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
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 .)
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
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
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
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.
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
Detention Camp Jitters
by Maureen Farrell
February 13, 2006
“Recent pronouncements from the Bush Administration and national security initiatives put in place in the Reagan era could see internment camps and martial law in the United States.”
— The Sydney Morning Herald, July 27, 2002
In 1984, the Rex-84 readiness exercise program was conducted by 34 federal departments and agencies, reportedly as an exercise to handle an influx of illegal aliens crossing the Mexican/U.S. border. Brought to Americans’ attention during the Iran-contra hearings, the exercise, which was conducted alongside another drill, “Night Train 84″ also tested military readiness to round up and detain citizens in case of massive civil unrest.
None of that ever happened, of course, and in many respects, it seems silly to even mention it. After all, other Reagan-era initiatives, like the Armageddon exercises Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld participated in, are far more interesting. Then, too, despite a brief moment of sunlight in the 1970s (when Congress, according to former President and CIA director George H.W. Bush, “unleashed a bunch of untutored little jerks out there”), emergency detention plans had been in place since the 1950s, without incident. Americans have not been herded into camps since World War II, so why worry about it now?
For some, the answer comes in the form of yet another government contract awarded to Halliburton subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown & Root to build “temporary detention facilities” in case of an “immigration emergency.” Reminiscent of Rex 84, which was… Continue reading
By Paul Craig Roberts
03/15/06 “ICH’ — — If you were President George W. Bush with all available US troops tied down by the Iraqi resistance, and you were unable to control Iraq or political developments in the country, would you also start a war with Iran?
Yes, you would.
Bush’s determination to spread Middle East conflict by striking at Iran does not make sense.
First of all, Bush lacks the troops to do the job. If the US military cannot successfully occupy Iraq, there is no way that the US can occupy Iran, a country approximately three times the size in area and population.
Second, Iran can respond to a conventional air attack with missiles targeted on American ships and bases, and on oil facilities located throughout the Middle East.
Third, Iran has human assets, including the Shia majority population in Iraq, that it can activate to cause chaos throughout the Middle East.
Fourth, polls of US troops in Iraq indicate that a vast majority do not believe in their mission and wish to be withdrawn. Unlike the yellow ribbon folks at home, the troops are unlikely to be enthusiastic about being trapped in an Iranian quagmire in addition to the Iraqi quagmire.
Fifth, Bush’s polls are down to 34 percent, with a majority of Americans believing that Bush’s invasion of Iraq was a mistake.
If you were being whipped in one fight, would you start a second fight with a bigger and stronger person?
That’s what Bush is… Continue reading
“Already there is near-consensus as to the sequence of events that led to the collapse of the World Trade Center.”–Shankar Nair, as quoted in the Chicago Tribune, September 19, 2001
Turn on C-Span, or “Meet The Press,” or any other media program presenting federal officials. Whatever the issue, it always comes back to the same thing. Our government really has nothing else to offer us but protection from another 9/11. It uses this painful story to cut public services, eliminate our basic rights, and plunder the national coffers. But for many of us, it is not entirely clear from whom we most need protection.1 As our debt explodes and our freedoms diminish, it would be wise to maintain focus on the origins of our War on Terror. No matter where this war leads us, we will need to keep the beginning in mind if we ever hope to see an end.
The Point of Origin: The Collapse of the WTC
Many have found that the 9/11 Commission not only failed to help us understand what happened; it also omitted or distorted most of the facts.2 But if we really want to zero in on the exact turning point around which we plunged into chaos, we need to focus in particular on the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings. This is where our hearts were wrenched and our minds were made ready for never-ending war, torture, and apparently the end of everything that was American.… Continue reading
by Evelyn Pringle
June 7, 2006
According to US Census Bureau statistics, in 2002, there were over 21 million federal, state, and local government employees in the US. These employees are in the best position to expose misconduct and abuses of power that arise in government agencies. However, the recent US Supreme Court decision effectively muzzles the nation’s watchdogs.
Attorney Barry Turner, a Lecturer of Law at Leeds Law School in the UK, describes the Supreme Court’s decision absurd. “Transparency is essential in any democracy and is a bulwark against corruption, which,” he points out, “requires secrecy to survive.”
