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Saturday, September 04, 2004

BUSH'S "CULTURE OF OWNERSHIP" 

I don't know how long it will be at this URL, but here is John Cassidy on Bush's ambitious bid to make the rich richer and the poor poorer in the coming four years.

EXCERPT: A few weeks ago, George W. Bush crossed the Potomac to a community college in Annandale, Virginia, where he hosted an “Ask President Bush” town-hall-style meeting and took up a favorite campaign theme, saying that one of the things that separated him from his opponent was his intention to create a “culture of ownership.” The same day, the Bush-Cheney campaign released a new television ad that shows pictures of houses, workers, and businesses as the President announces, “One of the most important parts of a reform agenda is to encourage people to own something. Own their own home, own their own business, own their own health-care plan, or own a piece of their retirement. Because I understand if you own something, you have a vital stake in the future of America.”

The President’s ownership initiative hasn’t featured prominently in the media coverage of the campaign, which, strictly from a news perspective, is understandable: he hasn’t announced many specific proposals to back up his talk. But in downplaying the Bush Administration’s economic agenda the media is missing one of the biggest domestic stories of the 2004 campaign. When the President pledges to create an “era of ownership,” he is not talking merely about encouraging people to buy their own homes and start small businesses. To conservative Republicans who understand his coded language, he is also talking about extending and expanding the tax cuts he introduced in his first term; he is talking about allowing wealthy Americans to shelter much of their income from the I.R.S.; about using the tax code to curtail the government’s role in health care and retirement saving; and, ultimately, about a vision that has entranced but eluded conservatives for decades: the abolition of the graduated income tax and its replacement with a levy that is simpler, flatter, and more favorable to rich people.

[[[BushWhackedUSA.com & BushWhackedUSA: THE BLOG]]]

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

OUTFOXING THE FOX 

In its continuing efforts to outfox Fox News, CNN's headline writer has thrown its weight behind the "few bad apples" theory with this headline today:

Report: Abu Ghraib was 'Animal House' at night

Yet the lede reads: Abuses photographed at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq represented "deviant behavior and a failure of military leadership and discipline" at the facility, but direct and indirect responsibility for those acts and others elsewhere went higher up the chain of command, an independent panel reported Tuesday.

[[[BushWhackedUSA.com & BushWhackedUSA: THE BLOG]]]

CELL PHONES IN THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES 

(No pun intended.)

I'm so tired of the back and forth about Kerry's vietnam record, and so disgusted that the whole thing hasn't blown up in Bush's cowardly face, that I've decided not to read any more about it for several days. Not that I've got much time to read this week, but...

Here's an interesting article in ZNet, by Sam Bahour:

De-development, Israeli Style

EXCERPT: Faced with the lopsided Oslo Peace Accords, Palestinians attempted to overcome tremendous odds over the last ten years to sow the seeds of a modern Palestinian economy.  However, Israel had different plans, namely to manipulate the uneven balance of power to eliminate any possibility for Palestinian self-sufficiency and the emergence of a Palestinian state.  Mixing the greed of the corporate world with the might of the Israeli military, Israel is well on track to undermine Palestinian achievements, and by doing so, Israel has wrecked the Palestinian society with severe consequences that will last for many years.

There are winners and losers in today's cutthroat business world. Corporate America reigns supreme with its breadth and depth into world markets increasing daily.  One huge market which is growing at an overwhelming pace is telecommunications, especially the cellular business.  Around the world and in the Middle East specifically, the telecommunications sector is proving to be the vehicle that is prodding governments to modernize and become more transparent, accountable and market-driven.
 
Countries, particularly smaller and least developed ones, have benefited from this telecommunications boom by liberalizing their markets in order to attract foreign direct investment and gain firsthand experience in one of today's most dynamic industries.  In conflict-stricken Israel and yet-to-be Palestine, this globalized model of development is not working and the Palestinians are losing while those tasked with maintaining the rules and laws of today's global village turn a blind eye.

[[[BushWhackedUSA.com & BushWhackedUSA: THE BLOG]]]

Friday, August 20, 2004

IRAN THREATENS US FORCES IN PERSIAN GULF 

Haven't seen much of this in America's mainstream media yet...

Iran threatens to attack US forces in Gulf
The Strait Times, 20 August 2004
EXCERPT: Iranian Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani has warned that Iran might launch a pre-emptive strike against United States forces in the region to prevent an attack on its nuclear facilities.
'We will not sit (with arms folded) to wait for what others will do to us,' he told Al-Jazeera television when asked if Iran would respond to an American attack on its nuclear facilities.
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'Some military commanders in Iran are convinced that preventive operations which the Americans talk about are not their monopoly.
'America is not the only one present in the region. We are also present, from Khost to Kandahar in Afghanistan. We are present in the Gulf and we can be present in Iraq,' he said.
'The US military presence (in Iraq) will not become an element of strength (for Washington) at our expense. The opposite is true, because their forces would turn into a hostage' in Iranian hands in the event of an attack, he said.

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Gotta wonder how this will play out on The Rapture Index.

[[[BushWhackedUSA.com & BushWhackedUSA: THE BLOG]]]

Thursday, August 19, 2004

PAT WILLIAMS ON PORTER GOSS 

We scored a good one for Thursday's issue...

