Friday, November 11, 2005


Page 108

By Matthew Yglesias | bio

At AEI today, Ahmed Chalabi naturally took some questions about the bogus intelligence question. He replied, to the geneal applause of the non-media folks in the room, that we should check out "the reports" on the matter conducted by the Robb-Silberman Commission and the Senate Intelligence Committee. Specifically, he suggested that page 108 of the Robb-Silberman report exonerated him. In fact, page 108 of the report states:

In fact, over all, CIA's post-war investigations revealed that INC-related sources had a minimal impact on pre-war assessments. 405 The October 2002 NIE relied on reporting from two INC sources, both of whom were later deemed to be fabricators. One source-- the INC source --provided fabricated reporting on the existence of mobile BW facilities in Iraq. The other source, whose information was provided in a text box in the NIE and sourced to a "defector," reported on the possible construction of a new nuclear facility in Iraq. The CIA concluded that this source was being "directed" by the INC to provide information to the U.S. Intelligence Community. 406 Reporting from these two INC sources had a "negligible" impact on the overall assessments, however. 407

Another serious flaw affecting the Intelligence Community's pre-war assessments was its inability to keep reporting from a known fabricator out of finished intelligence. Specifically, the INC source, handled by DIA's Defense HUMINT Service, provided information on Iraqi mobile BW facilities that was initially thought to corroborate Curveball's reporting. The INC source was quickly deemed a fabricator in May 2002, however, and Defense HUMINT issued a fabrication notice but did not recall the reporting on mobile BW facilities in Iraq. Despite the fabrication notice, reporting from the INC source regarding Iraqi mobile BW facilities started to be used again several months later in finished intelligence--eventually ending up in the October 2002 NIE and in Secretary Powell's February 2003 speech to the United Nations Security Council. 408

That's a very strange concept of exoneration Chalabi seems to be working with. Page 108 states that the INC provided information to the Intelligence Community that was inaccurate. It states that the INC sources were deliberately fabricating their reports. And it states that the sources were being "directed" to do so by the INC.

Nov 09, 2005 -- 04:57:11 PM EST

Iran Contra and The Cheney Gang...Alexander Cockburn

Weekend Edition
November 11 / 13, 2005
Fitzgerald Should Counter Any Pre-trial Talk of a Pardon for Libby with an Obstruction of Justice Charge
First the Lying, Then the Pardons


When he announced the indictment of Scooter Libby, vice president Cheney's chief of staff, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald included a homily on the importance of truth. And in truth it sounded a bit quaint, like someone trying to recite the Sermon on the Mount on the floor of the New York stock exchange. But of course Fitzgerald was right. When lying becomes the accepted currency, you haven't got the rule of law but a criminal conspiracy.

All governments lie, but Reagan and his crew truly raised the bar. From about 1978 on, when the drive to put Reagan in the White House gathered speed, lying was the standard mode for Reagan, his handlers and a press quite happy to retail all the bilge, from the Soviet Union's supposed military superiority to the millionaire welfare queens on the South Side of Chicago.

The press went along with it. Year after year, on the campaign trail and then in the White House, the press corps reported Reagan's news conferences without remarking that the commander in chief dwelt mostly in a twilit world of comic-book fables and old movie clips. They were still maintaining this fiction even when Reagan's staff was discussing whether to invoke the 25th amendment and have the old dotard hauled off to the nursing home.

Lying about Reagan's frail grip on reality was only part of the journalistic surrender. For those who see Judith Miller's complicity in the lying sprees of the Neocons as a signal of the decline of the New York Times from some previous plateau of objectivity and competence I suggest a review of its sometime defense correspondent Richard Burt in the late Carter years, as Al Haig's agent in place. Burt relayed truckloads of threat-inflating nonsense about the military balance in the Cold War, particularly in the European theater, most of them on a level of fantasy matching the lies Miller got from Chalabi's disinformers and trundled in print.

When the Reaganites seized power in 1981, Burt promptly threw down his press badge and went to work

In the State Department as Director of Politico-Military Affairs a post previously held by another former Times man, Leslie Gelb, no garden rose but not a two-timer on the order of Burt. At least Miller didn't go and officially work for Cheney.

Many of the associates of Libby and of his boss, now threatened by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, are veterans of that Reagan culture and hardened survivors of the crisis that ultimately threatened several of them with legal sanction and lengthy terms in prison. That crisis was the Iran-contra affair which burst upon the nation on October 6, 1986, the day Eugene Hasenfus successfully parachuted from a CIA-piloted plane illegally shuttling arms to the contras.

Special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh, a former US prosecutor and judge from Oklahoma City, a life-long Republican, began his investigation. In the probe that stretched through the rest of Reagan-time and the entire presidency of G.H.W Bush,

Walsh made his most effective headway by bringing charges for lying to Congress. This is how he nailed Elliott Abrams, Duane "Dewey" Clarridge, Alan Fiers, Clair George and Robert McFarlane . They all either pleaded guilty to what Libby was just indicted for, obstruction of justice and making false statements, or were convicted of same or, in the cases of Weinberger and Clarridge, were awaiting trial.

