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Archive for December 22nd, 2006

Cafferty on the Costs of War


No one on television expresses their disgust and dismay with the current state of American policy like Jack Cafferty. On the heels of the Pentagons request for an additional $99.7 billion for military operations in Iraq, he challenges us to reflect on the incredibly high cost of this war — in both life and treasure — and ask ourselves what those sacrifices are achieving.

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“If approved the total cost of the war in Iraq will be close to a half a trillion dollars — so far. And there are alot of people who would love to know exactly what it is we’ve bought with all that money besides grief and bloodshed as far as the eye can see.”

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Rice backs ‘worthwhile’ Iraq war

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has again defended the war in Iraq, saying the investment in US lives and dollars will be “worth it”.

Ms Rice said a lot had been sacrificed for Iraq but success would change the entire Middle East.

She was speaking soon after eight US marines were charged over the deaths of 24 Iraq civilians in Haditha last year.

President Bush said for the first time this week that the US was not winning the war, but was not losing it either.

In the latest violence on Friday, three US marines and a sailor died from their wounds during fighting in Anbar province, the US military said.

Cover-up charges

The BBC’s Justin Webb in Washington says that in her interview with Associated Press news agency, Ms Rice made it plain that she still believed Iraq should be seen as the centrepiece of US-Middle East policy.

She acknowledged that a lot had been sacrificed for Iraq and a lot invested in the country but that it would be worthwhile.

She said: “There have been plenty of markers that show that this is a country that is worth the investment, because once it emerges as a country that is a stabilising factor, you will have a very different kind of Middle East.”

President Bush faces continuing pressure in Congress to find a new strategy for the war.

In recent months, many of those advising the White House, including UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Iraq Study Group, have suggested that the Arab-Israeli conflict is the real key to peace in the region.

Ms Rice was speaking after the announcement of the Haditha charges, which our correspondent says is likely to add to a sense of national gloom over Iraq.
Haditha is now the biggest US criminal case involving civilian deaths since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Four of the eight marines charged are accused of unpremeditated murder and the four others are charged with attempting to cover up the incident.
The US military initially said the civilians died in unrest. If found guilty of second-degree murder, the marines could face life imprisonment.

Lawyers for the marines accused of murder will strongly defend their clients’ actions.

The BBC’s Nick Miles in Washington says the case has provoked debate about the training and leadership of US troops in Iraq.

The defence team says a group of marines from Kilo Company in the First Marine Division were engaged in a furious battle on 19 November 2005 in Haditha after a roadside bomb exploded, killing one marine and injuring two others.

It is known that five unarmed men were shot dead in a car when they approached the scene in a taxi and others, including women and children, died in three houses over the next few hours.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has called the deaths a “terrible crime”.
The BBC’s Peter Greste in Baghdad says the response in Iraq to the charges has been muted.

He says there is a perception that Iraqi civilians die every day, either directly or indirectly as a result of US military action, and that this case stands out only in the numbers involved.

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Robin Hayes has the solution to the Iraq war: have our soldiers convert all Muslims to Christianity.

Having won the election by only a hair’s width and almost getting himself kicked out of Congress seems to have had some profound psychological effects on poor Mr. Hayes. A speech that flip-floppin’ Robin gave last week at the Concord Rotary Club seems to prove he has finally gone off the deep end.

Our local weekly newspaper the “Concord Standard and Mount Pleasant Times” reported on Mr. Hayes speech in his hometown:

First there’s the usual talk of how we’re “winning” over there:
“The war in Iraq has got to be won; it’s being won”(A couple of months ago Hayes said that the rise in violence in Iraq was an indication that we’re winning.)

Then comes the real kicker:
“Stability in Iraq ultimately depends on spreading the message of Jesus Christ, the message of peace on earth, good will towards men. Everything depends on everyone learning about the birth of the Savior.”

So if we just turn our soldiers into missionaries everything will be okay, Mr. Hayes?

First we sent our men over there to take out the WMD’s, then it was to “spread democracy”, now you want them there to “spread the message of Jesus Christ”?It so happens that people in Iraq already have a savior but unfortunately for Mr. Hayes it’s Muhammed, not Jesus.

If we can’t keep Muslims from killing each other over there, I don’t think that trying to make them all Christian is going to be any easier.

With this kind of talk Hayes just plays into the hands of Al-Qaeda by confirming what their leaders have always been saying: those American soldiers are just modern Crusaders. He is thereby strengthening the beliefs of terrorists that want to kill every American soldier they come across.

