Saturday, July 14, 2007
BILL MOYERS: Welcome to the Journal.
Impeachment...the word feared and loathed by every sitting president is back. It's in the air and on your computer screen, a growing clamor aimed at both President Bush and Vice-President Cheney.
This week's news only agitated the clamor. The president acknowledged that someone in his administration did leak the name of a CIA agent to the press, but he said let's move on — even as he refused to let his former White House counsel testify to Congress about political influence at the Justice Department.
So the talk in Washington was of executive arrogance. All the more so as the Democratic House voted to withdraw US troops from Iraq by next spring despite a threat of veto by President Bush. A public opinion poll from the American Research Group reports that more than four in ten Americans — 45 per cent-favor impeachment hearings for President Bush and more than half -54 per cent — favor putting Vice President Cheney in the dock.
Are these the first tremors of a major shock wave…or just much ado about nothing? First, let's take a look at the last time a president found himself fighting off an impeachment campaign. It happened less than a dozen years ago. And what was the issue:
PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky...
BILL MOYERS: But he did. And even after that denial in early 1998, President Clinton lied again seven months later - this time under oath to a federal grand jury. But that very evening he had a change of heart.
PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: "Indeed, I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong….I know that my public comments and my silence about this matter gave a false impression. I misled people, including even my wife. I deeply regret that."
BILL MOYERS: For one powerful Republican member of Congress, an apology wasn't enough. Tom Delay, then the majority whip of the House, convinced speaker Newt Gingrich and Republican leaders that Clinton's lie called for nothing less than removing the president from office - impeachment. Special prosecutor Kenneth Starr was commissioned to gather the evidence. Starr eventually sent 36 boxes of evidence to the capitol. They catalogued his investigation of Clinton's finances, a sexual harassment suit filed by Paula Jones and sting operations mounted by the prosecutor to uncover the details of the Lewinsky affair. Nearly 500 pages summarizing the report were quickly posted on the internet. For the next month, the house judiciary committee waded through the report. What the case meant depended largely on party affiliation. Democrats insisted it all came down to lying about sex.read the rest or watch it here
Labels: Bill Moyers Journal
Friday, July 13, 2007
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Yesterday, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said that the nation is “entering a period this summer of increased risk.” When asked for how he knows this information, he said his remarks were based on his “gut feeling.”
Today, Fox News military analyst Col. David Hunt swiftly attacked Chertoff’s remarks, stating, “I understand he’s got feelings. The problem is, the states and cities, who have to react to the Department of Homeland Security guidance, can’t do squat on his feelings. … It seems more politics, John, than terrorism.”
Chertoff’s comments have been widely criticized by both the right and left. Today, Homeland Security Chairman Bennie G. Thompson wrote to Chertoff and asked him to clarify his comments. “Words have power, Mr. Secretary. You must choose them wisely–especially when they relate to the lives and security of the American public. … What cities should be asking their law enforcement to work double shifts because of your ‘gut feeling?’”
Hunt is not a frequent critic of the Bush administration. Quite the opposite. He has repeatedly tried to link Saddam Hussein to terrorism and in 2003, attacked the media for not portraying a sufficiently positive picture of the fighting in Iraq. Also that year, he mocked Gen. Wesley Clark’s comment that the troops didn’t have enough armored vehicles: “Excuse me. There aren’t enough armored vehicles? Wah, wah, wah.”
HOST: For more on Secretary Chertoff’s unusual comments and how serious the threat is, let’s turn to Fox News military analyst Col. David Hunt.
Col. Hunt, we have spent billions of dollars trying to beef up homeland security in this country, and here is the Homeland Security Secretary relying on “gut feelings”?
HUNT: Yeah, here’s an idea John. I’d make Catherine Herridge the head of homeland security, because that analysis she just gave us is what I would have expected out of Chertoff and the DHS. I think DHS is billions of dollars overspent, terribly wasted amount of money. I understand he’s got feelings. The problem is, the states and cities, who have to react to the Department of Homeland Security guidance, can’t do squat on his feelings. We spent billions of dollars not to hear Michael Chertoff’s feelings, but to protect this country from terrorism, and what he did is take a step backwards. Very disappointing he said that, and again, the state and local people can’t do anything with what he told us. It seems more politics, John, than terrorism.
Labels: bs, gut feeling, Michael Chertoff, terrorism
War Criminals. The Bush War Machine must be stopped.
'A dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi... You know, so what?' Interviews with US veterans show for the first time the pattern of brutality in Iraq
By Leonard Doyle in Washington
Published: 12 July 2007
It is an axiom of American political life that the actions of the US military are beyond criticism. Democrats and Republicans praise the men and women in uniform at every turn. Apart from the odd bad apple at Abu Ghraib, the US military in Iraq is deemed to be doing a heroic job under trying circumstances.
