Pleonexia: Beyond Hubris

Monday, February 27, 2006

US Coast Guard Warns Bush Administration of "potential for DPW or P&O assets to support terrorist". What's Really Going On Here?

The Associated Press is reporting that the US Coast Guard, sighting US Intelligence reports, can not determine the threat status posed by the deal to turn over up to 21 US shipping port operations. This undated document points out gaps in intelligence information and flies in the face of the Bush administrations assertion that they fully vetted the deal and found no national security issues.

"The breadth of the intelligence gaps" the document sights, "also infer potential unknown threats against a large number of potential vulnerabilities," inferring that it could lay open more than just our ports to potential attack. Liz Sidoti from the AP states that, "The document raised questions about the security of the companies' operations, the backgrounds of all personnel working for the companies, and whether other foreign countries influenced operations that affect security."

This is the same argument that many on both sides of the political divide have made in the past two week, and exactly what administration insiders have been trying to suppress with accusations of bigotry and fear mongering directed at the Presidents political opponents.

In the past few days, GOP officials have begun to cautiously back the deal under the political cover of the recent announcement by DPW that it will postpone the deal for 45 days to allow for a full background investigation. But, Democrats, and some Republicans still are not satisfied due to the secretive process in which this extended investigation will be conducted. Senator Chuck Schumer had called the postponement, “a significant step forward”, but when on to say that he would continue to push legislation that "will not only pass, but pass by a veto-proof margin".

With the revelation of this new Coast Guard threat assessment regarding the handover of US ports to a company wholly owned by a foreign government who's officials have been identified by the 9/11 Commission as hunting partners and possible financial backers of Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, questions arise as to what the administration's true motives are in pushing this deal through. Is this simply the Bush administration repaying a political ally for their logistical support in the Iraq War and the so call "War on Terror"? If so, how could the President have not been aware of the deal until February 16th, five days after the deal was approved by CFIUS? How could CFIUS have approved the deal if it was only announced on February 11th? Where's the 30 days they claim? What is really going on here?

Much hay has been made by opponents of this deal that the UAE was one of only three countries that recognized the Taliban regime. Until now, I have refrained from using this argument because I had long believed, as was verified by James Zogby on CNN Saturday February 25th, that the UAE recognized the Taliban at the request of the United States, a favor.

The reason for this has, to date, not been discussed in the media. The United Arab Emirates was requested to recognize the Taliban during the negotiations for the Unocal Pipeline deal. It was a method of backdoor diplomacy used by the oil industry (Halliburton, Chevron, and Unocal)while the Congress and the Clinton administration were assessing whether we could influence the Taliban to improve their human rights record so that the pipeline could be implemented. This was the doing of Cheney, Rice, Khalizad, and Kharzi, all Bush administration officials and political allies. But in a neo-classic example of geo-petrol-politics, when the Taliban turned down the deal, the UAE continued it's diplomatic ties with them, even after it was obvious that their "welcomed guests" orchestrated the attacks on 9/11.

In Bush's first State of the Union address after 9/11, he firmly warned countries that "you’re either with us, or you’re with the terrorists". But, as anybody following the "war on Terror" knows, A Q Khan used Dubai's ports as a shipping hub for his nuclear black market. Then there is the issue of the UAE's support of Hamas, the Palestinian Group designated as a "terrorist organization" by the Bush administration. In a July 2005 statement by Hamas, they wrote that "the sisterly UAE had… never hesitated in providing aid for our Mujahid people pertaining to rebuilding their houses demolished by the IOF… The UAE also spared no effort to offer financial and material aids to the Palestinian charitable societies."

Now the question of whether it's wrong or right for an Arab Country to fund the Palestinians through Hamas is not important to these questions posed in this article. What is important is how come this administration seems to be selective in the case of the UAE. More over, why does the administration continue to claim that the President did not know until after the deal was done when these two situations persisted well after the his 2002 State of the Union's assertion that "your either with us, or your with the terrorists"?

So what is really going on here? What exactly is the quid-pro-quo? I ask this because, as many Americans are increasingly finding out, the Bush Administration has, on many occasions, lied to the American people. And just as a reminder for those who don't think that the UAE could have anything on the Bush administration other than the fact that we have military bases in their country, it is alleged that in July of 2001, bin Laden went to an American hospital in Dubai with renal failure. During his stay, he was purportedly visited by Prince Turki al Faisal, then head of Saudi intelligence, and two CIA agents.

So, whose security was assessed by CFIUS for this Ports deal? Was it US national security, or was it the Bush administration's personal security that was being considered behind the closed doors of the White House?

Tags: Dubai, UAE, Ports, Bush, Terrorism, Politics, Middle East,
Security, Democracy, and Media.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Opposing the Ports Deal In the Hopes of Ending the Spiral of Mistrust.

This post is the culmination of the ideas and discussions prompted by the Bush administration’s latest questionable move to allow the transfer of mainland U.S. port operations to a company owned by the United Arab Emirates. What is written here was inspired by the members of the WesPac Community and penned by The Blue State Bandit.

We must, as adherents to the true spirit in which our Founding Fathers formed this country, publicly emphasize that our opposition to this deal is NOT predicated on the notion that we just don't like Arabs or Muslims as the emissaries of President Bush and his family’s business associates have portrayed us Democrats.

Though it is true that many Americans, largely but not exclusively Republicans, and the under informed are reacting out of a fear that their security is being placed in the hands of the Arab government in question, this is due to the actions and rhetoric of the Bush administration's fear mongering policies and the manner in which their neighbors, friends, and family members have lost their lives in recent years. Even those who are well informed on the inner workings of such subjects, like the ports deal between our country and the United Arab Emirates, must make their decisions in the dark due to the deceptive and secretive nature in which the Bush administration conducts business. We fully understand that Muslims have endured similar tragedies and hold the same fears and anguish as well. Many of them live under the rule of leaders that operate in the same manor. And of those leaders, many have, and continue to conduct such business with the Bush administration.

But the base of the Democratic Party views this deal in a different way. We don't see this war as simply one between the West and the Muslim World , or good and evil. We strive to gain a more comprehensive view of the world, ever searching for the truth behind the "official story" and though separately, we may never be able to attain the ultimate truths behind the tales we have been told, together, we have gained a better understanding of the true story behind the obfuscation. And what we have learned has convinced us that this deal would be bad for both America, and the Muslim world.

America has been slowly learning not to trust some of those in our government since Bush took office 5 years ago. Though it may at times be difficult to see the forest thru the trees, many Americans, from all walks of life, have been working to put an end to the actions that have brought us to this precarious moment in history. It is time that the Muslim World be given the opportunity to remove their blinders as well and take a good look at those within their own governments. They must take this opportunity to weed out those beyond hubris who jeopardize their livelihoods. Though this may not be an easy sell, we must at least make an honest effort to try. And if we fail in this effort, we can at least find solace in the fact that we did make an HONEST effort.

For decades, members of today’s Bush administration and their facilitators have been acting without the authority of the people they swore to serve. Likewise, many leaders of the Muslim World have followed suit and joined with these people. And in the process, have pitted our two worlds against each other for their own personal gains. Be it the Bushes and the bin Ladens, Rumsfeld and Saddam, Zarqawi and Wolfowitz, or Arafat and Sharon, their personal battles and dealings for wealth and power have drawn our two worlds into a perpetual spiral of mistrust and violence that may take generations to quell. But the sooner we all figure this out, the sooner we can take steps to rid ourselves of the plagues we find on our common home. This small planet on which we live.

There are many prosperous financial dealings between companies from United States and the United Arab Emirates that do not involve the kind of risks presented in this Port Operations deal. We are not advocating that we should sever such innocuous business deals or our current ties to the UAE. It is just that this deal in which, if an attack eventually occurred, whether or not initiated by officials of the UAE, the fallout would be unimaginable. In our view, this deal poses both a national security risk, and an international security risk. And with the cozy, and laxed relationship between the Emiraties and the Bushes, the unacceptably high probability of just one person looking the other way as a political favor, or for profit, is just a risk we are compelled not to take.

So, in the interest of breaking the ties between those who would threaten the safety and future of both our citizens and those of the Muslim World, and to set the stage for us to pull ourselves all from this downward spiral of despair, we must, in the most strongest of terms, oppose this deal. For our security, as well as the security of our neighbors, the Muslim World, and the future, we hope that the Emirate of Dubai will understand.

Sound judgment can provide for our security just as well as military prowess.

Securing America
Pleonexia: Beyond Hubris


Friday, February 24, 2006

Newly Released White House E-mails Place Cheney Directly Into the Crosshairs of Fitzgerald Investigation.

