Monday, December 19, 2005 2:49 PM
GI SPECIAL 3D47:
Beatriz Saldivar of Mexican origin holds a poster of family member Sergeant Daniel Torres who was killed in combat in Iraq last April during a protest outside the U.S. embassy in Madrid Dec. 17, 2005. A large crowd gathered outside the embassy Saturday to protest the Imperial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Paul White)
36% Of Americans Now Want Immediate Withdrawal >From Iraq:
[36% for immediate withdrawal is a stunning new high. That, to other than an ass-kissing Bush fan, would be the news. Thanks to PB, who sent this in.]
12.17.05 By WILL LESTER, Associated Press Writer
A solid majority of Americans oppose immediately pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq, citing as a main reason the desire to finish the job of stabilizing the country, an AP-Ipsos poll found.
Some 57 percent of those surveyed said the U.S. military should stay until Iraq is stabilized, while 36 percent favor an immediate troop withdrawal. A year ago, 71 percent of respondents favored keeping troops in Iraq until it was stabilized.
Over the past two years, some of the biggest shifts on whether the war was a good decision or a mistake have come among married people with children, those with low incomes and those with a high school education or less. [More spin: the reporter won’t say clearly that they have shifted against the war. Wonder why not? Too close to Vietnam, where working class people were the overwhelming majority that opposed going on with that war too?]
The Iraq War Is Class War:
Dec. 15, 2005 TIM HARPER, WASHINGTON BUREAU, Toronto Star Newspapers Limited
Phyllis Bennis, who has studied the cost of war for the liberal Institute for Policy Studies, says there has been a sacrifice by the lowest echelons of American society.
“It’s true there hasn’t been a call from the president for the American people to share the sacrifice,’’ Bennis said.
“But it is the poorest sector which is paying because of massive cutbacks in health care, education, every facet of social assistance being slashed to pay for this war.’’
CEOs of war-related companies have seen their salaries increase 200 per cent since Sept. 11, 2001, while Americans who need food stamps are not getting them.
IRAQ WAR REPORTS
Maine Soldier Killed
Army Spc. Joseph Alan Lucas with wife, Heather, and son, Joseph Jr. Lucas, who grew up in Bath, Maine, was fatally wounded Dec. 15, 2005, while serving with an armored squadron of the 3rd Infantry Division in Balad. (AP Photo/Lucas family photo)
Texas Soldier Killed
Spc. James C. Kesinger, of Pharr, Texas, 32, was killed Dec. 13, 2005, in Iraq when a roadside bomb exploded near his Humvee. (AP Photo/U.S. Army)
Missouri Soldier Killed
Spc. Peter J. Navarro, of Wildwood, Mo., 20, was killed Dec. 13, 2005, in Iraq when a roadside bomb exploded near his Humvee. (AP Photo/U.S. Army)
Oregon Soldier Killed
Staff Sgt. Michael S. Zyla, of Elgin, Ore., 32, was killed Dec. 13, 2005, when a roadside bomb exploded near his Humvee. (AP Photo/U.S. Army)
Kansas Soldier Killed
Sgt. Brian C. Karim, of Talcott, W. Va., 22, from Fort Riley, Kan., was killed Dec. 13, 2005, in Iraq when a roadside bomb exploded near his Humvee. (AP Photo/U.S. Army)
Mississippi Marine Killed
Cpl. Michael ‘Brandon’ Presley, 21, of Batesville, Miss., died Dec. 14, 2005, at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany after being wounded in a bombing in Iraq. Presley was assigned to 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C. (AP Photo/The Presley Family via The Panolian)
Oregon Soldier Killed
Staff Sgt. Michael S. Zyla, of Elgin, Ore., 32, was killed Dec. 13, 2005, when a roadside bomb exploded near his Humvee. (AP Photo/U.S. Army)
Soldier With Maine Ties Killed
December 16, 2005 AP
PORTLAND, Maine — A 23-year-old soldier with ties to Maine has been killed by an improvised explosive device during his second tour in Iraq.
Army Spc. Joseph Alan Lucas, who grew up in Bath, was killed Thursday in Balad, about 40 miles north of Baghdad.
Lucas was assigned to an armored unit with the Third Infantry Division. He had been living with his wife and their 15-month-old son in Georgia, where the division is based.
Lucas was one of seven siblings, all boys, and was serving his second tour in Iraq. His father, Jeffrey Lucas Sr., of Wiscasset, said his son attended high school in Georgia, where he had moved with his mother nine years ago.
The elder Lucas described his son as easy-going, with a great sense of humor and very smart. He planned to leave the service when he returned stateside and was thinking of getting into a computer-related field.
Jeffrey Lucas was notified of his son’s death Thursday when a military chaplain came to his home.