Porter Goss: Another Bush Intelligence Failure
Former House Majority Whip Pat Williams on Bush's nominee for Director of Central Intelligence and why the furrowed brow and secretive pout of Porter Goss, a longtime CIA apologist, is the wrong face to lead an agency in dire need of reform
BushWhackedUSA, 19 August 2004
EXCERPT: Having served so long with Porter and knowing the political climate today, I expect, as do most observers, that the Senate will confirm him to head the CIA. As we all understand — now — America’s intelligence apparatus is in need of a real overhaul, but, frankly, I’m not convinced that Porter Goss is the right person for the task. I will say he looks right — Porter has one of those CIA faces: sincere, serious, secretive and worried — he has that furrowed-brow look that says, “I know something really bad, but I can’t tell you about it.” Perhaps that look comes from Goss’ earlier days as a CIA operative and later from his chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee. So…Porter looks the part; and he has experience — but I question that experience. During the years we served together, Porter Goss was an apologist for the CIA and our other intelligence agencies as well. Back when only a few members of Congress understood that America was not being properly defended by the CIA and others, Porter Goss stoutly defended those agencies. And worse, he considered those who asked the hard questions as being weak on defense. Goss was a proponent not of reform, but rather of more money so the agencies could simply carry on with what we all now recognize were their inefficient, uncoordinated and, it turns out, dangerous malpractice. In 1998 Goss was the prime mover of securing an increase for those flawed agencies of $1 billion dollars — not for reform but for the same old failed intelligence processes.

[[[BushWhackedUSA.com & BushWhackedUSA: THE BLOG]]]

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

FIRST INTERVIEW WITH ISRAELI NUCLEAR WHISTLEBLOWER 

Democracy Now! scored the first international interview with Mordechai Vanunu. Not to be missed. (Here's the transcript.) EXCERPT:

AMY GOODMAN: The Israeli government has called you a traitor. What is your response to that?

MORDECHAI VANUNU: Well, I answer this. When I get out of the prison, I am saying many, many times that I am very glad, happy and proud to reveal its nuclear secrets to all the world and to let all the world to see the stupidity of Israel's nuclear weapons policy and the danger of a nuclear weapons policy in secret by Israel. And I was not a traitor. The real traitors are Israel's government who was behind this nuclear weapons policy for 40 years, and continues. They are betraying the Israeli citizens, and betraying the Arab community, and betraying all of humanity and the world, the human beings of all the world. They are the real traitors.

AMY GOODMAN: What are the secrets that you reveal that you think were most significant?

MORDECHAI VANUNU: Excuse me, but I could not understand, hear you.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain, Mordechai Vanunu, the secrets you feel were most significant for the world to know? You were imprisoned 18 years ago. Can you say what you were trying to reveal to the world?

MORDECHAI VANUNU: Well, it was very open and very clear: the secrets that were published by the Sunday Times in 1986. The main points were: one, the amount of Israel's nuclear weapons, how many Israel had, that no one could predict or know, including the CIA. They were thinking about a number like 10 or 15. But I came out with a number between 150 to 200. Second point is no one here could predict or know that Israel was involved or started producing the hydrogen bomb -- the most advanced and powerful atomic bomb that can kill millions of people. And that has no justification -- no need for Israel's existence. They don't need hydrogen bomb. That was my revelation that was proved, with photos, to all of the world. That was the very important news that I brought to the world.

AMY GOODMAN: And how did you know this?

MORDECHAI VANUNU: I knew that because I worked in the place, in the building where my job was producing the materials for nuclear weapons. My job was to produce plutonium that was used for atomic bomb. I knew how much they produced every day, every year. So I could make out the amount and see exactly how many bombs can they do. I also was producing, working on other materials for the hydrogen bomb. They call it lithium-6 and tritium. I was working on these and the only use for lithium-6 is the hydrogen bomb. And I also take photos of hydrogen bomb, from another part of the building. It was not part of my job, but I succeeded to go and take photos of the hydrogen bomb. My revelation was Israel [had] started producing a neutron bomb. I succeed to take photograph of the model of the neutron bomb. This means Israel was ready to use nuclear weapons in the next war, in 1986 if it had war with Iraq, or Iran or Syria. It could use them against armies. That means the beginning by Israel using atomic bomb.... That was the most dangerous point in the Middle East: Israel, they could have used nuclear weapons like no other state there...

AMY GOODMAN: So, Mordechai Vanunu, you say that they had 150 to 200 atomic bombs, that they had developed them. That they were building a hydrogen bomb, and a neutron bomb?

MORDECHAI VANUNU: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: And have they done that at this point? It's 18 years later.

MORDECHAI VANUNU: I don't know what they did in 18 years. We can just assume they have much more and powerful, more advanced technology, all the new computers, everything could be much more easier and help them to build much more and many more nuclear weapons. I just assume. I don't have any new information, what happened in 18 years.

[[[BushWhackedUSA.com & BushWhackedUSA: THE BLOG]]]

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

BUSH IS EITHER MAKING YOU RICH OR FAT 

If for no other reason, Americans should vote Bush out of office in order to lose weight. It's true. Stands to reason. Here goes... The gap between rich and poor is growing in this country. As Leigh Strope of the Associated Press reports, "The wealthiest 20 percent of households in 1973 accounted for 44 percent of total U.S. income, according to the Census Bureau. Their share jumped to 50 percent in 2002, while everyone else's fell. For the bottom fifth, the share dropped from 4.2 percent to 3.5 percent." Just the other day the Congressional Budget office has found that a third of Bush's tax cuts have gone to people earning in the top one percent; meanwhile, the tax cuts are minimal or nonexistent for those on the bottom rung of the ladder. In other words, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. And as NPR reported on Tuesday, if you're poor, you're more likely to suffer from obesity. So, statistically speaking, as that income gap widens so does your waistline.

