Friday, July 29, 2005
Welfare Queens: Why would Tom Delay (Republican - Texas) give $1.5 billion to Halliburton and Marathon?
Unfortunately, like most great conservative anecdotes, it wasn't really true. The media searched for this welfare cheat in the hopes of interviewing her, and discovered that she didn't even exist.
As a bit of class warfare, however, it was brilliant. It diverted public attention from insider traders in their limousines to Welfare Queens in their Cadillacs, even though the former were stealing thousands of times more from the American people than the latter. Just one example of the cost of white collar crime would become apparent a few years later, when President H.W. Bush bailed out the Savings & Loans industry with $500 billion of the taxpayer's money -- enough to fund 20 years of federal welfare.
However, Conservative Politicians have much less concern for Corporate Welfare. With gas prices hitting record highs, and oil companies reaping record profits, one has to wonder why Tom DeLay, the conservative free marketeer, felt the need to give away $1.5 billion of hard working taxpayer dollars to an energy consortium based in his home district.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - House Majority Leader Tom DeLay quietly slipped into the energy bill a $1.5 billion fund for oil and natural gas drilling research that will benefit an energy consortium based in his home district, a California Democrat said on Wednesday.
The measure was criticized as a "giveaway to one of the most profitable industries in America," by Rep. Henry Waxman, who demanded that the fund be dropped from the legislation before a House vote on the energy bill on Thursday.
The House approved the wide-ranging energy bill, which includes some $14.5 billion in tax breaks and incentives mostly for oil, natural gas, coal and electricity companies, on Thursday.
A vote in the Senate is tentatively set for Friday.
Waxman said the $1.5 billion fund for ultra-deepwater drilling was added to the final energy bill this week after House and Senate negotiators called a halt to any more amendments. The 30-page measure appeared in the text of the energy bill after Texas Rep. Joe Barton had officially ended the House and Senate conference committee to combine legislation passed by each chamber, he said.
"Obviously, it would be a serious abuse to secretly slip such a costly and controversial provision into the energy legislation," Waxman said in a letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert.
A spokesman for DeLay defended the fund, saying it was in the energy bill approved by the House in April.
"The project is only new to Mr. Waxman if he failed to read the House bill he had voted on," the spokesman said, adding he could not explain how the item was added to the final version of legislation prepared by the Senate and House negotiators.
Waxman said the fund would steer most of the money to a private consortium based in Sugar Land, DeLay's home district, by directing the Energy Department to "contract with a corporation that is constructed as a consortium."
Members of the consortium, Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America, include Halliburton Co., Marathon Oil Corp. and several universities, according to the group's web site.
The non-profit group conducts research into designing better technology to explore and produce natural gas in deep water, the web site said.
Waxman said that the measure added to the energy bill provides that members of the consortium -- including Halliburton and Marathon -- can receive money from the fund administered by the consortium.
Editor's Note: Following Conservative philosophy, these mega-corporations with their mega-profits should be funding non-profit's and universities with donations, but in this case they seem to need government handouts. One has to wonder why.
Honorable Men: The United States Military. George Bush ignored their advice and put troops in danger. How much more un-American can he get?
However you wish to think about those events, President Bush’s claims to always follow military advice have forever been discredited with the publishing of military legal analysts reports disagreeing with the President’s decision to use harsh interrogation techniques at Guantanamo Bay. Remember, this is a dispute between the Justice Department (Executive Branch i.e. George Bush) and the United States Military. Faced with the choice of following the advice ot the U.S. Military, or following the advice of Donald Rumsfeld and his neo-conservative hack buddies at the Justice Department, George Bush chose to ignore the Military opinion.
July 28, 2005 From the New York Times
Military's Opposition to Harsh Interrogation Is Outlined
WASHINGTON, July 27 - Senior military lawyers lodged vigorous and detailed dissents in early 2003 as an administration legal task force concluded that President Bush had authority as commander in chief to order harsh interrogations of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, newly disclosed documents show.
Despite the military lawyers' warnings, the task force, appointed by Donald Rumsfeld, concluded that military interrogators and their commanders would be immune from prosecution for torture under federal and international law because of the special character of the fight against terrorism.
In memorandums written by several senior uniformed lawyers in each of the military services as the legal review was under way, they had urged a sharply different view and also warned that the position eventually adopted by the task force could endanger American service members.
The memorandums were declassified and released last week in response to a request from Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. Mr. Graham made the request after hearings in which officers representing the military's judge advocates general acknowledged having expressed concerns over interrogation policies.
The documents include one written by the deputy judge advocate general of the Air Force, Maj. Gen. Jack L. Rives, advising the task force that several of the "more extreme interrogation techniques, on their face, amount to violations of domestic criminal law" as well as military law.
General Rives added that many other countries were likely to disagree with the reasoning used by Justice Department lawyers about immunity from prosecution. Instead, he said, the use of many of the interrogation techniques "puts the interrogators and the chain of command at risk of criminal accusations abroad."
