Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Coast Guard Warned Of Port Deal Intel Gaps

Coast Guard Warned Of Port Deal Intel Gaps (story link)

"WASHINGTON - Citing broad gaps in U.S. intelligence, the Coast Guard raised concerns weeks ago that it could not determine whether a United Arab Emirates-based company seeking a stake in some U.S. port operations might support terrorist operations. The disclosure came during a hearing Monday on Dubai-owned DP World's plans to assume significant operations at six leading U.S. ports. It also clouded whether the Bush administration's agreement to conduct an unusual investigation into the pending takeover's security risks would allay lawmakers' concerns."

Cheney Seen Retiring After Midterm Elections (story link)

"The sources reported a growing rift between the president and vice president as well as their staffs. They cited Mr. Cheney's failure to immediately tell the president of the accidental shooting of the vice president's hunting colleague earlier this month. The White House didn't learn of the incident until 18 hours later.

Mr. Cheney's next crisis could take place by the end of the year, the sources said. They said the White House was expecting Mr. Cheney to defend himself against charges from his former chief of staff, Lewis Libby, that the vice president ordered him to relay classified information. Such a charge could lead to a congressional investigation and even impeachment proceedings.

"Nothing will happen until after the congressional elections," a GOP source said. "After that, there will be significant changes in the administration and Cheney will probably be part of that.""

Bush Takes Cheney Out Of The Loop On National Security (story link)

"The sources said the indictment and resignation of Lewis "Scooter" Libby marked the final straw in the deterioration of relations between President Bush and Mr. Cheney. They said Bush aides expect that any trial of Mr. Libby, Mr. Cheney's long-time chief of staff, would open a closet of skeletons regarding such issues as Iraq, the CIA and the conduct of White House aides."

Poll: Bush Ratings At All-Time Low(story link)

"(CBS) The latest CBS News poll finds President Bush's approval rating has fallen to an all-time low of 34 percent, while pessimism about the Iraq war has risen to a new high. Americans are also overwhelmingly opposed to the Bush-backed deal giving a Dubai-owned company operational control over six major U.S. ports.(story link) Seven in 10 Americans, including 58 percent of Republicans, say they're opposed to the agreement. "

From Cash to Yachts, Convicted Congressman Set Bribery Rates
(story link)

"Feb. 27, 2006 — Prosecutors call it a corruption case with no parallel in the long history of the U.S. Congress. And it keeps getting worse. Convicted Rep. Randall "Duke" Cunningham actually priced the illegal services he provided. Prices came in the form of a "bribe menu" that detailed how much it would cost contractors to essentially order multimillion-dollar government contracts, according to documents submitted by federal prosecutors for Cunningham's sentencing hearing this Friday. "The length, breadth and depth of Cunningham's crimes," the sentencing memorandum states, "are unprecedented for a sitting member of Congress."
Prosecutors will ask federal Judge Larry Burns to impose the statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The sentencing memorandum includes the California Republican's "bribery menu" on one of his congressional note cards, "starkly framed" under the seal of the United States Congress. "

Thousands To Protect Bush In India (story link)

"NEW DELHI (Reuters) - About 5,000 personnel including snipers, commandos and U.S. marines using helicopters, bomb detectors and electronic jammers will protect President George W. Bush during his visit to India this week, officials said on Monday.
The personnel would be part of a three-ring security cordon around the U.S. president and First Lady Laura Bush who are due to arrive in New Delhi for their maiden visit to the subcontinent on Wednesday, they said."

Anti-DeLay Group Target Of IRS Audit (story link)

"WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service recently audited the books of a Texas non-profit group that was critical of campaign spending by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, after receiving a request for the audit from one of DeLay’s allies in the House. The lawmaker, House Ways and Means Committee member Sam Johnson, R-Texas, was in turn responding to a complaint about the group, Texans for Public Justice, from Barnaby Zall, a Washington lawyer close to DeLay and his fundraising apparatus, according to IRS documents."

U.S. Is Settling Detainee's Suit In 9/11 Sweep (story link)

The federal government has agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by an Egyptian who was among dozens of Muslim men swept up in the New York area after 9/11, held for months in a federal detention center in Brooklyn and deported after being cleared of links to terrorism.
The settlement, filed in federal court late yesterday, is the first the government has made in a number of lawsuits charging that noncitizens were abused and their constitutional rights violated in detentions after the terror attacks.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em.......

Oh yes he did!!!!! (click there)

Incompetence + Bush Administration = Redundancy

Homeland Security Protested Ports Deal (story link)

"WASHINGTON - The Homeland Security Department objected at first to a United Arab Emirates company's taking over significant operations at six U.S. ports. It was the lone protest among members of the government committee that eventually approved the deal without dissent."

It's Do-It-Yourself Security (story link)

"The furor over the now delayed deal to allow a United Arab Emirates company to operate six U.S. ports was tailor-made for talk radio. Arabs! At the ports! But the genuinely scary aspect of the deal was warnings from security experts that it doesn't much matter who operates America's maritime centers because none of them is totally secure. The problem pointed to most often is a lack of oversight. Customs agents inspect a small percentage of shipping containers, but the Bush Administration asks cargo companies to supervise the bulk of security."

UAE Terminal Takeover Extends To 21 Ports(story link)

"WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- A United Arab Emirates government-owned company is poised to take over port terminal operations in 21 American ports, far more than the six widely reported. "

Air Force Plans to Sell F-22As to Allies (story link)

"Momentum is building within the Air Force to sell the service's prized F-22A Raptor -- which is loaded with super-secret systems -- to trusted U.S. allies, with Japan viewed as the most likely buyer, service and industry officials tell Inside the Air Force."

Washington Told To Justify Port Deal In Court (story link)

"PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - The Bush administration was ordered by a U.S. federal judge on Friday to explain why it did not give New Jersey officials documents and information Washington had about a deal allowing an Arab company to take over management of a container terminal in Newark. "

High Court Bid To Block P&O Deal (story link)

"A US company will try to block the controversial £3.9bn ($6.8bn) takeover of shipping giant P&O by a Dubai firm in the High Court in London on Monday."

UAE Gave $1 Million To Bush Library(story link)

"A sheik from the United Arab Emirates contributed at least $1 million to the Bush Library Foundation, which established the George Bush Presidential Library at Texas A&M University in College Station. The UAE owns Dubai Port Co., which is taking operations from London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., which operates six U.S. ports. A political uproar has ensued over the deal, which the White House approved without congressional oversight."

Internet Filtering In The United Arab Emirates (story link)

"The UAE uses the SmartFilter filtering software to block nearly all pornography, gambling, religious conversion, and illegal drugs sites tested. The state also blocks access to all sites in the Israeli top-level domain. ONI's testing of the UAE filtering regime also found blocking of sites on the Bahai faith, Middle East-oriented gay and lesbian issues, and English-language (though not Arabic-language) dating sites. "

26 Men Imprisoned 5 Years Each For Being Gay In United Arab Emirates
(story link)

"In the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Friday, "As many as 26 people were sentenced to five years in prison by a court in Abu Dhabi for admitting to be gays and organizing a cross-dressers party and wedding at a hotel," reports WebIndia News, in a story written with a decidedly anti-gay tinge. "Their arrest had made news in November last year when they gathered at a hotel in Ghantout, a desert region on the Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway to org anise a gay wedding. Police got wind of the meeting and swooped on the hotel and arrested the participants...." The men were charged with homosexuality, a crime under Sharia law, although police acknowledged that none of the men were engaged in a sexual act when police raided the event."

