Behind the Bushes
BEHIND THE BUSHES INDEX
PROGRESS REPORT - Lobbyist Jack
Abramoff's "house of cards" has taken a big hit. Michael
Scanlon, former spokesman for Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) and lobbying
colleague of Abramoff, was right in the middle of Abramoff's
deck. Yesterday, Scanlon pleaded guilty to one count of federal
"conspiracy with others to commit bribery, mail and wire
fraud, and honest services fraud" to cheat Abramoff's Indian
tribal clients out of millions of dollars. He now faces "a
maximum of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and repayment
of $19.7 million to clients." But this case isn't going
to end with Scanlon. Part of the plea deal is that he agrees
to fully cooperate with Justice Department prosecutors. "What
you're building is a ladder. You have Abramoff at the intermediate
step, elected officials above him, and Scanlon. . . underneath,"
explained Stan Brand, former counsel to Congress. "He knows
where all the bodies are buried," said a congressional aide
who worked with Scanlon. Expect what Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND)
called "a disgusting story of greed unlike any [other]"
to further unfold in Scanlon's testimony.
Abramoff has already been indicted
in Florida on unrelated fraud and conspiracy charges and "his
day in court...[may] only [be] a matter of time." He and
Scanlon worked very closely -- Abramoff at one point gushed to
his colleague, "How can I say this strongly enough: You
iz da man" -- and collected about $82 million from his tribal
clients from 2000-2004. In a scheme the duo termed "gimme-five,"
Abramoff "would direct tribes to hire Scanlon's public relations
firm without telling them Scanlon had agreed to kick back half
of the profits to Abramoff." At one point, the two men bilked
the Coushatta tribe out of $1 million for a "public affairs"
strategy, but then rerouted the money to a charity Abramoff had
founded, "which was paying to build a school for his children
and give 'sniper training' courses in Israel." Throughout
their swindles, Abramoff and Scanlon showed a wild arrogance
and contempt for their clients. In e-mail exchanges between the
two men, it is the junior partner who often displays his thirst
for wealth. 'I want all their money!!!' [and] 'Weeez gonna be
rich!!!'" wrote Scanlon. At another point, he referred to
the clients as "monkeys" and "troglodytes."
"I think this has the potential
to be the biggest scandal in Congress in over a century,"
said Thomas E. Mann of the Brookings Institution. Already in
hot water is Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), who has received a subpoena
from the grand jury investigating Abramoff and was named as "Representative
#1" in Scanlon's indictment. Abramoff and Scanlon provided
Ney and his staff with a "lavish" Scotland golf trip,
tickets to sporting events, expensive dinners, and political
contributions. In return, Ney "agreed to 'support and pass
legislation'" benefiting their clients. Sen. Conrad Burns
(R-MT) also helped the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan, one
of Abramoff's clients, "win a $3 million government award."
DeLay, who has been charged on money laundering and conspiracy
in an unrelated Texas case, may soon face more trouble. "It's
likely that Abramoff has lots of dirt on Tom DeLay," said
Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice. DeLay
traveled to Scotland on a trip paid for by Abramoff, an arrangement
illegal by congressional rules, as well as on a trip in 1997
to Russia, "underwritten by business interests lobbying
in support of the Russian government" and arranged by Abramoff.
David Safavian, former head of
the powerful White House Office of Management and Budget, has
already gone down as a result of the Abramoff scandals, arrested
in September on charges of "lying and obstructing a criminal
investigation" into Abramoff. Last week, the Senate Indian
Affairs Committee heard testimony from Italia Federici, president
of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, about
her "unspoken deal" with Abramoff. The lobbyist funneled
nearly $500,000 in client money to CREA, and in return, Federici
offered him access "to at least two of her close friends,
[Secretary of the Interior Gale] Norton and Deputy Secretary
J. Steven Griles." Former Christian Coalition director,
Ralph Reed, received $10,000 for his campaign to be chair of
the Georgia Republican party, paid for Abramoff's tribal clients,
unbeknownst to those clients. Additionally, Abramoff actively
sought out Reed's guidance "in disguising Indian tribal
money sent to anti-gambling campaigns whose leaders were wary
of accepting casino cash."
STORY WITH BACKGROUND LINKS
RICHARD SILVERSTEIN - If only
Jack Abramoff had known the kid he beat up in high school was
going to win a Pulitzer Prize and "out" him on This
American Life. . . The victim in this case was Jonathan Gold,
who won the Prize for his amazing food writing for the L.A. Times
and L.A. Weekly. . . Gold [recounts] his humiliation at Abramoff's
hands and the latter's pleasure in physical intimidation of his
victims. . . The child was father to the man:
Ira Glass: Jonathan remembers
him [Abramoff] as a glad-hander, someone who has lots of friends.
Gold: A jock, he hung out in
the weight room. He squatted something over 500 lbs. when he
was in high school. . . He was the sort of person who would walk
across the street to be unpleasant to somebody or in my most
notable instance I was walking down the hall to history class
and he hip-checked me-I was carrying my cello-and I went sailing
down the stairs with my cello. You'd be surprised how many times
a cello and its case can bounce. It was a lot of money in repairs.
He was laughing about it to his
friends. I suspect he forgot about it five minutes later. I didn't.
ALITO BELONGED TO PRINCETON
GROUP OPPOSED TO CO-EDUCATION, AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
CHANAKYA SETHI, PRINCETONIAN - Near the
end of his "Personal Qualifications Statement" for
a high-level job in Ronald Reagan's Justice Department, Alito
wrote that he was "a member of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton
University, a conservative alumni group." Interviews with
several alumni who were students in the 1970s paint a picture
of Concerned Alumni of Princeton (as a far-right organization
funded by conservative alumni committed to turning back the clock
on coeducation at the University.) The group, which published
a magazine in which students wrote nostalgically about the days
before coeducation, was frowned upon by Nassau. . .
Marsha Levy-Warren '73, who was a member
of the University's first coeducational class and student government
vice president, [recalls that] "They stated explicitly that
they were not in favor of coeducation and that they weren't in
favor of affirmative action," Levy-Warren said. "Implicitly,
they were opposed to any form of diversity on campus."
"Prospect" [magazine] was founded
in October 1972 by the then-newly-formed CAP, which was co-chaired
by Asa Bushnell '21 and Shelby Cullom Davis '30. The latter,
who was the University's largest donor at the time, was a strong
traditionalist, firmly opposed to the many of the new directions
Princeton was taking, including coeducation. He wrote in "Prospect":
"May I recall, and with some nostalgia, my father's 50th
reunion, a body of men, relatively homogenous in interests and
backgrounds, who had known and liked each other over the years
during which they had contributed much in spirit and substance
to the greatness of Princeton," according to an account
in "The Chosen," a book by Jerome Karabel on the history
of admissions at Harvard, Yale and Princeton. "I cannot
envisage a similar happening in the future," Davis added,
"with an undergraduate student population of approximately
40% women and minorities, such as the Administration has proposed."
The first issues of "Prospect"
ostensibly did not receive a warm reception, particularly from
Nassau Hall, which viewed the magazine and its group sponsor
as a barrier to the progressive agenda of President William Bowen
GS '58 and the University trustees. Princeton officials were
quoted criticizing the publication in the 'Prince,' Princeton
Alumni Weekly and The New York Times.
PROGRESS REPORT - The White House portrays
Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito's views as in the "mainstream."
That claim is not supported by his judicial opinions or his activities
prior to being nominated. In his 1985 application for a high-level
job the Reagan administration, Alito touted his membership with
"the Concerned Alumni of Princeton University." Alito
joined Concerned Alumni at its founding in 1972. The organization,
co-chaired in the beginning by Asa Bushnell and Shelby Cullom
Davis, put forth a magazine called the "Prospect,"
espousing right-wing views against the inclusion of women, minorities,
and other groups into Princeton. The New York Times notes, "The
magazine's content also grew increasingly provocative under the
editorship of conservative rising stars, including Dinesh D'Souza
and later Laura Ingraham." The magazine was so extreme that
a 1975 alumni panel including Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN) refused
to support it, concluding "that Concerned Alumni had 'presented
a distorted, narrow and hostile view of the university that cannot
help but have misinformed and even alarmed many alumni' and 'undoubtedly
generated adverse national publicity.'"
In 1973, the Concerned Alumni executive
committee published a statement advocating exclusion of women
in higher education: "Concerned Alumni of Princeton opposes
adoption of a sex-blind admission policy." Also that year,
Davis said he longed for the days when the university was "a
body of men, relatively homogeneous in interests and backgrounds."
The magazine concluded that the makeup of Princeton, which began
admitting women in 1969, "has changed drastically for the
worse." Diane Weeks '75, a former colleague of Alito's when
he was U.S. Attorney General for New Jersey said, "I once
joked to him [Alito] that he must be very disappointed that women
were admitted to Princeton and he just didn't have a response."
Women were not the only group of people
not welcomed by the Concerned Alumni group. A 1983 Prospect essay,
"In Defense of Elitism," wrote, "People nowadays
just don't seem to know their place. . . Everywhere one turns
blacks and hispanics are demanding jobs simply because they're
black and hispanic, the physically handicapped are trying to
gain equal representation in professional sports, and homosexuals
are demanding that government vouchsafe them the right to bear
children." Another 1984 news item in the magazine, reacting
to a gay student group's protest to being denied permission to
hold a dance at a campus club, concluded, "Here at Princeton
homosexuals are on the rampage." But Concerned Alumni did
advocate quota systems so that student athletes and children
of wealthy alumni continued to attend the university and that
right-wing faculty members would populate the humanities and
social sciences departments.
ALITO WANTS CRUEL PUNISHMENT
TO BE USUAL
WILLIAM BLUM, ANTI-EMPIRE REPORT - The
Supreme Court recently announced it will review a Pennsylvania
case concerning prisons denying dangerous prisoners access to
most reading material, television and radio. These prisoners
are permitted to read only religious and legal materials and
paperback books from the prison library. A three-judge federal
appeals court that struck the policy down did so over the dissent
of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., President Bush's nominee for the
Supreme Court. "'On their face,' Alito wrote, 'these regulations
are reasonably related to the legitimate penological goal of
curbing prison misconduct' -- because prisoners would be deterred
from misbehaving by the prospect of being sent to a place where
they have to do without TV and magazines." Never mind Alito's
views on abortion, civil liberties, or gay rights, which have
preoccupied those evaluating his fitness for the high court.