Any such crimes, he said, could be prosecuted in other nations' courts, international courts or the International Criminal Court, a body the United States does not formally participate in or recognize.
Other senior military lawyers warned in tones of sharp concern that aggressive interrogation techniques would endanger American soldiers taken prisoner and also diminish the country's standing as a leader in "the moral high road" approach to the laws of war.
The memorandums provide the most complete record to date of how uniformed military lawyers were frequently the chief dissenters as government officials formulated interrogation policies.
"These military lawyers were clearly disturbed by the proposed techniques that were deviations from past practices that were being advocated by the Justice Department," said Senator Graham, himself a former military lawyer.
He said that the genesis of the dispute was a memorandum issued in August 2002 by the Justice Department and signed by Jay S. Bybee, the head of the office of legal counsel.
The Bybee memorandum defined torture extremely narrowly and said Mr. Bush could ignore domestic and international prohibitions against it in the name of national security. That position was rescinded by the Justice Department last Dec. 30.
Rear Adm. Michael F. Lohr, the Navy's chief lawyer, wrote on Feb. 6, 2003, that while detainees at Guantánamo Bay might not qualify for international protections, "Will the American people find we have missed the forest for the trees by condoning practices that, while technically legal, are inconsistent with our most fundamental values?"
Brig. Gen. Kevin M. Sandkuhler, a senior Marine lawyer, said in a Feb. 27, 2003, memorandum that all the military lawyers believed the harsh interrogation regime could have adverse consequences for American service members. General Sandkuhler said that the Justice Department "does not represent the services; thus, understandably, concern for service members is not reflected in their opinion."
Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Romig, the Army's top-ranking uniformed lawyer, said in a March 3, 2003, memorandum that the approach recommended by the Justice Department "will open us up to criticism that the U.S. is a law unto itself."
The confidential government deliberations over permissible interrogation techniques that ranged from August 2002 to April 2003 were prompted by a request from officers at Guantánamo. They said traditional practices were proving ineffective against one detainee, Mohamed al-Kahtani, believed to have been the planned 20th hijacker on Sept. 11, 2001. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld approved a series of techniques in December 2002, only to rescind them temporarily after military lawyers complained.
Editor's Note: Those military guys sound downright liberal, don't they?
Thursday, July 28, 2005
GOD HATES THE BOY SCOUTS; AND GEORGE W. BUSH
BOWLING GREEN, Va. -- The Boy Scouts marched onto the field singing, plopping down in the grass to wait for President Bush. But hours later, the news that Bush couldn't make it was drowned out by sirens and shouts as hundreds fell ill because of the blistering heat as GOD chose to punish the wicked wicked boy scouts. The Allmighty’s disapproval was confirmed by the blistering heat brought on by HIS will.
At the last jamboree four years ago, GOD mildly punished President Bush and the Scouts as the President’s trip was also canceled because of bad weather brought on by God, in which lightning strikes caused minor injuries to two Scouts. Bush spoke to the group a day later by videotape.
GOD obviously did not accomplish his goal of punishing the Scouts and Bush 4 years ago, so this year he chose a more noticeable form of voicing HIS displeasure.
They were deeply devoted to the Boy Scouts, traveling thousands of miles to the woods of northern Virginia for 10 fun-filled days of fishing, archery and storytelling beside the campfire. One of their first tasks: Set up a large tent.
But the task went terribly awry when GOD forced them to lose control of a giant tent pole and it hit some nearby power lines, killing four Scout leaders as horrified youngsters looked on, said Bill Haines, a Scout executive in Alaska.
Karl Holfeld said his 15-year-old son Taylor, witnessed the accident and was on his cell phone to his mother back home in Alaska when the electrocutions occurred.
The boys "all started screaming," Holfeld told the Anchorage Daily News. "He said, 'Oh my God, oh my God, the tent is on fire, they're being burned!'"
Asked for comment on why GOD chose to kill these men as God-fearing Scouts looked on, the Angel of Death replied…. “Those punks had it comin’!”
Killed were Michael J. Shibe, 49, Mike Lacroix, 42, and Ronald H. Bitzer, 58, all of Anchorage, Alaska; and Scott Edward Powell, 57, who had recently moved from Anchorage to Perrysville, Ohio. Shibe had two sons at the Jamboree and Lacroix had one.
Three adults were injured, and one returned to the Jamboree after being released from the hospital.
On Wednesday, Shields said the group had ignored scouting teachings by putting the tent under a power line and leaders had taken the "somewhat unusual" step of hiring a contractor to help with the task.
"Boy Scouts are taught not to put their tents under trees or under power lines. I don't know what happened in that case," Shields said.
Some cite this as the reason GOD was angry, but others point to the fact that GOD has now intervened in the last two Jamborees. Asked why he thought God might be angry, First Lt. Perry Puckett said “Idolatry.”
