Archive for August 12th, 2008

By- Suzie-Q @ 5:30 PM MST

Iraq Contracts Have Cost Taxpayers At Least $85 Billion Since Invasion

KIMBERLY HEFLING | August 12, 2008 06:05 PM EST | AP

WASHINGTON — Military contracts in the Iraq theater have cost taxpayers at least $85 billion, and when it comes to providing security, they might not be any cheaper than using military personnel, according to a report released Tuesday.

The Congressional Budget Office report comes on the heels of increased scrutiny of contractors in the last year, some of whom have been investigated in connection with shooting deaths of Iraqis and the accidental electrocutions of U.S. troops.

The United States has relied more heavily on contractors in Iraq than in any other war to provide services ranging from food service to guarding diplomats. About 20 percent of funding for operations in Iraq has gone to contractors, the report said.

Currently, there are at least 190,000 contractors in Iraq, a ratio of about one contractor per U.S. service member, the report says.

The study does not include monetary figures for 2008, so the total paid to contractors for work in the Iraq theater since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 is probably much higher. If spending for contractors continues at about the same rate, by the end of the year, an estimated $100 billion will have been paid to military contractors for operations in Iraq.

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., chairman of the Senate budget committee, which requested the CBO review, said the Bush administration’s reliance on military contractors has set a dangerous precedent.

The use of contractors “restricts accountability and oversight; opens the door to corruption and abuse; and, in some instances, may significantly increase the cost to American taxpayers,” Conrad said in a statement.

The death of a Green Beret from Pittsburgh, Sgt. Ryan Maseth, who was electrocuted in January while showering in Iraq, prompted a House committee oversight hearing last month into whether contractor KBR Inc. has properly handled the electrical work at bases it is tasked with maintaining. The military has also said that five other deaths were due to improperly installed or maintained electrical devices, according to a congressional report.


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anthony @ 00:31 BST

Russ Wellen | Scholars and Rogues | August 11, 2008

Today we visit Vincent Bugliosi’s book, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. Tomorrow we visit Vincent Bugliosi himself as he talks about his appearance before the House Judiciary Committee appearance and his book.

As you may have heard by now, the mainstream media has been giving Vincent Bugliosi’s latest book, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, the cold shoulder. Never mind that he authored what was, at the time, the bestselling crime book in history, Helter Skelter, about his successful prosecution of the Manson family. Nor that he’s written numerous bestsellers since. His 2007 book, Reclaiming History, a 1,600-page attempt to dispel alternative histories of the Kennedy assassination, is being made into a mini-series by HBO and Tom Hanks.

In the only mainstream media article addressing The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder and its reception, New York Times reporter Tim Arango writes: “The editor of Newsweek, Jon Meacham, said he had not read the manuscript, but he offered a reason why the media might be silent: ‘I think there’s a kind of Bush-bashing fatigue out there.’”

The main reason though may be Bugliosi’s agenda: Impeach Bush? Convene a truth and reconciliation commission for him and his gang? Forget all that. Once Bush is out of office, let’s drag his butt into a court of law. But the media’s perception that much of the public can’t conceive of prosecuting a president in a court of law is probably accurate.

Most Americans are too invested in whatever remains of the myth of the presidency and fear that a trial would subvert a president’s authority. Besides, as Bugliosi himself said in an interview with the Nation, “Americans just can’t believe an American President would engage in conduct that smacks of such criminality, and thus the whole notion of taking the President to court for murder is a revolutionary one.” (more…)

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BP Closes Down The Georgian Pipeline!

GEF @ 6:58 PM ET

BP shuts down Georgia pipelines

Energy giant BP says it has shut two of three pipelines that run through Georgia as a precautionary measure.

A spokeswoman for the firm said the oil and gas pipelines, which run from the Caspian Sea into Georgia, had not been damaged by the recent fighting.

The oil pipeline, which BP owns as part of a consortium, can carry up to 90,000 barrels of oil per day.

Another key oil pipeline, which runs from Azerbaijan through southern Georgia into Turkey, is already shut.

The closure comes as the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned that the conflict posed a threat to key oil and gas pipelines that pass through Georgia.