As Walsh plowed forward, those trying to protect Reagan and Bush included Stephen Hadley, a long-time Cheney sidekick now possibly in Fitzgerald's line of fire as the current president's national security advisor. In the Iran contra era Hadley was Counsel to the Special Review Board, known as the Tower Commission, established by President Reagan to enquire into U.S. arms sales to Iran, which headed off any unwelcome focus on Reagan or Bush's complicity in the scandal. Meanwhile in the House, Rep Richard Cheney was the ranking Republican on a House committee also investigating Iran-contra. He played a major role in stopping the probe from staining Bush or Reagan. (Libby himself had been working in the Pentagon ifrom 1982-85 as director of Special Projects.)

By the fall of 1992 Walsh was finally closing in on Bush for his role in contra-gate as Reagan's vice president. Days before the 1992 election Walsh reindicted Caspar Weinberger, Reagan's defense secretary, for lying to Congress. The trial was scheduled for January of 1993. Walsh was expected to grill Weinberger about notes that implicated Bush. In the line of fire here too was Colin Powell, who had been Weinberger's assistant in the crucial year of 1985. Walsh was also planning to question Bush his failure to turn over a diary he'd kept in the mid-1980s. We could have seen a former president indicted for obstruction of justice and making false statements.

The press was mostly against Walsh. There were plenty of nasty articles about the cost and duration of his probe. Bush felt politically safe covering his own ass and that of his co-conspirators by issuing pardons, which he duly did, on Christmas Eve, 1992. Off Walsh's hook slipped Weinberger, Abrams, Clarridge, St George, Fiers, and McFarlane. Walsh said furiously that "the Iran-contra cover-up, which has continued for more than six years, has now been completed."

Will history come close to repeating itself? John Dean, White House counsel in Nixon time and knowledgeable about executive cover-ups, argues that Fitzgerald has Cheney in his sights, and may b ed planning to charging him under the Espionage Act for revealing Plame's name. Cheney's survival depends on Libby keeping his mouth shut, and of taking the fall until Christmas Eve, 2008, when Bush Jr.issues the necessary pardon or pardons.

Already in the wake of Libby's indictment the air has been thick with talk of pardons, as though it's now become a predictable ritual for incumbent presidents to clear their subordinates of indictments or convictions for crimes committed during government service. Fitzgerald should say that anyone seriously urging pardons may risk indictment for conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Such pardons go hand in hand with the lying which Fitzgerald denounced. If officials violating the law and then lying about it knows with certainty that they are going to escape legal sanction, then we no longer have a government. We have a sequence of criminal conspiracies. There have been scandalous pardons down the decades, but as with lying the Reagan years raised the bar.. It should become a major political issue. A model here could be Jonathan Pollard, sentenced to life in 1987 for spying for Israel. Bush Sr and Clinton were under huge pressure to pardon him but declined to buckle because the Armed Services simply said No, we won't stand for it. To the prospect of any pardon for Libby and others the popular message should be the same. Otherwise Fitzgerald will be wasting his time and the people's money.

Ex-Powell Aide Suggests Pre-War Memo Was Kept From Bush

Ex-Powell Aide Suggests Pre-War Memo Was Kept From Bush
By Marc Perelman
November 11, 2005
A former top official in the Bush administration is suggesting that a White House memo outlining the need for hundreds of thousands of troops for the Iraq invasion was kept from the president. Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to then-secretary of state Colin Powell during President Bush's first term, said in a November 7 speech that the National Security Council had prepared a pre-war memo recommending that hundreds of thousands of troops and other security personnel were needed. “I don't know if the president saw it,” Wilkerson told the audience of military officers and international lawyers, who had gathered at the military for a conference on on international humanitarian law. In response to a follow-up question after his speech, Wilkerson, a retired U.S. army colonel, said he believed that then-national security advisor Condoleezza Rice or her deputy, Stephen Hadley, had blocked the memo, but he acknowledged that he had no clear evidence. In the end, about 135,000 U.S. troops were sent - a decision that critics said has hurt America's ability to defeat the insurgency in Iraq and has led to increased American casualties. In July 2003, USA Today reported the existence of the NSC memo, which examined the level of troops in peacekeeping operations and concluded that some 500,000 troops would need to be deployed to Iraq. USA Today raised doubts as to whether the president saw the memo. However, Wilkerson's assertion seemed to take the matter a step further, suggesting that aides who supported the war intentionally kept the president in the dark. Wilkerson drew national attention last month, when, during a speech at the Washington-based New America Foundation, he accused Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld of forming a “cabal” to hijack American foreign policy. “This was not a 'troop estimate,'” Wilkerson said of the alleged NSC memo, in an e-mail to the Forward. “It was a comprehensive analysis - succinct to be sure - of the potential post-war situation, which incidentally, as one would expect, included estimates of security, engineer, police, and other forces DOD might have to provide, as well as those of other agencies/departments (at least that's my memory of the preliminary stuff).” Wilkerson added, “The reason I suspect it got stopped is simply that they knew [Cheney] and [Rumsfeld] dissented strongly and did not want to reopen that box of worms.” The NSC declined to comment. An administration official referred to a quote given by the NSC to USA Today in 2003, saying, “The NSC staff does not make recommendations or provide estimates to the president on the number of troops needed for any mission.” When told of this response, Wilkerson said, “If the NSC was not doing such papers, it was grievously remiss in my humble opinion.” In his speech this week at West Point, Wilkerson said that officials in the Pentagon and in Cheney's office “really pushed the envelope” on permitting harsh interrogations and treatment of prisoners. Wilkerson recounted how military lawyers who opposed a series of guidelines allowing harsh interrogation techniques were silenced, and how he found out instances of two detainees who died in American facilities in Afghanistan as early as December 2002. The deaths, he said, were only confirmed by the Pentagon earlier this year. “We have some 25,000 prisoners and among them maybe 100 real terrorists and we decided to apply those guidelines,” he said, arguing that torture was morally wrong, eroding America's image and providing little intelligence. Wilkerson told the audience that while he disagreed with many of the administration's foreign policy moves, what most “got [his] attention” and made him “very anxious” was the treatment of detainees advocated by other officials. Just before the infamous pictures from Abu Ghraib were made public, Wilkerson recounted, he was ordered by Powell to assemble a comprehensive paper trail because “this would be big.” Wilkerson said that when the president outlined in a memorandum that prisoners should be treated humanely in accordance with the spirit of the Geneva conventions and in conformity with U.S. values, he and others in government and the military took it to mean that U.S. troops were told to treat detainees in a decent manner. “But this is not what I saw in the paper trail with regards to the office of the vice president and the Pentagon,” Wilkerson said, adding that he had returned the documents to the State Department upon his retirement earlier this year. “They really pushed the envelope.” Turning to Iraq, he blamed Bush, for whom he voted twice, for failing to assert himself in the intra-cabinet feuding over the preparations for the war. “We went in with a plan that was so inept that it was impossible for me to believe [the president] had been briefed about it and approved it,” he said, expressing his conviction that the decisions were made by the top officials at the Pentagon and by Cheney, whom he described as “the most powerful vice president” in history. “If you want to change my opinion, Mr. President, please come out and say you took the decision yourself,” Wilkerson said. Wilkerson praised his former boss at the State Department, but acknowledged that his recent criticisms had estranged him from Powell, who is known for preferring to work behind the scenes. In the spring of 2004, Wilkerson said, he was writing resignation letters “twice a week” but, out of loyalty to Powell, decided to stayed on. “Some nights, I wish I had [resigned],” he added. Of Powell, Wilkerson said, “The way they treated him in the end was humiliating, I think he wanted to leave.”

