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Archive for August 1st, 2007

by- Suzie-Q @ 3:10 PM MST

As Nicole pointed out yesterday, Larry King tells Wolf Blitzer that he asked the Vice President whether he was involved in the decision to send Alberto Gonzales and Andy Card to John Ashcroft’s bedside to pressure him into certifying the legally dubious “Terrorist Surveillance Program,” otherwise known as the Illegal Spying Program.

KING: In that regard, The New York Times — which, as you said, is not your favorite — reports it was you who dispatched Gonzales and Andy Card to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft’s hospital in 2004 to push Ashcroft to certify the President’s intelligence-gathering program. Was it you?

CHENEY: I don’t recall — first of all, I haven’t seen the story. And I don’t recall that I gave instructions to that effect.

KING: That would be something you would recall.

CHENEY: I would think so.

Notice the Veep’s awkward body language when answering King’s question. Cheney is rarely off his game like that. Hmm… Discuss.

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Cheney- I Don’t Recall

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by- Suzie-Q @ 2:40 PM MST

New documents turned over to Congressional investigators Wednesday show that a White House official echoed a message from the office of Senator Pete Domenici to the Justice Department seeking the installation of a new ‘team’ in New Mexico’s US Attorneys office.

“[Steve Bell, Chief of Staff to Senator Pete Domenici] mentioned he had chatted with you today about his request for a non-partisan team that specializes in corruption to be sent down to New Mexico,” wrote Andrea Becker Looney, then the Special Assistant to the President in the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, in a Dec. 21, 2006 e-mail to William Moschella, a top Justice Department official.

Domenici is currently under investigation by a Senate ethics watchdog for appearing to interfere with a public corruption investigation that David Iglesias, former US Attorney to New Mexico, was engaged in last Fall. Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) also contacted Iglesias, but no ethics charges have been brought against her in the House.

Iglesias was asked to step down on Dec. 7, and formally resigned in 2007.

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How Rumsfeld paved the way for Blackwater

by Geezer Power …2:35 PM PDT

At war with the Pentagon

Guardian August 1, 2007

The world was a very different place on September 10 2001, when Donald Rumsfeld stepped on to the podium at the Pentagon to deliver one of his first major addresses as defense secretary under President George W Bush. For most Americans, there was no such thing as al-Qaida, and Saddam Hussein was still the president of Iraq. Rumsfeld had served in the post once before – under President Gerald Ford, from 1975 to 1977 – and he returned to the job in 2001 with ambitious visions. That September day, in the first year of the Bush administration, Rumsfeld addressed the Pentagon officials in charge of overseeing the high-stakes business of defence contracting – managing the Halliburtons, DynCorps and Bechtels. The secretary stood before a gaggle of former corporate executives from Enron, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics and Aerospace Corporation whom he had tapped as his top deputies at the department of defense, and he issued a declaration of war.

“The topic today is an adversary that poses a threat, a serious threat, to the security of the United States of America,” Rumsfeld thundered. “This adversary is one of the world’s last bastions of central planning. It governs by dictating five-year plans. From a single capital, it attempts to impose its demands across time zones, continents, oceans and beyond. With brutal consistency, it stifles free thought and crushes new ideas. It disrupts the defence of the United States and places the lives of men and women in uniform at risk.”

Pausing briefly for dramatic effect, Rumsfeld – himself a veteran cold warrior – told his new staff, “Perhaps this adversary sounds like the former Soviet Union, but that enemy is gone: our foes are more subtle and implacable today. You may think I’m describing one of the last decrepit dictators of the world. But their day, too, is almost past, and they cannot match the strength and size of this adversary. The adversary’s much closer to home. It’s the Pentagon bureaucracy.”

Rumsfeld called for a wholesale shift in the running of the Pentagon, supplanting the old department of defense bureaucracy with a new model, one based on the private sector. The problem, Rumsfeld said, was that unlike businesses, “governments can’t die, so we need to find other incentives for bureaucracy to adapt and improve.” The stakes, he declared, were dire – “a matter of life and death, ultimately, every American’s.”

That day, Rumsfeld announced a major initiative to streamline the use of the private sector in the waging of America’s wars and predicted his initiative would meet fierce resistance. “Some might ask, ‘How in the world could the secretary of defense attack the Pentagon in front of its people?'” Rumsfeld told his audience. “To them I reply, I have no desire to attack the Pentagon; I want to liberate it. We need to save it from itself.”