“Any society or administration that facilitates secret deals and hides from the truth can only court corruption,” he warns. “Gagging whistleblowers,” he contends, “can only assist the corrupt, the criminal and the fraudster.”
In a nutshell, the question before the Supreme Court was: Does a prosecutor who speaks on a matter of public concern by reporting police misconduct lose his First Amendment protection against retaliation solely because he communicated the message while performing his job?
The plaintiff in the case was Richard Ceballos, a Deputy District Attorney in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office who informed his supervisors that he believed a Deputy Sheriff had falsified an affidavit to obtain a search warrant in a criminal case.
After Ceballos relayed his findings, he followed up with a written memorandum recommending the dismissal of the case. At a hearing on a motion to challenge the search warrant, Ceballos was subpoenaed by the defense and testified about his findings regarding the affidavit.…Continue reading
By Eric Lipton
New York Times
June 18, 2006
The pervasive public fear ignited by 9/11 and relentlessly fanned by government leaders and the mainstream media has proved an unfailing political profit center for the administration and unimaginably enriched its military-industrial handlers. It is now also enwealthening scores of officials personally as “War on Terror”-profiteering accelerates the fusion of our private and public spheres.
WASHINGTON – Dozens of members of the Bush administration’s domestic security team, assembled after the 2001 terrorist attacks, are now collecting bigger paychecks in different roles: working on behalf of companies that sell domestic security products, many directly to the federal agencies the officials once helped run.
At least 90 officials at the Department of Homeland Security or the White House Office of Homeland Security – including the department’s former secretary, Tom Ridge; the former deputy secretary, Adm. James M. Loy; and the former under secretary, Asa Hutchinson – are executives, consultants or lobbyists for companies that collectively do billions of dollars’ worth of domestic security business.
More than two-thirds of the department’s most senior executives in its first years have moved through the revolving door. That pattern raises questions for some former officials.
“People have a right to make a living,” said Clark Kent Ervin, the former inspector general of the department, who now works at the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan public policy research center. “But working virtually immediately for a company that is bidding for work in an area where you were… Continue reading
Homeland Security, the “Keystone Stasi,” Now Tracks and Enforces Local Police Warrants
June 20, 2006: For many years, those working to create a total surveillance state have employed the “salami tactic” of taking away our freedoms one slice at a time. Laws that directly challenge constitutional rights, like the USA PATRIOT Act, are the spectacular exception. Agencies like FEMA quietly prepare plans for martial law, and have built a “Shadow Government” for military rule without need of a written order. The Bush administration for its part has constantly tested the waters, establishing new realities by fiat (as in its creation of the “enemy combatant” category to justify unlimited detention without charges), or floating test balloons like the “Total Information Awareness” program (which was withdrawn officially, even as the NSA’s telephone surveillance proceeded to implement its spirit behind the scenes).
Now we must all realize that at some point, the salami runs out. It no longer makes sense to say that our government is creating a police state. The fact is, that state has arrived, complete with One Big Database and the establishment of universal jurisdictions. In an editorial published this week in New York Newsday, Ray LeMoine tells a memorable story of how he was detained by Homeland Security for several hours because of outstanding local police warrants relating to his sale of unlicensed T-shirts (“Yankees Suck,” among others). We dare not dismiss this as a minor matter; it shows that there is nothing about us in electronic form that… Continue reading
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2006
National Security Whistleblowers Coalition,
Alexandria, VA — The following members of Congress, by their action or inaction, have stood against real investigations, hearings, and legislation dealing with government whistleblowers who have exposed fraud, waste, abuse, and/or criminal activities within government agencies. These representatives of the People are not only standing against whistleblowers, but against the public’s right to know, effective oversight, accountability, and ultimately against the democratic processes that underpin our society.
To see the Dirty Dozen list, Click Here
We, the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, together with whistleblower members of our partner coalitions, consider it our duty to advise Americans of these representatives’ collusion with government and private interests to the detriment of the People. Our position is based on our concern for our nation’s security, for accountable government, and the People’s Right to Know what their representatives and government are doing in their name, all of which depend on vigorous congressional oversight.
