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Archive for February 8th, 2008

Bush: “McCain Will Best Carry Out My Agenda”

By- Suzie-Q @ 9:15 PM MST

Bush: McCain will best carry out my agenda

On Fox News today, Time’s Mark Halperin said, “The President behind the scenes has told people for months that he thought McCain would be the nominee. Even during some of those dark periods he still thought he could win. And also that McCain would be the best to carry forth his agenda.”

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Evening Jukebox… Dream Weaver

By- Suzie-Q @ 9:00 PM MST


Gary Wright – Dream Weaver

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Washington Must Act: IAVA’s 2008 Legislative Agenda

By Paul Rieckhoff @ 03:47 PM (EST)

BIO

After six years of war, it is our country’s moral obligation to provide real support for our troops and veterans. Our military is being tested like never before, while our veterans lack timely and sufficient health care and benefits. This generation of warriors is also facing new and unique problems, from Traumatic Brain Injury and alarming rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to inadequate educational benefits and multiple, extended deployments. To meet this need, IAVA has released our annual Legislative Agenda. Our 2008 Legislative Agenda covers the entire warfighting cycle – before, during and after deployment – offering sound policy solutions to the most urgent problems facing America’s newest generation of veterans and their families.

The cornerstone of our 2008 Legislation Agenda is a new GI Bill. After World War II, nearly eight million servicemembers took advantage of GI Bill education benefits. A veteran of WWII was entitled to free tuition, books and a living stipend that completely covered the cost of education. Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, however, receive only a fraction of the support offered to the Greatest Generation. For many, the burden of student loans and mounting debt can simply become too great.

Today we have the opportunity to renew our social contract with our servicemen and women, and help rebuild our military. IAVA supports reinstating a World War II-style GI Bill that will cover the true cost of education and will fairly reward all combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Critics have said the GI Bill is too expensive. The fact is a new GI Bill would be a bargain. The current GI Bill cost the Veterans’ Affairs Department $1.6 billion in 2004. Even if a World War II-style GI Bill were to double that cost, it would be about what we spend in a week in the War on Terror. And the GI Bill is more than a veterans’ benefit. It is also an effective tool to stimulate the economy and to improve military readiness. Above all, a World War II -style GI Bill would thank this generation of combat veterans for their service and their sacrifice.

Everyone from Hillary Clinton to Mitt Romney has said the current GI Bill is outdated. It’s critical that we pass a new GI Bill that actually pays for the cost of college. Today’s troops deserve the same educational benefits World War II veterans received. We need less talk and more action from lawmakers on this vital issue, and we look forward to meeting with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to get a new GI Bill passed this year.

For the next few weeks, IAVA will be bringing this message to Washington. Starting the week of February 11th, IAVA veterans from across the country will storm Capitol Hill to urge Senators and Representatives to support key legislation for veterans. We hope you will join us.

Cross Posted at Huffington Post

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Waterboarding Done By Contractors…

By- Suzie-Q @ 12:15 PM MST

WSJ: Contractors Likely Involved in Waterboarding

There’s still plenty to learn. From The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.):

The CIA’s secret interrogation program has made extensive use of outside contractors, whose role likely included the waterboarding of terrorist suspects, according to testimony yesterday from the CIA director and two other people familiar with the program.

Many of the contractors involved aren’t large corporate entities but rather individuals who are often former agency or military officers. However, large corporations also are involved, current and former officials said. Their identities couldn’t be learned….

According to two current and former intelligence officials, the use of contracting at the CIA’s secret sites increased quickly in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, in part because the CIA had little experience in detentions and interrogation. Using nongovernment employees also helped maintain a low profile, they said.

The use of contractors continues, CIA Director Michael Hayden has admitted. That led Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to ask Attorney General Michael Mukasey for an answer as to whether it is legal for contractors to employ “enhanced interrogation techniques,” a question he said he didn’t know the answer to during the hearing last week. That letter is below.

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Martial Law: Is It Coming Soon?

By- Suzie-Q @ 11:45 AM MST

FBI program alleged to prepare businesses for martial law

A public-private partnership program on infrastructure preparedness and protection run by the Federal Bureau of Investigation allegedly has briefed its corporate members on the possibility of martial law and the use of lethal force, according to an exclusive report in the magazine The Progressive.

“One business owner in the United States tells me that InfraGard members are being advised on how to prepare for a martial law situation—and what their role might be,” writes Matthew Rothschild in the Feb. 7 report, quoting an anonymous whistleblower on the program. “‘Then they said when—not if—martial law is declared, it was our responsibility to protect our portion of the infrastructure, and if we had to use deadly force to protect it, we couldn’t be prosecuted,’ he says.”

Rothschild’s report details InfraGard, a program set up between the FBI and a number of businesses engaged in maintaining elements of “critical national infrastructure,” such as agriculture, banking and finance, the chemical industry, defense, energy, food, information and telecommunications, law enforcement, public health, and transportation. The program’s 23,000-plus members provide information to the FBI and in turn receive privileged information from the FBI on threats to infrastructure.