Twin Falls Marine Loses Legs
12.16.05 Idaho State Journal
TWIN FALLS (AP) – A high school track star who earned a track scholarship to Boise State University has lost his legs in an explosion in Iraq.
Marine Cpl. Travis Greene, a 1999 Twin Falls High School graduate, is recovering at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., after losing both legs above the knee.
The 24-year-old, in his third tour of duty in Iraq, was part of a team of Marines evacuating other Marines who had been injured in an earlier explosion. During the early December operation, a second explosion occurred.
The injured soldiers were taken to a battlefield hospital and then to Germany before being flown to Bethesda. Greene was given 79 units of blood by the time he reached the United States.
“We had good news this morning when we walked in and saw him,” his mother, Sue Greene, told The Times-News of Twin Falls in a phone interview from the hospital Wednesday. “He was off the respirator and the swelling has gone down.”
Sue and her husband, Terry Greene, arrived at their son’s bedside Sunday. The other Marines and Navy corpsman injured in the explosion are recovering at the same hospital. The Marines have provided the families with a place to stay.
Greene’s parents were notified of their son’s injures on Dec. 7 in a phone call from the Marine base at Twentynine Palms, Calif.
“I was just sick,” Sue Greene said. “He is so athletic. I thought, ‘How is he going to handle this?’”
Travis Greene’s coach at Twin Falls High School, Jerry Kleinkopf, said Greene was a top runner at the school.
“He was the first person I ever had who qualified for the state meet in hurdles as a freshman,” Kleinkopf said. “Then he qualified all four years. He broke the school record in the intermediate hurdles.”
Greene went on to finish second in the 300-meter hurdles at the 1999 state championship.
He was a junior at BSU studying criminal justice when he decided to join the Marines.
Hill Force Airman Injured
December 16th, 2005 KSL News
An airman from Hill Air Force Base has suffered severe injuries in Iraq.
Daniel Acosta was on a bomb disposal detail near Baghdad last week when a device exploded near him. Acosta was severely burned. Army doctors are treating him in Houston.
Airman Acosta, received a Purple Heart. He may have to spend a year in rehabilitation.
Marines of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team – 2 in Qaim Nov. 15, 2005. (AP Photo/U.S. Marine Corps, Sgt. Jerad W. Alexander)
Evansville Soldier Wounded, Not Dead
Dec 16, 2005 Reporter: Drew Speier, 14wfie
The military hometowns of two Army casualties in Iraq were mixed up this week. The soldier killed was from Ohio, the soldier wounded in the same roadside bombing is from Evansville.
The soldier from Evansville we’re talking about is 22-year-old specialist, Craig Conger.
It’s a good thing he called his mom earlier this week after the incident happened. Otherwise she and the rest of his family would have been scared and confused after Wednesday night’s mix-up.
But the good thing is, Conger is coming home, with injuries, but he’s going to be okay. Mom Karen Berning says, “He called me from Germany. He was in the tank with Mitchell.”
Mitchell is the soldier from Ohio who died when a tank he and Conger were riding in exploded when it triggered a booby trap south of Baghdad.
Conger survived the explosion. Berning says, “He’s doing fine. He has a head injury and some cuts from the shrapnel I guess, he doesn’t talk too much about it, so he doesn’t want to worry mom I guess.”
Conger enlisted in the Army straight out of high school. He later re-enlisted and went back for a second tour of duty in Iraq.
The fact the military got Conger and the soldier who died mixed-up causes concern among Conger’s family. Sue Wargel is Conger’s aunt. “If they’ve got this other gentleman’s name attached to Craig’s file you could assume the worst could happen, they could have potentially contacted the wrong family and reported the death of a soldier to the wrong family.”
Conger was scheduled to return to the states after the first of the year.
His family thought driving tanks would be a safer job than most, but they now know that’s not the case.
Jack Kerney is Conger’s grandfather. “You know I guess when you feel you’re in a tank, you feel a little more secure than if you’re pounding the ground so, it was kind of a shock. But you’re glad to know he’s going to be okay. Ah, glad to hear he s going to be okay, yea.”
Conger’s family still doesn’t know the full extent of his injuries. He’s expected to arrive in Washington this weekend and be evaluated. Then, at some point, he will return to Fort Stewart in Georgia to be reunited with his wife and three children. His family here hopes to see him back in Evansville sometime after the first of the year.
Bulgaria Begins Pullout From Iraq
Bulgaria started withdrawing its troops from Iraq on Friday, the Defense Ministry announced. ”Bulgaria’s infantry battalion in Iraq concluded its operative tasks today and begins its relocation to Bulgaria as decided by Parliament,” the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry said that “with the elections conducted, Bulgaria’s infantry battalion has concluded successfully its mission in Iraq.”
The 400-men strong battalion will transfer its military responsibilities in the Iraqi city of Diwaniya to Iraq’s government forces.
