Saturday, April 29, 2006


U.S. Reports a Surge in Global Terrorism

The count has soared since the Iraq invasion, but only now are attacks there being included.
By Josh Meyer
Times Staff Writer

April 29, 2006

WASHINGTON — The State Department's annual report on global terrorism, released Friday, concludes that the number of reported terrorist incidents and deaths has increased exponentially in the three years since the United States invaded Iraq, largely because of Iraq itself.

The report also said that although the United States had made some gains in fighting terrorism, Al Qaeda and its affiliate groups remained a grave threat to U.S. national security at home and abroad — both in Iraq and elsewhere.

Of potentially greater concern, the government said, is mounting evidence that small, autonomous cells and individuals are becoming more active. Such "micro-actors" are engaging in more suicide bombings, and using increasingly sophisticated technologies to communicate, organize and plot their attacks, including the Internet, satellite communications and international commerce, according to the 292-page report.

The report said there were 11,111 attacks that caused 14,602 deaths in 2005. Those figures stand in contrast to prior State Department reports, which cited 208 terrorist attacks that caused 625 deaths in 2003; and 3,168 attacks that caused 1,907 deaths in 2004.

But officials from the State Department and the National Counterterrorism Center were quick to say that they believed the dramatic increase was due largely to the fact that they were using a far more inclusive definition of what constitutes a terrorist attack than in previous years.

The biggest single factor was the inclusion of attacks within Iraq, which in prior years were largely excluded, the report said.

At least 30% of terrorist incidents last year occurred in Iraq, as did 55% of related fatalities, or about 8,300, the report said. Fifty-six Americans were killed in terrorist acts, 47 of them in Iraq. A total of 40,000 people were killed or wounded, including about 6,500 police and 1,000 children, the report said.

Libya and Sudan continued to take "significant steps" to cooperate in fighting terrorism, and might someday be taken off the list of countries sanctioned by the United States because of their alleged support of terrorism, the report said. But they remain on the list along with Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria, which allegedly continue to maintain ties to terrorist groups.

Henry A. Crumpton, the State Department's ambassador at large for counterterrorism, said the new methodology would lead to better analysis of terrorist trends in the future, using this year as the benchmark.

But he acknowledged that the new methodology made it all but impossible to compare successes and failures in the U.S.-led war on terrorism in 2005 with that of previous years.

Asked his gut feeling on whether the U.S.-led coalition was gaining the upper hand over Al Qaeda and other terrorists, Crumpton — a former career CIA official — said it was too soon to tell.

"I think so," Crumpton said in a briefing with reporters. "But I think that [when] you look at the ups and downs of this battle, it's going to take us a long time to win this. You can't measure this month by month or year by year; it's going to take a lot longer."

The report has been mandated by Congress since 1987 as the government's primary reference tool on worldwide terrorist activity, trends and groups and on the U.S.-led response to them.

In the past, the report was titled "Patterns of Global Terrorism," but it has been undergoing an overhaul in the last two years after critics said it used badly flawed methodology in determining what constituted a terrorist attack.

Critics, led by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles), said the Bush administration was trying to manipulate the statistics used in the report to suggest that it was winning the war on terrorism when it was actually losing it.

Administration officials denied that, but acknowledged that previous reports had missed huge swaths of terrorist incidents.

On Friday, Waxman said that the report still needed work, and that it showed the war in Iraq had caused terrorism to increase.

"For the third year in a row, the Bush administration is playing games with the numbers to hide the truth: Global terrorism has skyrocketed since the invasion of Iraq," Waxman said in a statement.


In Iraqi Town, Trainees Are Also Suspects

U.S. Troops Wary After Incidents Suggest Betrayal

By Jonathan Finer
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, April 29, 2006; A01

HAWIJAH, Iraq -- After midnight on a bare stretch of highway near this ramshackle town last week, Staff Sgt. Jason Hoover saw what looked like a fishing line strung across the road and ordered his Humvee to a screeching halt.

The cord was connected to an old, Russian artillery shell half-buried in the earthen shoulder and rigged to activate with a firm tug. Hoover traced its path nearly a half-mile though a plowed field, over another highway, and across a canal, where he found four Iraqi infrastructure policemen who were supposed to be guarding an oil pipeline. They said they had no idea what the cord was doing there.

"There's two kinds of Iraqis here, the ones who help us and the ones who shoot us, and there's an awful lot of 'em doing both," said Hoover, 26, of Newark, Ohio. "Is it frustrating? Yes, it's frustrating. But we can't just stop working with them."

The incident is a window on the mixed results of U.S. efforts to train Iraqi forces. American troops trying to tame the restive northern town of Hawijah have done what has proven impossible in many Sunni Arab enclaves: raised a security force from local volunteers. More than 1,500 Iraqi soldiers and 2,000 policemen patrol the area, virtually all of them drawn from the city and the pastoral hamlets that surround it.

But in a town where the local population is hostile to the American presence in Iraq, U.S. soldiers have developed a deep distrust of their Iraqi counterparts following a slew of incidents that suggest the troops they are training are cooperating with their enemies.

The top local Iraqi army commander here was sent to Abu Ghraib prison in November, accused of tipping off insurgents about the routes taken by American convoys, said Lt. Col. Marc Hutson, commander of a Hawijah-based battalion of the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division. The city's police chief was also fired and briefly arrested in January for refusing to go after armed groups.

Earlier this month, a U.S. sniper team caught 14 policemen placing roadside bombs in the nearby town of Riyadh. More than 60 other police officers are named on a watch list of suspected insurgent collaborators, according to U.S. military policemen who train them. And last week a raging fire erupted from a sabotaged oil pipeline 50 feet from a police checkpoint, covering the sky with a blanket of black smoke.

A city of about 40,000, Hawijah is nestled in the verdant pastures that straddle the Zab River, about 175 miles north of Baghdad. Its streets are pockmarked with craters from roadside bombs and lined with canals of pungent, green sewage. Graffiti on walls and sidewalks hails the exploits of the group known as Hawijah's Heroes, the local insurgents whose videotaped attacks on U.S. troops are bestsellers in the city's markets.

Its residents, virtually all of them Sunnis, were once ubiquitous in the upper ranks of Saddam Hussein's army and Baath Party. But they have grown frustrated at their decline in status since the U.S. invasion that swept Hussein from power, especially at the hands of ethnic Kurds who now dominate politics in the provincial capital, Kirkuk. U.S. commanders estimate unemployment here at nearly 90 percent.

Anger and malaise have driven a relentless insurgency that is mostly homegrown -- few foreign fighters have been found here -- and has inflicted more than its share of violence on American troops.

Since the 1st Brigade Combat team arrived six months ago to police the Kirkuk region, 11 of its soldiers have been killed. Ten were assigned to the battalion based in Hawijah. At least 64 of the battalion's soldiers have been wounded, nearly 1 in 10 stationed here. And Hutson, the battalion commander, has had his convoy struck by roadside bombs 10 times, including six times on his own Humvee, a remarkable number for a senior officer.

"In some places they hide the fact that they don't like you. They don't hide it here," said Hutson, who stops by his base's medical station periodically for a shot of Toradol to soothe a shoulder injured when his vehicle flipped during one of the attacks.

American commanders have long maintained that strengthening Iraq's police and army is the key to securing the country and the eventual withdrawal of U.S. forces. The performance of the Hawijah-based troops has improved in recent months to the point where they occasionally lead operations to confront insurgents and no longer flee firefights the way they once did, said the U.S. officers who train them. The best evidence, the argument goes, is that the insurgents now turn their guns on their fellow Iraqis.

"It sounds strange, but more police have been killed lately, which means some of them are finally doing their job," one U.S. officer here said.

But efforts to transfer more responsibility to the Iraqi forces are mired in doubts about their loyalties.

"It's like the Chicago police department in the 1920s, so infested with mobsters that even the good ones are corrupt because they don't want to get killed," said Staff Sgt. Ryan Horton, 28, a military policeman from Dallas who works closely with the Iraqi police. "They all live in the community with the terrorists, and so do their families. They are very, very intimidated."

Horton said he gives Iraqi officers just minutes' notice when bringing them on a mission, and never tells them exactly where they will be going to prevent them from tipping off insurgents. "I've seen them laughing when we come back in with a vehicle destroyed by a bomb," he said. "I've seen them stand 10 feet away and do nothing but watch when we are in the middle of a firefight."

Over sweet tea in a grubby police station at the center of Hawijah last week, the station commander, Maj. Ghazey Ahmed Khalif, assured Horton and his team that things were quiet in town that day. But when Horton asked some Iraqi officers to accompany him on a drive through town, Khalif discreetly whispered something into a translator's ear.

"All of a sudden he remembers he got a tip about an IED," said Horton, using the military acronym for improvised explosive device, or roadside bomb. "If we hadn't asked his guys to come, put them at risk, no way he tells us about that."

Soldiers working with the Iraqi army here report similar problems. Iraqi soldiers have been reprimanded for selling their government-issued ammunition in local gun markets and for hocking their boots, only to turn up for duty in leather loafers.

Before a highway patrol to search for roadside bombs last week, an Iraqi unit accompanying U.S. soldiers refused to ride in American Humvees, which provide far better protection from bomb attacks than the unarmored pickup trucks normally used by Iraqi forces.

Shaking his head and staring at the ground, Sgt. Ghazi Esa Muhammad, 25, explained that a local cleric had decreed that Iraqis killed in an "occupier vehicle" would not go to heaven.