UAE Fails To Stop Child Camel Jockey Use(story link)

(Photographic Proof)(story link)
"On 12 June, the world marks ILO World Day Against Child Labour. One of the fastest growing forms of slavery today is trafficking. According to the UN, 1.2 million children are trafficked each year. Among this number are boys, as young as four years old, who continue to be trafficked to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as camel jockeys despite repeated statements from the Government that this practice has stopped."

Dubai's Port Of No Return(story link)

"Don't jump to conclusions, but there are ties between the UAE, Bin Laden, and the Taliban."

"WASHINGTON, D.C.—No matter what Bush and his supporters say, (story link) there is indisputable evidence of tight connections between the United Arab Emirates and leadership of both the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The country is the center of financial activity in the Persian Gulf, and has next to no laws controlling money laundering.Two of the hijackers came from the UAE and hijacker money was laundered through the UAE. The details are spelled out in documents in the government's case against Moussaoui.
The ties with bin Laden and the Taliban reach far back into the '90s. Prominent Persian Gulf officials, including members of the UAE royal family, and businessmen would fly to Kandahar on UAE and private jets for hunting expeditions, the Los Angeles Times reported in 2001. In addition to ranking UAE ministers, these parties included Saudi big wigs like Prince Turki, the former Saudi intelligence minister who now is ambassador to the U.S. "

Panel That OK'd Port Deal Has Dueling Interests (story link)

"The secretive U.S. government committee that approved a $6.8 billion deal allowing a United Arab Emirates company to take over six key U.S. ports has the conflicting responsibility of protecting the country's national security while preserving the confidence of foreign investors. Chaired by Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) -- established in 1975 -- is an interagency group whose 12 members include the secretaries of state, defense and commerce, the attorney general and the director of the Office of Management and Budget. Treasury spokesman Tony Fratto said the full CFIUS panel consented to the port transaction with the company in the United Arab Emirates, although it was not clear yesterday if the members actually attend meetings or send representatives. Mr. Snow said he learned of the deal after reading about it "in the newspapers" and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said on Tuesday he learned of the proposed purchase "over the weekend." "

Saturday, February 25, 2006


I got shit 2 do, and no time to do it in. Have a good whatever.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

UAE Port Deal Is Worrying Democrats And Republicans

ALSO: Iraqi war vets are running for office as DEMOCRATS, Secret Service says Cheney was drunk during shooting accident, Bush Unaware of Ports Deal until his Administration Approval, White House civil liberties panel created in 2004 has not yet met even ONCE, AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, THE WORLD IS COMING TO AN END!!!! :D :)

U.S. Watches Dubai Banks for Proliferation Ties (story link)

"WASHINGTON — U.S. Treasury Department representatives are monitoring the possibility that money flowing through banks in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, could be supporting WMD proliferation by countries such as Iran, a Treasury official told a House of Representatives subcommittee today...."

Bush Unaware of Ports Deal Before Approval (story link)

"WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush was unaware of the pending sale of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports to a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates until the deal already had been approved by his administration, the White House said Wednesday...."

Arab Co., White House Had Secret Agreement (story link)

"WASHINGTON - The Bush administration secretly required a company in the United Arab Emirates to cooperate with future U.S. investigations before approving its takeover of operations at six American ports, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. It chose not to impose other, routine restrictions...."

DeLay Says Bush Making Mistake on Port (story link)

" U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay said Wednesday that President Bush is making a big mistake backing a sale of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports to a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates. The former Republican majority leader said the administration's approval of the deal is "pretty outrageous." DeLay made the remarks during a campaign event with Houston real estate executives...."

White House civil-liberties panel created in 2004, still hasn't met (story link)

"WASHINGTON — For Americans troubled by the prospect of federal agents eavesdropping on their phone conversations or combing through their Internet records, there is good news: A little-known board exists in the White House whose purpose is to ensure that privacy and civil liberties are protected in the fight against terrorism.
Someday, it might actually meet....."

Secret Service agents say Cheney was drunk when he shot lawyer (story link)

"Secret Service agents guarding Vice President Dick Cheney when he shot Texas lawyer Harry Whittington on a hunting outing two weeks ago say Cheney was "clearly inebriated" at the time of the shooting...."

Now running for office: an army of Iraq veterans (story link)

"WASHINGTON – They call themselves the Band of Brothers, about 50 men - and a few women - all Democrats, all opposed to the Bush administration's handling of Iraq, and all military veterans...."

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

UAE PORT DEAL is more Than Meets The Eye...

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has LONG had ties with terrorism:

(CLICK HERE, and start at the top of the page)

----Rumsfeld is on the board of the committee that approved the port deal he claims he's never heard of---- (story link)

Posted by Judd February 21, 2006 2:39 pm

{In a press briefing today, Secretary Rumsfeld revealed that he was not consulted about the decision to transfer operations of six key U.S. ports to the United Arab Emirates, a country with troubling ties to international terrorism.

QUESTION: Are you confident that any problems with security — from what you know, are you confident that any problems with security would not be greater with a UAE company running this than an American company?

RUMSFELD: I am reluctant to make judgments based on the minimal amount of information I have because I just heard about this over the weekend.

Rumsfeld’s statement was particularly troubling because Dubai Ports World, owned and operated by the UAE government, will also take over a major contract managing the
movement of military equipment for the U.S. Army. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Peter Pace, who was at the briefing, also said he found out about the deal over the weekend. The deal was approved on February 13.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan claimed the Defense Department was part of “a rigorous review…for national security concerns.” If so, why were two of the Department’s top officials not even informed, much less consulted?

UPDATE: Donald Rumsfeld, as Secretary of Defense, is a member of Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States. As such, he was one of the people who, according to the Treasury Department, unanimously approved the sale on February 13. How could do that when he didn’t even find out about the sale until last weekend? }

----Bush Shrugs Off Objections to Port Deal ----

(story link)

By TED BRIDIS, Associated Press Writer

Brushing aside objections from Republicans and Democrats alike, President Bush endorsed the takeover of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports by a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates. He pledged to veto any bill Congress might approve to block the agreement.

The president on Tuesday defended his administration's earlier approval of the sale of London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. to Dubai Ports World, despite concerns in Congress it could increase the possibility of terrorism at American ports.

The sale — expected to be finalized in early March — would put Dubai Ports in charge of major shipping operations in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia. "If there was any chance that this transaction would jeopardize the security of the United States, it would not go forward," Bush said.

"It sends a terrible signal to friends around the world that it's OK for a company from one country to manage the port, but not a country that plays by the rules and has got a good track record from another part of the world," Bush said.

To assuage concerns, the administration disclosed some assurances it had negotiated with Dubai Ports. It required mandatory participation in U.S. security programs to stop smuggling and detect illegal shipments of nuclear materials; roughly 33 other port companies participate in these voluntarily. The Coast Guard also said Tuesday it was nearly finished inspecting Dubai Ports' facilities in the United States.

A senior Homeland Security official, Stewart Baker, said this was the first-ever sale involving U.S. port operations to a state-owned company. "In that sense this is a new layer of controls," he said. Baker added that U.S. intelligence agencies were consulted "very early on to actually look at vulnerabilities and threats."

Bush sought to quiet a political storm that has united Republican governors and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee with liberal Democrats, including New York's two senators, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles Schumer.

Frist said Tuesday, before Bush's comments, that he would introduce legislation to put the sale on hold if the White House did not delay the takeover. He said the deal raised "serious questions regarding the safety and security of our homeland.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., asked the president for a moratorium on the sale until it could be studied further. "We must not allow the possibility of compromising our national security due to lack of review or oversight by the federal government," Hastert said.
Maryland's Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich, during a tour of Baltimore's port on Tuesday, called the deal an "overly secretive process at the federal level."