[[[BushWhackedUSA.com & BushWhackedUSA: THE BLOG]]]

Sunday, August 15, 2004

GHANDI IN PALESTINE 

It looks like the grandson of Mahatma Ghandi is headed to the occupied Palestinian territories to launch a nonviolent campaign to end Israeli occupation and oppression. One wonders if even the name of Ghandi will be enough to garner a few headlines in the apathetic Western media that scarcely takes note when Israeli helicopters fire missiles in Gaza or Israel's Palestinian prisoners stage a mass hunger strike. Well, the writing's on the wall and people on the other side of that wall are busy spelling out the difference between anarchy and chaos.

[[[BushWhackedUSA.com & BushWhackedUSA: THE BLOG]]]

Friday, August 13, 2004

MORE OF THE SAME 

CBO Report Finds Tax Cuts Heavily Favor the Wealthy
By EDMUND L. ANDREWS
NYT, 13 August 2004

EXCERPT: Fully one-third of President Bush's tax cuts in the last three years have gone to people with the top 1 percent of income, who have earned an average of $1.2 million annually, according to a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to be published Friday. The report calculated that households with incomes in that top 1 percent were receiving an average tax cut of $78,460 this year, while households in the middle 20 percent of earnings - averaging about $57,000 a year - were getting an average cut of only $1,090. The new estimates confirm what independent tax analysts have long said: that Mr. Bush's tax cuts have been heavily skewed to the very wealthiest taxpayers. Those are also the people, however, who pay a disproportionate share of federal income taxes. The calculations, which were requested by Congressional Democrats, are all but certain to intensify a central debate between Mr. Bush and Senator John F. Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee. Mr. Bush has argued that the tax cuts provided crucial support to the economy at a time when it was mired in a recession and reeling from the effects of a stock market collapse, terrorist attacks and corporate scandals.
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Well, at least Bush knows how to solidify his base.

[[[BushWhackedUSA.com & BushWhackedUSA: THE BLOG]]]

Thursday, August 12, 2004

WHY DOES THE RECONSTRUCTION (sic) LOOK LIKE SUCH A CRIMINAL RACKET? 

I grabbed several items for the Friday issue of BushWhackedUSA, but this is the one I'd love to discuss...

Fables of the Reconstruction
By Christian Parenti
The Nation, 12 August 2004

EXCERPT: Throughout the country, vital systems, from water and power to healthcare and education, are in woeful disrepair. The World Bank estimates that bringing Iraq back to its 1991 level of development will cost $55 billion and take at least four years. In the past seventeen months, US taxpayers have set aside a total of $24 billion to rebuild Iraq. Most of that sum has not been spent, though billions of dollars of poorly accounted for Iraqi oil revenues have been expended, or at least allocated to foreign (mostly American) contractors. Humanitarians see reconstruction as a moral obligation: a form of reparations for two US-led wars and thirteen years of brutal sanctions. From a military standpoint, reconstruction is central to the US counterinsurgency effort. The occupation's star officers, like Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, readily acknowledge that a broken economy means more violence. But seen up close, reconstruction in Iraq looks less like a mission of mercy or a sophisticated pacification program and more like a criminal racket.

[[[BushWhackedUSA.com & BushWhackedUSA: THE BLOG]]]

NEGLECTING THE BIGOT VOTE 

With Republicans echoing the talking point that Democrats take the African-American vote for granted (all summer long!), it should be a standard response to accuse the GOP of taking it's constituency of bigots for granted. Why don't they just come out of the closet: the GOP is the party for homophobes, xenophobes and people whose hearts are dripping with hatred.

I'm waiting for someone in the GOP to stand up and say, "I'm a bigoted American, and proud of it."

Grrr...

[[[BushWhackedUSA.com & BushWhackedUSA: THE BLOG]]]

Monday, August 09, 2004

CRUNCH TIME IS A GOOD TIME FOR BLOGGING 

I changed my mind. I'll keep at it, but won't commit to regular posts. Some days it'll be three, some days none. Gotta run -- the baby calls!

[[[BushWhackedUSA.com & BushWhackedUSA: THE BLOG]]]

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Shhhhhhh 

I'm going to retire from the blog indefinitely, to focus my (severely limited) energy on the main site between now and November 2, which is 86 days away. It's crunch time, as they probably say in the cereal business, and in other crunchy businesses.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

RED CROSS COMES DOWN OFF THE FENCE...FOR THE BRITISH 

I don't mean to complain. It's great that the International Red Cross has finally come out with what we all knew: that the US has committed systematic war crimes in Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere. I wonder, though, why it took the testimonies of three British ex-prisoners in the past couple of days to tip the IRC off the fence. The photos, video footage and testimonies of abuse of hundreds of Iraqi, Afghani and other prisoners weren't compelling enough already? Allegations that as many as 100 Iraqi children were abused, tortured and raped by coalition [sic] and Iraqi forces didn't jar the IRC into action?