"Tell your guys, if they refuse to ride in the Humvees, they will go to jail for 10 days. It's not a choice," said Lt. Aaron Tapalman, 23, the patrol leader. "They want to be able to claim they are not associated with us," said Tapalman, after the Iraqi sergeant relented and told his men to mount up.

About an hour later, the patrol came across a white bag on the roadside that Tapalman suspected might contain a bomb. When he asked some Iraqi soldiers to move it off the road, their commander balked, saying it wasn't his job.

"It is your job to protect the people," Tapalman said, increasingly exasperated. "I can go and move it myself, and you know what? I will, but don't you think your people should see you doing that kind of stuff. Someday we're not going to be here anymore."

The Iraqi soldier declined again, apologetically, and drove away.

While maintaining that their troops are improving, Iraqi commanders acknowledge that their charges' loyalties are often divided at best.

"There is sensitivity among the soldiers about the occupation," said Lt. Col. Abdul Rahman Sekran, 42, the executive officer of the 1st battalion, 4th Iraqi Army division. Located just east of Hawijah, its orchard-ringed compound once belonged to Hussein's cousin Ali Hassan al-Majeed, dubbed "Chemical Ali" for ordering gas attacks that killed thousands of Kurds in the 1980s.

"Remember," Sekran explained when asked about accusations that some of his men undermine efforts to provide security, "there is another organization working the streets, the terrorists, giving them bad information."

Ill will runs in both directions. After U.S. forces detained some police a few weeks ago, other officers posted a large white banner on a well-traveled bridge downtown. Written in both Arabic and English, the English one read: "Al-Hawijah police reject to accompany the coalition forces in the mutual patrol in Al-Hawijah becaus police is existed to protect people and not to protect coalition soldiers."

Local political leaders have also bridled at American calls for cooperation in improving the security situation. Hawijah-area representatives recently launched a boycott of the provincial council in Kirkuk.

Addressing a roomful of mayors and council members last week, Col. David R. Gray, the 1st Brigade Combat Team commander, announced he had agreed to fund 15 reconstruction projects worth nearly $3 million. But establishing a secure enough environment to execute them, he said, was partly the residents' responsibility.

"Many of you told me the attacks are the work of foreigners," said Gray, 48, of Herscher, Ill. "Gentlemen, my conclusion is that the problem is not foreigners, but a problem within your tribes. And if the problem is within your tribes, the solution lies with all of you in this room."

When the colonel quickly left for another meeting, the room erupted in anger.

"Always, the Arabs are accused of being part of the terrorists," said Sami al-Assi, a local tribal leader, tapping his finger against the podium for emphasis as his colleagues nodded their approval.

"All you do is come over to our area and arrest the police and soldiers," said Ruhan Sayyid, the meeting's chairman. "How are they going to fight the insurgents if that's how they are treated?" Hutson, serving as Gray's proxy after his departure, warned, "If I have a report of a policeman who's in the wrong line of work, who's acting as an insurgent, I will arrest him."

Gray and Hutson said they had considered bringing to Hawijah an Iraqi army battalion from Kirkuk, where security forces are composed primarily of Kurds. The move, they acknowledge, would be intensely provocative for a population already furious about Kurds' intention to bring more territory under the control of their semiautonomous northern region.

"It would be a disaster," said Sekran, the Iraqi army battalion executive officer. "The population would refuse this with violence, and it would cause a civil war."

Other U.S. officers said a better path is withdrawing all outside troops and leaving the city to the local security forces. "Sometimes I think we just give them something to shoot at. When we leave, all that might just go away," Tapalman said. "But then they'd be in charge."


Bush Threatens Journalists

First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution - Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
In Leak Cases, New Pressure on Journalists

Earlier administrations have fired and prosecuted government officials who provided classified information to the press. They have also tried to force reporters to identify their sources.

But the Bush administration is exploring a more radical measure to protect information it says is vital to national security: the criminal prosecution of reporters under the espionage laws.

Such an approach would signal a thorough revision of the informal rules of engagement that have governed the relationship between the press and the government for many decades. Leaking in Washington is commonplace and typically entails tolerable risks for government officials and, at worst, the possibility of subpoenas to journalists seeking the identities of sources.

But the Bush administration is putting pressure on the press as never before, and it is operating in a judicial climate that seems increasingly receptive to constraints on journalists.

In the last year alone, a reporter for The New York Times was jailed for refusing to testify about a confidential source; her source, a White House aide, was prosecuted on charges that he lied about his contacts with reporters; a C.I.A. analyst was dismissed for unauthorized contacts with reporters; and a raft of subpoenas to reporters were largely upheld by the courts.

It is not easy to gauge whether the administration will move beyond these efforts to criminal prosecutions of reporters. In public statements and court papers, administration officials have said the law allows such prosecutions and that they will use their prosecutorial discretion in this area judiciously. But there is no indication that a decision to begin such a prosecution has been made. A Justice Department spokeswoman, Tasia Scolinos, declined to comment on Friday.

Because such prosecutions of reporters are unknown, they are widely thought inconceivable. But legal experts say that existing laws may well allow holding the press to account criminally. Should the administration pursue the matter, these experts say, it could gain a tool that would thoroughly alter the balance of power between the government and the press.

The administration and its allies say that all avenues must be explored to ensure that vital national security information does not fall into the hands of the nation's enemies.

In February, Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, asked Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales whether the government's investigation into The Times's disclosure of a National Security Agency eavesdropping program included "any potential violation for publishing that information."

Mr. Gonzales responded: "Obviously, our prosecutors are going to look to see all the laws that have been violated. And if the evidence is there, they're going to prosecute those violations."

Recent articles in conservative opinion magazines have been even more forceful.

"The press can and should be held to account for publishing military secrets in wartime," Gabriel Schoenfeld wrote in Commentary magazine last month.

Surprising Move by F.B.I.

One example of the administration's new approach is the F.B.I.'s recent effort to reclaim classified documents in the files of the late columnist Jack Anderson, a move that legal experts say was surprising if not unheard of.

"Under the law," Bill Carter, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said earlier this month, "no private person may possess classified documents that were illegally provided to them."

Critics of the administration position say that altering the conventional understanding between the press and government could have dire consequences.

"Once you make the press the defendant rather than the leaker," said David Rudenstine, the dean of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York and a First Amendment scholar, "you really shut down the flow of information because the government will always know who the defendant is."

Reading of Espionage Laws

The administration's position draws support from an unlikely source — the 1971 Supreme Court decision that refused to block publication by The Times and The Washington Post of the classified history of the Vietnam War known as the Pentagon Papers. The case is generally considered a triumph for the press. But two of the justices in the 6-to-3 majority indicated that there was a basis for after-the-fact prosecution of the newspapers that published the papers under the espionage laws.

Both critics and allies of the administration say that the espionage laws on their face may well be read to forbid possession and publication of classified information by the press. Two provisions are at the heart of the recent debates.

The first, enacted in 1917, is, according to a 2002 report by Susan Buckley, a lawyer who often represents news organizations, "at first blush, pretty much one of the scariest statutes around."

It prohibits anyone with unauthorized access to documents or information concerning the national defense from telling others. The wording of the law is loose, but it seems to contain a further requirement for spoken information. Repeating such information is only a crime, it seems, if the person doing it "has reason to believe" it could be used "to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation." That condition does not seem to apply to information from documents.

In the Pentagon Papers case, Justice Byron R. White, joined by Justice Potter Stewart, said "it seems undeniable that a newspaper" can be "vulnerable to prosecution" under the 1917 law.

Indeed, the Nixon administration considered prosecuting The Times even after the government lost the Pentagon Papers case, according at a 1975 memoir by Whitney North Seymour Jr., who was the United States attorney in Manhattan in the early 1970's. Mr. Seymour wrote that Richard G. Kleindienst, a deputy attorney general, suggested convening a grand jury in New York to that end. Mr. Seymour said he refused.

Some experts believe he would not have won. The most authoritative analysis of the 1917 law, by Harold Edgar and Benno C. Schmidt Jr. in the Columbia Law Review in 1973, concluded, based largely on the law's legislative history, that it was not meant to apply to newspapers.

A second law is less ambiguous. Enacted in 1950, it prohibits publication of government codes and other "communications intelligence activities." Andrew C. McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor who took part in terrorism investigations in New York after the Sept. 11 attacks, said that both The Times, for its disclosures about the N.S.A. program, and The Post, for an article about secret C.I.A. prisons, have violated the 1917 law. The Times, he added, has also violated the 1950 law.

"It was irresponsible to publish these things," Mr. McCarthy said. "I wouldn't hesitate to prosecute."

The reporters who wrote the two articles recently won Pulitzer Prizes.

Even legal scholars who are sympathetic to the newspapers say the legal questions are not straightforward.

"They are making threats that they may be able to carry out technically, legally," Geoffrey R. Stone, a law professor at the University of Chicago and the author of "Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime," said of the administration. The law, Professor Stone added, "has always been understood to be about spying, not about newspapers, but read literally it could be applied to both."

Others say the law is unconstitutional as applied to the press under the First Amendment.

"I don't think that anyone believes that statute is constitutional," said James C. Goodale, who was the general counsel of The New York Times Company during the Pentagon Papers litigation. "Literally read, the statute must be violated countless times every year."

Rodney A. Smolla, the dean of the University of Richmond law school, took a middle ground. He said the existing laws were ambiguous but that in theory it could be constitutional to make receiving classified information a crime. However, he continued, the First Amendment may protect newspapers exposing wrongdoing by the government.