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President George W. Bush issued 16 pardons yesterday, many to a variety of individuals convicted of drug-related offenses. One of the beneficiaries of the president’s action donated to the Republican Party.

In the pardons issued by the president, 7 of 16 concerned drug or alcohol-related offenses. Others included a variety of fraud, kickback, and conspiracy charges.

One recipient of a pardon, Dale C. Critz Jr. made false statements in a case in 1989, for which he was convicted and served three years of probation. Critz’s father donated $2000 to the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2003, and Critz himself donated to the Republican National Convention in the same year, according to a report on ABC News.

The full list of pardons is provided below, and can also be accessed in the news release in which it was originally obtained at this link.

Charles James Allen Winchester, Virginia Offense: Conspiracy to defraud the United States; 18 U.S.C. § 371

Sentence: Aug. 3, 1979; District of Maryland; one year of custody to be served by 30 days in jail, 90 days in a work-release program, and the remaining period on parole

William Sidney Baldwin, Sr. Green Pond, South Carolina Offense: Conspiracy to possess marijuana; 21 U.S.C. § 846

Sentence: Oct. 27, 1981; District of South Carolina; six years’ imprisonment

Timothy Evans Barfield Cary, North Carolina Offense: Aiding and abetting false statements on a Small Business Administration loan application; 15 U.S.C. § 645(a) and 18 U.S.C. § 2

Sentence: July 17, 1989; Eastern District of North Carolina; three years’ probation, including 96 hours of community service

Clyde Philip Boudreaux Thibodaux, Louisiana Offense: Borrowing money from enlisted men, accepting a non-interest bearing loan from a government contractor, and signing and swearing to a false affidavit; U.C.M.J. Articles 92, 107, 134

Sentence: Dec. 2, 1975; as approved by the convening authority on January 29, 1976; United States Navy general court-martial convened at Okinawa, Japan, and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; reprimand; loss of numbers on the promotion list; and a $1,000 fine

Marie Georgette Ginette Briere Gatineau, Quebec Offense: Possession of cocaine with intent to distribute; 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1)

Sentence: July 9, 1982; District of Puerto Rico; three years’ imprisonment and three years’ special parole

Dale C. Critz, Jr. Savannah, Georgia Offense: Making a false statement; 18 U.S.C. § 1014

Sentence: July 13, 1989; Middle District of Florida; three years’ probation

Mark Alan Eberwine San Antonio, Texas Offense: Conspiracy to defraud the United States by impeding, impairing, and obstructing the assessment of taxes by the Internal Revenue Service; 18 U.S.C. § 371; false declarations to the grand jury; 18 U.S.C. § 1623

Sentence: Feb. 1, 1985, as amended April 23, 1986; Western District of Texas; two years’ imprisonment

Colin Earl Francis Naugatuck, Connecticut Offense: Accepting a kickback; 41 U.S.C. §§ 53 and 54

Sentence: May 7, 1993; District of Connecticut; two years’ probation and a $2,500 fine

George Thomas Harley Albuquerque, New Mexico Offense: Aiding and abetting the distribution of cocaine; 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), 18 U.S.C. § 2

Sentence: Nov. 30, 1984; District of New Mexico; nine years’ imprisonment; five years’ special parole

Patricia Ann Hultman Kane, Pennsylvania Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute cocaine and other controlled substances; 21 U.S.C. § 846

Sentence: Oct. 28, 1985; Western District of Pennsylvania; one year of imprisonment

Eric William Olson Ojai, California Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, possession with intent to distribute, possession, and use of hashish; U.C.M.J. Articles 81 and 134

Sentence: Feb. 21, 1984; United States Army general court-martial convened at Bamberg, Germany; confinement at hard labor for one year; reduction to pay grade E-1; forfeiture of all pay and allowances; bad conduct discharge

Thomas R. Reece Cumming, Georgia Offense: Violating the Internal Revenue Code pertaining to alcohol; 26 U.S.C. § 5681(c)

Sentence: May 2, 1969; Northern District of Georgia; one year’s imprisonment

Larry Gene Ross Indio, California Offense: Making false statements in a bank loan application; 18 U.S.C. § 1014

Sentence: Aug. 15, 1989; District of Wyoming; four years’ probation, $7,654.20 restitution

Jearld David Swanner Lexington, Oklahoma Offense: Making false statements in a bank loan application; 18 U.S.C. § 1005