Consider the deep-seated, plain, simple meanness of the man in
wishing to deprive prisoners mental stimulation through their
long nights and years behind bars. Why doesn't he advocate that
these prisoners be deprived of food? Surely that would be an
even greater deterrent against misbehavior.
JOHN BOLTON TAKES IN THE CHOPS
FROM BBC INTERVIEWER
SARBANES CATCHES BOLTON
IN BOLD FACE LIE
are adept at handling their lies when testifying before Congress,
so it is both rare and refreshing to come across a prevaricator
like John Bolton caught out, as in this case by sadly retiring
Senator Paul Sarbanes]
ROBERT IAFOLLA, DAILY TROJAN, USC, CA, April 8 - Perhaps most troubling
was the revelation that besides being an ideologue and a power-tripping
bully, Bolton is - for lack of a more diplomatic word - a liar.
He displayed dishonesty
that goes beyond unsubstantiated claims, such as his 2002 assertion
that Cuba had biological weapons and provided them to "other
rogue states." Bolton lied openly and oafishly to the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee, like a schoolboy explaining that
a dog ate his homework.
In a portion of testimony
reported by Martin Schram of the Scripps Howard News Service,
Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.) asked Bolton about the Law of the
Sea Treaty, which the United States has not yet signed, despite
support from Condoleezza Rice, Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) and the
Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Vern Clark.
Bolton responded by saying
that the administration currently supports the treaty, and he
supports what the administration supports. When asked for a personal
opinion, Bolton said he had never read the treaty.
"Well, now, in an
article in a book entitled 'Understanding Unilateralism in American
Foreign Relations,'" Sarbanes said, "you called the
Law of the Sea Treaty 'not only undesirable as a policy, but
also illegitimate methods of forcing fundamental policy changes
on the United States outside the customary political process.'"
To this, Bolton backtracked
and said that he had concerns in the '80s, but the Clinton administration
fixed them in the '90s.
The catch is, as Sarbanes
pointed out, Bolton wrote the article in 2000.
Of course, it's hardly
front-page news that a politician lied. But Bolton's brazen mendacity
differs from the skillful, subtle untruths usually uttered by
our elected officials and bureaucrats.
QUESTIONS FOR JOHN BOLTON
And some of the answers
he doesn't want to hear
The United Nations Charter
defines the organization's most fundamental purpose as saving
"succeeding generations from the scourge of war." Do
you share this priority?
How do you propose to resolve
armed conflicts raging in Colombia, Sudan, Congo, and other places
where weapons sold by US arms dealers are the primary instruments
Do you believe that the
United States is exempt from international law?
As Ambassador to the United
Nations, what approach would you take to working with other countries
to solve international problems?
Have you ever made false
claims about a country possessing weapons of mass destruction?
The International Criminal
Court is recognized around the world as a crucial instrument
for pursuing international justice for grave human rights abuses,
such as genocide. Yet you have always been vocally opposed to
the Court. Why?
It is widely acknowledged
that the UN has done more than any single government or international
agency to promote global development, fight poverty, and stem
the spread of AIDS and other preventable diseases. As the world's
richest country, what role do you think the US should play in
Do you concur with the
UN Charter that "promoting and encouraging respect for human
rights" is a fundamental priority of our time?
Do you believe that citizens
should be prevented from having a voice at the United Nations,
even when the UN is formulating policy that has a direct impact
on their lives?
You have been called confrontational,
ruthless, dogmatic, and the "anti-diplomat." Why do
you think people say these things about you?
FEMA LEADERS' SECRET HISTORY
RUSS BAKER, REAL NEWS - When George W.
Bush came to Washington, he appointed his close aide and campaign
manager Joe Allbaugh to run FEMA. Allbaugh brought in as his
first hire a little-known fellow Oklahoman named Michael Brown.
He promoted Brown quickly to be his top assistant, then left
the agency, making Brown the director. . . When Allbaugh brought
Brown to Washington, he presented him as a lifelong associate
of high character and substantial credentials. . . The truth,
Real News has learned, is that the relationship between the two
rests on a decades-long hidden partnership designed to advance
both men's business and personal interests. By all appearances,
that relationship drove Allbaugh's decision to ask Bush to let
him run FEMA, and his decision to turn the place over to Brown
so he could profit from their ties:
- Once in Washington, Allbaugh and Brown
characterized themselves as long-time friends, and were content
to leave the impression that they knew each other from college
and Republican circles. But lifelong associates of both men say
that is untrue. Indeed, the association between the two appears
to have been a largely covert one, based less on selfless brotherhood
than on mutual self-interest, as represented by a series of murky
business ventures. . .
- Brown, who was brought into FEMA initially
by Allbaugh to run the legal operation, has a history as a failed
low-level lawyer, replete with discontented clients, unhappy
employers and damaging lawsuits.
- Brown was fired from his longest-held
position, his principal job preceding his hiring at FEMA, for
obtaining a personal loan from a prominent horse owner under
false pretenses. When an official of the horse association confronted
him, Brown tried to make a deal with the man to make the matter
go away. . .
-The hard-luck Brown has received multiple
assists from well-connected Republicans. His long-time lawyer,
who has helped him through scrape after scrape, is a friend of
Clarence Thomas and former regional director of the influential
and secretive Federalist Society.
- Brown and Allbaugh had apparently agreed
on Brown's role in the Bush administration well in advance. For
six months prior to Bush's election in 2000, Brown was telling
incredulous associates that he expected to land a high position
in Washington. . .
- Allbaugh has had extremely close ties
with Vice President Cheney - including vetting Cheney for the
vice presidency, buying his house, serving on Cheney's secretive
energy task force, and then becoming a consultant to Cheney's
former company, Halliburton.
- Under Allbaugh and Brown, FEMA changed
the way in which the agency handled contracts, awarding them
to numerous firms with political connections but little in the
way of corporate infrastructure to handle the work. Some of these
recipients were merely Enron-style shell corporations that subcontracted
all the work to others, keeping a sizable share of the profits.
- When Allbaugh left FEMA, he immediately
began setting up a network of lobbying interests to benefit from
his connections. His clients were selected by FEMA under Brown,
and by other agencies, for major contracts.
THE LIES OF MICHAEL BROWN
PROGRESS REPORT - [Michael] Brown made
a number of statements in his testimony yesterday that conflicted
with previous statements he had given. For instance, Brown said
that FEMA was stretched beyond its capabilities because, "over
the past few years, [the agency] has lost a lot of manpower."
But in September 2004, CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked Brown whether
his agency was prepared to deal with hurricanes hitting Florida.
Brown said, "We absolutely are. We have all the manpower
and resources we need. President Bush has been a very great supporter
of FEMA." Also, Brown defiantly stated, "FEMA doesn't
evacuate communities." But in the midst of the hurricane
aftermath, Brown said on CNN that FEMA was conducting "rescue
missions" and would "continue to evacuate all of the
hospitals." Furthermore, Brown said FEMA suffered "emaciation"
because anti-terror operations had become a priority for the
administration. But on CNN (8/16/04), Brown said, FEMA had "proven
[in Florida] that we're up to the task" of responding to
both terrorism and natural disasters.
Under questioning by Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN),
Brown suggested that Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D) had failed
to issue an emergency assistance declaration for Orleans Parish,
which includes New Orleans. Buyer asked, "Since you went
through the exercise in Pam, was that not shocking to you that
the governor would have excluded New Orleans from the declaration?"
Brown said, "Yes," and that FEMA had questioned Blanco's
decision. But Blanco's emergency declaration on August 27 was
for all "affected areas" in "southeastern parishes
including the New Orleans Metropolitan area."
From the beginning of the hearing, Brown
was on the defensive about his lack of credentials for the FEMA
director position. Brown blasted a blog site called HorsesAss.org
for spreading "defamatory statements" about him. But
Brown confirmed that much of his experience in disaster preparedness
came as "an intern while [he] was in undergraduate school
in the city of Edmond, Oklahoma" and as "an assistant
to the city manager," not the "Assistant City Manager"
he claimed to be on his official biography on FEMA's website.
Under questioning by Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT), Brown said he coordinated
the evacuation of New Orleans merely by "urging the governor
and the mayor to order the mandatory evacuation." When Shays
suggested that was not enough, Brown asked, "What would
you like for me to do, Congressman?" Perhaps Brown should
have read his boss's disaster declaration statement. Bush issued
an order on August 27 that authorized FEMA to "identify,
mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources
necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency."
TIME - Before joining FEMA, [Michael Brown's]
only previous stint in emergency management, according to his
bio posted on FEMA's website, was "serving as an assistant
city manager with emergency services oversight." The White
House press release from 2001 stated that Brown worked for the
city of Edmond, Okla., from 1975 to 1978 "overseeing the
emergency services division." In fact, according to Claudia
Deakins, head of public relations for the city of Edmond, Brown
was an "assistant to the city manager" from 1977 to
1980, not a manager himself, and had no authority over other
employees. "The assistant is more like an intern,"
she told TIME. "Department heads did not report to him."
Brown did do a good job at his humble position, however, according
to his boss. "Yes. Mike Brown worked for me. He was my administrative
assistant. He was a student at Central State University,"
recalls former city manager Bill Dashner. "Mike used to
handle a lot of details. Every now and again I'd ask him to write
me a speech. He was very loyal. He was always on time. He always
had on a suit and a starched white shirt."
MARVIN BUSH WAS PRINCIPAL
IN WTC SECURITY FIRM
CRAIG COX, UTNE - Margie Burns reports
in The American Reporter, an electronic daily newspaper, Marvin
P. Bush, the president's younger brother, was a principal in
a company called Securacom that provided security for the World
Trade Center, United Airlines, and Dulles International Airport.
The company, Burns noted, was backed by Kuwam, a Kuwaiti-American
investment firm on whose board Marvin Burns also served.