The two newspapers contend that their reporting did bring to light important information about potential government misconduct. Representatives of the papers said they had not been contacted by government investigators in connection with the two articles.

That is baffling, Mr. McCarthy said. At a minimum, he said, the reporters involved should be threatened with prosecution in an effort to learn their sources.

"If you think this is a serious offense and you really think national security has been damaged, and I do," he said, "you don't wait five or six months to ask the person who obviously knows the answer."

Case Against 2 Lobbyists

Curiously, perhaps the most threatening pending case for journalist is one brought against two former lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or Aipac. The lobbyists, Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, were indicted in August on charges of violating the 1917 law by receiving and repeating national defense information to foreign officials and reporters.

The lobbyists say the case against them is functionally identical to potential cases against reporters.

"You can't say, 'Well, this is constitutional as applied to lobbyists, but it wouldn't be constitutional if applied to journalists,' " Abbe D. Lowell, a lawyer for Mr. Rosen, said at a hearing in the case last month, according to a court transcript.

In court papers filed in January, prosecutors disagreed, saying lobbyist and journalist were different. But they would not rule out the possibility of also charging journalists under the law.

"Prosecution under the espionage laws of an actual member of the press for publishing classified information leaked to it by a government source would raise legitimate and serious issues and would not be undertaken lightly," the papers said. Indeed, they continued, "the fact that there has never been such a prosecution speaks for itself."

Some First Amendment lawyers suspect that the case against the lobbyists is but a first step.

"From the point of view of the administration expanding its powers, the Aipac case is the perfect case," said Ronald K. L. Collins, a scholar at the First Amendment Center, a nonprofit educational group in Virginia. "It allows them to try to establish the precedent without going after the press."


Bush Uses "State Secrets Privilege" to Hide ATT Spying

Feds Drop Bomb on EFF Lawsuit

The federal government intends to invoke the rarely used "State Secrets Privilege" -- the legal equivalent of a nuclear bomb -- in the Electronic Frontier Foundation's class action lawsuit against AT&T that alleges the telecom collaborated with the government's secret spying on American citizens.

The State Secrets Privilege is a vestige from English common law that lets the executive branch step into a civil lawsuit and have it dismissed if the case might reveal information that puts national security at risk.

Today's assertion severely darkens the prospects of the EFF's lawsuit, which the organization had hoped would shine light on the extent of the Bush Administration's admitted warrantless spying on Americans.

The government is not admitting, however, that AT&T aided the National Security Agency in spying on American's phone calls and internet communications.

"[T]he fact that the United States will assert the state secrets privilege should
not be construed as a confirmation or denial of any of Plaintiffs¿ allegations, either about AT&T or the alleged surveillance activities," the filing reads. "When allegations are made about purported classified government activities or relationships, regardless of whether those allegations are accurate, the existence or non-existence of the activity or relationship is potentially a state secret."

The Justice Department has not formally invoked the privilege yet.

Today's notice was intended to inform Northern California US District Court Judge Vaughn Walker that the government was intending to assert the privilege in order to seek dismissal of the case.

The complete paperwork justifying the government's decision will be filed by May 12.

Full filing (.pdf)

Friday, April 28, 2006


Rush Limbaugh Arrested for "Doctor Shopping" in Florida

"There's nothing good about drug use. We know it. It destroys individuals. It destroys families. Drug use destroys societies. Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country. And we have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs. And the laws are good because we know what happens to people in societies and neighborhoods which become consumed by them. And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up.

"What this says to me is that too many whites are getting away with drug use. Too many whites are getting away with drug sales. Too many whites are getting away with trafficking in this stuff. The answer to this disparity is not to start letting people out of jail because we're not putting others in jail who are breaking the law. The answer is to go out and find the ones who are getting away with it, convict them and send them up the river, too."
-- Rush Limbaugh show, Oct. 5, 1995


Think Your Vote Doesn't Matter? The President Picks Who Runs Government Agencies. Crony or Competent? Your Vote Decides.

The Crony Fairy
By Paul Krugman
The New York Times

Friday 28 April 2006

The U.S. government is being stalked by an invisible bandit, the Crony Fairy, who visits key agencies by dead of night, snatches away qualified people and replaces them with unqualified political appointees. There's no way to catch or stop the Crony Fairy, so our only hope is to change the agencies' names. That way she might get confused, and leave our government able to function.

That, at least, is how I interpret the report on responses to Hurricane Katrina that was just released by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

The report points out that the Federal Emergency Management Agency "had been operating at a more than 15 percent staff-vacancy rate for over a year before Katrina struck" - that means many of the people who knew what they were doing had left. And it adds that "FEMA's senior political appointees ... had little or no prior relevant emergency-management experience."

But the report says nothing about what caused the qualified people to leave and who appointed unqualified people to take their place. There's no hint that, say, President Bush might have had any role. So those political appointees must have been installed by the Crony Fairy.

Rather than trying to fix FEMA, the report calls for replacing it with a new organization, the National Preparedness and Response Agency. As far as I can tell, the new agency would have exactly the same responsibilities as FEMA. But "senior N.P.R.A. officials would be selected from the ranks of professionals with experience in crisis management." I guess it's impossible to select qualified people to run FEMA; if you try, the Crony Fairy will spirit them away and replace them with Michael Brown. But she might not know her way to N.P.R.A.

O.K., enough sarcasm. Let's talk about the history of FEMA.

In the early 1990's, FEMA's reputation was as bad as it is today. It was a dumping ground for political cronies, headed by a man whose only apparent qualification for the job was that he was a close friend of the first President Bush's chief of staff. FEMA's response to Hurricane Andrew in 1992 perfectly foreshadowed Katrina: the agency took three days to arrive on the scene, and when it did, it proved utterly incompetent.

Many people thought that FEMA was a lost cause. But Bill Clinton proved them wrong. He appointed qualified people to lead the agency and gave them leeway to hire other qualified people, and within a year FEMA's morale and performance had soared. For the rest of the Clinton years, FEMA was among the most highly regarded agencies in the federal government.

What happened to that reputation? The answer, of course, is that the second President Bush returned to his father's practices. Once again, FEMA became a dumping ground for cronies, and many of the good people who had come in during the Clinton years left. It took only a few years to transform one of the best agencies in the U.S. government into what Senator Susan Collins calls "a shambles and beyond repair."

In other words, the Crony Fairy is named George W. Bush.

So what's the point of creating a new agency to replace FEMA? The history of FEMA and other agencies during the Clinton years shows that a president who is serious about governing can rebuild effective government without renaming the boxes on the organizational chart.

On the other hand, the history of the Bush administration, from the botched reconstruction of Iraq to the botched start-up of the prescription drug program, shows that a president who isn't serious about governing, who prizes loyalty and personal connections over competence, can quickly reduce the government of the world's most powerful nation to third-world levels of ineffectiveness.

And bear in mind that Mr. Bush's pattern of cronyism didn't change after Katrina. For example, he appointed Julie Myers, the inexperienced niece of Gen. Richard Myers, to head Immigration and Customs Enforcement - an agency that, like FEMA, is supposed to protect us against terrorism as well as other threats. Even at the C.I.A., the administration seems more interested in purging Democrats than in improving the quality of intelligence.

So let's skip the name change for FEMA, O.K.? The United States will regain effective government if and when it gets a president who cares more about serving the nation than about rewarding his friends and scoring political points. That's at least a thousand days away. Meanwhile, don't count on FEMA, or on any other government agency, to do its job.


If you've never read a book by Howard Zinn, read this. Then go read a book by Howard Zinn.

America's Blinders
By Howard Zinn
The Progressive

April 2006 Issue

Now that most Americans no longer believe in the war, now that they no longer trust Bush and his Administration, now that the evidence of deception has become overwhelming (so overwhelming that even the major media, always late, have begun to register indignation), we might ask: How come so many people were so easily fooled?

The question is important because it might help us understand why Americans - members of the media as well as the ordinary citizen - rushed to declare their support as the President was sending troops halfway around the world to Iraq. A small example of the innocence (or obsequiousness, to be more exact) of the press is the way it reacted to Colin Powell's presentation in February 2003 to the Security Council, a month before the invasion, a speech which may have set a record for the number of falsehoods told in one talk. In it, Powell confidently rattled off his "evidence": satellite photographs, audio records, reports from informants, with precise statistics on how many gallons of this and that existed for chemical warfare. The New York Times was breathless with admiration. The Washington Post editorial was titled "Irrefutable" and declared that after Powell's talk "it is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction."

It seems to me there are two reasons, which go deep into our national culture, and which help explain the vulnerability of the press and of the citizenry to outrageous lies whose consequences bring death to tens of thousands of people. If we can understand those reasons, we can guard ourselves better against being deceived.

One is in the dimension of time, that is, an absence of historical perspective. The other is in the dimension of space, that is, an inability to think outside the boundaries of nationalism. We are penned in by the arrogant idea that this country is the center of the universe, exceptionally virtuous, admirable, superior.

If we don't know history, then we are ready meat for carnivorous politicians and the intellectuals and journalists who supply the carving knives. I am not speaking of the history we learned in school, a history subservient to our political leaders, from the much-admired Founding Fathers to the Presidents of recent years. I mean a history which is honest about the past. If we don't know that history, then any President can stand up to the battery of microphones, declare that we must go to war, and we will have no basis for challenging him. He will say that the nation is in danger, that democracy and liberty are at stake, and that we must therefore send ships and planes to destroy our new enemy, and we will have no reason to disbelieve him.