[[[BushWhackedUSA.com & BushWhackedUSA: THE BLOG]]]

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

JUST FOR TODAY 

Today, and only today, I've posted the BushWhackedUSA items here instead of on the main site. My partner in crime is traveling, and rather than screwing up his system I thought this would be easier. So, now that you're here, feel free to comment on things. What's on your mind? Oh, and welcome!
-Eric Bosse
Co-Editor, BushWhackedUSA

BushWhackedUSA.com

BUSHWHACKEDUSA: INTERNATIONAL ITEMS, 5 AUGUST 2004 

US ABUSE COULD BE WAR CRIMES: Red Cross Says Britons May Have a Case
By Vikram Dodd and Tania Branigan
The Guardian (UK), 5 August 2004

EXCERPT: Repeated abuses allegedly suffered by three British prisoners at the hands of US interrogators and guards in the Guantánamo Bay detention camp in Cuba could amount to war crimes, the Red Cross said yesterday. The organisation, which maintains a rigidly neutral stance in public, took the unusual step of voicing its concerns in uncompromising language after the former detainees, known as the Tipton Three, revealed that they had been beaten, shackled, photographed naked and in one incident questioned at gunpoint while in US custody. Their vivid account of the harrowing conditions at the camp, as told to their lawyers and published for the first time in yesterday's Guardian, has reignited the debate about the treatment of prisoners and the British government's role in their questioning and detention. Last night the Red Cross was joined by the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, which argued that if the allegations were true they indicated systematic abuse, amounting to torture.
SEE ALSO: Editorial: Justice in the Balance (Guardian)
SEE ALSO: Families call for immediate freeing of Britons caught in 'Kafka nightmare' (Guardian)
SEE ALSO: Questioned at Gunpoint, Shackled, Forced to Pose Naked: British Detainees Tell Their Stories of Guantanamo Bay
By Vikram Dodd and Tania Branigan
The Guardian (UK) 4 August 2004

EXCERPT: Britain and the US last night faced fresh allegations of abuses after a British terror suspect said an SAS soldier had interrogated him for three hours while an American colleague pointed a gun at him and threatened to shoot him. The allegation is contained in a new dossier detailing repeated beatings and humiliation suffered by three Britons who were captured in Afghanistan, then held in Guantánamo Bay for two years, before being released in March without charge. Rhuhel Ahmed, one of the "Tipton Three", claims in the 115-page dossier that shortly after his capture in November 2001 he was interviewed in Afghanistan by a British interrogator who said he was from the SAS. Mr Ahmed alleges he was taken by US guards to be interrogated by the British officer in a tent. "One of the US soldiers had a gun to his head and he was told if he moved they would shoot him," the report says. The SAS officer pressed him to admit he had gone to Afghanistan to fight a holy war.

Coalition Forces Holding Children in Iraqi Prisons
Human rights groups demand immediate access to children held as criminals or 'security detainees.'
By Tom Regan
Christian Science Monitor, 4 August 2004

EXCERPT: The Sunday Herald of Scotland reported this week on its own investigation into allegations that more than 100 children, some as young as 10 years-old, are being detained by coalition forces in Iraq under suspicion of "alleged activities targeting the occupying forces." Many of the children are being held in a special wing at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. The Herald's story includes allegations that some of the children were abused, tortured, or raped, by coalition and Iraqi soldiers.

Bush Administration Knew They Were Lying About Iraq
Despite the whitewash, we now know that the Bush administration was warned before the war that its Iraq claims were weak
By David Sirota and Christy Harvey
In These Times, 3 August 2004

EXCERPT: If desperation is ugly, then Washington, D.C. today is downright hideous. As the 9/11 Commission recently reported, there was “no credible evidence” of a collaborative relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. Similarly, no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq. With U.S. casualties mounting in an election year, the White House is grasping at straws to avoid being held accountable for its dishonesty. The whitewash already has started: In July, Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee released a controversial report blaming the CIA for the mess. The panel conveniently refuses to evaluate what the White House did with the information it was given or how the White House set up its own special team of Pentagon political appointees (called the Office of Special Plans) to circumvent well-established intelligence channels. And Vice President Dick Cheney continues to say without a shred of proof that there is “overwhelming evidence” justifying the administration’s pre-war charges. But as author Flannery O’Conner noted, “Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” That means no matter how much defensive spin spews from the White House, the Bush administration cannot escape the documented fact that it was clearly warned before the war that its rationale for invading Iraq was weak. Top administration officials repeatedly ignored warnings that their assertions about Iraq’s supposed Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and connections to al Qaeda were overstated. In some cases, they were told their claims were wholly without merit, yet they went ahead and made them anyway. Even the Senate report admits that the White House “misrepresented” classified intelligence by eliminating references to contradictory assertions. In short, they knew they were misleading America.

Weapons of Miller's Descriptions
Spoon-fed information about Iraq's WMDs, New York Times reporter Judith Miller authored many stories later found to be misleading or downright false.
By Herbert L. Abrams
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July/August 2004

EXCERPT:By June 3, 2003, according to a Harris Poll, 35 percent of Americans believed that weapons of mass destruction (WMD) had been found in Iraq, while 10 percent were not sure; in October, 30 percent were still persuaded, although six months of searching had failed to uncover any such weapons. How could so many have been convinced in the face of the total absence of evidence? Selected comments from New York Times reporter Judith Miller's dispatches from December 2001 through June 2003 provide part of the answer. Miller, with a special knack for writing what the Pentagon liked to read, was the sole reporter embedded with the 75th Exploitation Task Force, which operated Mobile Exploitation Teams (MET Alpha, MET Bravo) hunting for WMD in Iraq. Her stories, which were widely reprinted or reported in other newspapers, on cable TV, and on talk radio, helped convey the impression to the nation that illicit weapons had been found in Iraq, supposedly validating the decision for war.

Doctors and Torture: Medical Professionals Complicit in Illegal Procedures
By Robert J. Lifton, M.D.
New England Journal of Medicine, 29 July 2004

EXCERPT: There is increasing evidence that U.S. doctors, nurses, and medics have been complicit in torture and other illegal procedures in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay. Such medical complicity suggests still another disturbing dimension of this broadening scandal. We know that medical personnel have failed to report to higher authorities wounds that were clearly caused by torture and that they have neglected to take steps to interrupt this torture. In addition, they have turned over prisoners' medical records to interrogators who could use them to exploit the prisoners' weaknesses or vulnerabilities. We have not yet learned the extent of medical involvement in delaying and possibly falsifying the death certificates of prisoners who have been killed by torturers.