Securacom has since changed its name to
Stratesec, but is still backed by Kuwam. Marvin Bush, who did
not respond to repeated interview requests from The American
Reporter, is no longer on the board of either company and has
not been linked with any terrorist activities.
According to Wayne Black, head of a Florida-based
security firm, it is somewhat unusual for a single firm to handle
security for both an airline and a airport. It's also unusual
for a firm linked so closely with a foreign-owned company to
handle security on such a "sensitive" international
airport as Dulles. "When you have a security contract, you
know the inner workings of everything," he said. "Somebody
knew somebody," he added, or the contract would have been
scrutinized more carefully.
Marvin Bush's alleged connections to these
companies may shed new light on the Bush administration's determination
in the days after 9/11 to push legislation protecting foreign-owned
security companies in the Homeland Security bill. These and other
issues will be taken up this week, when Roemer and his colleagues
convene the commission's first meeting.
NEIL BUSH ZAPPED ON NO CHILD HUSTLE
NEIL BUSH TIME LINE
NEIL BUSH, SCORE PROFITEER
OF BROTHER'S EDUCATION SCAM
BUSINESS WEEK -
Across the country, some teachers complain that President George
W. Bush's makeover of public education promotes "teaching
to the test." The President's younger brother Neil takes
a different tack: He's selling to the test. The No Child Left
Behind Act compels schools to prove students' mastery of certain
facts by means of standardized exams. Pressure to perform has
energized the $1.9 billion-a-year instructional software industry.
Now, after five years of development and
backing by investors like Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal and
onetime junk-bond king Michael R. Milken, Neil Bush aims to roll
his high-tech teacher's helpers into classrooms nationwide. He
calls them "curriculum on wheels," or COWs. The $3,800
purple plug-and-play computer/projectors display lively videos
and cartoons: the XYZ Affair of the late 1790s as operetta, the
1828 Tariff of Abominations as horror flick. The device plays
songs that are supposed to aid the memorization of the 22 rivers
of Texas or other facts that might crop up in state tests of
"essential knowledge." Bush's
Ignite! Inc. has sold 1,700 COWs since 2005, mainly in Texas,
where Bush lives and his brother was once governor. In August,
Houston's school board authorized expenditures of up to $200,000
for COWs. . .
MORE ABOUT SCORE PROFITEER
WALTER F. ROCHE JR, COMMON DREAMS - With
investments from his parents, George H.W. and Barbara Bush, and
other backers, Neil Bush's company, Ignite Learning, has placed
its products in 40 U.S. school districts and now plans to market
internationally. At least 13 U.S. school districts have used
federal funds available through the president's signature education
reform, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, to buy Ignite's
portable learning centers at $3,800 apiece.
The law provides federal funds to help
school districts better serve disadvantaged students and improve
their performance, especially in reading and math. But Ignite
does not offer reading instruction, and its math program will
not be available until next year.
The federal Department of Education does
not monitor individual school district expenditures under the
No Child program, but sets guidelines that the states are expected
to enforce, spokesman Chad Colby said. Ignite executive Tom Deliganis
said that "some districts seem to feel OK" about using
No Child money for the Ignite purchases, "and others do
not.". . .
WHAT IS NEIL
BUSH UP TO NOW
BILL BERKOWITZ, INTER PRESS
SERVICE - Over the past six months, Neil Bush has been shepherded
around several former Soviet republics by a man wanted for fraud
by Russian authorities, and has showed up in the Philippines
and Taiwan at the side of a self-styled messiah.
If people know anything
at all about the star-crossed Neil Bush, it likely relates to
either his role in the failed Silverado Savings and Loan scandal
during the 1980s, which cost taxpayers more than one billion
dollars, or, more recently, the lurid details of his divorce
from his wife of 23 years.
After a brief hiatus from
the public spotlight, Neil Bush is back. Within a three-month
period, Bush has shown up in Latvia, Ukraine and Georgia with
Russian fugitive Boris Berezovsky, and has appeared at the side
of the Unification Church's Rev. Sun Myung Moon in Taiwan and
the Philippines. . .
Bush and Berezovsky, who
currently lives in London where he has received political asylum,
were toodling around the former Soviet republics to promote Ignite!
Learning, the Texas-based interactive education software company
Bush founded in 1999.
Berezovsky took Bush "on
a tour of countries from the former Soviet Union that have spun
out of Moscow's sphere of influence", the St. Petersburg
Times reported. In June, it was Ukraine, then Georgia, "where
Berezovsky's longtime partner and Tbilisi power broker Badri
Patarkatsishvili was on hand to wine and dine the U.S. president's
The Russian newspaper also
pointed out that the U.S. Embassy in Moscow had disavowed any
knowledge of Bush's activities, while the State Department denied
any "involvement in, or any role in arranging, the activities
of these two private individuals in Riga".
More recently, Bush showed
up in the Philippines and Taiwan at the side of the Reverend
Sun Myung Moon, the head of the controversial Unification Church.
In the Philippines, Bush attended the inaugural convocation of
the Universal Peace Federation in Manila, the Manila Bulletin
Bush, along with other
"peace leaders", joined with Moon in meeting with Philippine
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The president "praised
Moon for his global peace efforts and God-centered, family-centered
economic and social initiatives in various parts of the world,
including projects in a number of Philippine cities", the
Manila paper reported.
NEIL BUSH GETS $2 MILLION, FREE
SEX FOR VAST SEMICONDUCTOR KNOWLEDGE
NEIL BUSH JOINS THE
STEPHEN FIDLER AND THOMAS CATÁN,
FINANCIAL TIMES - Neil Bush, a younger brother of US President
George W. Bush, has had a $60,000-a-year employment contract
with a top adviser to a Washington-based consulting firm set
up this year to help companies secure contracts in Iraq. Neil
Bush disclosed the payments during divorce proceedings in March
from his now ex-wife, Sharon. The divorce was finalized in April
and the court papers were disclosed by the Houston Chronicle
Mr Bush said he was co-chairman
of Crest Investment Corporation, a company based in Houston,
Texas, that invests in energy and other ventures. For this he
received $15,000 every three months for working an average three
or four hours a week. The other co-chairman and principal of
Crest is Jamal Daniel, a Syrian-American who is an advisory board
member of New Bridge Strategies, a company set up this year by
a group of businessmen with close links to the Bush family or
administrations. Its chairman is Joe Allbaugh, George W. Bush's
campaign director in the 2000 presidential elections.
BEHIND THE BUSHES
THE RETURN OF
RICK CASEY, HOUSTON CHRONICLE -
Maybe the president of Taiwan did pay presidential younger brother
Neil Bush a million bucks for a recent 30-minute meeting in New
York. I expressed skepticism in a recent column, but that was
before I saw Exhibit 24 in the files of Bush's contentious divorce.
I didn't realize Bush's advice was so valuable. The exhibit is
a two-page contract between Bush and Grace Semiconductor Manufacturing
Co., which recently opened a $1.6 billion computer chip production
plant in Shanghai. The co-founder and CEO is Winston Wong, son
of a wealthy Taiwanese plastics magnate. The contract bears Wong's
and Bush's signatures. Under the contract Bush has two duties:
· "To provide GSMC from time to time with business
strategies and policies; latest information and trends of the
related industry, and other expertized advices (sic).".
. . "To attend Directors Board Meetings."
HARVEY RICE, HOUSTON CHRONICLE - President Bush's brother Neil provided
a tissue sample Friday that will be used to determine whether
he fathered a child by his girlfriend while she was still married
to another man. He hopes the results will settle a paternity
question that is at the core of an $850,000 defamation lawsuit
against his ex-wife, according to a statement issued by his attorney,
John Spalding. "Neil has nothing to hide and is not the
father of the child," Spalding said. The blood test will
be used to settle a paternity question raised in the defamation
lawsuit filed by Robert Andrews against Bush's ex-wife, Sharon
Bush. Andrews is the ex-husband of Maria Andrews, Bush's girlfriend
and the mother of a 2-year-old boy whose paternity is in question.
LLOYD GROVE, WASH POST - Last summer,
when presidential brother Neil Bush informed his wife of 23 years
that he wanted a divorce, he did it by e-mail. When a distraught
Sharon Bush phoned her mother-in-law to commiserate about the
48-year-old Neil, Barbara Bush told her coolly, "That's
between you and Neilsie."
And when the 50-year-old Sharon met with
author Julie McCarron in Houston on April 14 to explore writing
a memoir of her life in America's premier political dynasty,
they ran into Neil's 40-year-old mistress, Houston socialite
Maria Andrews, at a popular restaurant called the Grotto.
"This was very upsetting to Sharon,"
McCarron wrote in a private memo containing these and other details
of their day-long session. Writing to Los Angeles-based entertainment
entrepreneur Michael Viner, who withdrew last week from a $200,000-plus
deal to publish Sharon's book, "Family First," McCarron
noted that "the hostess tried to seat us at the table right
next to the one occupied by" Andrews. "We left and
went to another restaurant," McCarron hardly needed to add.
Yesterday we confirmed the facts in the
memo, which was provided to us after the book deal collapsed.
|| MICHAEL ISIKOFF, NEWSWEEK - What was
Neil Bush doing in Jidda, Saudi Arabia, last week? Officially,
the president's youngest brother was a keynote speaker at an
international business forum. . . Newsweek has learned the presidential
sibling also had another agenda: recruiting Middle East investors
for an educational-software firm that, industry sources say,
may benefit enormously from the new $26.5 billion education bill
signed by President George W. Bush. Neil Bush's Austin-based
firm, called Ignite, has raised about $18 million since last
year, mostly from foreign investors in Japan, Taiwan and the
Middle East, said Ignite exec Kenneth Leonard. The company is
exploring joint ventures with computer software firms in Dubai
and is seeking contracts with the United Arab Emirates' Ministry
of Education and other foreign governments, said Leonard, who
has accompanied Bush on three trips to the Mideast since George
W became president.
Neil Bush's business career has created
problems for his family in the past. In 1990, while his father
was president, he was reprimanded by federal regulators for his
role as a director of the failed Silverado Savings & Loan.