Bush took the rare step of calling reporters to his conference room on Air Force One after returning from a speech in Colorado. He also stopped to talk before television cameras after he returned to the White House.

"I can understand why some in Congress have raised questions about whether or not our country will be less secure as a result of this transaction," the president said. "But they need to know that our government has looked at this issue and looked at it carefully."

A senior executive from Dubai Ports World pledged the company would agree to whatever security precautions the U.S. government demanded to salvage the deal. Chief operating officer Edward "Ted" H. Bilkey promised Dubai Ports "will fully cooperate in putting into place whatever is necessary to protect the terminals."

Bilkey traveled to Washington in an effort to defuse the growing controversy.

Bush said that protesting lawmakers should understand his approval of the deal was final.
"They ought to listen to what I have to say about this," the president said. "They'll look at the facts and understand the consequences of what they're going to do. But if they pass a law, I'll deal with it with a veto."

Bush, who has never vetoed a bill as president, said on the White House South Lawn, "This is a company that has played by the rules, has been cooperative with the United States, from a country that's an ally on the war on terror, and it would send a terrible signal to friends and allies not to let this transaction go through."

Lawmakers from both parties have noted that some of the Sept. 11 hijackers used the United Arab Emirates as an operational and financial base. In addition, critics contend the UAE was an important transfer point for shipments of smuggled nuclear components sent to Iran, North Korea and Libya by a Pakistani scientist.

They say a port operator complicit in smuggling or terrorism could manipulate manifests and other records to frustrate Homeland Security's already limited scrutiny of shipping containers and slip contraband past U.S. Customs inspectors.

Rep. Peter King (news, bio, voting record), R-N.Y., and Democrat Schumer said Tuesday they will introduce emergency legislation to suspend the ports deal. King, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said the government "cannot consider approving this contract until a much more thorough investigation takes place on this security matter."

Sen. Susan Collins (news, bio, voting record), R-Maine, and Rep. Jane Harman (news, bio, voting record), D-Calif., said they would introduce a "joint resolution of disapproval" when they returned to Washington next week. Collins heads the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Harman is the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

Bush's veto threat didn't stop local efforts to block the deal. New Jersey's governor, Jon S. Corzine, said Tuesday the state will file lawsuits in federal and state courts opposing the agreement. Corzine, a Democrat, cited a "deep, deep feeling that this is the wrong direction for our nation to take."

A company at the Port of Miami, a subsidiary of Eller & Company Inc., sued last week to block the deal in a Florida state court. It said that under the sale, it will become an "involuntary partner" with Dubai's government and it may seek more than $10 million in damages.

Frist said Congress should have veto authority over such foreign sales, which are reviewed by a secretive U.S. panel that considers security risks of foreign companies buying or investing in American industry. The panel includes representatives from the departments of Treasury, Defense, Justice, Commerce, State and Homeland Security.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld described the United Arab Emirates as a close ally. "It's a country that's been involved in the global war on terror with us," Rumsfeld said. He added that the United States and the UAE "have very close military-to-miltary relations, as well as political and economic relations."

Separately, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said port security would not be threatened. "This is not a question about port security," Gonzales said. "This is a question about port operation."

Copyright © 2006 Yahoo! Inc.

----Rumsfeld: Planting Stories Under Review----(story link)

By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military WriterTue Feb 21, 9:13 PM ET

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday that the Pentagon is reviewing its practice of paying to plant stories in the Iraqi news media, withdrawing his earlier claim that it had been stopped.

Rumsfeld told reporters he was mistaken in the earlier assertion.

"I don't have knowledge as to whether it's been stopped. I do have knowledge it was put under review. I was correctly informed. And I just misstated the facts," Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon news briefing.

Rumsfeld had said in a speech in New York last Friday and in a television interview the same day that the controversial practice had been stopped.

He said that Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, was reviewing the practice. Previously, Casey has said he saw no reason to stop it.

Rumsfeld saluted members of the U.S. military participating in relief efforts in devastating mudslides in the Philippines.

"These efforts are an indication of the organizational talents of the United States military," Rumsfeld said.

Some 5,000 U.S. military members were in the Philippines at the time, most of them on training exercises, said Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Rumsfeld also addressed mixed signals coming from Iraqi leaders over the type of government they'd like to eventually see take shape in Iraq.

"Iraqis are going through a political process," Rumsfeld said. "Until they agree on who their new leadership should be, you're going to see a lot of public statements by a lot of people ... reflecting a lot of different views."

Iraqi political parties have run into major obstacles in talks on a new national unity government. Any major delay would be a setback to U.S. hopes for a significant reduction in troop levels this year.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said earlier Tuesday in Baghdad that the results of the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections showed the Iraqi people want a "broad government of national unity" to bring together "all the different elements" of Iraqi society.

He spoke after meeting with Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and other Iraqi leaders.
Al-Jaafari has said formation of the government was more complicated "because this time the Arab Sunnis are participating in the political process."

Rumsfeld also said he had no problems with a deal permitting a United Arab Emirates company to take over operations at six major U.S. seaports, a plan that has encountered stiff political opposition in Congress.

He called the UAE a good military partner in the war on terror.

"Nothing changes with respect to security under the contract. The Coast Guard is in charge of security, not the corporation," Rumsfeld said.

Earlier Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Rumsfeld had been incorrect in saying on Friday that the practice of paying for positive stories in the Iraqi media had been halted in the wake of negative publicity in the United States.

An official inquiry into the program by Navy Rear Adm. Scott Van Buskirk has been completed but its results have not been publicly released.

In his speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, a foreign-policy think tank, Rumsfeld raised the issue as an example of the U.S. military command in Baghdad seeking "nontraditional means" to get its message to the Iraqi people in the face of a disinformation campaign by the insurgents.

"Yet this has been portrayed as inappropriate — for example, the allegations of someone in the military hiring a contractor and the contractor allegedly paying someone to print a story — a true story — but paying to print a story," he said during his speech.

"The resulting explosion of critical press stories then causes everything — all activity, all initiative — to stop, just frozen," he added.

In an appearance Friday on PBS' "The Charlie Rose Show," Rumsfeld said he had not known about the practice of paying for news stories before it became a subject of critical publicity in the United States.

"When we heard about it we said, 'Gee, that's not what we ought to be doing,' and told the people down there," he said.

Although "it wasn't anything terrible that happened," Pentagon officials ordered a halt to the practice and "they stopped doing it," he added, according to a transcript provided by the show.

Copyright © 2006 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

Republican's are also against it!!!!

Frist to Offer Bill Halting U.S. Port Deal (story link)


Associated Press WriterTue Feb 21, 3:01 PM ET

Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist called Tuesday for the Bush administration to stop a deal permitting a United Arab Emirates company to take over six major U.S. seaports, upping the ante on a fight that several congressmen, governors and mayors are waging with the White House.

"The decision to finalize this deal should be put on hold until the administration conducts a more extensive review of this matter," said Frist. "If the administration cannot delay this process, I plan on introducing legislation to ensure that the deal is placed on hold until this decision gets a more thorough review."

"I'm not against foreign ownership," said Frist, "but my main concern is national security." He was speaking to reporters in Long Beach, Calif., where Frist was doing a fact-finding tour on port security and immigration issues.

At the Pentagon, the UAE was praised as an important strategic military partner by both Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Rumsfeld told that a process was in place and "the process worked."