Sentence: Dec. 6, 1991; Western District of Oklahoma; three years’ probation

James Walter Taylor McCrory, Arkansas Offense: Bank fraud; 18 U.S.C. § 1344

Sentence: Oct. 18, 1991; Eastern District of Arkansas; 90 days in jail, followed by two years and nine months’ probation

Janet Theone Upton Salinas, California Offense: Mail fraud; 18 U.S.C. § 1341

Sentence: May 23, 1975; District of Nevada; two years’ unsupervised probation

Phillip Anthony Emmert Washington, Iowa Offense: Conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, 21 U.S.C. § 846

Sentence: Dec. 23, 1992; Southern District of Iowa; 262 months’ imprisonment (as reduced on February 21, 1996); five years’ supervised release

Terms of commutation: Sentence of imprisonment to expire on Jan. 20, 2007; term of supervised release left intact and in effect.

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The advocacy group Judicial Watch released a list today of “Washington’s ‘Ten Most Corrupt Politicians’ for 2006.” In a final swipe at Republican leadership in the last Congress, the list, as acquired by RAW STORY, singles out more Republicans than Democrats.

Judicial Watch describes itself as “a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, [that] promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.”

This year, according to the group, six of the most corrupt Washington politicians were Republicans whose names are often identified with the scandals widely believed to have contributed to the Democratic victory in the November midterms: Lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-CA), Rep. Tom Delay (R-TX), Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL), Rep. Denny Hastert (R-IL), and Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH).

Of the four Democrats on the list, two—Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) and Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA)—are or have been targets of significant investigations and tainted by scandal.

But the other two—Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)—though accused by some of serious ethical breaches, are less-widely believed to be guilty of serious malfeasance.

The group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which serves as a more liberal counterpart to Judicial Watch, releases a similar list each year. At the end of this summer, they declared that three Democrats—Jefferson, Rep. Allan Molohan (D-WV), and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)—were among the “Most Corrupt Members of Congress.” That list named a total of 20 senators and congressmen.

Both groups include a sublist of a handful of operatives whose transgressions weren’t severe enough to make the official list.

Breaking with the trend of their official list, Judicial Watch placed six people on their list of “dishonorable mentions,” five of whom, including Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), are Democrats. Obama is included for engaging in a complicated, though seemingly legal, land deal with a South Chicago neighbor who has been indicted by a federal grand jury for influence peddling.

CREW’s list of “five members to watch” included only one Democrat: Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), who also appeared on Judicial Watch’s dishonorable catalog for being an “unindicted co-conspirator in the 1980 ‘Abscam’ scandal, which included the arrest and convictions of a senator and six congressmen.”

A link to CREW’s list is available here.

Judicial Watch’s release, obtained by RAW STORY, is available below.

Judicial Watch Announces List of Washington’s “Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians” for 2006

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, today released its 2006 list of Washington’s “Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians.” The list, in alphabetical order, includes:

Jack Abramoff, Former Lobbyist – Abramoff is at the center of a massive public corruption investigation by the Department of Justice that, in the end, could involve as many as a dozen members of Congress. Abramoff pleaded guilty to conspiracy, fraud and a host of other charges on January 3, 2006, and was sent to prison in November to serve a five-year, 10-month sentence for defrauding banks of $23 million in Florida in 2000.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) – In January 2006, Hillary Clinton’s fundraising operation was fined $35,000 by the Federal Election Commission for failing to accurately report more than $700,000 in contributions to Clinton’s Senate 2000 campaign. New information also surfaced in 2006 raising more questions about Hillary and her brother Anthony Rodham’s connection to the Clinton Pardongate scandal, where presidential pardons were allegedly traded in exchange for cash and other favors.

Former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-CA) – In November 2005, Cunningham pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud, and tax evasion. He was sentenced to 8 years, four months in prison and ordered to pay $1.8 million in restitution in March 2006.

Former Rep. Tom Delay (R-TX) – Tom DeLay, who was forced to step down from his position as House Majority Leader and then resign from Congress, decided in 2006 not to run for re-election. Congressman DeLay has been embroiled in a series of scandals from bribery to influence peddling, and was indicted twice by grand juries in Texas.

Former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) – Foley left the House in disgrace after news broke that he had been sending predatory homosexual emails to a House page. A recent House Ethics Committee report indicated that Republican leaders knew about Foley’s dangerous behavior, but failed to take action. Democrats, meanwhile, shopped the story to the press to influence the elections.