Officials have said the country will start a pullout after next week’s parliamentary elections in Iraq.
Bulgaria has lost 13 soldiers in Iraq since it dispatched troops to Iraq in August 2003. Six Bulgarian civilians also died, reports the AP
170 Maine Guard Members Headed For Bush’s Imperial Slaughterhouse
December 17, 2005 wmtw
AUGUSTA, Maine — About 170 members of the Maine Army National Guard will be heading to Iraq.
The announcement was made in Augusta Friday by Adj. Gen. John Libby, who said the troops include members of infantry, transportation, artillery and engineer units.
The Guard members are scheduled to leave for Fort Dix, N.J., in January.
When they arrive in Iraq, they’ll be assigned to security duties, including convoy operations.
THIS IS HOW BUSH BRINGS THE TROOPS HOME:
Alan Patten (C) and his fiancee Diane Kerr pick up the remains of Alan’s nineteen-year-old son US Marine Lt. Cpl Andrew Patten, who was killed in Fallujah, at O’Hare airport. (AFP/Getty Images/Scott Olson)
“Corporations Becoming Insanely Wealthy From The Proceeds Of This War Well-Known To Most Folks Within The Military”
I do not begrudge a contractor employee anything. We must all feed our families. I am, however, incensed that while these corporations and their subsidiaries and shareholders grow wealthy, they fail to provide the contracted services to the soldiers and often fail with the worst of attitudes.
Letter To The Editor
There are many valuable and even essential services provided by contractors. There are many exemplary individuals working for these organizations, without whom the mission would suffer. Unfortunately, many of the large corporations who hold these contracts are not as invested in support of the forces as many of their employees are.
The list of corporations becoming insanely wealthy from the proceeds of this war is well-known to most folks within and outside of the military.
What is probably less well-known to those outside the system is the frequent lack of performance, arrogance and failure to meet contract standards at the boots-on-the-ground user level.
I am appalled at the arrogance of many mid- and senior-level contractor employees. I have lost count of the number of times they simply walk to the front of a long dining facility line, rather than wait their turn.
Local nationals are hired for services the contractor is obligated to provide. While this benefits all, little effort seems to be paid to assure the stipulations of the contract are met. One can easily wait in line an hour to drop off laundry due, it would seem, to understaffing and nonexistent supervision. Laundry is often not ready on the days it should be; this was found out after waiting in another line for an hour.
I do not begrudge a contractor employee anything. We must all feed our families.
I am, however, incensed that while these corporations and their subsidiaries and shareholders grow wealthy, they fail to provide the contracted services to the soldiers and often fail with the worst of attitudes.
Capt. Barry McGowan
IRAQ RESISTANCE ROUNDUP
Vote The Armed Resistance Tickets
12.16.05 Jonathan Steele in Baghdad, the Guardian
In Ramadi, masked insurgents guarded polling stations in Ramadi.
“The mujahedin were at the polling station urging us not to let our voice be split. They urged us to go for either of the two Sunni lists, the Consensus Front or Saleh al-Mutlaq,” said Ali Abed al-Dulaimi, a retired car salesman, in a telephone interview.
Both lists, one Islamist, one secular, have links with the nationalist resistance.
“We Will Continue Our Armed Struggle”
Dec 16 (Reuters) By Fadel al-Badrani & By Luke Baker, REUTERS
“As long as the occupation exists along with those agents who brought it, we will continue our armed struggle,” said Abu Muyasir, 52, who is a local guerrilla leader in Falluja, west of Baghdad.
He said rebels would also remove politicians such as Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, a leader in the ruling Shi’ite bloc.
Despite their hostility to the U.S.-backed political process, insurgents urged Sunnis to vote this time
“This does not mean stopping our holy war activities. We promise the coming days will be tough on the Americans and their supporters in the Iraqi army,” said a local 48-year-old leader in Muhammad’s Army
In Ramadi, just west of Falluja, a 38-year-old leader of the Islamic Army, Abu Qatada, said insurgents would not rest until they had kicked out the Americans and their Iraqi “agents”.
“We want the Americans to pay attention to our political agenda calling for them to withdraw and announce a timetable to withdraw and getting their agents out of power. They will be replaced with national leaders whom we will support,” he said.
“This period of elections is a period of truce, but that does not mean we will stop our military activities,” said a man calling himself Abu Qutada, a member of the Islamic Army in Iraq militant group
“We want the Americans to know that when armed operations start after the elections, we will take control at any time.”
OCCUPATION ISN’T LIBERATION
Assorted Resistance Action
16/12/2005 Evening Echo & (KUNA) & AP & 12.17.05 By SAMEER N. YACOUB, Associated Press Writer
A mortar attack against a school in an insurgent stronghold west of Baghdad killed an Iraqi army soldier, the US Marines said today.