That perception will take a severe knock today with the publication in The Nation magazine of a series of in-depth interviews with 50 combat veterans of the Iraq war from across the US. In the interviews, veterans have described acts of violence in which US forces have abused or killed Iraqi men, women and children with impunity.
The report steers clear of widely reported atrocities, such as the massacre in Haditha in 2005, but instead unearths a pattern of human rights abuses. "It's not individual atrocity," Specialist Garett Reppenhagen, a sniper from the 263rd Armour Battalion, said. "It's the fact that the entire war is an atrocity."
A number of the troops have returned home bearing mental and physical scars from fighting a war in an environment in which the insurgents are supported by the population. Many of those interviewed have come to oppose the US military presence in Iraq, joining the groundswell of public opinion across the US that views the war as futile.
This view is echoed in Washington, where increasing numbers of Democrats and Republicans are openly calling for an early withdrawal from Iraq. And the Iraq quagmire has pushed President George Bush's poll ratings to an all-time low.
Journalists and human rights groups have published numerous reports drawing attention to the killing of Iraqi civilians by US forces. The Nation's investigation presents for the first time named military witnesses who back those assertions. Some participated themselves.
Through a combination of gung-ho recklessness and criminal behaviour born of panic, a narrative emerges of an army that frequently commits acts of cold-blooded violence. A number of interviewees revealed that the military will attempt to frame innocent bystanders as insurgents, often after panicked American troops have fired into groups of unarmed Iraqis. The veterans said the troops involved would round up any survivors and accuse them of being in the resistance while planting Kalashnikov AK47 rifles beside corpses to make it appear that they had died in combat.
"It would always be an AK because they have so many of these lying around," said Joe Hatcher, 26, a scout with the 4th Calvary Regiment. He revealed the army also planted 9mm handguns and shovels to make it look like the civilians were shot while digging a hole for a roadside bomb.
"Every good cop carries a throwaway," Hatcher said of weapons planted on innocent victims in incidents that occurred while he was stationed between Tikrit and Samarra, from February 2004 to March 2005. Any survivors were sent to jail for interrogation.
There were also deaths caused by the reckless behaviour of military convoys. Sgt Kelly Dougherty of the Colorado National Guard described a hit-and-run in which a military convoy ran over a 10-year-old boy and his three donkeys, killing them all. "Judging by the skid marks, they hardly even slowed down. But, I mean... your order is that you never stop."
The worst abuses seem to have been during raids on private homes when soldiers were hunting insurgents. Thousands of such raids have taken place, usually at dead of night. The veterans point out that most are futile and serve only to terrify the civilians, while generating sympathy for the resistance.
Sgt John Bruhns, 29, of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Armoured Division, described a typical raid. "You want to catch them off guard," he explained. "You want to catch them in their sleep ... You grab the man of the house. You rip him out of bed in front of his wife. You put him up against the wall... Then you go into a room and you tear the room to shreds. You'll ask 'Do you have any weapons? Do you have any anti-US propaganda?'
"Normally they'll say no, because that's normally the truth," Sgt Bruhns said. "So you'll take his sofa cushions and dump them. You'll open up his closet and you'll throw all the clothes on the floor and basically leave his house looking like a hurricane just hit it." And at the end, if the soldiers don't find anything, they depart with a "Sorry to disturb you. Have a nice evening".
Sgt Dougherty described her squad leader shooting an Iraqi civilian in the back in 2003. "The mentality of my squad leader was like, 'Oh, we have to kill them over here so I don't have to kill them back in Colorado'," she said. "He just seemed to view every Iraqi as a potential terrorist."
'It would always happen. We always got the wrong house...'
"People would make jokes about it, even before we'd go into a raid, like, 'Oh fuck, we're gonna get the wrong house'. Cause it would always happen. We always got the wrong house."
Sergeant Jesus Bocanegra, 25, of Weslaco, Texas 4th Infantry Division. In Tikrit on year-long tour that began in March 2003
"I had to go tell this woman that her husband was actually dead. We gave her money, we gave her, like, 10 crates of water, we gave the kids, I remember, maybe it was soccer balls and toys. We just didn't really know what else to do."
Lieutenant Jonathan Morgenstein, 35, of Arlington, Virginia, Marine Corps civil affairs unit. In Ramadi from August 2004 to March 2005
"We were approaching this one house... and we're approaching, and they had a family dog. And it was barking ferociously, cause it's doing its job. And my squad leader, just out of nowhere, just shoots it... So I see this dog - I'm a huge animal lover... this dog has, like, these eyes on it and he's running around spraying blood all over the place. And like, you know, what the hell is going on? The family is sitting right there, with three little children and a mom and a dad, horrified. And I'm at a loss for words."