Bush told Newsweek he has avoided contacting U.S. officials during
his recent travels and said there was nothing improper about
his seeking business from foreign governments. . . Bush also
said he doesn't talk to the White House about Ignite. "I
don't get permission from my brother to do business." But
some rivals say Bush's role in Ignite could help the firm cash
in on a booming new market in "digital learning"-in
part due to a fresh infusion of funds for school districts from
his brother's education bill. Ignite recently began marketing
its first product-an American-history software program-to local
school officials. "There's only about four or five [educational-software]
firms in a position to take advantage of all this new money,
and Neil Bush's company is one of them," said a rival. MORE 2/02
BATTLE OF THE BULGE
Since the White House
won't explain and the archaic media won't investigate, others
are left to speculate on the origins and meaning of George Bush's
mysterious bulge. Here's an
interesting hypothesis: it's a wearable defibrillator. Remember
we don't create theories; we only report them.
NY TIMES KILLED STORY ON BUSH
BULGE; POST AND LA TIMES RAN FROM IT
FAIR - Five days before
the presidential election, the New York Times killed a story
about the mysterious object George W. Bush wore on his back during
the presidential debates, journalist Dave Lindorff reveals in
an exclusive report on this week's Counter Spin, FAIR's weekly
radio show. The spiked story included photographic and scientific
evidence that would have contradicted Bush's claim that the bulge
on his back was just a matter of poor tailoring.
"The New York Times
assigned three editors to this story and had it scheduled to
run five days before the election, which would have raised questions
about the president's integrity," said Lindorff. "But
it was killed by top editors at the Times; clearly they were
chickening out of taking this on before the election."
Lindorff says two other
major newspapers, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times,
also decided not to pursue the story, which featured a leading
NASA satellite photo imaging scientist's analysis of pictures
of the president's back from the first debate.
The Times' bulge story
is the latest example of possible self-censorship by major news
media during the election campaign. In September, CBS's 60 Minutes
decided to delay until after the election an investigative segment
that questioned the Bush administration's use of forged Niger
uranium documents in making its case for the Iraq war, saying
that "it would be inappropriate to air the report so close
to the presidential election"
And on September 10, CNN
reporter Nic Robertson said of a CNN documentary on Saudi Arabia,
"I don't want to prejudge our executives here at CNN...
but I think we can be looking forward to [it] shortly after the
U.S. elections." The segment is now scheduled to air this
Sunday, five days after the election.
BUSH FUDGES BULGE QUESTION
WASHINGTON POST - Well, someone finally wasn't afraid to ask
President Bush about the bulge. But if you were hoping for resolution,
no such luck. . . This morning, in part two of his interview
with Bush on ABC's "Good Morning America," Charlie
Gibson spit it out. Brandishing a copy of the photo, he asked:
"Final question. What the hell was that on your back, in
the first debate?"
"Well, you know, Karen Hughes and Dan Bartlett have rigged
up a sound system -- "
"You're getting in trouble -- "
"I don't know what that is. I mean, it is, uh, it is, it's
a -- I'm embarrassed to say it's a poorly tailored shirt."
"It was the shirt?"
"There was no sound system, there was no electrical signal?
There was --"
"How does an electrical -- please explain to me how it works
so maybe if I were ever to debate again I could figure it out.
I guess the assumption was that if I was straying off course
they would, kind of like a hunting dog, they would punch a buzzer
and I would jerk back into place. I -- it's just absurd."
the shirt? Sure doesn't look like a shirt -10/04
IMAGE ANALYSIS EXPERT SAYS BUSH'S
BULGE IS REAL
BERGER, SALON - George W. Bush tried to laugh off the bulge.
"I don't know what that is," he said on "Good
Morning America" on Wednesday, referring to the infamous
protrusion beneath his jacket during the presidential debates.
"I'm embarrassed to say it's a poorly tailored shirt."
M. Nelson, however, was not laughing. He knew the president was
not telling the truth. And Nelson is neither conspiracy theorist
nor midnight blogger. He's a senior research scientist for NASA
and for Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and an international
authority on image analysis. Currently he's engrossed in analyzing
digital photos of Saturn's moon Titan, determining its shape,
whether it contains craters or canyons. For the past week, while
at home, using his own computers, and off the clock at Caltech
and NASA, Nelson has been analyzing images of the president's
back during the debates. A professional physicist and photo analyst
for more than 30 years, he speaks earnestly and thoughtfully
about his subject. "I am willing to stake my scientific
reputation to the statement that Bush was wearing something under
his jacket during the debate," he says. "This is not
about a bad suit. And there's no way the bulge can be described
as a wrinkled shirt.". . . Nelson stresses that he's not
certain what lies beneath the president's jacket. He offers,
though, "that it could be some type of electronic device
-- it's consistent with the appearance of an electronic device
worn in that manner." - 10/4
ANEMONA HARTOCOLLIS, NY
TIMES: Lynne Cheney, wife of the vice president, has challenged
Judith A. Rizzo, deputy chancellor for instruction in New York
City schools, on what should be taught in the wake of the Sept.
11 attacks, though Dr. Rizzo said her original remarks were misinterpreted.
A Sept. 30 article in The Washington Post quoted Dr. Rizzo as
saying: "Those people who said we don't need multiculturalism,
that it's too touchy-feely, a pox on them. I think they've learned
their lesson. We have to do more to teach habits of tolerance,
knowledge and awareness of other cultures." In response,
Mrs. Cheney, in a speech to the Dallas Institute of Humanities
and Culture, said that the argument that it had now become more
important to teach multiculturalism implied that "it was
our failure to understand Islam that led to so many deaths and
so much destruction." Mrs. Cheney said that while it was
important to teach about world cultures, she would urge schools
to put added emphasis on American history. She cited a survey
of 55 colleges that found American history was not a required
LYNNE CHENEY HAS 300,000 COPIES OF GOVERNMENT BOOKLET
GATES SERVED ON BOARD OF MYSTERIOUS
COMPANY THAT HELPED PASS DISASTROUS ELECTRONIC VOTING BILL
BEV HARRIS, BLACK BOX VOTING - Gates was
on the board of directors of Vote Here, a strange little company
that was the biggest elections industry lobbyist for the Help
America Vote Act. Vote Here spent more money than ES&S, Diebold,
and Sequoia combined to help ram HAVA through. And HAVA, of course,
was a bill sponsored by by convicted Abramoff pal Bob Ney and
K-street lobbyist buddy Steny Hoyer. HAVA put electronic voting
Vote Here was a company shilling cryptographic
solutions and filled with NSA types (another director was Admiral
Bill Owens, another crony of Rummy, Perle and Wolfowitz. . .
For some reason, it was decided that I
should be investigated in connection with [a reported] "hack"
of Vote Here -- never mind that I can't remember how to change
the password on my own laptop. Therefore I was interviewed by
the Secret Service several times about this. Curiously, they
never seemed to ask any questions about Vote Here, only my role
in finding the Diebold files and publishing the Diebold memos.
This nonsense eventually culminated in
a gag order and a letter from the U.S. Attorney to appear in
front of a federal grand jury with information on all the visitors
to the Black Box Voting Web site. . .
Attorney Lowell Finley went to bat for
me on this. A reporter named George Howland from the Seattle
Weekly also got wind of it. When it hit the press, and with Lowell
Finley's help, their harassment of me stopped.
Vote Here never sold any voting machines
that I can find, but apparently did set up some deals to embed
its cryptography into some voting systems. We found memos in
the Diebold trash about Vote Here's crypto-crap, and Maryland
Director of Elections Linda Lamone shows up in Vote Here-related
letters. Sequoia Voting Systems signed an agreement with Vote
Here, but it's not clear to me whether they ever did anything
about it. . .
I don't know about you, but I'd rather
use a paper, pencil, and count by hand at the polling place than
have former CIA director Robert Gates fooling around with my
vote. But that's just me.
GATES AND ZBIGGY GET THE TALIBAN
[Interview with former US National Security
Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski by Le Nouvel Observateur in 1998]
Question: The former director of the CIA,
Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs ["From the Shadows"],
that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen
in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this
period you were the national security adviser to President Carter.
You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?
Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official
version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980,
that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24
Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely
otherwise Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed
the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet
regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president
in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going
to induce a Soviet military intervention.
Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate
of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this
Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?
B: It isn't quite that. We didn't push
the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability
that they would.
Q: When the Soviets justified their intervention
by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement
of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn't believe them.
However, there was a basis of truth. You don't regret anything
B: Regret what? That secret operation was
an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians
into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that
the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President
Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its
Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry
on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought
about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet
Q: And neither do you regret having supported
the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future
B: What is most important to the history
of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire?
Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and
the end of the cold war?
Some stirred-up Moslems? But it has been
said and repeated Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace
B: Nonsense! It is said that the West had a global policy in
regard to Islam. That is stupid. There isn't a global Islam.
Look at Islam in a rational manner and without demagoguery or
emotion. It is the leading religion of the world with 1.5 billion
followers. But what is there in common among Saudi Arabian fundamentalism,
moderate Morocco, Pakistan militarism, Egyptian pro-Western or
Central Asian secularism? Nothing more than what unites the Christian
Translated from the French by Bill Blum
MOMENTS IN THE LIFE OF ROBERT GATES
JAMES RIDGWAY, MOTHER JONES - While Donald
Rumsfeld was Ronald Reagan's errand boy to Saddam Hussein in
the mid-1980s, Robert Gates, the man named to succeed him as
Secretary of Defense, was at the very heart of the American intelligence
apparatus, actively planning and carrying out covert operations
in Central America and the Middle East.
Gates, a 26-year CIA veteran and the agency's
director between 1991 and 1993, has long been accused of undermining
competent, unbiased intelligence analysis at the agency during
his tenure, opening the way for its role in partisan politics,
a reality brought to the fore again as the Bush administration
made its flawed and phony case for war with Iraq. Gates was a
high official at the CIA at a time when the U.S. intelligence
community experienced one of its most humiliating debacles: the
failure to predict the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Instead,
under CIA director William Casey the U.S. concocted evidence
showing the expansion of Reagan's "evil empire."
