BUSH MILITARY RECORD

THE AWOL PROJECT

JEB BUSH

DONALD MURPHY

MICHAEL CHERTOFF

CONDOLEEZZA RICE

JOHN NEGROPONTE

CHRIS COX

BUSH INDEX

 Behind the Bushes

THE NEW GENERATION

BUSH'S MILITARY RECORD

THE STORY THAT THE CBS FLAP BURIED

RUSS BAKER, ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION - Like CBS's staffers and journalists from many media outlets, I explored Bush's National Guard service extensively during the election campaign. What I found were gaps upon puzzles upon misstatements upon nondisclosures.

Certain facts are clear: As a young man at Yale, George Bush vocally supported the Vietnam War and criticized others who failed to serve, then got himself into a safe unit for the sons of the privileged, in the Texas Air National Guard. We also know that, for reasons yet unclear, he failed to complete the final two years of a six-year military obligation to fly jets, for which taxpayers had spent a good part of a million dollars training him.

- Bush claims that he left his unit prematurely in order to accept a high-level opportunity in campaign management in Alabama. But campaign colleagues described his work as grunt-level make-work, marked by a predilection to show up in the afternoon hours and to brag about carousing the night before. In addition, the widow of the Alabama campaign manager, who was a close friend of Bush's father, told me that Bush was only in Alabama because the senior Bush had begged her husband to hire his son in order to get him out of some kind of trouble back in Texas.

-According to the widow of the flyer brought in to replace Bush in the Texas Air Guard, his commanding officer, Jerry Killian(who died in 1984) had explained to her and her husband that Bush had left the unit abruptly because of problems flying his plane -- and Killian had suspected that alcohol abuse had something to do with it. (Bush has admitted to past alcohol problems but not offered specifics relating to his military service.) More than one of his flying comrades indicated that Bush's behavior became suddenly erratic several years into his time with the Guard.

(The questioned CBS documents were memos purportedly generated by Killian; his own reputation is unblemished.}

-Bush has said on repeated occasions that he continued to fulfill his military obligation while in Alabama, but high-profile efforts to substantiate that, including the offer of reward monies, have turned up no corroboration. And Bush's former ghostwriter told me that Bush admitted to him in 1999 that he had done no service at all in Alabama, claiming to be "excused."

One thing is certain about the CBS documents: If they are not real, then they were prepared by someone who had enough inside information to make them look almost real, but who also knew enough to include a few small telltale signs that might point to their inauthenticity - clues that might be overlooked by a news organization racing to put out an important, timely story under competitive pressures.

It's striking that the critique of the documents appeared on the Internet just hours after CBS aired them, and that the person claiming to be a document expert turned out to be an attorney with strong GOP connections who had no such credentials. How was this man able so quickly to produce his critique, and how did the story grow so quickly to overtake the basic questions about the president's own murky past performance? Did Rove's well-documented history of aggressive last-minute campaign ploys have anything to do with this episode? And why, despite all the questions, has Bush never offered a detailed accounting of his doings in those missing years? That's a news story no one yet has tackled.

Without excusing serious errors on CBS's part, an even more important question remains: Why have we decided that the transgressions of a news organization -- that, at worst, overshot on a legitimate story - are more important than a thorough examination of the personal character of our Commander in Chief, presiding over a highly controversial war in Iraq and having no hesitation to expose others - including large numbers of Texas Guardsmen -- to mortal risk when he himself may have even failed to complete a safe military obligation of his own?

RUSS BAKER
http://russbaker.com/

WHY BUSH LEFT TEXAS

RUSS BAKER, THE NATION - For years, military buffs and retired officers have speculated about the real reasons that Bush left his unit two years before his flying obligation was up. Bush and his staff have muddied the issue by not providing a clear, comprehensive and consistent explanation of his departure from the unit. And, peculiarly, the President has not made himself available to describe in detail what did take place at that time. Instead, the White House has adopted a policy of offering obscure explanations by officials who clearly do not know the specifics of what went on, and the periodic release of large numbers of confusing or inconclusive documents--particularly at the start of weekends and holiday periods, when attention is elsewhere.

In addition, the Bush camp has offered over the past few years a shifting panoply of explanations that subsequently failed to pass muster. One was that Bush had stopped flying his F-102A jet because it was being phased out (the plane continued to be used for at least another year). Another explanation was that he failed to take his physical exam in 1972 because his family doctor was unavailable. (Guard regulations require that physicals be conducted by doctors on the base, and would have been easily arranged either on a base in Texas or, after he left the state, in Alabama.)

One of the difficulties in getting to the truth about what really took place during this period is the frequently expressed fear of retribution from the Bush organization. Many sources refuse to speak on the record, or even to have their knowledge communicated publicly in any way. One source who did publicly evince doubts about Bush's activities in 1972 was Dean Roome, who flew formations often with Bush and was his roommate for a time. "You wonder if you know who George Bush is," Roome told USA Today in a little-appreciated interview back in 2002. "I think he digressed after awhile," he said. "In the first half, he was gung-ho. Where George failed was to fulfill his obligation as a pilot. It was an irrational time in his life." Yet in subsequent years, Roome has revised his comments to a firm insistence that nothing out of the ordinary took place at that time, and after one interview he e-mailed me material raising questions about John Kerry's military career. Roome, who operates a curio shop in a Texas hamlet, told me that Bush aides, including communications adviser Karen Hughes, and even the President himself stay in touch with him. . .

Bush has indicated that he departed from Ellington Air Force Base and his Guard unit because he had been offered an important employment opportunity with a political campaign in Alabama. The overwhelming evidence suggests, however, that the Alabama campaign was a convenient excuse for Bush to rapidly exit stage left from a Guard unit that found him and his behavior a growing problem. If that's not the case, now would be an excellent time for a President famed for his superlative memory to sit down and explain what really happened in that period.

RECOVERED HISTORY
1988

CONNIE CHUNG: The problem, though, would be is if, indeed, made several phone calls or some people made phone calls on his behalf to get him into the National Guard. I mean, did that happen to you? Were you...

DUBYA (interrupting): No. I don't think so. But in those days, people were going into the service all different branches. And if you want to go into the National Guard, I guess sometimes people make calls. I don't see anything wrong with, a matter of fact I'm glad he served his country. And serving in the National Guard is serving in the military. They probably should have called the National Guard up in those days. Maybe we'd have done better in Vietnam.

REMEMBERING DUBYA

WASHINGTON POST - Only one person has vivid recollections of serving with Bush at Dannelly field. John B. "Bill" Calhoun, 69 -- whose name was provided by a Republican ally of Bush's -- said he saw Bush sign in at the 187th eight to 10 times for about eight hours each from May to October 1972. But Calhoun remembers seeing Bush at Dannelly at times in mid-1972 when the White House acknowledges Bush was not pulling Guard duty in Alabama yet; his first drills were in October, according to the White House. White House press secretary Scott McClellan on Friday was at a loss to reconcile the discrepancy.

MORE EVIDENCE BUSH CHEATED ON MILITARY OBLIGATION

BOSTON GLOBE - In February, when the White House made public hundreds of pages of President Bush's military records, White House officials repeatedly insisted that the records prove that Bush fulfilled his military commitment in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.

But Bush fell well short of meeting his military obligation, a Globe reexamination of the records shows: Twice during his Guard service -- first when he joined in May 1968, and again before he transferred out of his unit in mid-1973 to attend Harvard Business School -- Bush signed documents pledging to meet training commitments or face a punitive call-up to active duty.

He didn't meet the commitments, or face the punishment, the records show.

BUSH BALKED AT MILITARY ORDER

MICHAEL DOBBS AND THOMAS B. EDSALL, WASHINGTON POST - President Bush failed to carry out a direct order from his superior in the Texas Air National Guard in May 1972 to undertake a medical examination that was necessary for him to remain a qualified pilot, according to documents made public yesterday. Documents obtained by the CBS News program "60 Minutes" shed new light on one of the most controversial episodes in Bush's military service, when he abruptly stopped flying and moved from Texas to Alabama to work on a political campaign. The documents include a memo from Bush's squadron commander, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, ordering Bush "to be suspended from flight status for failure to perform" to U.S. Air Force and National Guard standards and failure to take his annual physical "as ordered.". . .

According to "60 Minutes," Killian's personal files show that he ordered Bush "suspended from flight status" on Aug. 1, 1972. National Guard documents already released by the White House and the Pentagon show that Bush was suspended from flight status on that day for "failure to accomplish annual medical examination" but do not mention his alleged failure to comply with National Guard and Air Force standards. In another "memo to file," dated Aug. 18, 1973, Killian complained that he was under pressure from his superior, Col. Walter B. "Buck" Staudt, to "sugar coat" Bush's officer evaluations. "I'm having trouble running interference and doing my job," he wrote in a memo titled "CYA." "I will not rate."

AWOL: THE BUSH TIMELINE

RECOVERED HISTORY
WITH BUSH IN ALABAMA

JACKSON BAKER, MEMPHIS FLYER - Two members of the Air National Guard unit that President George W. Bush allegedly served with as a young Guard flyer in 1972 had been told to expect him and were on the lookout for him. He never showed, however; of that both Bob Mintz and Paul Bishop are certain... Recalls Memphian Mintz, now 62: "I remember that I heard someone was coming to drill with us from Texas. And it was implied that it was somebody with political influence. I was a young bachelor then. I was looking for somebody to prowl around with." But, says Mintz, that "somebody" -- better known to the world now as the president of the United States -- never showed up at Dannelly in 1972. Nor in 1973, nor at any time that Mintz, a Fedex pilot now and an Eastern Airlines pilot then, when he was a reserve first lieutenant at Dannelly, can remember.

WHAT WAS UNDER THAT BLACK INK?

