Jan 25, 2006 11:59 pm US/Eastern
Marcia Kramer Reporting, WCBS-TV
Watch news video here:
(CBS) NEW YORK The Federal General Accounting Office estimates that between 250,000 and 400,000 people lived, worked or went to school, in the ground zero vicinity at the time of the world trade center attacks.
There were 40,000 to 50,000 rescue workers, firefighters, volunteer firefighters, EMS, police and construction workers who worked on the “pile” for some length of time…of 16,000 rescue workers, not firefighters participating in a Mount Sinai Hospital study about half are sick with World Trade Center related diseases. At least three emergency workers have died.
Today, there are strong calls for action from members of New York’s Congressional delegation.
Members of the New York congressional delegation say it’s a health crisis that can no longer be ignored. They’re calling for a federal coordinator, saying such an appointment is critical because of the sheer numbers who are sick or could get sick from the toxics they inhaled after the twin tower attacks.
“They were exposed to a cocktail of poisonous gases, toxins, pulverized cement and glass and these particles are still in the bodies still in their lungs,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (d-Manhattan).
Representatives Carolyn Maloney, Vito Fossella and other members of Congress have demanded that the Bush Administration appoint a 9-11 health czar to deal with the tragic after affects of the twin tower attack. Three responders have already died, including NYC Police Detective James Zadroga, 34, whose funeral was just weeks… Continue reading
Written By Jon Gold
In February 2005 , “Speakers at the national meeting of the American Association for Advancement of Science expressed concern Sunday that some scientists in key federal agencies are being ignored or even pressured to change study conclusions that don’t support policy positions.” Their concerns are well-founded. In June 2005, The New York Times reported that Philip A. Cooney, “removed or adjusted descriptions of climate research that government scientists and their supervisors, including some senior Bush administration officials, had already approved” so as to play down emissions’ links to Global Warming. Mr. Cooney served as chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Now, however, he serves Exxon . In July 2005, the EPA purposefully held back incriminating reports about our fuel economy so an Energy Bill that served not the people, but the corporations, would pass. As quoted by CBS News , the energy bill “sends billions of dollars in tax breaks and subsidies to energy companies, but is expected to do little to reduce U.S. oil consumption or dampen high energy prices.” The EPA’s report stated, “loopholes in American fuel economy regulations have allowed automakers to produce cars and trucks that are significantly less fuel-efficient, on average than they were in the late 1980’s.” No wonder they didn’t want it to be known. We’ve done nothing to become more fuel-efficient, and in fact, have gone backwards. Now, as a result, we’ve passed an energy bill that helps us not at all.
So now, horribly, we know what it takes to stir disgust and outrage directed at the federal government, in the hearts of the corporate press corps. It takes a catastrophe of biblical proportions unfolding right before their eyes, right here in America, right in front of their cameras and camera crews, amid the stench of rotting corpses and a heaving mass of literally thousands of sick and dying.
Katrina’s aftermath has exposed the ‘most powerful country in the world’ as literally powerless to help thousands of its most visible citizens in dire, immediate need. This monstrous failure could literally be paradigm-shifting in its effect on the public consciousness.
The power of this story is evident in the accounts from on-location cable correspondents, who usually have no difficulty avoiding serious criticism of the powerful in any situation. But in New Orleans yesterday, several of them could not.
Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera and Shepard Smith, for instance, veered wildly off script while reporting from the watery grave New Orleans has become. It took only a few hours holed up in the Superdome to provoke outrage in both of them?not only at the inhuman conditions inside the Louisiana Superdome, where the dead lay rotting next to the living, but that ‘hundreds and hundreds and hundreds” of survivors were being denied exit. Have we forgotten already that these people were encouraged to head for the Superdome by authorities? How on earth could they be denied the right to leave an open cesspool?