On December 14, 1984, in a five page memorandum
for then Director of Intelligence Casey, Gates, then serving
as deputy director of intelligence, set forth his views: "It
is time to talk absolutely straight about Nicaragua," the
memo begins. "The Nicaraguan regime is steadily moving toward
consolidation of a Marxist-Leninist government, and the establishment
of a permanent and well-armed ally of the Soviet Union and Cuba
on the mainland of the western hemisphere. Its avowed aim is
to spread further revolution in the Americas." Gates goes
on to say this is an "unacceptable" course, arguing
that the U.S. should do everything "in its power short of
invasion to put that regime out.". . .
Nicaragua wasn't the only place Gates wanted to take action.
In 1985, sounding very much like one of today's neoconservative
hawks, the then head of intelligence analysis at the CIA drafted
a plan for a joint U.S.-Egyptian military operation to invade
Libya, overthrow Col. Muamar Ghaddafi, and "redraw the map
of North Africa." . . .
According to Robert Parry, a reporter who
has closely tracked this period in the CIA's history, during
this time the Reagan administration was "pressing the CIA
to adopt an analysis that accepted right-wing media reports pinning
European terrorism on the Soviets. . . "In 1985, Gates closeted
a special team to push through another pre-cooked paper arguing
that the KGB was behind the 1981 wounding of Pope John Paul II.
CIA analysts again knew that the charge was bogus, but could
not block the paper from leaving CIA.". . .
In his book, "Firewall: The Iran/Contra
conspiracy and Cover-Up," Lawrence E. Walsh, the independent
counsel in the Iran-Contra investigation, wrote that he was skeptical
of Gates' repeated denials of having been aware or involved with
the details of the Iran-Contra operations with Oliver North.
. . In blunt terms, Walsh thought Gates was a liar. It was only
for a lack of evidence that he eventually gave up trying to indict
NY TIMES, 1991 - David Boren, the [Senate
Intelligence] committee chairman, commends Mr. Gates for forthrightness.
Yet he overlooks occasions when Mr. Gates helped skew intelligence
assessments and was demonstrably blind to illegality. The illegality
concerns the Iran-contra scandal. Mr. Gates contends he was 'out
of the loop' on decisions about what to tell Congress. And he
defends his professed ignorance on grounds of deniability--that
he was shielding the C.I.A. from involvement. These contentions
The testimony of other puts Mr. Gates,
on at least two occasions, very much in the loop. He supervised
preparation of Director William Casey's deceitful testimony to
Congress about the scandal. And one C.I.A. analyst, Charles Allen,
says he informed Mr. Gates, before it came to light, of three
unforgettable details: Oliver North's involvement, the markup
of prices of arms sold surreptitiously to Iran, and diversion
of the proceeds into a fund for covert operations. In a telling
lapse of his reputedly formidable memory, Mr. Gates could not
recall the details when Congress asked two months later.
The second criterion concerns intelligence
estimates. Incorrect forecasting should not be disqualifying;
estimates can be wrong for the right reasons of political expediency,
that's `cooking the books.'
The hearings have documented at least three
cases of such slanting: a May 1985 estimate on Iran, estimates
of Soviet influence in the third world, and assessments of Soviet
complicity in the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II.
GONZALES LAYS THE LEGAL GROUNDWORK
FOR FASCISM; SAYS RIGHT OF HABEAS CORPUS DOESN'T EXIST
ROBERT PARRY, BALTIMORE CHRONICLE
- In one of the most chilling public statements ever made by
a U.S. Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales questioned whether
the U.S. Constitution grants habeas corpus rights of a fair trial
to every American. Responding to questions from Sen. Arlen Specter
at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Jan. 18, Gonzales
argued that the Constitution doesn't explicitly bestow habeas
corpus rights; it merely says when the so-called Great Writ can
"There is no expressed grant
of habeas in the Constitution; there's a prohibition against
taking it away," Gonzales said.
Gonzales's remark left Specter,
the committee's ranking Republican, stammering. "Wait a
minute," Specter interjected. "The Constitution says
you can't take it away except in case of rebellion or invasion.
Doesn't that mean you have the right of habeas corpus unless
there's a rebellion or invasion?"
Gonzales continued, "The
Constitution doesn't say every individual in the United States
or citizen is hereby granted or assured the right of habeas corpus.
It doesn't say that. It simply says the right shall not be suspended"
except in cases of rebellion or invasion."
"You may be treading on
your interdiction of violating common sense," Specter said.
While Gonzales's statement has
a measure of quibbling precision to it, his logic is troubling
because it would suggest that many other fundamental rights that
Americans hold dear also don't exist because the Constitution
often spells out those rights in the negative.
For instance, the First Amendment
declares that "Congress shall make no law respecting an
establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right
of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government
for a redress of grievances."
Applying Gonzales's reasoning,
one could argue that the First Amendment doesn't explicitly say
Americans have the right to worship as they choose, speak as
they wish or assemble peacefully. Applying Gonzales's reasoning,
one could argue that the First Amendment doesn't explicitly say
Americans have the right to worship as they choose, speak as
they wish or assemble peacefully. The amendment simply bars the
government, i.e. Congress, from passing laws that would impinge
on these rights.
GONZALES ABOLISHES ANOTHER
SECTION OF THE CONSTITUTION
[From Senate Judiciary Committee hearing]
Specter: Now wait a minute, wait a minute. The Constitution says
you can't take it away except in the case of invasion or rebellion.
Doesn't that mean you have the right of habeas corpus?
Gonzales: I meant by that comment that the Constitution doesn't
say that every individual in the United States or every citizen
has or is assured the right of habeas corpus. It doesn't say
that. It simply says that the right of habeas corpus shall not
GONZALES CAN'T THINK OF ANY
MISTAKES HE'S MADE
THINK PROGRESS - on CNN's Situation Room,
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was asked if he could think
of a single mistake he's made during his service to President
Bush during the last six years. He couldn't do it.
Gonzales told Wolf Blitzer, "I think
that you and I would - I'd have to spend some time thinking about
that." He added, "Obviously I've made some recommendations
to my client. Some of those recommendations have not been supported
in the courts. In hindsight, you sometimes wonder, well, perhaps,
perhaps the recommendation should have been something different."
GONZALES REVEALS CONTEMPT OF CONSTITUTION,
Refuses to say whether Bush has authorized
spying on domestic calls, e-mails and letters or has approved
warrentless searchs of Americans' homes and offices
DANA MILBANK, WASHINGTON POST - Gonzales
offered the legislative branch little deference yesterday, and
certainly no apology for the administration's decision not to
seek congressional approval for its surveillance program. "The
short answer is that we didn't think we needed to, quite frankly,"
he declared in a typical exchange.
When did the administration decide it had
the authority? "I'm not going to give an exact date,"
What does the administration do with the
information it collects? "I can't talk about specifics."
Is the information used to obtain search
warrants? "I am uncomfortable talking in great detail."
More interesting than what the attorney
general said was what he would not say. Has President Bush, invoking
his "inherent powers" under the Constitution, also
authorized warrantless eavesdropping on domestic calls, opening
of Americans' mail and e-mail, and searches of their homes and
"I am not comfortable going down the
road of saying yes or no as to what the president has or has
not authorized," Gonzales, shifting frequently in his chair,
informed the senators. . .
GONZALES DECLARES WAR ON FIRST AMENDMENT
In laying out his agenda for the Justice
Department, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales declared the aggressive
prosecution of obscenity cases as one of his top priorities and
stated "obscene materials are not protected by the First
Amendment." Similar to his predecessor John Ashcroft - under
his purview, the DOJ spent thousands of dollars to cover up Justice
- Gonzales is determined to impose a moral cleansing that has
left people questioning the government rather than the so-called
violators. In response to the Bush administration-backed House
measure approving a significant increase in the maximum FCC fine
to $500,000, Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said that the real victims
of such legislation were "free expression and First Amendment
rights," declaring that passage of the bill would "make
America a less free society."
GONZALES TRASHES CONSTITUTION
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, NEWSWEEK - Just two weeks after the September
11 attacks, a secret memo to White House counsel Alberto Gonzales'
office concluded that President Bush had the power to deploy
military force "preemptively" against any terrorist
groups or countries that supported them - regardless of whether
they had any connection to the attacks on the World Trade Towers
or the Pentagon. The memo, written by Justice Department lawyer
John Yoo, argues that there are effectively "no limits"
on the president's authority to wage war - a sweeping assertion
of executive power that some constitutional scholars say goes
considerably beyond any that had previously been articulated
by the department.
The existence of the memo,
titled "The President's Constitutional Authority to Conduct
Military Operations against Terrorists and Nations Supporting
Them," was first reported by Newsweek in the fall of 2001.
But its contents - including the conclusion that Bush could order
attacks against countries unrelated to the 9/11 attacks - were
not publicly available until late this week when, with no notice
to the public or the news media, the memo was posted on an obscure
portion of the Web site of the Justice Department's Office of
In a footnote that explains
why such broad war-making authority is needed, the memo argues
that terrorist groups and their state sponsors "operate
by secrecy and concealment" and it is therefore difficult
to establish, the standards of criminal law, what groups are
behind particular terrorist attacks. Moreover, "it may be
impossible" for the president to disclose such evidence
even if he has it without compromising classified methods and
But the memo concludes
that this should not in any way restrict the president from ordering
whatever military actions "in his best judgment" he
believes are necessary to protect the country. In the exercise
of his power to use military force, "the president's decisions
are for him alone and are unreviewable."
THE GONZALES RECORD
WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL
- The concerns about Mr. Gonzales begin with his having urged
Mr. Bush to deny that the Geneva Conventions apply in Afghanistan.
The "new paradigm" of the war on terrorism, reads a
January 2002 draft memorandum written in his name, "renders
obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy
prisoners." . . . And while Mr. Bush eventually declared
that the conventions did apply, he followed Mr. Gonzales's advice
not to fully comply with them. Rather, he took the unnecessary
step of declaring all detainees "unlawful combatants,"
and therefore beyond the conventions' protection, without complying
with the process international law contemplates for that judgment.
This move proved fateful when the headquarters of Lt. Gen. Ricardo
S. Sanchez, citing the president's position on "unlawful
combatants," approved such interrogation techniques in Iraq
as hooding, forcing prisoners into "stress positions"
and menacing detainees with dogs.
