared you feel. See what kind of scenarios play out in your mind.

Welcome to the real world.

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The return of '1984'

By H.D.S. Greenway | June 24, 2005

IF YOU TAKE something to read at the beach this summer make sure it is not one of George Orwell's books. The comparison with current events will ruin your day.

In what was then the futuristic, nightmare world of ''1984," written in 1949, Orwell introduced the concepts of ''newspeak," ''doublethink," and ''the mutability of the past," all concepts that seem to be alive and well in 2005, half a century after Orwell's death. In the ever-changing rationale of why we went to war in Iraq, we can imagine ourselves working in Orwell's ''Ministry of Truth," in which ''reality control" is used to ensure that ''the lie passed into history and became the truth."

And what about the Bush administration's insistence that all is going well in Iraq? In the Ministry of Truth, statistics are adjustable to suit politics -- ''merely the substitution of one piece of nonsense for another," Orwell wrote. ''Most of the material that you were dealing with had no connection to anything in the real world, not even the kind of connection that is contained in a direct lie. Statistics were just as much a fantasy in their original version as in the rectified version." Welcome to the Iraq war, Mr. Orwell.

What of Donald Rumsfeld's newspeak, or was it doublethink, saying that ''no detention facility in the history of warfare has been more transparent" than Guantanamo? We have the FBI's word for it that prisoners were chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, left for 18 to 24 hours with no food and no water, left to defecate and urinate on themselves.

The deaths by torture in Abu Ghraib and Afghanistan sound very much like what happens in Orwell's fictional torture chamber: Room 101.

He might as well have been writing about the Bush administration's redefinition of torture when he wrote about using ''logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it."

In Orwell's profoundly pessimistic view: ''Political language . . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind." [...]

Comment: From a reader:

Today the Boston Globe published this editorial column by their former editorial page editor, H.D.S. (David) Greenway. Greenway is HEAVILY connected to the CIA/State Dept. axis. He is always a good indicator of what that faction is pushing. He took over the editorial page of the Globe after the sudden death by a fast-moving cancer of his predecessor who, during the administration of the first Bush, accused the Bush gang of fascism (he actually used that word). I always thought his predecessor was assassinated. I forgot his predecessor's name. I spent an hour or so looking on Google for it, so if anyone remembers please let me know. His first name was Karl and he had a German last name.

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Paul Levy
Baltimore Chronicle
June 19 2005

All we have to do to see the madness of our species is to open our eyes and look at what we are doing to each other, to the environment which we depend on for our survival, and to ourselves. What more evidence of a collective psychosis do we possibly need?

To quote the great doctor of the soul C. G. Jung:

“Indeed, it is becoming ever more obvious that it is not famine, not earthquakes, not microbes, not cancer but man himself who is man’s greatest danger to man, for the simple reason that there is no adequate protection against psychic epidemics, which are infinitely more devastating than the worst of natural catastrophes. The supreme danger which threatens individuals as well as whole nations is a psychic danger. Reason has proved itself completely powerless, precisely because its arguments have an effect only on the conscious mind and not on the unconscious. The greatest danger of all comes from the masses, in whom the effects of the unconscious pile up cumulatively and the reasonableness of the conscious mind is stifled. Every mass organization is a latent danger just as much as a heap of dynamite is. It lets loose effects which no man wants and no man can stop. It is therefore in the highest degree desirable that a knowledge of psychology should spread so that men can understand the source of the supreme dangers that threaten them. Not by arming to the teeth, each for itself, can the nations defend themselves in the long run from the frightful catastrophes of modern war. The heaping up of arms is itself a call to war. Rather must they recognize those psychic conditions under which the unconscious [tsunami- like] bursts the dykes of consciousness and overwhelms it.”

The fundamental process underlying what is collectively playing out on the world stage is psychic in nature. What is getting acted out politically, socially and economically is a manifestation or expression of what is going on deep within the collective unconscious of humanity. It is because of this that Jung says, “We can no longer afford to underestimate the importance of the psychic factor in world affairs.”

It is very dangerous when millions of people fall into their unconscious together and act it out en masse. Mass psychology, which is a herd phenomenon based on fear, then becomes the order of the day. When speaking about Germany in the 1930’s, Jung sounded eerily prophetic when he said that it “...fell prey to mass psychology, though she is by no means the only nation threatened by this dangerous germ.”

Because of our inherent suggestibility, we can easily reinforce the unconscious parts of each other, as if we are mutually hypnotizing each other in a self-perpetuating feedback loop. For example, Bush and his supporters are co-dependently feeding into and supporting each other’s unconscious delusions. At a certain point we can’t separate the phenomenon of George W. Bush from his followers, as they are interconnected expressions of a deeper process. In their interplay, Bush, his followers and everyone who reacts against them are the manifestation of a deeper, unconscious field which is expressing and revealing itself as it incarnates through them.

By not seeing Bush’s madness and thereby falling under its spell, Bush supporters unwittingly become agents through which the collective psychosis non-locally propagates itself. Like a higher-dimensional virus that reproduces itself through our unconscious blind spots, a psychic epidemic is spreading itself through Bush, his supporters and everyone who reacts against them.