A ' W' AWOL IN ALA

SOURCES SAYS 'CLEANSING' OF BUSH MILITARY FILES WAS DISCUSSED

A- DUBYA-O-L

BUSH AWOL UPDATE

OUR AWOL PRESIDENT

BUSH MAKES UP FOR TIME NOT SERVED

RESPONSE TO AN INQUIRY CONCERNING BUSH'S PARTICIPAITON FROM AIR FORCE HQ

WHAT BUSH AVOIDED

THE BUSH AWOL STORY CONT'D

WE HAVE BEEN among those who have reported on George Bush having been effectively - albeit perhaps not legally - AWOL during some of his Air National Guard career. The matter resurfaced because of Michael Moore's incorrect description of Bush as a 'deserter.' Conservatives have come to Bush's defense, citing NY Times coverage which in some ways contradicted Boston Globe coverage. But after the NY Times story appeared, the Globe reiterated the bulk of its account. What makes this all the more interesting is the Times owns the Globe. Here are relevant clips:

JO THOMAS, NY TIMES, 2000 - Two Democratic senators today called on Gov. George W. Bush to release his full military record to resolve doubts raised by a newspaper about whether he reported for required drills when he was in the Air National Guard in 1972 and 1973. But a review of records by The New York Times indicated that some of those concerns may be unfounded. Documents reviewed by The Times showed that Mr. Bush served in at least 9 of the 17 months in question. . .

A review by The Times showed that after a seven-month gap, he appeared for duty in late November 1972 at least through July 1973. Mr. Bush was assigned to the 111th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Ellington Air Force Base near Houston, from November 1969, last flying there on April 16, 1972. In a report dated May 26, 1972, his commander, Maj. William D. Harris Jr., said Mr. Bush had "recently accepted the position as campaign manager for a candidate for the United States Senate." Mr. Bush went to work for Winton M. Blount a few days after Mr. Blount won the Republican primary in Alabama on May 2, 1972.

From that time until after the election that November, Mr. Bush did not appear for duty, even after being told to report for training with an Alabama unit in October and November. Mr. Bartlett said Mr. Bush had been too busy with the campaign to report in those months but made up the time later.

JO THOMAS, NY TIMES, JULY 22, 2000 - When Mr. Bush went to work on the campaign he was still obligated to serve in the National Guard, and accordingly he sought a transfer to Alabama. His original request, to serve with the 9921st Air Reserve Squadron in Montgomery, was rejected because the unit would not meet his military obligation. He requested another assignment in July, and the Texas Air National Guard recommended letting him serve with another Montgomery group, the 187th Tactical Recon Group, from September to November 1972.

On Sept. 15, 1972, the head of personnel for that unit wrote: "Lieutenant Bush should report to Lt. Col. William Turnipseed, DCO, to perform equivalent training." Questions about Mr. Bush's military service arose in May when The Boston Globe quoted Mr. Turnipseed, who retired as a general, as saying Mr. Bush never appeared for duty.

In a recent interview, the general took a tiny step back, saying, "I don't think he did, but I wouldn't stake my life on it. I think I would have remembered him. The chances are 99 percent he didn't."

In an interview, Mr. Bush disagreed. "I was there. I know this guy was quoted as saying I wasn't, but I was there."

National Guard records provided by the Guard and by the Bush campaign indicate he did serve on Nov. 29, 1972, after the election. These records also show a gap in service from that time to the previous May. Mr. Bush says he made up for the lost time in subsequent months, and guard records show he received credit for having performed all the required service.

[Then some months later came this story in which the Globe did not back down]

WALTER V. ROBINSON, BOSTON GLOBE, OCTOBER 31, 2000 - Belatedly, [Democrats] are calling attention to misleading claims Bush and his campaign have made about his Vietnam-era service as a fighter pilot with the Texas Air National Guard, and to documents that contradict Bush's insistence that he attended required drills in Alabama and Texas in 1972 and 1973. Five months after the Globe first reported those discrepancies, Bush's biography on his presidential campaign Web site remains unchanged, stating that he served as a pilot in the Texas Guard from 1968 to 1973.

In fact, Bush only flew with the 111th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Ellington Field in Houston from June 1970 until April 1972. That month he ceased flying altogether, two years before his military commitment ended, an unusual step that has left some veteran fighter pilots puzzled.

In Alabama, a group of Vietnam veterans recently offered a $1,000 reward for anyone who can verify Bush's claim that he performed service at a Montgomery air guard unit in 1972, when Bush was temporarily in Alabama working on a political campaign. So far, no one has come forward. The reward is now $3,500.

What's more, a Bush campaign spokesman acknowledged last week that he knows of no witnesses who can attest to Bush's attendance at drills after he returned to Houston in late 1972 and before his early release from the Guard in September 1973.

There is strong evidence that Bush performed no military service, as was required, when he moved from Houston to Alabama to work on a US Senate campaign from May to November 1972. There are no records of any service and the commanding officer of the unit Bush was assigned to said he never saw him.

DONALD MURPHY

BUSH OFFICIAL TRIED TO GAG PARK SERVICE POLICE CHIEF

WOMAN PARK POLICE CHIEF SUBJECTED TO POLITICAL HARASSMENT AND SABOTAGE

365 GAY

JEFFREY ST. CLAIR, COUNTERPUNCH

DAVID A. FAHRENTHOLD WASHINGTON POST -

WTOP, DC

US PARK RANGERS FOP - The United States Park Ranger Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police is strongly opposed to the suspension and pending punishment of the current head of the US Park Police, Chief Teresa Chambers", said Executive Director Randall Kendrick. "What Chief Chambers has stated is common knowledge throughout the National Park Service. The US Park Police, as well as the commissioned US Park Rangers are woefully understaffed for the job they are called upon to perform, especially after 9/11", he continued.

As a matter of fact, several recent professional studies of law enforcement in the NPS, such as Booz-Allen, the IACP, and the Hon. Earl Devaney, Inspector General of the Dept of Interior, and others have time and again pointed out the misplaced priorities of this agency. . . According to the Dept Of Justice Bureau Of Statistics, the NPS suffers by far the worst record of having its officers killed or injured by assaults in the line of duty of any federal law enforcement agency.

CHIEF TERESA CHAMBERS - Last Friday, December 5, 2003, my world and my identity fell apart. Without explanation -- other than my "conduct" was being "reviewed" -- I was placed on administrative leave and stripped of my police powers. I was forced by Deputy Director Don Murphy to relinquish on the spot my firearm, badges, and credentials. The person to whom I was mandated to turn over the property was a NPS Special Agent.

Two armed special agents were stationed outside Murphy's door, and two were posted at what I refer to as "ceremonial parade rest" behind him. I was summoned to his office on the pretense that the Director and he wanted to meet with me and the USPP second in command, Assistant Chief Ben Holmes, about "general USPP issues." The Director was not present. In fact, she was hidden away in another wing until I was disarmed and had left Murphy's office. Two of the special agents were then ordered to escort me back to headquarters to turn over other property, including cell phones, pager, computer, Blackberry, keys, identification cards, and the like. Murphy and a representative of the Solicitor's Office refused to answer my questions regarding what they were investigating or what I was alleged to have done.

My purpose in writing is not to gain sympathy but to merely praise the professionalism of the four special agents who were given the unpleasant assignment of being there on December 5. The Special Agent in Charge stated, with tears in her eyes and in front of Murphy and while she was taking possession of my weapon, "This isn't right. I am so sorry." I quickly responded as I touched her arm gently, "You are not the bad guy here."

All four special agents had a look of sorrow and unease. They were models of professionalism and sensitivity. The two who were required to escort me back to headquarters gave me lots of space to interact with USPP employees on the way into the building and patiently waited while I gathered up the required items to relinquish. Several times, they expressed their apologies and empathy for what they saw as an unjust action. In fact, one described my behavior in Murphy's office as a "class act.". .

CHRIS COX

MEET CHRIS COX: TO SECURITIES OVERSIGHT AS BOLTON IS TO THE U.N.
http://www.americanprogressaction.org/site/pp.asp?c=klLWJcP7H&b=736515

PROGRESS REPORT - Meet Chris Cox, the man who helped produce the Enron scandal. Orange County Weekly reported that "Cox, as part of conservative Republicans' so-called Contract With America, spearheaded efforts to torpedo protections for corporate investors and shield companies -- like Enron -- and their accountants -- like Arthur Andersen -- from investor lawsuits." Cox's sustained effort to provide protections to corporate bad actors was successful; the nation's economy was not. Moreover, Cox pushed his securities reform bill through Congress at the same time he was a named defendant in two lawsuits for securities fraud. Cox's conduct raises serious questions about his ethical suitability for the job. For the last two-and-half years, outgoing SEC Chairman William Donaldson has worked to repair the damage Cox helped produce. But Cox remains committed to his ideological agenda, and, should he be confirmed, is ready to take the country back into the Enron era.

Cox claimed on the floor of the House in 1995 that securities law was "a legal torture chamber ... more suitable to the pages of Charles Dickens' 'Bleak House' than a nation dedicated to equal justice under law." Cox's efforts to weaken protections for investors culminated in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, which provided extensive legal protection to corporate executives, accountants and lawyers who made misleading statements. The bill was enacted into law over President Clinton's veto "after heavy lobbying from Andersen [and] the rest of the accounting industry." Duke University Law Professor James Cox (no relation) called the law "the ultimate in special-interest legislation." Barbara Roper, director of investor protection at the Consumer Federation of America, said Chris Cox's law "made it not only possible but likely that something like Enron would occur."

According to OC Weekly, "independent legal analyses and securities lawyers agree" that Cox's bill "significantly raised the bar at several points in the litigation process, making it much harder for plaintiffs to bring lawsuits." Specifically, plaintiffs "would have to prove there was a 'strong inference' that the defendant acted with the required state of mind for fraud. Securities lawyers refer to this requirement as "'scienter' - a mental state embracing intent to deceive, manipulate or defraud." It's an extremely difficult standard to meet. When the standard was interpreted by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals it "even forgave executives who said they forgot to disclose bad financial news to investors."

Cox's law provided additional protections for executives who made inaccurate "forward looking statements" about the future of the company to investors. So when, 12 weeks before the company declared bankruptcy, former Enron CEO Ken Lay told a reporter from Business Week, "We think the company is on solid footing, and we're looking forward to continued strong growth," he was unlikely to face legal consequences.

