Saturday, March 31, 2007

Is Life Too Weird Or What?

It’s sometimes interesting to just take a look around at government websites. You sometimes find the strangest things. Like today, I was looking at The White House’s website discussing those lovely Health Savings Accounts.

True, health care in the United States is now so poor that Cuba has a lower infant mortality rate than the United States, but things are changing soon in the good ole US of A with the wonders of Health Savings Accounts.

It seems that the idea behind these HSAs is that when the health insurance industry comes to rape you when you get sick, at least you’ll have a savings account to help ease the pain of their health care wonder worms forcefully penetrating your diseased unmentionables. We should also forget for a moment that these HSAs could prove to be quite pointless as the net savings rate of Americans are now in the negative numbers to begin with, not to mention that the cost of treating cancer today costs somewhere in the half a million dollars price range.

What’s interesting though, is that the White House has a Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy concerning issues of health care. Who better to discuss with you the easing of your health care rape than that special assistant having the name of Julie Goon. Is life too fucking weird or what?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The End Of The Iraq War Is Now In Sight.

Defying the veto threat from the White House, the Senate has joined the House in setting a pull out date in the Iraq War.

On Tuesday, the Senate voted 50-48 to call for a withdrawal from Iraq in the war spending bill. The Senate version of the bill calls for the US to pull out of Iraq by next spring, sooner than the House bill proposed, which called for a pull out to be completed by September of 2008.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, “Setting a date for withdrawal is like sending a memo to our enemies that tells them to rest, refit and replan until the day we leave.”

However Senator Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) said the move would bring “the worse foreign policy mistake of our time” to a close. “Now it’s time for us to make it clear to the Iraqis it is their country. It is their war. It is their future,” he said.

President Bush denounced the House bill on Friday as “political theater”. While the Democrats don’t look like they have the votes to overturn a veto of the bill, the veto would also prevent any new funding for the war. This puts the White House in a sticky situation with the new Democratic Majority in Congress. The only question is: who will blink first?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Remains Of 9-11 Victims Were Used To Fill Potholes.

By Thomas Zambito
New York Daily News

NEW YORK - The pulverized remains of bodies from the World Trade Center disaster site were used by city workers to fill ruts and potholes, a city contractor says in a sworn affidavit filed Friday in Manhattan Federal Court.

Eric Beck says debris powders - known as fines - were put in a pothole-fill mixture by crews at the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, N.Y., where more than 1.65 million tons of World Trade Center debris were deposited after the Sept. 11 attacks.

"I observed the New York City Department of Sanitation taking these fines from the conveyor belts of our machines, loading it onto tractors and using it to pave roads and fill in potholes, dips and ruts," Eric Beck said.

Beck was the senior supervisor for Taylor Recycling, a private contractor hired to sift through debris trucked to Fresh Kills after the trade center attacks. Before the arrival of Taylor's equipment at Fresh Kills in October 2001, the debris was sifted manually by workers using rakes and shovels.

Beck's affidavit was filed by lawyers for the families of Sept. 11 victims who are suing the city in hopes of creating a formal burial place for debris that they say contains human remains.

"It's devastating," Norman Siegel, an attorney representing the families, said of Beck's statement. "When the 9/11 families found about this, they were wiped out."

The families argue that the cleanup was hurried and slipshod, with the result that more than 400,000 tons of debris weren't properly combed for human remains.

The city recently asked Manhattan Federal Judge Alvin Hellerstein to dismiss the lawsuit, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said he would like to turn the garbage dump into a "beautiful park."

In his first few months on the job, Beck said Taylor's mechanical sifters found 2,000 bones per day. He recalled finding "bones, fingers, skulls, feet and hands" as well as a man's chest and "the full body of a man dressed in a suit." The remains were catalogued and turned over to the city, he said.

But Beck said he was pushed to sift the debris quickly, and that remains may have been missed.

"I was constantly told . . . to move the job, to run the conveyor belts faster and to keep the tonnage up," Beck wrote.

Other affidavits support Siegel's claim that the sifting process was shoddy.

One comes from Theodore Feaser, the retired director of mechanical operations for the city Sanitation Department.

"From my experience at Fresh Kills, I am absolutely convinced that if the City of New York unearthed, resifted and washed the debris at Fresh Kills . . . it would find hundreds of human body parts and human remains," said Feaser, a 20-year veteran who supervised the recovery effort at Fresh Kills for the Sanitation Department.

Diane Horning, the president of WTC Families for Proper Burial, urged Hellerstein to allow the sifting to continue so that loved ones' remains will be found.

"There is no place to leave flowers," said Horning, whose son Matthew, an employee of Marsh and McLennan, was killed on Sept. 11, 2001. "There is no feeling of solace or closeness to your loved one."

Friday, March 16, 2007

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Confesses.

In the mist of an over widening number of scandals coming out of the White House involving illegal FBI surveillance on the American People and the firing of an a number of US attorneys investigating Republican corruption, the Pentagon has released a “transcript” of the military tribunal trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, in which he confesses to planning the terrorist attacks of September 11th.