Specialist Philip Chrystal, 23, of Reno, 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry Brigade. In Kirkuk and Hawija on 11-month tour beginning November 2004
"I'll tell you the point where I really turned... [there was] this little, you know, pudgy little two-year-old child with the cute little pudgy legs and she has a bullet through her leg... An IED [improvised explosive device] went off, the gun-happy soldiers just started shooting anywhere and the baby got hit. And this baby looked at me... like asking me why. You know, 'Why do I have a bullet in my leg?'... I was just like, 'This is, this is it. This is ridiculous'."
Specialist Michael Harmon, 24, of Brooklyn, 167th Armour Regiment, 4th Infantry Division. In Al-Rashidiya on 13-month tour beginning in April 2003
"I open a bag and I'm trying to get bandages out and the guys in the guard tower are yelling at me, 'Get that fuck haji out of here,'... our doctor rolls up in an ambulance and from 30 to 40 meters away looks out and says, shakes his head and says, 'You know, he looks fine, he's gonna be all right,' and walks back... kind of like, 'Get your ass over here and drive me back up to the clinic'. So I'm standing there, and the whole time both this doctor and the guards are yelling at me, you know, to get rid of this guy."
Specialist Patrick Resta, 29, from Philadelphia, 252nd Armour, 1st Infantry Division. In Jalula for nine months beginning March 2004
'Every person opened fire on this kid, using the biggest weapons we could find...'
"Here's some guy, some 14-year-old kid with an AK47, decides he's going to start shooting at this convoy. It was the most obscene thing you've ever seen. Every person got out and opened fire on this kid. Using the biggest weapons we could find, we ripped him to shreds..."
Sergeant Patrick Campbell, 29, of Camarillo, California, 256th Infantry Brigade. In Abu Gharth for 11 months beginning November 2004
"Cover your own butt was the first rule of engagement. Someone could look at me the wrong way and I could claim my safety was in threat."
Lieutenant Brady Van Engelen, 26, of Washington DC, 1st Armoured Division. Eight-month tour of Baghdad beginning Sept 2003
"I guess while I was there, the general attitude was, 'A dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi... You know, so what?'... [Only when we got home] in... meeting other veterans, it seems like the guilt really takes place, takes root, then."
Specialist Jeff Englehart, 26, of Grand Junction, Colorado, 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry. In Baquba for a year beginning February 2004
"[The photo] was very graphic... They open the body bags of these prisoners that were shot in the head and [one soldier has] got a spoon. He's reaching in to scoop out some of his brain, looking at the camera and smiling."
Specialist Aidan Delgado, 25, of Sarasota, Florida, 320th Military Police Company. Deployed to Talil air base for one year beginning April 2003
"The car was approaching what was in my opinion a very poorly marked checkpoint... and probably didn't even see the soldiers... The guys got spooked and decided it was a possible threat, so they shot up the car. And they [the bodies] literally sat in the car for the next three days while we drove by them.
Sergeant Dustin Flatt, 33, of Denver, 18th Infantry Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. One-year from February 2004
"The frustration that resulted from our inability to get back at those who were attacking us led to tactics that seemed designed simply to punish the local population..."
Sergeant Camilo Mejía, 31, from Miami, National Guardsman, 1-124 Infantry Battalion, 53rd Infantry Brigade. Six-month tour beginning April 2003
"I just remember thinking, 'I just brought terror to someone under the American flag'."
Sergeant Timothy John Westphal, 31, of Denver, 18th Infantry Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. In Tikrit on year-long tour beginning February 2004
"A lot of guys really supported that whole concept that if they don't speak English and they have darker skin, they're not as human as us, so we can do what we want."
Specialist Josh Middleton, 23, of New York City, 2nd Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division. Four-month tour in Baghdad and Mosul beginning December 2004
"I felt like there was this enormous reduction in my compassion for people. The only thing that wound up mattering is myself and the guys that I was with, and everybody else be damned."
Sergeant Ben Flanders, 28, National Guardsman from Concord, New Hampshire, 172nd Mountain Infantry. In Balad for 11 months beginning March 2004
The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness, by Chris Hedges and Laila al-Arian, appears in the 30 July issue of The Nation
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Wilson: "The Obstruction Of Justice Is Ongoing And Now The President Has Emerged As Its Greatest Protector"
| July 11, 2007 11:27 AM
Below is the prepared opening statement of Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, IV (ret.) for his testimony today during the House Judiciary Committee's hearings on presidential clemency powers.
Statement of Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, IV (ret.)