New Thinking in an All-Orange World
By Tom Englehardt and Mark LeVine
TomDispatch, 3 August 2004

EXCERPT #1 (Engelhardt): Unfortunately, our media is programmatically like some exceedingly slow, brain-damaged acquaintance. You have this constant urge to stretch out your hand and say, "Here, here, I'll help you along." But you also know that, massive and influential as it may be, on certain crucial matters it is institutionally incapable of learning. I mean, it's almost three years after 9/11 and we know we have an administration that never saw a piece of false intelligence it couldn't run with or accurate intelligence it couldn't mangle or suppress.
EXCERPT #2 (LeVine): It is time for the United States to declare a truce with the Muslim world, and radical Islam in particular. This may sound like a naïve, even defeatist statement in the context of The 9/11 Commission Report's reminder that America remains very much at war with "Islamist terrorism" and the ideas behind it. Yet a truce -- in Arabic, hudna -- rather than an increasingly dangerous "clash of civilizations," is the only way to avoid a long, ultimately catastrophic conflict. And it's up to Europe to be the good broker. Indeed, there is no chance for a halt in the war on terror, or any fundamental change in U.S. foreign policy as long as George Bush is President. Even if John Kerry wins this November, the possibility that he might initiate such a transformation is slim. However, there is one major difference -- at least rhetorically -- between the two possible presidencies: Kerry has made a point of saying that he would "listen" to European allies and strive to build a common approach to combating terrorism.

[[[BushWhackedUSA.com & BushWhackedUSA: THE BLOG]]]

BUSHWHACKEDUSA: NATIONAL ITEMS, 5 AUGUST 2004 

FUBAR
Source for New Terror Alerts Fed U.S. False Information in 2002

Capitol Hill Blue, 4 August 2004

EXCERPT: An imprisoned terror suspect that the Bush administration says provided "vital" information that led to increased alerts in Washington, New York and New Jersey is the same suspect who provided false information that led to false alerts in 2002, angry intelligence officials say. The administration claimed it learned from an imprisoned terror suspect, separately from the documents and two prisoners named this week, that al-Qaida was plotting to attack U.S. financial buildings, officials. The White House described the latest information as "another new stream of intelligence" that supported its decision to issue warnings. It arrived days before the public alert, even as officials were reviewing reams of documents and photographs that showed surveillance of five such financial buildings in New York, New Jersey and Washington carried out years ago by al-Qaida. But Capitol Hill Blue has learned the terror suspect is Abu Zubaydah, an al-Qaida honcho captured in Pakistan in March, 2002. At that time, Zubaydah claimed suicide bomb attacks against the same financial institutions were imminent and U.S. officials responded by raising the terror alert status only to lower it a short time later and admit Zubaydah's information was "questionable." "Old information isn't irrelevant information - particularly with this kind of enemy," Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said Wednesday in Nashville, Tenn. "Horseshit," muttered a DHS agent who, for obvious reasons, asked that his name be withheld. "We're chasing ghosts and we're chasing our tails. How many times must this clown lead us around by the nose before we learn we have been made fools of once again?"
SEE ALSO: Despite "Terror" Warnings, Laura Bush Visits Citicorp Building in New York (CNN/Money)


NYT Editorial: The Terror Alerts
New York Times, 5 August 2004

EXCERPT: Given the unprecedented circumstances and the costs of making a mistake, it's easy to understand why the administration has had so much trouble managing the way it informs the public about potential danger. But after 17 months in which alerts blinked from yellow to orange and back a half-dozen times, the White House should be past its learning curve. It isn't. The events of this week showed starkly that the system is not working. The administration was obviously right to warn the country that Al Qaeda had apparently studied financial institutions in three cities with the idea of a possible attack. But the delivery of the message was confusing. The color-coded threat chart doesn't serve the purpose for which it was invented, and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge is hopeless as a public spokesman on this issue. The Bush administration needs to come up with a method of communication that informs the public in a calm, clear way. Perhaps most important, people need to be made totally confident that this critical matter is not being tangled up in the presidential campaign.

Bush Announces 20 Recess Appointments
Associated Press, 31 July 2004

EXCERPT: President Bush on Friday announced his intention to make 20 appointments during the congressional recess, including a new chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, a manufacturing czar and three ambassadors.

The Sultan Brought Cheesecake
The Smoking Gun, 4 August 2004

EXCERPT: Three hundred pounds of lamb. A $12,000 Franck Muller watch. Christian Dior after-shave lotion. A Lady McDuffies gourmet lemon cheesecake. Those are just a few of the fabulous gifts received last year by the Bush family from foreign leaders, according to a list released this week by the Department of State's Office of Protocol (below you'll find excerpts from the 52-page report). It will probably come as no surprise that the most valuable gift came from Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdallah, who gave First Lady Laura Bush a matching set of diamond and sapphire jewelry valued by U.S. officials at $95,500. The Saudi royal also gave the president an $8500 mantel clock and the "first family" (that would be first daughters Jenna and Barbara) received Bulgari necklaces valued at $8500 and $8000 apiece. Other recipients of Saudi largesse were Chief of Staff Andrew Card and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, both of whom got small daggers priced at $1500.