But if we know some history, if we know how many times Presidents have made similar declarations to the country, and how they turned out to be lies, we will not be fooled. Although some of us may pride ourselves that we were never fooled, we still might accept as our civic duty the responsibility to buttress our fellow citizens against the mendacity of our high officials.

We would remind whoever we can that President Polk lied to the nation about the reason for going to war with Mexico in 1846. It wasn't that Mexico "shed American blood upon the American soil," but that Polk, and the slave-owning aristocracy, coveted half of Mexico.

We would point out that President McKinley lied in 1898 about the reason for invading Cuba, saying we wanted to liberate the Cubans from Spanish control, but the truth is that we really wanted Spain out of Cuba so that the island could be open to United Fruit and other American corporations. He also lied about the reasons for our war in the Philippines, claiming we only wanted to "civilize" the Filipinos, while the real reason was to own a valuable piece of real estate in the far Pacific, even if we had to kill hundreds of thousands of Filipinos to accomplish that.

President Woodrow Wilson - so often characterized in our history books as an "idealist" - lied about the reasons for entering the First World War, saying it was a war to "make the world safe for democracy," when it was really a war to make the world safe for the Western imperial powers.

Harry Truman lied when he said the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima because it was "a military target."

Everyone lied about Vietnam - Kennedy about the extent of our involvement, Johnson about the Gulf of Tonkin, Nixon about the secret bombing of Cambodia, all of them claiming it was to keep South Vietnam free of communism, but really wanting to keep South Vietnam as an American outpost at the edge of the Asian continent.

Reagan lied about the invasion of Grenada, claiming falsely that it was a threat to the United States.

The elder Bush lied about the invasion of Panama, leading to the death of thousands of ordinary citizens in that country.

And he lied again about the reason for attacking Iraq in 1991 - hardly to defend the integrity of Kuwait (can one imagine Bush heartstricken over Iraq's taking of Kuwait?), rather to assert U.S. power in the oil-rich Middle East.

Given the overwhelming record of lies told to justify wars, how could anyone listening to the younger Bush believe him as he laid out the reasons for invading Iraq? Would we not instinctively rebel against the sacrifice of lives for oil?

A careful reading of history might give us another safeguard against being deceived. It would make clear that there has always been, and is today, a profound conflict of interest between the government and the people of the United States. This thought startles most people, because it goes against everything we have been taught.

We have been led to believe that, from the beginning, as our Founding Fathers put it in the Preamble to the Constitution, it was "we the people" who established the new government after the Revolution. When the eminent historian Charles Beard suggested, a hundred years ago, that the Constitution represented not the working people, not the slaves, but the slaveholders, the merchants, the bondholders, he became the object of an indignant editorial in The New York Times.

Our culture demands, in its very language, that we accept a commonality of interest binding all of us to one another. We mustn't talk about classes. Only Marxists do that, although James Madison, "Father of the Constitution," said, thirty years before Marx was born that there was an inevitable conflict in society between those who had property and those who did not.

Our present leaders are not so candid. They bombard us with phrases like "national interest," "national security," and "national defense" as if all of these concepts applied equally to all of us, colored or white, rich or poor, as if General Motors and Halliburton have the same interests as the rest of us, as if George Bush has the same interest as the young man or woman he sends to war.

Surely, in the history of lies told to the population, this is the biggest lie. In the history of secrets, withheld from the American people, this is the biggest secret: that there are classes with different interests in this country. To ignore that - not to know that the history of our country is a history of slaveowner against slave, landlord against tenant, corporation against worker, rich against poor - is to render us helpless before all the lesser lies told to us by people in power.

If we as citizens start out with an understanding that these people up there - the President, the Congress, the Supreme Court, all those institutions pretending to be "checks and balances" - do not have our interests at heart, we are on a course towards the truth. Not to know that is to make us helpless before determined liars.

The deeply ingrained belief - no, not from birth but from the educational system and from our culture in general - that the United States is an especially virtuous nation makes us especially vulnerable to government deception. It starts early, in the first grade, when we are compelled to "pledge allegiance" (before we even know what that means), forced to proclaim that we are a nation with "liberty and justice for all."

And then come the countless ceremonies, whether at the ballpark or elsewhere, where we are expected to stand and bow our heads during the singing of the "Star-Spangled Banner," announcing that we are "the land of the free and the home of the brave." There is also the unofficial national anthem "God Bless America," and you are looked on with suspicion if you ask why we would expect God to single out this one nation - just 5 percent of the world's population - for his or her blessing. If your starting point for evaluating the world around you is the firm belief that this nation is somehow endowed by Providence with unique qualities that make it morally superior to every other nation on Earth, then you are not likely to question the President when he says we are sending our troops here or there, or bombing this or that, in order to spread our values - democracy, liberty, and let's not forget free enterprise - to some God-forsaken (literally) place in the world. It becomes necessary then, if we are going to protect ourselves and our fellow citizens against policies that will be disastrous not only for other people but for Americans too, that we face some facts that disturb the idea of a uniquely virtuous nation.

These facts are embarrassing, but must be faced if we are to be honest. We must face our long history of ethnic cleansing, in which millions of Indians were driven off their land by means of massacres and forced evacuations. And our long history, still not behind us, of slavery, segregation, and racism. We must face our record of imperial conquest, in the Caribbean and in the Pacific, our shameful wars against small countries a tenth our size: Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan, Iraq. And the lingering memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is not a history of which we can be proud.

Our leaders have taken it for granted, and planted that belief in the minds of many people, that we are entitled, because of our moral superiority, to dominate the world. At the end of World War II, Henry Luce, with an arrogance appropriate to the owner of Time, Life, and Fortune, pronounced this "the American century," saying that victory in the war gave the United States the right "to exert upon the world the full impact of our influence, for such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit."

Both the Republican and Democratic parties have embraced this notion. George Bush, in his Inaugural Address on January 20, 2005, said that spreading liberty around the world was "the calling of our time." Years before that, in 1993, President Bill Clinton, speaking at a West Point commencement, declared: "The values you learned here . . . will be able to spread throughout this country and throughout the world and give other people the opportunity to live as you have lived, to fulfill your God-given capacities."

What is the idea of our moral superiority based on? Surely not on our behavior toward people in other parts of the world. Is it based on how well people in the United States live? The World Health Organization in 2000 ranked countries in terms of overall health performance, and the United States was thirty-seventh on the list, though it spends more per capita for health care than any other nation. One of five children in this, the richest country in the world, is born in poverty. There are more than forty countries that have better records on infant mortality. Cuba does better. And there is a sure sign of sickness in society when we lead the world in the number of people in prison - more than two million.

A more honest estimate of ourselves as a nation would prepare us all for the next barrage of lies that will accompany the next proposal to inflict our power on some other part of the world. It might also inspire us to create a different history for ourselves, by taking our country away from the liars and killers who govern it, and by rejecting nationalist arrogance, so that we can join the rest of the human race in the common cause of peace and justice.


Howard Zinn is the co-author, with Anthony Arnove, of Voices of a People's History of the United States.


White House Announces New Press Secretary. I think I'm going to miss Scotty the Magic 8-Ball.


America's rags-to-riches dream an illusion: study

By Alister Bull

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - America may still think of itself as the land of opportunity, but the chances of living a rags-to-riches life are a lot lower than elsewhere in the world, according to a new study published on Wednesday.

The likelihood that a child born into a poor family will make it into the top five percent is just one percent, according to "Understanding Mobility in America", a study by economist Tom Hertz from American University.

By contrast, a child born rich had a 22 percent chance of being rich as an adult, he said.

"In other words, the chances of getting rich are about 20 times higher if you are born rich than if you are born in a low-income family," he told an audience at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think-tank sponsoring the work.

He also found the United States had one of the lowest levels of inter-generational mobility in the wealthy world, on a par with Britain but way behind most of Europe.

"Consider a rich and poor family in the United States and a similar pair of families in Denmark, and ask how much of the difference in the parents' incomes would be transmitted, on average, to their grandchildren," Hertz said.

"In the United States this would be 22 percent; in Denmark it would be two percent," he said.

The research was based on a panel of over 4,000 children, whose parents' income were observed in 1968, and whose income as adults was reviewed again in 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1999.

The survey did not include immigrants, who were not captured in the original data pool. Millions of immigrants work in the U.S, many illegally, earnings much higher salaries than they could get back home.

Several other experts invited to review his work endorsed the general findings, although they were reticent about accompanying policy recommendations.

"This debunks the myth of America as the land of opportunity, but it doesn't tell us what to do to fix it," said Bhashkar Mazumder, a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland who has researched this field.

Recent studies have highlighted growing income inequality in the United States, but Americans remain highly optimistic about the odds for economic improvement in their own lifetime.

A survey for the New York Times last year found that 80 percent of those polled believed that it was possible to start out poor, work hard and become rich, compared with less than 60 percent back in 1983.

This contradiction, implying that while people think they are going to make it, the reality is very different, has been seized by critics of President Bush to pound the White House over tax cuts they say favor the rich.

Hertz examined channels transmitting income across generations and identified education as the single largest factor, explaining 30 percent of the income-correlation, in an argument to boost public access to universities.

Breaking the survey down by race spotlighted this as the next most powerful force to explain why the poor stay poor.

On average, 47 percent of poor families remain poor. But within this, 32 percent of whites stay poor while the figure for blacks is 63 percent.

It works the other way as well, with only 3 percent of blacks making it from the bottom quarter of the income ladder to the top quarter, versus 14 percent of whites.

"Part of the reason mobility is so low in America is that race still makes a difference in economic life," he said.


NAFTA and the Immigration Issue: A Race To The Bottom.