When we fall prey to conforming to mass psychology, our unconsciousness makes us prone to potentially ignore and deny our individual perceptions and give away our power to others, which is the ‘group-think’ characteristic of cults. We then become dis-associated from our ability to discern between our inner fantasy-image of what we believe to be true, and the reality of what is actually happening, which is a sign of madness.

When we collectively fall into fear, we become easily manipulated and controlled by leaders who themselves have fallen prey to the power-drive of the shadow, as we mutually feed into and off of each other’s unconsciousness. Once emotions such as fear reach a certain pitch, to quote Jung, “...the possibility of reason’s having any effect ceases and its place is taken by slogans and chimerical wish-fantasies. This is to say, a sort of collective possession results which rapidly develops into a psychic epidemic.”

A collective psychosis is a closed system, which is to say that it is insular and not open to feedback from the ‘real’ world. Reflection from others, instead of being looked at and integrated, is perversely mis- interpreted to support the agreed-upon delusion that binds the collective psychosis together. Anyone who challenges this shared reality is seen as a threat and demonized. An impenetrable field gets conjured up around the collective psychosis that literally resists consciousness. There is no point in talking rationally with a Bush supporter, for example, as their ability to reason has been dis-armed.

To be of genuine benefit, we need to understand the dynamics that are at the root of this psychic epidemic. If we don’t understand the psychic roots of our current world situation, we are doomed to unconsciously repeat it and endlessly re-create destruction. Recognizing the psychic origin of what is playing out on the world stage is, in-and-of-itself, the very realization that the deeper, underlying psychic process is revealing to us. [...]

Comment: To get a clearer idea of the self-delusion and insanity that has gripped out leaders and much of the population, consider the following three articles...

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U.S. not losing Iraq war, Rumsfeld insists
Last Updated Thu, 23 Jun 2005 21:45:23 EDT
CBC News

U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld came under attack at a Senate hearing Thursday, weathering calls for his resignation as he insisted the military shouldn't set a deadline for withdrawing American troops from Iraq.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, a Democrat, condemned as "gross errors and mistakes" in the U.S. military campaign in Iraq. He demanded Rumsfeld step down.

"In baseball, it's three strikes, you're out. What is it for the Secretary of Defense?" Kennedy asked at the fractious Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

"Isn't it time for you to resign?" he asked.

"I've offered my resignation to the president twice," Rumsfeld fired back, adding that President George W. Bush didn't accept his offer. "That's his call."

Rumsfeld and other military leaders were appearing before the committee in Washington to field questions on the future of the U.S. campaign in Iraq.

The Defence Secretary rejected calls from some senators that the military set a timetable to pull troops out of Iraq, calling it a "mistake" that would "throw a lifeline to terrorists."

"Timing in war is never predictable. There are never guarantees," he said. "Those who say we are losing this war are wrong. We are not."

More foreign fighters than 6 months ago: top general

However, Gen. John Abizaid, commander of the U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf, testified that the Iraqi insurgency isn't weakening.

"I believe there are more foreign fighters coming into Iraq than there were six months ago. In terms of the strength of the insurgency, I would say it is the same as it was."

Democrats and even some Republicans openly criticized the U.S. campaign in Iraq, where more than 1,700 Americans have died since U.S.-led troops invaded in March of 2003.

The Bush administration has repeatedly said that the militants in Iraq are being beaten. Last month, Vice President Dick Cheney said in an interview that the insurgency was in its "last throes."

However, militant attacks have continued to take a heavy toll, particularly on Iraqi security troops. Hundreds of civilians have been killed since a Shia-led government formed two months ago.

In the United States, public skepticism is climbing as the costs of the occupation spiral.

"Public support in my state is turning," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina. "People are beginning to question.

"And I don't think it's a blip on the radar screen. We have a chronic problem on our hands."

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Rumsfeld claims Iraq is not a quagmire
By Rupert Cornwell in Washington
24 June 2005
As Baghdad reeled from a deadly new spate of bombings, Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, insisted that the US was not losing the war in Iraq. But the top US regional commander said the insurgency was undiminished, and ever more foreign fighters were entering the country.

In sombre and sometimes highly charged exchanges with a key congressional panel yesterday, Mr Rumsfeld rejected demands that the Bush administration set a timetable for the withdrawal of the 140,000 US troopsin Iraq.

"Timing in war is never predictable; there are never any guarantees," he told the Senate Armed Services Committee. A timetable would play into the hands of the resistance. "Those who say we are losing this war are wrong. We are not." Mr Rumsfeld was flanked at the witness table by the Pentagon's most senior uniformed officials, including General John Abizaid, in overall charge of operations in the Gulf. Their appearance came as the Bush administration's Iraq policy faces unprecedented difficulties, amid rising violence on the ground, growing US casualties and dwindling public support for the war.

More than 30 people have died in eight bombings in Iraq in the past 36 hours, while a leaked CIA report has warned the country is turning into an even more effective training ground for terrorists than Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

Pentagon commanders are worried about the growing sophistication of the bombs and other devices used against US troops. More than 1,700 US soldiers have died in Iraq, and more than 10,000 have been wounded, while hardly a day passes without new reports of problems in attracting new recruits to bolster an overstretched military.

The fiercest questioning yesterday came from Democrats, led by Edward Kennedy. "Isn't it time for you to resign?" asked the Massachusetts senator, blaming Mr Rumsfeld for a series of "gross errors and mistakes" that had made an "intractable quagmire".

