Archive for June 18th, 2007

Evening Jukebox… River Of Dreams

by- Suzie-Q @ 8:56 PM MST

Billy Joel- River Of Dreams

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First Class Sacrifice, Second Class Care

by- Suzie-Q @ 4:41 PM MST

Physical, Mental Wounds of War Haunt Returning Soldiers

A presidential commission is investigating the physical and mental wounds of war, aiming to fix a system strained by complex injuries and battle stress. Army Spc. Jason Ehrhart, 21, from Dayton, Md., was wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq resulting in the amputation of his left foot, third degree burns over 60 percent of his body, and a brain injury which left him in a coma for three months. (Charles Dharapak/AP Photo)

Wounded Veteran Jason Estes, 21, waited at the door. He peered from his wheelchair into the proceedings of a presidential commission mandated to fix a patchwork healthcare system for Vets like him — severely injured servicemen and women who defy standard care formulas.

“There’s no question that there’s no system here for continuing care when there are complex wounds, both a combination of mental health and physical,” said the Commission Co-Chair Donna Shalala, the former Secretary of Health and Human Services during the Clinton administration.

Monday’s emotional family testimony underscored the Pentagon’s recent findings about the “woefully inadequate” mental healthcare services for the nearly 40 percent of soldiers, a third of Marines and half of the National Guard members who show symptoms of post traumatic stress disorders.

High numbers of traumatic brain injuries caused by shock waves emitted from improvised explosive devices common in Iraq and Afghanistan also add to the strain on the mental healthcare system.


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Bush Ignored Law After 30% Signing Statements

by- Suzie-Q @ 2:26 PM MST

The Government Accountability Office issued a report showing that US government agencies ignored Congressional legislation on 30% of the occasions when President George W. Bush issued a ‘presidential signing statement’ after signing bills into law. The report was released today by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Conyers slammed Bush’s use of signing statements, which he noted were far more frequent than any previous administration.

“The Administration is thumbing its nose at the law,” he said. “This study calls for an extensive review of these practices, something the Administration has so far refused to do.”

Senator Byrd agreed.

“The White House cannot pick and choose which laws it follows and which it ignores. When a president signs a bill into law, the president signs the entire bill. The Administration cannot be in the business of cherry picking the laws it likes and the laws it doesn’t,” the President Pro Tempore of the Senate said. “This GAO opinion underscores the fact that the Bush White House is constantly grabbing for more power, seeking to drive the people’s branch of government to the sidelines….We must continue to demand accountability and openness from this White House to counter this power grab.”

The GAO examined a sample of 19 specific provisions from fiscal year 2006 appropriations acts where Bush took exception with a signing statement. It found the laws passed by Congress were subsequently ignored about 30% of the time.


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Anthony @ 22:10 BST

As Democrats in the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform plow ahead with their investigation of the intelligence used by the Bush administration to build the case for the Iraq War, their Republican colleagues are attempting to up the ante. Last week, Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), the ranking minority member of the committee, alleged that former covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson had given false testimony and prepared to threaten her with a subpoena.

The Wilsons, who were not aware of the subpoena threat until contacted last week by RAW STORY, criticized the Republican effort in an exclusive statement.

“This is once again another frivolous attempt to go after Valerie Wilson, and distract from what’s really at issue,” said her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson through a spokesman.


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Anthony @ 21:43 BST

House investigators have learned that the Bush administration’s use of Republican National Committee email accounts is far greater than previously disclosed — 140,216 emails sent or received by Karl Rove alone — and that the RNC has overseen “extensive destruction” of many of the emails, including all email records for 51 White House officials.

For the last several months, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has been “investigating whether White House officials violated the Presidential Records Act” by using email accounts maintained by the RNC and the Bush-Cheney ‘04 campaign for official White House communications. Today’s findings confirm that the accounts were used “for official purposes, such as communicating with federal agencies about federal appointments and policies.” The report adds:

Given the heavy reliance by White House officials on RNC e-mail accounts, the high rank of the White House officials involved, and the large quantity of missing e-mails, the potential violation of the Presidential Records Act may be extensive.


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by- Suzie-Q @ 12:25 PM MST

A building close to the White House was evacuated says a breaking news report at the Associated Press.

“The evacuated building was the White House conference center, which is around the corner,” AP said of the facility cleared due to a ‘bomb scare.’ “The conference center temporarily houses the White House press corp during a renovation in the West wing.”

The AP report noted that the visit to Washington of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert resulted in stepped up security.

According to CNN, a dog in the K-9 units “smelled something suspicious” on an Israeli vehicle.



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Federal Prosecution Cases And US Attorney Scandal

by- Suzie-Q @ 12:16 PM MST

Defense lawyers in different cases are raising new questions about government prosecutors and potential political biases.