Renewed flows through Georgia could be further delayed if the line is damaged during the Russia-Georgia conflict

The IEA said that Georgia was of strategic importance to energy markets but that so far oil prices “had not been materially affected”.

BP said it had closed the Western Route Export Pipeline (WREP), which runs from Baku on the Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan to the Georgian Black Sea port of Supsa, this morning.

It has also stopped pumping gas into the South Caucasus pipeline, which runs from the Caspian Sea, through Georgia, into Turkey, although BP said gas will continue to run through the line for another seven days.


The larger Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline has been closed since early August following an explosion on the eastern Turkish section of the line. The current conflict could also delay its reopening, scheduled for September.

It is the world’s second-largest pipeline and runs from Azerbaijan through southern Georgia into Turkey. It can transport up to 1.2 million barrels of oil a day.

“Renewed flows through Georgia could be further delayed if the line is damaged during the Russia-Georgia conflict,” the IEA said in its monthly report.

It added that the outage and the eruption of hostilities highlighted the potentially precarious nature of pipeline energy supplies in the region.

BP has a 30% stake in the BTC pipeline.

It had been hoped that transporting oil through the region would make the West less dependent on supplies from Russia.

Figures released by the IEA later in the day showed the sharpest drop in demand for US crude oil in 26 years, sending the price of oil down to $113 a barrel.

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fyi- or why things in this country won’t change

h/t to blue gal

i researched presidential campaigning and how to get on ballots in all 50 states- back when hubby entertained the idea of running. and no, i am not joking- he was fairly serious. i convinced him it wasn’t worth it when i saw the way the world was heading. anyhoo, i don’t intend to vote for ralph nader but that doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t be allowed into the debates. there was much talk during the primaries about how orderly it all seemed- and how oh what’s the word i am looking for? pre-ordained. there’s a reason for that. and this video could not make it any clearer. folks, there isn’t any reason for people to feign ignorance. we know exactly what is going on and exactly what is going to happen in this country and around the world. there are some in the minority who have been piecing things together and the puzzle is pretty much done. it isn’t a very pretty picture and i am afraid that many in america- adults included- are going to have to grow up pretty quick.

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By- Suzie-Q @ 12:40 PM MST

McCain flubs the name of Georgian President three times

Think Progress- By Faiz at 2:58 pm

The McCain camp has been proud to note the Senator’s close ties to the President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili. Randy Scheunemann, McCain’s foreign policy aide, boasted “McCain and the Georgian leader rode jet skis together” while visiting his presidential villa on the Black Sea. McCain even nominated Saakashvili for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. But in a speech yesterday, McCain mispronounced his name three times. Stephen Hayes, editor of the Weekly Standard, defended McCain by saying “he knows the players even if he mispronounces the name.”

Watch a compilation: VIDEO

As Matt Duss at the Wonk Room has noted, McCain’s close affiliation with the Georgian President would impair his ability to be an honest broker in dealing with the conflict. And Matt Yglesias notes that McCain’s rhetorical bluster does nothing to actually help Georgia.

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Afternoon Jukebox… Whip It

By- Suzie-Q @ 12:30 PM MST

Devo – Whip It

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anthony @ 19:37 BST

Scott Ritter:

The Bush administration has built a new generation of nuclear weapons that we call ‘usable’ nukes, and they have a nuclear ‘posture’ now, which permits the use of nuclear weapons in a non-nuclear environment if the Commander in Chief deems U.S forces to be at significant risk. If we start bombing Iran (I tell you now it’s not going to work). My concern is that we will use nuclear weapons to break the backbone of Iranian resistance and it may not work, but what it will do is this. It will unleash the nuclear genie. So to all those Americans out there tonight who are saying, you know what, taking on Iran is a good thing… . And if we use nuclear weapons, the genie ain’t going back in the bottle until an American city is taken out by an Islamic weapon in retaliation. So tell me, you want to go to war against Iran, pick your city. Pick your city. Tell me which one you want gone. Seattle? L.A.? Boston? New York? Miami? Pick one! Because at least one’s going. And that’s something we should all think about before marching down this path of insanity.

