Friday, October 22, 2004

Well damn if John Kerry didn't nail Bush on OBL and letting him get away at Tora Bora. From Peter Bergen, Tora Bora: What Really Happened?
So: Was al Qeada's leader at Tora Bora? According to a widely-reported background briefing by Pentagon officials in mid-December 2001 there was "reasonable certainty" that bin Laden was indeed at Tora Bora, a judgment based on intercepted radio transmissions. Moreover, Luftullah Mashal, a senior official in Afghanistan's Interior Ministry, told me that based on conversations he had with a Saudi al Qaeda financier and bin Laden's chef, both of whom were at the battle, bin Laden was at Tora Bora. And Palestinian journalist, Abdel Bari Atwan, a consistently accurate source of information about al Qaeda, has reported that bin Laden was wounded in the shoulder at Tora Bora.

Read the whole story, the last paragraph is a swift kick to the Bush/Cheney spin machine.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

via Josh Marshall Tenet: CIA made errors
Tenet called the war on Iraq "wrong" in a speech Wednesday night to 2,000 members of The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan at Lake Michigan College's Mendel Center. He did not elaborate.

and I found this just as interesting as it does coincide with my belief that while hard military power is vital in fighting terrorism, so is soft power. That we must help and encourage struggling Muslims as an incentive to avoid the extremism of people like OBL.
Tenet said a developing nation's low per capita income, high unemployment among young men and high infant mortality rate strongly increase its likelihood of becoming a "terrorist safe haven."

"In 2010, 100 million people outside of Africa will be infected with HIV," Tenet said. "The secondary implications of this are staggering."

He said the work of public health officers, missionaries and literacy teachers in third world nations are crucial to the war on terrorism, because terrorists build supporters by spinning poverty as a form of humiliation caused by wealthy nations like the United States.

Remember this: Bush's Big Blunder: Chalabi
In January, when President Bush delivered his State of the Union speech to Congress celebrating the success of the "pre-emptive" war against Iraq, a controversial Iraqi exile named Ahmad Chalabi sat in a place of honor behind First Lady Laura Bush.

The symbolism was no accident: Despite being a fugitive from Jordan for a conviction in absentia on bank fraud charges, this darling of neoconservative hard-liners was the Pentagon's and White House's favored and well-paid advisor on all things Iraq -- including weapons of mass destruction, ties with al Qaeda and the odds for a post-invasion insurgency. As is now apparent, he and his cronies seemed to have lied spectacularly about it all.

Today, however, it is hard to imagine that anybody would want to be in Ahmad Chalabi's shoes -- or those of the many top officials of Bush's White House, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who so assiduously backed him. The story reads like a trashy summer spy novel: Over the weekend while he was at his vacation home in Iran -- you know, one of the "axis of evil" countries that actually has a nuclear weapons program -- Chalabi was charged with counterfeiting by a U.S.-appointed judge in Iraq. Salem, in London at the moment, was charged with murder. The elder Chalabi is also still being investigated by U.S. intelligence agencies for his possible role in passing top-secret data to Iran.

For those keeping score at home, that's two indicted Chalabis, one huge black eye for the Bush Administration and a healthy dose of vindication for the CIA and the State Department, both of which decided long ago that Ahmad Chalabi wasn't trustworthy and strongly objected to his being tapped as a handy George Washington for "liberated" Iraq.

Then yesterday we had this: Bush Receives Endorsement From Iran
TEHRAN, Iran - The head of Iran's security council said on Tuesday the re-election of President Bush (news - web sites) was in Tehran's best interests, despite the administration's axis of evil label, accusations that Iran harbors al-Qaida terrorists and threats of sanctions over the country's nuclear ambitions.

Imagine my best Dick Cheney impression, " Now we know that Bush backed Chalabi, and Chalabi might have feed Iran
american intelligence info."
Tim Rustbottom (from Meat the Pressed): So are you saying that there's a connection between Bush, Iran, and foriegn spys?
Dick: Well Tim, we know some things and we don't know other things. Iran has backed Bush. They said so. Bush was gung-ho on a guy to lead Iraq that had connections with Tehran. It certainly raises some questions Tim.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Study for U.S. Rated Coverage of Schools Law
The department paid $700,000 to Ketchum, a public relations and marketing firm, to rate newspaper coverage of the education law in 2003 and to produce two video press releases in the format of news articles. The videos were reminiscent of videos about Medicare that were sent to television stations around the country and criticized by federal budget monitors this year as violating the federal law barring the use of Congressional appropriations "in a general propaganda effort designed to aid a political party or candidate."

The Education Department contract has come under fire from Senators Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey and Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, both Democrats, who asked the Government Accountability Office to determine if the department broke the law.

In their letter to the agency, the senators wrote that the contract represented "an illegal use of taxpayer funds."

While they did stop this, it makes you wonder if Bush cronies in the Department of Education would have stopped if the senators and People for the America Way hadn't made a stink about it. They obviously knew what they were doing was wrong because the Bushies had been caught doing the same thing before:
The phony news story was prepared by the same company, using the same “reporter,” as a similar video news release about Medicare issues that was determined earlier this year by the General Accounting Office to have violated federal anti-propaganda laws. When one television station used Education Department’s release, but had its own reporter re-record the audio, the Department posted the resulting story as news on its website.

I may have gone past outrage at this point to the how wierd can this people get from one day to the next. I grew up in the south, read the Bible, studied some formal ethics, have some life experience in ethics and I just can't see how the Bush brand of convervatism has any real moral foundation. Its all words and no actions.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Report Finds Lavish Spending at TSA
The government agency in charge of airport security spent nearly a half-million dollars on an awards ceremony at a lavish hotel, including $81,000 for plaques and $500 for cheese displays, according to an internal report obtained by The Associated Press.

Awards were presented to 543 Transportation Security Administration employees and 30 organizations, including a "lifetime achievement award" for one worker with the 2-year-old agency. Almost $200,000 was spent on travel and lodging for attendees.

The investigation by the Homeland Security Department's inspector general, Clark Kent Ervin, also found the TSA gave its senior executives bonuses averaging $16,000, higher than at any other federal government agency, and failed to provide adequate justification in more than a third of the 88 cases examined.

The report said lower-level employees were shortchanged, with a far lower percentage receiving bonuses.

"A substantial inequity exists in TSA's performance recognition program between executive and non-executive employees," the report said.

While the party rages we have:
WASHINGTON — The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, sharply criticized the Bush administration's proposed fiscal year 2003 budget released today for its lack of support for vital domestic spending priorities beyond anti-terrorism measures.

"While we stand side-by-side with the President in the fight against terrorism at home and abroad, we believe that his other proposals would devastate the economic, health, and retirement security of all Americans," said AFSCME President Gerald W. McEntee.

Under the Bush budget, domestic spending unrelated to security would increase at less than the projected rate of inflation. Among the specific budgetary cuts criticized by AFSCME were:

States and localities, already reeling from the recession and skyrocketing health care costs, would be further harmed by business tax cuts and a $9 billion reduction in Medicaid funds;

Job training cuts for laid-off workers and at-risk young adults;

Cuts in federal highway spending that would force states to abandon or delay many highway projects and leave hundreds of thousands more people unemployed; and

No more funding for hundreds of after-school, day care, and mentoring services.

I'm thinking that $81,000 would buy a good chunk of job training. Even if 81 thousand doesn't go very far now-days-days, with Bush's borrow and spend budget and so many pressing economic problems it sure doesn't look good. Looks kinda elitist as a matter of fact. There's a fiddle while Rome burns aspect here. Nothing against bonuses, as long as they're for work, not a pay off for cronies.