WASHINGTON — For months, the Justice Department and Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales have taken political heat for the purge of eight U.S. attorneys last year.

Now the fallout is starting to hit the department in federal courtrooms around the country.

Defense lawyers in a growing number of cases are raising questions about the motives of government lawyers who have brought charges against their clients. In court papers, they are citing the furor over the U.S. attorney dismissals as evidence that their cases may have been infected by politics.

Justice officials say those concerns are unfounded and constitute desperate measures by desperate defendants. But the affair has given defendants and their lawyers some new energy, which is complicating life for the prosecutors.

Missouri lawyers have invoked the controversy in challenging last year’s indictment of a company owned by a prominent Democrat, on suspicion of violating federal wage and hour laws. The indictment, which came two months after the owner announced that she was running for political office, was obtained by a Republican U.S. attorney who also has been criticized because he charged workers for a left-leaning political group on the eve of the 2006 midterm election.


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Cheney’s Office Running Failing Pakistan Policy

by- Suzie-Q @ 8:52 AM MST

The extremely close U.S. partnership with Pakistan’s General Musharraf has come under increasing scrutiny, as Musharraf continues to crack down on the country’s civil society and a new generation of al Qaeda leaders under Osama bin Laden have led a resurgence in Pakistan.

The Bush administration “has put itself in the embarrassing position of propping up the Muslim world’s most powerful military dictator as an essential ally in its half-baked campaign to promote democracy throughout the Muslim world,” the New York Times editorialized last week. “Washington needs to disentangle America, quickly, from the general’s damaging embrace.”

In yesterday’s Washington Post, respected Pakistan analyst Ahmed Rashid explained a key problem with current U.S. policy:

The problem is exacerbated by a dramatic drop-off in U.S. expertise on Pakistan. Retired American officials say that, for the first time in U.S. history, nobody with serious Pakistan experience is working in the South Asia bureau of the State Department, on State’s policy planning staff, on the National Security Council staff or even in Vice President Cheney’s office. Anne W. Patterson, the new U.S. ambassador to Islamabad, is an expert on Latin American “drugs and thugs”; Richard A. Boucher, the assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, is a former department spokesman who served three tours in Hong Kong and China but never was posted in South Asia. “They know nothing of Pakistan,” a former senior U.S. diplomat said.


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Blair knew US had no post-war plan for Iraq

Anthony @ 16:40 BST

· PM committed troops despite chaos fears
· Bush ‘offered to fight without UK’

Nicholas Watt, political editor
Sunday June 17, 2007
The Observer

Tony Blair agreed to commit British troops to battle in Iraq in the full knowledge that Washington had failed to make adequate preparations for the postwar reconstruction of the country.

In a devastating account of the chaotic preparations for the war, which comes as Blair enters his final full week in Downing Street, key No 10 aides and friends of Blair have revealed the Prime Minister repeatedly and unsuccessfully raised his concerns with the White House.

He also agreed to commit troops to the conflict even though President George Bush had personally said Britain could help ‘some other way’.

The disclosures, in a two-part Channel 4 documentary about Blair’s decade in Downing Street, will raise questions about Blair’s public assurances at the time of the war in 2003 that he was satisfied with the post-war planning. In one of the most significant interviews in the programme, Peter Mandelson says that the Prime Minister knew the preparations were inadequate but said he was powerless to do more.

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by- Suzie-Q @ 8:39 AM MST

Part One: Criminality and Immorality

I. Criminality

According to Article VI of our U.S. Constitution, treaties entered into by the United States become the “Supreme Law of the Land.” At the urging of President Harry Truman, on July 28, 1945, the U.S. Senate ratified the United Nations Charter by a vote of 89 to 2, with 5 abstentions. Thus the UN Charter became the supreme law of the land. And, thus, the United States was legally prohibited from waging war unless attacked, unless an attack was imminent, or unless the United Nations approved such a war.

Not for the first time, but most egregiously, did a President of the United States violate both his oath to uphold the Constitution and international law when President Bush ordered the unprovoked invasion of Iraq. Unbeknownst to the American public at the time, criminal plans for removing Saddam Hussein not only dominated the early 2001 meetings of Bush’s National Security Council, they also crowded out time and attention that would have been better spent attempting to thwart the impending terrorist attacks by al Qaeda terrorists — about which the Bush/Cheney regime had been frequently warned.

Why the obsession with Iraq? Credit the decade-old drumbeat for war by America’s neoconservatives. Then, like cockroaches, they literally infested the newly installed Bush/Cheney regime. Thus, it became an article of faith – explicitly expressed during the NSC meetings in early 2001 — that regime change in Iraq would reshape the Middle East and, thus, enhance Israel’s security and strengthen America’s ability to leverage the region’s oil.


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