Cox's efforts to limit the ability of investors to sue for fraud was informed by his personal experience. Cox worked for the law firm of Latham & Watkins from 1978 to 1986 before leaving to join the White House counsel's office. [In 1994] the LA Times reported, Cox was sued for his work at Latham that involved him in a business scheme that robbed nearly 8,000 investors of approximately $136 million. The scheme cheated customers out of their retirement nest eggs by enticing them to invest in phony mortgages. High-level officers at First Pension Corporation, the company at issue, pled guilty to fraudulently diverting funds. The charge against Cox was that he helped write a deceptive plan to sell mutual fund shares. Cox claimed ignorance and said he was only distantly involved in the case, but information uncovered later revealed him to be more involved with the convicted dealer than he previously let on.
Two suits were filed against Cox: a class action by the investors of First Pension Corp. and another by the court-appointed receiver. The LA Times wrote that although Cox was dropped as a defendant from the receiver's case (a move that was meant to "streamline the case," according to the receiver), Cox remained a defendant in the class action. The other major defendant, the accounting giant Coopers & Lybrand (now PricewaterhouseCoopers) was found guilty in July 2000 by a California Superior Court jury, according to the LA Times, for having "misrepresented First Pension's condition, concealed material information and abetted the company's managers in the fraud."

Cox was named in a class-action suit brought by the defrauded investors of First Pension. At the same time he was named in the suit, Cox was holding hearings on the Hill on the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act, a bill that, according to the WSJ, would "sharply limit the circumstances in which investors could bring class-action lawsuits." The AP noted, "Cox was informed one week before the bill was introduced that attorneys were threatening to add him as a defendant in a securities lawsuit." Although the bill did not directly affect the case against him because the case was filed in state court, the AP noted, "it could affect future legal actions brought in federal court against him or his former law firm, Latham & Watkins, which is named as a defendant in the suit." Despite there being an obvious conflict of interest involved with Cox's legislation, the House took no action against him.

Though Cox claimed he only performed a small amount of legal work for one of the convicted securities dealers, the AP uncovered documents that showed Cox had actually worked with the felon in another major transaction. When confronted with the new evidence of the relationship, Cox said, "I don't have any independent recollection of that work." Back on Capitol Hill, Cox added an additional protection for targets of securities fraud lawsuits. "The day after the AP questioned Cox about [the relationship between him and the convicted dealer,] the congressman amended his legislation to prevent lawyers and others from being sued if they 'genuinely forgot to disclose' important information."

JOHN NEGROPONTE

NEGROPONTE NOT ALL THAT INTELLIGENT

AMERICAN PROGRESS - Negroponte has precious little intelligence experience. And the experience he does have has been characterized by abject failure. As an ambassador to the U.N., he pushed inaccurate intelligence about Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction as a justification for war. In December 2002, he called an Iraqi declaration that they didn't have any weapons of mass destruction "an insult to our intelligence." In January 2003 he said, "we are convinced that Iraq maintains and continues to pursue its WMD programs." At the same press conference, asked whether the administration knew Iraq was using aluminum tubes to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapons program, Negroponte replied, "the answer is definitively yes."

NEGROPONTE RAN ROGUE SPY OP IN IRAQ
http://www.wsws.org/articles/2005/feb2005/negr-f18.shtml

WORLD SOCIALIST - Ironically, while Negroponte is ostensibly tasked with unifying the disparate intelligence agencies, he has been accused of launching his own rogue intelligence operation in Iraq. The US think tank Stratfor, which has close links to US military and intelligence circles, reported that Negroponte ran his own "parallel intelligence service" in Iraq, because he did not trust the CIA's Baghdad station chief.

There has been a proliferation of such informal intelligence services, Stratfor noted, most famously the Pentagon's "counter-terrorism evaluation group," created to substantiate the bogus claims of ties between the Iraqi regime and Al Qaeda.

The spread of such off-the-books operations, Stratfor noted, "sets up the new national intelligence director - yet to be appointed - for failure As long as government agencies and on-the-side intel projects undermine each other, the NID will not be able to bring all intelligence efforts under one umbrella. The proliferation of small, separate intelligence groups also hurts collection efforts by impeding the government's ability to paint a clear picture of the realities on the ground-in Iraq and elsewhere."

Negroponte's objective was just that - to counteract the assessment of the CIA, whose station chief filed an end-of-the year report giving a bleak assessment of the US occupation and warning that resistance could spiral out of control. Negroponte answered the assessment with a lengthy dissenting report of his own, painting a far rosier picture of what is widely seen as a debacle, not only in the CIA, but within the State Department and military as well.

As national intelligence director, Negroponte will doubtless continue along these lines, pressing the CIA and other intelligence agencies to tailor their assessments to meet the political needs of the administration. In this regard, he will be aligned with the new director of the CIA, Peter Goss, who issued a memo to the intelligence agency's employees last November warning them not to "identify with, support or champion opposition to the administration or its policies."

MEET YOUR NEW CZAR,
BUILDER OF OUR FIRST MAJOR TORTURE CENTER

WIKIPEDIA - Negroponte was born in London. His father was a Greek shipping magnate. He graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1956 and Yale University in 1960. He later served at eight different Foreign Service posts in Asia, Europe and Latin America; and he also held important positions at the State Department and the White House. . .

From 1981 to 1985 Negroponte was US ambassador to Honduras. During his tenure, he oversaw the growth of military aid to Honduras from $4 million to $77 million a year. At the time, Honduras was ruled by an elected but heavily militarily-influenced government. .

Negroponte supervised the construction of the El Aguacate air base where Nicaraguan Contras were trained by the US, and which critics say was used as a secret detention and torture center during the 1980s. In August 2001, excavations at the base discovered 185 corpses, including two Americans, who are thought to have been killed and buried at the site.

Records also show that a special intelligence unit (commonly referred to as a "death squad") of the Honduran armed forces, Battalion 3-16, trained by the CIA and Argentine military, kidnapped, tortured and killed hundreds of people, including US missionaries. Critics charge that Negroponte knew about these human rights violations and yet continued to collaborate with the Honduran military while lying to Congress.

In May 1982, a nun, Sister Laetitia Bordes, who had worked for ten years in El Salvador, went on a fact-finding delegation to Honduras to investigate the whereabouts of thirty Salvadoran nuns and women of faith who fled to Honduras in 1981 after Archbishop Óscar Romero's assassination. Negroponte claimed the embassy knew nothing. But in a 1996 interview with the Baltimore Sun, Negroponte's predecessor, Jack Binns, said that a group of Salvadorans, among whom were the women Bordes had been looking for, were captured on April 22, 1981, and savagely tortured by the DNI, the Honduran Secret Police, and then later thrown out of helicopters alive.

In early 1984, two American mercenaries, Thomas Posey and Dana Parker, contacted Negroponte, stating they wanted to supply arms to the Contras after the U.S. Congress had banned further military aid. Documents show that Negroponte brought the two with a contact in the Honduran armed forces The operation was exposed nine months later, at which point the Reagan administration denied any US involvement, despite Negroponte's participation in the scheme. Other documents uncovered a plan of Negroponte and then-Vice President George H. W. Bush to funnel Contra aid money through the Honduran government.

During his tenure as US ambassador to Honduras, Binns, who was appointed by President Jimmy Carter, made numerous complaints about human rights abuses by the Honduran military and he claimed he fully briefed Negroponte on the situation before leaving the post. When the Reagan administration came to power, Binns was replaced by Negroponte, who has consistently denied having knowledge of any wrongdoing. Later, the Honduras Commission on Human Rights accused Negroponte himself of human rights violations.

Speaking of Negroponte and other senior US officials, an ex-Honduran congressman, Efrain Diaz, told the Baltimore Sun, which in 1995 published an extensive investigation of US activities in Honduras: "Their attitude was one of tolerance and silence. They needed Honduras to loan its territory more than they were concerned about innocent people being killed."

The Sun's investigation found that the CIA and US embassy knew of numerous abuses but continued to support Battalion 3-16 and ensured that the embassy's annual human rights report did not contain the full story.

The question of what John Negroponte knew about human rights abuses in Honduras will probably never be answered definitively, but there is a large body of circumstantial evidence supporting the view that Negroponte was aware that serious violations of human rights were carried out by the Honduran government with the support of the CIA. Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, on 14 September 2001, as reported in the Congressional Record, aired his suspicions on the occasion of Negroponte's nomination to the position of UN ambassador: "Based upon the Committee's review of State Department and CIA documents, it would seem that Ambassador Negroponte knew far more about government perpetuated human rights abuses than he chose to share with the committee in 1989 or in Embassy contributions at the time to annual State Department Human Rights reports." Among other evidence, Dodd cited a cable sent by Negroponte in 1985 that made it clear that Negroponte was aware of the threat of "future human rights abuses" by "secret operating cells" left over by General Alvarez after his deposition in 1984.

WIKIPEDIA
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Negroponte#Ambassador_to_Honduras

DODD COMMENTS
http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2001_cr/s091401.html

MARYKNOLL GLOBAL CONCERNS - In addition to his work with the Nicaraguan Contra army, Negroponte helped conceal from Congress the murder, kidnapping and torture abuses of a CIA-equipped and -trained Honduran military unit, Battalion 3-16. No mention of these human rights violations ever appeared in State Department Human Rights reports for Honduras. The Baltimore Sun reports that Efrain Diaz Arrivillaga, then a delegate in the Honduran Congress and a voice of dissent, told the Sun that he complained to Negroponte on numerous occasions about the Honduran military's human rights abuses. Rick Chidester, a junior embassy official under Negroponte, reported to the Sun that he was forced to omit an exhaustive gathering of human rights violations from his 1982 State Department report. . .

According to the Los Angeles Times, shortly after Negroponte's nomination was decided, the U.S. government revoked the visa of General Luis Alonso Discua Elvir, who was Honduras' deputy ambassador to the UN. General Discua was the commander of the Battalion during Negroponte's tenure as ambassador. He has publicly claimed to have information linking Negroponte with the battalion's activities. His testimony would be invaluable in illuminating Negroponte's collusion with Honduran opponents on Capitol Hill. In 1994, the Honduran Human Rights Commission charged Negroponte personally with several human rights abuses.