The Defence Secretary and his colleagues vehemently rejected the dreaded "Q word", so redolent of Vietnam. But "more foreign fighters are coming into Iraq than there were six months ago," General Abizaid conceded, implicitly contradicting Vice-President Dick Cheney's recent assertion that the insurgency was "in its last throes".

Carl Levin, the ranking Democrat on the committee, seized on the discrepancy, claiming it as further proof the administration was refusing to face facts. "I don't know that I would make any comment about that other than to say there's a lot of work to be done," was all General Abizaid could say. [...]

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US General's Comments Suggest Iraq A Quagmire
Jamie Wilson in Washington
Friday June 24, 2005
The Guardian
The most senior American commander in the Middle East yesterday directly contradicted Vice-President Dick Cheney's claim that the Iraqi insurgency was in its "last throes", telling a highly charged Senate hearing that there were more foreign fighters in Iraq now than there were six months ago.

General John Abizaid told the Senate armed services committee that the insurgency was as strong as it was at the start of the year and said the military did not want "to paint a rosy picture".

"I'm sure you'll forgive me from criticising the vice-president," he added in a tense session, during which the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, clashed repeatedly with senators and heard another call for his resignation from the senior Democrat Edward Kennedy.

"This war has been consistently and grossly mismanaged. And we are now in a seemingly intractable quagmire. Our troops are dying and there truly is no end in sight," Mr Kennedy told Mr Rumsfeld.

"In baseball, it's three strikes, you're out. What is it for the secretary of defence? Isn't it time for you to resign?"

"I've offered my resignation twice," Mr Rumsfeld shot back, adding that George Bush had decided not to accept it. "That's his call," he said. [...]

Comment: Sadly, Rumsfeld's logic doesn't float. Bush is himself so deluded that his advocacy of anyone in the US executive is akin to the blind leading the blind. As noted in today's lead article, there is no limit to the depths that such demented people will go to to convince themselves that they are right. Today, Rumsfeld can stand up and claim that the US is winning the war in Iraq, tomorrow, the US forces could be wiped out and he would still maintain that he was correct. It is truly a sickness that our "leaders" are suffering from, and it behooves us all to find a way to remove them from power before they destroy us all.

In this quote from another account of the meeting, Rumsfeld said:

"If [the insurgency] does go on for four, eight, 10, 12, 15 years, whatever … it is going to be a problem for the people of Iraq," Rumsfeld said. "They're going to have to cope with that insurgency over time. They are ultimately going to be the ones who win over that insurgency."

How does the insurgency going on for another 15 years jive with his remarks that "Those who say we are losing this war are wrong. We are not"?

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Flashback: War critics astonished as US hawk admits invasion was illegal
Oliver Burkeman and Julian Borger in Washington
November 20, 2003
The Guardian

International lawyers and anti-war campaigners reacted with astonishment yesterday after the influential Pentagon hawk Richard Perle conceded that the invasion of Iraq had been illegal.

In a startling break with the official White House and Downing Street lines, Mr Perle told an audience in London: "I think in this case international law stood in the way of doing the right thing."

President George Bush has consistently argued that the war was legal either because of existing UN security council resolutions on Iraq - also the British government's publicly stated view - or as an act of self-defence permitted by international law.

But Mr Perle, a key member of the defence policy board, which advises the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said that "international law ... would have required us to leave Saddam Hussein alone", and this would have been morally unacceptable.

French intransigence, he added, meant there had been "no practical mechanism consistent with the rules of the UN for dealing with Saddam Hussein".

Mr Perle, who was speaking at an event organised by the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, had argued loudly for the toppling of the Iraqi dictator since the end of the 1991 Gulf war.

"They're just not interested in international law, are they?" said Linda Hugl, a spokeswoman for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, which launched a high court challenge to the war's legality last year. "It's only when the law suits them that they want to use it."

Mr Perle's remarks bear little resemblance to official justifications for war, according to Rabinder Singh QC, who represented CND and also participated in Tuesday's event.

Certainly the British government, he said, "has never advanced the suggestion that it is entitled to act, or right to act, contrary to international law in relation to Iraq". [...]

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US Soldiers Plant Weapons On Slain Iraqi Boys
19 June 2005

Mark Kraft ( writes:

Awhile back, a U.S. citizen working in Iraq sent me several photographs he obtained from a soldier in Iraq. Apparently, they had been passed along between several sources before reaching me. I felt that the pictures were particularly controversial and newsworthy, in that they appear to show U.S. soldiers planting weapons on Iraqi teenagers. As a result, I passed them on to Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker, who mentioned them in an interview on May 11, 2005.

After I did Abu Ghraib, I got a bunch of digital pictures emailed me, and -- was a lot of work on it, and I decided, well, we can talk about it later. You never know why you do things. You have some general rules, but in this case, a bunch of kids were going along in three vehicles. One of them got blown up. The other two units -- soldiers ran out, saw some people running, opened up fire. It was a bunch of boys playing soccer. And in the digital videos you see everybody standing around, they pull the bodies together. This is last summer. They pull the bodies together. You see the body parts, the legs and boots of the Americans pulling bodies together. Young kids, I don't know how old, 13, 15, I guess. And then you see soldiers dropping R.P.G.'s, which are rocket-launched grenades around them. And then they're called in as an insurgent kill.