White House 'Discovers’ 250 Emails Related to Plame Leak
By Jason Leopold t r u t h o u t Report

The White House turned over last week 250 pages of emails from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office. Senior aides had sent the emails in the spring of 2003 related to the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald revealed during a federal court hearing Friday.

The emails are said to be explosive, and may prove that Cheney played an active role in the effort to discredit Plame Wilson’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a vocal critic of the Bush administration’s prewar Iraq intelligence, sources close to the investigation said.

Sources close to the probe said the White House “discovered” the emails two weeks ago and turned them over to Fitzgerald last week. The sources added that the emails could prove that Cheney lied to FBI investigators when he was interviewed about the leak in early 2004. Cheney said that he was unaware of any effort to discredit Wilson or unmask his wife’s undercover status to reporters.

Cheney was not under oath when he was interviewed. He told investigators how the White House came to rely on Niger documents that purportedly showed that Iraq had tried to purchase uranium from the African country.

Cheney said he had received an intelligence briefing on the allegations in late December 2003, or early January 2004, and had asked the CIA for more information about the issue.
Cheney said he was unaware that Ambassador Wilson was chosen to travel to Niger to look into the uranium claims, and that he never saw a report Wilson had given a CIA analyst upon his return which stated that the Niger claims were untrue. He said the CIA never told him about Wilson's trip.

However, the emails say otherwise, and will show that the vice president spearheaded an effort in March 2003 to attack Wilson’s credibility and used the CIA to dig up information on the former ambassador that could be used against him, sources said.

Some of the emails that were turned over to Fitzgerald contained references to Plame Wilson's identity and CIA status, and developments related to the inability of ground forces to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq after the start of the war in March 2003.

Continue reading at

Dubai Ports World Offers to "Postpone" Take over of US Ports.
Opposition Continues to Grow.

Last night, CNN reported, that Dubai Ports World will "postpone" its takeover of US ports on the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico. The deal, which was originals reported to effect 6 US port operations, has since been revealed to include 5 more on the East Coast and 10 in the Gulf region. This would encompass 21 ports ranging from Portland Maine on the East Coast, to Corpus Christi Texas in the Gulf. This latest revelation may only prove to increase pressure on the Bush administration to back off from this deal.

Since the facts behind this deal were brought to the attention of Congress and the general public, the Bush administration has tried to force the deal through. After a bi-partisan show of defiance by senior Chuck shimmer (D-NY), Congressman Peter King (R-NY) and numerous others from across the American political spectrum, the administration has refused to give an inch. When both Senate Majority Leader Bill first (R-ten) and House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill) threatened to propose legislation blocking the deal, the President fired back with the threat of his first Veto.

Protests have broken out across the country, and whispers of a march on the White House are beginning to peculate across the internet. Just last night, after the story of the postponement broke, I was surprised to find that a Republican, who's name I will withhold, had joined in on a discussion thread posted on a leading Democratic web community describing the ports deal as "the last straw". I've also heard that Unions are banding together to oppose the deal for fear that this is another administration attempt at union-busting. Protests are also being reported at the Philadelphia Port Authority, and the P&O operated Tioga Shipping Terminal.

In Newark New Jersey, Judge Jose Linares issued an order demanding that the Bush administration explain why they did not inform or supply documents to New Jersey state officials regarding the deal. He set a hearing for next Wednesday in U.S. District Court at which he noted that he would issue a preliminary injunction blocking the deal unless he is satisfied with their explanation.

According to Raw Story, Congressman John Conyers lead 11 Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee in submitting a letter to Bush administration officials demanding answers regarding administration officials conducted the CFIUS review process. They noted that they believe that under the “Byrd Amendment” [50 U.S.C. App. � 2170(b)] they were required to conduct a 45 day investigation into the deal. They also stated that they were “advised that deliberations of this matter involving the members of CFIUS were scant, confined to a single meeting”.

Although support for the deal, and the President for that matter, is fading fast around the country, his administration seems to be in lock step behind this deal. President Bush was quoted as saying “I think it sends a terrible signal to friends around the world that it's OK for a company from one country to manage the port, but not a country that plays by the rules and has got a good track record from another part of the world and can't manage the port.” Administration officials have followed suit, and gone further by suggesting that, “there are mixed signals that could be sent from our country if we make decisions [regarding the port deal] not based upon the fact or whether a company is playing by the rules, but solely based upon where they're from”.

Strangely enough, top cabinet officials across the board including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Secretary of State Condi Rice, and even the President himself, proclaimed that they knew nothing about the deal until the public outcry hit the press. This assertion, especially from the White House strains credibility considering the revelation that the White House had a secret deal with Dubai Ports World, and since it is currently coming to light that the President was informed by White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card as early as February 17th.

(Update: Scott McClellan stated that CoS Card informed Bush on Feb 16th. Reuters, though this seems implausable in light of the secret White House deal).

One more question lingers in my mind. Is the resignation of Department of Transportation Inspector General Kenneth Mead on January 23rd in any way related to this deal? We all know that administration officials who voice their opposition seem to find the door quite after their defection from the party line.

Then we come to the quid-pro-quo of the day. Two new revelations have come to light recently. First, the UAE gave the Bush administration $100 million in the weeks leading up to the ports deal, allegedly meant to go to Katrina victims. And then there is the $1 million donation from the UAE to the Bush Presidential Library.

As the pressure builds, two questions come to mind. First, is the deal on the way out? And second, Is the President on the way out?

(Updated Feb. 25th)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

New Movie Investigates 9/11.

"Loose Change 2nd Edition" by Korey Rowe, Dylan Avery, and Jason Bermas is the follow-up to the most provocative 9-11 documentary on the market today.This film shows direct connection between the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the United States government.Evidence is derived from news footage, scientific fact, and most important, Americans who suffered through that tragic day.

"Loose Change is a terrifying, masterful, well paced 9/11 conspiracy documentary that puts Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 to absolute shame."
-R.L. Shaffer, DVDFuture

For more information on the creators,
click Loose Change 9/11

(Note: The views expressed in this film are not necessarily the views of Blogger or the Blue State Bandit. The First Amendment gives Americans the right to express a given opinion, or choose not to accept a given opinion. We suggest that you come to your own conclusions regarding the content presented here. God Bless America.)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

New Ammunition in the Port Sale Argument.
It's Not About Racism!

In the wake of 9/11, America has been feed nothing but fear by the Main Stream Media, the far right wing of the Republican Party, and the Bush administration. It should be then, no surprise that America would react out of this embedded fear when we hear about an Arab country running operations at our most strategic and most vulnerable points of entry. As I said before, we can thank the Bush administration for our mistrust of the Arab world. Besides, our fear should be more justified than ever considering all that Bush and Co has done to fan the Arabs' hatred of America. But, this knee-jerk reaction has served us well. We are now well aware of this sale, and are simultaneously investigating it and trying to stop it. But, as it appears to me, the possibility of an attack via such vulnerability is only a subtext to the true breach of national security exposed by this story.

Since the exposure of this sale of American ports, the White house has defended it's actions by claiming that it would look bad to the Arab world if we turn down this deal, insinuating that our opposition is purely based on racist tendencies and a misunderstanding of the deal. But this is not true. It is more of a mistrust of the Bush administration and the fear sown by them in the wake of 9/11. But in the interest of giving them the benefit of the doubt, we have begun to look into the deal, and how it came about. Here's what we found.

In October of 2005, P&O announces that it was approached by an unnamed source with an unsolicited bid for their port operations. As it was speculated soon after, P&O announces on November 29th that DP World was behind the offer and that they were given an offer too sweet to turn down. This is when the White House claims we were informed, and that if there was a problem, we should have spoke up.

What they failed to say, was that a bidding war erupted between DPW and Singapore’s PSA that lasted till February 11th of this year. This is when the deal came to the attention of the press and the American populous. If you weren’t a trader in the stock market, you would know almost nothing about it. It is also notable that US port operations aren’t mentioned in any of the articles I’ve seen prior to February 11th. So how would a layman know anything about the national security questions, even if you heard about this back in November? But it gets worse.

In 2004 DPW got itself in a similar bidding war with PSA over the shipping assets of another company. DPW acquired the international terminal assets of CSX. I will assume, since CSX was an American company, CFIUS had to approve that sale as well. So who is CFIUS? Well, it is a group of administration officials that secretly decide whether a deal such as these present a threat to national security. The Treasury Department is the lead agency involved in making the final decision The Treasury Secretary, as of 2002 is John Snow, who, coincidentally enough, was the head of CSX before he was nominated to this position to replace Paul O’Neal. Conflict of interest number one.

In 2004, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler of Abu Dhabi, was elected as the new President of the United Arab Emirates to succeed his father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. His half-brother and the present Crown Prince, Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed al-Nahayan, was also the former Chief of Staff of the UAE Armed Forces in 1999. According to the 9/11 Commission Report, the CIA was poised to launch a missile strike on a hunting party in Afghanistan hosted by Osama bin Laden. The strike was called off when sat photos shown an official UAE C-130 in the vicinity of the camp.