Additionally GOD punished About 300 people, most of them Scouts, as they suffered from dehydration, fatigue and lightheadedness Wednesday _ just days after GOD killed four Scout leaders at the national Jamboree while pitching a tent beneath a power line.
Temperatures at Fort A.P. Hill, an Army base where the 10-day event is being held, reached the upper 90s and were intensified by high humidity and GOD’s will.
"This is hot for me," said Chad McDowell, 16, who lives in Warrenton, Ore. "Where I'm from if it's 75, we think that it's a heat wave that GOD brought on.”
However, not everyone was disappointed to see GOD's wrath in action. Billy Thomas of Franklin,Virginia said that he hoped to come back to the Jamboree 4 years from now. "Just think," he said, "maybe we'll get locusts..... that would be cool."
Others, like little Bobby Ashcroft, hope to see a bit more old school wrath. "I was thinking of pestilence. Maybe God could whip up a little bubonic plague, for old times sake."
The strangest request was by Bubba Scalia, of Fargo, ND who said, "I really want to see someone turn into a pillar of salt. Or maybe some sulfur rain."
Half of the 300 who fell ill were treated and released from the fort's hospital. Dozens more were sent to surrounding hospitals, where they were in stable condition Wednesday night, Jamboree spokesman Gregg Shields said.
The more than 40,000 Scouts, volunteers, and leaders attending the event had been standing in the sun about three hours when word came that GOD had whipped up severe thunderstorms and high winds that forced the president to postpone his appearance until Thursday. Bush's spokesman said Thursday that the visit would instead happen Sunday, at the Scouts' request, hoping to appease GOD.
Repeated phone calls to the Jamboree press office were not returned.
This time, Bush was expected to talk about the importance of Scouting and touch on the Monday deaths of four Scout leaders.
Many Scouts ate dinner at 2 p.m. and stood in long security lines to get a good spot in the open field to see what for most would be their first glimpse of a president in person.
Volunteers distributed water and ice by the caseload, and the Scouts were told they could remove their uniform shirts if they had another shirt underneath _ a rarity for an event as important as a presidential visit, most Scouts said. Others commented that having 40,000 Scouts standing around bare-chested was just way too homo-erotic, so they would have to suffer in their wool shirts.
Soldiers carried Scouts on stretchers to the base hospital, located about three miles from the arena stage. Others were airlifted from the event while Jamboree officials called for emergency help from surrounding areas to transport Scouts during the storm, which brought high winds and lightning according to the will of the ALMIGHTY.
A Scout spokesman tried to blame everything on the ACLU. Troop Leader Pat Pilate said "we know it's them, they've infiltrated our group and staged everything." Asked how the ACLU managed to make it 100 degrees and cause lighting, Pilate said, "Special Effects. You know Hollywood is infested with them Liberals."
Scott Cameron, 57, of Anchorage, volunteered to fill in as a troop leader after the accident. He said the Scouts are getting through their grief.
"We'll be fine for a minute and then just break down," he said. "But we've had an awful lot of help, but God sure doesn’t like us.”
Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin, the new deputy undersecretary for defense for intelligence commented, "We know God put George W. Bush in the Whitehouse for a reason, we just didn't know the reason was because HE hates Bush and the boy scouts."
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
John Roberts: Supreme Court Nominee... Say goodbye to Roe v. Wade
John Roberts is a member of the Federalist Society although his defense is now that "I never paid dues therefore I'm not a member."
The Federalist Society is a group of Conservative Hacks who get together for mutual masterbation sessions. They are the kind of people who bring John Trochman in to speak at law schools. You remember Trochman he's the militia of montana guy who sends his children to KKK weekend rallies and then complains that they didn't "do enough." He's also closely associated with the Aryan Nation but to the Feddies he's just their kind of guy.
Some of the more prominent feddies include Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and everyone's favorite Kenneth Starr. (Remember he was the guy who was appointed to investigate a failed land deal in Arkansas - Whitewater - and ended up discovering that the President had gotten a blowjob from an intern. All at the cost of millions of hard working taxpayer dollars that the feddies claim they try to protect.)
The Feddies are the new Aristocracy of Pull in the Legal Profession. They don't really care about ability or intelligence as long as you are willing to shout out the kinds of things they like to hear: Affirmative Action - Bad, Abortion - Bad, Government Intrusion into your private life - Bad (unless of course you have religious reasons for that intrusion like preventing homosexuals from getting married, or forcing your kids to hear religious sermons in public schools, or you're fighting "terrorists" and you can violate their rights all you want so long as you label them correctly first), Big Business - Good (I mean they pay the bills after all) you get the point.
For a real laugh go to the Federalist Society web page and click their link on Civil Rights. It takes you to a blank page. Or check out their Environmental practice group, although it's not really an environmental practice group its Environmental/Property practice group. These guys can't separate the two. Environmental concerns are always trumped by Property rights which are even more important to these hacks than civil rights, as the blank page can attest.