The attack was carried out in the western Euphrates River valley town of Parwana as soldiers cleaned up the school, which had been used as a polling station during yesterday’s elections.
An Iraqi solider was killed on Friday when an Iraqi Army patrol came under attack by militants in the city of Tikrit, north of Baghdad.
An Iraqi police source told reporters today that the patrol was guarding the transportation of ballot boxes from the town of Balad to the city of Tikrit in Salahhudine Province.
Police in the northern city of Kirkuk reported that resistance fighters opened fire on a squad car, killing one officer and seriously injuring another.
Five bodies were found in the predominantly Shiite north Baghdad suburb of Kazimiyah.
Police Lt. Col. Riyad Abdulwahid said four of the bodies had been shot and were wearing Interior Ministry commando uniforms, a force accused by Sunni Arabs of participating in the abuse and torture of detainees. The fifth body had been decapitated and was dressed in an Iraqi army uniform, Abdulwahid said.
IF YOU DON’T LIKE THE RESISTANCE
“The Muslim Militant Movement Is As Much A Liberation Movement As It Is Anything Else”
December 13, 2005 By Richard Fricker, Consortiumnews.com
Editor’s Note: Michael Scheuer worked as an analyst for a CIA unit tracking – and trying to understand – al-Qaeda.
Under the name “Anonymous,” he wrote Imperial Hubris, a critical look at U.S. counter-terrorist strategies. He was interviewed recently about the War on Terror by journalist Richard Fricker. A version of this interview first appeared in the Swiss publication, Sonntags Blick.
“The intelligence community, as well the people who worked on counter-terrorism, clearly told the administration that an invasion of Iraq would break the back of a fight against bin Laden because it would validate virtually everything he had said about the United States over the years.
This administration came into office with a contempt for the intelligence community.
“There’s not one American politician willing to say ‘they don’t hate us for what do, or how we live. They may not like it, but they’re not going to blow themselves up over it. But they will blow themselves up over what we do in the Islamic world.’ And, that has been the problem under Mr. Clinton and Mr. Bush.”
“It is absolutely in their (neoconservatives’) interest to make us believe the militants hate us because we are democratic and have liberty.
The idea that someone blows himself up to try to destroy Mubarak and you call him a ‘freedom-hater,’ there’s a disconnect there.
Mubarak is a police state, the Saudis are a police state. The Islamists may not have the same definition of freedom that we have, freedom is different in every culture, but there is every bit of evidence that the Muslim militant movement is as much a liberation movement as it is anything else.”
Regarding the possible effect of a Democratic victory in 2006 congressional elections?
Scheuer: “It could make it worse. Mr. and Mrs. Clinton are seen as friends of Israel, … and if the Democrats come in, they are viewed by the militants as more pro-Israel than the Republicans.”
What do you think? Comments from service men and women, and veterans, are especially welcome. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org. Name, I.D., withheld on request. Replies confidential.
Theatre Of The Absurd:
December 16, 2005 Jill Carroll, Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
Marines went to pains to minimize their visibility, stationing Iraqi soldiers prominently at checkpoints and voting booths.
“I want to keep the US presence within the inner cordon to a minimum,’’ Lt. Paul Haagenson, from Minneapolis, Minn., told his platoon the night before the vote. ”This is their show, this is their election.”
But the realities in towns like Husaybah, which was controlled by insurgents just weeks ago, meant that voting had to be held in the confines of a Marine base.
From a side street and behind a cement barrier meant to stop car bombs, Abu Latief, who didn’t want to give his full name, watched the lines of voters swell throughout the morning. ”The Iraqi Army is no problem, but the occupation forces are a problem,’’ he said as an Iraqi soldier watched.
U.S. OCCUPATION RECRUITING DRIVE IN HIGH GEAR;
A foreign fighter from the U.S. 101st Airborne Division detains an Iraqi citizen stopped in northern Iraq Dec. 9, 2005. If you look carefully, you will see how happy he is that Bush’s troops are helping him learn democracy. (AP Photo/Ryan Lenz)
[Fair is fair. Let’s bring 150,000 Iraqis over here to the USA. They can harass citizens for no apparent reason and make them stand around as long as they please, kill more people at checkpoints, bust into their houses with force and violence and search through all their personal possessions, overthrow the government, put a new one in office they like better and call it “sovereign” and “detain” anybody who doesn’t like it in some prison without any changes being filed against them, or any trial.]
[Those Iraqis are sure a bunch of backward primitives. They actually resent this help, and consider it their patriotic duty to fight and kill the soldiers sent to occupy their country. What a bunch of silly people. How fortunate they are to live under a military dictatorship run by George Bush. Why, how could anybody not love that?]