"Nothing changes with respect to security under the contract. The Coast Guard is in charge of security, not the corporation," Rumsfeld said.

"We all deal with the U.A.E. on a regular basis," he added. "It's a country that's been involved in the global war on terror...a country (with which) we have very close military relations."
Pace said that "military cooperation is superb" with the U.A.E.

In Los Angeles, Sen. Susan Collins, who heads the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said she and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff asking that the committee be fully briefed on the ports deal with the UAE company.

Collins, R-Maine, and Rep. Jane Harman , D-Calif., a ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, said they are going to introduce a "joint resolution of disapproval" when they return to Washington next week.

The goal of the resolution will be to put the deal on hold until Congress can be fully briefed.

In the uneasy climate after the Sept 11 terrorist attacks, the Bush administration decision to allow the transaction is threatening to develop a major political headache for the White House.

The administration, however, insisted that national security issues had received a full airing before the interagency panel that reviews such transactions gave the go-ahead for the deal.

Frist, R-Tenn., spoke as other lawmakers, including Rep. Peter King , R-N.Y., and Sen. Charles Schumer , D-N.Y., said they would offer emergency legislation next week to block the deal ahead of a planned March 2 takeover.

Frist's move comes a day after two Republican governors, New York's George Pataki and Maryland's Robert Ehrlich, voiced doubts about the acquisition of a British company that has been running six U.S. ports by Dubai Ports World, a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates.

The British company, Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., runs major commercial operations at ports in Baltimore, Miami, New Jersey, New Orleans, New York and Philadelphia.
Both governors indicated they may try to cancel lease arrangements at ports in their states because of the DP World takeover.

"Ensuring the security of New York's port operations is paramount and I am very concerned with the purchase of Peninsular & Oriental Steam by Dubai Ports World," Pataki said in a statement. "I have directed the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to explore all legal options that may be available to them."

Ehrlich, concerned about security at the Port of Baltimore, said Monday he was "very troubled" that Maryland officials got no advance notice before the Bush administration approved the Arab company's takeover of the operations at the six ports.

"We needed to know before this was a done deal, given the state of where we are concerning security," Ehrlich told reporters in the State House rotunda in Annapolis.

The arrangement brought protests from both political parties in Congress and a lawsuit in Florida from a company affected by the takeover.

Public fears that the nation's ports are not properly protected, combined with the news of an Arab country's takeover of six major ports, proved a combustible mix.

Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina said on Fox News Sunday that the administration approval was "unbelievably tone deaf politically," and at least one Senate oversight hearing was planned for later this month.

Critics have noted that some of the 9/11 hijackers used the UAE as an operational and financial base. In addition, they contend the UAE was an important transfer point for shipments of smuggled nuclear components sent to Iran, North Korea and Libya by a Pakistani scientist.
Associated Press writers Devlin Barrett in Washington, Matthew Verrinder in Newark, N.J., and Tom Stuckey in Annapolis, Md., contributed to this story.

Copyright © 2006 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

All Is Well In Love And War

The visit that my mom forced upon us last weekend went pretty well (I guess). She got to see the kiddos, and she decided to bring all of the Christmas presents from the rest of the (not)family. She left Sunday morning, and tried to force us to keep their stupid effing cell phones again, and they might re-activate them, and we said "NO WAY!". We are sick and tired of being controlled and manipulated by nosey, annoying, mean-ass people (family). They can keep their effing cellphones!!!!! YEP. Mom also stayed in a hotel, (thank GOD), and we got SOME peice and quit at least, and she came alone, which is a good thing, because if dad came with her, we would have just either left before they got here, or just ignored them, and call the police if we had to. As you might be able to ascertain, mom is the ONLY person in my entire family we might want to let visit us, and to be perfectly honest, we did not want to even see her. The rest of my family can kiss off!!!!

Work went shitty, but it always does after a long shutdown with a bunch of new equipment, and stuff. I also broke my pinky toe Saturday night while I was in a hurry to get into the (baseball)computer room, and smashed it against a metal t.v. stand I have in here. Fuck, it hurt. I can only imagine how much anybody (Angi) would have laughed their (her) ass off, because as we all know, nothing is funnier than someone else's pain!! Like when Angi got her toe smashed when a frozen block of cheese fell on it, I laughed like a little girl. It was hilarious! My toe is killing me. SHUT UP!!!!!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Well, So Much For ......

enjoying the last few days before I have to go back to work Monday. My mom was wanting to come over our house this weekend to see the kiddos, and we called her Friday telling her to come some other time, but guess what?? She called around 2(p.m.)ish saying she checked in at a hotel, and was coming over in a few minutes. Serenity now...serenity now......

Stress is so wonderful!!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Pitchers, Catchers Report !! Baseball Is Here!!

YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!WHOOHOO!!!!!!!!! OPENING DAY is in 44 days!!!!

Yanks pitchers, catchers report to camp (story link)

"If you don't have those kinds of dreams right now," said manager Joe Torre, "I don't know when you'd have them."

Yankees captain proud to represent the United States (story link)

"I'm not going to make any predictions. There are a lot of good teams," said Jeter, who grew up in Kalamazoo, Mich. "I'm really excited to play for my country. I think it will be fun. I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be interesting. I've never had a chance to play for my country before."
When Jeter suits up in red, white and blue, it's going to be a change for the shortstop, who has spent his entire big-league career in pinstripes.
"I haven't worn another uniform since high school," Jeter said. "Even in the Minor Leagues, you're still representing the Yankees, so it's going to be kind of awkward [wearing a different uniform]."

Torre eyes makeup of Yankees' rotation (story link)

Torre held his pre-camp coaches meeting, which lasted more than four hours. Torre's staff features five new coaches, including Guidry, bench coach Lee Mazzilli, first-base coach Tony Pena, third-base coach Larry Bowa and bullpen coach Joe Kerrigan.

Healthy Griffey reports to camp early (story link)

I'm always ready," he said. "Mentally, I've been ready for Spring Training since the end of last season."

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Cheney Should Step Down NOW!


***Texas Cops Release Cheney Shooting Report (SECOND)*** (story link)

Click Here For Cheney's Youthful Indiscretions (story link)


Cheney Takes Full Blame for Shooting (link story)

Associated Press Writers1 hour, 1 minute ago

Vice President Dick Cheney took full blame Wednesday for shooting a hunting companion, calling it "one of the worst days of my life," but he was defiantly unapologetic about not publicly disclosing the accident until the next day.

"You can't blame anybody else," Cheney told Fox News Channel in his first public comments since the accident on a private Texas ranch Saturday. "I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend."

Cheney said he had had a beer at lunch that day but nobody was drinking when they went back out to hunt a couple hours later. Law enforcement officials have ruled out alcohol as a factor.

The vice president has been under intense political pressure to speak out about the accident, which has become a public relations embarrassment and potential political liability for the White House. Senior advisers to President Bush worried that Cheney's silence had suggested a possible cover-up, and Cheney acknowledged that he delayed an announcement over the advice of Bush's press advisers.

"We really didn't know until Sunday morning that Harry was probably going to be OK, that it looked like there hadn't been any serious damage to any vital organ," he said. "And that's when we began the process of notifying the press."

Cheney was soft-spoken and appeared shaken as he described seeing 78-year-old Harry Whittington drop to the ground after he pulled the trigger on his 28-gauge shotgun while aiming at a covey of quail.

"The image of him falling is something I'll never ever be able to get out of my mind," Cheney told Fox's Brit Hume. "I fired, and there's Harry falling. It was, I'd have to say, one of the worst days of my life at that moment."