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Kerry Amendment

Senate Passes Kerry Amendment Demanding Accountability on Secret Prisons

As reported earlier today, John Kerry offered an amendment on the Senate Floor calling for “Reports on Clandestine Detention Facilities.” The amendment just passed…

Kerry Legislative Victory Forces Administration to Facilitate Congressional Oversight

In an overwhelming rebuke to the Bush administration’s attempt to hide alleged CIA secret prisons from Congress, the Senate voted 82-9 today in favor of an amendment by John Kerry that will require the Director of National Intelligence to report on the reported clandestine detention facilities.

The Kerry Amendment requires classified reports to Congress providing a full accounting on any clandestine prison or detention facility operated by the United States government, regardless of its location.

The Washington Post reported recently that, “The CIA and the White House, citing national security concerns and the value of the program, have dissuaded Congress from demanding that the agency answer questions in open testimony” about the facilities. Reports indicate that Vice President Cheney discussed the facilities in a meeting with the Republican Caucus.

“I don’t have any doubt in the American public’s determination to win the War on Terror. But I do know that any administration that tries to keep Congress in the dark damages the cause for which we are all fighting,” Kerry said during Senate debate on his amendment today.

Details on Kerry’s amendment:

· Asserts Congressional oversight in this matter by requiring a classified report by the Director of National Intelligence to the appropriate committees detailing the involvement of the intelligence community in these activities.

· Not later than 60 days after enactment, the Director of National Intelligence must report to the Intelligence Committees of both the House and Senate. In doing so, the Director will provide a detailed accounting of the nature, cost, and operation of any clandestine prison or detention facility operated by the United States government, regardless of location, where detainees from the Global War on Terror are being or have been held.

Posted by Pamela Leavey on Thursday, November 10th, 2005 at 4:23 pm and filed under John Kerry, John Kerry Statements, Breaking News, In The News, Senate, George W. Bush, Terrorism. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Remarks of Senator John Kerry Introducing the Kerry Iraq Bill

The following is the text of John Kerry’s Floor Speech today introducing his amendment outlining withdrawal from Iraq:

Mr. President, later today my Democratic colleagues and I will offer a critical amendment on Iraq. I am pleased to have worked on this amendment and to be a cosponsor. I look forward to participating in the debate when the amendment comes up. But I have come here now to introduce a bill that lays out in greater detail the comprehensive new strategy that I believe the president must implement to complete the mission in Iraq and bring our troops home in a reasonable timeframe.

A few weeks ago I departed Iraq from Mosul. Three Senators and staff were gathered in the forward part of a C-130. In the middle of the cavernous cargo hold was a simple, aluminum coffin with a small American flag draped over it. We were bringing another American soldier, just killed, home to his family and final resting place.

The starkness of his coffin in the center of the hold, the silence except for the din of the engines, was a real time cold reminder of the consequences of decisions for which we Senators share responsibility.

As we enter a make or break six month period in Iraq, his lonely journey compels us to talk honestly about the steps we must take to bring our troops home within a reasonable timeframe from an Iraq that’s not permanently torn by conflict.