“Repression Is The Haitian Government’s Primary Campaign Strategy”
December 15, 2005 Yifat Susskind, CommonDreams.org [Excerpt]
Two weeks ago, Haiti postponed its presidential election for the fourth time in five months.
With the vote now set for January 8, the Interim Government (installed by the US after it helped overthrow Haiti’s democratically-elected President, Jean Bertrand Aristide, in February 2004) will hold on to power past its February 2006 deadline (just imagine if Hugo Chavez tried that).
Regardless of when elections are held, conditions in Haiti make a mockery of democratic process. Yet the Bush Administration has demanded that elections go forth.
Secretary of State Rice has hailed Haiti’s election as “a precious step on the road to democracy.”
But look closely. Haitians are being denied the right to vote: only a few hundred registration and polling sites have been created to serve eight million people (compared with 10,000 provided by the deposed Aristide government) and some large, poor neighborhoods-with few government supporters-have no registration sites at all.
Haitians are being denied the right to campaign: the government’s potential challengers have been jailed on false charges or no charges.
And Haitians are being denied the right to organize: in September, the government outlawed political demonstrations in violation of Haiti’s constitution; and anti-government protesters have been repeatedly attacked by the Haitian National Police. The Bush Administration fueled this repression by sending $1.9 million worth of guns and police equipment to Haiti just in time for election season.
In fact, repression is the Haitian government’s primary campaign strategy.
Since 1990, every internationally validated election in Haiti has produced a landslide victory for the Lavalas Party. Once the standard-bearer of Haiti’s pro-democracy movement, Lavalas-like its exiled leader, Aristide-is a casualty of US “democracy promotion.” After US-backed forces ousted Aristide, the party splintered into factions, including unaccountable and violent groups. Despite its flawed human rights record, Lavalas would no doubt win again in January if its candidates were allowed to run. The reason is simple: Lavalas is the party of the poor and most Haitians are poor.
Far from supporting constitutional democracy in Haiti, the US has twice helped to overthrow Aristide, who resisted Washington’s prescriptions for Haiti’s economy by insisting on social spending for the poor.
The first time, back in 1991, “regime change” was still a covert business. The US had to deny that it was sponsoring the military thugs that took over Haiti and killed thousands of Aristide supporters (and poor people in general, just for good measure). By last year, when Aristide was ousted for the second time, things had changed. A Pentagon plane flew him into exile. The US warmly welcomed the “new” government, including remnants of the 1991 coup who are poised to win next month’s sham election.
In 1819 Simon Bolivar observed that, “The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of democracy.”
[To check out what life is like under a murderous military occupation by a foreign power, go to: <www.rafahtoday.org>www.rafahtoday.org The foreign army is Israeli; the occupied nation is Palestine.]
DANGER: POLITICIANS AT WORK
The Traitor Bush Told NSA To Spy On U.S. Citizens And Ignore Law
“Good Morning, And Welcome To The Traitors Club”
16 December 2005 By Jennifer Loven, The Associated Press & By Dan Eggen, Washington Post Staff Writer & December 15, 2005 By JAMES RISEN and ERIC LICHTBLAU, The New York Times Company &
President Bush signed a secret order in 2002 authorizing the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals in the United States, despite previous legal prohibitions against such domestic spying, sources with knowledge of the program said last night.
Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, said the secret order may amount to the president authorizing criminal activity. The law governing clandestine surveillance in the United States, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, prohibits conducting electronic surveillance not authorized by statute.
“This is as shocking a revelation as we have ever seen from the Bush administration,” said Martin, who has been sharply critical of the administration’s surveillance and detention policies.
“It is, I believe, the first time a president has authorized government agencies to violate a specific criminal prohibition and eavesdrop on Americans.”
A key Republican committee chairman put the Bush administration on notice Friday that his panel would hold hearings into a report that the National Security Agency eavesdropped without warrants on people inside the United States.
Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said he would make oversight hearings by his panel next year “a very, very high priority.”
“There is no doubt that this is inappropriate,” said Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican and chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
Other key bipartisan members of Congress also called on the administration to explain and said a congressional investigation may be necessary.
Following the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush authorized the NSA to monitor the international phone calls and international e-mails of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States, the Times reported.
The Times said reporters interviewed nearly a dozen current and former administration officials about the program and granted them anonymity because of the classified nature of the program.
Some NSA officials were so concerned about the legality of the program that they refused to participate, the Times said.
Questions about the legality of the program led the administration to temporarily suspend it last year and impose new restrictions.
The Times said it delayed publication of the report for a year because the White House said it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny.
While many details about the program remain secret, officials familiar with it said the N.S.A. eavesdropped without warrants on up to 500 people in the United States at any given time.
The list changes as some names are added and others dropped, so the number monitored in this country may have reached into the thousands over the past three years, several officials said.