Cheney defended his decision not to publicly disclose what happened until the next day, when he agreed to the suggestion of ranch owner Katharine Armstrong to have her announce it to a local newspaper. "I thought that was the right call. I still do," the vice president said.

Armstrong has suggested that Whittington was at fault in the shooting because, she said, he failed to announce himself as he returned to the hunting line after breaking off to retrieve a downed bird. But Cheney, who has been hunting for at least 12 years, said in no uncertain terms that Whittington was not at fault.

"You can talk about all of the other conditions that exist at the time, but that's the bottom line and — it was not Harry's fault," he said.

Texas officials said the shooting was an accident, and no charges have been brought.

Cheney said the accident happened after Whittington stepped out of the hunting party to retrieve a downed bird in deep cover. Cheney said he and a third hunter walked about 100 yards away to where another covey had been spotted. He said immediately after he shot at a bird flying to his right, he saw Whittington in his line of fire.

He said Whittington was dressed properly in orange and the upper part of his body was visible, but he was standing in a gully with the sun behind him, which affected his view.

"I saw him fall, basically. It had happened so fast," Cheney said. "He was struck in the right side of his face, his neck and his upper torso on the right side of his body."

He said Whittington was conscious and breathing but stunned silent.

"I ran over to him," Cheney said. "He was laying there on his back, obviously, bleeding. You could see where the shot struck him."

Cheney said he had no idea if he hit a bird because he was focused on Whittington.

"I said, `Harry, I had no idea you were there.' He didn't respond," Cheney said.

Whittington was in stable condition Wednesday at a Texas hospital, a day after doctors said one of the pellets traveled to his heart and he had what they called "a mild heart attack."

Cheney said he had agreed that Armstrong should be the one to make the story public because she was an eyewitness, because she grew up on the ranch and because she is "an acknowledged expert in all of this" as a past head of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. He also agreed with her decision to choose the Corpus Christi Caller-Times as the way to get the news out.

"I thought that made good sense because you can get as accurate a story as possible from somebody who knew and understood hunting and then it would immediately go up to the wires and be posted on the Web site, which is the way it went out and I thought that was the right call," Cheney said.

"What do you think now?" Hume asked.

"I still do," Cheney responded. "The accuracy was enormously important. I had no press person with me."

Cheney said he was concerned that if the story broke Saturday night when information was still coming in, some reports may have been inaccurate since it was a complicated story that most journalists had never dealt with before.

"I've been in the business for a long time and never seen a situation quite like this," Cheney said. "We've had experiences where the president has been shot. We've never had a situation where the vice president shot somebody."

Cheney said he personally first told the White House about the accident Sunday morning in a phone call to Chief of Staff Andy Card. He said he didn't discuss it with Bush until Monday when he was back in Washington.

Cheney said White House press secretary Scott McClellan and communications strategist Dan Bartlett urged him to get the story out quickly, but he made the decision how to handle it.

"I had a bit of the feeling that the press corps was upset because, to some extent, it was about them — they didn't like the idea that we called the Corpus Christi Caller-Times instead of The New York Times," he said. "But it strikes me that the Corpus Christi Caller-Times is just as valid a news outlet as The New York Times is, especially for covering a major story in south Texas."

Lynn Brezosky contributed to this report from Corpus Christi.

Was Cheney Drunk? (story link)

By: Lawrence O'Donnell

The L.A. Times is edging closer to the most likely reason for the 18 hour delay in reporting that the Vice President of the United States shot someone:"This was a hunting accident," said Gilbert San Miguel, chief deputy of the Kenedy County Sheriff's Office. "There was no alcohol or misconduct."

How do we know there was no alcohol? Cheney refused to talk to local authorities until the next day. No point in giving him a breathalyzer then. Every lawyer I've talked to assumes Cheney was too drunk to talk to the cops after the shooting. The next question for the White House should be: Was Cheney drunk?

I have never gone hunting with ultra-rich Republicans on a Saturday afternoon, but I have seen them tailgating at Ivy League football games, so it's hard for me to believe that any of their Saturday lunches are alcohol free.

Cheney Talks, the Coverup Continues (story link)

By: Arianna Huffington

Watching Dead-eye Dick Cheney
break his silence on Fox, I kept thinking:

This is what it looks like when a man who is used to getting away with covering up the truth finally has to explain himself.

He did a lousy job -- especially on the key question of why it took so long to let the public know.

He offered a host of reasons for the
18 hour delay:

he was more concerned with taking care of his friend than about notifying the press; he wanted to make sure Whittington's family got the news before it hit the airwaves;

he "didn't know for sure what kind of shape Harry was in... and you need to really wait and nail it down";

and he wanted to make sure the "complicated story" was given to a reporter with "some degree of understanding" (as opposed to the first reporter Katharine Armstrong spoke to who "didn't now the difference between a rifle bullet and a shotgun").

Of course, none of these explanations explains the 18 hour delay or would have precluded the release of a simple announcement. Even Brit Hume was having a hard time buying into the vice president's justifications.

Hume: The one thing that we've all kind of learned over the last several decades isthat if something like this happens, as a rule sooner is better.

Cheney: Well, if it's accurate. If it's accurate. And this is a complicated story.

Hume: But there were some things you knew. I mean, you knew the man had been shot, you knew he was injured, you knew he was in the hospital, and you knew you'd shot him.

Cheney: Correct.

Nevertheless, Cheney insisted that keeping the story under wraps for so long was "the right call" and that he's "comfortable with the way we did it, obviously."

Obviously. One good thing about your conscience no longer functioning is that you are comfortable with everything. Especially with whitewashing the truth.

So, taking a page from Orwell, Cheney assured us -- again and again -- that by keeping the story hidden he was only trying to make sure the truth got out. Indeed, he used the words "accurate" and "accuracy" 8 times in his short chat with Hume.

Never has accuracy been invoked more in the name of inaccuracy.

Watching Cheney continue the shooting story coverup, reminded me of my own experience with being stonewalled by the Vice President and his staff this summer when I stumbled upon the story that Cheney, while in Vail for a speech, had been taken to the hospital for an EKG.

Check out the four posts I did on the story
here, here, here, and here and you'll see a similar pattern to the way the much bigger shooting story has been handled.

In Vail, over the space of 48 hours, I got three different stories:

First, denial that Cheney was ever at the hospital.

Second, an acknowledgement that he was at the hospital after all, but only for an old knee injury.

Third, that after he was checked for the knee injury, he was taken to the cardiac unit to have an EKG, but only prophylactically.

In Texas, Team Cheney went from saying nothing to having the story brought out in a way that maximized the administration's control over it to another round of silence to, finally, giving an exclusive -- though far-from-forthcoming -- interview to a partisan outlet.The constantly shifting explanations and multiple levels of denial are utterly familiar -- as is the refusal to level with the American people.

P.S. The Hume interview contained a pair of TiVo-worthy moments that left me wondering "Did I really hear that?" and reaching for the replay button.

TiVo Moment #1: After Cheney walked Hume through the specifics of the shooting, including a cataloguing of Whittington's injuries ("He was struck in the right side of his face, his neck and his upper torso on the right side of his body"), Hume inexplicably followed up with this jaw dropper: "And I take it you missed the bird?"The VP has just painted a verbal picture of blasting his friend in the face and Brit is wondering about... the bird?!

TiVo Moment #2: Hume asks Cheney if the shooting will "affect your attitude toward this pastime you so love in the future?"

Cheney: I can't say that. You know, we canceled the Sunday hunt. I said, look I'm not -- we were scheduled to go out again on Sunday and I said I'm not going to go on Sunday, I want to focus on Harry.