In Steve Coll’s book, "Ghost Wars", he describes the accounts of “paid agents” that followed bin Laden to a hunting camp, noting that they were using falcons. They informed CIA officials who tasked a spy sat to confirm the target. In the pictures they identified the UAE plane. Although the UAE denied that any officials from their government were in the party, the 9/11 Commission Report confirmed that the CIA believed that a number of UAE Princes were present. Further more, General Hugh Shelton also confirmed that Sheikh Mohammad bin Sultan Al Nahyan was among the princes at the hunting camp. Conflict of interest number two.

It is also interesting to note, until someone proves to me otherwise, that Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan was still the Crown Prince at the time, and is an avid hunter, often using falcon during his expeditions. Was he among the hunting party? I would like this question answered.

The Carlyle Group, the company which connects both the Bush family and the bin Laden family together, is listed as an exhibitor at this month’s “International Property Week” exhibition in Dubai. It is my knowledge that the UAE Royal family, and Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan in particular, are the single largest financier of the construction of Al Raha City in Dubai. So the Bush family has a direct financial interest in the DPW deal. If this deal falls through, the Carlyle group may loss some of the building contracts that are going up for the residential district in Al Raha. That’s how I see it. Conflict of interest number three.

In the long run, I hope that the Arab world sees that, at least from the Democrats point of view, our true reason for opposing this deal is based on how the Bush administration does business. If it wasn’t for the actions of the Neo-Conservatives of both Christian and Islamic faith, and the Bush family’s business partners both in the West and the Middle East, we would have no fear or animosity between our two worlds. In our own ways, we are fighting the same fight; they just don’t know it yet.

So ask your self, what do you think is going on here?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A Call To Action!

If Bush Uses Veto, We Should Shut Down the Ports.

I just had a hernia surgery yesterday. I'm in constant pain and it hurts just to sit in my chair to type. But this issue is too important. I will crawl to stand in front of the gates of the ports in my hometown of Philadelphia if I have to.

The Bush administration is trying to make this a racial issue. I totally reject this. I understand that some people will make their decision based on race, but this is because the Bush administration has made Americans afraid of, or hateful of Arabs and Muslims. But the leaders in Congress have a more informed fear of giving the UAE control of our ports.

The raised probability of infiltration is the greatest concern being expressed by just about everybody who’s been following this story. It’s just common sense that it would be easier to infiltrate an international corporation if there are major shareholders or high level executives that may have contributed to Al-Qaeda in the past. As we all know, many affluent citizens and princes in the UAE are suspected to have financially supported Al-Qaeda before 9/11. The hit on UBL during that hunting expedition was scrubbed because there was a UAE prince with the party. I don’t remember hearing anything about any of these princes being held to account for their support of Al-Qaeda. This is one of the biggest causes of my concern. I don’t oppose this deal simply because it is an Arab company. I oppose it because I don’t trust the Bush administration’s judgment. They’ve told us before that we should trust them on things like this. Did we find the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Were we greeted as liberators in Iraq? Did we catch Osama Bin Laden? Do you feel safer today?

This sounds like Bush wants to reward the UAE for its “support” in the “War on Terror”. Fine, give them something else. Give them anything else, as long as it has nothing to do with national security. The support for this decision by CFUS, a Treasury Department agency that nobody seems to know anything about, and the Bush administration just boggles the mind. So when you hear the Bush administration try to convince you that this is the right thing to do, think of these points here.

1. It is President Bush who sowed fear within the American public regarding "Arab Terrorists". Now, to be surprised when we question his judgment to allow a nationalized Arab country's port management company to control the port operations of 6 major US ports is just stupid.

2. U.K. based P&O has been involved in some of these shipyards since WW2. Somewhere around +or- 1000 P&O ships were sunk in the Atlantic ferrying US aid to England and, if I'm not mistaken, P&O was used to transport US troops to the front including the invasion force for D-Day.

3. This isn't about the foreign ownership, or operation of our ports. Though I would support an American owned port system, this is about how the Bush administration does business. They tried to pigeon hole this sale behind our backs knowing/or not, how the American people would feel. This is absolutely frightening.

4. With the Homeland Security Dept. in charge of "putting our minds at ease" how can anyone expect this deal to turn out to be anything other than a total disaster?

5. Remember the UAE Princes that were hunting with Bin Laden when that air strike was called off? That makes me nervous.

6. The UAE was the main transit point for the smuggling of nuclear technologies to Syria, North Korea, Libya and Iran.

7. We all know that contracts, political appointments, and the nomination to key government positions has less and less to do with merit based objectivity and more to do with money and corporate loyalty. This puts the claims of any objective investigation into the background of this company into question.

8. As for the 95% unchecked cargo, smugglers don't smuggle if they don't have at least one person on the receiving end of an international shipment. They need to have someone behind the customs line on the receiving end. This transaction will give them the chance to put that one person in such a position.

If anybody has the ability to organize the protest of this sale by picketing the ports involved, please take action. This is too important to leave it up to just the government. We need to show the true breath of the people’s opposition. It is our right. It is our duty. It is our security.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Is That the Fox Watching the Hen House?
Bush Administration Pushes for Arab Emirate’s Control of US Shipping Ports

In a move that stunned both Democrats and Republicans, the Bush administration has thrown its support behind the sale of Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co, a London based firm that runs 6 shipping container port operations in the United States, to Dubai Ports World. The proposed transaction would affect commercial U.S. port operations in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.

In the wake of 9/11, the Bush administration has considered the UAE, the home country of Dubai Ports World, as an ally in the “War on Terror”. But despite this official classification, many Americans, lawmakers and citizens alike are outraged with this decision. Are they justified in their questioning of this move? Well, let’s see.

The Jamestown Foundation notes “One of the most active offshore zones is Dubai, of the United Arab Emirates. The former Taliban regime's diplomatic ties with the UAE likely helped facilitate Afghan-based terrorists in conducting financial deals through Dubai companies. It is believed that huge amounts of criminal income, including some of drug dealers, are also laundered in Dubai. While officially denying this charge, the UAE has begun to impose more rigid conditions on the activities of its national banks. After September 2001, illegal financial operations became punishable by lengthy prison terms and sizable monetary fines.”

My view on this statement:
Although the government of the UAE has allegedly clamped down on such banking systems, there is no way to verify that;
1) they have identified and shut down all terrorist funding operations within its official banking system.
2) they have made any progress neutralizing the unofficial Hawala banking system that is a cash system and works outside of government control.
3) people working for Dubai Ports World are not terrorist sympathizers, or operators.

On November 7th 2001, the Bush administration froze the accounts of 18 companies based in the UAE, all but 1 bare a variation of the name Al-Barakaat. I find it hard to believe that a shadowy organization would leave all of their assets in companies and accounts so obviously identifiable by name alone. Further more, this does not account for any individuals who sympathize or personally contribute funds to terrorist organizations.

The charity networks that funded Al-Qaeda had close ties to UAE. One in particular, the Al-Wafa Humanitarian Organization with known ties to the UAE had still been in operation as late as 2004. In 2001, the British news organization Telegraph stated, “It is in those states, principally Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, where many of the men who bankrolled Osama bin Laden and his like can be found. Not men with overt political power, but influential nevertheless.”

“Respectable, wealthy, even royal, their money, counted in millions, has flowed steadily into the hands of bin Laden's al-Qa'eda network and other groups such as the militant Palestinian group Hamas, despite their governments' oft-stated opposition to terrorism.”

Even if I were to give the benefit of the doubt to the Bush administration (which I no longer feel obligated to do), and accept the argument that the government of the UAE deserves to be rewarded for their perceived assistance in our quest to roll up Al-Qaeda, this does not justify allowing them such access to an industry with such a profound and physical connection to the safety of the American homeland and citizenry. It would be like giving the keys to your house to the guy who drove the van for the burglars who robbed you, just because he snitched on his buddies when he got caught.

Once again, the Bush administration has proven to me that they are an equal threat to national security as any other terrorist group. Way to go Georgie!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Blogger’s FOIA request reveals new insight into Bush Administration’s early fixation on Iraq.

On February 10th, a blogger at received the notes from meetings held by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in the hours after the attacks on 9/11. The note, penned by DoD staffer Steven Cambone and obtained thru a Freedom of Information request, verifies Bob Woodward’s assertions in his book, “Plan of Attack”. Contrary to Bush administration claims that they were not pre-disposed with Iraq before 9/11, these newly obtained documents prove that the attacks of 9/11 were used as a pre-text to invade Iraq.