Outrageously, the Committee recommended no punishment for those involved.

Rep. Denny Hastert (R-IL) – In addition to mishandling the Foley scandal, outgoing House Speaker Dennis Hastert allowed House ethics process to ground to a halt on his watch. Gary Condit, Cynthia McKinney, William Jefferson, John Conyers, Tom Delay, Duke Cunningham, Jim McDermott, Patrick Kennedy are examples of alleged wrongdoers who faced little-to-no ethics enforcement in the House.

Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) – Hastings is one of only six federal judges to be removed from office through impeachment and has accumulated staggering liabilities ranging from $2,130,006 to $7,350,000. Hastings was “next in line” for Chairmanship of the House Select Committee on Intelligence until a wave of protest forced Nancy Pelosi to select another candidate. Nonetheless, Hastings is expected to continue to serve on the Intelligence Committee.

Rep. William “Dollar Bill” Jefferson (D-LA) – Jefferson is alleged to have accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to help broker high-tech business deals in Nigeria. According to press reports, he was also caught on tape discussing the deals, while an FBI search of his home uncovered $90,000 in cash stuffed in his freezer.

Former Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) – Ohio Republican Congressman Bob Ney resigned in early November 2006, three weeks after pleading guilty for accepting bribes from an Indian casino in exchange for legislative favors. Ney was the first congressman to be convicted of a crime in the web of scandals involving former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and is expected to serve a jail sentence.

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) – Senator Reid came under fire in 2006 for failing to properly report to Congress a $700,000 land deal. Reid also accepted more than $30,000 of Abramoff-tainted money allegedly in return for his ”cooperation” in matters related Nevada Indian gaming.

Dishonorable Mentions include:

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) – According to complaints released by the House Ethics Committee recently, aides to Representative John Conyers (D-MI) alleged their former boss repeatedly violated House ethics rules, forcing them to serve as his personal servants, valets, and as campaign staff while on the government payroll.

Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) – In May 2006, Kennedy crashed his car into a Capitol Hill barricade at nearly 3 a.m. in the morning. Kennedy blamed the incident on a reaction to prescription pills, but officers at the scene said he smelled of alcohol. Nonetheless, they escorted him home rather than arresting him.

Former Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) – McKinney assaulted a Capitol Hill police officer in April after refusing to go through a metal detector. While McKinney was never forced to answer in a court of law for her behavior, she lost her bid for re-election in 2006.

Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) – Iraq war critic John Murtha was incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s first choice for House Majority Leader despite the ethical skeletons in his closet. Murtha is an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1980 “Abscam” scandal, which included the arrest and convictions of a senator and six congressmen. Murtha, whose current ethics continue to be questioned, lost his bid for Majority Leader to Maryland Democrat Steny Hoyer.

Sen. Barak Obama (D-IL) – News reports surfaced in 2006 that Illinois Senator Barak Obama entered into an unusual land deal with a now-indicted political fundraiser, Tony Rezko. The complicated real estate transaction occurred when it was widely known that Rezko was under federal investigation in a political corruption scandal.

David Safavian, Former Bush Administration Official – Safavian, the former White House Chief of Procurement and former Chief of Staff for the General Services Administration, was indicted on September 19, 2006 on five counts of lying about his dealings with former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and obstructing a Senate investigation of his dealings. Safavian resigned from his White House position three days prior to his arrest.

“This list shows public corruption is endemic to our nation’s capital and that the anti-corruption work of Judicial Watch is needed more than ever,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The list could be much longer, as there are far too many politicians who abuse the public trust and place themselves above the law.”

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AP: Selective Service to test military draft machinery


The Selective Service—the federal agency that would be integral to any draft effort by the Bush administration—will perform tests on its system equipment, The Associated Press is reporting.

Selective Service “is planning a comprehensive test of the military draft machinery, which hasn’t been run since 1998,” writes Kasie Hunt. “The agency is not gearing up for a draft,” an agency official told Hunt, and “the test itself would not likely occur until 2009.”

Bush’s Secretary for Veterans Affairs, Jim Nicholson, meanwhile remarked that “society would benefit” should the draft return; he later issued a press release stating “he does not support reinstituting a draft.”

Fear among Americans of a military draft are rising as the situation in Iraq worsens. President Bush yesterday admitted for the first time that “the United States is not winning the war in Iraq” and said he is seeking expansion of U.S. armed forces.

The Associated Press article is available here.

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