How many guys out there would be willing to cancel a Sunday hunt to focus on the fate of the man they just blasted in the face with birdshot? Not many. Self-sacrifice in the face of overwhelming temptation. That's Dick Cheney for you.

Democrats blast Cheney secrecy after shooting (story link)

Tue Feb 14, 8:18 PM ET

Democrats in Congress accused Vice President Dick Cheney of a pattern of secrecy, and demanded that he "level" with the public, after keeping mum about accidentally shooting an associate over the weekend.

Cheney has been criticized for waiting a day before disclosing a hunting mishap Saturday in which he shot his 78-year-old hunting companion, Harry Whittington, in the neck, chest, and face.

Asked at a press conference for her reaction about how the White House has handled the incident, US Senator Hillary Clinton called the Bush administration's failure to be more forthcoming "troubling."

"A tendency of this administration -- from the top all the way to the bottom -- is to withhold information ... to refuse to be forthcoming about information that is of significance and relevance to the jobs that all of you do, and the interests of the American people," Clinton said.

"Putting it all together, going back years now, there's a pattern and it's a pattern that should be troubling," she said at a press conference calling for a more robust federal response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

The former first lady continued: "The refusal of this administration to level with the American people on matters large and small is very disturbing, because it goes counter to the way our constitutional democracy ... is supposed to work."

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid at a press conference Tuesday said the secretive tendency goes beyond Cheney, pervading the entire Bush White House.

"I think the reason it took the vice president a day to talk about this is part of the secretive nature of this administration," the top Senate Democrat said. "They keep things pretty close to the chest."

"I think it's time the American people heard from the vice president, in a real meeting just like we're having here," said Reid, who called the George W. Bush presidency "the most secretive administration in modern history."

"In the last many, many decades, there's no administration more secretive than this," he said.
Cheney has not commented publicly about the accident, which took place on the 50,000-acre Armstrong Ranch in Texas on Saturday.

Allegations that he is obsessively secretive have dogged Cheney since the early days of the Bush presidency, including his refusal during the administration's first term to reveal the participants on an energy task force he led.

The vice president also has been criticized for a possible role in helping craft the administration's controversial secret domestic wiretapping policy.

Meanwhile, his chief of staff, Scooter Libby, has been implicated in secretly leaking the name of a CIA officer to discredit her husband -- an action some recent news accounts suggest may have been sanctioned by Cheney.

Senator Chuck Schumer said Tuesday the time has come for the vice president to hold a press conference -- which Schumer said would be Cheney's first in some four years -- to clear the air.
"In light of the recent shooting accident and all the questions surrounding his role in the leaking of classified national security information through his Chief of Staff Lewis Libby, there are many questions that Americans have for VP Cheney," Schumer said in a press release.

Cheney says he may be witness in CIA leak case (story link)

Wed Feb 15, 6:53 PM ET

Vice President Dick Cheney said on Wednesday he may be called as a witness in the case of his former aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who faces perjury and other charges in the leak of a CIA operative's identity.

Cheney refused to comment on reports that he directed Libby to use classified material to discredit a critic of the Bush administration's Iraq war effort, saying: "It's nothing I can talk about."

"I've cooperated fully, including being interviewed, as well, by a special prosecutor," Cheney said in an interview on the Fox News Channel. "I may well be called as a witness at some point in the case and it's, therefore, inappropriate for me to comment on any facet of the case."

Court papers released last week show that Libby was authorized to disclose classified information to news reporters by "his superiors," in an effort to counteract diplomat Joe Wilson's charge that the Bush administration twisted intelligence on Iraq's nuclear weapons to justify the 2003 invasion.

The National Journal, a U.S. weekly magazine, citing attorneys familiar with the matter, reported that Cheney was among those superiors referred to in a letter from prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to Libby's lawyers.

Libby, Cheney's former chief of staff, has pleaded not guilty to five counts of perjury, making false statements and obstruction of justice in the leak of the identity of Wilson's wife Valerie Plame, which effectively ended her career at the


Cheney's name has surfaced in other court documents as well. According to an appeals court decision made public this month, "the vice president informed Libby 'in an off sort of curiosity sort of fashion"' that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA one month before her identity was made public.

Cheney Could Face Charges in Shooting (story link)

By MATT CURRY, Associated Press Writer 20 minutes ago

If the man wounded by Dick Cheney dies, the vice president could — in theory at least — face criminal charges, even though the shooting was an accident.

Dallas defense attorney David Finn, who has been a state and a federal prosecutor, said Wednesday that a Texas grand jury could bring a charge of criminally negligent homicide if there is evidence the vice president knew or should have known "there was a substantial or unjustifiable risk that his actions would result in him shooting a fellow hunter."

To indict Cheney, the grand jury would have to conclude that a reasonable person in the vice president's place would say to himself, "I am not pulling the trigger because this other guy might be in front of me," Finn said.

The charge carries up to two years behind bars, but with no previous felonies Cheney would be eligible for probation, the former prosecutor said.

Manslaughter, a more serious charge, would require a prosecutor to prove Cheney was reckless, which would be "virtually impossible under the facts we know today," said Michael Sharlot, professor of criminal law at the University of Texas at Austin.

"With recklessness, the defendant has to be aware of the risk, but choose to ignore it. With negligence, he doesn't have to be conscious of the risk, but a reasonable person would have been," Sharlot said.

As vice president, Cheney has no immunity from prosecution.

Mark Skurka, first assistant district attorney of the three-county area where the shooting took place, said prosecutors did not have an investigation under way.

"If something unfortunate happens, then we'll decide what to do, then we'll decide whether we're going to have an investigation or not," Skurka said.

If District Attorney Carlos Valdez decided to pursue charges, he would forward the matter to a grand jury, which would determine whether to indict Cheney. Valdez, a Democrat, is best known for his prosecution of Yolanda Saldivar, who was sentenced to life in prison for the 1995 slaying of Tejano singer Selena.

Harry Whittington, a 78-year-old lawyer, was struck in the face, neck and chest with shotgun pellets over the weekend while Cheney was shooting at quail. Whittington suffered a mild heart attack Tuesday after a pellet traveled to his heart.

On Wednesday, hospital officials said he had a normal heart rhythm again and was sitting up in a chair, eating regular food and planned to do some legal work in his hospital room. Doctors said they are highly optimistic he will recover.

In a TV interview Wednesday, the vice president accepted full blame for the shooting and defended his decision not to publicly disclose the accident until the following day. He called it "one of the worst days of my life."

If Whittington recovers, Cheney could still face a felony charge of negligently causing injury to an aged person, Sharlot said. But he said such a charge would be "quite unusual" in the case of a hunting accident.

In the only other case of someone being shot by a vice president, Aaron Burr was indicted on murder charges in New York and New Jersey for killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804, but he was never tried and finished out his term in office.

Analysis: Cheney Becomes Unwitting Focus (story link)

By TOM RAUM, Associated Press Writer
Wed Feb 15, 10:57 AM ET

At the start of the Bush presidency, Dick Cheney was viewed as the grown-up, the seasoned hand to guide an inexperienced president. Now, he's the center of controversy.

His accidental shooting of a hunting companion and the administration's fumbles in getting out the word underscore the secrecy and near independence under which the vice president operates — and it all sent the White House scrambling on Tuesday to find the right tone when the victim's condition took a turn for the worse.