These notes, referred to, but not quoted in the 9/11 Commission Report are in direct conflict with the commission’s assertions that Wolfowitz alone, and not Rumsfeld or Bush, was the one pre-occupied with using 9/11 as a reason to invade Iraq in the hours and days following the attacks. (Commission Report pgs. 334-336)

As it was sparsely reported in the media before and after the invasion of Iraq, and in Woodward “Plan of Attack”, published in April of 2004, the plans for Iraq were well under way well before the attacks of 9/11. Varying accounts are available as to why the Neo-Cons and the Bush administration were fixated on invading Iraq, and I will not pretend to know the particulars of exactly why this pre-disposition existed in the first place, but these documents confirm that more members of the Bush administration had “Iraq on the brain” than they would like to admit.

Included in the newly released documents are the hand written notes containing Rumsfeld’s orders to General Myers (CJCS) previously reported by CBS News and Woodward telling him to find the "[b]est info fast . . . judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time - not only UBL [Usama Bin Laden]", "Go massive . . . Sweep it all up. Things related and not."

What was not previously known, and is revealed in these documents is that they knew it would be a tough sell to link Iraq to the attacks. The previously unknown piece of the notes in question, "Hard to get a good case.", belong between the two previously known pieces. Unfortunately, there is a redacted section included in this section, along with a request to task DoD General Councel William (Jim) Haynes to contact Paul Wolfowitz for support.

When read in order, this document flies in the face of the public statements offered by members of the Bush Administration and the findings of the 9/11 Commission. Though the redaction inhibits an immutably precise understanding of the context, this new information provides more than enough context to prove that the Bush administration wanted to use the 9/11 attacks as a pre-text for an intervention in Iraq.

My limited interpritation of the text in question:

[un-legable] statement:
[b]est info fast
judge whether good enough
hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time
not only UBL [Usama Bin Laden]
Task Jim Haynes to talk w/ PW [Paul Wolfowitz]
for additional support u/u Us:s[ don’t know significance of u/u Us:s]
connection w/ UBL [Usama Bin Laden]

[3 lines redacted]

Hard to get a good case.
Need to move swiftly-
Near term t[ar]get needs-
go massive - Sweep it all up
Things related and not.

Need to do [un-legable]
To get a[n]y t[hing]
[end text]

It is also intresting to note that the notes from 9:53 titled “VP Report” is highly redacted. This may be nothing of great consequence, but is quite curious none the less.

I would encourage you not to just take my word for it. Have a look at the documents and judge for yourself. The PDF’s are avaliable at, the blogger that made possiable this new insight into the Bush administrations deceptive march to war.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Joe Scarborough Reports Rumers that Republicans Concedering Tossing Cheney Overboard.

Last night on MSNBC's Scarborough Country, Joe Scarborough reported on rumors that Republicans are considering the removal of Vice-President Dick Cheney because he has "become too politically radioactive". Sporting a title bar baring the words “DUMP DICK?”,

Joe and his guests Steve Randell, Rep. Peter King, and P.R consultant Eric Dezenhall, were opining over the recent Cheney hunting incident, and the subsequent 18 hours that went by before the Sheriff interviewed anybody on the scene when Randell began to bring up the fact that Cheney was busted for DUI twice. Personally, I don’t see to much wrong with such youthful indiscretions but, as it was pointed out, coupled with the fact that he dropped out of Yale just prior to these arrests, and he never joined his running mate in swearing off the bottle (at least Bush says he swore it off), this story seems to grow more on what’s not being reported by the White House, than what is.

When we first heard about the shooting, we heard nothing about any drinking in the public statements offered by the Vice-President’s office. The first I heard about the possibility, at least on the MSM, was from Ron Reagan on MSNBC. Then slowly, we began to hearing conflicting reports for all over the place. First Armstrong said that there were only Dr. Peppers. Then we heard that there may have been “a beer or two” floating around during a lunch before the incident. Then we were told, by Cheney, that he had “a” beer at lunch. After that, Armstrong said that there may have been “a few beers in the picnic basket” but that she never saw anybody who was hunting partake. Then, and here’s the big one, Armstrong said that she didn’t see anybody drink any alcohol until after the incident, when Mr. Cheney "had a cocktail".

What ever happened, Cheney’s handling of the incident has brought into question his attitude regarding secrecy, the press, and possibly the law. Even his own Republican Party has chimed in on his mishandling of the shooting. “It would have been better if the vice president and/or his staff had come out last Saturday night or first thing Sunday morning and announced it,” “ It could have and should have been handled differently” said former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer. Marlin Fitzwater, who held the same position during the Bush 41 and Reagan administrations told Editor & Publisher that Cheney had “ignored his responsibility to the American people” by failing to disclose the accident. Even embattled commentator Robert Novak chimed in on Fox News saying, “It's news, and it reflects an attitude in this White House of holding back information, of being too clever by half and being secretive” (I guess it’s his way of apologizing for helping Cheney out Valerie Plame). But the toughest Republican point of view came from Wall Street Journal columnist, and Former Bush campaign advisor, Peggy Noonan. Full Article

“I suspect what they're thinking and not saying is, “If Dick Cheney weren't vice president, who'd be a good vice president?” They're thinking, “At some time down the road we may wind up thinking about a new plan”. And one night over drinks at a barbecue in McLean one top guy will turn to another top guy and say, "Under the never permeable and never porous Dome of Silence, tell me . . . wouldn't you like to replace Cheney?”

“Why would they be thinking about this? It's not the shooting incident itself, it's that Dick Cheney has been the administration's hate magnet for five years now. Halliburton, energy meetings, Libby, Plamegate. This was not all bad for the White House: Mr. Cheney took the heat that would otherwise have been turned solely on George Bush. So he had utility, and he's experienced and talented and organized, and Mr. Bush admires and respects him. But, at a certain point a hate magnet can draw so much hate you don't want to hold it in your hand anymore, you want to drop it, and pick up something else. Is this fair? Nah. But fair has nothing to do with it.”

During the development of this piece, I spoke to a few friends about how such an event could impact the Democrats hopes to impeach Bush. The original fear of impeaching Bush was, a Cheney presidency, at least an overt Cheney presidency. But with the prospect of the White House tossing him overboard, new questions arise. Who would be the next V.P.? If the Democrats could hold up the confirmation till after the mid-term elections, could we end up with a Democratic House Speaker move strait into the White House, not passing go, or collecting the preverbal $200? As it was pointed out to me by one of my e-buddies;

“Finally, after the death of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and the resulting vice-presidential vacancy, Congress debated over what became the second constitutional amendment related to the structure of the vice-presidency. In 1967, the Twenty-fifth Amendment, addressing presidential vacancy and disability, became part of our Constitution. The absence of any provision for filling a vice-presidential vacancy had become intolerable in the nuclear age. Added impetus for the change came from a growing public concern at the time about the advanced ages of President pro tempore Carl Hayden, who was eighty, and House Speaker John W. McCormack, who was seventy-six. The amendment states that the president may appoint a vice president to fill a vacancy in that office, subject to approval by both houses of Congress. Before a decade had passed, the provision was used twice, first in 1973 when President Nixon appointed Gerald R. Ford to replace Spiro Agnew, who had resigned, and again in 1974, with the appointment of Nelson Rockefeller after Nixon himself resigned and Ford became president. The amendment also sets forth very specifically the steps that would permit the vice president to serve as acting president if a president becomes "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office." Each of these changes further reflected the increased importance of the office.” (Good lookin’ msb4c).

There is also a fear of the power Dick Cheney could retain even if he is ejected from the V.P. seat by his own party. But as far as I’m concerned, there is one big, fat plus to such an event. Dick Cheney would become a private citizen prior to the upcoming trial of his deposed chief of staff, I. Scooter Libby. If he is implicated in the leaking of Valerie Plame’s identity, he would no longer be able to hide behind his desk at the EEOB. No executive privilege and no more spending public funds to protect himself.

Keep your fingers crossed.

En-Able Danger : Dick Cheney and the Decline of American Security.

If you think about it, you can almost understand how Dick could have accidentally shot one of his hunting partners the other day. Between the revelations that he ordered Libby to out Valarie Plame, the fact that her outing compromised an entire nuclear proliferation intelligence network with eyes on A.Q. Kahn and Iran, and Retired CIA Mid-East Chief Paul Pillar’s article in which he lays out that the Al-Qaeda/Iraq connection was manufactured, the stress must be enormous. All he needs now is to find out that a Republican is looking into Able Danger. Whoops, I almost forgot about Representative Curt Weldon’s (R-PA) trip to the hill. People always say that the best things to do if you’re under a lot of stress are drink, have sex, or shoot a gun. But you don’t do all three, because that’ll just get you into more trouble. Maybe he should have tried chocolate?