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You Can’t Expect More Than What You Pay For…

By- Suzie-Q @ 7:30 AM MST

You Get What You Pay For

Huffington Post- Thomas B. Edsall

August 11, 2008 08:54 PM

They are the loyal troops of the conservative revolution, at least 2,824 of them, almost all of them elderly, their 65th birthdays an increasingly distant memory — men and women who were middle-aged when Ronald Reagan was first elected California Governor in 1966.

Recently these Americans reached for their checkbooks in response to an undated letter signed by Michael Reagan, the son of the former president, who sent the following message on ‘The Republican Presidential Elections Committee’ letterhead:

Do you believe in a strong national defense?

Do you believe in smaller government and lower taxes, instead of a massive overblown federal bureaucracy that endlessly gobbles your tax dollars?

Do you believe in strong, honorable, courageous leadership in the War on Terror?

I think I know your answer — but these are the critical issues that are at stake in Election 2008.

This is what separates John McCain from the Democrats….

Your contribution will help me and the R.P.E.C. be more effective at disseminating the Republican message and supporting John McCain for President.

This letter was in fact from the Legacy Committee Political Action Committee and similar to solicitations from its sister organization, the National Campaign Fund. Together the two PACs have raised at least $1.66 million (in contributions ranging from $1 to $5,000) — not a bad chunk of change for an independent expenditure drive.

In a fundraising mailing from the National Campaign Fund sent shortly before July 4, prospective donors were told:

For months now, Obama and his pals in the liberal media have been attacking John McCain. They’ve been attacking his policies. They’ve been impugning his conservative record. And the pundits are eating it up! They are predicting a sweep for Obama!We can’t allow this to happen, my friend. We can’t let the Democrats destroy a man who has spent a lifetime honoring our country. We can’t let them defeat a man who spent five Independence Days in captivity, being tortured and starved. John McCain knows the meaning and importance of freedom….

Please help me honor our country today by doing three things: 1. Proudly display your American flag in a place of honor in your home; 2. Sign the Independence Day Certificate of Commitment, promising to help me work to elect John McCain to the White House this year; 3. Rush your signed certificate back to me along with your maximum contribution to the National Campaign Fund.

The PACs are the work of two men, Floyd Brown — whose Willie Horton ads won fame 20 years ago helping defeat Michael S. Dukakis; and James V. Lacy, one of the co-founders of Howard Jarvis’ Taxpayer Association, the driving force behind California’s 1978 Proposition 13, and a board member of such groups as the American Conservative Union and the Young America Foundation.

Most of the direct mail fundraising for the two PACs has been performed by a collection of five companies run by Ron Kanfer, who, two decades ago, helped raise money to pay for the 1988 Willie Horton ads.


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anthony @ 14:17 BST

In this image made from television, Russian military vehicles are seen moving towards the capital of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali, on Friday, Aug. 8, 2008. (AP / APTN)

In this image made from television, Russian military vehicles are seen moving towards the capital of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali, on Friday, Aug. 8, 2008. (AP / APTN)

Michel Chossudovsky | Global Research, August 10, 2008

During the night of August 7, coinciding with the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, Georgia’s president Saakashvili ordered an all-out military attack on Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia.

The aerial bombardments and ground attacks were largely directed against civilian targets including residential areas, hospitals and the university. The provincial capital Tskhinvali was destroyed. The attacks resulted in some 1500 civilian deaths, according to both Russian and Western sources. “The air and artillery bombardment left the provincial capital without water, food, electricity and gas. Horrified civilians crawled out of the basements into the streets as fighting eased, looking for supplies.” (AP, August 9, 2008). According to reports, some 34,000 people from South Ossetia have fled to Russia. (Deseret Morning News, Salt Lake City, August 10, 2008)

The importance and timing of this military operation must be carefully analyzed. It has far-reaching implications.

Georgia is an outpost of US and NATO forces, on the immediate border of the Russian Federation and within proximity of the Middle East Central Asian war theater. South Ossetia is also at the crossroads of strategic oil and gas pipeline routes.

Georgia does not act militarily without the assent of Washington. The Georgian head of State is a US proxy and Georgia is a de facto US protectorate.

Who is behind this military agenda? What interests are being served? What is the purpose of the military operation.

There is evidence that the attacks were carefully coordinated by the US military and NATO.


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