Fox was… Continue reading
The flooding and flattening of New Orleans and its exposure of this government”s abject failure in preparedness are a shock to the collective psyche of Americans. The human cost of this breakdown in response reveals the stark reality of life for millions in the richest country in the world. News coverage on the BBC truly showed how appalling the human conditions are in New Orleans, presenting us as an embarrassment to the world. Who would have ever thought that conditions normally seen in Sudan or Calcutta would surface here? Even the conservative news networks are exclaiming how inexplicable it is that so much that so much
misery could have been avoided through proper attention and planning. Although
the Army Corp of Engineers had begged for the funding to complete the levees
that would protect New Orleans in the event of a serious hurricane, it was
denied. Now we learn that even FEMA was subjected to budget cut backs under the
new Homeland Security regime. So where is the $40 billion that was appropriated
to secure our country in the event of a terrorist attack? How does that juicy
tax cut during time of war that Dick Cheney thought his wealthy friends were
entitled to look now?
Here we are fighting wars for oil in the mideast, proposing legislation that
would allow oil drilling in the delicate eco-system of Anwar, however,
protecting the infrastructure of the Gulf states where a high percentage of our
gasoline gets refined and processed somehow wasn’t… Continue reading
By Paul Craig Roberts
The raison d’être of the Bush administration is war in the Middle East in order to protect America from terrorism and to insure America’s oil supply. On both counts the Bush administration has failed catastrophically.
Bush’s single-minded focus on the “war against terrorism” has compounded a natural disaster and turned it into the greatest calamity in American history. The US has lost its largest and most strategic port, thousands of lives, and 80% of one of America’s most historic cities is under water.
If terrorists had achieved this result, it would rank as the greatest terrorist success in history.
Prior to 911, the Federal Emergency Management Agency warned that New Orleans was a disaster waiting to happen. Congress authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project (SELA) in order to protect the strategic port, the refineries, and the large population.
However, after 2003 the flow of funds to SELA were diverted to the war in Iraq. During 2004 and 2005 the New Orleans Times-Picayune published nine articles citing New Orleans’ loss of hurricane protection to the war in Iraq.
Every expert and newspapers as distant as Texas saw the New Orleans catastrophe coming. But President Bush and his insane government preferred war in Iraq to protecting Americans at home.
Bush’s war left the Corps of Engineers only 20% of the funding to protect New Orleans from flooding from Lake Pontchartrain. On June 18, 2004, the Corps’ project manager, Al Naomi, told the Times-Picayune: “the levees are sinking.… Continue reading
A program to monitor the health of thousands of federal workers who answered the call of 9/11 has “been lost for more than two years,” the New York Daily News reports. It “vanished during the bureaucratic shuffle creating the Department of Homeland Security” …
(Aug. 26, 2005)
The forgotten and yet most numerous direct physical victims of September 11th are those who were exposed to the air contaminated by the dust clouds formed when the buildings fell. These contained large quantities of asbestos, pulverized glass and concrete, radioactive material from smoke alarms, silicone from computers. Especially hard-hit were first responders and Ground Zero clean-up workers. Underground fires at the disaster site continued for six weeks, further poisoning the air.
Yet in the days immediately after 9/11, the Environmental Protection Agency under Christie Todd Whitman knowingly gave the public absurd assurances that the air was safe to breathe, that no special precautions were necessary, that local residents could just clean up the dust with water. Two years later, we learned that the White House had forced the EPA to change its initial assessment of the danger to falsely reassure New Yorkers; presumably so that business could go on as usual and Wall Street could re-open for trading. By encouraging people not to take preventive measures, this choice in the end may have shortened more lives than the 3,000 lost at the World Trade Center. (For more on this subject, see World Trade Center Environmental Organization .)
So this is how the US government does business!
Cash from the New York Federal Reserve is loaded on to C-130s and shipped to Bagdad — to the tune of $12 billion since the start of the US occupation of Iraq in March 2003.