Some officials familiar with it say they consider warrantless eavesdropping inside the United States to be unlawful and possibly unconstitutional, amounting to an improper search.
One government official involved in the operation said he privately complained to a Congressional official about his doubts about the legality of the program. But nothing came of his inquiry. “People just looked the other way because they didn’t want to know what was going on,” he said.
Some of those who object to the operation argue that is unnecessary. By getting warrants through the foreign intelligence court, the N.S.A. and F.B.I. could eavesdrop on people inside the United States who might be tied to terrorist groups without skirting longstanding rules, they say.
Widespread abuses, including eavesdropping on Vietnam War protesters and civil rights activists, by American intelligence agencies became public in the 1970's and led to passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which imposed strict limits on intelligence gathering on American soil.
Among other things, the law required search warrants, approved by the secret F.I.S.A. court, for wiretaps in national security cases. The agency, deeply scarred by the scandals, adopted additional rules that all but ended domestic spying on its part.
Several senior government officials say that when the special operation first began, there were few controls on it and little formal oversight outside the N.S.A. The agency can choose its eavesdropping targets and does not have to seek approval from Justice Department or other Bush administration officials.
Some agency officials wanted nothing to do with the program, apparently fearful of participating in an illegal operation, a former senior Bush administration official said.
Before the 2004 election, the official said, some N.S.A. personnel worried that the program might come under scrutiny by Congressional or criminal investigators if Senator John Kerry, the Democratic nominee, was elected president.
In mid-2004, concerns about the program expressed by national security officials, government lawyers and a judge prompted the Bush administration to suspend elements of the program and revamp it.
A complaint from Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, the federal judge who oversees the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court, helped spur the suspension, officials said.
The judge questioned whether information obtained under the N.S.A. program was being improperly used as the basis for F.I.S.A. wiretap warrant requests from the Justice Department, according to senior government officials.
While not knowing all the details of the exchange, several government lawyers said there appeared to be concerns that the Justice Department, by trying to shield the existence of the N.S.A. program, was in danger of misleading the court about the origins of the information cited to justify the warrants.
One official familiar with the episode said the judge insisted to Justice Department lawyers at one point that any material gathered under the special N.S.A. program not be used in seeking wiretap warrants from her court.
Several national security officials say the powers granted the N.S.A. by President Bush go far beyond the expanded counterterrorism powers granted by Congress under the USA Patriot Act, which is up for renewal.
President Bush did not ask Congress to include provisions for the N.S.A. domestic surveillance program as part of the Patriot Act and has not sought any other laws to authorize the operation.
Seeking Congressional approval was also viewed as politically risky because the proposal would be certain to face intense opposition on civil liberties grounds.
The legal opinions that support the N.S.A. operation remain classified, but they appear to have followed private discussions among senior administration lawyers and other officials about the need to pursue aggressive strategies that once may have been seen as crossing a legal line, according to senior officials who participated in the discussions.
“The President in authorizing surveillance without seeking a court order has committed a crime. The Federal Communications Act criminalizes surveillance without a warrant. It is an impeachable offense.” 12/17/05 Martin Garbus, partner in the law firm of Davis & Gilbert LLP and one of the country’s leading trial lawyers, Huffington Post
The Traitor Bush Says He Will Continue To Ignore The Law
17 December 2005 The Associated Press
Washington – President Bush said Saturday he has no intention of stopping his personal authorizations of a post-Sept. 11 secret eavesdropping program in the US, lashing out at those involved in revealing it while defending it as crucial to preventing future attacks.
Reacting to Bush’s vow to continue spying on Americans, Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., said the president’s remarks were “breathtaking in how extreme they were.”
Feingold said it was “absurd” that Bush said he relied on his inherent power as president to authorize the wiretaps. ”If that’s true, he doesn’t need the Patriot Act because he can just make it up as he goes along. I tell you, he’s President George Bush, not King George Bush.”
[Pity poor Feingold. He just doesn’t get it. He is King George Bush, and for that, Americans have a very traditional remedy: revolution.
[This is the best reason of all to bring our troops home now: we need them to defend us against this government of traitors in Washington DC. They are the ones who hate our liberties, not the Iraqis. The Iraqis are fighting for their liberties. Our troops and the Iraqis have a common enemy, killing them both.]
Pentagon Spying On Americans:
[Thanks to D, who sent this in.]
Dec. 14, 2005 By Lisa Myers, Douglas Pasternak, Rich Gardella and the NBC Investigative Unit
WASHINGTON – A year ago, at a Quaker Meeting House in Lake Worth, Fla., a small group of activists met to plan a protest of military recruiting at local high schools. What they didn’t know was that their meeting had come to the attention of the U.S. military.