Mr. Gonzales commissioned
the now-infamous torture memorandum from the Justice Department's
Office of Legal Counsel. The memo followed a meeting in his office
regarding the interrogation of a key al Qaeda detainee, in which
participants discussed such methods as "waterboarding,"
mock burial and slapping.
Mr. Gonzales played a key
role in the formation of military commissions, a system that,
three years after detainees began arriving at Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba, has yet to produce a single trial. The military commissions
are now the subject of litigation, with one judge having already
declared them illegal. . .
Across a range of areas,
in short, Mr. Gonzales appears to have given the president legal
advice that may have empowered him in the short term -- to lock
up people he deemed dangerous, to try detainees using a system
untested for decades, even to torture -- but that have a great
disservice to the president and the country in the long run.
When Mr. Bush was governor
of Texas, Mr. Gonzales as his chief counsel gave him only the
most cursory briefings on upcoming executions, omitting important
facts and mitigating circumstances. . .
GONZALEZ KEPT KEY INFORMATION FROM GOVERNOR BUSH
ALAN BERLOW, ATLANTIC MONTHLY, JULY-AUG
2003 - On the morning of May 6, 1997, Governor George W. Bush
signed his name to a confidential three-page memorandum from
his legal counsel, Alberto R. Gonzales, and placed a bold black
check mark next to a single word: DENY. It was the twenty-ninth
time a death-row inmate's plea for clemency had been denied in
the twenty-eight months since Bush had been sworn in. In this
case Bush's signature led, shortly after 6:00 P.M. on the very
same day, to the execution of Terry Washington, a mentally retarded
thirty-three-year-old man with the communication skills of a
seven-year-old. . .
During Bush's six years as governor 150
men and two women were executed in Texas-a record unmatched by
any other governor in modern American history. Each time a person
was sentenced to death, Bush received from his legal counsel
a document summarizing the facts of the case, usually on the
morning of the day scheduled for the execution, and was then
briefed on those facts by his counsel; based on this information
Bush allowed the execution to proceed in all cases but one. The
first fifty-seven of these summaries were prepared by Gonzales,
a Harvard-educated lawyer who went on to become the Texas secretary
of state and a justice on the Texas supreme court. He is now
the White House counsel.
Gonzales never intended his summaries to
be made public. Almost all are marked CONFIDENTIAL and state,
"The privileges claimed include, but are not limited to,
claims of Attorney-Client Privilege, Attorney Work-Product Privilege,
and the Internal Memorandum exception to the Texas Public Information
Act." I obtained the summaries and related documents, which
have never been published, after the Texas attorney general ruled
that they were not exempt from the disclosure requirements of
the Public Information Act.
Gonzales's summaries were Bush's primary
source of information in deciding whether someone would live
or die. Each is only three to seven pages long and generally
consists of little more than a brief description of the crime,
a paragraph or two on the defendant's personal background, and
a condensed legal history. Although the summaries rarely make
a recommendation for or against execution, many have a clear
prosecutorial bias, and all seem to assume that if an appeals
court rejected one or another of a defendant's claims, there
is no conceivable rationale for the governor to revisit that
claim. This assumption ignores one of the most basic reasons
for clemency: the fact that the justice system makes mistakes.
A close examination of the Gonzales memoranda
suggests that Governor Bush frequently approved executions based
on only the most cursory briefings on the issues in dispute.
In fact, in these documents Gonzales repeatedly failed to apprise
the governor of crucial issues in the cases at hand: ineffective
counsel, conflict of interest, mitigating evidence, even actual
evidence of innocence. . .
Alberto Gonzales told me in 2000 that in
his execution briefings he always presented Governor Bush with
a "detailed factual background of what happened," along
with "other outstanding facts or unusual issues." Yet
a close examination of the written execution summaries he prepared
for Bush certainly raises questions about the thoroughness of
Gonzales's approach-and, ultimately, given the brevity of the
summaries and the timing of their arrival at the governor's office,
about the level of attention Bush could possibly have devoted
to the clemency process. In his summaries of the cases of Terry
Washington, David Stoker, and Billy Gardner, Gonzales did not
make Governor Bush aware of concerns about ineffective counsel,
essential mitigating evidence, and even compelling claims of
innocence. These were all matters of life or death, requiring
in-depth explanation and discussion, that no attorney in Gonzales's
position should leave out of a written case summary or save for
a thirty-minute oral briefing-especially if both are to be delivered
on the very day of a scheduled execution. In a state where the
criminal-justice system has erred with well-documented regularity,
this was a grave failing.
PROGRESS REPORT - DO YOU
THINK THERE ARE CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH TORTURE IS LEGAL?: Gonzales
was involved in drafting and approved an August 2002 memo to
the president which included the opinion that laws prohibiting
torture do "not apply to the President's detention and interrogation
of enemy combatants." The memo also said that an interrogation
tactic only constituted torture if it resulted in "death,
organ failure, or serious impairment of body functions."
In light of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, it would be irresponsible
to have an attorney general who believes torture is legal.
WOULD YOU INSIST ON STRICT
COMPLIANCE WITH THE GENEVA CONVENTIONS?: In a 1/25/02 memo to
the president, Gonzales wrote, "the war against terrorism
is a new kind of war" and "this new paradigm renders
obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy
prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions." The
Constitution says that when the United States signs an international
treaty it is "the supreme law of the land." The attorney
general, our nation's chief law enforcement officer, should understand
WOULD YOU RECUSE YOURSELF
FROM THE VALERIE PLAME INVESTIGATION?: The Justice Department
is currently investigating which senior administration official
- in violation of federal law - told columnist Robert Novak that
Valerie Plame was a covert CIA operative. Gonzales has appeared
before the federal grand jury investigating the case. As White
House counsel, Gonzales also advised White House staffers and
the president about how to handle the inquiry. As someone who
advised potential defendants (and someone who could potentially
be called as a witness at trial) it would be highly inappropriate
for Gonzales to oversee the investigation.
WOULD YOU RECUSE YOURSELF
FROM ALL ENRON-RELATED MATTERS?: For more than a decade, Alberto
Gonzales was an attorney for Vinson & Elkins, the firm that
represented Enron. When Gonzales ran for reelection to the Texas
Supreme Court, he "received $6,500 in campaign contributions
from the company." The Justice Department is currently prosecuting
top Enron executives - including former CEO Ken Lay. John Ashcroft
recused himself from the Enron investigation "because of
contributions he received from the company's executives during
his campaign for the Senate." Nevertheless, Gonzales - who
had a far more extensive relationship with Enron than Ashcroft
- continued to be involved in Enron-related investigations as
White House counsel.
WOULD YOU RECUSE YOURSELF
FROM ALL HALLIBURTON-RELATED MATTERS?: The Justice Department
has launched three investigations of Halliburton: for allegedly
overcharging the military $61 million for fuel, for allegedly
bribing Nigerian officials to win a contract, and for allegedly
doing business with Iran through an off-shore subsidiary. Halliburton
was a major client of Vinson & Elkins while Gonzales was
a partner at the firm. In 1999, as a member of the Texas Supreme
Court, Gonzales accepted a $3,000 contribution from Halliburton
just before the court was to hear an appeal of a case where "a
Halliburton employee had won a $2.6 million trial verdict"
against the company. Gonzales did not recuse himself.
WHY DIDN'T YOU GIVE GOV.
BUSH ALL THE FACTS ABOUT DEATH PENALTY CASES?: As chief legal
counsel for then Gov. Bush in Texas, Gonzales was responsible
for writing a memo on the facts of each death penalty case -
Bush decided whether a defendant should live or die based on
the memos. An analysis of these memos by the Atlantic Monthly
concluded that "Gonzales repeatedly failed to apprise the
governor of crucial issues in the cases at hand: ineffective
counsel, conflict of interest, mitigating evidence, even actual
evidence of innocence." In the case of Terry Washington,
a mentally retarded 33-year-old, Gonzales's memo "failed
to mention that Washington's mental limitations, and the fact
that he and his ten siblings were regularly beaten with whips,
water hoses, extension cords, wire hangers, and fan belts, were
never made known to the jury."
GONZALEZ'S ACTS QUALIFY AS INTERNATIONAL WAR CRIME
IPS - No country can justify
torture, the humiliation of prisoners or violation of international
conventions in the guise of fighting terrorism, says a U.N. report
released here. The 19-page study, which is likely to go before
the current session of the U.N. General Assembly in December,
does not identify the United States by name but catalogues the
widely publicized torture and humiliation of prisoners and detainees
in Iraq and Afghanistan by U.S. troops waging the so-called "war
on terrorism." . . .
According to the author
of the 19-page U.N. report, 'Torture, and other Cruel, Inhuman
or Degrading Treatment or Punishment', "The condoning of
torture is, per se, a violation of the prohibition of torture."
The study, by U.N. Special
Rapporteur on Human Rights Theo van Boven, points out that "legal
argument of necessity and self-defense, invoking domestic law,
have recently been put forward, aimed at providing a justification
to exempt officials suspected of having committed or instigated
acts of torture against suspected terrorists from criminal liability."
But, Van Boven says, "the
absolute nature of the prohibition of torture and other forms
of ill-treatment means that no exceptional circumstances whatsoever,
whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political
instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as
justification for torture.". . .
Von Boven said he has received
information "on certain methods that have been condoned
and used to secure information from suspected terrorists."
He says these include,
"holding detainees in painful and-or stressful positions,
depriving them of sleep and light for prolonged periods, exposing
them to extremes of heat, cold, noise and light, hooding, depriving
them of clothing, stripping detainees naked and threatening them
of both international and regional human rights mechanisms is
unanimous in stating that such methods violate the prohibition
of torture and ill-treatment," Von Boven adds. . .
According to Francis A
Boyle, who teaches international law at the University of Illinois,
"As White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales originated, authorized,
approved and aided and abetted grave breaches of the Third and
Fourth Geneva Conventions of 1949, which are serious war crimes."
"In other words, Gonzales
is a prima facie war criminal. He must be prosecuted under the
Geneva Conventions and the U.S. War Crimes Act," Boyle told
IPS. . .