To the House Committee on the Judiciary
July 11, 2007
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Ranking member, members of the Committee,
Thank you for the invitation to appear before you at this hearing on the possible abuse of Presidential authority in the commutation of I. Lewis Libby, convicted on four counts of lying to federal investigators, perjury and obstruction of justice. I am not a lawyer, but I have understandably followed this case closely. This matter, after all, involves the betrayal of our national security, specifically the leaking of the identity of a covert officer of the Central Intelligence Agency, my wife, Valerie Wilson, as a vicious means of political retribution.
After it became apparent in Spring of 2003 that one of the key justifications for war in the President's State of the Union address was not supported by the facts, I felt an obligation and a sense of responsibility to the American people and to our men and women in uniform to share my first-hand knowledge about the unsubstantiated allegations of uranium yellowcake sales from Niger to Iraq. Accordingly, In a New York Times article on July 6, 2003, I disclosed the deliberate deceptions surrounding the justification for the invasion, conquest, and occupation of Iraq. Eight days later Valerie's status as a CIA operative was made public in a newspaper column by Robert Novak. We now know from testimony and evidence presented in the United States vs. I. Lewis Libby that Novak's column was the end product of a process that was initiated by Vice President Cheney who directed his chief of staff, Scooter Libby to supervise it.
Never in my twenty-three years as a member of the diplomatic service of the United States did I ever imagine a betrayal of our national security at the highest levels.
Fifteen years ago this week, I was sworn in as George Herbert Walker Bush's Ambassador to two African countries - Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe. Seventeen years ago I served as his acting Ambassador to Iraq in the first Gulf War. I was the last American diplomat to confront Saddam Hussein about his invasion of Kuwait prior to Desert Storm. As acting Ambassador, my embassy was responsible for the safe evacuation of over 2,000 Americans from Kuwait and Iraq and the release of close to 150 Americans held hostage by Saddam and his thugs.
I was proud to serve my country mostly overseas, for twenty-three years, in both Republican and Democratic administrations, and to promote and defend the values enshrined in our Constitution and Bill of Rights. I was honored to be then President Bush's envoy to Iraq and to have been part of the foreign policy team that managed the international crisis created by Saddam's invasion of Kuwait. Members of that foreign policy team remain among my closest colleagues and friends.
Given my service, it has been therefore disconcerting to see my family and my targeted in the crosshairs of a character assassination campaign launched by the Vice President and carried out by his chief of staff, and by the President's chief political aide, Karl Rove, among others.
Ultimately, this concerted effort to discredit me, ruining my wife's career along the way, has had a larger objective. This matter has always been about this administration's case for war and its willingness to mislead the American people to justify it. In order to protect its original falsehoods, the Vice President and his men decided to engage in a further betrayal of our national security. Scooter Libby sought to blame the Press, yet another deception. He was willing even to allow a journalist to spend eighty-five days in jail in a most cowardly act to avoid telling the truth.
President Bush promised that if any member of the White House staff were engaged in this matter, it would be a firing offense. However, the trial of Scooter Libby has proved conclusively that Karl Rove was involved, and although he escaped indictment, he still works at the White House. We also know as a result of evidence introduced in the trial that President Bush himself selectively declassified national security material to attempt to support the false rationale for war. The President's broken promise and his own involvement in this unseemly smear campaign reveal a chief executive willing to subvert the rule of law and system of justice that has undergirded this great republic of ours for over 200 years.
Make no mistake, the President's actions last week cast a pall of suspicion over his office and Vice President Cheney. Mr. Libby was convicted of, among other crimes, obstruction of justice - a legal term used to describe a cover-up. The Justice Department's Special Counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald, has said repeatedly that Mr. Libby's blatant lying had been the equivalent of "throwing sand in the eyes of the umpire", thereby ensuring that the umpire, the system of justice, cannot ascertain the whole truth. As a result, Fitzgerald has said, "a cloud remains over the Vice President." In commuting Mr. Libby's sentence, the President has removed any incentive for Mr. Libby to cooperate with the prosecutor. The obstruction of justice is ongoing and now the President has emerged as its greatest protector. The President's explanation for his commutation that Mr. Libby's sentence was excessive turns out to be yet another falsehood because the sentence was quite normal, as Special Counsel Fitzgerald noted. The President, at the very least, owes the American people a full and honest explanation of his actions and those of other senior administration officials in this matter, including, but not limited to the Vice President.
In closing, let me address the question of the underlying crime. Mr. Libby's attorneys and his apologists have tried to downplay his conviction on the grounds that nobody was actually indicted for the leak of Valerie's status as a covert CIA officer. Libby's propaganda is an effort to distract from his crime - his obstruction of justice, his cover up. Who is he protecting?