Unfortunately, Mr. Hersh has no plans to go forward with the story at this time, citing the inconclusive nature of what happened, and the risk it could have to his sources. I, however, have no such ethical problem with releasing the pictures as is, as I think there is an overwhelming public interest that they be released. It should be up to the media and the general public to determine for themselves what occurred that day. (It's not for me to speculate too much upon Mr. Hersh's reasons for not going forward with the pictures. He has his reasons, which I assume are valid.)



They indicate that a group of U.S. soldiers planted weapons -- the same weapon, in fact -- in front of killed, wounded, and captured Iraqi kids. I cannot authenticate whether Mr. Hersh is correct and that the teens in question were innocent or not, but clearly, something significant is amiss. At the very least, it indicates how uncertain the situation is over there. Our soldiers literally do not know who the enemy is, and apparently are willing to manipulate the evidence in order to justify their actions.

The pictures were taken with a digital camera in Buhriz, Iraq on Oct. 22nd, 2004, and their file names are numbered, apparently from the digital camera in question. They show the basics for you: no weapons in the first photos, then weapons inserted into the pictures later. They also show pretty clearly that I didn't stage these pictures.

The Setup

It appears to me that these teenagers are not insurgents, in that they showed no signs of having either weapons or wearing khafiyas, or headscarves, which are typically used as a kind of uniform by insurgents, as displayed in the Associated Press photos below. To me, the whole situation is indicative of the terrible uncertainty of the conflict, where everyone is a potential insurgent, and where that fear and uncertainty leads to a situation where U.S. soldiers try to manipulate the reality of the situation.

It's also worth noting that medical treatment was apparently not offered until shown in the later pictures, leading me to wonder whether the assistance, in itself, was part of the "staged" element of these photos.

Here is what I know happened with the incident in question:

A US patrol led by 1st Lt. Terry "T.J." Grider's platoon -- 1st Infantry Division troops based out of FOB Gabe -- were on a "movement to contact" mission -- basically trying to draw fire. At approximately 7:20 am, they were reportedly fired upon by small arms and RPGs while driving near Buhriz. A Captain Bill Coppernoll from the 1st Infantry Division told AFP that nine insurgents were killed and three wounded that day. A hospital from Ba'aquba reported that it received three dead and eight wounded from the fighting.

The dead appear to have been turned over within 48 hours to some other party -- I suspect one of the hospitals at Ba'aquba. Al Jazeera apparently had a reporter/photographer on the scene who took pictures of these teens prior to their funerals. Some of their clothes have been changed, possibly in preparation for their funerals. Figuring out from Al Jazeera what their reporter saw and what the locals told him would probably be very revealing as to what happened that day.

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American soldier kills little girl to win a bet
Iraqi Resistance Report – Wednesday June 22, 2005

US forces shot and killed a nine-year old Iraqi girl as she came out of her school following final exams in Baghdad. A medical specialist in Baghdad’s al-Yarmuk General Hospital told the correspondent for Mafkarat al-Islam that an American sniper opened fire on ‘A’ishah Ahmad ‘Umar, killing her.

For its part, the US military occupation forces announced that they had begun an investigation of the Marine who shot the little girl and promised to punish him if he is found guilty.

A source in the Iraqi puppet army told Mafkarat al-Islam that the American soldier was very drunk at the time of the killing and that he was withdrawn from his observation post after the incident.

The father of ‘A’ishah, who works for the Railroad Department said that residents in the area where his little daughter was killed told him that the American had been betting with his buddies whether he could hit the little girl who had come out of the school some 700 meters from the US observation post.

For its part the American propaganda TV station called “al-‘Iraqiyah” blamed what it called “terrorists” (by which they meant the Iraqi Resistance) for the shooting of the little girl, but statements by the US military and the Iraqi puppet forces exposed the “al-‘Iraqiyah” story to be a lie.

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Italy judge orders CIA-linked arrests over kidnap

24 Jun 2005
By Emilio Parodi

MILAN, June 24 (Reuters) - An Italian judge has ordered the arrest of 13 foreigners tied to the CIA for allegedly kidnapping an Egyptian terrorism suspect in Milan two years ago and flying him to Egypt for questioning, judicial sources said on Friday.

The foreigners "linked to the CIA" seized imam Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, on a Milan street on Feb. 17, 2003, Milan-based judge Chiara Nobili said in the arrest warrants issued on Thursday, according to the sources. [...]

The nationalities of the foreigners were not clear.

"We know some of the identities of these (suspects) with certainty, but with others we are not sure of their true identity," the source said.

No one has been arrested so far, and the suspects are no longer in Italy, the sources said.

Secret transfers of suspects to foreign states for interrogation are an acknowledged tool of the United States in its war on terrorism, but it denies charges that the practice -- known as rendition -- amounts to outsourcing torture. [...]

The Corriere della Sera newspaper said on Friday that a former U.S. consul to Milan was among those ordered arrested.

The U.S. embassy in Rome declined to comment. [...]

Last month another judge, Guido Salvini, said in a court document that "people belonging to foreign intelligence networks" had arrested Nasr.