As the story behind the shooting of 78 year old lawyer and major Republican contributor Harry Whittington slowly comes to light, other stories nipping at the heals of the embattled Vice-President have fallen to the wayside. But as stories of drinking, cheating, and a possible fumbled attempt at a cover-up, for whatever reason, slips thru the cracks of the main stream media, one would be remiss to think that this latest installment in the life and times of Richard “Dick” Cheney doesn’t sound familiar.

Ever since the fall of the last Dick (Nixon), Cheney has been trying to impose his view of what an executive branch should be on America, preferably a neo-conservative republican executive. In his wake, he has left a trail of breadcrumbs for disaster to follow.

In 1976, during the Ford administration, then Chief of Staff Dick Cheney, along with his predecessor Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Kissinger and Paul Wolfowitz from the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, supported the sale of a US-built nuclear reprocessing facility to Iran. 30 years later, Kissinger told the Washington post that “I don't think the issue of proliferation came up”, despite the warnings of Charles Naas, deputy US ambassador to Iran.

In 1993, as Secretary of Defense for G.H.W.Bush, Dick Cheney officially releases the “Defense Strategy for the 1990s”. That asserts the need for America’s Global Dominance. This was a cleaned up version of an earlier internal “Defense Planning Guidance” document that was leaked the year before. One of the key arguments presented in these documents was that America “must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.” including its allies. And guess who wrote it, Scooter Libby, and Paul Wolfowitz.

In October of 1997, Dick Cheney, as the head of Halliburton, signs a deal with Turkmenistan to drill for oil. The same day, Unocal (US), Delta Oil (Saudi Arabia), and The Crescent Group (Pakistan) join a consortium to build a pipeline from the Caspian Sea in Turkmenistan thru Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Indian Ocean. This happens just after the release of Former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski’s book, “The Grand Chessboard” in which he proclaims the strategic importance Eurasia, and before the revelation that the CIA had been sniffing out oil fields in the area. Two months later, the Taliban comes to Texas to work out the deal to build a pipeline thru Afghanistan. Unocal then builds a training facility near a bin Laden training camp outside of Kandahar to train Afghans to build the pipeline. It’s interesting to note that this is the same time that bin Laden and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed were already drawing up the plans for the 9/11 attacks, possibly right next door.

The next year, Cheney says “I can't think of a time when we've had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically significant as the Caspian. It's almost as if the opportunities have arisen overnight.” Cheney stays on with Halliburton until he picks himself to be G.W. Bush’s running mate. All this time, the deal with the Taliban is hung up on whether the U.N. will recognize the Taliban. Two weeks before the U.N. meeting, in August of 1998, the Taliban capture Mazar-i-Sharif giving them control of 90% of Afghanistan and the entire proposed pipeline route. It is speculated that they were assisted by the CIA thru Pakistani intelligence (ISI). A couple of weeks later, Clinton ordered the assassination of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Just before the missile strike, the ISI warns bin Laden of the attack and he gets away, and if you don’t believe me, Ask Richard Clarke.

By the end of Clinton’s term as President, it becomes clear that they’re getting nowhere with the Taliban and they may have to find another way to secure the pipeline. In 2000, Cheney and the P.N.A.C publish the now infamous “Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources for a New Century,” This document is the basic outline of the entire Bush administration’s foreign policy including the need for the “creation of a ‘global Pax Americana’ ”, control of the Internet, and the subversion of any growth in the political power of allies, and calls for “regime change” in China, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Iran, and other countries. But most ominous of all, they profess that these changes are likely to take a long time, “absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor.” At this time, Halliburton, under Cheney was selling oil field equipment to Iraq Iran, and Libya in violation of U.S. and U.N. embargos.

No sooner does the Cheney/Bush team get into office, the Veep turns up the heat, just not on Al-Qaeda. First, he holds an energy policy meeting with oil company executives in which it’s said that maps of the mid-east are on the table and the plans for Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan are discussed. Cheney refuses to admit that the meeting ever takes place, let alone, what was discussed. Then he sets up the White House Iraq Group (WHIG). Meanwhile, Able Danger ID’s Mohamed Atta, and three other 9/11 hijackers: Marwan Alshehhi, Khalid Almihdhar, and Nawaf Alhazmi. That August, the Taliban were warned to “accept our carpet of gold, or we’ll bury you in a carpet of bombs”. Mind you, the Bush Administration was already briefed about Al-Qaeda in January 2000, in which they were warned that Al-Qaeda wanted to attack America, the Taliban were sheltering them, and the CIA recommended that they should use a Predator drone over Afghanistan to take out bin Laden. We knew they blew up the Cole, but Bush and Cheney just sat on their hands. Clinton had subs off the coast of Pakistan, on a hair trigger before Bush took office, but they pulled them back when they took over.

Now we come to 9/11. There are many theories about what happened that fateful day, but just to stay with the theme, I’m going to stick with my main character. Cheney goes down to the bunker below the White House with Condi Rice (an oilman in her own right). At this time, they are tracking flight 77 (Pentagon). Transportation Secretary Norman Minetta is down there when he gets there. Cheney says that he told Bush that the White House has been targeted and that he should stay away from Washington after flight 77 hit the Pentagon at 9:37 am. The 9/11 Commission reported that he got there around 10:00 am. But according to Counter-Terrorism Tzar Richard Clarke and Secretary Minetta, Cheney got there before the Pentagon was hit. But what is even more peculiar is what Secretary Minetta testified to hearing Cheney say when he got there. And I quote Secretary Minetta from the 9/11 Commission Hearing, “There was a young man who had come in and said to the vice president, "The plane is 50 miles out. The plane is 30 miles out." And when it got down to, "The plane is 10 miles out," the young man also said to the vice president, "Do the orders still stand?" And the vice president turned and whipped his neck around and said, "Of course the orders still stand. Have you heard anything to the contrary?" Well, at the time I didn't know what all that meant.”

Yes, this is about the question as to whether there was an order to shoot down flight 77. Minetta later confirmed that he found out that there was an order to “shoot down aircraft”, but in public statements, Cheney said there was no such order issued. So what gives? A better question is, what was the order that the Veep and the staffer were talking about? Was he thinking “New Pearl Harbor, New Pearl Harbor”? Come to think about it, what was Bush thinking in those infamous 7 minutes in Florida? Was it, “How am I going to blame both Osama and Saddam”?

With the U.S. finally in Afghanistan, it was time to turn to Iraq. On October 15th 2001, Italian intelligence (SISMI) reports to the CIA that they have proof that Saddam was trying to buy Yellow cake uranium from Niger. The CIA quickly proves them forgeries and writes them off. In December, Washinton is contacted by Iran thru Iran-Contra gunrunner Manucher Ghorbanifar to talk about how to over throw the Iranian government. During the talks, attended by Cheney staffer Stephen Hadley, neo-con Micheal Ledeen, Larry Franklin and Harold Rhode from DoD, SISMI chief Nicolo Pollari, and Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino, the Niger Documents were discussed. It is speculated that Nicolo Pollari tried to fix the forgeries around this time. Nearly a year later, in September of 2002, as reported in the Italian Newspaper “La Repubblica”Cheney staffer Stephen Hadley meets with an Italian intelligence officer in Washington. From there, Cheney decided that “It was pretty well confirmed” that Saddam was trying to get Nukes, and Bush took it to the State of the Union. ( Links to more Links). Now that looks pretty well confirmed to me!

Meanwhile, as Bush was making his “Axis of Evil” speeches, Cheney was banging on the drums for war with Iraq, and apparently, he was doing it right in the ears of intel analysts. But the administration wasn’t just going to the CIA with their drums, as it was first made apparent during the John Bolton confirmation hearings. The NSA was already supplying wiretaps to administration officials on not only American citizens, but public officials. Then their yellow cake story started to crumble like a dried up cupcake.

The CIA sends former US Ambassador for Iraq, Joe Wilson, to Niger to investigate the yellowcake claims. Wilson returns and reports that it never happened. The CIA didn’t seem to have a problem with the findings, but somehow it got into the State of the Union speech. Wilson, knowing that something was wrong quietly made contact and tried to have it retracted, but it didn’t work, so he wrote an Op-ed piece for the New York Times titled” What I Didn’t Find In Niger”. He even cleared it with the White House before it was published. But Cheney didn’t like that. He got the White House Iraq Group together and brainstormed on how to deal with Wilson. Eventually, as the story goes, Cheney tells Libby to leak the identity of his wife, Valarie Wilson Plame.

Now I don’t know if they knew, and frankly don’t care if they knew, that Plame was a NOC CIA agent working on nuclear proliferation. Her cover was a CIA shell company called Brewster-Jennings and was gathering intel on Iran and A.Q. Kahn.