"Should Gonzales travel
around the world in that capacity, human rights lawyers such
as myself will attempt to get him prosecuted along the lines
of what happened to (former Chilean dictator) General (Pinochet,"
said Boyle, author of 'Destroying World Order'.
Jordan J Paust, law foundation
professor at the University of Houston, agrees with Boyle's thesis.
"The denial of protections
under the Geneva Conventions is a violation of the Geneva Conventions,
and every violation of the laws of war is a war crime. Complicity
in connection with war crimes (such as aiding and abetting the
denial of protections) is also criminally sanctionable,"
Paust told IPS.
Thus, it appears Gonzales
is reasonably accused of international criminal activity, he
added, although he has the human right to be presumed innocent
until proven guilty in a court of law . . .
GONZALEZ ADVOCATED IGNORING INTERNATIONAL LAW
PHILIP COORY, HERALD SUN,
AUSTRALIA - When the Abu Ghraib scandal erupted this year, Mr
Gonzales was blamed for helping create the culture which led
to the abuses, not just in Iraq but in Afghanistan and Guantanamo
Bay. In January 2002, with the war against terror under way,
he sent a memo to Mr Bush suggesting the Geneva Convention be
ignored when interrogating prisoners. "The nature of the
new war places a higher premium on our ability to quickly obtain
information from captured terrorists," Mr Gonzales advised.
"In my judgment, this
new paradigm renders obsolete the Geneva Convention's strict
limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint
some of its provisions." Mr Gonzales vigorously denied he
or the Administration had ever sanctioned torture.
He was a strident defender
of the Government's policy of keeping detainees at such places
as Guantanamo Bay for long periods without access to lawyers
NEWSWEEK - As a means of
pre-empting a repeat of 9/11, Bush, along with Defense Secretary
Rumsfeld and Attorney General John Ashcroft, signed off on a
secret system of detention and interrogation that opened the
door to such methods. It was an approach that they adopted to
sidestep the historical safeguards of the Geneva Conventions,
which protect the rights of detainees and prisoners of war. In
doing so, they overrode the objections of Secretary of State
Colin Powell and America's top military lawyers -- and they left
underlings to sweat the details of what actually happened to
prisoners in these lawless places. While no one deliberately
authorized outright torture, these techniques entailed a systematic
softening up of prisoners through isolation, privations, insults,
threats and humiliation -- methods that the Red Cross concluded
were "tantamount to torture."
MAUREEN DOWD, NY TIMES
- The president is putting his own counsel, Alberto Gonzales,
who wrote the famous memo defending torture, in charge of our
civil liberties. Torture Guy, who blithely threw off 75 years
of international law and set the stage for the grotesque abuses
at Abu Ghraib and dubious detentions at Guantánamo, seems
to have a good grasp of what's just. No doubt we'll soon learn
what other protections, besides the Geneva Conventions and the
Constitution, Mr. Gonzales finds "quaint'' and "obsolete.''
With the F.B.I. investigating Halliburton and the second-term
scandal curse looming, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney want a dependable
ally - and former Enron attorney - at Justice.
[Meanwhile this is all
the Washington Post's White House correspondent had to say on
MY STAFF MADE ME DO IT
DANA MILBANK, WASHINGTON
POST - Gonzales's most public controversy was his role in administration
memos regarding the treatment of prisoners taken in the war on
terrorism. But many of the controversies on his watch were less
his doing than those of underlings and other young conservative
lawyers in the administration.
DAFNA LINZER AND CHARLES BABINGTON WASHINGTON
POST - Gen. Michael V. Hayden, President Bush's choice to lead
the CIA, strongly defended the administration's policies on domestic
surveillance and the treatment of detainees during his confirmation
hearing yesterday, and urged senators to suspend debate about
CIA failures and give the agency a chance to rebound.
"It's time to move past what seems
to me to be an endless picking apart of the archaeology of every
past intelligence success or failure," Hayden said. "CIA
officers . . . deserve recognition of their efforts, and they
also deserve not to have every action analyzed, second-guessed
and criticized on the front pages of the morning paper."
Although accountability is important, he
said the "CIA needs to get out of the news as source or
subject and focus on protecting the American people by acquiring
secrets and providing high-quality all-source analysis.".
"I understand there are privacy concerns
involved in all of this. There's privacy concerns involved in
the routine activities of NSA," he said. He said the warrantless
eavesdropping was carefully targeted against al-Qaeda suspects.
"No one has said that there has been a targeting decision
made that wasn't well-founded in a probable-cause standard,"
Hayden said. Some Democrats questioned the claim, noting that
thousands of Americans' calls have reportedly been intercepted.
Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) asked Hayden
"whether people that were not associated with al-Qaeda have
been trapped in this sort of thing," Hayden replied that
if someone is targeted and then dropped, it "doesn't mean
that the first decision was wrong. It just means this was not
a lucrative target for communications intelligence.". .
Hayden said the White House's legal basis
is rooted in the opinion that Article II of the Constitution
gives the president expansive authorities in a time of war to
conduct domestic surveillance. Hayden said he never personally
reviewed the legal opinion that was drawn up in support of the
program, but "when they came to me and we discussed its
lawfulness, our discussion anchored itself on Article II."
He said the administration did not attempt
to rest its case on a congressional war resolution passed in
the days after the al-Qaeda attacks, as Attorney General Alberto
R. Gonzales said after the program was disclosed.
DANA MILBANK, WASHINGTON POST - With Hayden's
confirmation never in doubt -- "you're gonna be one of America's
best CIA directors," proclaimed Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.)
-- the committee's rare public hearing offered a chance to have
an examination of the administration's eavesdropping programs.
Instead, senators and the nominee implemented a new "don't
ask, don't tell" policy.
Democrats, briefed on the secret National
Security Agency programs on the eve of the hearing, were now
prevented from talking about its classified details other than
to cite news reports. Several Republicans limited their oversight
responsibilities largely to praising the administration. And
Hayden, referring to Congress as "the second branch of government,"
punted all the interesting answers to a later, secret session.
Is the NSA eavesdropping program that President
Bush confirmed the entire program? "I'm not at liberty to
talk about that in open session," Hayden said.
Can detainees be held in secret for decades?
"Let me give it to you in the closed session."
Is "waterboarding" an acceptable
interrogation technique? "Again, let me defer that to closed
session.". . .
Hayden's written statement said "UNCLASSIFIED"
on each page, though it could have been labeled "UNINTERESTING"
because little more than a collection of acronyms survived the
OPPONENT OF BIRTH CONTROL
TECHNIQUES AND PROPONENT OF WACKY SEX THEORIES NAMED BY BUSH
TO HEAD NATION'S FAMILY PLANNING PROGRAM
AMANDA SCHAFFER, SLATE - On Monday, the
federal office that oversees the nation's family-planning program
got a new boss who doesn't believe in birth control. Eric Keroack
is a Massachusetts obstetrician-gynecologist who argues that
abstinence until marriage is the only healthy choice for women.
Until recently, he served as medical director of a pregnancy-counseling
organization that runs down contraception and gives out scientifically
false health information - for instance, that condoms "offer
virtually no protection" against herpes or HPV. Keroack
also promotes a wacky piece of pseudoscience: the claim that
premarital sex disrupts brain chemistry so as to create a physiological
barrier to happy marriage. . . .
The policy statement of the pregnancy-counseling
organization he served as medical director for, A Woman's Concern,
"A Woman's Concern does not distribute,
or encourage the use of, contraceptive drugs and devices. . .
A Woman's Concern is persuaded that the crass commercialization
and distribution of birth control is demeaning to women, degrading
of human sexuality, and adverse to human health and happiness."
THE MAN WHO
SOLD THE WAR
PR WATCH - While the Senate
Select Committee on Intelligence drags its feet on discovering
how the White House sold the Iraq war, journalist James Bamford
has written a major expose on one of the key players: John Rendon.
In his Rolling
Stone story "The
Man Who Sold the War," Bamford traces the development of
Rendon and his firm The Rendon Group (TRG) from Democratic Party
organizer to Kuwaiti liberator to secretive Pentagon propagandist-for-hire.
In a rare interview, Rendon "boasted openly" to Bamford
of "the sweep and importance of his firm's efforts as a
for-profit spy." One example of TRG's work is the story
of Iraqi exile Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, who claimed Saddam
Hussein had tons of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.
The fact that al-Haideri failed CIA polygraph tests didn't stop
TRG from giving Judith Miller the print exclusive interview.
"Her front-page story, which hit the stands on December
20th, 2001, was exactly the kind of exposure Rendon had been
hired to provide," Bamford writes.
BUSHGATE BEGINS BIG TIME
JEREMY SCAHILL, THE NATION
- Meet Stewart Simonson. He's the official charged by Bush with
"the protection of the civilian population from acts of
bioterrorism and other public health emergencies" -- a well-connected,
ideological, ambitious Republican with zero public health management
or medical expertise, whose previous job was as a corporate lawyer
for Amtrak. . .
can be summed up in two words: Tommy Thompson. Simonson was a
protege of the former Health and Human Services secretary and
longtime Republican governor of Wisconsin. Thompson hired him
out of the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1995 and put
him on the political fast track, eventually naming him as his
legal counsel. Thompson then used his influence as chair of Amtrak's
board to place Simonson as the rail service's corporate counsel.
When Bush named Thompson
as HHS secretary, Simonson again went with him, and he has been
rising through the ranks of the Administration and the Republican
Party ever since. "He's a political hack, a sycophant,"
says Ed Garvey, a prominent Wisconsin attorney and the state's
former deputy attorney general. "People just laughed when
he was appointed to Amtrak, but when the word came out that he
was in charge of bioterrorism, it turned to alarm. When you realize
that people's lives are at stake, it's frightening. It's just
one of those moments when you say, Oh, my God."
What is particularly disturbing
to public health professionals and others is that Simonson is
in charge of insuring that the country has adequate vaccines
and anti-virals to combat an avian flu outbreak. "Mr. Simonson
is a lawyer, not a medical expert," declared Representative
Henry Waxman, who highlighted Simonson in a list of five "inexperienced
individuals with political connections."