The money originally came from Iraqi oil sales under Saddam and was held in trust under the rules of the UN oil sales program. Now it is handed out to Iraqi and US government contractors in the form of cash. Or “candy,” as Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) puts it.
In the end, $8.8 billion can no longer be accounted for. And the Pentagon acknowledges Halliburton “requested that information in the audits be withheld” from the Congressional subpoena, “including allegations that the firm had spent too much money in purchasing fuel.”
“By law, contractors can request that the government withhold any proprietary information from release.”
Interesting law, when corporations can decide information about their public contracts is proprietary.
But anyway, it’s all just “pocket change,” says an e-mail circulating at the Fed.
(See article: “Worries Raised on Handling of Funds in Iraq,” Los Angeles Times, June 22, 2005.)
And who can argue with that?
* * *
Recall Donald Rumsfeld chose the date of September 10, 2001 to announce that a Pentagon audit, ordered by Undersecretary Dov Zakheim and conducted by a Halliburton subsidiary, had discovered that the Defense Department can no longer account for $2.3 trillion in past transactions. (Note: You are not hallucinating: two… Continue reading
Halliburton Shares Soar10% After It Posts Second Quarter Profit
By Pam Easton, Associated Press
Friday July 22, 2005
HOUSTON (AP) — Oilfield services firm Halliburton Co.’s shares soared 10 percent Friday after it reported that an influx of new government contracts at its KBR and energy services units drove it to a second-quarter profit.
“It was a fundamentally solid quarter,” Halliburton chief executive David Lesar said during a Friday morning conference call with analysts. “There are good reasons for all of us to feel proud and good about what we have accomplished.”
In a report after the markets closed Thursday, Halliburton said it earned $392 million, or 78 cents per share, for the three months ended June 30 compared with a loss of $667 million, or $1.52 per share, last year. The year-ago result included a $200 million loss from an offshore engineering, procurement, installation, and commissioning project in Brazil.
Revenue rose 4 percent to $5.2 billion from $5 billion.
“Absolutely stellar financial results here,” research analyst Dan Pickering with Pickering Energy Partners Inc. said Friday. “It is clear that their business is strong and the current levels of profitability are sustainable.”
On average, analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expected earnings of 56 cents per share on revenue of $4.87 billion.
Halliburton shares rose $4.59, or 9.4 percent, to close at $53.29 Friday on the New York Stock Exchange, surpassing the previous 52-week closing high of $50.
Halliburton’s shares last exceeded $53 on Sept. 12, 2000, closing at $54.37.
Three years ago, on July 23, 2002, Halliburton shares closed at $9.10.…Continue reading
by Kristen Breitweiser
Mr. Rove, the first thing that I would like to address is Afghanistan – the place that anyone with a true “understanding of 9/11″ knows is a nation that actually has a connection to the 9/11 attacks. One month after 9/11, we invaded Afghanistan, took down the Taliban, and left without capturing Usama Bin Laden – the alleged perpetrator of the September 11th attacks. In the meantime, Afghanistan has carried out democratic elections, but continues to suffer from extreme violence and unrest. Poppy production (yes, Karl, the drug trade) is at an all time high, thus flooding the world market with heroin. And of course, the oil pipeline (a.k.a. the Caspian Sea pipeline) is better protected by U.S. troops who now have a “legitimate” excuse to be in that part of Afghanistan. Interesting isn’t it Karl that the drug “rat line” parallels the oil pipeline. (Yet, with all those troops guarding that same sliver of land, can you please explain how those drugs keep getting through?)
Now Karl, a question for you, since you seem to be the… Continue reading
by Tom Engelhardt
June 2, 2005
Remember the Cheney/Rumsfeld/PNAC call for this militant metastasis in 2000? Or their realistic complaint that this “transformation” would take forever “absent a cataclysmic and catalyzing event — like a new Pearl Harbor”? Or that Darth Cheney still holds 433,333 stock options in Halliburton, which is making more money off this imperial oil grab than any firm on earth? Map the bases, chart the profits, connect the dots. – Ed.