I would like the committee members and all Americans to think about this matter in this way: If senior American officials take time from their busy schedules to meet with a foreign military attaché for the purpose of compromising the identity of a CIA covert officer, what would we call that? Although that scenario is hypothetical, the end result is no different from what happened in this case - the betrayal of our national security.
I look forward to answering any and all legitimate questions.
Why has Dr. Sanjay Gupta got his head up his ass? Maybe he's paid to keep it there.
Wed Jul 11, 2007 at 03:36:58 AM PDT
CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta took a step in the right direction by admitting to errors in the CNN hit piece on Michael Moore’s SiCKO on Larry King last night (Video courtesy of Scarce). The good doctor even praised the film saying it ‘raised awareness of an important issue.’
But herein lays a puzzle: Sanjay Gupta is a media super-star on America's premier cable news network. We know he is both courageous and not easily politically intimidated. His reporting from Iraq and New Orleans demonstrated that. He’s tackled many aspects of healthcare and science on his regular program, House Call is one of the best CNN has to offer in my view. So one has to wonder: If non-doctor, film-maker Michael Moore can raise awareness of what Gupta agrees is an important issue, doesn’t it make sense that the best known medical doctor/journalist in America could too?
Moore received thousands of healthcare horror stories in a matter of days simply by posting a brief request on a single, dinky website. What might Sanjay Gupta uncover with the might of CNN behind him and years of experience in the field, if he tried something similar? How much heat could a regular segment on his weekly show highlighting abhorrent practices, intentional abuse, and open fraud in the managed care industry put on these scum bags? How many slimy rocks could a guy like Gupta flip over?
Forget universal healthcare for a moment. Every day in America insured patients are wrestling with their carriers to get the coverage they've already paid for, often when those same patients are barely clinging to life. Meanwhile, many medium sized MD practices employ one or two people whose sole task is to beg health insurance companies to pay for the services rendered – often unsuccessfully -- and which their patients are ostensibly covered for, and to plea for authorization for critical medical referrals. These aren't anomalies, this isn't unusual, and it goes on all day long. Are we to believe that CNN or Doctor Gupta were grossly unaware of this until Michael Moore opened their eyes?
That’s simply not plausible. Hell, it’s ridiculous to entertain for a second. The documented cases and whispered complaints from doctors and patients against managed care are legendary, numerous, and outrageous. The hideous standard practices of these for profit managed care insurance companies hurt virtually everyone in the nation -- with the exception of the most privileged, wealthy Americans who can afford private care. And the general consensus among most of those doctors and patients I’ve read about or spoken with ranges from intense frustration, to those who fancy seeing the CEOs, lobbyists, and other enablers spend the rest of their lives in prison for the horrors they’ve perpetrated on thousands of customers, or their grieving, surviving loved ones.
Is it too much to ask that working Americans who pony up exorbitant premiums to for-profit health insurance companies get every nickel and dime of service they have coming, with no bullshit games and infamous stalling tactics? Is it unreasonable for the most recognized medical doctor/reporter in America to go to bat for his fellow MDs, specialists, and clinical labs who regularly complain they are swindled right and left out of their rightful earnings paid on a timely basis by the very insurance companies that have contracted with those practices? Doesn’t that sound like a regular feature, a sort of Sixty Minutes of healthcare, that would be of enormous interest to viewers? Dr Gupta seems to agree it’s an issue that needs to be raised, so why hasn’t he done so? What is stopping him?
Americans are suffering, some are dying, doctors are not being paid on time or in full, fees go to collections, credit ratings are ruined, nurses, junior doctors, and MAs are laid off. These doctors and patients aren’t asking for a handout. They’re looking for help in breaking down the immense corporate power structure that denies and bribes and eagerly drags its feet on legitimate claims. That help is not going to come from Congress or the WH anytime soon, not without a searchlight of shame shining on them: Too many lawmakers, left, right, and center have been bought and paid for by the healthcare lobbies like a pound of butter.
Forcing HMOs and other managed care companies to treat doctors and patients with something other than complete disregard and utter contempt, safe in the knowledge they have bought political and legal immunity, will only come from the grass roots up. Sanjay Gupta is uniquely positioned to be the leading focal point of that movement. Instead his producers chose to turn the Hippocratic Oath on its head and run yet another mundane, error ridden hit piece on Michael Moore.
The real irony for Dr. Gupta as both a healer and journalist is this: If he and CNN were even marginally successful in effecting badly needed change and reform in our corrupt healthcare system, they could well save as many lives and ease as much suffering as some of the greatest medical researchers and doctors in history, they could do so without donning a lab coat or a pair of surgical gloves; they would be national heroes. The choice of course is their’s alone; sadly, the consequences of it will be borne by all of us.