BUSH REAPPOINTS CORRUPT CRONY
TO RUN BROADCAST OPERATIONS
BOSTON GLOBE - President Bush on Tuesday
renominated the chairman of the agency that directs U.S. overseas
broadcasts even though the nomination has been stalled in the
Senate amid allegations of misconduct. Kenneth Y. Tomlinson was
nominated again as chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors
and for a term on the board expiring Aug. 13, 2007. The board
oversees Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio
Free Asia, Radio and TV Marti, broadcasting initiatives in the
Middle East and other nonmilitary U.S. broadcasting overseas.
In September, a spokeswoman for the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee said senators did not plan to act
on Bush's nomination of Tomlinson in January 2005 while a government
investigation of his activities was under way. The law that created
the board in 1994 allowed Tomlinson to remain as chairman until
a successor was confirmed.
AL KAMEN, WASHINGTON POST
- Back in August, the State Department's inspector general dinged
[Tomlinson] for hiring a friend as a consultant for $244,000
and over-billing the government for his time. The report also
found that Tomlinson had used his office to run his thoroughbred
horse operation. . . And a close look at one of his e-mails dealing
with the ponies during work time makes it quite clear that the
racing operation was not completely unrelated to his work for
the Board of Governors. Sure, the message to "Colleagues"
starts out: "Now put a gun to my head and I gotta say that
Clement's Scabbard will win the forth race at Delaware."
But he also is clearly focused on international matters, especially
when talking about his horse, Massoud. "Afghan Foreign Minister
Abdullah Abdullah once told me [the late leader Ahmed Shah ]
Massoud loved fast horses and that his followers often made gifts
of horses to him."
KEN TOMLINSON FAILS TO MAKE IT PAST
AL KAMEN, WASHINGTON POST - It's been a
somewhat turbulent year for Kenneth Y. Tomlinson , former editor
in chief of Reader's Digest and now chairman of the Broadcasting
Board of Governors, which oversees the Voice of America, Radio
Free Europe, Radio and TV Marti in Cuba, and Radio Free Asia.
Back in August, the State Department's
inspector general dinged him for hiring a friend as a consultant
for $244,000 and over-billing the government for his time. The
report also found that Tomlinson had used his office to run his
thoroughbred horse operation. The broadcasting board split 3-3
on partisan lines on whether to fire him, so he remains in the
job until a replacement is found, which could easily be another
two years. Tomlinson said the allegations were part of a "political
WIKIPEDIA - Tomlinson was appointed to
the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's board of directors
by President Bill Clinton and was confirmed in September 2000.
Tomlinson was appointed as chairman of the CPB board by President
George W. Bush, for a two-year term, in September 2003. He embarked
upon a mission to purge CPB of what he perceived as 'liberal
bias'. His efforts sparked complaints of political pressure.
His close friendship with Karl Rove is one of many concerns the
public has had about his own bias and his intent with respect
to CPB, and accusations that he was attempting to turn the balanced
content to a right wing agenda similar to FOX television.
Tomlinson commissioned a $10,000 study
into Bill Moyers' PBS program, "Now with Bill Moyers"
without informing the board of the investigation. He also retained
two Republican lobbyists to try to defeat a congressional proposal
that would have increased the representation of broadcasters
on the board, again without informing the board of the contracts.
The inspector general's report issued 15
November 2005 said that Mr. Tomlinson appears to have violated
both the federal law and the corporation's own rules in raising
$5 million to underwrite The Journal Editorial Report, a PBS
program by the famously conservative editorial board of The Wall
Street Journal. . .
Tomlinson resigned from the CPB board on
November 4, 2005 after the board saw the report about his tenure
by the Inspector General of the CPB, requested by House Democrats.
The report described possible political influence on personnel
decisions, including e-mail correspondence between Tomlinson
and the White House which indicated that Tomlinson "was
strongly motivated by political considerations in filling the
In July 2005, the State Department opened
an inquiry into Tomlinson's work at the Broadcasting Board of
Governors, after Representative Howard L. Berman, Representative
Tom Lantos and Senator Christopher Dodd forwarded accusations
of misuse of money from an employee at the board. The New York
Times reported that the inquiry was pursuing accusations that
Tomlinson had spent federal money for personal purposes and hired
unqualified and ghost employees. It also reported that State
Department investigators had seized records and e-mail from the
board, including correspondence between Tomlinson and Karl Rove,
President George W. Bush's chief advisor. Rove, an old friend
of Tomlinson's, helped to secure Tominson's position as chairman.
A summary of the year-long report, prepared
by the inspector general of the State Department was released
by Mr Berman on August 29, 2006. It concludes that Tomlinson
used his office at the Broadcasting Board of Governors to oversee
a stable of thoroughbreds. Berman has asked that Tomlinson be
removed from his position immediately in the light of the reports
THOMAS: FORGOTTEN FACTS
CLARENCE THOMAS: THE YALE CONNECTION
WAR CRIMES. .
ACLU TAKES RUMSFELD TO COURT
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR -As
Donald Rumsfeld prepares to leave his job as secretary of Defense,
the American Civil Liberties Union is seeking to hold him responsible
for what it says was widespread torture carried out at his direction.
Lawyers representing Mr. Rumsfeld and three US Army commanders
are set to appear in federal court here Friday in response to
a lawsuit charging that the Defense secretary authorized torture
and other illegal abuse of military detainees in Afghanistan
and Iraq - including at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison.
The case is important because
it represents an attempt to hold US officials accountable for
alleged illegal abuse of Iraqi and Afghan civilians who were
never detained as enemy combatants or charged with any crime.
But some legal analysts say the suit may be aimed more at shaping
public opinion than winning in court because such cases are difficult
WHY WASTE TIME ON IMPEACHMENT?
SAM SMITH - A number of progressive
voices have been calling for the impeachment of George Bush.
It won't happen, trying would just waste valuable congressional
time developing a case for the 2008 elections, and at best Bush's
term would only be cut a year or less. Besides, there is far
more effective and satisfying retribution waiting in the wings,
one that could be pressed for years, and for which the criminals
- not just Bush but his top aides - would have to pay the rest
of their lives.
The alternative is criminal indictment
of Bush and his capos, either under war crimes acts or under
various domestic laws. Even if some or all of these cases are
not resolved, they could create a permanent cloud over the heads
of the perps, restrict their travel and discredit their views,
witness the effect on Pinochet and Kissinger.
Since we have never charged an
ex-president with domestic criminal acts it might take some creative
work by lawyers ad law schools to come up with the best procedures.
But the more ideas the better. The more indictments the better.
And the more perp walks the better.
For starters here is a sample
war crime indictment from the First Gulf War:
THE CON TO AVOID PROSECUTION
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, MAY 19, 2004
- The White House's top lawyer warned more than two years ago
that U.S. officials could be prosecuted for "war crimes"
as a result of new and unorthodox measures used by the Bush administration
in the war on terrorism, according to an internal White House
memo and interviews with participants in the debate over the
The concern about possible future
prosecution for war crimes - and that it might even apply to
Bush administration officials themselves - is contained in a
crucial portion of an internal January 25, 2002, memo by White
House counsel Alberto Gonzales obtained by Newsweek. . .
In the memo, the White House
lawyer focused on a little known 1996 law passed by Congress,
known as the War Crimes Act, that banned any Americans from committing
war crimes-defined in part as "grave breaches" of the
Geneva Conventions. Noting that the law applies to "U.S.
officials" and that punishments for violators "include
the death penalty," Gonzales told Bush that "it was
difficult to predict with confidence" how Justice Department
prosecutors might apply the law in the future. This was especially
the case given that some of the language in the Geneva Conventions-such
as that outlawing "outrages upon personal dignity"
and "inhuman treatment" of prisoners-was "undefined."
. . .
One lawyer involved in the interagency
debates over the Geneva Conventions issue recalled a meeting
in early 2002 in which participants challenged [John] Yoo, a
primary architect of the administration's legal strategy, when
he raised the possibility of Justice Department war crimes prosecutions
unless there was a clear presidential direction proclaiming the
Geneva Conventions did not apply to the war in Afghanistan. The
concern seemed misplaced, Yoo was told, given that loyal Bush
appointees were in charge of the Justice Department.
"Well, the political climate
could change," Yoo replied, according to the lawyer who
attended the meeting. "The implication was that a new president
would come into office and start potential prosecutions of a
bunch of ex-Bush officials," the lawyer said. (Yoo declined
This appears to be precisely
the concern in Gonzales's memo dated January 25, 2002, in which
he strongly urges Bush to stick to his decision to exempt the
treatment of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters from the provisons
of the Geneva Conventions. . .
One reason to do so, Gonzales
wrote, is that it "substantially reduces the threat of domestic
criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act." He added
that "it is difficult to predict with confidence what actions
might be deemed to constitute violations" of the War Crimes
Act just as it was "difficult to predict the needs and circumstances
that could arise in the course of the war on terrorism."
. . .
In the end, after strong protests
from Powell, the White House retreated slightly. In February
2002, it proclaimed that, while the United States would adhere
to the Geneva Conventions in the conduct of the war in Afghanistan,
captured Taliban and Qaeda fighters would not be given prisoner
of war status under the conventions. It is a rendering that Administration
lawyers believed would protect U.S. interrogators or their superiors
in Washington from being subjected to prosecutions under the
War Crimes Act based on their treatment of the prisoners.
FORMER HEAD OF ABU GHRAIB
CLAIMS RUMSFELD AUTHORIZED TORTURE IN WRITING
REUTERS - Outgoing Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld authorized the mistreatment of detainees at Abu
Ghraib prison in Iraq, the prison's former U.S. commander said
in an interview on Saturday. Former U.S. Army Brigadier General
Janis Karpinski told Spain's El Pais newspaper she had seen a
letter apparently signed by Rumsfeld which allowed civilian contractors
to use techniques such as sleep deprivation during interrogation.
. . "The handwritten signature was above his printed name
and in the same handwriting in the margin was written: "Make
sure this is accomplished," she told Saturday's El Pais.
"The methods consisted of making prisoners stand for long
periods, sleep deprivation ... playing music at full volume,
having to sit in uncomfortably ... Rumsfeld authorized these
THE BUSHES INDEX