What is startling about this, is that this directly violates the official story of the September 11th attacks, as the official story is that Osama bin Laden planned the attack.

According to Fox News, Mohammed stated that, “I was responsible for the 9/11 operation from, A to Z.” Additionally, Mohammed had acknowledged, according to The Pentagon, that Mohammed also stated that he was responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, a plot to assassinate Bill Clinton in 1994, plotting the terrorist attack in Bail, Indonesia in October of 2002, the shoe bomber operation, the Filka Island Operation in Kuwait that killed two US soldiers, plotting to destroy the Library Tower in California, The Sears Tower in Chicago, the Plaza Bank in Washington, and The Empire State Building in NYC, planning to destroy the Panama Canal, planning to assassinate former President Jimmy Carter, planning to destroy suspension bridges in New York, and a number of other attacks. Fox News finishes by stating that “Mohammed was captured in Pakistan 4 years ago.”

However, other news sources dispute this. On October 30th, 2002 -- which would be four years ago -- stated in a story, A Chilling Inheritance of Terror, that “Ever since the frenzied shootout last month on September 11 in Karachi there have been doubts over whether Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed head of al-Qaeda's military committee, died in the police raid on his apartment.”

And that “Now it has emerged that Kuwaiti national Khalid Shaikh Mohammed did indeed perish in the raid, but his wife and child were taken from the apartment and handed over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in whose hands they remain.”

All I can say is draw your own conclusions.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Libbygate: Now Let’s Get To The Real Story.

by Dave Lindorff
Published on Tuesday, March 6, 2007 by Common Dreams

So Scooter Libby has taken the fall.

Three and a half years and a long bloody war after he and a gang of war-mongers in the White House and Blair House, including President Bush and Vice President Cheney, set out to undermine and trash the reputation of an Iraq war critic, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, Libby has been found guilty of perjury, lying to the FBI and obstruction of justice by a Washington jury.

Now maybe special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald and what passes for journalists in the mainstream media can get down to the real business of finding out just why the entire White House smear operation was unleashed upon a minor state department official and why they went so far as to violate federal law and expose his CIA-operative wife, Valerie Plame, in the process destroying her entire network of contacts for monitoring the spread of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

Because that’s what this whole Libby story is really about.

The whole focus of the media in this case has been on the narrow, inside-the-Beltway question of who leaked information about Plame to the media.

Entirely forgotten or ignored has been what this leak was all about to begin with.

For that, you have to go back and look at what Wilson did in the first place that so enraged or frightened the Vice President and the President.

And that was to go to Niger, one of the poorest nations in Africa, to prove conclusively that there was no truth to a set of forged notes on the letterhead of the Niger embassy in Rome, purporting to be receipts for 400 tons of Niger uranium ore allegedly being sought by Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.

Wilson knew those documents were cheap forgeries--the name of the mines official on the papers was someone who hadn't been in office for years--but he went to Niger anyhow, just to make doubly certain that no such purchase attempt had been made.

None had.

So the real question then is, who is behind those forged documents?

There is an interesting story here--and an important mystery to be solved.

As it happens, way back in early 2001 there was a pair of burglaries at the Niger Embassy in Rome and at the home of the Niger ambassador. Police investigating the crimes found that the only things stolen were official stationary and some official stamps, used to make documents official. A cleaning lady and a former member of Italy’s intelligence service were arrested for the crimes. They were odd burglaries to be sure, since there is precious little one could use, or sell, such documents for, given the country involved. I mean, it might make sense to steal official stationary from the French Embassy in Rome, which a thief might use to finagle a pass to the Cannes Festival. But Niger?

Jump to October 2001. A few weeks after the 9-11 attacks, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, accompanied by his ministers of defense and intelligence, made a visit to the White House. There he reportedly handed over the forged Niger documents (they were on Niger government stationary, and had Niger government stamps!), which appeared to be receipts for uranium ore, made out to Saddam Hussein. Now forget the matter of why either Hussein or Niger's government would want paper receipts for such an illegal transaction, and forget the matter of how Hussein would have transported 400 tons of yellow dust across the Sahara to his country without somebody noticing. The simple fact is that Bush’s own intelligence experts at the CIA and State Department promptly spotted the forgeries, and they were dumped.

We know this because we know, from the likes of onetime National Security Council counterterrorism head Richard Clarke and former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, that Bush was pushing for war with Iraq almost as soon as he finished reading My Pet Goat following the attack on the Twin Towers. Surely if the White House had even thought those Niger documents might be legit, they would have leaked or broadcast them all over creation.

They didn’t. The documents were deep-sixed, and mentioned to no one.

But according to some dedicated investigative reporters at the respected Italian newspaper La Repubblica, they resurfaced before long at a very suspicious meeting. This meeting occurred in December 2001 in Rome, and included Michael Ledeen, an associate of Defense Department Undersecretary for Policy Douglas Feith and a key figure in the White House's war-propaganda program, Larry Franklin, a top Defense Intelligence Agency Middle East analyst who later pleaded guilty to passing classified information to two employees of the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), convicted Iraqi bank swindler Ahmed Chalabi, then head of the CIA-created Iraqi National Congress, and Harold Rhode of the sinister Defense Department Office of Special Plans, that office set up by the White House and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld under Feith’s direction to manufacture “evidence” to justify a war on Iraq. Also at this peculiar meeting were the heads of the Italian Defense Department and of SISMI, the Italian intelligence agency.