While some say we can’t ask tough questions because we are at war, I say no - in a time of war we must ask the hardest questions of all. It’s essential if we want to correct our course and do what’s right for our troops instead of repeating the same mistakes over and over again. No matter what the President says, asking tough questions isn’t pessimism, it’s patriotism. We have a responsibility to our troops, our country and our conscience to be honest about where we should go from here.

There is a way forward that gives us the best chance both to salvage a difficult situation in Iraq, and to save American and Iraqi lives. With so much at stake, we must follow it.

We cannot pull out precipitously or merely promise to stay “as long as it takes.” To undermine the insurgency, we must instead simultaneously pursue a political settlement that gives Sunnis a real stake in the future Iraq and while reducing the sense of an American occupation. That means a phased withdrawal of American troops as we meet a series of military and political benchmarks, starting with a reduction of 20,000 troops over the holidays as we meet the first benchmark - the completion of the December elections.

We must send this critical signal to the Iraqi people - that we do not desire permanent occupation - and that Iraqis themselves must fight for Iraq. History shows that guns alone do not end an insurgency. The real struggle in Iraq - Sunni versus Shiia - will only be settled by a political solution, and no political solution can be achieved when the antagonists can rely on the indefinite large scale presence of occupying American combat troops. The reality is our military presence in vast and visible numbers has become part of the problem, not the solution.

And our generals understand this. General George Casey, our top military commander in Iraq, recently told Congress that our large military presence “feeds the notion of occupation” and “extends the amount of time that it will take for Iraqi security forces to become self-reliant.” And Richard Nixon’s Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird, breaking a thirty year silence, writes, ‘’Our presence is what feeds the insurgency, and our gradual withdrawal would feed the confidence and the ability of average Iraqis to stand up to the insurgency.”

It comes down to this: an open-ended declaration to stay ‘as long as it takes’ lets Iraqi factions maneuver for their own political advantage by making us stay as long as they want, and it becomes an excuse for billions of American tax dollars to be sent to Iraq and siphoned off into the coffers of cronyism and corruption.

The Administration must also use all of the leverage in America’s arsenal - our diplomacy, the presence of our troops, and our reconstruction money — to convince Shiites and Kurds to address legitimate Sunni concerns about regional autonomy and oil revenues and to make Sunnis accept the reality that they will no longer dominate Iraq. We cannot and should not do this alone.

The administration must immediately call a conference of Iraq’s neighbors, Britain, Turkey and other key NATO allies, and Russia. Together, we must implement a collective strategy to bring the parties in Iraq to a sustainable political compromise that also includes mutual security guarantees among Iraqis. To maximize our diplomacy, the President should appoint a special envoy to bolster Ambassador Khalilzad’s commendable efforts.

To enlist the support of Iraq’s Sunni neighbors, we should commit to a new regional security structure that will include improved security assistance programs, and joint exercises.

To show Iraqi Sunnis the benefits of participating in the political process, we should press these countries to set up a reconstruction fund specifically for the majority Sunni areas.

We also need to jump start our own lagging reconstruction efforts by providing the necessary civilian personnel to do the job, standing up civil-military reconstruction teams throughout the country, streamlining the disbursement of funds to the provinces, expanding job creation programs, and strengthening the capacity of government ministries.

On the military side, we must make it clear now that we do not want permanent military bases in Iraq, or a large combat force on Iraqi soil indefinitely. The Administration must immediately give Congress and the American people a detailed plan for the transfer of military and police responsibilities on a sector by sector basis to Iraqis so the majority of our combat forces can be withdrawn - ideally by the end of next year.

Simultaneously, the President needs to put the training of Iraqi security forces on a six month wartime footing and ensure that the Iraqi government has the budget to deploy them. The Administration must accept long standing offers by Egypt, Jordan, France and Germany to do more training.

The Administration must prod the new Iraqi government to ask for a multinational force to help protect Iraq’s borders until a capable national army is formed. Such a force, if sanctioned by the United Nations, could attract participation by Iraq’s neighbors and countries like India and would be a critical step in stemming the tide of insurgents and money into Iraq, especially from Syria.

Finally, we must alter the deployment of American troops. While Special Operations must continue to pursue specific intelligence leads, the vast majority of our own troops should be in rear guard, garrisoned status for security backup. We do not need to send young Americans on search and destroy missions that invite alienation and deepen the risks they face.

If the President still refuses to take this new course. Congress must insist on a change in policy. If we do take these steps, there is no reason this difficult process can not be completed in 12-15 months so we can take on a new role as an ally not an occupier. Only then will we have provided our troops what they deserve - leadership equal to our soldiers’ sacrifice.

Posted by Pamela Leavey on Thursday, November 10th, 2005 at 1:46 pm and filed under John Kerry, John Kerry Floor Statements, In The News, Senate, Democrats, George W. Bush, Iraq. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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Bush's War on Mary Shaw

Bush's War on Veterans

November 9, 2005
By Mary Shaw

On Friday, November 11, Americans will observe Veteran's Day. This is a day set aside to honor our war veterans. I cannot think of a more worthy purpose for a holiday.

Now let me guess: this Veteran's Day, George W. Bush will strut his way into a specially choreographed photo opportunity and smirk and say some carefully crafted yet predictable and hollow-sounding words about how the American people appreciate the sacrifices that our veterans have made in the noble quest to defend freedom and democracy.