Playing Dirty: Negative Ads Aren't the Only Weapons in the GOP Arsenal
By David Corn
TomPaine.com, 4 August 2004

EXCERPT: Here come the dirty bombs. I’m not referring to the most recent terror alert, which just so happened to coincide with the conclusion of the Democrats’ successful convention. (Isn’t it awful that the public—quite justifiably—cannot approach the Bush administration’s terror announcements without a healthy dose of cynicism?) No, the dirty bombs being launched these days are coming from GOP HQ. No sooner had Commander Kerry accomplished his mission in Boston—by presenting himse

Bush's Daughters Get Ride on Rare Diverted Flight
WRAL, 3 August 2004

EXCERPT: A representative for US Airways said the decision to divert the plane had nothing to do with the Bush twins. In fact, the representative said US Airways often diverts planes for such problems, but could not provide an exact number when asked. Several passengers at Reagan National Airport said they have never heard of such treatment. Industry experts say such diversions are extremely rare.

Maybe two wrongs sometimes make a right...
Liberals Want Their Own Network

By Mark Baard
Wired News, 30 July 2004

EXCERPT: A group of progressive media activists covering the Democratic National Convention in Boston plans to launch a new television network to counter the conservative news coverage they see on Fox News and CNN. The group includes one of the producers of the Clinton documentary, The Hunting of the President, and the author of a book about corporate influence on politics, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: The Truth About Corporate Cons, Globalization and High-Finance Fraudsters. Also on board are a veteran record producer, multimedia producers for the Democratic Party's website, leftist bloggers and the former head of the Dean Media Team Network, which produced online ads for the Howard Dean presidential campaign.

Action Alert: Join the Million Worker March on Washington D.C.
Sunday 17 October 2004

EXCERPT: This mobilization is being proposed in response to the attacks upon working families in America and the millions of jobs lost during the Bush administration and with the complicity of Congress. The working class has not suffered such hardships since the Great Depression.


Bush Zones Go National

By Jim Hightower
The Nation, 3 August 2004

EXCERPT: At the 2000 GOP nominating convention in Philadelphia, candidate Bush created a fenced-in, out-of-sight protest zone that could only hold barely 1,500 people at a time. So citizens who wished to give voice to their many grievances with the Powers That Be had to: (1) Schedule their exercise of First Amendment rights with the decidedly unsympathetic authorities. (2) Report like cattle to the protest pen at their designated time, and only in the numbers authorized. (3) Then, under the recorded surveillance of the authorities, feel free to let loose with all the speech they could utter within their allotted minutes (although no one--not Bush, not convention delegates, not the preening members of Congress, not the limousine-gliding corporate sponsors and certainly not the mass media--would be anywhere nearby to hear a single word of what they had to say). Imagine how proud the Founders would be of this interpretation of their revolutionary work. The Democrats, always willing to learn useful tricks from the opposition, created their own "free-speech zone" when they gathered in Los Angeles that year for their convention. Once ensconced in the White House, the Bushites institutionalized the art of dissing dissent, routinely dispatching the Secret Service to order local police to set up FSZs to quarantine protesters wherever Bush goes. The embedded media trooping dutifully behind him almost never cover this fascinating and truly newsworthy phenomenon, instead focusing almost entirely on spoon-fed soundbites from the President's press office.

[[[BushWhackedUSA.com & BushWhackedUSA: THE BLOG]]]

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

THE DEVIL'S IN THE DETAILS 

Josh Marshall has nailed the mainstream media's willingness to believe ANYTHING Bush(co) says to the wall again. Here's an excerpt from today's Talking Points Memo:

...Wouldn't it be nice if we had a press which would make some effort to point out instances where the 'details' utterly belie what the president says he's doing?

The issue here is the president's supposed embrace of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, particularly on the creation of a new National Intelligence Director under whom the heads of the various intelligence agencies would operate.

I was working on another project pretty much constantly through most of the day and heard discussion of this on the cable networks, particularly CNN. What I heard there was that the president had embraced the commission's recommendation on this point while only disagreeing on whether this new head of national intelligence would be housed within the White House or have cabinet rank status outside the White House structure.

Yet it turns out that this is but one, and not at all the most significant way in which the policy the president has embraced differs from that of the commission. In fact, when you look closely at it, it's nothing like what the commission recommended at all. The president went out into the Rose Garden, said he was adopting the commission's proposals. But in fact he was doing close to the opposite, doing more or less what they said shouldn't be done.


(Read the rest if you've got a minute.)

BushWhackedUSA.com

Monday, August 02, 2004

MORE ON FASCISM IN AMERICA 

What are the signs of fascism in America today? Let's compile a list!

The Bush adminsistration has inched us steadily closer to the line when this country, this military and economic empire we call the USA, crosses over into fascism. Maybe we've already crossed over. In any case, this will be a new twist on an old favorite. It might not look like the regimes of Mussolini and Hitler, but given another four years George W. Bush's name could well belong right up there with those two.

So, again, what signs of fascism exist in the US today? Please post comments here in this thread or send me an E-mail, and in a few days I'll compile the list and publish it either here or on the main BushWhackedUSA site. Keep in mind the list of fourteen qualities of fascist states that we examined recently, not to mention the past three-plus years. (Hell, the past three-plus decades are fair game -- no, make that the past three-plus centuries, if you'd like.)