The last few weeks have been base-heavy ones in the news. The Pentagon’s provisional Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) list, the first in a decade, was published to domestic screams of pain. It represents, according to the Washington Post, “a sweeping plan to close or reduce forces at 62 major bases and nearly 800 minor facilities” in the United States. The military is to be reorganized at home around huge, multi-force “hub bases” from which the Pentagon, in the fashion of a corporate conglomerate, hopes to “reap economies of scale.” This was front-page news for days as politicians and communities from Connecticut (the U.S. Naval Submarine Base in Groton) and New Jersey (Fort Monmouth) to South Dakota (Ellsworth Air Force Base) cried bloody murder over the potential loss of jobs and threatened to fight to the death to prevent their specific base or set of bases (but not anyone else’s) from closing – after all, those workers had been the most productive and patriotic around. These closings – and their potentially devastating effects on communities – were a reminder (though seldom dealt with that way in the media) of just how deeply the Pentagon has dug itself into the infrastructure of our nation.…Continue reading
by Michelle Chen
The case of a government interpreter-turned-whistleblower serves to illustrate the snowballing trend of hiding embarrassing information — a pattern critics believe may ironically lead to greater public insecurity.
April 22 – Yesterday, a national security whistleblower finally had her day in court, while public interest advocates intensified their campaigns for a more open government, challenging what they see as a pattern of secrecy and impunity in the name of national security interests.
April 22 – Yesterday, a national security whistleblower finally had her day in court, while public interest advocates intensified their campaigns for a more open government, challenging what they see as a pattern of secrecy and impunity in the name of national security interests.
To public advocates, the case of Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI translator who was allegedly fired for exposing misconduct within the agency, has come to symbolize the expansion of government opacity in the post-9/11 era. The stark resistance Edmonds has faced in attempting to challenge the alleged retaliation against her, say civil libertarians, illustrates how secrecy has cast a dark net over institutions of democratic government.
“Expanded secrecy rules are allowing government agencies to hide their incompetence and to hide their failure to really adequately protect the public,” warned Beth Daley, spokesperson for the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), a Washington, DC-based watchdog group. Like many other open-government advocates, Daley sees secrecy not only as detrimental to democracy, but also, ironically, a potential security threat in itself.…Continue reading
by Chris Floyd
April 15, 2005
Follow-up to “Into the Dark.”
More than two years ago, we wrote here of a secret Pentagon plan to foment terrorism: sending covert agents to infiltrate terrorist groups and goad them into action — i.e., committing acts of murder and destruction. The purpose was two-fold: first, to bring the terrorist groups into the open, where they could be counterattacked; and second, to justify U.S. military attacks on the countries where the terrorists were operating — attacks which, in the Pentagon’s words, would put those nations’ “sovereignty at risk.” It was a plan that countenanced — indeed, encouraged — the deliberate murder of innocent people and the imposition of U.S. military rule anywhere in the world that American leaders desired.
This plan is now being activated.
In fact, it’s being expanded, as the New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh revealed last week. Not only will U.S.-directed agents infiltrate existing terrorist groups and provoke them into action; the Pentagon itself will create its own terrorist groups and “death squads.” After establishing their terrorist “credentials” through various atrocities and crimes, these American-run groups will then be able to ally with — and ultimately undermine — existing terrorist groups.
Top-level officials in the Pentagon, the U.S. intelligence services and the Bush administration confirmed to Hersh that the plan is going forward, under the direction of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld — just as we noted here in November 2002. Through a series of secret executive orders, George W. Bush has given Rumsfeld the authority to turn the entire world into “a global free-fire zone,” a top Pentagon adviser says.…Continue reading
By George Monbiot
The Guardian UK
April 5, 2005
Liberal handwringing over the World Bank simply reflects a failure to recognise the role it exists to fulfil.