The following diary contains highly offensive language and may not be suitable for all audiences. Consult your physician before reading. Those with high blood pressure or heart conditions may not want to read. Nursing mothers or pregnant women also should be advised that the toxicity of the diary has been shown by some studies to be passed on to young children, causing them to swear like drunken sailors after they learn to speak. Other side effects may vary.
God damn fucking Billy Kristol.
If anyone ever deserved to be punched in the fucking pie hole or thrashed with a whip, it's that mother fucking son of a bitch.
He wrote in an ironically named piece called "A moment of truth":
Here's what I gather is a basic lesson of tactics: When you find yourself in an ambush, attack into the ambush. Don't twist and turn in the kill zone, looking for a way to retreat. Especially when the ambush is not a powerful one, and the Democrats' position (to mix military metaphors) is way overextended. The Democrats are hoping the president will break and run. They will not allow him a dignified retreat or welcome him with compromise. They will spring to finish him off completely. It doesn't matter what the president's motives are. Some of his advisers are trying to persuade him that he needs to go for a grand bargain now so as to build bipartisan support for his policies when he's gone. But the only way to do that is to hold firm now--and to counterattack. Those who try to convince him otherwise offer nothing but defeat, for the troops, for the mission, and for the president.
How the fuck would you know about what to do in an ambush you chickenshit chickenhawk?
You pushed this damn war and now you're stomping your feet and threatening to break with Mr. Bush and President Cheney. You helped create this mess. You own it. Blood is on your head and your hands.
Even the New York Times editorial page has abandoned the pretence that its preferred strategy will lead to anything other than catastrophe in Iraq, and in the very near term. If the president gives in now, he will not be credited with a statesmanlike compromise. He will be lambasted by the left for fighting a bad war, and by the right for fighting it badly, recommitting us to the fight, and then losing it. The remainder of his term will be mired in congressional investigations as the waters fill with blood and the sharks go in for the kill. The Democrats will be emboldened to press him on every front, especially since Iraq is virtually the only position he's actually been defending. Lame duck does not even begin to describe where President Bush will be if he does this.
You mocked -- fucking mocked those who had the sense to see disaster looming ahead.
Your very life is a mockery to all that is decent. You should hang your head in shame, change your name and dedicate the rest of your continued existence to quiet servitude of Iraqis maimed by the war.
You won't because if ever any mortal lacked humanity, it is you and your ilk.
And now you're trying to lay the disaster at the feet of those of us who opposed and tried to stop you and your ilk from taking us over a cliff.
You want to blame people like me for breaking the God damn fucking back of your fucking imperial war machine?
On behalf of those who fucking opposed your God damn war from the start, I am damn proud to accept, you bastard. We broke your God damn war imperialistic vision and plan for a 1,000 year Republican rule. We broke the fucking back of your fucking ideology, you son of a bitch.
We took the insults and threats hurled at us on street corners and in cyber space and beat you. We had our phones taps, our emails read, our meetings spied upon and the hate mongers among you boast of plans to round us up to put us in camps and we beat you. We took on the Boy Dictator's entire might of the perverted federal government and we God damn beat you. We took on the biggest war machine ever fucking assembled in the fucking history of man and we God damn beat you.
We turned the country from supporting your God damn fucking war and occupation when you had most of the populace and the media and the political might of the majority of Congress, the Supreme Court and the White House and we fucking turned it around. You and your ilk wanted to march on Tehran and Damascus and we erected the barricades with our words and our deeds that fucking stopped the mightiest war machine ever assembled.
You fucking want to blame us?
We'll take that credit.
We did the impossible and as Joss Whedon would say that makes us mighty. That makes us God damn fucking superheroes.
Labels: Bill Kristol, fuck you
Maybe this Explains Dr. Gupta and CNN's Agenda.
Dr. Gupta uses distorted facts to try to claim Michael Moore Distorted Facts. What the fuck is his agenda?
July 10th, 2007 12:19 am'SiCKO' Truth Squad Sets CNN Straight
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN: "(Moore says) the United States slipped to number 37 in the world's health care systems. It's true. ... Moore brings a group of patients, including 9/11 workers, to Cuba and marvels at their free treatment and quality of care. But hold on - that WHO list puts Cuba's health care system even lower than the United States, coming in at #39."
- "But hold on?" 'SiCKO' clearly shows the WHO list, with the United States at number #37, and Cuba at #39. Right up on the screen in big five-foot letters. It's even in the trailer! CNN should have its reporter see his eye doctor. The movie isn't hiding from this fact. Just the opposite:
CNN hid the facts on Cuba
But 'SiCKO' has the facts right up front
- The fact that the healthcare system in an impoverished nation crippled by our decades-old blockade (including medical supplies and drugs) ranks so closely to ours is more an indictment of the American system than the Cuban system.