I'll start. Here are a few, just off the top of my nearly empty head:

- Ashcroft Tells Libraries to Destroy Citizen-Friendly Publications
- The Potential for Republicans to Steal the Next Election (too)
- The persistent fear-mongering, in the form of bogus terror warnings timed for convenient political gain
- The ubiquitous American flags, post-9/11
- The high-level authorization of human rights abuses and disdain for the Geneva Conventions
- Using Al Qaeda and fairy tales of scary WMDs to leverage support for the Iraq invasion
- The Bush Doctrine
- Using homophobia for political gain
- The military/industrial/congressional/media complex's obsession with "defense," which has turned the US into the most deadly and dangerous empire in the history of humankind
- Bush's consultations with right-wing Christian leaders on Middle East policies
- Use of the Supreme Court in 2000 and various Republican corporations in 2004 to rig elections
- And, perhaps most interestingly, the restriction of protesters to the "Free Speech Cage" at the Democratic National Convention in, of all places, BOSTON!

OK, your turn....

THE TIMES SHOWS ITS TEETH (Well, a tooth, anyway) 

While I'm not about to give the New York Times credit for transforming itself into a newspaper with the public interest at heart, after watching the Times behave as a slathering lapdog for the Bush administration during the run-up to the Iraq invasion it's heartening to see the two top stories of the moment (eleven o'clock, Mountain time, Monday evening):

1. Reports That Led to Terror Alert Were Years Old, Officials Say
EXCERPT: Much of the information that led the authorities to raise the terror alert at several large financial institutions in the New York City and Washington areas was three or four years old, intelligence and law enforcement officials said on Monday. They reported that they had not yet found concrete evidence that a terrorist plot or preparatory surveillance operations were still under way.
(And the corollary report: Few Measures to Avert Truck Bombs.)

2. A Czar Without Power? Support Leaves Questions
EXCERPT: President Bush on Monday cast his support for a new post of national intelligence director as an historic overhaul of the nation's major spy agencies. But White House officials left vague the authority that the new director would wield over personnel and spending, raising doubts among some experts about the real power of the new position.
Mr. Bush said the new director would "coordinate" the budgets for the nation's 15 major intelligence agencies, while Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff, said the director would have a "coordinating role" in hiring. But neither the president nor Mr. Card said that the director should directly hire and fire or have authority over the estimated $40 billion that the government spends each year on intelligence. Right now, the Pentagon controls about 80 percent of the money.
"If the national intelligence director has no real budgetary authority, he or she will have no real power," said Representative Jane Harman of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.


---------

Tell me again: What's the legal definition of treason?

BushWhackedUSA.com

Sunday, August 01, 2004

IF IT LOOKS LIKE FASCISM, WALKS LIKE FASCISM AND QUACKS LIKE FASCISM... 

Well well well, here we go. Timed conveniently to overshadow John Kerry's post-convention, super-tough-guy bounce in the polls, Tom Ridge and the Homeland Security folks have given us the first batch of highly specific terror warnings. And what's their target?

Here are a pair of pictures to illustrate the Bush team's vigilance. The first comes from the New York Times and shows armed guards outside the Citigroup building in Manhattan:



The second photo comes from the AP and shows an armed guard protecting both the New York Stock Exchange and a very large American flag:



So, today in America you cannot attend a speech by the Vice President (a once and future corporate bigwig) without signing a pledge of loyalty to Bush (another well connected corporate bigwig -- in fact, if you're a photojournalist you may not even be able to take the V.P.'s photo, depending on your ethnicity), you can't count on your vote getting counted by voting machines produced by Republican-owned and operated corporations, you can't hold a national political convention without getting into bed with corporations, and you've got armed guards crawling all over corporate financial headquarters -- and why? Because the government tells us to fear more terror attacks.

Sure, it's possible that this time there's a real threat. It's even possible that these actions will make the difference in protecting Americans from actual terrorists -- something the 9/11 Commission made abundantly clear that the Bush team (among others) failed to do. But if a few days pass without an attack, how will we know? Will this threat warning simply vanish down the "memory hole" like so many prior warnings?

We shall see. Meanwhile, this story dominates headlines while the administration's political rivals would otherwise be getting much more attention. Sound familiar? See below.

Hey, even Colin Powell has given us some pretty clear hints about the inner, darker workings of the Bush administration when he referred to the neocons in Doug Feith's crew as the "Gestapo office."

[[[BushWhackedUSA / BushWhackedUSA: THE BLOG]]]

FASCISM IN AMERICA: YOU'RE LOOKING AT IT 

I've thought a lot about fascism in the past year and a half. When I started BushWhackedUSA with my father in March of 2003, we decided against making much of accusations that the Bush administration's behaviors increasingly resembled fascism. Lately, though, we've watched all the pieces clicking into place. More on this subject in future posts -- in fact, I'm working on an essay about fascism in America, which I just might finish one of these days. In the meantime, I just came across a list of fourteen characteristics of fascist and protofascist states, by Laurence Britt. It's hard to find any of these qualities that aren't prominent in the US today:

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism
2. Disdain for the importance of human rights.
3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause.
4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism.
5. Rampant sexism. [Homophobia, anyone?]
6. A controlled mass media.
7. Obsession with national security.
8. Religion and ruling elite tied together.
9. Power of corporations protected.
10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated.
11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts.
12. Obsession with crime and punishment.
13. Rampant cronyism and corruption.
14. Fraudulent elections.

For more on that last item, take a look at Ronnie Dugger's article in The Nation: How They Could Steal the Election This Time And, in case you missed these items elsewhere:

- People attending a Cheney rally required to sign pledge of support for Bush
- Bush camp solicits race of photojournalist.

Those, along with these conveniently timed (to coincide with Kerry's bounce in the polls) terror alerts, the stink of fascism is growing awfully strong.