Alone, this would cripple U.S. intelligence operations in Iraq, but this was only the half of it. As it seems, two of Cheney’s PNAC buddies linked to illegally leaking intelligence to AIPAC, also passed intelligence to Ahmed Chalabi, the head of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), including info on our ability to monitor Iran’s communications, to Iran. The FBI was investigating Chalabi, but little has come of it, considering he and a large contingent of his family still hold key positions in the Iraqi government. Many, as well as myself, believe that Chalabi helped Iran dupe America into a war with Iraq for personal gain. But my question is, did the Neo-Cons let him do it?

Did Cheney know that Chalabi would sell us out? Did Cheney and the PNAC recruit Chalabi to do just that? How else could you explain the callous, and dangerous actions of Cheney and his cronies in the outing of Valerie Plame, and by proxy, her entire network of contacts and cover operations? I think they knew, and just didn’t care because they wanted us blinded in the Middle-East. For some reason, that I’m sure will become painfully apparent soon, Cheney and the Neo-Cons wanted the United States to act out of fear of the unknown, as opposed to acting on any intelligence gathered by the Brewster- Jennings network.

And now, just when it looks like Libby and Cheney are caught in the cross hairs of Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation, they are threatening to further compromise our national security to protect their own asses by demanding access to every Presidential Daly Briefing (PDB) between May ’03, and March ’04. Since Libby is charged with Lying to a grand jury, and not the leak, there is absolutely no reason to oblige. As the AP put it, “Fitzgerald accused Libby of attempting to commit "greymail," a reference to past attempts by government officials charged with wrongdoing to derail their prosecutions by trying to expose national security secrets.”

It was widely known, even in the late ‘90’s, that Chalabi was supplying bad intelligence to the CIA. Former C.I.A. counter-terrorism specialist Vincent Cannistraro remarked in “The New Yorker”, “With Chalabi, we paid to fool ourselves. It’s horrible. In other times, it might be funny. But a lot of people are dead as a result of this. It’s reprehensible.” Ex-CIA operator Bob Baer was quoted in the same article as saying, “He was like the American Ambassador to Iraq. He could get to the White House and the CIA. He would move around Iraq with five or six Land Cruisers.”

Even after the FBI investigations, the denials by Bush and Cheney about their relationships with Chalabi, and world wide public condemnations of the pre-war intelligence that Chalabi was feeding to the White House, Chalabi is still one of the most powerful men in Iraq. The only man with more power in Iraq than him is Muqtada-al-Sadar, who makes regular trips to Iran and basically runs the Shi’it south.

Just last month, a story made its way around the blogosphhere about the murder of two American contractors. Dale Stoffel and Joe Wemple were found dead in an Iraqi morgue after their car was found full of blood and bullet holes along the Tigris River. They had a contract with the Iraqi Defense Ministry to sell off scraps from the Iraqi military and use the proceeds to refurbish and rebuild the Iraqi military infrastructure. To get the contracts he hired Burson-Marsteller's BKSH & Assocs, and thru them made contact with Chalabi, and his cousin, the Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan (who would later claim to order the arrest of Chalabi to cover up his own activities).

After the contractors complained to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Senator Rick Santorum that they were never paid for the work they did, they were gunned down. Soon, videos claiming responsibility emerged on the internet from an insurgent group that nobody ever heard of before. The pictures and e-mails from the victims’ laptop that was taken during the incident are posted on at least thirteen websites by multiple groups which, according to analysts, is unheard of. Five months later, it comes out that Hazem Shaalan and his friends walked with the entire Defense Ministry procurement budget, about $1.3 millon. This storyis a must read on this subject.

So this is the world that Dick Cheney and his foreign policy “experts” at the PNAC have given us. The Neo-Conservative version of “democracy” seems to be rolling along in Palastine (Hamas), Iraq (soon to become an Iranian client state and anti-American theocracy), Egypt (with the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, the forerunner of Islamic Jihad and Al-Qaeda), as well as right hear at home (Plamegate, Diebold, and the Abramoff-i-zation of American politics). Heck of a job there Dickie!

The Washington Post
Foriegn Affairs Magazine
Sign On San Diego
Huffington Post
CNS News
Counter Punch
GSN Magazine
The 9-11 Commission Hearings
After Downing Street
Liberty Post
The Houston Chronicle
Washington Monthly
and La Repubblica

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Widow's Tax: End This Undue Burden To Our Military's Families.

This morning I came across a post on WesPac. It was an Op-ed piece printed in today’s New York Times by one of the regular posters on’s community website. The following is the article as presented in the NYT followed by the response offered by General Wesley Clark. Please take a moment and write your federal, state, and local representatives regarding the material you are about to read, for the sake of our troops, and their families.

By Dan Shea
Seattle WA.

MY brother Lt. Col. Kevin Shea was killed by a rocket attack in Falluja on Sept. 14, 2004. He knew the risks when he joined the Marine Corps in 1989. But he also thought that if anything ever happened to him, the United States government would take care of his wife, Amy, and his two children. Sadly, that's not the case.
Since Kevin died, Amy has had to deal with not only the grief of losing her husband and her best friend, but also with the difficulties of financially coping with life without him. Like most military spouses, during her time with Kevin, Amy endured multiple moves across the country and long deployments that forced her to put her career on hold. There are federal programs to assist her, but she and other widows of service members have found that these programs do not provide nearly enough.
You see, basically, a widow of a service member killed in the line of duty has two programs (excluding Social Security) to rely on for financial help. The first is a survivors' plan paid by the Department of Defense, which is about 41 percent of the deceased person's monthly salary before taxes. The second program is a dependent's compensation paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs that is $1,033 a month tax free, plus a modest sum added for every dependent child.
Sounds fair, right? But here's the problem: under the current law, the payment from the Defense Department to a surviving spouse is reduced dollar for dollar by the Veterans Administration's payment. So while you would think my sister-in-law, as the wife of a lieutenant colonel whose basic monthly salary is $4,431.60, would receive about $2,850 a month (41 percent of $4,431.60, or $1,817, plus $1,033), in fact, all she's getting is $1,817, that is, $784 from the Pentagon and $1033 from Veterans Affairs. Moreover, if Amy, who is 41 years old, remarries before the age of 55, she gets nothing.
The wife of a low-ranking enlisted soldier, say, a Marine lance corporal, is even worse off. All she gets is the dependent's payment of $1,033, because there is nothing left of her husband's salary after this so-called widow's tax takes its bite.
We all know it's not about the money, but come on, how can you survive on that in this economy?
This past Veterans Day, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to endorse an amendment proposed by Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, to the defense authorization bill that would have eliminated the widow's tax. The bill then went into conference, where House and Senate members worked out various differences before a final vote by Congress. During that time, the amendment was removed. One can only assume that certain members of the Senate had no intention of backing the amendment but were reluctant to appear unsupportive of our troops on Veterans Day, of all days.
If President Bush really wants to honor the men and women fighting this war — and dying like my brother — then he should call on Congress to eliminate the widow's tax. It's the least he can do.
Dan Shea is a lawyer for an insurance company.

Link to NYT article.

By Gen. Wesley K. Clark US Army Ret.

I was proud to join House Leaders Nancy Pelosi, Ike Skelton, Lane Evans, and John Salazar last year on Capitol Hill to unveil the new GI Bill of Rights for the 21st Century, legislation designed to improve benefits for our soldiers and their families today, while providing long overdue benefits for our veterans and military retirees.

We recognized that something needed to be done to eliminate the "widow's tax," which penalizes the survivors of those killed in combat by reducing the benefits to which they are entitled.

Unfortunately, the one-party Congress has chosen to pursue their own agenda -- focusing on making the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans permanent. As for the "widow's tax?" An amendment to repeal it was removed from the latest defense authorization bill by the Republican Congressional leadership.

It's just wrong, and it's bad for military readiness. This is not the time for politics. This is not the time for special interest haggling and pork barrel politics. If we are going to maintain the best volunteer, professional army in the world, we must provide soldiers with the peace of mind that comes from knowing the rest of us will take up for their families if they are killed. How can we expect good, qualified people to remain in military service? It is our duty, as a grateful nation, to stand up for our veterans and their families.

Send a letter to President Bush and your Members of Congress, and urge them to end the "widow's tax" today.

I want to share with you the story of Dan Shea, a member of our WesPAC community. Dan's brother, Lt. Col. Kevin Shea, was killed in Falluja on September 14, 2004. Like many soldiers, Kevin believed the government would take care of his wife Amy and their two children if anything should happen to him. But because of the "widow's tax," this is not the case.

A widow of a service member killed in the line of duty is supported by the survivors' plan paid by the Department of Defense and a dependent's compensation paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs. But under the current law, the payment from the Defense Department is reduced dollar for dollar by the Veterans Administration's payment: The "widow's tax."