On August 27, 1997, CIA Inspector General Frederick P. Hitz released a 211-page classified report entitled "Selected Issues Relating to CIA Activities in Honduras in the 1980s." This report was partly declassified on October 22, 1998, in response to persistent demands by the Honduran human rights ombudsman. You can read parts of the document on the National Security Archives website. Only senators and their staff who have security clearance can read the report in its entirety. It is absolutely critical that every senator read and consider the entire report before approving Negroponte's nomination.

http://www.maryknoll.org/GLOBAL/ALERTS/no_negroponte.htm

GHALI HASSAN, COUNTERPUNCH, 2004 - At the time Mr. Negroponte was in Honduras, Honduras was a military dictatorship. Kidnapping, rape, torture and executions of dissidents was rampant. The military top and middle ranks were U.S-trained at the School of the Americas, the Harvard version of the CIA, based in Fort Benning, Georgia. According to Human Rights Watch, graduates of the SOA are responsible for the worst human rights abuses and torture of dissidents in Latin America. Some of its 60,000 graduates are notorious Manuel Noriega and Omar Torrijos of Panama. . .

http://counterpunch.org/hassan06042004.html

WORLD SOCIALIST - Honduras was not Negroponte's first introduction to US covert operations and mass killing. He began his climb up the national security establishment ladder as a political affairs officer at the US Embassy in Saigon from 1964 to 1968, a position that often serves as a cover for CIA operatives. From 1969 to 1971, he was an aide to Henry Kissinger in the Paris negotiations with the Hanoi government, reportedly criticizing Kissinger for making too many concessions to the Vietnamese. From 1971 to 1973, he oversaw operations in Vietnam for the National Security Council, then headed by Kissinger. Thus, for nine years he played a direct role in prosecuting a US war that killed millions of Vietnamese.

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2004/apr2004/negr-a21_prn.shtml

TERRY ALLEN, IN THESE TIMES - According to a 1995 four-part series in the Baltimore Sun, hundreds of Hondurans were kidnapped, tortured and killed by Battalion 316, a secret army intelligence unit trained and supported by the Central Intelligence Agency. As Gary Cohn and Ginger Thompson wrote in the series, Battalion 316 used "shock and suffocation devices in interrogations. Prisoners often were kept naked and, when no longer useful, killed and buried in unmarked graves." Members of Battalion 316 were trained in surveillance and interrogation at a secret location in the United States and by the CIA at bases in Honduras . . . Negroponte tried to distance himself from the pattern of abuses, even after a flood of declassified documents exposed the extent of US involvement with Battalion 316. In a segment of the 1998 CNN mini-series Cold War, Negroponte said that "some of the retrospective effort to try and suggest that we were supportive of, or condoned the actions of, human rights violators is really revisionistic."

http://www.inthesetimes.com/web2509/allen2509.html

MEET YOUR NEW AMBASSADOR

WORLD SOCIALIST -With the nomination of John Negroponte as the new US ambassador in Baghdad, the Bush administration has unmistakably signaled that it is planning to wage a protracted and dirty war of repression against the Iraqi people. . . Some of the media reports have stated that among Negroponte's qualifications is his experience in "running a large embassy." The most formative experience in this regard was his role as head of the US Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras at the height of the dirty wars waged by the Reagan administration against the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua and the popular insurgency in El Salvador.

As a stereotypical, Washington-dominated "banana republic," Honduras had been ruled throughout the 20th century by an alliance between the United Fruit Company, the country's military and the US embassy.

However, in the 1980s, under Negroponte's stewardship, the situation shifted dramatically, with Honduras becoming a giant base of operations for the CIA-organized Contra war against the Sandinistas, which was to claim some 50,000 lives.

From 1981 to 1985, Negroponte was the US ambassador in Honduras, overseeing operations that included the illegal funding of the Contra mercenaries and a massive buildup of the Honduran armed forces, including the construction of bases, air fields and supply dumps throughout the country.

Among these facilities was the El Aguacate air base, built on the pretext of providing a temporary facility for the thousands of US troops that were rotated through Honduras on "training" exercises. In reality, it was used to provide a permanent facility for the Contras and to funnel aid to these right-wing mercenaries in violation of restrictions imposed by the US Congress.

In 1999, mass graves were discovered at the site, along with blood-stained jail cells.

While he was ambassador to Honduras, Negroponte supervised a 20-fold increase in US military aid to the country, which he aggressively defended as a model of democracy in Central America.

His predecessor as US ambassador warned him that the Honduran security forces were resorting to "extralegal tactics-disappearances and apparently physical eliminations to control a perceived subversive threat," according to a briefing book obtained by the Baltimore Sun for a detailed investigation it produced in 1995. . .

During this same period, hundreds of people were kidnapped and "disappeared," including a number of union leaders, student organizers and other opponents of the military-dominated regime. Prisoners were routinely tortured on the direct orders of the chief of the Honduran armed forces.

Much of this dirty work was carried out by a unit known as Battalion 316, whose members were trained in the United States and "advised" by the CIA in Honduras. While issuing his glowing endorsements of the Honduran regime's human rights record, Negroponte was intimately familiar with the grisly work of these killers. . .

Honduras was not Negroponte's first introduction to US covert operations and mass killing. He began his climb up the national security establishment ladder as a political affairs officer at the US Embassy in Saigon from 1964 to 1968, a position that often serves as a cover for CIA operatives.

From 1969 to 1971, he was an aide to Henry Kissinger in the Paris negotiations with the Hanoi government, reportedly criticizing Kissinger for making too many concessions to the Vietnamese. From 1971 to 1973, he oversaw operations in Vietnam for the National Security Council, then headed by Kissinger. Thus, for nine years he played a direct role in prosecuting a US war that killed millions of Vietnamese.

ARKANSAS CONNECTIONS, PROGRESSIVE REVIEW - 1984: Ronald Reagan wants to send the National Guard to Honduras to help in the war against the Contras. Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis goes to the Supreme Court in a futile effort to stop it but Clinton is happy to oblige, even sending his own security chief, Buddy Young, [later FEMA official] along to keep an eye on things. Winding up its tour, the Arkansas Guard declares large quantities of its weapons "excess" and leaves them behind for the Contras.

TERRY ALLEN, IN THESE TIMES: Like spooks from an abandoned B-Movie graveyard, officials of the Reagan-Bush era are emerging from the dirt and showing up inside the George W. Bush administration. The latest resurrection is John Negroponte, whom Bush recently nominated as ambassador to the United Nations. As US ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985, Negroponte abetted and covered up human rights crimes. He was a zealous anti-Communist crusader in America's covert wars against the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua and the FMLN rebels in El Salvador. The high-level planning, money and arms for those wars flowed from Washington, but much of the on-the-ground logistics for the deployment of intelligence, arms and soldiers was run out of Honduras. US military aid to Honduras jumped from $3.9 million in 1980 to $77.4 million by 1984. So crammed was the tiny country with US bases and weapons that it was dubbed the USS Honduras, as if it were simply an off-shore staging ground. The captain of this ship, Negroponte was in charge of the US Embassy when, John Negroponte on CNN's Cold War. According to a 1995 four-part series in the Baltimore Sun, hundreds of Hondurans were kidnapped, tortured and killed by Battalion 316, a secret army intelligence unit trained and supported by the Central Intelligence Agency. As Gary Cohn and Ginger Thompson wrote in the series, Battalion 316 used "shock and suffocation devices in interrogations. Prisoners often were kept naked and, when no longer useful, killed and buried in unmarked graves." Members of Battalion 316 were trained in surveillance and interrogation at a secret location in the United States and by the CIA at bases in Honduras . . . Negroponte tried to distance himself from the pattern of abuses, even after a flood of declassified documents exposed the extent of US involvement with Battalion 316. In a segment of the 1998 CNN mini-series Cold War, Negroponte said that "some of the retrospective effort to try and suggest that we were supportive of, or condoned the actions of, human rights violators is really revisionistic."

PAUL O'NEILL 

FINANCIAL TIMES: By making controversial proposals - [Paul] O'Neill backs the abolition of taxes on business - the Treasury secretary signals that the administration feels itself stronger than before, and is now ready to tackle larger problems. For starters, Mr. O'Neill says, it is time to review the purpose of taxation. Rather than seeing it as a simple mechanism to raise revenue, America must ask why it exists. It must also challenge progressive taxation, something no Republican administration has done before in a serious way. It must ask "how much money we the people as a collective group need to extract from each other to pay for public goods and services". National defense is a federal responsibility, says Mr. O'Neill, but all other outlays need review. Mr. O'Neill would include America's entitlement programmers for senior citizens in his survey. Currently, the government guarantees pensions and senior healthcare. Mr. O'Neill questions this guarantee, the roots of which lie in Roosevelt's New Deal. "Able-bodied adults should save enough on a regular basis so that they can provide for their own retirement and, for that matter, health and medical needs," he says . . . Mr. O'Neill "absolutely" backs the abolition of taxes on corporations. Instead, he says, the tax burden should be shifted to the individual. MORE

JULIAN BORGER, GUARDIAN: The Bush administration's generous tax-cut plans were put into perspective when it was reported that the new treasury secretary, Paul O'Neill, earned more than $56 million last year as chairman of Alcoa Inc., the giant aluminum corporation . . . The cabinet is a veritable tycoons' club with seven of its members owning assets worth more than $10 million. Eleven of the remaining 12 are millionaires . . . The president has assets valued at $11 million - $21 million, including a sizable Texas ranch. Much of that money was made while he was a manager and share owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team, which benefited greatly from state funding of its stadium. . .THE BUSH CABINET thus bests Clinton, 77% of whose initial cabinet were millionaires, a presidential record at the time.

JOHN POINDEXTER

||| JOHN SUTHERLAND GUARDIAN, LONDON - John M Poindexter had been appointed to head a new agency "to counter attacks on the US." . . . The agency which Poindexter will run is called the Information Awareness Office. You want to know what that is? Think, Big Brother is Watching You. IAO will supply federal officials with "instant" analysis on what is being written on email and said on phones all over the US. Domestic espionage. You want to test it out? Text-message any American friend, "Bmb OK. Allah gr8." . . .