And he will be right. We the people do appreciate the sacrifices that our veterans have made.

After all, our brave veterans made those sacrifices while Dubya's congressman dad pulled enough strings to get his boy out of harm's way and into the elite Texas Air National Guard to avoid Vietnam.

Our brave veterans made those sacrifices while Dick Cheney arranged for five separate deferrals because he had "other priorities."

Our brave veterans made those sacrifices while Congressman Tom DeLay managed to draw a high draft number and then orchestrate some convenient deferrals, while stating that he really wanted to serve, but that all the slots were taken by blacks and Hispanics.

Our brave veterans made those sacrifices while House Speaker Dennis Hastert avoided duty due to bad knees - the same knees that didn't stop his college wrestling career.

And so on.

Okay, so these guys don't have what it takes to earn the title of veteran. But they do seem to have what it takes to be hypocrites and punish those veterans who actually had the nerve to serve, while at the same time praising them for their selfless sacrifices.

Yes, these self-proclaimed "compassionate conservatives" are punishing our veterans.

Some examples:

Earlier this year, Republican leaders in Congress blocked $2 billion in emergency funding for veterans' health care from the $82 billion supplemental funding bill. They felt that the money would be better spent in Iraq and Afghanistan, where we're producing more and more injured soldiers for whom we cannot afford adequate medical care.

Then the Bush administration requested a mere 2.7 percent increase in Veterans Affairs (VA) spending, even though the VA's under-secretary testified last year that the VA health care system needs a 13 to 14 percent increase annually to maintain their current level of services.

Thousands of veterans of the first Gulf War are suffering the effects of exposure to depleted uranium, or have died from that exposure, yet the U.S. government denies the effects and continues to ship depleted uranium munitions for use in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Some wounded U.S. soldiers have returned home from the current war in Iraq only to learn that they are being referred to credit agencies who want the soldiers to pay for equipment they lost when they were injured; or for charges for military housing.

And about one-fourth of all homeless Americans are veterans. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, nearly 200,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. Two percent of them are female. Most of these cases are attributed to lingering effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and substance abuse, compounded by a lack of family and social support networks.

This is how our government treats those who have so bravely fought for their country. It's no wonder that the military recruiters are finding it so difficult to meet their quotas, even in the "red states."

The Bush administration would be wise to consider the words of George Washington, our first Commander-in-Chief, who said: "The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation."

Happy Veteran's Day.

Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist. She currently serves as Philadelphia Area Coordinator for Amnesty International, and her views on politics, human rights, and social justice issues have appeared in numerous online forums and in newspapers and magazines worldwide. Note that the ideas expressed in this article are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Amnesty or any other organization with which she may be associated. E-mail

Sick, Weak? You're in the ARMY NOW

Pentagon Calling up Sick Reservists

November 11, 2005
By Gene C. Gerard

Last week the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative unit of Congress, released a report indicating that the Pentagon has been calling up reserve soldiers who are ill or medically unfit to serve. The reservists are serving primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness is responsible for managing medical and physical fitness policy and procedures, the report determined that this office has no way to determine if reserve soldiers are fit to serve or have pre-existing medical conditions prior to deployment.

Consequently, the GAO found that the Pentagon couldn't confirm to the Secretary of Defense or Congress that reserve forces are medically and physically fit when they are called to active duty. Yet under federal law reserve forces are required to have a medical exam every five years and an annual review of their medical status.

The report also found that the Defense Department has not even determined what type of pre-existing medical conditions would preclude a reservist from being called to duty. Consequently, it doesn't track the pre-existing conditions of reserve soldiers being deployed. According to the surgeon's office of the commander of the U.S. Central Command "there were many instances of individuals who deployed into Iraq and Afghanistan with conditions for which they should have been considered non-deployable."

Given the recruitment shortages that the armed services currently face, it shouldn't be surprising that reservists in poor health are being called up. When the 2005 fiscal year ended in September the Army was 7,000 recruits short of its annual goal. This was the largest gap in recruitment since 1979 when the draft was abolished. And it was the first recruitment shortage for the Army since 1999. The Army National Guard and the Army Reserve had even greater recruitment shortages this year.

The Army has taken various approaches to its lackluster recruitment efforts. It increased it advertising budget by $130 million for 2006. Over the course of fiscal year 2005 the Army handed out $207 million in bonuses to recruits and those who re-enlisted. This was a sizable increase over 2004, when $125 million was distributed as bonuses. The Army gave a bonus of a least $1,000 to 53 percent of new recruits between October 2004 and June 2005; the average bonus was $5,589.

The Army's maximum bonus of $20,000 was distributed to six percent of new recruits. And the Pentagon has already made a request to Congress to double the maximum bonus for 2006 to $40,000. The Army is also handing out bonuses of $400 per month for three years for soldiers with much-needed skills, such as infantry.

Last Month, Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey announced that due to the recruitment shortages the Army will now double the number of recruits it accepts who score the lowest on the intelligence test administered to all potential recruits. Secretary Harvey also announced that the Army was decreasing its requirement that the recruiting class each year be comprised of at least 67 percent of applicants who scored in the top half of the intelligence test. The portion has now been lowered to 60 percent.