I invite you to read Dan's op-ed in today's New York Times on how the "widow's tax" is hurting his family.

And then please, contact President Bush and your Members of Congress. Tell them to end the "widow's tax" today.

I leave you with Dan's own words from the conclusion of his op-ed:

"If President Bush really wants to honor the men and women fighting this war -- and dying like my brother -- then he should call on Congress to eliminate the "widow's tax." It's the least he can do."


Wes Clark

Send a letter to President Bush and your members of Congress and urge them to end the "Widow's Tax" today.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Grasping At Straws: More than Just Our Freedom At Stake.

I realize that some may not agree with what they will read in this post at first. Some may even try to say I’m some kind of republican light. But when it comes down to brass taxes, I am an American first, for without our home, our party is pointless. Please understand, I wish we lived in a world in which I had no need to ponder on such sobering topics, but that road is not the one that lies before me.

Over the summer of 2005, I found myself in such a state of outrage, that I lashed out with the only weapons I had, the 1st Amendment and my computer. As a computer novice, I started out on Congressman John Conyers’ website, and soon found myself penning an open letter to the press ripping them a new one for ignoring stories critical of the Bush administration. This later led me start a website with a fellow “Patriot” dedicated to providing insight into the Bush administration’s dealings in the Middle East and Iraq called This lead me to Washington and to sign on with groups like After Downing, and Gold Star Vets for Peace.

As of late, I've ducked out of the fray. Aside from all of the data mining cookies I collected on my home computer when I was working on my website, I felt comfortable with the status of the movement I thumped for. But, as the saying goes, "Be careful what you wish for......"

I am proud of the work done by these groups. I’ve gone from being laughed off of Washington Journal by Kevin Aylward of Wizbang for bringing up the word “Impeachment” on June 4th 2005, to hearing it at least once a day in the MSM. But now I fear that some of the rhetoric used by many of the groups involved in this necessary political knee capping of the Bush administration jeopardizes this accomplishment and could inadvertently cripple the Democratic party as a whole in ’06 and ’08, and possibly, our entire country.

No longer do I worry the about whether or not the government is keeping track of me, because now everybody knows their doing it. Today I’m more concerned that, in the process of exposing our current problems caused by the Bush league actions of Team Bush (pardon the pun), we risk making matters worse by hitching our cabooses to a combination of unilateral isolationism and the inadvertent handicapping of our ability to defend ourselves from the enemies we’ve incurred. Booting Bush is only half the “War on Terror”. When he’s gone, we will still have to deal with the barbarians he invited to our gates.

Accept it or not, the Democratic Party has been decapitated by the last two Presidential elections. We have no coherent message, because we have no legitimate leader. In a way, we are in the same boat as the people of Iraq. We are rapidly fracturing along ever degenerating lines of personal peeves. Issues like values, and religion in public life has spawned small groups of ultra secularists that are taunted by the right into frivolous public debates over things like Christmas, art, and civil liberties. Then the Republicans beat us over the head and paint us into a corner on issues that most Democrats find unrelated to the business of running a country, and would never bring into the voting booth in the first place. But most disturbing of all, is the split over how to deal with Iraq and the “War on Terror”.

Some insist that we pull out of Iraq now. I empathize with, and respect most of the people who feel this way, especially Cindy Sheehan. I understand her position. Why should American troops sacrifice their lives for a lie? We should never have gone over there without a righteous justification. And she is absolutely correct when she says that every soldier that dies in Iraq under the Bush administration has been an unacceptable sacrifice.

So many of the PFC’s, NOC’s, and those who re-enlisted into the military after 9/11 signed up to fight Al-Qaeda, and though they may be fighting them now in Iraq thanks to Bush’s “Bring ‘em on” mentality, Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. A few years down the road, maybe, a strong, honest case could have been made to move on Saddam, but this was not the case. And the damage has already been done.

Some believe that we can force the Bush administration to do the right thing, and that we should ride him hard, but let him finish the job. “He’s still the President, we must support him.” I’m sorry Joe, but that’s just stupid.

And some think that we can leave all inhibitions behind and adopt tactics that inadvertently cripple Bush’s ability to fight this Godforsaken war by leaking anything and everything just to destroy his credibility. Now I understand the pretext for this course of action, and I admit that it’s a problem that we all have, out of desperate necessity, condoned. But in the process, we are unintentionally creating an atmosphere that jeopardizes our national security. Whistleblowers are patriots, but times like these personify Ben Franklin’s teachings on security vs. freedom. Case in point; the leaking of the FBI’s Radiation Monitoring programs. Anyone with even a basic understanding of material science knows that you don’t need to be standing in the same room with a block of plutonium to be able to detect it with a Geiger counter. Yes, this may be viewed by the right as “Grasping at straws”, but when I see our country sinking into the abyss, I find it incogitable to blame the victim under the boot for disturbing the water.

Ultimately, we are not to blame for this. The Bush administration created this situation by overstepping their authority, lying to Congress and America, and engaging in ruthless, deceptive, and on many occasions, blatantly criminal political tactics. We should have never been forced to take such extreme measures, but in my view, the Bush administrations draconian devices, represents an equally disquieting risk to national security, rivaling what any foreign power could ever pose. And I’m sure that most of you agree.

Personally, I would have felt slightly more comfortable with John McCain exercising such a blatant breach of Executive powers, like domestic spying in the name of national security, if only based on the fact that he endured torture in the service of his country before engaging in, then later conscientiously formulating, American foreign policy in Congress. But we don’t live in a world molded by such past possible events. And that’s beside the point.

I fear for where we may find ourselves in the next few years if we don’t come to grips with the fact that we must remain in Iraq until we at least help them find a way to live in relative security. But neither forcing Bush to finish the job, or cutting and running will serve to give America or the Middle-East even a single good night’s sleep. If we leave now, we will be forced to return. And when we do, it won’t be a war of choice, or a war of mere national security, it will be for our very existence. It will be the Armageddon that the Christian Right salivates for.

So we must help to create the conditions for a successful impeachment of both Bush and Cheney. And it must be done with a well respected Democrat sitting as the Speaker of the House. Not a capitulator and not a Trojan horse. Any respect our country would gain on the world stage, and the Muslim street, by removing Bush and Co. from power will be lost if we just pack up and leave a big mess without at least trying to stabilize Iraq.

Common sense must be the standard by which we tool our consensus. Unilateral withdraw is dangerous and misguided. Even if we stand down slowly, American troops will still be in Iraq for years to come, even if we move out of the cities (which would be a positive step). I just don't see the Iraqi government lasting very long without the U.S. military in theater. Even if we stand up 200,000 Iraqi troops and police, they would never last without U.S. logistical support, or political pressure. They will collapse and turn on each other.

If Bush is gone, and we are seen to be accepting of our responsibility to the Iraqi people, then the world will say that bin Laden beat Bush, and I can learn to live with that. It could also strengthen our hand in our quest to dismantle Al-Qaeda, and for bin Laden’s head. But if the Democrats succeed, and then proceed to pull out prematurely, then the world will say bin Laden beat America. I’m sorry, but I can’t live with.

Even in the event of a splintered Iraq, American troops would still be stationed in Kurdistan. The Kurds will never kick us out under such circumstances. Unlike the Sunni Arabs and the Shia, they have no friendly states on their boarder. The Turks would hit the roof if they Kurds break away from the central government in Baghdad. They fear that Kurdish nationalism would lead to unrest in Turkey’s Kurdish minority population. It will become our job to play mediator between the Kurds and the Turks, but honestly, that's a plus for us.
The Kurds are big nationalists and have shown a willingness to deal amicably with secular Sunnis and moderate Shi’ites in the past. But most ominously, the Kurds in the Iraqi army are still loyal to the Peshmerga, are of superior training, see most Sunni’s as terrorist facilitators, and are well positioned to take tactical advantage if the central government shows signs of failure. Of course, his may not be the best outcome, but it could become and acceptable alternative. If they were to secure Mosul and Kirkuk, I’m confidant that their semi-solid democratic tendencies could thrive, and in time, become a calming entity in the region, but only with U.S troops on the ground helping with east/west boarder security and as a diplomatic stop gap with Turkey. And hopefully, they will help to minimize the possible premise of my next point by playing a similar role in the south.

There is one, more frightening reason not to screw things up in Iraq. We would be facilitating the rise of a pan-Persian empire, ruled by the Mullahs and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Party, and possibly armed with nukes. If you think things are tense in Asia Minor now, you haven’t seen anything yet. And if you think the Neo-cons and the Christian Right are dangerous, then you have to remember that it takes two to tango. Not only would such a powerful potential rival be dangerous to America and the West in general, it would only prove to strengthen their opposition, the Neo-cons and the Christian Right. Talk about manifest destiny, I shudder to think.