Poindexter is frighteningly smart and very unscrupulous. He graduated top of his class at the Naval Academy in 1958 and went on to a PhD in physics at the California Institute of Technology . . . He is the model for Tom Clancy's hero, Jack Ryan. After the assassination attempt on President Reagan in 1981, Poindexter was called in to review White House security. Reagan was impressed and appointed him a national security adviser, in 1983, with the rank of vice-admiral.

MORE

JOHN MARKOFF, NY TIMES - John M. Poindexter, the retired Navy admiral who was President Ronald Reagan's national security adviser, has returned to the Pentagon to direct a new agency that is developing technologies to give federal officials instant access to vast new surveillance and information- analysis systems . . . Mr. Poindexter, who is 65, was a controversial figure both for his role in the Iran-contra scandals and for his efforts to assert military influence over commercial computer security technologies. With Oliver L. North, a former National Security Council aide, Mr. Poindexter was convicted in 1986 as part of the guns-for-hostages deal that provoked a Congressional investigation. The conviction was overturned in 1991 on grounds that the men had been granted immunity from prosecution as a result of their testimony before Congress . . . As national security adviser, Mr. Poindexter was involved with a Reagan administration initiative in 1984 known as National Security Decision Directive, N.S.D.D.-145, which gave intelligence agencies broad authority to examine computer databases for "sensitive but unclassified information." In a later memorandum, Mr. Poindexter expanded this authority to give the military responsibility for all computer and communications security for the federal government and private industry. MORE

HALLIBURTON

HALLIBURTON PLAYED FAST AND LOOSE WITH GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS

SENATOR SAYS HALLIBURTON'S AUDITORS SAW PROBLEMS

THERE'S ALWAYS A WAY FOR HALIBURTON
PRICE GOUGING IN IRAQ, BANKRUPTCY IN AMERICA

U.S. PAYING HALLIBURTON $2.64
A GALLON TO IMPORT FUEL TO IRAQ

DON VAN NATTA JR, NY TIMES - The United States government is paying the Halliburton Company an average of $2.64 a gallon to import gasoline and other fuel to Iraq from Kuwait, more than twice what others are paying to truck in Kuwaiti fuel, government documents show. Halliburton, which has the exclusive United States contract to import fuel into Iraq, subcontracts the work to a Kuwaiti firm, government officials said. But Halliburton gets 26 cents a gallon for its overhead and fee, according to documents from the Army Corps of Engineers.

The cost of the imported fuel first came to public attention in October when two senior Democrats in Congress criticized Halliburton, the huge Houston-based oil-field services company, for "inflating gasoline prices at a great cost to American taxpayers." At the time, it was estimated that Halliburton was charging the United States government and Iraq's oil-for-food program an average of about $1.60 a gallon for fuel available for 71 cents wholesale. . .


A spokeswoman for Halliburton, Wendy Hall, defended the company's pricing. "It is expensive to purchase, ship, and deliver fuel into a wartime situation, especially when you are limited by short-duration contracting," she said. She said the company's Kellogg Brown & Root unit, which administers the contract, must work in a "hazardous" and "hostile environment," and that its profit on the contract is small.

HALLIBURTON SERVES DIRTY FOOD TO GIs

AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE - The Pentagon repeatedly warned contractor Halliburton-KBR that the food it served to US troops in Iraq was "dirty," as were as the kitchens it was served in, NBC News reported on Friday. Halliburton-Kellogg Brown and Root's promises to improve "have not been followed through," according to a Pentagon report that warned "serious repercussions may result" if the contractor did not clean up.


The Pentagon reported finding "blood all over the floor," "dirty pans," "dirty grills," "dirty salad bars" and "rotting meats ... and vegetables" in four of the military messes the company operates in Iraq, NBC said, citing Pentagon documents. The company feeds 110,000 US and coalition troops daily at a cost of $28 per troop per day, NBC said.


The Pentagon found unclean conditions at four locations in Iraq, including one in Baghdad and two in Tikrit. Even the mess hall where Bush served troops their Thanksgiving dinner was dirty in August, September and October, according to NBC.

SEE ALSO

Bush timeline
The oil war

JEB BUSH

FORBES - A government money market debacle unfolding in Florida is raising questions about former governor and presidential brother Jeb Bush's possible involvement in the mess.

Florida froze withdrawals from a state investment fund earlier this week when local governments withdrew billions of dollars out of concern for the fund's financial stability.

STEPHANIE FRANCIS WARD, ABA - Out of three interviews for a state court judge position, Florida lawyer Jayme Cassidy says she was twice asked how she would care for her children if appointed. Cassidy and other applicants say the Florida Judicial Nominating Commission for Broward County did not pose the question to fathers who also applied. However, the governor-appointed group is asking other applicants about their religious beliefs, say some Florida lawyers, and asking candidates how they would rule on certain matters, such as sodomy and displaying the Ten Commandments in the courtroom. . .

In a regular hiring process, such questions might be considered fodder for a hiring discrimination suit. But screening for political appointments, even judgeships, does not follow the same rules. . . Maria M. Schneider, a Broward County assistant state's attorney who also interviewed with the Broward County commission, says a member asked her if she was a "God-fearing woman."

CONDOLEEZZA RICE

RICE ON BOARD OF CHEVRON WHEN IT WAS INVOLVED IN BIG KICKBACK SCHEME WITH SADDAM

DISSEMBLY LINES: RICE TRIES TO EXPLAIN HERSELF AGAIN
http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=05/01/19/1510210

[Condoleezza Rice called the rule of Venezuelan prsident Hugo chavez "deeply troubling." Senator Chafee found that a bit troubling]

SENATOR LINCOLN CHAFEE: It seems to be a hypocritical approach to our foreign policy in some ways, in particular how we deal with some of those democracies such as Russia. . . It seems to magnify our differences on one hand and on the other hand, we magnify our similarities. In particular after having just come back from South America and meeting with President Chavez. Here he has gone before his people, high, high turnout. Just had a referendum, and as one of the people from our embassy said, they cleaned their clocks and kicked their butts. It seems to me to say derogatory things about him may be disrespectful to him, but also to the Venezuelan people. How do you react to that?

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Well, I have nothing but good things to say about the Venezuelan people. They are a remarkable people, and if you notice, Senator Chafee, I was not making derogatory comments, I was simply recognizing that there are unhelpful and unconstructive trends going on in Venezuelan policies. This is not personal.

SENATOR LINCOLN CHAFEE: And there aren't in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan --

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: And we --

SENATOR LINCOLN CHAFEE: -- and Russia and --

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: And we speak out about those.

SENATOR LINCOLN CHAFEE: Pakistan?

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: We speak out about those as well, but some of this is a matter of trend lines and where countries have been, and where they are now going.

SENATOR LINCOLN CHAFEE: Are their governments unconstructive?

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Well, the Russian government is not unconstructive in a lot of areas. It's quite constructive in many areas. It's been more constructive on Iran in recent years. It is constructive on -- to a certain extent in trying to deal with the kind of Nunn-Lugar issues that we have talked about. It's been constructive in Afghanistan. It's constructive on a number of areas, but that doesn't excuse what is happening inside Russia where the concentration of power in the Kremlin, to the detriment of other institutions, is a real problem.

And we will continue to speak to the Russians. I think we do have to remember that it is also not the Soviet Union. The Russians have come quite a long way from where the Soviet Union was, and we need to always keep that in mind when we judge current policies, but where they're going is simply not very good. It is something to be deeply concerned about, and we will speak out. Countries are going to move at different speeds on this democracy test. I don't think there's any doubt about that. But what we have to do is that we have to keep the agenda -- keep this item on the agenda. We have to continue to press countries about it.

We have to support democratic forces and civil society forces wherever we can. I would just note that Ukraine, I visited in 2001, not long after I had become National Security Adviser, and I frankly when this happened in Ukraine was pretty stunned by how effective civil society was and how effective the Ukrainian people were in making their voices known. Some of that is because we and the E.U. and others have spent time developing civil society, developing political opposition, working with people, not to have a specific candidate in any of these countries, but to have a political process that's open. And we have to do more of that. We're going to spend some $43 million this year, I believe that's the number, on Russian institutions, trying to help the development of civil society there. We need to do more of that kind of thing, because while we put it on an agenda, while we confront the governments that are engaged in non-democratic activities, we also have to help the development of civil society in opposition.

SENATOR LINCOLN CHAFEE: You and Senator Boxer were having a little bit of a debate over credibility, and to me, it seems as though trust is built with consistency. Is it possible for you to say something positive about the Chavez administration?

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: It's pretty hard, Senator, to find something positive. Let me say this.

SENATOR LINCOLN CHAFEE: I don't understand that, after Tajikistan --

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Let me say this.

SENATOR LINCOLN CHAFEE: -- Pakistan, Russia. It seems as though, as I say, magnifying our differences to some countries and magnifying our similarities with others. And as I said, I think trust is built with consistency, and I don't see consistency in some of your comments.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: The state of behavior in the western hemisphere, the sate of affairs in the western hemisphere, is such that we have had democratic revolutions in all of these places, and we don't want to see them go back. We have some places where the democratic revolution is still to take place. We just have to understand that there are differences in that regard. But I have said, we hope that the government of Venezuela will continue to recognize what has been a mutually beneficial relationship on energy and that we can continue to pursue that. We certainly hope that we can continue to pursue counter-drug activities in the Andean region, and Venezuela participates in that. But I have to say that for the most part, the activities of the Venezuelan government in the last couple of years have been pretty unconstructive.

SENATOR LINCOLN CHAFEE: Well, thank you very much. I'll go back to what I said earlier. It seems disrespectful to the Venezuelan people. They have spoken.

CONDOLEEZA RICE DURING CONFIRMATION HEARING - The tsunami was a wonderful opportunity for us.