What has not been known until now is that recruitment shortages have resulted in the Pentagon calling up reservists who are ill or medically unfit. According to the GAO report, this includes reservists who have suffered from heart attacks, those with severe asthma (weather conditions in the desert exacerbates this condition), hernias, severe hypertension, and a woman who was four months into chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer. It also includes reservists suffering from sleep apnea who need medical equipment to help them breath, yet large portions of Iraq and Afghanistan lack the electricity necessary to run the equipment.

Reserve forces that are diabetic and require insulin pumps have been called to active duty. A soldier was called up only two weeks after receiving a kidney transplant. Other reservists have required kidney dialysis. The GAO report also found that reserve soldiers have been called to active duty that suffer from psychiatric problems, including bipolar disorder. By one estimate as much as ten percent of the reservists who have been medically evacuated out of the Middle East was attributable to pre-existing medical conditions that could not be treated properly

The GAO report ominously concluded, "The impact of those who are not medically and physically fit for duty could be significant for future deployments as the pool of reserve members from which to fill requirements is dwindling and those who have deployed are not in as good health as they were before deployment." The findings of this report are particularly ironic, considering that one year ago President Bush won re-election in large part because he convinced military families that he would protect the armed forces better than Senator Kerry. Consequently, veterans voted for President Bush by a 16-point margin. Many of them are likely having second thoughts today.

Gene C. Gerard taught history, religion, and ethics for 14 years at a number of colleges and universities in the southwest. He is a contributing author to the forthcoming book Americans at War, to be published by Greenwood Press. His previous articles have appeared in Political Affairs Magazine, The Free Press, Dissident Voice, Intervention Magazine, Orb Standard, and Democratic Underground.

Coleen Rowley. .. A REAL DEMOCRAT

FBI Whistleblower Runs for Congress

Friday November 11, 2005 8:31 PM

AP Photo MNAH102


Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY, Minn. (AP) - For better or worse, Coleen Rowley the candidate for Congress sounds a lot like Coleen Rowley the FBI whistleblower.

The former FBI agent who scathingly exposed the bureau's failure to uncover the Sept. 11 plot is running for a House seat in Minnesota in 2006 as a Democrat, and she is employing her fearlessly blunt style on the campaign trail.

``This was a lied-into war that is a quagmire now,'' the 50-year-old Rowley recently told a group of rural Democrats in a garage in this small town south of the Twin Cities. ``It could be worse than Vietnam. The truth is we can't win, and there's still an ongoing deception.''

Whether that kind of talk is smart politics is another matter.

The Democrats nationally are struggling with how to oppose the war without looking weak on national security, and some of them see Rowley's head-on attacks - as well as her trip to Texas in August to lend support to Cindy Sheehan's anti-war protest at President Bush's ranch - as especially risky in the Republican-leaning 2nd Congressional District.

``If you become known as a single-issue candidate against the war in a conservative district, I don't see how that gets you many votes,'' said Steven Schier, a political science professor at Northfield's Carleton College, in the 2nd District. ``So far it seems like some of the moves she's made are counterproductive.''

One Democratic state legislator in the district, Rep. Joe Atkins, said he gets calls every week urging him to run against Rowley for the party's nomination, but he said he has not given it serious thought.

``The key issues in our area are education, education and education,'' Atkins said. ``I would hope and expect any congressional candidate would come to focus on those issues - focus on the things your constituents are concerned about.''

It is a bind for Rowley as a candidate, since it was her candor that brought her to national attention in the first place.

As the legal counsel in the FBI's Minneapolis office in 2001, she helped agents investigating Zacarias Moussaoui, who was arrested in Minnesota before Sept. 11 after he raised suspicions at a flight school.

Minneapolis agents felt that FBI bureaucrats in Washington impeded the investigation, prompting Rowley a few months later to write a blistering memo to FBI Director Robert Mueller.

In a second letter to Mueller a few months later, Rowley criticized the intelligence cited by the Bush administration in its decision to invade Iraq. Many of her colleagues were displeased, and Rowley was forced out as legal counsel a few months before she officially retired.

Her opponent in the House race is GOP Rep. John Kline, a former Marine officer who served as a military aide to Presidents Carter and Reagan and, for a time, was responsible for carrying the nuclear ``football,'' the satchel containing the missile launch codes. He has been an outspoken supporter of the Iraq war and the administration's foreign policy.

Kline's camp has had little to say about Rowley so far. ``We are not in campaign mode yet,'' said spokeswoman Angelyn Shapiro.

In the most recent fund-raising period, Rowley raised just $80,000 to Kline's $230,000. On the stump, Rowley sometimes strays off topic and takes her listeners on long detours, and her campaign so far has something of a homemade feel, as she lugs hand-printed yard signs to campaign events.

``We're still early here, but I think among Democrats it's fair to say they're disappointed that the campaign hasn't created more momentum,'' said Blois Olson, a Democratic consultant and co-publisher of the newsletter Politics in Minnesota. ``I think there's some naivete about the process.''


On the Net: Rowley for Congress:

Negotiators on Torture Bill Feel Heat

Negotiators on Torture Bill Feel Heat

Tuesday October 25, 2005 7:01 PM


Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Congressional negotiators are feeling heat from the White House and their constituents as they consider whether to back a Senate-approved ban on torturing detainees in U.S. custody or weaken it as the White House prefers.

Led by Vice President Dick Cheney, the Bush administration is floating an alternative proposal that would allow the president to exempt covert agents outside the Defense Department from the prohibition.