After first defensively fielding questions on why disclosure of the Saturday shooting was delayed until the next day, Press Secretary Scott McClellan joked about the situation with reporters at his morning briefing. Later, he turned somber after doctors in Corpus Christi, Texas, said the Austin lawyer shot by Cheney — Henry Whittington, 78 — had suffered a minor heart attack after birdshot from Cheney's blast migrated to his heart.

"If you want to continue to spend time on that, that's fine," McClellan told reporters pressing him on the shooting incident. "We're moving on to the priorities of the American people. That's where our focus is."

The shooting presents a new problem for the White House as it seeks to repair damaged credibility in a midterm election year in which continued GOP control of Congress hangs in the balance.

Cheney, 65, whose "favorable" rating was just 24 percent in a recent CBS-New York Times poll, has found himself in other storms swirling around the Bush presidency.

His strong insistence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction helped build the case for the U.S. invasion of Iraq. He also has played the role of point man in the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping program in the war on terror.

And, more recently, his indicted former chief of staff — I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby — testified to a grand jury about being authorized to disclose classified information to the press in the CIA leak case "by his superiors," according to court documents. Democrats have demanded to know whether Cheney was one of those superiors.

"These things become symptoms of a broader disquiet with Cheney," said Paul C. Light, professor of public service at New York University.

Among moderate and liberal Americans, "there is such an anger toward Cheney," Light said. "There are people who believed he pulled the trigger figuratively on a lot of things. Vice presidents can get away with hitting people with golf balls, but they can't get away with shooting people with shotguns."

Questions linger over why so much time passed before Saturday's shooting was made public and before Cheney and members of his party were interviewed by local law enforcement.
Cheney himself has uttered no words publicly about the mishap, avoiding reporters during a visit to Capitol Hill on Tuesday for meetings with lawmakers. His office issued a terse, unsigned statement describing Whittington's condition and saying that Cheney had phoned him from the White House.

Whittington's "spirits were good, but obviously his situation deserves the careful monitoring that his doctors are providing," the statement said.
Unlike the president, who is accompanied by a news media pool whenever he travels in public, Cheney repeatedly makes unannounced trips around town and around the country — as he did with his weekend hunting excursion in south Texas, and again on his trip to the Capitol on Tuesday.

Cheney remains popular with the GOP conservative base. Ed Goeas, a Republican pollster and strategist, said that all vice presidents have to overcome the fact that "you never get the benefit of the doubt for the good things you do, and never any lack of blame for the bad things."

He said he expects the controversy to pass, especially if Whittington makes a full recovery.
If the shooting victim's condition worsens, that could increase the seriousness of the incident, and bring more scrutiny to bear on what exactly happened on the private Texas ranch.

"But if somehow the president considers Cheney gets to be a liability, I think that getting rid of him or encouraging him to step down would cause problems for the Republicans with their base," said Ross Baker, a Rutgers University political scientist.

"And Cheney is like a member of the Bush family. The president would no sooner push Cheney overboard than he would Jeb," Baker said, referring to Bush brother Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida.

Cheney Says He Has Power to Declassify Info (story link)

By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer 29 minutes ago

Vice President Dick Cheney disclosed Wednesday that he has the power to declassify sensitive government information, authority that could set up a criminal defense for his former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Cheney's disclosure comes a week after reports that Libby testified under oath he was authorized by superiors in 2003 to disclose highly sensitive prewar information to reporters. The information, about Iraq and alleged weapons of mass destruction, was used by the Bush administration to bolster its case for invading Iraq.

At the time of Libby's contacts with reporters in June and July 2003, the administration including Cheney, who was among the war's most ardent proponents, faced growing criticism. No weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq, and Bush supporters were anxious to show that the White House had relied on prewar intelligence projecting a strong threat from such weapons.

When Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald revealed Libby's assertions to a grand jury that he had been authorized by his superiors to spread sensitive information, the prosecutor did not specify which superiors.

But in an interview on Fox News Channel, Cheney said there is an executive order that gives the vice president, along with the president, the authority to declassify information.

"I have certainly advocated declassification. I have participated in declassification decisions," Cheney said. Asked for details, he said, "I don't want to get into that. There's an executive order that specifies who has classification authority, and obviously it focuses first and foremost on the president, but also includes the vice president."

Cheney added a ringing endorsement of Libby.

"Scooter is entitled to the presumption of innocence," said Cheney. "He is a great guy. I worked with him for a long time. I have tremendous regard for him. I may well be called as a witness at some point in the case, and it is therefore inappropriate for me to comment on any facet of the case."

Libby is not charged with leaking classified information, and Libby's lawyers said last week there was no truth to a published report that Libby's lawyers had advised the court or prosecutors that he will raise a defense based on authorization by superiors.

A legal expert said Cheney's TV appearance could nonetheless foreshadow a Libby defense.
Former Whitewater independent counsel Robert Ray said Cheney's ex-chief of staff could point to authorization from his superiors as part of his strategy at trial.

"If it turns out that Cheney was actively involved in decisions related to the disclosure of a CIA officer's identity and if the truth of it is that he was orchestrating the disclosure of information to the media, it seems to me that's a fundamentally different case than one centered around the activities of Libby," said Ray.

On Oct. 28 of last year, Libby was indicted on five counts of perjury, obstruction and lying to the FBI about how he learned of the identity of undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame and what he told reporters about it.

In July 2003, Plame's CIA identity was published by columnist Robert Novak eight days after Plame's husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, accused the administration of twisting prewar intelligence to exaggerate the Iraqi threat. Wilson concluded that it was highly doubtful that a purported sale of uranium yellowcake by Niger to Iraq in the late 1990s had ever taken place.

A defense that Libby was authorized by superiors to leak sensitive data about Iraq would not appear to provide any help to the former Cheney aide for making false statements.
But some lawyers point out that setting up defenses before a jury involve more than simply constructing legal arguments.

"You're trying to present a persuasive case that your client should not be found guilty," said Ray, the former Whitewater prosecutor. "You're saying that even if my client did it, this is not a case that warrants conviction."

An authorization defense in the CIA leak case would mean that "much of what Libby was trying to do was aid and protect his boss Cheney," Ray suggested. The downside to employing such an approach is that it "almost comes with a defense that I did it."


Tuesday, February 14, 2006; A13

How much is good press worth? To the Bush administration, about $1.6 billion.

That's how much seven federal departments spent from 2003 through the second quarter of 2005 on 343 contracts with public relations firms, advertising agencies, media organizations and individuals, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.

The 154-page report provides the most comprehensive look to date at the scope of federal spending in an area that generated substantial controversy last year. Congressional Democrats asked the GAO to look into federal public relations contracts last spring at the height of the furor over government-sponsored prepackaged news and journalism-for-sale.

Armstrong Williams, the conservative commentator, had been unmasked as a paid administration promoter who received $186,000 from the Education Department to speak favorably about President Bush's No Child Left Behind law in broadcast appearances.

Around the same time, a spat erupted between the GAO and the White House over whether the government's practice of feeding TV stations prepackaged, ready-to-air news stories that touted administration policies (but did not disclose the government as the source) amounted to "covert propaganda." The GAO said that it did. The administration disagreed, saying spreading information about federal programs is part of the agencies' mission, and that the burden of disclosure falls on the TV stations.

Congress sided with the GAO. Lawmakers inserted a provision into an annual spending bill requiring federal agencies to include "a clear notification" within the text or audio of a prepackaged news story that it was prepared or paid for by the government.

The new report reveals that federal public relations spending goes far beyond "video news releases." The contracts covered the waterfront, from a $6.3 million agreement to help the Department of Homeland Security educate Americans about how to respond to terrorist attacks; to a $647,350 contract to assist the Transportation Security Administration in producing video news releases and media tours on the subject of airport security procedures; to a $6,600 contract to train managers at the Bureau of Reclamation in dealing with the media.