Although he did not identify those responsible, Salvini said Nasr had been "taken to an American base, interrogated and beaten and taken the next day on board a U.S. military plane" to Egypt.

Comment: Outsourcing torture? Why no. There are American's present the entire time!

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Russia to Deliver Nuclear Fuel for Bushehr Power Plant in Few Months — Iranian Official

The first delivery of Russian nuclear fuel for Iran’s first nuclear power reactor in the southwestern Iranian city of Bushehr will take place within months, a senior Iranian atomic energy official was quoted by Al Jazeera as saying.

The 1,000 MW reactor is 84 percent complete and commissioning will start by the end of 2006, Asadollah Saboury, the Atomic Energy Organization’s vice president said during a visit by journalists to the plant, construction of which first started in the 1970s.

“The fuel is in Russia and ready to be transported, and it will be delivered soon but the exact date will remain confidential,” he added. Asked when the fuel will arrive in Iran, he replied: “God Willing, in a few months!”

Iran and Russia signed a landmark fuel accord earlier this year, paving the way for the firing up of the station in southern Iran, a project the United States claims is being used as a guise for weapons development.

According to the deal, which capped an 800-million-dollar contract to build and bring the Bushehr plant on line, Russia, which has been facing mounting U.S. pressure to halt nuclear cooperation with Iran, will provide the reactor, the first of what Iran hopes will be up to 20 similar reactors, with the necessary nuclear fuel on condition that Iran sends back spent fuel.

Saboury asserted the arrangement left no room for Iran diverting the fuel to military purposes.

“Bushehr is entirely under the supervision of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). The fuel will be verified before it is sent to Iran and the IAEA inspectors will be here to open the seals,” he said.

Washington, backed by Israel, has repeatedly claimed that the Islamic Republic is covertly trying to build atomic weapons, charges Tehran denies.

Russian diplomats say the United States has been trying to halt Moscow’s cooperation with Iran’s nuclear ambitions “on a daily basis” - but Russia is set to build a second reactor at Bushehr along with plants at other locations. [...]

Comment: So if, like Iraq, Iran poses no threat to the US or any other part of the world, how are the NeoCons and Israel going to manufacture the justification for a US invasion? But then, maybe a US invasion is not the exactly the plan...

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Iraqi troops against Iran
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Gorilla in the Room notices a wild quote from Leslie Gelb, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, in an article in the Boston Globe:

"In a report to the council, Gelb was scathing about America efforts to train an Iraqi army. 'If you ask any Iraqi leader, they will tell you these people can't fight. They just aren't trained. And yet we're cranking them out like rabbits.' As for plans to train a 10 division Iraqi army by next year, Gelb was scathing. 'It became very apparent to me that these 10 divisions were to fight some future war against Iran. It had nothing to do, nothing to do,' with taking Iraq over from the Americans and fighting the insurgents."

Wow! This means:

1. All the talk that the United States troops can be removed from Iraq as soon as Iraqi troops can be trained to do the job is just crap (a fact which should be obvious from the complete ineffectiveness of the Iraqis and the fact they appear to be infiltrated by the resistance);

2. Use of Iraqi troops against Iran, besides being completely loopy, is guaranteed to create World War III in the Middle East, something the neocons want; and

3. The fact that Gelb, as insider as an insider can be, is angrily stating this in public is a strong indication that there is major-league conflict in Washington over the neocon plans for Iraq and Iran.

As you may remember, Gelb was the first prominent American to mention the break-up of Iraq into three mini-states.

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Lebanese deputy: Mossad behind assassinations
Posted: 23-06-2005
Lebanese Deputy Marwan Fares has stressed that Israel is standing behind the recent assassination of the former Secretary General of the Lebanese Communist Party, George Hawi, pointing out to the similarity with the other previous assassinations committed by the Israeli Mossad in Beirut southern suburb against leaders of Hizbullah.

In a statement to Tishrin newspaper published Thursday, Fares said that “Hawi is one of the Lebanese national symbols who participated in launching the resistance movement against Israel, and thus Israel is the main enemy for him. The Israeli Mossad is acting in Beirut freely."

Fares indicated that the assassination of Hawi was a big loss to the Arab liberation movement and to Syria, because he was an ally to Syria's ruling al-Baath Socialist Party as well as to the late leader Hafez al-Assad and a friend to President Bashar al-Assad.

The deputy added that the continuation of assassinations in Lebanon is targeting the security stability and the political life in the country.

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UN to get report on alleged RUC murder cover-up
23/06/2005 - 08:38:05
A human-rights body is planning to send a dossier to the United Nations and the US Congress on allegations that the RUC protected the loyalist murderers of a Belfast man.

London-based group British-Irish Rights Watch is planning the move as part of a campaign for a public inquiry into the matter.

Twenty-two-year-old Raymond McCord was beaten to death in 1997 and dumped in a north Belfast quarry.

Members of the Ulster Volunteer Force were blamed for the killing.

The North's Police Ombudsman is investigating allegations that RUC Special Branch blocked a proper murder inquiry to protect two high-level informers within the UVF.

Comment: As we have said many times before, false flag operations and cover-ups are a long-standing part of "intelligence work", as is keeping this information from the general public.