Meanwhile, some newspapers are calling for lawmakers to support Sen. John McCain's provision that would ban the use of ``cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment'' against anyone in U.S. government custody, regardless of where they are held.

``There's a lot of public pressure to retain the language intact. At the same time, there's pressure from the vice president's office to modify it,'' said Tom Malinowski, the Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, a group that supports McCain's provision.

Cheney and CIA Director Porter Goss met last week with McCain, R-Ariz., and suggested excluding from the torture ban overseas clandestine counterterrorism operations by agencies other than the Pentagon ``if the president determines that such operations are vital to the protection of the United States or its citizens from terrorist attack.''

McCain, himself a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, said Tuesday that he rejected that because ``that would basically allow the CIA to engage in torture.''

It's unclear just how much influence McCain has in the House-Senate negotiations to iron out differences between House and Senate versions of the $445 billion defense bill. McCain won't be involved in those negotiations.

Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla., who chair Congress' defense spending subcommittees, will be among the leaders of those talks in coming weeks.

Young has said the United States has no obligation to terrorists. Stevens, who voted against the ban in the Senate, said he planned to tweak it during negotiations to satisfy administration concerns that the ban was too broad because it would apply to agents who work undercover.

Top Democratic bargainers - Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii and Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania - support McCain's language, but their clout is limited because they are in the minority party.

Earlier this month, the Senate added the torture prohibition and the interrogation standards to its defense bill on a 90-9 vote, even though the Bush administration threatened a veto if the president's ability to conduct the war was restricted.

The House bill did not include McCain's provision, which also requires U.S. service members to follow the Army Field Manual when imprisoning and questioning suspects in the war on terrorism.

In the weeks since the Senate vote, newspapers from Alabama to Texas to California have called on their lawmakers to support McCain's language. Several took particular aim at hometown Republicans leading the negotiations.

``Sen. Stevens is wrong and should follow the lead of Sen. McCain, who speaks firsthand of the wrongs of torture,'' the Anchorage Daily News said Monday.

Said the St. Petersburg Times on Oct. 16: ``Young and his fellow conferees have an obligation to rise above partisanship and uphold principles that should be beyond debate in a civilized society.''

And a Word From Rush....he's a lunatic...

Liberal Focus on "Torture" Just an Excuse to Impugn America
November 10, 2005

RUSH: Steve in Marquette, Michigan, you're next, sir. Nice to have you on the program.

CALLER: Good afternoon, Mr. Limbaugh. How are you today?

RUSH: Fine, sir. Thank you.

CALLER: I recently have become aware of the fact that the Israelis don't torture when they're interrogating. In fact, the Israeli Supreme Court has outlawed the use of torture (story) in interrogation and I wondered -- you know, because Israel is under so much; you know, they go through a lot more than we go through on a daily basis in their own country -- why do we feel that we have to torture for interrogation when they don't?

RUSH: Well, see, I don't think that we do.

CALLER: You don't think we do? We do or we don't?

RUSH: I don't think torture is a common, ordinary, everyday part of our interrogation strategy.

CALLER: The Israelis never do. Why do we have to?

RUSH: I can't answer that.

CALLER: Why not?
RUSH: I'm not --

CALLER: Why do we have to?

RUSH: I'm not going to grant your premise that we do it.

CALLER: Oh, okay. You're the only one that doesn't know it then.

RUSH: No. I am skeptical of those who make the charge. Just because somebody charges that we're committing torture --

CALLER: Okay, okay, okay, okay. They want to --

RUSH: -- when Ted Kennedy talks about it, and Pat Leahy, I'm not one to join up and sign up and automatically believe that.

CALLER: Okay. They want to allow the CIA to torture in some instances. Dick Cheney is pushing for this. Correct?

RUSH: Cheney you say is pushing for this?

CALLER: Right, right.

RUSH: I don't know that.

CALLER: You don't know that?

RUSH: I don't know that.

CALLER: Everybody else knows it, but you don't know it?

RUSH: Well, the point is it doesn't work. The reason the Israelis don't--

CALLER: Then why is he pushing for it?

RUSH: It doesn't work.

CALLER: Why is Dick Cheney pushing for it?

RUSH: I don't know that he is. Who is telling you that he is?

CALLER: Why is President Bush going to veto this 90-9 resolution that was passed by the US Senate?

RUSH: Because he's the commander-in-chief and they're not. Now you tell me who is saying that Cheney wants to torture in some circumstances? Where are you hearing this?

CALLER: They had John McCain on the other night and they met with them. He said that Dick Cheney is pushing for this legislation.

RUSH: Well, I'm telling you I don't believe everything John McCain says.

CALLER: Okay. Well, I believe everything you say, Rush. You have yourself a nice day. (hangs up)
RUSH: You do the same thing. So here we are. Look where we are in the middle of the war on terror and look what's on the minds of the average American liberal. We're guilty. We got the problem. We have to prove we're the good guys. We have to prove that we're not as bad as the bad guys. Rich in Newington, Connecticut welcome. Nice to have you with us, sir.

CALLER: Rush, it's a pleasure to talk with you. Mega dittos from Connecticut.

RUSH: Thank you, sir.