BUSH DISSEMBLERS OF THE DAY

[From American Progress Report]

RICE - [Condoleeza] Rice refused to take responsibility for her misstatements in the run-up to the war in Iraq. On 9/9/02, Rice said, "We do know that [Saddam] is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon." And on 9/7/03, Rice said, "we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." Later, after weapons inspector David Kay had determined Iraq's nuclear weapons programs were retired in 1991, Rice told PBS that "It was a case that said he was trying to reconstitute…Nobody ever said that it was going to be the next year." Rice did not admit any inconsistency in those statements, instead lashing out at Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) at her hearing for "impugning my integrity." But Rice impugned her own integrity: click here for more than fifty Rice misstatements about 9/11 and the war in Iraq during her four year tenure as national security advisor.

RICE REFUSES TO CONDEMN TORTURE
http://www.americanprogressaction.org/site/pp.asp?c=klLWJcP7H&b=124597

AMERICAN PROGRESS REPORT - In one of the most dramatic moments of the hearing, Rice declined to make a clear statement against the use of torture. Citing instances of forced nudity and simulated drowning as interrogation techniques, Sen. Dodd (D-CT) asked Rice, "What are your views on that? Is that torture, in your view, or not?" Rice "declined to characterize" the abusive methods, saying such determinations were made by the Justice Department and that it wouldn't be "appropriate" for her to comment. "It's a disappointing answer," Dodd retorted, "with the world watching, when a simple question is raised about techniques that I think most people would conclude in this country are torture, it's important at a moment like that that you can speak clearly and directly."

RICE, FOR WHITE HOUSE, OPPOSES RESTRICTIONS ON TORTURE

DOUGLAS JEHL and DAVID JOHNSTON, NY TIMES - At the urging of the White House, Congressional leaders scrapped a legislative measure last month that would have imposed new restrictions on the use of extreme interrogation measures by American intelligence officers, Congressional officials say. . . The Senate had approved the new restrictions, by a 96-to-2 vote, as part of the intelligence reform legislation. They would have explicitly extended to intelligence officers a prohibition against torture or inhumane treatment, and would have required the C.I.A. as well as the Pentagon to report to Congress about the methods they were using.

But in intense closed-door negotiations, Congressional officials said, four senior members from the House and Senate deleted the restrictions from the final bill after the White House expressed opposition. In a letter to members of Congress, sent in October and made available by the White House on Wednesday in response to inquiries, Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, expressed opposition to the measure on the grounds that it "provides legal protections to foreign prisoners to which they are not now entitled under applicable law and policy."

MICHAEL CHERTOFF

CHERTOFF OKAYED TORTURE - INCLUDING WATERBOARDING - WHILE AT JUSTICE

WIKIPEDIA - Chertoff is the co-author, along with Viet Dinh, of the USA PATRIOT Act, signed into law October 26, 2001.

As head of the Justice Department's criminal division, he advised the Central Intelligence Agency on the outer limits of legality in coercive interrogation sessions.

Most recently Chertoff has managed the FEMA response to Hurricane Katrina. On September 3, 2005, several days after the initial strike of the hurricane many indicated severe dissatisfaction with the response from Washington, citing the delay between the general knowledge of the storm's likely impact and any effective federal response. Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco declared a state of emergency on August 26; a week later, New Orleans remained in a state of chaos.

While defending the federal government's response in a September 3, 2005 press conference, Chertoff asserted "That 'perfect storm' of a combination of catastrophes exceeded the foresight of the planners, and maybe anybody's foresight."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Chertoff

WIKIPEDIA - Eight states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Montana and Vermont) and 396 cities and counties (including New York City; Los Angeles; Dallas; Chicago; Eugene, Oregon; Philadelphia; and Cambridge, Massachusetts) have passed resolutions condemning the Act for attacking civil liberties. Arcata, California was the first city to pass an ordinance that bars city employees (including police and librarians) from assisting or cooperating with any federal investigations under the Act that would violate civil liberties (Nullification). . . Pundits question the validity of these ordinances, noting that under the Constitution's supremacy clause, federal law overrides state and local laws. However, others have opined that the federal employees, in using such procedures for investigations, violate the Constitution's clauses in the fourth amendment, and in these cases, the Constitution overrides the USA PATRIOT Act's provisions.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USA_PATRIOT_Act

ELAINE CASSEL, COUNTERPUNCH, 2003 - I have been watching John Ashcroft so long that it is getting to be a little boring. . . But now I have a new gremlin to watch, someone who is as intent on undermining the law and Constitution as Ashcroft. I am referring to the man behind the criminal prosecution of terrorists, Michael Chertoff. Chertoff, former chief of the Justice Department's criminal division, and a scary looking guy if ever there was one, has been elevated to the level of Court of Appeals judge--the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, whose jurisdiction includes Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. What's so scary about Michael? Well, besides having no judicial experience and being a right-ring radical who does not believe in the Constitution and wants to rewrite federal law and rules of procedure on an ad hoc, case by case basis, as it suits him, nothing I guess. . .

Keep your eye on Michael Chertoff. As bad for the law and Constitution as many of Bush's judicial appointees are, Chertoff has been the architect of prosecutions in the "war on terror." And he may have big changes in mind for you, me, the courts, and the Constitution.

http://www.counterpunch.org/cassel06112003.html

INDYBAY, 2005 - Post 9/11, Chertoff played a key role limiting or eliminating civil rights and liberties protections by promoting actions such as using 'material witness' warrants to incarcerate people of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent, interviewing thousands of Middle Eastern and South Asian men who entered the U.S. lawfully before and after the 9/11 attacks, denying a defendant facing the death penalty the fundamental right to face and question his accusers, and holding suspects indefinitely without counsel as enemy combatants. Some have described Mr. Chertoff as 'the driving force behind the Justice Department's most controversial initiatives in the war on terrorism.'" Despite this record he was approved by approved as head of Homeland Security on February 15 in a 98-0 vote."

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2005/03/07/29722.php

MSNBC - Grilled about actions leading up to Katrina Lawmakers grilled Chertoff about why he stayed home the Saturday before Katrina made landfall on Monday, Aug. 29, why he made a previously scheduled trip to Atlanta that Tuesday, and why he didn't act more decisively to speed up the federal response.

"I don't get a sense that your heart was in this, frankly," said Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn.

Chertoff said he relied on former FEMA Director Michael Brown as the "battlefield commander" and focused his efforts on making sure FEMA had all the resources it needed. He said he stayed in telephone contact with the office while at home and during the Atlanta trip. . .

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9754906/

DEMOCRATS.COM - The federal official with the power to mobilize a massive federal response to Hurricane Katrina was DHS Sec. Michael Chertoff, not the former FEMA chief who was relieved of his duties and resigned earlier this week, federal documents. . . Even before the storm struck the Gulf Coast, Chertoff could have ordered federal agencies into action without any request from state or local officials. FEMA chief Michael Brown had only limited authority to do so until about 36 hours after the storm hit, when Chertoff designated him as the "principal federal official" in charge of the storm. As thousands of hurricane victims went without food, water and shelter in the days after Katrina's early morning Aug. 29 landfall, critics assailed Brown for being responsible for delays that might have cost hundreds of lives. But Chertoff - not Brown - was in charge of managing the national response to a catastrophic disaster, according to the National Response Plan, the federal government's blueprint for how agencies will handle major natural disasters or terrorist incidents. An order issued by President Bush in 2003 also assigned that responsibility to the homeland security director.

But according to a memo obtained by Knight Ridder, Chertoff didn't shift that power to Brown until late afternoon or evening on Aug. 30, about 36 hours after Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi. That same memo suggests that Chertoff may have been confused about his lead role in disaster response and that of his department. . .

Chertoff's Aug. 30 memo for the first time declared Katrina an "Incident of National Significance," a key designation that triggers swift federal coordination. The following afternoon, Bush met with his Cabinet, then appeared before TV cameras in the White House Rose Garden to announce the government's planned action.

That same day, Aug. 31, the Department of Defense, whose troops and equipment are crucial in such large disasters, activated its Task Force Katrina. But active-duty troops didn't begin to arrive in large numbers along the Gulf Coast until Saturday.

White House and homeland security officials wouldn't explain why Chertoff waited some 36 hours to declare Katrina an incident of national significance and why he didn't immediately begin to direct the federal response from the moment on Aug. 27 when the National Hurricane Center predicted that Katrina would strike the Gulf Coast with catastrophic force in 48 hours. Nor would they explain why Bush felt the need to appoint a separate task force.... read the whole article.

http://www.democrats.com/node/6129

HISTORIAN DAVID BRINKLEY - Clearly Chertoff didn't just make a mistake during the first days of Katrina--he did virtually nothing at all, which was by far the greater sin. With the hurricane approaching Louisiana and Mississippi, Chertoff never even went to his office, staying at home for the crucial forty-eight hours before landfall. Most astonishing of all, as Katrina ravaged nearly 29,000 square miles of America on Monday, Chertoff didn't even speak to Brown until 8 p.m. When CNN, Fox News, ABC News, and the rest started reporting the horrific flooding in New Orleans due to the levee breaks, Chertoff scoffed, dismissing media reports of human suffering as melodrama. With a cavalier wave of the hand, according to the Washington Post, Chertoff downplayed the bleak reports as 'rumored or exaggerated.' Worse yet, Chertoff insisted that Brown and FEMA as a whole were doing an "excellent" job. Evan Thomas of Newsweek was closer to the mark when in his seminal article 'How Bush Blew It,' he declared that FEMA was 'not up to the job.'

Chertoff 's inaction cost lives. FEMA had been brought into the gagantuan Department of Homeland Security after 9/11; now it was clear somebody needed to pull it out again. It was a huge black eye for Homeland Security. The Harvard prosecutor performed just as poorly as the Oklahoman--even worse. Brown, to his credit, kept trying to get the Bush administration's full attention. Chertoff had assumed his important cabinet position with big talk about keeping Americans safe from man-made and natural disasters. He was a principal engineer of the USA Patriot Act and wrote an article in the neoconservative publication The Weekly Standard full of bravado about fighting the war on terror 'beyond case-by-case.' He fancied himself an intellectual, but one who understood trench warfare. . .