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US Senate: World faces 50% chance of WMD attack
23/06/2005 - 10:17:36

The world faces an estimated 50% chance of a nuclear, biological, chemical or radiological attack over the next five years, according to US national-security analysts surveyed for a congressional study released yesterday.

Using a poll of 85 non-proliferation and national-security experts, the report also estimated the risk of attack by weapons of mass destruction at as high as 70% over the coming decade. [...]

Comment: Let's face it, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee should know, given that they will likely be a party to any such attack.

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Pentagon Creating Student Database
By Jonathan Krim
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Recruiting Tool For Military Raises Privacy Concerns

The Defense Department began working yesterday with a private marketing firm to create a database of high school students ages 16 to 18 and all college students to help the military identify potential recruits in a time of dwindling enlistment in some branches.

The program is provoking a furor among privacy advocates. The new database will include personal information including birth dates, Social Security numbers, e-mail addresses, grade-point averages, ethnicity and what subjects the students are studying.

The data will be managed by BeNow Inc. of Wakefield, Mass., one of many marketing firms that use computers to analyze large amounts of data to target potential customers based on their personal profiles and habits.

"The purpose of the system . . . is to provide a single central facility within the Department of Defense to compile, process and distribute files of individuals who meet age and minimum school requirements for military service," according to the official notice of the program.

Privacy advocates said the plan appeared to be an effort to circumvent laws that restrict the government's right to collect or hold citizen information by turning to private firms to do the work.

Some information on high school students already is given to military recruiters in a separate program under provisions of the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act. Recruiters have been using the information to contact students at home, angering some parents and school districts around the country.

School systems that fail to provide that information risk losing federal funds, although individual parents or students can withhold information that would be transferred to the military by their districts. John Moriarty, president of the PTA at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, said the issue has "generated a great deal of angst" among many parents participating in an e-mail discussion group.

Under the new system, additional data will be collected from commercial data brokers, state drivers' license records and other sources, including information already held by the military.

"Using multiple sources allows the compilation of a more complete list of eligible candidates to join the military," according to written statements provided by Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke in response to questions. "This program is important because it helps bolster the effectiveness of all the services' recruiting and retention efforts."

The Pentagon's statements added that anyone can "opt out" of the system by providing detailed personal information that will be kept in a separate "suppression file." That file will be matched with the full database regularly to ensure that those who do not wish to be contacted are not, according to the Pentagon.

But privacy advocates said using database marketers for military recruitment is inappropriate. [...]

Some see the program as part of a growing encroachment of government into private lives, particularly since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"It's just typical of how voracious government is when it comes to personal information," said James W. Harper, a privacy expert with the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. "Defense is an area where government has a legitimate responsibility . . . but there are a lot of data fields they don't need and shouldn't be keeping. Ethnicity strikes me as particularly inappropriate."

Yesterday, the New York Times reported that the Social Security Administration relaxed its privacy policies and provided data on citizens to the FBI in connection with terrorism investigations.

Comment: Well well, it would appear that the Bush administration is getting a little concerned about their ability to continue sacrificing the lives of America's children for personal profit. Not to worry however, soon every single high school student aged between 16 and 18 and all college students will have their details logged by big brother allowing the government to know exactly where they are when the draft is instituted.

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Supreme Court Rules Cities May Seize Homes
Associated Press Writer
June 24, 2005, 2:23 AM CDT

NEW LONDON, Conn. -- Seven homeowners in this small waterfront community lost a groundbreaking U.S. Supreme Court decision Thursday when justices ruled that City Hall may take their property through eminent domain to make way for a hotel and convention center.

Word of the high court decision spread around Bill Von Winkle's part of town like news of a passing relative. "Hello?" he answered his cell phone. "Yeah, we lost. I know, hard to believe, huh?"

"I spent all the money I had," said Von Winkle, a retired deli owner, of the properties he bought in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood. "I sold sandwiches to buy these properties. It took 21 years."

The court's decision drew a scathing dissent from Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who argued the decision favors rich corporations.

The fight over Fort Trumbull has been raging for years. New London once was a center for the whaling industry and later became a manufacturing hub. More recently the city has suffered the kind of economic woes afflicting urban areas across the country.

City officials envision a commercial development including a riverfront hotel, health club and offices that would attract tourists to the Thames riverfront, complementing the adjoining Pfizer center and a proposed Coast Guard museum.

Most homeowners sold their properties to make way for wrecking crews, but seven families stubbornly refused to sell. Collectively, they owned 15 houses.

"The U.S. Supreme Court destroyed everybody's lives today, everybody who owns a home," said Richard Beyer, owner of two rental properties in the once-vibrant immigrant neighborhood. [...]

At least eight states -- Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, South Carolina and Washington -- forbid the use of eminent domain for economic development unless it is to eliminate blight. Other states either expressly allow private property to be taken for private economic purposes or have not spoken clearly to the question.

Landowners in the lawsuit, however, pledged to continue their fight.

"It's a little shocking to believe you can lose your home in this country," said Von Winkle, who said he would battle beyond the lawsuits and fight the bulldozers if necessary. "I won't be going anywhere."

Comment: Indeed, there are many shocking things about the reality of the US that have been concealed from the population for so long. Most recently, of course, is the fact that America is now essentially a dictatorship. And note, many dictatorships are maintained by violence only when the population becomes aware of the fact that they have no rights, and the population only becomes aware that they have no rights when they move en masse to assert those rights. Such a day is coming for the people of the US.