(Readers: drop a line to annalsofobscurity@yahoo.com if you spot an item of particularly conspicuous fascism in action -- or simply post a link here in the comments for this or other threads.)

[[[BushWhackedUSA / BushWhackedUSA: THE BLOG]]]

DEMOCRATS vs. REPUBLICANS: The Race for Corporate Cash 

From today's Observer (UK): USA Inc pays cash for access

EXCERPT: At the Democratic national convention last week, big business put on its biggest party at a political event. The return on its investment was simple: access and influence.

The American Gas Association budgeted to spend $700,000 on bashes at both major parties' conventions, evenly splitting its entertainment fund - typical corporate behaviour in what is expected to be a mighty close presidential contest.

While John Kerry accepted the Democratic nomination, the real action was in the skyboxes ringing the conference arena - making a mockery of Democrat criticism of Bush being in the thrall of 'special interests'.

Here, money guarantees access. It's something Bobby Savoie, who has raised over $200,000 for the Kerry campaign, laps up. Savoie's firm created the laser-guided system used during the Iraq war to target a restaurant where Saddam Hussein was thought to be eating. Last week, Savoie enjoyed invitations to 30 galas and lunches and had prime access to the convention hall and the exclusive 'sixth floor'.

Last week saw the first real sign that corporate America thinks Kerry can win. Sensing change was in the air, it lobbied potentially influential politicians and policymakers in a frenzy. Big business footed the bill for dozens of lunches, galas and nightclub events where the powerful guzzled champagne and consumed enough shellfish to empty a small sea.

Corporations have neatly sidestepped recent US legislation banning the donation of unlimited 'soft money' to political parties from business, unions and the wealthy. But funding official hosting committees that sponsor conventions is perfectly legal; and in a further boost to multinationals eager to buy influence, last year the Federal Election Commission withdrew a 10-year-old regulation that required companies contributing to host committees to be locally based.

Business has jumped through these loopholes with both feet. Campaign Finance Institute figures show that private donations to conventions have jumped from $8.4 million in 1992 (14 per cent of total funding) to $103.5m this year (60 per cent)....

CHOMSKY ALERT 

Today's ZNet has an exellent interview of Noam Chomsky, by Colombia University student Merlin Chowkwanyun. Here is the opening question and answer, but don't miss the rest (which includes such topics as the Bush administration, Haiti, Latin America and "liberal" academia):

Merlin Chowkwanyun: One scholar and activist whom you've cited (and whom I wish more people knew about and read) is Seymour Melman, who more than two decades ago articulated the concept of a "permanent war economy." What was Melman describing, and how does it limit or shape a chief executive's foreign policy?

Prof. Noam Chomsky: The term "permanent war economy" is attributed to Charles Wilson, CEO of GE, who warned at the end of World War II that the US must not return to a civilian economy, but must keep to a "permanent war economy" of the kind that was so successful during the war: a semi-command economy, run mostly by corporate executives, geared to military production. Among other very important contributions, Melman has written extensively on the harmful effects of gearing much of the economy to military production rather than to civilian needs. What he describes is correct and important, but there are other dimensions to be considered. After World War II, most economists and business leaders expected that the economy would sink back to depression without massive government intervention of the kind that, during the war years, finally overcame the Great Depression. The New Deal had softened the edges, but not much more. Business understood that social spending could overcome market catastrophes as well as military spending, but social spending has a downside: it has a democratizing and redistributive effect while military spending is a gift to the corporate manager, a steady cushion. And the public is not involved. People care about hospitals and schools, but if you can "scare the hell out of them," as Senator Vandenberg recommended, they will huddle under the umbrella of power and trust their leaders when it comes to jet planes, missiles, tanks, etc. Furthermore, business was well aware that high-tech industry could not survive in a competitive free enterprise economy, and "government must be the savior," as the business press explained. Such considerations converged on the decision to focus on military rather than social spending. And it should be borne in mind that "military spending" does not mean just military spending. A great deal of it is high-tech R&D. Virtually the entire "new economy" has relied heavily on the military cover to socialize risk and cost and privatize profit, often after many decades: computers and electronics generally, telecommunications and the Internet, satellites, the aeronautical industry (hence tourism, the largest "service industry"), containerization (hence contemporary trade), computer-controlled machine tools, and a great deal more. Alan Greenspan and others like to orate about how all of this is a tribute to the grand entrepreneurial spirit and consumer choice in free markets. That's true of the late marketing stage, but far less so in the more significant R&D stage. Much the same is true in the biology-based sectors of industry, though different pretexts are used. The record goes far back, but these mechanisms to sustain the advanced industrial economy became far more significant after World War II.

In brief, the permanent war economy has an economic as well as a purely military function. And both outcomes -- incomparable military force and an advanced industrial economy -- naturally provide crucial mechanisms for foreign policy planning, much of it geared to ensuring free access to markets and resources for the state-supported corporate sector, constraining rivals, and barring moves towards independent development.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

AWOLAPALOOZA 

I've been contacted by someone who may have inside information about what exactly is being hidden in the Bush National Guard record, and I really haven't paid enough attention to the matter in the past couple of months. With a new baby and a new house, I have failed to scour the Internet for news on Dubya's checkered past. Last I recall, they released pay records which revealed he wasn't actually paid during the three months in 1972 about which everyone (especially the AP, who have filed various FIA requests) wants to know. Have I missed anything?

As far as this contact is concerned, it's never easy to tell who and what you're dealing with right up front. I'm not really in this as a journalist, but an interview may be in order.

Also, I'll update our resource page as soon as I am able: BushWhackedUSA's AWOL Resource Page.

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