- Although Cuba ranks lower overall than the United States, it still has a lower infant mortality rate and longer life span. (see below)
- And unlike the United States, Cuba offers healthcare to absolutely everyone. In an independent Gallup poll conducted in Cuba, "a near unanimous 96 percent of respondents say that health care in Cuba is accessible to everyone." ("Cubans Show Little Satisfaction with Opportunities and Individual Freedom Rare Independent Survey Finds Large Majorities Are Still Proud of Island's Health Care and Education," January 10, 2007.
CNN: "Moore asserts that the American health care system spends $7,000 per person on health. Cuba spends $25 dollars per person. Not true. But not too far off. The United States spends $6,096 per person, versus $229 per person in Cuba."
- According to our own government – the Department of Health and Human Services' National Health Expenditures Projections – the United States will spend $7,092 per capita on health in 2006 and $7,498 in 2007. (Department of Health and Human Services Center for Medicare and Medicaid Expenditures, National Health Expenditures Projections 2006-2016. http://www.cms.hhs.gov/NationalHealthExpendData/downloads/proj2006.pdf)
- As for Cuba – Dr. Gupta and CNN need to watch 'SiCKO' first before commenting on it. 'SiCKO' says Cuba spends $251 per person on health care, not $25, as Gupta reports. And the BBC reports that Cuba's per capita health expenditure is… $251! (Keeping Cuba Healthy, BBC, Aug. 1 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/5232628.stm ) This is confirmed by the United Nations Human Development Report, 2006. Yup, Cuba spends $251 per person on health care. (http://hdr.undp.org/hdr2006/statistics/indicators/52.html). As Gupta points out, the World Health Organization does calculate Cuba's per capita health expenditure at $229 per person. We chose to use the UN numbers, a minor difference - and $229 is a lot closer to $251 than $25.
CNN: In fact, Americans live just a little bit longer than Cubans on average.
- Just the opposite. The 2006 United Nations Human Development Report's human development index states the life expectancy in the United States is 77.5 years. It is 77.6 years in Cuba. (Human Development Report 2006, United Nations Development Programme, 2006 at 283. http://hdr.undp.org/hdr2006/pdfs/report/HDR06-complete.pdf)
CNN: The United States ranks highest in patient satisfaction.
- True, but even when the WHO took patient satisfaction into account in its comprehensive review of the world's health systems, we still came in at #37. ("World Health Organization Assesses The World's Health Systems," Press Release, WHO/44, June 21, 2000. http://www.who.int/inf-pr-2000/en/pr2000-44.html ).
- Patients may be satisfied in America, but not everyone gets to be a patient. 47 million are uninsured and are rarely patients - until it's too late. In the rest of the Western world, everyone and anyone can be a patient because everyone is covered. (And don't face exclusions for pre-existing conditions, co-pays, deductibles, and costly monthly premiums).
- It's not that other countries are unhappy with their health care – for example, "70 to 80 percent of Canadians find their waiting times acceptable." ("Access to health care services in Canada, Waiting times for specialized services (January to December 2005)," Statistics Canada, http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/82-575-XIE/82-575-XIE2006002.htm )
CNN: Americans have shorter wait times than everyone but Germans when seeking non-emergency elective procedures, like hip replacement, cataract surgery, or knee repair.
- This isn't the whole truth. CNN pulled out a statistic about elective procedures. Of the six countries surveyed in that study (United States, Canada, New Zealand, UK, Germany, Australia) only Canada had longer waiting times than America for sick adults waiting to schedule a doctor's appointment for a medical problem. 81% of patients in New Zealand got a same or next-day appointment for a non-routine visit, 71% in Britain, 69% in Germany, 66% in Australia, 47% in the U.S., and 36% in Canada. (The Doc's in, but It'll be AWhile. Catherine Arnst, Business Week. June 22, 2007 http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/jun2007/
- "Gerard Anderson, a Johns Hopkins health policy professor who has spent his career examining the world's healthcare, said there are delays, but not as many as conservatives state. In Canada, the United Kingdom and France, 'three percent of hospital discharges had delays in treatment,' Anderson told The Miami Herald. 'That's a relatively small number, and they're all elective surgeries, such as hip and knee replacement.' (John Dorschner, "'SiCKO' film is set to spark debate; Reformers are gearing up for 'Sicko,' the first major movie to examine America's often maligned healthcare system," Miami Herald, June 29, 2007.)
- One way America is able to achieve decent waiting times is that it leaves 47 million people out of the health care system entirely, unlike any other Western country. When you remove 47 million people from the line, your wait should be shorter. So why is the U.S. second to last in wait times?