Immigration Flood Unleashed by NAFTA
By Roger Bybee and Carolyn Winter
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Thursday 27 April 2006

The recent ferment on immigration policy has been so narrow that it has excluded the real issue: family-sustaining wages for workers both north and south of the border. The role of the North American Free Trade Agreement and misnamed "free trade" has been scarcely mentioned in the increasingly bitter debate over the fate of America's 11 to 12 million illegal aliens.

NAFTA was sold to the American public as the magic formula that would improve the American economy at the same time as it would raise up the impoverished Mexican economy. The time has come to look at the failures of this type of trade agreement before we engage in more, and further lower the economic prospects of all workers affected.

While there has been some media coverage of NAFTA's ruinous impact on US industrial communities, there has been even less media attention paid to its catastrophic effects in Mexico:

* NAFTA, by permitting heavily-subsidized US corn and other agri-business products to compete with small Mexican farmers, has driven Mexican farmers off the land due to low-priced imports of US corn and other agricultural products. Some 2 million Mexicans have been forced out of agriculture, and many of those that remain are living in desperate poverty. These people are among those that cross the border to feed their families. (Meanwhile, corn-based tortilla prices climbed by 50%. No wonder so many Mexican peasants have called NAFTA their "death warrant.")

* NAFTA's service-sector rules allowed big firms like Wal-Mart to enter the Mexican market and, selling low-priced goods made by ultra-cheap labor in China, to displace locally-based shoe, toy, and candy firms. An estimated 28,000 small and medium-sized Mexican businesses have been eliminated.

* Wages along the Mexican border have actually been driven down by about 25% since NAFTA, reported a Carnegie Endowment study. An over-supply of workers, combined with the government-sponsored crushing of union organization, has resulted in sweatshop pay along the border where wages now typically run 60 cents to $1 an hour.

So rather than improving living standards, Mexican wages have actually fallen since NAFTA. The initial growth in the number of jobs has leveled off, with China's even more repressive labor system luring US firms to locate there instead.

But Mexicans must still contend with the results of the American-owned "maquiladora" sweatshops: subsistence-level wages, pollution, congestion, horrible living conditions (cardboard shacks and open sewers), and a lack of resources (for streetlights and police) to deal with a wave of violence against vulnerable young women working in the factories. The survival (or less)-level wages coupled with harsh working conditions have not been the great answer to Mexican poverty, while they have temporarily been the answer to Corporate America's demand for low wages.

With US firms unwilling to pay even minimal taxes, NAFTA has hardly produced the promised uplift in the lives of Mexicans. Ciudad Juarez Mayor Gustavo Elizondo, whose city is crammed with US-owned low-wage plants, expressed it plainly: "We have no way to provide water, sewage, and sanitation workers. Every year, we get poorer and poorer even though we create more and more wealth."

Falling industrial wages, peasants forced off the land, small businesses liquidated, growing poverty: these are direct consequences of NAFTA. This harsh suffering explains why so many desperate Mexicans lured to the border area in the false hope that they could find dignity in the US-owned maquiladoras - are willing to risk their lives to cross the border to provide for their families. There were 2.5 million Mexican illegals in 1995; 8 million have crossed the border since then. In 2005, some 400 desperate Mexicans died trying to enter the US.

NAFTA failed to curb illegal immigration precisely because it was never designed as a genuine development program crafted to promote rising living standards, health care, environmental cleanup, and worker rights in Mexico. The wholesale surge of Mexicans across the border dramatically illustrates that NAFTA was no attempt at a broad uplift of living conditions and democracy in Mexico, but a formula for
government-sanctioned corporate plunder benefiting elites on both sides of the border.

NAFTA essentially annexed Mexico as a low-wage industrial suburb of the US and opened Mexican markets to heavily-subsidized US agribusiness products, blowing away local producers. Capital could flow freely across the border freely to low-wage factories and Wal-mart-type retailers, but the same standard of free access would be denied to Mexican workers.

Meanwhile, with the planned Central American Free Trade Agreement with five Central American nations coming up, we can anticipate even greater pressure on our borders as agricultural workers are pushed off the land without positive, alternative employment opportunities. People from Guatemala and Honduras will soon learn that they can't compete for industrial jobs with the most oppressed people in say, China, by agreeing to lowering their wages even more. Further, impoverished Central American countries don't have the resources to deal with the pollution and crime that results from moving people from rural areas to the city, often without their families.

Thus far, we have been presented with a narrow range of options to cope with the tide of illegal immigrants living fearfully in the shadows of American life. Should they simply be walled off and criminalized, as Sensenbrenner and House Republicans suggest? The Sensenbrenner option seeks to exploit the sentiment that illegal immigrants entering the US rather than US corporation exiting the US for Mexico and China are the primary cause of falling wages for most Americans.

The Bush version is only slightly different, envisioning the illegal immigrants as part of a vast disposable pool of cheap labor with no meaningful rights on the job or even the right to vote, to be returned to Mexico upon the whim of their employers.

Yet there is another well-known path of economic and social integration that has been ignored in the debates over immigration in the US: the one followed by the European Union and their social charter calling for decent wages, health care, and extensive retraining in all nations. Before then-impoverished nations like Spain, Greece and Portugal were admitted, they received massive EU investments in roads, health care, clean water, and education. The implementation of democracy, including worker rights, was an equally vital pre-condition for entry into the EU.

The underlying concept: the entire reason for trade is to provide improved lives across borders, not to exploit the cheapest labor and weakest environmental rules. We need to question the widely-held assumption that what benefits American corporations benefits Mexican workers and American workers. An authentic plan for growth and development isn't about further enriching Wall Street, major corporations, and a handful of Mexican billionaires; it is about the creation of family-supporting jobs. It is also about a healthy environment, healthy workers, good education, and ordinary people being able to achieve their dreams.

The massive tide of illegal immigration from Mexico is merely one symptom of an economic arrangement where human needs, not maximum profits - are not the ultimate goal but a subject of neglect. Neither a massive, shameful barrier at the border nor a disposable guest-worker program will address the problems ignited by NAFTA.

Programs providing stable, decent employment, modern transportation, clean water, and environmental cleanup are needed to take the place of the immense NAFTA failure and allow Mexicans to live decent, hopeful lives in their native land. But such an effort is imaginable only if the aim is truly mutual uplift for all citizens in both nations, instead of the NAFTA-fueled race to the bottom.


Living In A Republican World.

I was talking to a man just yesterday. He's a very simple man, he's even been called a fool.

He's got a job that pays 9 dollars an hour. He's been working there for more than 10 years and hasn't ever gotten a raise. His employer is now hiring people to do his job for 7 dollars and hour and considers him to be overpaid.

His employer told him that he should quit, that he should go find another job. But this man isn't really qualified to do any other job. 9 dollars an hour is about the best he'll ever be able to do. If he quits now the best he could do is to find a job that pays 6 or 7 dollars an hour. He's not an educated man and never will be, but he's smart enough to understand that.

So his employer has cut the other people on his shift and my friend now does the job the employer used to pay 5 people to do. He's also not allowed to work any overtime but he's expected to keep up with what it used to take 5 people to do.

He also regularly sees homeless people coming to the back door of the place where he works asking for food. He's got lots of leftovers that he could give them but his employer told him that all the leftovers must be thrown down the garbage disposal. His employer told him that if he gives them any food he'll be fired.

He says he's getting a second job now, to pay for the same things his first job used to cover. His rent has gone up, his electric bill has gone through the roof, even food is getting more expensive. Adjusted for inflation, this man has actually earned less every year since he started his job.

He says that America wasn't like this when he first came. He says that America is becoming more and more like Haiti where he grew up. He doesn't understand what's happening to him or why people like him who work hard every day are getting poorer and poorer. He doesn't understand why he sees more and more homeless people.

This simple and good hearted man looked at me and asked me to explain why things are the way the are. I couldn't. Not in any way that he would really understand.

I do know the man who owns the business where he works. He's very wealthy. He'll spend more on a single meal than this man will earn in a week. He's a die hard Republican who loves George W. Bush. He's also a very good Christian who believes that if you work hard in America you can achieve anything. He believes that the American Dream is still a reality.

I think I know which one is the fool.


Go Buy Pink's New Album: Just To Show Her You Appreciate This Song.

"Dear Mr. President"
(feat. Indigo Girls)

Dear Mr. President
Come take a walk with me
Let's pretend we're just two people and
You're not better than me
I'd like to ask you some questions if we can speak honestly

What do you feel when you see all the homeless on the street
Who do you pray for at night before you go to sleep
What do you feel when you look in the mirror
Are you proud

How do you sleep while the rest of us cry
How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye
How do you walk with your head held high
Can you even look me in the eye
And tell me why

Dear Mr. President
Were you a lonely boy
Are you a lonely boy
Are you a lonely boy
How can you say
No child is left behind
We're not dumb and we're not blind
They're all sitting in your cells
While you pave the road to hell

What kind of father would take his own daughter's rights away
And what kind of father might hate his own daughter if she were gay
I can only imagine what the first lady has to say
You've come a long way from whiskey and cocaine

How do you sleep while the rest of us cry
How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye
How do you walk with your head held high
Can you even look me in the eye

Let me tell you bout hard work
Minimum wage with a baby on the way
Let me tell you bout hard work
Rebuilding your house after the bombs took them away
Let me tell you bout hard work
Building a bed out of a cardboard box
Let me tell you bout hard work
Hard work
Hard work
You don't know nothing bout hard work
Hard work
Hard work

How do you sleep at night
How do you walk with your head held high
Dear Mr. President
You'd never take a walk with me
Would you


May 1 Immigration Protests: What if all 20 million undocumented showed up? If you want "security" then make them legal.