Anybody Bush picks is going to suck as a Supreme Court Justice, but a Feddie sucks even worse. Kiss your rights goodbye, the marriage of the American Corporate Republic and the American Taliban is almost complete.
Through pride we are ever deceiving ourselves. But deep down below the surface of the average conscience a still, small voice says to us "something is out of tune."
~ Carl Jung
There are few experiences more unpleasant to endure than the irrational rants of fear-ridden people. This is particularly annoying when the anger arises not out of an immediate physical danger, but from a perceived offense to an abstraction with which they identify. The curse "may you live in interesting times" reflects how easily our judgments – and actions – can be rendered perilously foolish by turbulence in our world.
We live in interesting times, whose stormy inconstancy may prove to be both a harbinger of, and catalyst for, creative change. But change is accompanied by uncertainty, particularly regarding the forms and practices from the past whose continuing usefulness might be called into question by innovation. For example, having attached ourselves to institutions – not out of clear thought but out of habit – what will be our response to transformations that may render such agencies obsolete? This, I believe, is the condition now before us. Like such periods as the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the Industrial Revolution – each of which brought into question the prevailing systems and beliefs – our "interesting times" may prove to be quite beneficial, if only we confront their dynamics with intelligence.
I have written of these current processes of change that manifest themselves, in part, in decentralizing social systems and behavior. But many fear such changes, mainly because they have so fervently identified themselves with institutional systems that are now called into question. Having attached themselves to such abstractions out of unexplored habit, such people begin to experience a sense of personal-identity death: "if my sense of being is inextricably tied to the nation-state, who will I become if that institution should become extinct?"
If a person lives a centered life – in which his or her beliefs and behavior are not in contradiction, but reflect integrity – a fundamental change in one’s life may be inconvenient or even unpleasant, but it need not be destructive of one’s sense of self. If, in the words of Viktor Frankl, a person retains the inner capacity "to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances," the opportunities for survival are greatly enhanced.
But upon what basis does one make such a choice? If one’s life has been dominated by external forces that defined reality for such a person, how does such a mind overcome its own conditioning? This raises, anew, Heisenberg’s "uncertainty principle": the mind that is being observed is the same mind that is doing the observing! Furthermore, if one’s sense of being and reality have been defined by an institutional order whose authority is now in retreat, if not collapse, upon what source does that mind draw for its wholeness?
Men and women whose philosophical and empirical understanding arises from within themselves, have fewer difficulties adjusting to changes occurring around them. Principles developed internally, through constant introspection and skepticism, are more readily adaptable to new situations, technologies, or social problems. They provide the inner basis of support for sound thinking. Such inner-directed people need not await the decrees of an institutional "ethics committee" to judge the proper course of their conduct. For example, if respect for the inviolability of privately-owned property is a principle one embraces, whether the product of a new technology satisfies this standard can be determined through careful reasoning.
An example of what can occur when one’s actions are not informed by inner-developed transcendent principles can be observed in modern "conservative" politics. There was a time when conservative thought was actually characterized by . . . thought! Such classic thinkers as John Locke, Edmund Burke, John Stuart Mill, and Herbert Spencer – to name just a few – rekindled discussions, in the years following World War II, about individual liberty and the state. A new group of conservative thinkers – including Leonard Read, Russell Kirk, Robert Nisbet, and Ayn Rand – arose to drag political and social philosophy out of its Marxist/socialist quagmire. (I shall always remember a 1962 CBS Reports television debate in which Kirk and Rand went after one another in the kind of spirited discourse one rarely sees anymore.) Such men and women had their disagreements, but there was a shared understanding that individual liberty, private ownership of property, the marketplace, and a continuing distrust of state power, were essential to a free and productive society. These values were fervently embraced, and not simply used as slogans to be stuck into meaningless political platforms and then contradicted as soon as the next session of congress convened.
Thoughtful conservatives understood that it was the voluntary cooperation of individuals – not the regulatory and punitive arm of the state – that held a society together. I was never comfortable with Edmund Burke’s definition of "society" as "a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born." Nonetheless, his proposition – which goes to the essence of conservative thought – is an idea that energized intelligent thought and discussion in my college days.
Conservatism lost its principled bearings, I believe, when it substituted anti-communism for individual liberty during the Cold War years. To be a "conservative" suddenly meant to be staunchly anti-communist, a position also taken by Adolf Hitler; and ought to have foreshadowed the future of a political philosophy – originally rooted in anti-totalitarian premises – that was to become twisted into its antithesis.
The Cold War defined conservatism for nearly half a century, and when the Soviet Union collapsed, conservatives were left without a raison d’être. Their very existence, as a political movement, ceased to be. They had accumulated weapons and powers – along with an army of defense contractors eager to keep the game going – but no "enemy." Conservatives – and, I should add, so-called "liberals" – were like a man with a leash, desperately in search of a dog. If centralized power was necessary to resist a foe that later disappeared, what could justify the retention of such power?