"When Brown put through his 8 p.m. telephone calls on that Monday, Chertoff was at his home resting. Chertoff 's spokesman later claimed that the Homeland Security secretary "was hobbled by a lack of specific information" regarding Katrina on Monday night. That clumsy contrivance presumed that Chertoff was discounting or ignoring the reports from Brown, who was then in the EOC in Baton Rouge, or those reports streaming in from the affected area that were all over various FEMA offices. Air Force aerial images of the swamped Gulf Coast were arriving with increasing frequency at EOC, each showing an obliterated landscape, with water towers and refineries among the only recognizable landmarks in St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes. As Homeland Security chief, Chertoff had the most effective communications network of any cabinet office at his disposal, including the resources of the top brass in the Pentagon. He didn't use it. . .

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-fiderer/katrina-whitewash-michae_b_61975.html

CHICAGO SUN TIMES - Committee Chairwoman Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), said Homeland Security's response "must be judged a failure." She called it "late, uncertain and ineffective."

Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, the panel's top Democrat, criticized Chertoff for going to Atlanta for a bird flu conference on Aug. 30, the day after the storm roared ashore, instead of rushing to the disaster scene. "How could you go to bed that night [Aug. 29] not knowing what was going on in New Orleans?" Lieberman asked.

Under Chertoff's oversight, disaster workers "ran around like Keystone cops, uncertain about what they were supposed to do or uncertain how to do it," Lieberman said.

ACLU - He has been a vocal champion of the Bush administration's pervasive belief that the executive branch should be free of many of the checks and balances that keep it from abusing its immense power over our lives and liberty. . .

Two reports by the Justice Department's inspector general, released in June and December 2003, castigated Chertoff's use of rarely enforced and minor immigration violations to hold non-citizens shortly after 9/11 for as long as possible, without bail or access to a lawyer. None of these non-citizens was found to have any connection to the 9/11 attacks.

Chertoff was also an architect of the USA Patriot Act, which has come under increasing fire from conservatives and progressives alike since its passage in 2001.

He was instrumental in revising the internal "Attorney General Guidelines" to allow the FBI to infiltrate religious and political gatherings with undercover agents, and he was apparently the catalyst behind the federal Bureau of Prisons rule change permitting agents to eavesdrop on previously confidential attorney-client conversations in federal prisons. And, he directed the initial "voluntary" dragnet interviews of thousands of Arabs and Muslims.

http://www.aclu.org/safefree/general/18814prs20050111.html

PROGRESSIVE REVIEW, OCTOBER 20, 2005 - We've been trying to figure out why Michael Brown got such a deserved lashing in the press while his boss - the clearly incompetent Michael Chertoff - got off so easy. One hypothesis: Chertoff is a Washington attorney and member of the local establishment, which generally lets you get away with a lot more than mere Arabian horse association directors. The fact that Chertoff had no known qualification for his job doesn't seem to bother those in the capital.

WASHINGTON POST - The breaching of the levees caused large parts of New Orleans to be inundated in water in the wake of the devastating hurricane. . . [FEMA director Michael] Brown said not only did he inform the White House, but he also informed top Homeland Security officials about the situation on the same day. His comments contradicted previous statements by agency officials, who said they did not know the levees had been breached until the following day. "For them to claim that we didn't have awareness of it is just baloney," Brown said. At the same time, Brown said he thought talking to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff was a "waste of time" and that it was easier and more effective to go straight to the White House.

NY TIMES - Michael Chertoff, who has been picked by President Bush to be the homeland security secretary, advised the Central Intelligence Agency on the legality of coercive interrogation methods on terror suspects under the federal anti-torture statute, current and former administration officials said this week. Depending on the circumstances, he told the intelligence agency, some coercive methods could be legal, but he advised against others, the officials said. . .

Asked about the interaction between the C.I.A. and Mr. Chertoff, now a federal appeals court judge in Newark, Erin Healy, a White House spokeswoman, said, "Judge Chertoff did not approve interrogation techniques as head of the criminal division.". . .

DAVE LINDORFF, NATION - Back on Friday, June 12, 2002, the Defense Department had a big problem: Its new policy on torture of captives in the "war on terror" was about to be exposed. John Walker Lindh, the young Californian captured in Afghanistan in December 2001 and touted by John Ashcroft as an "American Taliban," was scheduled to take the stand the following Monday in an evidence suppression hearing regarding a confession he had signed. There he would tell, under oath, about how he signed the document only after being tortured for days by U.S. soldiers. . .

The Defense Department, which we now know had in late 2001 begun a secret, presidentially-approved program of torture of Afghan and al Qaeda captives at Bagram Air Base and other locations, had made it clear to the Justice Department that it wanted the suppression hearing blocked. American torture at that point was still just a troubling rumor, and the Bush administration clearly wanted to keep it that way. Accordingly, Michael Chertoff, who as head of the Justice Department's criminal division was overseeing all the department's terrorism prosecutions, had his prosecution team offer a deal. All the serious charges against Lindh - terrorism, attempted murder, conspiracy to kill Americans, etc. - would be dropped and he could plead guilty just to the technical charges of "providing assistance" to an "enemy of the U.S." and of "carrying a weapon." Lindh, whose attorneys dreaded his facing trial in one of the most conservative court districts in the country on the first anniversary of 9/11, had to accept a stiff 20-year sentence, but that was half what he faced if convicted on those two minor charges alone.

But Chertoff went further, according to one of Lindh's attorneys, George Harris. Chertoff (now an appeals court judge in New Jersey) demanded - reportedly at Defense Department insistence, according to what defense attorneys were told - that Lindh sign a statement swearing he had "not been intentionally mistreated" by his U.S. captors and waiving any future right to claim mistreatment or torture. Further, Chertoff attached a "special administrative measure," essentially a gag order, barring Lindh from talking about his experience for the duration of his sentence.

At the time, few paid attention to this peculiar silencing of Lindh. In retrospect, though, it seems clear that the man coasting toward confirmation as secretary of Homeland Security effectively prevented early exposure of the Bush/Rumsfeld/Gonzales policy of torture, which we now know began in Afghanistan and later "migrated" to Guantanamo and eventually to Iraq.

ROBERT NOVAK - Chertoff is billed as a non-controversial nominee, confirmed by the Senate three times and expected to be approved again without trouble. Behind that facade, however, he proved a fearsome adversary during two years running the Criminal Division.

Republican lawyers who soured on Attorney General John Ashcroft the past four years tend to excuse harsh behavior by Chertoff as a loyal lieutenant supporting his chief. Now that he will be in charge of a huge department, the truth will emerge whether his intransigence as a Justice subordinate will characterize him as a Cabinet member.

The serious confrontation between branches of government involving Chertoff began during President Bush's first year in office. Rep. Dan Burton, chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, sought documents exposing the FBI's shocking misuse of mob information in Boston decades earlier. An innocent man went to prison on murder charges because of lies told by a FBI informant. Two of the Bureau's undercover men, including the notorious Whitey Bulger, committed murder without being charged.

Burton was stunned when informed by Ashcroft and White House counsel Alberto Gonzales that the president was invoking executive privilege and such documents never would be released to the public. Chertoff was out front denying material to the committee, but his real role was unclear. Today, supporters say he was merely taking orders from Ashcroft. But three years ago, congressional staffers told me Chertoff was calling the shots -- not just taking them.

The latter view seemed confirmed as I listened to Chertoff at [a] 2001 Christmas party. He was inflexible about executive privilege, arguing that there never was any need for the executive branch to grant demands for documents from the legislative branch. It was a maximalist position for executive power. Thanks to Chairman Burton's persistence, however, the FBI material eventually was turned over to the committee. But no financial compensation has been granted to the families of victims of the FBI killings.

In Chertoff's remaining year at the Justice Department, he frequently was the man who said no -- rejecting requests for documents. By the spring of 2002, it was clear that Bush's Justice Department was not going to investigate the Clinton administration's use of Internal Revenue Service scrutiny on critics of Bill Clinton. The watchdog organization Judicial Watch provided substantial evidence of IRS harassment, but Chertoff denied that any pattern had been established.

http://www.alternet.org/rights/21156/

DOUG IRELAND, LA WEEKLY - The Bush White House thinks it's being clever by naming a prosecutor instead of a criminal to head the Department of Homeland Security. But Mike Chertoff's appointment in the wake of the failed nomination of scandal-plagued Bernie Kerik (now under investigation by multiple law-enforcement agencies) is as political as one can imagine. Especially for those who know the arcana of politics in New Jersey, where Chertoff was U.S. attorney, and where his naming to the Homeland Security job caused jaws to drop.

Chertoff was a political attack dog in that job, indicting and convicting a raft of Democratic officeholders. But one whom Chertoff deliberately let get away was his big buddy, Bob "The Torch" Torricelli, forced to resign his U.S. Senate seat from Sopranoland in a major corruption scandal. Nick Acocella, editor of the respected insider newsletter New Jersey Politifax, recalls that, at the height of the Torricelli scandal, and while Chertoff was U.S. attorney, he saw The Torch and Chertoff, at a South Jersey Jewish banquet, embrace and huddle intimately "like twins separated at birth." One would have thought a federal prosecutor would have kept his distance from a target of criminal investigations that were making daily headlines in the Jersey press.

When Chertoff was named by Bush to head the Justice Department's Criminal Division - partly because he was a skilled political hit man who'd also raised a ton of money as financial vice chair of Bush's Garden State campaign in 2000 - it was an open secret in Jersey that he squelched an indictment of Torricelli as a reward for The Torch's support of key Bush legislation the Democratic Party leadership opposed. (Many of the fat cats Chertoff shook down for Bush had also been huge givers to The Torch.). . .

Long active in the Federalist Society - a conspiratorial brotherhood of legal reactionaries - Chertoff, at Justice, helped to write the civil-liberties-shredding Patriot Act. He was John Ashcroft's honcho in the indiscriminate grilling of over 5,000 Arab-Americans after 9/11, devised the use of "material witness" warrants to lock up people of Middle Eastern descent and hold them indefinitely without trial, and on behalf of the Justice Department wrote a brief (in Chavez v. Martinez) arguing that there was no constitutional right to be free of coercive police questioning.

Moreover, Chertoff wrote legislation, known as the Feeney Amendment, that gutted federal sentencing guidelines, under which federal judges were allowed to use some discretion when sentencing criminal defendants, by preventing judges from shortening sentences - and, moreover, required judges who deviated from the Feeney Amendment to have their names and actions reported to the Justice Department, thus establishing what Senator Teddy Kennedy denounced as a judicial "blacklist."