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An open letter to my dearest creditor
June 21, 2005
Houston Chronicle

Dear MasterCard,

This is to inform you of a change in our credit agreement. It has come to my attention that you are unable to keep my credit and debit card information safe.

You recently revealed that data on more than 40 million accounts may have been exposed to fraud because of a security breach at a payment processing company. Information in about 200,000 accounts is known to have been stolen.

It's probably the biggest case of consumer data being compromised to date, which is saying something given what's gone on in the past few months. Just a few weeks ago, Citigroup revealed that it lost data on 4 million customers at its CitiFinancial unit.

Bank of America lost records on 1.2 million customers. Then there's the security breaches at the credit bureau ChoicePoint and the theft of customer credit card and purchase data at more than 100 of Retail Ventures' DSW Shoe Warehouse stores.

As for you, MasterCard, you said that working with law enforcement you identified breaches at CardSystems Solutions in Tucson, Ariz. The processor with the ironic name — CardSystems Problems now seems more appropriate — handles more than $15 billion worth of transactions a year.

What are we, as consumers, to do? I spent a lot of time over the past few days wrestling with this question, and then the answer came in the mail.

It came in the form of a notice from one of my credit card companies (not you, this time) that had decided to change the terms of the credit agreement and tell me about it after the fact.

It's funny how you guys can't keep track of our account information, but you have no trouble keeping track of the sundry fees you levy against us.

You probably see where I'm going with this. What's sauce for us consumer geese is sauce for you, the credit card gander.

Revised agreement So here goes:

Effective May 1, 2005, any compromise of my data will result in a $50 liability for you, the card issuer, owed to me, the card holder.

Cashing the payment check I sent you last month (which you did) shall constitute your acceptance of this agreement. Subsequent security breaches will compound the fee. I will spell out the terms of just how much these fees and related costs will escalate as soon as I find a typeface that is small enough.

Failure to comply with these changes will result in finance charges, compounded monthly and based on the average daily balance of the amount lost to fraud.

By the way, I recently incorporated myself in South Dakota, which means I can now engage in usury as much as you can. Therefore, I have selected an annual percentage rate of 28.7 percent. However, failure to make payments will force me to raise this rate to 73.9 percent, just because I can.

And one more thing. I expect my payment to be on my desk by 12:37 p.m. on the day it's due. I'm usually at lunch at that time, so I will consider it late if it's not there by 11:24 a.m. After that, all the previously listed finance charges will apply. The date the payment is mailed is irrelevant.

Also, given the widespread nature of the security problems, I am going to share information with my fellow consumers. If I determine you failed to secure their private account information, I may be forced to enact the terms specified in this agreement even though you did not violate the agreement with me. Call it universal default in reverse.

One more thing Before I close, let me take a minute to tell you about an exciting new offer: security breach insurance.

For the low, low price of just $45 a month, I will agree to waive the fees described in my new fraud prevention agreement. Finance charges will still apply. I also require a $30 processing fee.

It's a small price for peace of mind. Just think, no longer will you have to worry about the cost of your incompetence. Just think of the savings!

I believe that these changes will greatly enhance our mutual credit experience. I look forward to the benefits of our new and improved relationship.


Your loyal customer.

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Tax activist wins in federal court Ex-IRS agent says Congress has no power to collect levy on income
une 23, 2005

A former IRS agent who believes citizens are not required to pay federal income taxes was acquitted today on charges he attempted to defraud the government.

Joseph Banister, a Certified Public Accountant in San Jose, Calif., had been telling his clients they don't need to file federal income tax returns because the 16th Amendment, which gives Congress "power to lay and collect taxes on incomes," was never properly ratified.

A leading figure in the "tax honesty" movement, Banister was taken into custody Nov. 19 by IRS agents and released on $25,000 bond after pleading not guilty.

A jury in the U.S. District Court in Sacramento found him not guilty on a charge of conspiracy and on all three counts of aiding and assisting the filing of false tax returns for a client.

Banister's attorney, Robert Bernhoft, told WorldNetDaily the result has no direct bearing on the legitimacy of the 16th Amendment, but he insisted the implications are bigger than the issue of taxes.

"The outcome shows that average, law-abiding, hard-working citizens are not going to criminalize speech -- they're not going to send a man to prison for asking the federal government serious questions about a serious subject," he said. [...]

Banister left public practice as a CPA in 1993 to become an armed, criminal investigator in the IRS Criminal Investigation Division. But he says he resigned after six years because he was "unable to resolve conflicts" between the way the IRS administered the federal income tax and his oath of office.

As WorldNetDaily reported in March 2004, Banister claimed the IRS was illegally using "enforcers" to monitor his political activities and build its case against him. The IRS filed a complaint March 19, 2003, and began what he calls the agency's "mission to silence and discredit me."

In 1996, while working for the IRS, Banister says his view of tax law was jolted when he heard radio talk host Geoff Metcalf interview activist Devvy Kidd on KSFO in San Francisco.

After receiving information from Kidd, Banister used his spare time over two- and-a-half years to compile a report for his superiors, telling them that if they cannot find anything wrong with his analysis, he would have to resign.