Our stand is not based on any political ideology or party — our coalition members include Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and Independents. We do not ask you to vote for or against these individuals; nor do we ask you to choose a particular candidate over another. All we ask is that before you decide, you consider the true positions of these representatives with regard to their lack of candor and courage on core issues that matter to our country’s well-being.
Over the years, time and again we have informed these representatives about illegal government actions, agency fraud, and lying to Congress by administrators and bureaucrats.…Continue reading
by Jeff Wells
They say I shot a man named Gray and took his wife to Italy.
She inherited a million bucks and when she died it came to me.
I can’t help it if I’m lucky. – Bob Dylan
This may be old news to you, but just a quick note here of something I’d missed about Flight 77, thanks to “Bismillah” and the RI forum, that I hope you won’t miss, too.
At least among those with a mind for such things, it’s fairly well-remembered that on September 10, 2001, Donald Rumsfeld made the shocking announcement that the Pentagon “couldn’t track” $2.3 trillion of its transactions. “Iroquois” observes, “What’s interesting to me is that he made his press release on a Monday. In DC, I always see bad news given on a Friday, usually late in the afternoon on Friday. The exception, of course, would be when someone happens to know that there is a far bigger story coming out.”
And we know that Flight 77, allegedly piloted by an incompetent, made an aerobatic, spiralling descent over Washington, effecting a 270-degree turn to strike the Pentagon from a western approach at ground level. The side struck was the only one with an exterior wall hardened against attack, and was relatively empty while renovation continued.
Relatively. The unfortunate construction workers perished outside, but who were the expendables within?
July 27, 2006
Toiling deep in the bowels of Ground Zero, Firefighter Kevin Delano suspected he was breathing in poison but continued hunting for bodies anyway.
Now there’s more proof the asthma that has made it impossible for the 52-year-old to cross his lawn without wheezing was caused by the deadly dust he inhaled.
A soon-to-be-published study co-authored by David Prezant, the Fire Department’s deputy chief medical officer, has found that FDNY rescuers lost the equivalent of 12 years of lung function because of exposure to toxic dust.
“We knew it was bad, we knew it was bad from the first day,” said Delano, who had to retire from the FDNY after 9/11 and also has been battling leukemia. “This just proves it.”
Prodded by a series of hard-hitting Daily News editorials that described the plight of 12,000 ailing Ground Zero workers, Mayor Bloomberg has promised to look into whether the city has stiffed its 9/11 heroes.
But Bloomberg has refused, thus far, to acknowledge that the deaths of at least four first responders – and the illnesses of thousands more – were directly related to their toiling in The Pit.
The analysis of fire and Emergency Medical Technician workers conducted by the FDNY and Montefiore Medical Center-Albert Einstein College of Medicine could make Bloomberg reconsider his position. It found that firefighters in The Pit suffered a loss of lung power “equal to that of 12 years of age-related decline.”
“Those who had more exposure, those who arrived earlier, had a more severe loss,” said Montefiore’s Dr.…Continue reading
President Bush is at the Helm of an Administration that Won’t Stop Lying
Paul Craig Roberts
The Bush Regime has killed tens of thousands of people in Iraq and Afghanistan, mainly women and children. The deaths are excused as unintended “collateral damage” of the ongoing war, but the deaths are nonetheless important to the tens of thousands of relatives and friends. An equally important casualty of the Bush Regime is truth. The American public has been trained to obediently accept their government’s lies fed to them by their government’s handmaiden, the US Media. No statement or claim by a Bush Regime Official is too outlandish to be received with acceptance. Consider the claim by Donald Rumsfeld, the US Secretary for War and Aggression, made to the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee on May 17, that Iran was to blame for the instability in Iraq.
Did the senators laugh Rumsfeld out of the room? No.
Did the media remind the “informed public” that it was actually the US invasion and unsuccessful occupation, together with mass detentions, torture, slaughter of citizens and invasions of their homes, destruction of infrastructure and entire cities, such as Fallujah, and removal of Saddam Hussein’s government, which kept the three Iraqi factions from each other’s throats, that destabilized Iraq?…Continue reading