In one case, Rothschild expalined, InfraGard members appeared to get details on a threat to California’s bridges prior to then-Gov. Gray Davis. The California governor was informed by his brother Barry, a banker, of the danger potentially faced by the state’s residents.

“I was on the phone with my brother, who is an investment banker. And if he knows, why shouldn’t the public know?” Davis’ former press secretary Steve Maviglio quotes the governor as saying, according to Rothschild.

The FBI called accusations of deputizing businesses to shoot-to-kill in emergency situations “ridiculous.”

“If you want to quote a businessperson saying that, knock yourself out. If that’s what you want to print, fine,” a spokeswoman for the bureau told Rothschild.

The full article can be read at the Progressive’s website.

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Scotland Yard: Bhutto killed by bomb, not bullet

by Geezer Power …11:43 am

What with the upcoming elections in Pakistan on Feb. 18th the time honored institution has came up with an astounding conclusion for the Bhutto murder investigation. Who’s to say that there is a cover-up going on when the reputation of people like Sherlock Holmes is on the line?

Benazir Bhutto at the moment of Death

~VIDEO LINK~

Bhutto report stirs political hornets’ nest

British detectives have earned little gratitude in Pakistan for their report into the death of Benazir Bhutto, writes Declan Walsh

Declan Walsh in Lahore
Friday February 8, 2008
Guardian Unlimited

Today’s keenly awaited Scotland Yard report casts some clarity on the manner of Benazir Bhutto’s death but does nothing to answer the more essential question: who ordered the assassination?

The narrowness of the British findings come as no surprise: under the terms of reference agreed by both governments the detectives were working in an investigative straitjacket.

And as they fly home in the coming days the British detectives may find their toil has earned them little gratitude in Pakistan and has instead stirred a political hornets’ nest in which they stand accused of lending credibility to a controversial investigation.

The recriminations erupted within minutes of the publication of the report when Bhutto’s party issued an immediate rejection. Their leader died from a bullet, a spokesman said, and not a bomb blast as the British detectives claimed.

The controversy injects a fresh element into a political arena already pumped with trauma after Bhutto’s death, anger at Musharraf, and a generous dose of conspiracy theories.

“This report does little else other than compromise the credibility of Scotland Yard,” said Ali Dayan Hasan of Human Rights Watch.

Fear grips Pakistan as election approaches

CNN February 7, 2008

The parliamentary elections in Pakistan are scheduled for February 18, less than two weeks away. But attendance at rallies has plummeted. People openly admit fear is keeping then from participating. And politicians voice concern about their own safety.

“It is of paramount importance that the political leadership is sensitized about the looming threat and asked to adopt a security conscious approach,” said Brigadier Javed Iqbal Cheema, the spokesman for the Interior Ministry.

His advice to political leaders: Avoid unnecessary public exposure.

Since Bhutto’s death, political leaders have heeded the suggestion, albeit reluctantly.

Rallies and marches that normally draw tens of thousands of supporters — once a staple of Pakistani politics — have all but disappeared.

In this climate, voters turn to Pakistan’s media to fill the void. But freedom of expression has become another casualty of the permeating fear.

“Anything seen to be critical of the government [is] likely to land the channel in trouble,” said Talat Hussein, an anchor for private television channel Aaj TV.

Aaj and other stations were yanked off the air when President Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency rule last year. The government later allowed them to resume broadcast but only after they agreed to a mandatory code of conduct. Among other stipulations, the stations are now banned from live broadcasts — political or not.

Late Wednesday, Hussein’s show was again indefinitely pulled off the air after it aired a segment on Bhutto’s assassination.

Bu$h Lite on video one month ago…

~VIDEO LINK~

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Waterboarding: Is It Legal Or Illegal?

By- Suzie-Q @ 11:15 AM MST

Today’s Must Read

If the Bush Administration has taught us anything, it’s that “torture” is in the eye of the beholder. It’s the singular truth behind the repeated proclamations that “we do not torture.”The recent PR offensive has employed the same legerdemain. Administration officials have been making public statements about the use of waterboarding based on the same set of facts for the past week. But a simple shift in emphasis leads to a different headline.Take, for instance, CIA Director Michael Hayden’s testimony before the House intelligence committee yesterday. The New York Times proclaims “C.I.A. Chief Doubts Tactic to Interrogate Is Still Legal.” The AP goes with “CIA Boss: Waterboarding May Be Illegal.”Here’s what Hayden said, in response to a question of whether waterboarding was a “prohibited technique”:

HAYDEN: It’s not a technique that I’ve asked for. It is not included in the current program. And in my own view, the view of my lawyers and the Department of Justice, it is not certain that that technique would be considered to be lawful under current statute.

Now, Hayden could have simply said “yes.” But “yes” would not have been the right answer, exactly. Because what Hayden is saying is really no different from what Attorney General Michael Mukasey has testified: that waterboarding could possibly be used in certain pressing circumstances (the Jack Bauer scenario), but that in order for it to be used, the CIA would first have to ask for it, then the Justice Department would have to determine whether it’s legal, and then the President would have to sign off on it.

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