Banister said his superiors refused to respond to his report and told him they would facilitate his resignation.

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Yahoo shuts chat rooms amid child-sex fears
Yahoo News
June 23, 2005
Firms pull ads after online groups aimed at luring kids found

SAN FRANCISCO - Yahoo, the most-used Internet site, has shut down all its user-created Internet chat rooms amid concerns that adults were using the sites to try to have sex with minors.

The giant Internet media company closed down those chat rooms and the ability to create new ones “in the past week,” said Yahoo spokeswoman Mary Osako.

Chat rooms created and sponsored by Yahoo itself remain open, Osako said. The number of user-created chat rooms is variable at any given time and Yahoo does not track that figure, she said.

The user-created chat rooms in question, where Internet users converse in real time, had names including “Girls 13 And Under For Older Guys” and “Girls 13 And Up For Much Older Men” and were all listed under “education chat rooms,” Houston television station KPRC reported.

“We are working on improvements to the service to enhance users’ experience and their compliance with our terms of service,” Osako said. “Yahoo condemns the use of Internet tools for illegal activities.”

KPRC reported last month that major advertisers including PepsiCo Inc., Georgia-Pacific Corp. and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. removed their ads after the station found the ads were appearing on Yahoo user-created chat rooms that were aimed at sex with children.

“As soon as we found out we pulled our ads,” said Pepsi spokesman Dave DeCecco. “We were totally unaware our ads were associated with those chat rooms — and that was back in April.”

Pepsi continues to advertise on other parts of Yahoo’s site, mostly in sports and music sections, but pulled all its ads in user-created chat rooms.

“They were down the same day we found out about it,” DeCecco said, referring to the ads on user chat rooms.

“We were horrified to find out we were on those sites,” said Georgia-Pacific spokeswoman Robin Keegan. “As soon as we found out, that day we pulled that advertising.”

A spokesperson for State Farm was not immediately available to comment.

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Woman Carrying $47K in Bra at Airport Sues
Thu Jun 23, 4:48 PM ET

BOSTON - A Quincy woman who apparently stuffed $46,950 in cash in her bra before trying to board a plane to Texas for plastic surgery has sued a federal agency, demanding the return of her money.

The money was seized from Ileana Valdez, 26, after a security check at a metal detector at Logan International Airport on Feb. 3. Valdez told authorities she was heading to Texas for plastic surgery on her buttocks and breasts.

"I don't know why she was carrying it (the cash) in her bra," said Boston lawyer Tony V. Blaize, who filed the suit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Boston on behalf of Valdez.

In her suit, Valdez said a male Drug Enforcement Administration agent told her she had a nice body and didn't need surgery — and then seized the cash, claiming it was drug money.

Valdez, a single mother said in her suit that she has no criminal record and earned the money by selling her Dorchester business and two parcels of property in Boston's Jamaica Plain section.

Anthony Pettigrew, a spokesman for the DEA in Boston, said he could not comment on the lawsuit. But he said federal asset forfeiture laws allow agents to seize suspected drug profits.

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Ecuador Refuses to Sign Immunity Pact for U.S. Forces
The Associated Press Jun 23, 2005

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) - Ecuador will not sign an agreement with the United States granting U.S. military personnel special immunity from the International Criminal Court, even if refusing to do so means aid cuts from Washington, the foreign minister said Thursday.

"If the United States decides it cannot provide aid if we do not sign this, well, we very much regret that we will not receive the aid," Antonio Parra told Channel 6 television. [...]

Last year, Bush signed into law a measure to cut off hundreds of millions of dollars (euros) in foreign aid to countries that belong to the court but have not signed a so-called bilateral immunity agreement with the United States. [...]

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Extinction of Frogs is Catastrophic, Scientists Say
Planet Ark
June 23, 2005

Ecudaor - Before the arrival of Spanish colonisers some 500 years ago, Indians in what is now Ecuador dipped their arrowheads in venom extracted from the phantasmal poison frog to doom their victims to convulsive death, scientists believe.

More recently, epibatidine -- the chemical which paralysed and killed the Indians' enemies -- has been isolated to produce a pain killer 200 times more powerful than morphine, but without that drug's addictive and toxic side effects.

Pharmaceutical companies have not yet brought epibatidine to market but hope to discover other chemicals with powerful properties in frogs, which are a traditional source of medicine and food for many of Ecuador's Indians.

They may want to hurry because the treasure trove of the world's frogs and toads is disappearing at a catastrophic rate. And it's not just potential medicines which could be vanishing but creatures of beauty.

"Frogs and toads are becoming extinct all over the world. It's the same magnitude event as the extinction of the dinosaurs," said Luis Coloma, a herpetologist, or scientist dedicated to studying reptiles and amphibians, in Ecuador -- the country with the third greatest diversity of amphibians

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Southern England Warned of Coming Heatwave Smog
Planet Ark
June 23, 2005

LONDON - People living in southern and central England were warned on Wednesday to stay indoors and avoid afternoon exercise for the next three days as the heatwave triggered a dangerous summer smog.

The Department of the Environment said the smog -- caused by heat and sunlight acting on air pollution to produce atmospheric ozone -- would last until Saturday when more changeable weather is expected to return.

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