It’s about as close to consensus as the left is ever likely to come. Everyone this side of Atilla the Hun and the Wall Street Journal agrees that Paul Wolfowitz’s appointment as president of the World Bank is a catastrophe. Except me.
Under Wolfowitz, my fellow progressives lament, the World Bank will work for America. If only someone else were chosen, it would work for the world’s poor. Joseph Stiglitz, the bank’s renegade former chief economist, champions Ernesto Zedillo, a former president of Mexico. A Guardian leading article suggested Colin Powell or, had he been allowed to stand, Bono. But what all this hand-wringing reveals is a profound misconception about the role and purpose of the body Wolfowitz will run.
The World Bank and the IMF were conceived by the US economist Harry Dexter White. Appointed by the US Treasury to lead the negotiations on postwar economic reconstruction, White spent most of 1943 banging the heads of the other allied nations together. They were appalled by his proposals. He insisted that his institutions would place the burden of stabilising the world economy on the countries suffering from debt and trade deficits rather than on the creditors. He insisted that “the more money you put in, the more votes you have”. He decided, before the meeting at Bretton Woods in 1944, that “the US should have enough votes to block any decision”.…Continue reading
Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg on the Bush Administration, Civil Disobedience and the Eternal Fires of Hell
by Mira Ptacin
March 29, 2005
The sound of Daniel Ellsberg’s voice could falsely identify him as a softy. It’s delicate and cottony, but the Pentagon insider-turned-peace activist has wit cut sharp as a razor and insight that hasn’t faded with age.
At 73 he is out of the limelight but still trying to shake up our nation. Ellsberg recently finished a U.S. ‘Truth-Telling’ tour, spoke in Israel and will soon be traveling to Hiroshima. And after publishing his first memoir ‘Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers’, he’s polishing off his second book about America’s fatal attraction to nuclear threats.
Ellsberg publicized the Pentagon Papers 30 years ago, helping tip public opinion against our last major attempt at imperial democracy. And on this day in 1973, the last American combat troops left Vietnam, ending the direct involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War. Now Ellsberg is talking again. Shouldn’t we be listening?
Where do you see the US relationship with Iran heading in the next 6 months?
Well, every sign is that they’re still on course on the program that some of these people laid out on The Project for the New American Century, going back to when they all worked under Dick Cheney back in ’91-92. Enforcing regime change in Iraq was at the head of the list. In general it was a remaking of the Middle East.… Continue reading
Pentagon strategic plan codifies unilateral, preemptive attacks. The doctrine marks a shift from coalitions such as NATO, analysts say.
by John Hendren
Los Angeles Times
March 19, 2005
WASHINGTON – Two years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Pentagon has formally included in key strategic plans provisions for launching preemptive strikes against nations thought to pose a threat to the United States.
The doctrine also now stipulates that the U.S. will use “active deterrence” in concert with its allies “if we can” but could act unilaterally otherwise, Defense officials said.
The changes codify the more assertive defense policy adopted by the Bush administration since the Sept. 11 attacks and are included in a “National Military Strategy” and “National Defense Strategy,” reports that are part of a comprehensive review of military strategy conducted every four years.
“The president has the obligation to protect the country,” said Douglas J. Feith, the Defense Department’s undersecretary for policy. “And I don’t think that there’s anything in our Constitution that says that the president should not protect the country unless he gets some non-American’s participation or approval of that.”
Pentagon managers use the strategic plan to guide such decisions as where to place bases, which bases to eliminate, what weapons to buy and where to position them. The heads of the United States’ regional commands across the globe, in turn, use the strategy to prioritize spending and form strategies for eliminating threats in their regions.
“The potentially catastrophic impact of an attack against the United States, its allies and its interests may necessitate actions in self-defense to preempt adversaries before they can attack,” the National Military Strategy states.…Continue reading
By Michael Shnayerson
Halliburton subsidiary KBR got $12 billion worth of exclusive contracts for work in Iraq. But even more shocking is how KBR spent some of the money. Former U.S. Army Corps of Engineers official Bunnatine Greenhouse is blowing the whistle on the Dick Cheney-linked company’s profits of war.