A secret 400-page Defense Department document obtained by NBC News lists the Lake Worth meeting as a “threat” and one of more than 1,500 “suspicious incidents” across the country over a recent 10-month period.
“This peaceful, educationally oriented group being a threat is incredible,” says Evy Grachow, a member of the Florida group called The Truth Project.
“This is incredible,” adds group member Rich Hersh. “It’s an example of paranoia by our government,” he says. ”We’re not doing anything illegal.”
“I think Americans should be concerned that the military, in fact, has reached too far,” says NBC News military analyst Bill Arkin.
The Department of Defense declined repeated requests by NBC News for an interview. A spokesman said that all domestic intelligence information is “properly collected” and involves “protection of Defense Department installations, interests and personnel.”
But the Pentagon now collects domestic intelligence that goes beyond legitimate concerns about terrorism or protecting U.S. military installations, say critics.
The DOD database obtained by NBC News includes nearly four dozen anti-war meetings or protests, including some that have taken place far from any military installation, post or recruitment center.
One “incident” included in the database is a large anti-war protest at Hollywood and Vine in Los Angeles last March that included effigies of President Bush and anti-war protest banners. Another incident mentions a planned protest against military recruiters last December in Boston and a planned protest last April at McDonald’s National Salute to America’s Heroes, a military air and sea show in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The Fort Lauderdale protest was deemed not to be a credible threat and a column in the database concludes: “US group exercising constitutional rights.”
Two-hundred and forty-three other incidents in the database were discounted because they had no connection to the Department of Defense, yet they all remained in the database.
The DOD has strict guidelines adopted in December 1982, that limit the extent to which they can collect and retain information on U.S. citizens. Still, the DOD database includes at least 20 references to U.S. citizens or U.S. persons. Other documents obtained by NBC News show that the Defense Department is clearly increasing its domestic monitoring activities.
One DOD briefing document stamped “secret” concludes: “(W)e have noted increased communication and encouragement between protest groups using the internet,” but no “significant connection” between incidents, such as “reoccurring instigators at protests” or “vehicle descriptions.”
The increased monitoring disturbs some military observers.
“It means that they’re actually collecting information about who’s at those protests, the descriptions of vehicles at those protests,” says Arkin. ”On the domestic level, this is unprecedented,” he says. ”I think it’s the beginning of enormous problems and enormous mischief for the military.”
Some former senior DOD intelligence officials share his concern. George Lotz, a 30-year career DOD official and former U.S. Air Force colonel, held the post of Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Oversight from 1998 until his retirement last May.
“Somebody needs to be monitoring to make sure they are just not going crazy and reporting things on U.S. citizens without any kind of reasoning or rationale,” says Lotz. “I demonstrated with Martin Luther King in 1963 in Washington,” he says, “and I certainly didn’t want anybody putting my name on any kind of list. I wasn’t any threat to the government,” he adds.
The military’s penchant for collecting domestic intelligence is disturbing but familiar to Christopher Pyle, a former Army intelligence officer.
“Some people never learn,” he says. During the Vietnam War, Pyle blew the whistle on the Defense Department for monitoring and infiltrating anti-war and civil rights protests when he published an article in the Washington Monthly in January 1970.
The public was outraged and a lengthy congressional investigation followed that revealed that the military had conducted investigations on at least 100,000 American citizens. Pyle got more than 100 military agents to testify that they had been ordered to spy on U.S. citizens, many of them anti-war protestors and civil rights advocates. In the wake of the investigations, Pyle helped Congress write a law placing new limits on military spying inside the U.S.
But Pyle, now a professor at Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts, says some of the information in the database suggests the military may be dangerously close to repeating its past mistakes.
“The documents tell me that military intelligence is back conducting investigations and maintaining records on civilian political activity. The military made promises that it would not do this again,” he says.
Some Pentagon observers worry that in the effort to thwart the next 9/11, the U.S. military is now collecting too much data, both undermining its own analysis efforts by forcing analysts to wade through a mountain of rubble in order to obtain potentially key nuggets of intelligence and entangling U.S. citizens in the U.S. military’s expanding and quiet collection of domestic threat data.
“The military has the right to protect its installations, and to protect its recruiting services,” says Pyle. “It does not have the right to maintain extensive files on lawful protests of their recruiting activities, or of their base activities,” he argues.
“The harm in my view is that these people ought to be allowed to demonstrate, to hold a banner, to peacefully assemble whether they agree or disagree with the government’s policies,” the former DOD intelligence official says.
Bert Tussing, director of Homeland Defense and Security Issues at the U.S. Army War College and a former Marine, says “there is very little that could justify the collection of domestic intelligence by the Unites States military. If we start going down this slippery slope it would be too easy to go back to a place we never want to see again,” he says.
Some of the targets of the U.S. military’s recent collection efforts say they have already gone too far.