Joe Lieberman is NOT a Democrat...nor is Mary Landreau

Go to Original

Senate Approves Limiting Rights of US Detainees
By Eric Schmitt
The New York Times

Friday 11 November 2005

Washington - The Senate voted Thursday to strip captured "enemy combatants" at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, of the principal legal tool given to them last year by the Supreme Court when it allowed them to challenge their detentions in United States courts.

The vote, 49 to 42, on an amendment to a military budget bill by Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, comes at a time of intense debate over the government's treatment of prisoners in American custody worldwide, and just days after the Senate passed a measure by Senator John McCain banning abusive treatment of them.

If approved in its current form by both the Senate and the House, which has not yet considered the measure but where passage is considered likely, the law would nullify a June 2004 Supreme Court opinion that detainees at Guantánamo Bay had a right to challenge their detentions in court.

Nearly 200 of roughly 500 detainees there have already filed habeas corpus motions, which are making their way up through the federal court system. As written, the amendment would void any suits pending at the time the law was passed.

The vote also came in the same week that the Supreme Court announced that it would consider the constitutionality of war crimes trials before President Bush's military commissions for certain detainees at Guantánamo Bay, a case that legal experts said might never be decided by the court if the Graham amendment became law.

Five Democrats joined 44 Republicans in backing the amendment, but the vote on Thursday may only be a temporary triumph for Mr. Graham. Senate Democrats led by Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico said they would seek another vote, as early as Monday, to gut the part of Mr. Graham's measure that bans Guantánamo prisoners from challenging their incarceration by petitioning in civilian court for a writ of habeas corpus.

So it is possible that some lawmakers could have it both ways, backing other provisions in Mr. Graham's measure that try to make the Guantánamo tribunal process more accountable to the Senate, but opposing the more exceptional element of the legislation that limits prerogatives of the judiciary. Nine senators were absent for Thursday's vote.

Mr. Graham said the measure was necessary to eliminate a blizzard of legal claims from prisoners that was tying up Department of Justice resources, and slowing the ability of federal interrogators to glean information from detainees that have been plucked off the battlefields of Afghanistan and elsewhere.

"It is not fair to our troops fighting in the war on terror to be sued in every court in the land by our enemies based on every possible complaint," Mr. Graham said. "We have done nothing today but return to the basics of the law of armed conflict where we are dealing with enemy combatants, not common criminals."

Opponents of the measure denounced the Senate vote as a grave step backward in the nation's treatment of detainees in the global war on terror. "This is not a time to back away from the principles that this country was founded on," Mr. Bingaman said during floor debate.

Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Judiciary Committee and one of four Republicans to vote against the measure, said the Senate was unduly rushing into a major legal shift without enough debate. "I believe the habeas corpus provision needs to be maintained," Mr. Specter said.

A three-judge panel trying to resolve the extent of Guantánamo prisoners' rights to challenge detentions sharply questioned an administration lawyer in September when he argued that detainees had no right to be heard in federal appeals courts.

The panel of the District of Columbia Circuit is trying to apply a 2004 Supreme Court ruling to two subsequent, conflicting decisions by lower courts, one appealed by the prisoners and the other by the administration.

In its June 28, 2004, decision in Rasul v. Bush, the Supreme Court ruled 6 to 3 that the Guantánamo base was not outside the jurisdiction of American law as administration lawyers had argued and that the habeas corpus statute allowing prisoners to challenge their detentions was applicable.

Under Mr. Graham's measure, Guantánamo prisoners would be able to challenge only the narrow question of whether the government followed procedures established by the defense secretary at the time the military determined their status as enemy combatants, which is subject to an annual review. The District of Columbia Circuit would retain the right to rule on that, but not on other aspects of a prisoner's case.

Detainees would not be able to challenge the underlying rationale for their detention. "If it stands, it means detainees at Guantánamo Bay would have no access to any federal court for anything other than very simple procedural complaints dealing with annual status review," said Christopher E. Anders, a legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. "Otherwise, the federal courts' door is shut."

If the measure is enacted, civil liberties groups said it would appear to render moot the Supreme Court's decision on Monday to decide the validity of the military commissions that Mr. Bush wants to try detainees charged with terrorist offenses to trial. But some legal experts said the court might be able to move ahead if determined to do so.

Under the Graham amendment, the measure would apply to any application or action pending "on or after the date of enactment of this act."

Elisa Massimino, Washington director of Human Rights First, said: "The Senate acted unwisely, and unnecessarily, in stripping courts of jurisdiction over Guantánamo detainees. Particularly now, as the string of reports of abuse over the past several years have underscored how important it is to have effective checks on the exercise of executive authority, depriving an entire branch of government of its ability to exercise meaningful oversight is a decidedly wrong course to take."

The Senate vote on Thursday came just days after senators voted, for the second time in recent weeks, to back a measure by Mr. McCain to prohibit the use of cruel and degrading treatment against detainees in American custody.

Vice President Dick Cheney has appealed to Mr. McCain and to Senate Republicans to grant the C.I.A. an exemption to allow it extra latitude, subject to presidential authorization, in interrogating high-level terrorists abroad who might know about future attacks. Mr. McCain said Thursday that negotiations with the White House on compromise language were stalemated.

In addition to Mr. Specter, Republicans voting against the bill were Senators John E. Sununu of New Hampshire, Gordon H. Smith of Oregon, and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. The five Democrats voting for the bill were Senators Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Ron Wyden of Oregon.