According to La Repubblica, it was at that meeting that a plan was hatched to resurrect the forged Niger documents, and to give them credibility by recycling them through British intelligence.

And that is what Bush was referring to when, in his 2003 State of the Union address, he famously frightened a nation by declaring, “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

Bush lyingly implied that this was new information, when in fact he knew--had to know--that the “evidence” in British hands was the same set of documents he had been offered by Berlusconi almost a year and a half earlier, which had been declared to be bogus.

No mainstream American media organization has pursued this story, or even published the details as reported in Italy. Most Americans, consequently, don't even know what a grand lie Bush and the White House perpetrated upon them and the Congress in order to win approval for an attack on Iraq.
Perhaps now that Libby has gone down for his part in this grotesque crime, some editor will ask the obvious question: Why did the White House and the Office of Vice President go to such extraordinary lengths to attack Wilson and his wife? And more importantly, who was behind those Niger embassy burglaries and the forged uranium ore sale documents? And what was OSP doing meeting in Rome in December 2001 with the head of Italian intelligence?

Make no mistake: this whole story has the odor of a “black op” designed to target the American people.

If so it was an act of high treason.

It is not just Libby who should go to jail for this crime. It is the president and vice president.

At this point, whether or not the mainstream media decide to do their job, one has to hope that Fitzgerald, with Libby in the bag, will take the next step and hold the prospect of a lengthy prison sentence recommendation over the convict’s head in order to try and win from him a promise of cooperation with the prosecution.

Because Libby knows who was behind all of this.

And that’s the real story that needs to be told.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Maybe We Outta Rethink This Iran Thing.

The American Left has been predicting that Bush would go after Iran for the last 3 years, and now it seems that they’re working on an attack at this very moment. And just like what Dubya did with Iraq, he's claiming that Iran is trying to acquire a nuclear weapon. This despite their repeated claims that they are interested solely in developing nuclear energy, which would leave Iran free to sell their oil reserves to the rest of the world. Of course, the ever delusional neocons aren’t buying. So before we stick our heads into the deep fat fryer that is Iran, maybe we should check on what the United States is actually capable of at this point.

We should remember that when the US invaded Iraq, the country had been under an embargo for 12 years, which saw almost 10% of their population die as a result. Iraq was a country that had suffered being blown to bits in the 1990 Gulf War, and had continued to be intermediately bombed from 1990 to 2003. Prior to 1990, Iraq had suffered nearly 10 more years of war with their neighbor that saw even larger sectors of their population die. And prior to that the country had been in steep decline economically for 15 years. Given all this, how well has the US invasion of Iraq gone?

So let’s put some statistics on the table and compare Iraq to Iran, just in case we need to invade the country.
Iraq: 432,000 sq km
Iran: 1,636,000 sq km

Iraq: 26 million population; 60% Shi’a, 40% Sunni
Iran: 70 million population, 90% Shi’a, 8% Sunni, two-thirds of which are under the age of 30

Iraq: heavily bombed from 1990 to today
Iran: has been at peace since 1988

Iraq: suffered under an embargo since 1990 that killed 1-2 million adults and 600,000 children.
Iran: has suffered no embargo, but the US made it illegal for US companies to trade with Iran, a mandate that Vice President Dick Cheney violated when he served as CEO of Halliburton.

Iraq: The economy of Iraq has been in decline for the last 30 years.
Iran: The economy of Iran has been growing steadily for the last 20 years.

Iraq: Has had little industry other than the petrochemical industry for the last 20 years.
Iran:Has a growing automobile, aerospace, consumer electronics, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, nanotechnology, and nuclear industry.

Iraq: Short of some oil trading under the UN embargo, Iraq had virtually no trading partners.
Iran: Major commercial trading partners include China, Germany, S. Korea, France, Japan, Russia, Italy, India, South Africa, Turkey, and Pakistan.

Iraq: literacy rate 40%
Iran: literacy rate 86%

Iraq: Armed forces under Saddam, 2003: estimated 389,000 with 650,000 reserves (high end estimate)
Iran: 545,000 total armed forces, 300,000 reservists, and some 11 million who could be mobilized.

Given how well Iraq went, do you get the sinking feeling that if we went after Iran we’d get our asses kicked? Of course, militarily-wise we’re still the strongest power on earth…but after the 5 year fiasco that has been Iraq, do you really think our commander-in-chief has the ability to win such a war?

To put this in another historical context, I can’t help but asking, how many Iraqis have ever held the World Wrestling Federation Heavyweight Championship? The answer is zero. However, the only man that could take that very championship from an Iranian, The Iron Sheik, was none other than the legendary Hulk Hogan. And George Dubya Bush is no Hulk Hogan.