The events of 9/11 – whoever the responsible parties might have been – satisfied the state’s need for an enemy that would rationalize the continuing accumulation of power over Americans. Being in power, conservatives had no interest in the pursuit of inner-directed principles that might serve as an anchor to the ship-of-state. In the struggle between individual liberty and state power, conservatives used to embrace a presumption for liberty. For most modern conservatives, liberty is simply a hindrance to an all-reaching police-state. Those who insist upon protecting liberty get labeled "traitors" or "America-haters." To conservatives and liberals alike, power has become its own purpose.
The inner, reflective life that once made conservatives interesting people, has given way to the outward, reactive anger of the brute. If you doubt this, listen to the content of what any of the modern conservatives have to offer. Does any of it challenge your thinking, or inform your mind in any productive way? Typical of this reactive mindset is Fox Snooze’s Bill O’Reilly, who recently dismissed the thoughtful British MP, George Galloway, as "an idiot." After Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London, blamed Western governmental interference in the Middle East for the recent subway bombings in his city, O’Reilly also called the mayor "an idiot." When a British journalist asked Tony Blair if the subway bombings reflected badly on his government’s policies, O’Reilly’s response was that "this reporter should have been slapped." O’Reilly went on to ask, rhetorically, whether any American journalist would have asked such a question of George Bush. The answer, sadly, is "no," for like conservatives generally, most American journalists also suffer from the collapse of the inner voices to which Carl Jung refers!
O’Reilly’s Fox Snooze colleague, John Gibson, recently demonstrated his commitment to the frenzied moral confusion of modern conservatism. After a man – later acknowledged to have had no connection with terrorism – was tackled, held to the ground, and then shot five times in the head by London police, Gibson applauded the British government for being so "ruthless." "I love the way the Brits have 10 million cameras sticking up the nose of every citizen," he went on, adding that "five in the noggin is fine." He did admit that there would be "hell to pay" if the dead man had nothing to do with terrorism, but that price will not be paid in terms of the violation of any moral principles enlightening Mr. Gibson’s judgments.
The moral and intellectual bankruptcy of modern conservatism is to be found throughout the media. The appeal is increasingly to the reptilian hulks who are drawn to rhetoric that appeases their unfocused sense of anger. To speak of introspection – upon which a responsible, centered life depends – is to invite the charge of "appeasement" or "sympathy" for terrorists. That conservatives’ enthusiasm for the Iraq war is not the least dampened by the platform of lies and deceptions upon which it was based, ought to be a significant enough indictment of their character. But many go on to make light of Americans’ systematic torture of Iraqi citizens (do you remember Rush Limbaugh analogizing the Abu Ghraib scandal to a fraternity prank?). Even the video-taped shooting, by a Marine, of a helpless, wounded Iraqi, was defended by many conservatives.
Over the years, my articles have elicited both support and constructive criticism from a wide range of viewpoints. But from current conservatives I receive little more than angry name-calling, threats, factual ignorance, and assorted forms of irrationality. I even get e-mails from people who call themselves Christians, even as they support war!
As I read and listen to the conservative rampage against the very values that once defined their position, I am reminded of my young adult years, when those of us who held individualist views had to work, ever so hard, to confront collectivist doctrines. The Marxist/socialist camp was wrong on just about every issue, but they offered a challenge to the mind that had to be met. I find no inner substance to modern conservatism that requires careful examination. Their oratory remains at the level of adolescent taunting, or what one might hear at a labor union beer-party. Like sharks lurking offshore, most conservatives are a deadly force to be avoided, not intellects with which to reason.
The extent of the conservative metamorphosis can be measured by the unbridgeable chasm separating two men named Karl. The first was a late and dear friend of mine, Karl Hess, who advised and wrote speeches for one of the last of the traditional conservatives, Barry Goldwater. His words "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice" and "moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue" stand in vivid contrast to the mindset of the other man, Karl Rove, a Machiavellian who advises George W. Bush. The distance separating these two men also measures how far modern conservatism has moved from a more principled center.
If there is any encouragement to be found in America’s current madness, it is this: a healthy system can tolerate reactive, mindless rage for only a short period of time before plunging into an entropic freefall. We may be a society presently dominated by fools, but our civilization is too commercially and technologically sophisticated to long endure relationships based upon slapping people around, or putting "five in the noggin." The unfocused rage and preoccupation with collective violence that unites modern conservatives provides the route back to the "stone age" to which they like to speak of sending others, but to which they lead only themselves and their neighbors.
Like drunken teenagers who have stolen an expensive Rolls-Royce and taken it on a wild joy-ride, conservatives will likely find themselves failing to negotiate a sharp curve in the road and crash into a tree. The extent of the damage done to the car may depend upon what we do to limit their access to that which we value. The playwright, Arthur Miller, expressed our dilemma in these words:
"Few of us can easily surrender our belief that society must somehow make sense. The thought that the state has lost its mind and is punishing so many people is intolerable. And so the evidence has to be internally denied."