“It’s absolute paranoia — at the highest levels of our government,” says Hersh of The Truth Project.
“I mean, we’re based here at the Quaker Meeting House,” says Truth Project member Marie Zwicker, “and several of us are Quakers.”
The Defense Department refused to comment on how it obtained information on the Lake Worth meeting or why it considers a dozen or so anti-war activists a “threat.”
Do you have a friend or relative in the service? Forward this E-MAIL along, or send us the address if you wish and we’ll send it regularly. Whether in Iraq or stuck on a base in the USA, this is extra important for your service friend, too often cut off from access to encouraging news of growing resistance to the war, at home and inside the armed services. Send requests to address up top.
Pentagon Spies Broke Rules:
December 16, 2005 By DAVID S. CLOUD, The New York Times Company
WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 – Pentagon analysts appear not to have followed guidelines that require deleting information on American citizens and groups from a counterterrorism database within three months if they pose no security threats, Pentagon officials said on Thursday.
As a result, dozens of alerts on antiwar meetings and peaceful protests appear to have remained in the database, even though analysts had decided that those involved presented no threat to military bases or personnel, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the program is classified.
The requirement to delete information after 90 days is in a set of procedures for handling reports entered into the Defense Department database, which is known as the Threat and Local Observation Notice reporting system, or Talon.
Pentagon officials on Thursday refused to release the full list of procedures for handling information on citizens.
A summary of the document put out by NBC said that among the incidents monitored was a “protest against Army recruiters” in Wayne, N.J., last April that the database notes happened “without incident.”
Republican Thief In Senate Took AIDS $:
[Thanks to PB for sending in. He writes; EXPLOITING AN AIDS CHARITY TO ENRICH THEIR OWN CAMPAIGNS? THAT’S A NEW LOW FOR THE G.O.P…]
12.17.05 By JONATHAN M. KATZ and JOHN SOLOMON, Associated Press Writers
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s AIDS charity paid nearly a half-million dollars in consulting fees to members of his political inner circle, according to tax returns providing the first financial accounting of the presidential hopeful’s nonprofit.
The returns for World of Hope Inc., obtained by The Associated Press, also show the charity raised the lion’s share of its $4.4 million from just 18 sources. They gave between $97,950 and $267,735 each to help fund Frist’s efforts to fight AIDS.
World of Hope gave $3 million it raised to charitable AIDS causes, such as Africare and evangelical Christian groups with ties to Republicans; Franklin Graham’s Samaritan Purse and the Rev. Luis Cortes’ Esperanza USA, for example.
The rest of the money went to overhead. That included $456,125 in consulting fees to two firms run by Frist’s longtime political fundraiser, Linus Catignani. One is jointly run by Linda Bond, the wife of Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond, R-Mo.
The charity also hired the law firm of Vogel’s wife, Jill Holtzman Vogel, and Frist’s Tennessee accountant, Deborah Kolarich. Kolarich’s name recently surfaced in an e-mail involving Frist’s controversial sale of stock in his family founded health care company. That transaction is now under federal investigation.
Political experts said both the size of charity’s big donations and its consulting fees raise questions about whether the tax-exempt group benefited Frist’s political ambitions.
“One of the things people who are running for president try to do is keep their fundraising staff and political people close at hand. And one of the ways you can do that is by putting them in some sort of organization you run,” said Larry Noble, the government’s former chief election lawyer who now runs the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics that studies fundraising.
Kent Cooper, the Federal Election Commission’s former public disclosure chief, said the consulting fees were “excessively high” and the fact that they were “paid to primarily political consultants also raises questions about the long-range strategic benefits for the 2008 presidential race.”
Frist formed the charity in 2003. It drew attention in August 2004 when it held a benefit concert in New York during the Republican National Convention at which President Bush was nominated for re-election.
The group’s 2004 tax return was due April 15, 2005, but it filed for two extensions and only reported its activity to the IRS last month.
The tax forms show Catignani’s fundraising firm, Catignani & Bond, was paid a total of $276,125 and his event-planning arm, Consulting Services Group, was paid $180,000.
The amount Catignani was paid by Frist’s charity in 2004 is roughly the same as what his firms received over the past three years for work for Frist’s political action committee, Volunteer PAC. The firm collected $523,666 in fees from the PAC since 2003, FEC records show.
World of Hope’s beneficiaries include evangelical Christian groups with Republican connections.
Cortes, Esperanza USA’s president, is an influential evangelical leader who hosted Bush at this year’s National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast.
Frist has worked and traveled extensively with Samaritan’s Purse in Africa as well as during the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Franklin Graham is the son of the Rev. Billy Graham.
Weeks before Frist’s convention fundraiser, the senate leader traveled to Chad, Sudan and Kenya on a trip underwritten by Samaritan’s Purse, Senate records show.
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