Why would Chertoff give up a lifetime seat on the federal bench to take a job in the hornets' nest of problems that is the DHS? According to a top Jersey Democratic pol who knows Chertoff well, Chertoff - described as being "as cold-blooded as they come" -has a personal agenda that includes becoming U.S. attorney general and, eventually, grabbing a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. But there's a problem for Chertoff with conservative Republicans - he happens to be pro-choice. So, taking the DHS job is Chertoff's way to "make his bones," as they say in Jersey, and make headlines as a hard-line persecutor of "the towel-heads" to please the right and neutralize his abortion stance.

DIRELAND
http://direland.typepad.com/direland/

PROGRESSIVE REVIEW, OCTOBER 20, 2005 - We've been trying to figure out why Michael Brown got such a deserved lashing in the press while his boss - the clearly incompetent Michael Chertoff - got off so easy. One hypothesis: Chertoff is a Washington attorney and member of the local establishment, which generally lets you get away with a lot more than mere Arabian horse association directors. The fact that Chertoff had no known qualification for his job doesn't seem to bother those in the capital.

[The Review was also a lonely voice questioning the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, pointing out that it was another case of Congress and the White House responding to a crisis in the least effective manner: bureaucratic reorganization]

WASHINGTON POST, FEB 10 - The breaching of the levees caused large parts of New Orleans to be inundated in water in the wake of the devastating hurricane. . . [FEMA director Michael] Brown said not only did he inform the White House, but he also informed top Homeland Security officials about the situation on the same day. His comments contradicted previous statements by agency officials, who said they did not know the levees had been breached until the following day. "For them to claim that we didn't have awareness of it is just baloney," Brown said. At the same time, Brown said he thought talking to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff was a "waste of time" and that it was easier and more effective to go straight to the White House.

CHERTOFF BACKED TORTURE

NY TIMES - Michael Chertoff, who has been picked by President Bush to be the homeland security secretary, advised the Central Intelligence Agency on the legality of coercive interrogation methods on terror suspects under the federal anti-torture statute, current and former administration officials said this week. Depending on the circumstances, he told the intelligence agency, some coercive methods could be legal, but he advised against others, the officials said. . .

Asked about the interaction between the C.I.A. and Mr. Chertoff, now a federal appeals court judge in Newark, Erin Healy, a White House spokeswoman, said, "Judge Chertoff did not approve interrogation techniques as head of the criminal division.". . .

DAVE LINDORFF, NATION - Back on Friday, June 12, 2002, the Defense Department had a big problem: Its new policy on torture of captives in the "war on terror" was about to be exposed. John Walker Lindh, the young Californian captured in Afghanistan in December 2001 and touted by John Ashcroft as an "American Taliban," was scheduled to take the stand the following Monday in an evidence suppression hearing regarding a confession he had signed. There he would tell, under oath, about how he signed the document only after being tortured for days by U.S. soldiers. . .

The Defense Department, which we now know had in late 2001 begun a secret, presidentially-approved program of torture of Afghan and al Qaeda captives at Bagram Air Base and other locations, had made it clear to the Justice Department that it wanted the suppression hearing blocked. American torture at that point was still just a troubling rumor, and the Bush administration clearly wanted to keep it that way. Accordingly, Michael Chertoff, who as head of the Justice Department's criminal division was overseeing all the department's terrorism prosecutions, had his prosecution team offer a deal. All the serious charges against Lindh - terrorism, attempted murder, conspiracy to kill Americans, etc. - would be dropped and he could plead guilty just to the technical charges of "providing assistance" to an "enemy of the U.S." and of "carrying a weapon." Lindh, whose attorneys dreaded his facing trial in one of the most conservative court districts in the country on the first anniversary of 9/11, had to accept a stiff 20-year sentence, but that was half what he faced if convicted on those two minor charges alone.

But Chertoff went further, according to one of Lindh's attorneys, George Harris. Chertoff (now an appeals court judge in New Jersey) demanded - reportedly at Defense Department insistence, according to what defense attorneys were told - that Lindh sign a statement swearing he had "not been intentionally mistreated" by his U.S. captors and waiving any future right to claim mistreatment or torture. Further, Chertoff attached a "special administrative measure," essentially a gag order, barring Lindh from talking about his experience for the duration of his sentence.

At the time, few paid attention to this peculiar silencing of Lindh. In retrospect, though, it seems clear that the man coasting toward confirmation as secretary of Homeland Security effectively prevented early exposure of the Bush/Rumsfeld/Gonzales policy of torture, which we now know began in Afghanistan and later "migrated" to Guantanamo and eventually to Iraq.

CHERTOFF DOESN'T THINK WHITE HOUSE HAS TO TELL CONGRESS MUCH
http://www.townhall.com/columnists/robertnovak/printrn20050117.shtml

ROBERT NOVAK - Chertoff is billed as a non-controversial nominee, confirmed by the Senate three times and expected to be approved again without trouble. Behind that facade, however, he proved a fearsome adversary during two years running the Criminal Division.

Republican lawyers who soured on Attorney General John Ashcroft the past four years tend to excuse harsh behavior by Chertoff as a loyal lieutenant supporting his chief. Now that he will be in charge of a huge department, the truth will emerge whether his intransigence as a Justice subordinate will characterize him as a Cabinet member.

The serious confrontation between branches of government involving Chertoff began during President Bush's first year in office. Rep. Dan Burton, chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, sought documents exposing the FBI's shocking misuse of mob information in Boston decades earlier. An innocent man went to prison on murder charges because of lies told by a FBI informant. Two of the Bureau's undercover men, including the notorious Whitey Bulger, committed murder without being charged.

Burton was stunned when informed by Ashcroft and White House counsel Alberto Gonzales that the president was invoking executive privilege and such documents never would be released to the public. Chertoff was out front denying material to the committee, but his real role was unclear. Today, supporters say he was merely taking orders from Ashcroft. But three years ago, congressional staffers told me Chertoff was calling the shots -- not just taking them.

The latter view seemed confirmed as I listened to Chertoff at [a] 2001 Christmas party. He was inflexible about executive privilege, arguing that there never was any need for the executive branch to grant demands for documents from the legislative branch. It was a maximalist position for executive power. Thanks to Chairman Burton's persistence, however, the FBI material eventually was turned over to the committee. But no financial compensation has been granted to the families of victims of the FBI killings.

In Chertoff's remaining year at the Justice Department, he frequently was the man who said no -- rejecting requests for documents. By the spring of 2002, it was clear that Bush's Justice Department was not going to investigate the Clinton administration's use of Internal Revenue Service scrutiny on critics of Bill Clinton. The watchdog organization Judicial Watch provided substantial evidence of IRS harassment, but Chertoff denied that any pattern had been established.

http://www.alternet.org/rights/21156/

WHAT JERSEY KNOWS ABOUT CHERTOFF
http://www.laweekly.com/ink/printme.php?eid=60021

DOUG IRELAND, LA WEEKLY - The Bush White House thinks it's being clever by naming a prosecutor instead of a criminal to head the Department of Homeland Security. But Mike Chertoff's appointment in the wake of the failed nomination of scandal-plagued Bernie Kerik (now under investigation by multiple law-enforcement agencies) is as political as one can imagine. Especially for those who know the arcana of politics in New Jersey, where Chertoff was U.S. attorney, and where his naming to the Homeland Security job caused jaws to drop.

Chertoff was a political attack dog in that job, indicting and convicting a raft of Democratic officeholders. But one whom Chertoff deliberately let get away was his big buddy, Bob "The Torch" Torricelli, forced to resign his U.S. Senate seat from Sopranoland in a major corruption scandal. Nick Acocella, editor of the respected insider newsletter New Jersey Politifax, recalls that, at the height of the Torricelli scandal, and while Chertoff was U.S. attorney, he saw The Torch and Chertoff, at a South Jersey Jewish banquet, embrace and huddle intimately "like twins separated at birth." One would have thought a federal prosecutor would have kept his distance from a target of criminal investigations that were making daily headlines in the Jersey press.

When Chertoff was named by Bush to head the Justice Department's Criminal Division - partly because he was a skilled political hit man who'd also raised a ton of money as financial vice chair of Bush's Garden State campaign in 2000 - it was an open secret in Jersey that he squelched an indictment of Torricelli as a reward for The Torch's support of key Bush legislation the Democratic Party leadership opposed. (Many of the fat cats Chertoff shook down for Bush had also been huge givers to The Torch.). . .

Long active in the Federalist Society - a conspiratorial brotherhood of legal reactionaries - Chertoff, at Justice, helped to write the civil-liberties-shredding Patriot Act. He was John Ashcroft's honcho in the indiscriminate grilling of over 5,000 Arab-Americans after 9/11, devised the use of "material witness" warrants to lock up people of Middle Eastern descent and hold them indefinitely without trial, and on behalf of the Justice Department wrote a brief (in Chavez v. Martinez) arguing that there was no constitutional right to be free of coercive police questioning.

Moreover, Chertoff wrote legislation, known as the Feeney Amendment, that gutted federal sentencing guidelines, under which federal judges were allowed to use some discretion when sentencing criminal defendants, by preventing judges from shortening sentences - and, moreover, required judges who deviated from the Feeney Amendment to have their names and actions reported to the Justice Department, thus establishing what Senator Teddy Kennedy denounced as a judicial "blacklist."

Why would Chertoff give up a lifetime seat on the federal bench to take a job in the hornets' nest of problems that is the DHS? According to a top Jersey Democratic pol who knows Chertoff well, Chertoff - described as being "as cold-blooded as they come" -has a personal agenda that includes becoming U.S. attorney general and, eventually, grabbing a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. But there's a problem for Chertoff with conservative Republicans - he happens to be pro-choice. So, taking the DHS job is Chertoff's way to "make his bones," as they say in Jersey, and make headlines as a hard-line persecutor of "the towel-heads" to please the right and neutralize his abortion stance.

DIRELAND
http://direland.typepad.com/direland/

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