But people who lack a moral, psychological, and intellectual center do not have to concern themselves with internal denial. For such people – particularly modern conservatives – the evidence of our societal madness is not a vice to be denied, but a virtue to be openly celebrated.
July 25, 2005
DICK LOGIC: Bush, Cheney and Fox News all support Terrorism!
In July 1985 the Israel government approached the Reagan administration with a proposal to get hostages held by Iranian-backed terrorists released. For those of you who are Historically challenged remember that this was just 4 years after the ending of the Iran Hostage Crisis.
The Iran hostage crisis was a 444-day period during which the new government of Iran after the Iranian Revolution held hostage 66 diplomats and citizens of the United States. It began on November 4, 1979 and lasted until January 20, 1981 the day Ronald Reagan was sworn into office. (things that make you go hmmmm.)
The Israelis wanted the United States to act as an intermediary by shipping 508 American-made TOW anti-tank missiles to Iran in exchange for the release of the Rev. Benjamin Weir, an American hostage being held in Lebanon by Hezbollah, a terrorist organization loyal to Ayatollah Khomeini. This was done with the understanding that the United States would then ship replacement missiles to Israel. Robert McFarlane, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, approached Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and arranged the details. The transfer took place over the next two months. The first American hostage was released in mid-September and into October.
In November 1985, there was another round of negotiations, where the Israelis proposed to ship Iran 500 HAWK surface-to-air missiles in exchange for the release of all remaining American hostages being held in Lebanon. Major General Colin Powell, senior military assistant to Weinberger, attempted to procure the missiles, but realized that the deal would require Congressional notification as its overall value exceeded $14 million. McFarlane responded to Powell that the President had decided to conduct the sale anyway. Israel sent an initial shipment of 18 missiles to Iran in late November, 1985, but the Iranians didn't approve of the missiles, and further shipments were halted. Negotiations continued with the Israelis and Iranians over the next few months.
In December 1985, President Reagan signed a secret presidential "finding" describing the deal as "arms-for-hostages."
In January of 1986, the administration approved a plan proposed by McFarlane employee Michael Ledeen, whereby an intermediary, rather than Israel, would sell arms to Iran in exchange for the release of the hostages, with proceeds made available to the Contras. (All in violation of U.S. Law) At first, the Iranians had refused the weapons from Manucher Ghorbanifar, the Iranian intermediary, when both Oliver North and Ghorbanifar created a 370% markup (WALSH, Lawrence E. "Firewall"). The arms were sold, but Hezbollah proceeded to take more hostages after they had released old ones. Failing to produce any meaningful results, the arms-for-hostages program was cancelled. In February, 1000 TOW missiles were shipped to Iran. From May to November, there were additional shipments of miscellaneous weapons and parts. Oliver North was subsequently indicted and convicted but had his conviction overturned by a Reagan appointed appellate court panel. Oliver North currently works for Fox News as an “analyst” for their fair and balanced news coverage (Fox News: We Report, You Decide.)
Halliburton, the Company run during the 90’s by current Vice President Dick Cheney helped the company set up offshore and United Kingdom subsidiaries to sidestep U.S. laws against doing business with Iran and Syria, countries that Washington says sponsor “terrorism.”
Wendy Hall, a spokeswoman for Halliburton, said that Halliburton set up an in-house committee to study whether the company’s business dealings in Iran has helped fund terrorist activities. Hall said Halliburton finalized a report and sent it to its board of directors and to the Comptroller’s office.
“The report details the company’s limited work in Iran,” Hall said. “We believe that decisions as to the nature of such governments and their actions are better made by governmental authorities and international entities such as the United Nations as opposed to individual persons or companies. Putting politics aside, we and our affiliates operate in countries, to the extent it is legally permissible, where our customers are active as they expect us to provide oilfield services support to their international operations.” (In case you missed that she said who cares about U.S. law even though we are primarily funded by the U.S. government, we’re using our greedy little hands to suck up every nickel that isn’t tied down, even if it means terrorist governments supply those nickels. Of course I’m paraphrasing)
“We do not always agree with policies or actions of governments in every place that we do business and make no excuses for their behaviors. Due to the long-term nature of our business and the inevitability of political and social change, it is neither prudent nor appropriate for our company to establish our own country-by-country foreign policy.”
Iran, supported by all those Tow Missles sold to them by Ronald Reagan and Oliver North and all those oil fields run by Dick Cheney's Halliburton, set up a massive intelligence network in Iraq, flooding the country with agents in the months after the U.S.-led coalition toppled Saddam Hussein's regime. Sources told American intelligence analysts that Iranian agents were tasked with finding information on U.S. military plans and identifying Iraqis who would be willing to conduct attacks on U.S. forces that would not be linked to Iran.