The next morning, the Pentagon would literally be attacked as American Airlines Flight 77 – a Boeing 757 – smashed into its western wall. Rumsfeld would famously assist rescue workers in pulling bodies from the rubble. But it didn’t take long for him to seize the almost unthinkable opportunity presented by 9/11 to put his personal war on the fast track.

· An extract from Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army (published by Serpent’s Tail, price £12.99). © 2007 Jeremy Scahill. To order a copy for £11.99 with free UK p&p go to guardian.co.uk/bookshop or call 0870 836 0875.

The rest of the story

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Will Bush Cancel The 2008 Election?

Sudhan@22:00 CET

August 1st, 2007 ·

 

decider.png

By Harvey Wasserman & Bob Fitrakis

It is time to think about the “unthinkable.”

The Bush Administration has both the inclination and the power to cancel the 2008 election.

The GOP strategy for another electoral theft in 2008 has taken clear shape, though we must assume there is much more we don’t know.

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by- Suzie-Q @ 12:00 PM MST

Last night, during his interview with Larry King, Vice President Cheney claimed that “the reports I’m hearing, from people whose views I respect, indicate that the Petraeus plan is in fact producing results.”

On Anderson Cooper’s show later in the evening, CNN Baghdad correspondent Michael Ware, who spoke live on a night scope camera while embedded with troops responded to “the vice president’s evaluation” of progress in Iraq, calling it “sleight of hand.” “Yeah, sectarian violence is down, but let’s have a look at that,” said Ware. “More than two million people have fled this country. 50,000 are still fleeing every month, according to the United Nations. So there’s less people to be killed. And those who stay, increasingly are in ethnically-cleansed neighborhoods. They’ve been segregated.”

“There is still no sense of unity. And without America to act as the big baby sitter, this thing is not going to last.”

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by- Suzie-Q @ 10:23 AM MST

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) revealed in a Wednesday hearing that Lieutenant General Philip Kensinger, who was censured Tuesday by the Army for deceiving investigators regarding the announcement of the death of Army Specialist Pat Tillman, has evaded a subpoena issued by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

“General Kensinger refused to appear today,” Chairman Waxman said in his opening statement. “His attorney informed the committee that General Kensinger would not testify voluntarily, and if issued a subpoena would seek to evade service. The committee did issue a subpoena to General Kensinger earlier this week, but US Marshals have been unable to locate or serve him.”

The announcement came at the start of a hearing on the friendly fire death of Tillman, an NFL player who joined the Army after the 9/11 attacks. At the time, Tillman’s example was highlighted by the Bush administration to praise the heroism of Americans voluntarily fighting in the ‘Global War on Terrorism’ before fratricide was revealed to be the cause of his death. Wednesday’s hearing focused on what Defense Department officials knew about the cause of Tillman’s death.

The hearing included testimony from ex-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, appearing in this public setting for the first time since his November 2006 resignation. Rumsfeld had told the committee he would not appear before the committee until late Tuesday night when he changed his schedule.

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by- Suzie-Q @ 9:33 AM MST

At least 73 U.S. troops are reported to have died in Iraq this past month. The numbers are a decline from the all-time highs of 108, 131, and 117 from the previous three months.

Media reports herald the statistics as encouraging and as demonstrating “steady progress” in Iraq. Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno said that the lower death toll was a “positive sign.”

According to icasualties.org, at least 3,653 U.S. troops have died in the 53 months that the war has been going on — a per monthly rate of nearly 69 U.S. troop casualties. Thus, the current month’s total still exceeds the average monthly casualty rate of the entire war.

Moreover, 73 is also greater than the average monthly casualty rate of each of the first four years of the war. A look at the monthly U.S. casualty rates over each of these years:

YEAR CASUALITY
RATE
2004 70.8 per month
2005 70.5 per month
2006 68.5 per month
2007 92.9 per month

Statistics compiled from icasualties.org

The AP notes that “the daily average for U.S. troop deaths in July was at least 2.35 — higher than the daily average of 2.25 last year, and remarkably consistent with average daily casualties in 2005, at 2.32, and 2004, at 2.33.”

While U.S. troop casualties have fallen, reports indicate Iraqi deaths are rising again in Baghdad to pre-surge levels.

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