This time, she was sure, they were going to get her.
Bunnatine Greenhouse had been a huge nuisance since the buildup to the war in Iraq-questioning contracts, writing caveats on them in her spidery script, wanting to know why Halliburton and its subsidiary KBR (formerly known as Kellogg, Brown and Root) should be thrown billions of dollars of government business while other companies, big and small, were shut out.
And Bunny Greenhouse wasn’t that easy to ignore: she was the highest-ranking civilian at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Specifically, she was the officer in charge of ensuring that any work contracted out by the Army Corps to private industry-from help in building bridges and dams and highways to support for wartime troops-was granted in a fair and aboveboard way. For two years, Greenhouse had asked hard questions about why the head of the Corps, to whom she reported directly, kept giving exclusive, non-compete contracts to KBR that now amounted to roughly $10.8 billion. Greenhouse was fearless, and she was blunt. In the Corps’s male hierarchy, it probably didn’t help that she was a woman-or that she was black.
On October 6, 2004, Greenhouse was summoned by… Continue reading
October 29, 2003
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. GARRETT). Under the Speaker’s announced policy of January 7, 2003, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. PALLONE) is recognized for 60 minutes.
Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, earlier this month Congress approved an $87 billion supplemental for the war and reconstruction efforts in Iraq. While I believe it is critically important that we get our military troops all the resources they need to safely complete their mission in Iraq, I do not support rubber-stamping this legislation so the Bush administration gets a free ride from Congress.
The Bush administration must account for its war strategy. The Bush administration must also answer the tough questions regarding questionable no-bid contracts, contracts that benefit Vice President DICK CHENEY’s former employer, an employer that continues to pay CHENEY hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in deferred salary, contracts that are free of any oversight from Congress.
Yet another 9/11 “Cui bono?” (who profits?) alert: This is almost ancient news by now if anyone was listening, but this is one of the clearest earliest Congressional examinations of rampant corruption in Iraq. It was a typical after hours empty chamber exercise, but the intrepid Marcy Kaptur did get Cheney’s continuing possession of 433,333 Halliburton stock options and his consequent millions in war profits into the public record at last.
Mr. Speaker, right now Halliburton holds a monopoly on Iraq. The company’s no-bid contract was first negotiated in secret and originally intended for… Continue reading
Extremely important “big picture” insights into the Bush team’s 9/11-enabled world from a fearless senator and a Holocaust victim family member.
by Harvey Wasserman
Columbus Free Press / Ohio
March 7, 2005
The U.S. Senate’s senior Constitutional scholar has correctly equated Bush with Hitler, and the usual attack dogs are howling. But they are wrong, and Americans must now face the harsh realities of an increasingly fascist and totalitarian GOP.
Octogenarian Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia made the equation in the context of Bush’s attack on Senate procedures which might slow or halt his on-going attempt to pack the courts with extreme right-wing fanatics. Byrd said Bush’s moves to destroy time-honored Senate rules parallel Hitler’s ramming fascist legislation through his gutted Reichstag. “Hitler never abandoned the cloak of legality,” said Byrd. “He recognized the enormous psychological value of having the law on his side. Instead, he turned the law inside out and made illegality legal.”
Anti-Defamation League Director Abraham Foxman has played the holocaust card for the Republicans, saying “It is hideous, outrageous and offensive for Senator Byrd to suggest that the Republican Party’s tactics could in any way resemble those of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party.
GOP Chair Ken Mehlman has labeled Byrd’s remarked “reprehensible and beyond the pale,” remarks joined by Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Santorum is best known for equating sexuality between consenting gays with bestiality between humans and dogs.
But Byrd is one of the few in either house of Congress to… Continue reading