May 1 protest aims to "close" cities

Apr 27, 4:52 PM (ET)

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Pro-immigration activists say a national boycott and marches planned for May 1 will flood U.S. streets with millions of Latinos to demand amnesty for illegal immigrants and shake the ground under Congress as it debates reform.

Such a massive turnout could make for the largest protests since the civil rights era of the 1960s, though not all Latinos -- nor their leaders -- were comfortable with such militancy, fearing a backlash in Middle America.

"There will be 2 to 3 million people hitting the streets in Los Angeles alone. We're going to close down Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Tucson, Phoenix, Fresno," said Jorge Rodriguez, a union official who helped organize earlier rallies credited with rattling Congress as it debates the issue.

Immigration has split Congress, the Republican Party and public opinion. Conservatives want the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants classified as felons and a fence built along the Mexican border.

Others, including President George W. Bush, want a guest-worker program and a path to citizenship. Most agree some reform is needed to stem the flow of poor to the world's biggest economy.

"We want full amnesty, full legalization for anybody who is here (illegally)," Rodriguez said. "That is the message that is going to be played out across the country on May 1."

Organizers have timed the action for May Day, a date when workers around the world traditionally have marched for improved conditions, and have strong support from big labor and the Roman Catholic church.

They vow that America's major cities will grind to a halt and its economy will stagger as Latinos walk off their jobs and skip school.

Teachers' unions in major cities have said children should not be punished for walking out of class. Los Angeles school officials said principals had been told that they should allow students to leave but walk with them to help keep order.

In Chicago, Catholic priests have helped organize protests, sending information to all 375 parishes in the archdiocese.


Chicago activists predict that the demonstrations will draw 300,000 people.

In New York, leaders of the May 1 Coalition said a growing number of businesses had pledged to close and allow their workers to attend a rally in Manhattan's Union Square.

Large U.S. meat processors, including Cargill Inc., Tyson Foods Inc and Seaboard Corp said they will close plants due to the planned rallies.

Critics accuse pro-immigrant leaders of bullying Congress and stirring up uninformed young Latinos by telling them that their parents were in imminent danger of being deported.

"It's intimidation when a million people march down main streets in our major cities under the Mexican flag," said Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman volunteer border patrol group. "This will backfire," he said. (Editor's Note: However it's not intimidation when right wingers show up with rifles to "defend the border" from families who are coming here looking for jobs. FUCK YOU JIM GILCHRIST YOU XENOPHOBIC JACKASS)

Some Latinos have also expressed concerns that the boycott and marches could stir up anti-immigrant sentiment.

Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Los Angeles archdiocese, an outspoken champion of immigrant rights, has lobbied against a walkout. "Go to work, go to school, and then join thousands of us at a major rally afterword," Mahony said.

And Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has long fought for immigrant rights, has said he expects protesters to be "lawful and respectful" and children to stay in school.

In Washington on Thursday, immigrant-rights activists brushed off talk of a backlash.

"This is going to be really big. We're going to have millions of people," said Juan Jose Gutierrez, director of the Latino Movement USA. "We are not concerned at all. We believe it's possible for Congress to get the message that the time to act is now."

(Additional reporting by Aarthi Sivaraman in Los Angeles, Dan Trotta in New York and Michael Conlon in Chicago)


House Speaker Dennis Hastert (Republican-IL) and the other Turds in Congress show how committed they are to alternative fuels.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Ill., center, gets out of a Hydrogen Alternative Fueled automobile, left, as he prepares to board his SUV, which uses gasoline, after holding a new conference at a local gas station in Washington, Thursday, April 27, 2006 to discuss the recent rise in gas prices. Hastert and other members of Congress drove off in the Hydrogen-Fueled cars only to switch to their official cars to drive back the few blocks back to the U.S. Capitol.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Bush Picks SVP of Multibillion-Dollar Firm to Head Small Business Administration

The stated goal of the Small Business Administration is to “strengthen the nation’s economy by aiding, counseling, assisting and protecting the interests of small businesses.”

President Bush this week nominated Steven Preston as the new SBA head, continuing his legacy of appointing individuals to oversee agencies they will try to destroy. Preston “does not have experience running a small business,” and currently serves as a senior vice president of a “multibillion-dollar corporation” called ServiceMaster which is known for bullying small businesses:

[Preston’s] resume shows he has no experience as an entrepreneur and comes from a company with a reputation as a bully among some small-business owners.

“The small-business community’s been fighting ServiceMaster for years,” says Harry Alford, president and chief executive of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Alford says ServiceMaster was active — and successful — in getting the government to cap the small-business set-asides in the lawn-care industry.

Thankfully for him, Preston has the one job qualification that matters: he is a self-described “committed” partisan and “Bush loyalist.”


Silencing The Squeaky Wheels

By Shane Harris, National Journal

The CIA has imposed new and tighter restrictions on the books, articles, and opinion pieces published by former employees who are still contractors with the intelligence agency. According to several former CIA officials affected by the new policy, the rules are intended to suppress criticism of the Bush administration and of the CIA. The officials say the restrictions amount to an unprecedented political "appropriateness" test at odds with earlier CIA policies on outside publishing.

The move is a significant departure from the CIA's longtime practice of allowing ex-employees to take critical or contrary positions in public, particularly when they are contractors paid to advise the CIA on important topics and to publish their assessments.

All current and former CIA employees have long been required to submit manuscripts for books, opinion pieces, and even speeches to the agency's Publications Review Board, which ensures that the works don't reveal classified information or intelligence sources and methods. The board has not generally factored political opinions into its decision-making, former CIA officials say. But in recent years, former employees have written memoirs and opinion pieces challenging the CIA and the Bush administration, particularly for its use of prewar intelligence to justify the war in Iraq. The board did not find that any of those pieces revealed secrets, a fact that makes the CIA's new review standards troubling, former officials and intelligence-community analysts said.

Many of those experts believe that public criticism provides an important source of alternative analysis -- something the CIA needs to understand terrorism, global disease, and other emerging threats. But the White House and CIA Director Porter Goss view spies-turned-authors as political liabilities who embarrass an already battered administration, former officials said. The CIA is now aggressively investigating -- using polygraphs in some cases -- employees who are suspected of leaking classified information to journalists, and last week the agency said it fired a senior official, Mary O. McCarthy, reportedly for having unauthorized contact with the news media.

The former CIA officials carefully distinguished leaks of classified information, which they acknowledged can endanger national security, from articles or speeches that challenge policy yet reveal no secrets. But several said that Goss's vigorous pursuit of leakers is philosophically connected to his desire to keep embarrassing comments by former CIA insiders out of the public domain.

"I think the [publications] that are causing the most kickback now are things that look like they're critical of the administration," said one former official who has written about intelligence policies and techniques. "The [career] agency people feel like they are regarded by the White House as the enemy." They "feel like Goss's real job is to decimate the place," said the former official, who, like others contacted for this story, asked for anonymity to avoid reprisal from the CIA.

Full-time agency employees are discouraged from expressing their political opinions, lest they taint the agency as partisan. But contractors traditionally have been free to speak their minds. The new review policy "reflects [Goss's] concern, and his personality, which seems to have minimal tolerance for dissent," said Steven Aftergood, an authority on government secrecy policies with the Federation of American Scientists.

The publications review process "was designed to assure agency personnel that their First Amendment rights would be protected as long as they did not compromise security," Aftergood said. "That relatively enlightened position has now been abandoned."

The CIA acknowledged for the first time last week that the Publications Review Board subjects former officials under contract to a two-part test. "First, material submitted for publication cannot contain classified information," CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano wrote in an e-mail. "Second, it cannot impair the individual's ability to do his or her job or the CIA's ability to conduct its mission as a nonpartisan, nonpolicy agency of the executive branch."

That new criterion is at odds with the agency's earlier rules. According to a July 2005 unclassified regulation, signed by Goss, "The [Publications Review Board] will review material ... solely to determine whether it contains any classified information. Permission to publish will not be denied solely because the material may be embarrassing to or critical of the agency."

Former officials who have been contacted by the CIA or made aware of the policy warned that it could backfire. "If this is the direction in which it's going ... the agency would be shooting itself in the foot," said one former official who was involved in contracting with outside experts to solicit reviews of draft intelligence assessments. "At a time when the agency is being criticized at least as much as it ever has for 'groupthink,' unchallenged assumptions, and not practicing alternative analysis rigorously, this is one of the last changes it ought to be making."

The former official predicted, "Those contractors who tend to express opposing viewpoints would be among the first to terminate their contracts." If they bolt, the agency's efforts will have been for naught: The CIA will have lost them, and they'll publish their writings anyway, because the new policy review doesn't apply to former employees who don't have CIA contracts, the former official explained.

Another former official under contract, who has written critically about intelligence analysis, said the policy would encourage people to share their views with journalists anonymously. "I know they did it to scare people," the former official said. "The problem is, they're not dealing with fools here.... In my case, they took someone who is reasonably familiar with [the CIA] and made it so that anytime I can torpedo them, I will."

Authors describe the former publications review process as fair, if sometimes tedious. "There was a real sense it was done on the up-and-up," said a former CIA official who is a proponent of ex-employees' writing about their expertise.