The longer we leave Bush and Co. in power, the more perilous our situation becomes. We should support the work of people like Rep. John Conyers, Rep. John Murtha, Gen. Wesley Clark, Paul Hackett, Cindy Sheehan, our troops, and the hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens who sign petitions, march, blog, and strive to learn and give voice to the truth. We should continue to help groups like After Downing,, Gold Star Families for Peace, Raw Story, The Fighting Dems,
and the growing numbers of former government employees, journalists and public figures who are using the pen our forefathers gave to us.

However, we must make sure they know that the problems we face won’t just disappear if we impeach Bush and leave the field of battle. We, as Americans, have a lot of burnt bridges to rebuild. We need to regain the respect we’ve lost in this world. And most important we must safeguard our nation and the honor of our fallen protectors by not just ending this war, but by finishing this war, and facing the unsavory truths that feed our sons and daughters to the dogs of war. If we ever owed our troops anything, we owe them this.

Pleonexia: Beyond Hubris

Friday, February 10, 2006

Support The Fighting Dems!

What is a Fighting Dem? They are a group of men and women, mostly veterans, who you should take the time to get to know. Many are vets from Operation Iraqi Freedom. Others are vets of our earlier wars like Bosnia, Desert Storm, and Viet Nam. Active duty, Reservists, and Guardsmen, prepared to serve their country in a more constructive way.

The most widely known of the Fighting Dems is Major Paul Hackett USMC. Last year, after returning from duty in Iraq, he ran for Congress in his home state of Ohio. Against all odds, he garnered 48% of the vote in a district that went 2 to 1 for Bush just ten months earlier. Paul’s strait talk and honest assessment of our military situation in Iraq earned him respect from both sides of the isle, and across the country.

Shortly after, Mother Jones Magazine coined the new battle cry for this new breed of Democratic candidate when they called Major Hackett “the rarest of political animals – a fighting Democrat.”

Since then, at least sixty men and women have answered the calls of people like Major Paul Hackett, General Wesley Clark (U.S. Army Ret.), Commander Eric Massa (U.S. Navy Ret.) and Democrats far and wide to volunteer once again to serve their country in it’s time of need.

To best describe the position of the Fighting Democrats, I will let Cdr. Eric Massa’s words do the talking. After reading this, please take the time to go thru the list of candidates provided by and read Gen Wesley Clark’s “Real State of the Union” provided at the end.

“We are called by various names. Air America and Daily Kos call us the “Fighting Dems”, Mother Jones sees us as “The Capitol Brigade” and Draft Zinni includes us among the “Security Dems” as part of their concept of the Blue Force. I have called this vet force the “Band of Brothers”, but in our meeting in January we avoided these labels to call ourselves the Veterans for a Secure America” (VSA). We are the Democrats’ “secret weapons.” There are five core things we have in common: we are veterans, we are Democrats, we are strong on national security, we believe our nation is headed in the wrong direction — and we are running for Congress to put America back on course.”

“We are not, however, all Iraq war veterans. Some of us are veterans of other conflicts such as Vietnam or peacekeeping duty in the Balkans, and some supported our troops in other vital ways. But regardless of how we have served our country in uniform, we all have progressive to moderate social views and are running on platforms to support working families, insure fair taxation, protect Social Security, restore American values, fully fund programs to aid education, the poor and disabled, equality of opportunity for all Americans, and sound environmental policies to safeguard our land.”

“We also believe that a strong America is one that engages its allies rather than antagonizes them, one that goes after terrorism where it exists rather than invading countries that distract from this mission, and, as military men, we believe that using force to accomplish international objectives should be used only as a truly last resort.”

“And one more thing. Most of the Fighting Dems come from so-called “Red” districts. But America is not Red and Blue; it is Red, White and Blue — a land in which all Americans share common values, aspirations and dreams. And our brigade of fighting Democrats is intent on taking Congress back from those who have hijacked our nation, distorted our values, devastated our economy, damaged our nation’s credibility, derailed the middle class, and distracted us from the War on Terror by sending our fathers and sons, mothers and daughters and brothers and sisters to be maimed and to die fighting a war that did not need to be fought.”

“One thing is certain: there are enough of us to win back the House and put America back on course. Paul Hackett showed it could be done in his close race in Ohio. And even more recently in my district, where I have been helping to build the Democratic Party “from the ground up,” we have had a series of victories. These have included electing Democrats to the office of mayor in Corning and Elmira for the first time in 45 years and 25 years, respectively.”

“There are many other good Dem candidates who are not veterans, with some three dozen vets across the nation, are running for office to reverse a negative trend of recent years. Since 2000, the number of vets in Congress has been diminishing and America suffers from the lack of strong veteran leadership coming from Congress. Now is the time to turn the tide and chase the Republican chicken hawks out of Congress and replace them with true patriots. Make America strong by electing those who have fought on the front lines to fight once more on the home front.”

“I stand with the Band of Brothers. We will put America back on course, make America strong and secure, and insure that America is truly the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
“Our hearts are strong, our resolve and commitment is total, and in our hands we carry the torch that will light the future of the America as we fight for the families who will build a better tomorrow for our children and for our grandchildren.”

Eric Massa USN Retired
Democratic Candidate US Congress NY 29th

Full list of candidates are avalable at

General Wesley Clark's speech at the New America Foundation is avaliable at

They Sold Our Soul, and Our Energy Security.

To the common American citizen, The Bush administration and their political associates have portrayed the war in Iraq as a war of vital national security from evil terrorist regimes. After the events of 9/11, the beating drum of conflict was personalized by visions of “Mushroom Clouds” and anthrax attacks.

To American business and Bush’s “Base”, on the other hand, the war was sold as a national energy security issue. The company line was that the terrorists, and Saddam Hussein by proxy, threatened our access to oil and natural gas from the Middle-East. This is why, they would say, that a Republican majority was necessary for the welfare of our country, their business interests, and our fossil fuel based economy. This is how they raised all of that money to fund the overthrow of the Texas Legislature, gain Majorities in Congress, and win the White House, twice. At least that’s what we thought.

In the wake of the Abramoff bribery scandal, some extremely unsavory campaign finance schemes have started floating to the surface. From the “Name Your Favorite Charity” bribery scam, to the rebirth of the notorious “Indian Agent” style extortion of Native Americans, the common citizen has become repulsed and disgusted more and more with every floater that rises to the surface. But you don’t see the ire of the American business community, nor the so called religious right, or social conservative voters.

I suppose they feel that the greater good was served because they got to keep us “Pinko-Commie” Democrats from jeopardizing America’s position of strength on the world stage (head nodding in disbelief). But as we have seen so far, the Republicans have done such a bang up job in Asia, Europe, and the Middle-East for our ability to weald any kind of diplomatic strength (sarcasms abound). But this is not only the tip of the iceberg, it’s a loose ice shelf, and they’ve parked us right underneath it.

Here’s the lowdown. We have heard of this U.S. Family Network that’s been tied to Tom DeLay, his chief of staff Ed Buckham, Jack Abramoff, and many others. This was one of many PAC’s and charities under investigation by the Justice Department for things like conspiracy, campaign finance, money laundering, bribery, ect…. But the U.S. Family Network stands head and shoulders… on second thought, sinks to an unforgivable low.

For me, this story’s true impacts came to light in the Ukraine just after New Years. Russian energy giant Gazprom cut off natural gas supplies to Europe over a contract dispute regarding the methods of payment for transit for Russian gas thru Ukrainian pipelines. Here’s a quick overview of the easily discernable situation.

Earlier, back to our side of the pond, Naftasib, an alleged struggling Russian oil company, approached Jack Abramoff to help them get U.S. backing for IMF loans. This resulted in at least 3 trips by Tom DeLay, to Moscow. This Washington Post article does a good job detailing how Naftasib repaid the favors they received. Now we know what the motives of the Abramoff / DeLay crew, money to beat the Democrats. So what if it came from the Russians, the same people that the Republicans claimed were the “Evil Empire” not even a generation ago. But what were the motives of Naftasib?

As it turns out, the IMF loans were just a small part of their take in this transaction. As it turns out, Naftasib is predominately owned by Gazprom, the same company that has gone after Yukos Oil and shut off the gas in Europe this year. This is the same company that supplies the gas running thru most of the pipelines in Eastern Europe. This article from the American Foreign Policy Council will give you an idea who these two energy companies ultimately answer to, as if I had to tell you.

Now, before you read this last article, I would just like to say, “So you think you’ve seen everything, well, hold on to your hosery, cause the Team Bush and band of thieves has sold us all up the river, and all we got was this stupid war!! And high fuel prices, and Islamic terrorism, and a shrinking job market, and a tap on our phone, and so on, and so, on and so on………..

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