Iranian intelligence agents were said to have planned attacks against the U.S.-led forces and supported terrorist groups with weapons. Iranian agents smuggled weapons and ammunition across the border into Iraq and distributed them "to individuals who wanted to attack coalition forces," according to one report, citing "a source with good access." Separately, an Iraq Survey Group report said that Iranian agents "placed a bounty" of $500 for each American soldier killed by insurgents and more for destruction of tanks and heavy weaponry.
Iran trained terrorists and provided them with safe havens and passage across the border into Iraq, several of the reports say. The Iranian-supported Ansar al-Islam began carrying out bombings and other attacks against coalition forces and Iraqi citizens in the summer of 2003. One report, describing an interview with a source, said: "There were approximately 320 Ansar al-Islam terrorists being trained in Iran . . . for various attack scenarios including suicide bombings, assassinations, and general subversion against U.S. forces in Iraq." The reports linked Ansar al-Islam to al Qaeda and to Abu Musab Zarqawi, the most wanted terrorist in Iraq. "Among the more capable terrorist groups operating in Iraq," an analyst wrote in another report, "are al Qaeda, the al Zarqawi network, as well as Ansar al-Islam."
Iran has been a principal supporter of Moqtada al-Sadr, a radical Shiite cleric whose black-clad Mahdi Army fighters have clashed often with U.S.-led forces. Months before the worst of the insurgency in southern Iraq began last April, U.S. intelligence officials tracked reported movements of Iranian money and arms to forces loyal to Sadr. According to a V Corps report written in September 2003, "There has been an increase of Iranian intelligence officers entering" Baghdad, Najaf, Karbala, Basra, and Amarah. Sadr's fighters later engaged in fierce battles with coalition forces in each of those cities.
"Double game." Iran's permanent mission to the United Nations in New York did not respond to repeated requests for comment from U.S. News . In a sermon given last April, Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a leading political figure in Iran, said that Americans were "a very effective target" but that Iran "does not wish to get involved in acts of adventurism." Separately, in New York last September, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi denied that his country had funded or armed Sadr's Mahdi Army.
U.S. government officials, questioned about the intelligence reports reviewed by U.S. News , say the evidence of Iran's destabilization efforts in Iraq is persuasive. "We certainly do have a lot of evidence of Iranian mischief making," a senior Pentagon official said in an interview, "and attempts [at] building subversive influence. I would never underestimate the Iranian problem. . . . Iran is a menace in a basic sense."
Whatever its objectives in Iraq, Iran has a well-documented history of supporting terrorist groups. For years, the State Department has identified Iran as the world's pre-eminent state sponsor of terrorism. American officials say the regime has provided funding, safe havens, training, and weapons to several terrorist groups, including Lebanon-based Hezbollah. The commission investigating the 9/11 attacks said in its final report that al Qaeda has long-standing ties to Iran and Hezbollah. Iran favors spectacular attacks, officials say, citing its alleged role in the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, that claimed the lives of 19 U.S. servicemen. Six of the Hezbollah terrorists indicted in the attack "directly implicated" senior Iranian government officials "in the planning and execution of this attack," former FBI Director Louis Freeh wrote last year.
A wolf's claws.
Freeh named two Iranian government agencies, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, or MOIS, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, an elite fighting unit and enforcer for the clerical regime. As the insurgency developed in Iraq, both played central roles in planning and funding some of the attacks on coalition forces, according to the intelligence reports reviewed by U.S. News. Early on, MOIS and the revolutionary guard corps were tasked with the job of creating instability in Iraq, the reports say. In some cases, Iran's agents allegedly worked with former Saddam loyalists, an odd marriage but one that shared a common goal: to drive U.S. forces out of Iraq. The reports detail how Iranian agents sought to recruit former regime loyalists and how one former Iraqi Intelligence Service officer, who had close ties to Saddam's late son, Uday, reportedly set up a front company for Iranian intelligence operations in Baghdad.
Only weeks after Saddam was ousted, in April 2003, Iran publicly signaled support for violence against the coalition. In a sermon on May 2, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, secretary general of Iran's powerful Council of Guardians, called on Iraqis to stage suicide attacks to drive U.S.-led forces from Iran. The Iraqi people, he said, "have no other choice but to rise up and stage martyrdom operations. . . . The Iraqi people were released from the claws of one wolf and have been caught by another wolf." Two months later, U.S. News has learned, coalition forces uncovered a document describing a fatwa , or religious edict, that had reportedly been issued in Iran for its Shiite supporters in Iraq. The fatwa urged "holy fighters" in Iraq to get close to the enemy--the U.S.-led troops. These fighters, the fatwa said, should "maintain good relations with the coalition forces" but at the same time create "a secret group that would conduct attacks against American troops." U.S. analysts could not confirm that the ruling was issued by Iranian clerics, but they believe it was credible. Wrote one analyst: "It seems that they [the Iranians] want them [Iraqi Shiite supporters] to be close to the coalition forces and outwardly respect them so that they can gather intelligence that will assist them in their mission."