Another former employee agreed. "When I went through the process ... I certainly didn't feel like the political standpoint of my book made a difference in how the [review board] evaluated it," said Lindsay Moran, who wrote about her brief career as a CIA operative in "Blowing My Cover: My Life as a CIA Spy." Moran's book skewered agency managers as incompetent and made some officials nervous because it described aspects of training, but the Publications Review Board approved it without incident.

"It's just ridiculous that the biggest threat to the CIA seems to be the grumblings of former employees," Moran said. Aftergood concurred, saying, "It's bizarre that the CIA is in such a weakened state that it feels the need to suppress criticism."

The CIA apparently put the new rules into practice early this year. The former officials contacted for this story agreed that Goss implemented the restrictions partly to send a message about policies under his immediate predecessor, George Tenet.

"It's very clearly the result of Tenet's approving both my books," said Michael Scheuer, the former head of the CIA unit that tracked Osama bin Laden, and the author of two books on Al Qaeda and the war on terrorism. Scheuer published both books under the pseudonym "Anonymous" while he was still a CIA employee. The second book, "Imperial Hubris," sparked controversy because it was seen as a rebuke of the war in Iraq as an effective means of fighting terror. The book is more properly viewed as a critique of intelligence leadership, Scheuer said, but he acknowledged that it is mostly cited for its relatively few mentions of Bush and the war.

Scheuer, who retired from the CIA in November 2004 and has no contracts with the agency, said he faced no opposition to publishing his books. "The agency never asked me, for either book, not to publish it." But he said that if he tried to publish the books as an agency employee today, he would be denied permission. Moran worried that it may even become more difficult for former employees who, like her, don't have contracts, to publish if the CIA's new policies stand. "I got my book cleared in a unique window of opportunity that's disappearing," she said.

"It doesn't have to be that way," Aftergood contended. "One can envision an agency that is so self-confident and so willing to rethink its own positions that it actually welcomes criticism. But that's not the agency we have today."

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Do not attack Iran

by Zbigniew Brzezinski

WASHINGTON - Iran's announcement that it has enriched a minute amount of uranium has unleashed urgent calls for a preventive U.S. air strike by the same sources that earlier urged war on Iraq.

If there is another terrorist attack in the United States, you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be also immediate charges that Iran was responsible in order to generate public hysteria in favor of military action.

But there are four compelling reasons against a preventive air attack on Iranian nuclear facilities:

1. In the absence of an imminent threat (with the Iranians at least several years away from having a nuclear arsenal), the attack would be a unilateral act of war.

If undertaken without formal Congressional declaration, it would be unconstitutional and merit the impeachment of the president. Similarly, if undertaken without the sanction of the UN Security Council either alone by the United States or in complicity with Israel, it would stamp the perpetrator(s) as an international outlaw(s).

2. Likely Iranian reactions would significantly compound ongoing U.S. difficulties in Iraq and in Afghanistan, perhaps precipitate new violence by Hezbollah in Lebanon, and in all probability cause the United States to become bogged down in regional violence for a decade or more to come. Iran is a country of some 70 million people and a conflict with it would make the misadventure in Iraq look trivial.

3. Oil prices would climb steeply, especially if the Iranians cut their production and seek to disrupt the flow of oil from the nearby Saudi oil fields. The world economy would be severely impacted, with America blamed for it. Note that oil prices have already shot above $70 per barrel, in part because of fears of a U.S./Iran clash.

4. America would become an even more likely target of terrorism, with much of the world concluding that America's support for Israel is itself a major cause of the rise in terrorism. America would become more isolated and thus more vulnerable while prospects for an eventual regional accommodation between Israel and its neighbors would be ever more remote.

It follows that an attack on Iran would be an act of political folly, setting in motion a progressive upheaval in world affairs. With America increasingly the object of widespread hostility, the era of American preponderance could come to a premature end.

While America is clearly preponderant in the world, it does not have the power - nor the domestic inclination - to both impose and then to sustain its will in the face of protracted and costly resistance. That certainly is the lesson taught both by its Vietnamese and Iraqi experiences.

Moreover, persistent hints by official spokesmen that "the military option is on the table" impedes the kind of negotiations that could make that option redundant. Such threats unite Iranian nationalism with Shiite fundamentalism. They also reinforce growing international suspicions that the United States is even deliberately encouraging greater Iranian intransigence.

Sadly, one has to wonder whether in fact such suspicions may not be partially justified. How else to explain the current U.S. "negotiating" stance: the United States is refusing to participate in the on-going negotiations with Iran but insists on dealing only through proxies. That stands in sharp contrast with the simultaneous negotiations with North Korea, in which the United States is actively engaged.

At the same time, the United States is allocating funds for the destabilization of the Iranian regime and is reportedly injecting Special Forces teams into Iran to stir up non-Iranian ethnic minorities in order to fragment the Iranian state (in the name of democratization!). And there are people in the Bush administration who do not wish any negotiated solution, abetted by outside drum-beaters for military action and egged on by full-page ads hyping the Iranian threat.

There is unintended but potentially tragic irony in a situation in which the obscene language of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (whose powers are actually much more limited than his title implies) helps to justify threats by administration figures who like to hint of mushroom clouds, which in turn help Ahmadinejad to exploit his intransigence to gain more fervent domestic support for himself as well as for the Iranian nuclear program.

It is therefore time for the administration to sober up, to think strategically, with a historic perspective and with America's national interest primarily in mind. Deterrence has worked in U.S.-Soviet relations, in U.S.-Chinese relations, and in Indo-Pakistani relations.

The notion that Iran would someday just hand over the bomb to some terrorist conveniently ignores the fact that doing so would tantamount to suicide for all of Iran since Iran would be a prime suspect and nuclear forensics would make it difficult to disguise the point of origin.

It is true, however, that an eventual Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons would heighten tensions in the region. Israel, despite its large nuclear arsenal, would feel less secure. Preventing Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons is, therefore, justified, but in seeking that goal the United States must bear in mind longer-run prospects for Iran's political and social development.

Iran has the objective preconditions in terms of education, place of women in social affairs and in social aspirations (especially of the youth) to emulate in the foreseeable future the evolution of Turkey. The mullahs are Iran's past, not its future; it is not in our interest to engage in acts that help to reverse that sequence.

Serious negotiations require not only a patient engagement but also a constructive atmosphere. Artificial deadlines, propounded most often by those who do not wish the United States to negotiate in earnest, are counterproductive. Name-calling and saber-rattling, as well as refusal to even consider the other side's security concerns, can be useful tactics only if the goal is actually to derail the negotiating process.

Several conclusions relevant to current U.S. policy stem from the foregoing:

The United States should become a direct participant in the negotiations, joining the three European negotiating states, as well as perhaps Russia and China (both veto-casting UN Security Council members), in direct negotiations with Iran, on the model of the concurrent multilateral talks with North Korea;

As in the case of North Korea, the United States should also simultaneously engage in bilateral talks with Iran regarding mutually contentious security and financial issues;

The United States should be a signatory party to any quid-pro-quo arrangements in the event of a satisfactory resolution of the Iranian nuclear program and of regional security issues.

At some point in the future, the above could perhaps lead to a regional agreement for a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East, especially after the conclusion of an Israeli- Palestinian peace agreement, endorsed also by all the Arab states of the region. At this stage, however, it would be premature to inject that complicated issue into the negotiating process with Iran.

The choice is either to be stampeded into a reckless adventure profoundly damaging to long-term U.S. national interests or to become serious about giving negotiations with Iran a genuine chance to be productive. The mullahs were on the skids several years ago but were given a new burst of life by the intensifying confrontation with the United States.

The U.S. strategic goal, pursued by real negotiations and not by posturing, should be to separate Iranian nationalism from religious fundamentalism. Treating Iran with respect and within a historical perspective would help to advance that objective.

American policy should not be swayed by a contrived atmosphere of urgency ominously reminiscent of what preceded the intervention in Iraq.

Zbigniew Brzezinski was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter. This Global Viewpoint article was distributed by Tribune Media Services International.


Is There A Double Standard On Leak Probes?

By Murray Waas, National Journal

When the CIA announced on Friday that it had fired an employee who the agency claims "knowingly and willfully shared classified intelligence" with a newspaper reporter, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, immediately praised the agency's action, saying that "unauthorized disclosures of classified information can significantly harm our ability to protect the American people."

Roberts, one of the staunchest defenders of the Bush administration's effort to stop the flow of sensitive information to the press, said in a statement that "[t]hose who leak classified information not only risk the disclosure of intelligence sources and methods, but also expose the brave men and women of the intelligence community to greater danger. Clearly, those guilty of improperly disclosing classified information should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

But three years ago on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, Roberts himself was involved in disclosing sensitive intelligence information that, according to four former senior intelligence officers, impaired efforts to capture Saddam Hussein and potentially threatened the lives of Iraqis who were spying for the United States.

On March 20, 2003, at the onset of military hostilities between U.S. and Iraqi forces, Roberts said in a speech to the National Newspaper Association that he had "been in touch with our intelligence community" and that the CIA had informed President Bush and the National Security Council "of intelligence information from what we call human intelligence that indicated the location of Saddam Hussein and his leadership in a bunker in the suburbs of Baghdad."

The former intelligence officials said in interviews that Roberts was never held accountable for his comments, which bore directly on the issue of intelligence-gathering sources and methods, and revealed that Iraqis close to Hussein were probably talking to the United States. These former officials contrasted the Roberts case with last week's firing of CIA officer Mary O. McCarthy, as examples of how rank and file intelligence professionals now have much to fear from legitimate and even inadvertent contacts with journalists, while senior executive branch officials and members of Congress are almost never held accountable when they seriously breach national security through leaks of information.