"Careful oversight of this spending is essential given the track record of the Bush administration, which has used taxpayer dollars to fund covert propaganda within the United States," Rep. Henry A. Waxman (Calif.), ranking Democrat of the House Government Reform Committee, said in a statement yesterday.

-- Christopher Lee

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

More Abu Ghraib Prison Abuse (it gets worse the second time around)


(First Click Here)

(And Then, Click Here)


Feb. 15 - Australian network SBS broadcasts images of alleged abuse of what it says are prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq.

Previously unpublished images of abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad were screened on SBS television's Dateline program. The footage shows still and video images of the wounds it says were inflicted on the Iraqis by their American captors. SBS alleges that the photos were taken at the same time as those of US soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners inside Abu Ghraib, which sparked international outrage after they were leaked in 2004.

While some of the photographs are similar to the images made public two years ago, the latest photographs apparently reveal further abuse including new incidents of killing, torture and sexual humiliation. The program reports that some prisoners at Abu Ghraib were killed when U.S. soldiers ran out of rubber bullets trying to quell a riot at the jail and resorted to using live rounds.

The images come at a tense time in relations between the West and Muslim countries after cartoons were published in Denmark which satirised the Prophet Mohammad.

© Reuters 2006. All rights reserved.

New Photos of Abu Ghraib Abuse Surface (Story Link)

By ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press Writer 23 minutes ago

New images showing Iraqis abused by U.S. guards at Abu Ghraib prison three years ago threatened Wednesday to enflame public anger already running high over footage of British soldiers beating youths in southern Iraq.

Images of naked prisoners, some bloodied and lying on the floor, were taken about the same time as earlier photos that triggered a worldwide scandal and led to military trials and prison sentences for several lower-ranking American soldiers.

Many of the pictures broadcast Wednesday by Australia's Special Broadcasting Service, including some that appear to show corpses, were more graphic than those previously published. One of the video clips depicted a group of naked men with bags over their heads standing together and masturbating. The network said they were forced to participate.

Some key Iraqi officials urged their countrymen to react calmly since the pictures were old and the offenders had been punished.

In the Middle East, where there have been widespread anti-Western protests recently over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya TV aired some of the Australian station's footage but refrained from using the most shocking and sexually explicit images. CNN also broadcast excerpts.

Iraq's acting human rights minister, Nermine Othman, said she was "horrified" by the pictures and would study whether any action could be taken against those responsible, even though some offenders have been imprisoned.

"There will be two kinds of reactions from Iraqis," she told The Associated Press. "One will be anger and others will feel sorry that they (SBS) didn't give them to the Iraqi government to investigate. Why use them? Why show them? We have had enough suffering and we don't want any more."

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the Defense Department believed the release of additional images of prisoner abuse was harmful and "could only further inflame and possibly incite unnecessary violence in the world."

Whitman said he did not know whether the photos and video clips were among images the Pentagon has been withholding from public release since 2004.

But another defense official said Army officials had reviewed the photographs posted on the Sydney Morning Herald's Web site and matched them to images that were among those turned over to military authorities in 2004 by a U.S. soldier.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to address the matter publicly, said the photos contained no new information about abuse.

Although the Abu Ghraib case was exhaustively reported here years ago, the new images could revive the issue of treatment of Iraqis by U.S.-led occupation forces, who face the ever-present threat of death or serious injury at the hands of insurgents.

This week's release of video showing British troops beating Iraqi youths during a violent 2004 protest in the southern city of Amarah prompted the Basra provincial administration to severe ties with British authorities.

Members of Shiite political groups opposed to the U.S.-led coalition appeared to have engineered that move. They were apparently seeking to exploit public sensitivities after attempts by the British to crack down on Shiite militias.

The fresh Abu Ghraib pictures were broadcast as the United States is trying to reach out to the disaffected Sunni Arab community, the backbone of the insurgency, in hopes of encouraging Sunni insurgents to lay down their arms and join the political process.

Most of those who suffered abuse at Abu Ghraib were believed to have been Sunni Arabs. Sunni leaders have also alleged mistreatment by Shiite-led Iraqi government security forces, a development that has sharpened sectarian tensions.

Mindful of the risks, some key Iraqi officials either avoided comment or sought to play down the images, noting the Americans had already punished Abu Ghraib guards.

"I feel bringing up these issues is only going to add heat to an already fragile situation in Iraq and they don't help anybody at all," said Labeed Abbawi, an adviser to Iraq's Foreign Ministry. "It will only lead to extra condemnation of Americans, British and later Iraqis" who have also been accused of abuse.

National Security Adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie said he would discuss the pictures with U.S. authorities. "They don't help in forming a good relationship between the multinational forces and Iraqi citizens," he said.

Presidential security adviser Lt. Gen. Wafiq al-Samaraei called the abuse "unjustifiable" but added that it was important to remember that the actions occurred more than two years ago, offenders had been punished and rules on treatment of prisoners were tightened.

"The effect of something that happened two years ago is not the same as if it were repeated, for example, three months ago," he said.

The Australian station refused to say how it obtained the images, and their authenticity could not be verified independently.

However, they were consistent with earlier photographs of abuse by American soldiers at Abu Ghraib. Nine American soldiers — all low-ranking reservists — were convicted in the abuse and sentenced to terms ranging from discharge from the Army to 10 years imprisonment.

"The abuses at Abu Ghraib have been fully investigated," Whitman said. "When there have been abuses, this department has acted upon them promptly, investigated them thoroughly and where appropriate prosecuted individuals," he said.

He said more than 25 people have been held accountable for criminal acts and "other failures" at Abu Ghraib.

The network, which aired the pictures on its "Dateline" program, did not identify anyone in the images. However, several photos appear to show former Spc. Charles Graner Jr., who is serving a 10-year prison term for his role in the scandal.

In one image, men wearing combat-style uniforms and holding dogs on leashes appear. Another showed two naked men whose hands were cuffed together. Another depicted an Iraqi's face in agony.

Other images showed what appear to be dead bodies, as well as wounded people and prisoners performing sex acts. SBS said the bodies were of people who died at the prison.
The SBS also showed photographs of a bloodied cell block and the corpse of a man it said was killed during a CIA interrogation.

Another video, also aired by Al-Jazeera, showed a man described as mentally disturbed beating his head against a wall. Al-Jazeera's brief excerpts included a hooded Iraqi male in his underwear, a naked figure lying on the floor next to what appeared to be a pool of blood and another with a man who appeared to be Graner smiling as he held a male prisoner.

The SBS broadcast said many of the new photos showed Graner having sex with Lynndie England, a 23-year-old reservist from Fort Ashby, W.Va., who is serving a three-year prison term for abusing detainees. England said Graner fathered her young son.

Those photos were not shown.

SBS said the images it showed were among photographs the American Civil Liberties Union was trying to obtain from the U.S. government under a Freedom of Information request.

The ACLU said it did not know how the images broadcast by SBS corresponded to its litigation.

But it called on the U.S. government to investigate whether the abuse was systematic instead of blaming it on a few individuals.

"We continue to see undeniable evidence that abuse and torture has been widespread and systematic, yet high level government officials have not been held accountable for creating the policies that led to these atrocities," Anthony D. Romero, the ACLU's executive director, said in a statement.

Associated Press correspondents Meraiah Foley in Sydney, Australia, Paul Garwood in Baghdad and AP Military Writer Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this report.


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