Before long, Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security stepped up its intelligence operations in Iraq, many of the intelligence reports suggest. Agents set up "significant" intelligence cells in key Iraqi cities, several reports said, including Baghdad, Najaf, Karbala, Kut, Basra, and Kirkuk. MOIS agents also set up a "listening post" in a city in southeastern Iraq to monitor the activities of U.S. forces. In southern Iraq, 10 Iranian agents reportedly began operating out of two rooms at a Shiite mosque. Iran, according to the reports, also sought to place spies within Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority, then running Iraq's affairs, and they followed and photographed coalition forces. Four Iranians, believed to be MOIS agents, were detained in late July 2003 for photographing a hydropower plant near the central city of Samarra. Power plants became a frequent target of insurgents. In one case, U.S. intelligence officials learned that a MOIS agent, a man named Muhammad Farhaadi, videotaped coalition operations in Karbala, a city south of Baghdad, then took the tape back to Iran.
During the summer and fall of 2003, U.S. analysts' reports describe how MOIS and its operatives sought to develop information from Shiites in the south and from Sunnis in the north on the activities of U.S.-led forces. In the fall of 2003, an analyst for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations wrote: "Iranian intelligence has infiltrated all areas of Iraq, posing both a tactical and strategic threat to U.S. interests."
Bribes and border crossings. MOIS also sought to cultivate former Iraqi intelligence officers who might help develop intelligence on the plans and activities of the Coalition Provisional Authority and U.S.-led forces, several reports said. "Former IIS [Iraqi Intelligence Service] officers are highly sought-after targets by U.S. intelligence," said an October 2003 report issued by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, "not only for their current and former knowledge of Iraqi activities but also because many IIS officers will likely have a wealth of intelligence information on Iran. Iran knows this and will strive to recruit former IIS officers before the U.S. is able to do so. The environment is ripe for double-agent operations, and loyalties can never be certain."
The intelligence reports detail precisely what Iran was after. Its "collection priorities" included finding out what weapons U.S. troops were carrying and what kind of body armor they were wearing. Iranian agents also sought information on the location of U.S. Army and intelligence bases; on the routes traveled by U.S. convoys; on the operations of the Special Forces' elite Delta Force; and on the plans of the U.S. military and intelligence inside Iraq. A military report said a source had reported that the Iranians were pressing to find out whether the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, was active in Iraq. According to the report, MOIS directed its agents "to collect information on the Israeli intelligence presence in northern Iraq." Iran's "primary objective in Iraq," wrote another analyst, citing a good source, "is to create instability so coalition forces will focus on controlling the unstable situation rather than concentrating on reconstruction efforts."
Perhaps Iran's most significant involvement in Iraq has been its support for Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical, anti-U.S. cleric. His Mahdi Army militia engaged in a series of vicious battles with coalition forces in the holy southern Shiite cities of Najaf and Karbala, and in the teeming Baghdad slum known as Sadr City, between April and October this year. Like most of its operations in Iraq, the intelligence reports indicate that the Iranian regime has tried to mask its support of Sadr. He visited Tehran in June 2003 for a ceremony marking the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the spiritual leader of the 1979 revolution, but it is not known whether he received any commitment from Iran at that time. U.S. intelligence reports say that Iran used Hezbollah to train and provide funds to Sadr's Mahdi Army and may also have used front companies to funnel money to him. For a time, the reports suggest, Sadr appeared to be getting funds from a senior Shiite religious leader living in Iran, the Grand Ayatollah Kazem al-Haeri, who advocates an Islamic state in Iraq. But by mid-October 2003, according to a special operations task force, Haeri withdrew his "financial support" from Sadr. The ayatollah later publicly cut his ties with Sadr.
There was no such break with Hezbollah. The first sign that the terrorist group planned to support Sadr is reflected in a July 29, 2003, U.S. intelligence report. Citing Israeli military intelligence, the report says Hezbollah "military activists" were attempting to establish contacts with Sadr and his Mahdi Army. The next month they did. By late August, according to a report prepared by a U.S. military analyst, Hezbollah had established "a team of30 to 40 operatives" in Najaf "in support of Moqtada Sadr's Shia paramiltary group." The report, based on a source "with direct access to the reported information," said that Hezbollah was recruiting and training members of Sadr's militia. A later report, citing "multiple sources," said that Hezbollah was "buying rocket-propelled grenades . . . antitank missiles" and other weapons for Sadr's militia.
Intelligence analysts also tied Sadr to Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah. "Reporting also confirms the relationship between . . . Sadr and Hassan Nasrallah," an Army report said. The report cited unconfirmed information indicating that a top adviser to Nasrallah, who is based in Lebanon, had delivered funds to Sadr in Najaf.
There you go, from Ronald Reagan to Oliver North to fighting Terrorists supported by Iran who is propped up by Halliburton money. The question you gotta ask yourself is: Who is making money off all these deals? And.... do they have no soul?
Monday, July 25, 2005
For Once, I Agree With Him
~George H. W. Bush