"On a scale of one to ten, if Mary McCarthy did what she is accused of doing, it would be at best a six or seven," said one former senior intelligence official, whose position required involvement in numerous leak investigations. "What Pat Roberts did, from a legal and national security point of view, was an eleven."

Ty Cobb, an attorney representing McCarthy, said in an interview that his client "emphatically denies she leaked any classified information and the facts would demonstrate that she would not even have access to any of the information attributed to her leaking to anyone." Cobb declined to comment regarding the CIA's lesser allegations that McCarthy had unauthorized contacts with journalists.

Noting that McCarthy was only ten days short of retirement, Cobb said: "Her hope had been to leave with her dignity and reputation intact, which obviously did not happen."

A former CIA official who worked closely with McCarthy said in an interview that McCarthy was often authorized and directed by higher-ups to talk to the press.

"It is not uncommon for an officer, when they are designated to talk to the press, to let something slip, or not report every contact," the former official said. "Mary might have said something or disclosed something inadvertently, which is exactly Roberts' defense. The only difference between them is that Pat Roberts is the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Mary is somebody that they are using to set an example."

Roberts said on Friday that he was "pleased that the Central Intelligence Agency has identified the source of certain unauthorized disclosures, and I hope that the Agency, and the Community as a whole, will continue to vigorously investigate other outstanding leak cases."

CIA Director Porter Goss has expressed even greater displeasure with articles published last year in The New York Times that first disclosed the National Security Agency's electronic surveillance program inside the United States to monitor phone calls and other communications possibly linked to terrorists.

In a response to questions for this article, Times Editor Bill Keller said in an e-mail that he believed the Bush White House is on a campaign to intimidate the press. "I'm not sure journalists fully appreciate the threat confronting us," Keller wrote. "The Times in the eavesdropping case, the Post for its CIA prison stories, and everyone else who has tried to look behind the war on terror."

Keller asserted that "there's sometimes a vindictive tone in the way [administration officials] talk about dragging reporters before grand juries and in the hints that reporters who look too hard into the public's business risk being branded traitors." He warned that journalists possibly are "suffering a bit of subpoena fatigue. Maybe some people are a little intimidated by the way the White House plays the soft-on-terror card. Whatever the reason, I worry that we're not as worried as we should be."

On the issue of leak investigations, one former senior intelligence official said that the Bush administration has targeted "leaks and leakers they don't like, while turning a blind eye to those they do like, or [leaks] they do themselves." Should this continue, the former official said, it would set a "dangerous precedent in that any president will be able to control the flow of information regarding any policy dispute.... When historians examine this, they will see that is how we got into war with Iraq."

President Bush has said that the NSA story and those who leaked to the Times had engaged in a "shameful act" and were "helping the enemy" in a "time of war."

Appearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee in February, Goss said regarding the disclosures on the NSA domestic surveillance program that it was his "hope that we will witness a grand jury investigation with reporters present being asked to reveal who is leaking this information."

A senior federal law enforcement official said that by the time the FBI investigation is completed into who provided information to the Times for its articles it may well be the most extensive leak investigation ever undertaken by the bureau -- in terms of agents assigned to the case, resources dedicated to it, and overall expense.

By contrast, the circumstances involving Roberts' statements three years ago to the newspaper group were never subjected to official scrutiny. The senator's comments, while highly significant, received almost no press attention at the time.

After opening his speech with the information about human intelligence and Saddam Hussein's location in a Baghdad bunker, the senator said that President Bush had conferred with his top military advisers and had "authorized a pre-emptive surgical strike with 40 Tomahawk Missiles launched by ship and submarines and so called bunker bombs by F-117 stealth aircraft. I do not have a damage assessment. The Iraqi's report 14 killed and one wounded and are reporting damage in residential areas."

At the time, it was one of the most sensitive secrets in government that the CIA had recruited Iraqi nationals who claimed to have infiltrated Hussein's inner circle to be able to follow his movements at the onset of war. But after the bombs and missiles hit an Iraqi governmental complex known as Dora Park, located on the Tigris River south of Baghdad, Hussein either was not there, or escaped unharmed.

Whether or not Roberts' comments were inadvertent, former intelligence officials said, they almost certainly tipped off the Iraqi dictator that there were spies close to him. "He [Roberts] had given up that we had a penetration of [Saddam's] inner circle," says a former senior intelligence official. "It was the worst thing you could ever do."

What repercussions, if any, occurred in Baghdad as a result of Roberts' comments could not be determined, according to sources. After the missile and bombing attack on his bunker, it is possible that Hussein suspected that he had a spy or spies within his entourage, intelligence officials said. One former official said that the Iraqi dictator "very well may have thought he had been located because of electronic monitoring." Two former intelligence officials said the disclosure by Roberts may have made it more difficult to launch a second missile or bombing attack against Saddam Hussein in the early days of the war.

A spokesperson for Roberts did not respond to numerous phone messages seeking comment for this story, and did not respond to an e-mail inquiry.

A Republican congressional aide who was familiar with the March 20, 2003 speech and who spoke to Roberts about it around the time it occurred, said that Roberts' comments were a "mistake" and a "dumb act," and "not done with bad intent." The aide suggested that Roberts might have been carried away by the moment, or acted out of "self-aggrandizement."

Democrats on Capitol Hill and other administration officials argue that while the Bush administration has been pressing in an unprecedented way to stop leaks of classified information, White House officials have simultaneously engaged in their own leaks that are often worse then the ones they criticize.

The most well-known example is the leak that led to the unmasking of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame by columnist Robert Novak on July 14, 2003. At the time, the White House was attempting to counter allegations by Plame's husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, that the Bush administration had misrepresented intelligence information to make the case to go to war.

Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was indicted in October on five felony counts for perjury, obstruction of justice, and making false statements, in an attempt to conceal his role, and potentially that of other administration officials, in disclosing Plame's name to reporters.

The White House has denied any role in the leaking of Plame's name, and has said that if Libby or anyone leaked her identity, they were acting alone and not on higher authority.

In recent court filings in the Libby case, however, it was disclosed that Libby has told the federal grand jury in the case that he was told by Vice President Cheney that President Bush had authorized him to leak other classified information to the media to defend the administration's use of prewar intelligence. However, Libby has not testified that either Cheney or Bush authorized him to disclose Plame's name or identity as a CIA employee.

The same day that the story broke on Libby's grand jury testimony, the White House asserted that because both the president and the vice president have the constitutional authority to declassify intelligence information, any authorizations given by either man were proper.

"The president can declassify information if he chooses," said White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan. "It's inherent in our Constitution. He is the head of the executive branch."

McClellan also said the authorizations were justified because administration critics were making "irresponsible and unfounded accusations…against the administration, suggesting that we had manipulated or misused that intelligence. That was flat-out false.... And because of the public debate that was going on and some of the wild accusations that were flying around at the time, we felt it was very much in the public interest that what information could be declassified, be declassified. And that's exactly what we did."

On February 17, 2006, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, charged in a letter to John Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, that the most "damaging revelations of intelligence sources and methods are generated primarily by Executive Branch officials pushing a particular policy, and not by rank-and-file employees of intelligence agencies."

Later in the same letter, Rockefeller said: "Given the Administration's continuing abuse of intelligence information for political purposes, its criticism of leaks is extraordinarily hypocritical. Preventing damage to intelligence sources and methods from media leaks will not be possible until the highest level of the Administration ceases to disclose classified information on a classified basis for political purposes."

Exhibit A for Rockefeller was a book by Washington Post Managing Editor Bob Woodward about the run-up to the war with Iraq. "In his 2002 book 'Bush at War,'" Rockefeller wrote, "Bob Woodward described almost unfettered access to classified material of the most sensitive nature. According to his account, he was provided information related to sources and methods, extremely sensitive covert actions, and foreign intelligence liaison relationships. It is no wonder, as Director Goss wrote, `because of the number of recent news reports discussing our relationships with other intelligence services, some of these partners have even informed the C.I.A. that they are reconsidering their participation of some of our most important antiterrorism ventures.'"

In his letter, Rockefeller said he wrote to both former CIA Director George Tenet and Acting Director John McLaughlin "seeking to determine what steps were being taken to address the appalling disclosures contained in 'Bush at War.' The... response I received was to indicate that the leaks had been authorized by the Administration."

Citing other examples of alleged leaks of classified information by Bush administration officials, Rockefeller charged that "blatant abuse of intelligence information for political purposes is inexcusable, but all too common. Throughout this period leading up to the Iraq war the Administration selectively declassified or leaked information related to Iraq's acquisition of aluminum tubes, the alleged purchase of uranium, the non-existent operational connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda, and numerous other issues."

Regarding the recent firing of McCarthy, former Deputy CIA Director Richard J. Kerr said in an interview, "She was a very qualified analyst in a variety of jobs. She had strong views sometimes, but I don't know anyone who would describe her as a zealot or ideologue."

Still, Kerr said, if McCarthy did leak to the press, if she did provide classified information the press, she behaved wrongly and should be held accountable. "If she believed there was something morally wrong or illegal going on, there were mechanisms within the system to go up the line, or complain," Kerr said. "The other possibility for her or anyone else is to quit and speak once you are outside."

But Larry Johnson, a former CIA officer and State Department counterterrorism official, disagrees: "During this administration, there have been any number of CIA officers who have brought up issues through channels internally. There have been intelligence officers who have brought up things within their own agencies, and even spoken to congressional intelligence committees or presidential commissions. But they have found themselves completely ignored."

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