- And there are even more Americans who keep themselves out of the system because of cost - in the United States, 24 percent of the population did not get medical care due to cost. That number is 5 percent in Canada, and 3 percent in the UK. (Inequities in Health Care: A Five-Country Survey. Robert Blendon et al, Health Affairs. Exhibit 5. http://content.healthaffairs.org/cgi/content/full/21/3/182)
CNN: (PAUL KECKLEY-Deloitte Health Care Analyst): "The concept that care is free in France, in Canada, in Cuba - and it's not. Those citizens pay for health services out of taxes. As a proportion of their household income, it's a significant number … (GUPTA): It's true that the French pay higher taxes, and so does nearly every country ahead of the United States on that list."
- 'SiCKO' never claims that health care is provided absolutely for free in other countries, without tax contributions from citizens. Former MP Tony Benn reads from the NHS founding pamphlet, which explicitly states that "this is not a charity. You are paying for it mainly as taxpayers." 'SiCKO' also acknowledges that the French are "drowning in taxes." Comparatively, many Americans are drowning in insurance premiums, deductibles, co-pays and medical debt and the resulting threat of bankruptcy – half of all bankruptcies in the United States are triggered by medical bills. (Medical Bills Make up Half of Bankruptcies. Feb. 2005, MSNBC. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6895896/)
CNN: "But even higher taxes don't guarantee the coverage everyone wants … (KECKLEY): 15 to 20 percent of the population will purchase services outside the system of care run by the government."
- It's not clear what country Keckley is referring to. In the United Kingdom, only 11.5 percent of the population has supplementary insurance, but it doesn't take the place of NHS insurance. Nobody in France buys insurance that replaces government insurance either, although a substantial amount buys some form of complimentary insurance. ( Private health insurance and access to health care in the European Union. Spring 2004. http://www.euro.who.int/document/Obs/EuroObserver6_1.pdf)
CNN: "But no matter how much Moore fudged the facts, and he did fudge some facts…"
- This is libel. There is not a single fact that is "fudged" in the film. No one has proven a single fact in the film wrong. We expect CNN to correct their mistakes on the air and to apologize to their viewers.
Dr. Gupta: Wrong Again. Why is this asshole constantly trying to lie to us? And why would CNN keep putting him on the air?
Michael Moore: "The one expert you had in the piece is a person from a think tank group, who is a big Republican contributor, he's done business with Blue Cross, with Aventis ... don't you have a right as a journalist, a responsibility actually, to tell the public when you're using an expert: this person is a Republican, he's with a think tank that's connected to Tommy Thompson, you know..."
Dr. Sanjay Gupta: "His only affiliation is with Vanderbilt University. We checked it, Michael."
Dear Dr. Gupta: You're Wrong Again.
CNN's Whitewashed Story on the Moore Gupta Disagreement.
Michael Moore, Dr. Gupta square off over 'Sicko'Moore criticized a report Gupta did on CNN Monday on "Sicko"
(CNN) -- Filmmaker Michael Moore, whose new documentary "Sicko" takes on America's health care system, faced off Tuesday with CNN chief medical correspondent and practicing neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Moore criticized a report Gupta did on CNN Monday on "Sicko."
"He said the facts were fudged," Moore said, referring to Gupta, on CNN's "Larry King Live."
"That's a lie. None of the facts are fudged."
Moore and Gupta shouted and argued over data Gupta used and data Moore used. Moore said his staffers backed up the film's facts to Gupta before the report aired and that Gupta aired it knowing his facts were wrong.
Gupta disputed that.
"We try and look for some of the best sources we can possibly find," he said. "Michael has a lot of different numbers. ... You're sort of cherry-picking data from different reports."
Both agreed, however, on the basic premise of "Sicko": Problems abound in America's health-care system and need to be fixed.
"I thought it was a good movie, and I wanted to say that," Gupta said. "I think it strikes at the irrefutable fact -- it's broken. We get it."
He praised Moore for raising awareness of the issue.
However, Gupta said he was concerned that the movie -- which notes that other developed nations such as France and Canada have universal health care --suggests that health care in those countries is free.
While patients may not pay for services at the doctor's office, they do pay high taxes to fund such a system, something Gupta said he was concerned that "Sicko" audiences might not realize.
Moore responded by saying Americans pay more in copays, deductibles and insurance premiums. "We [America] have a system built on profit," the moviemaker said.
He asked Gupta if the current system, which requires him to receive approval from an insurance company before performing some procedures, is cumbersome to him.
"It's a shameful system, especially when I'm dealing with some of my patients," Gupta said.
But he questioned Moore's apparent solution -- putting health care in the hands of the Bush administration, which Moore fiercely criticized in the past, particularly in his film "Fahrenheit 9/11."
"The government actually used to do things right," Moore said in response. "The problem is who we put in power."
Moore has adamantly opposed the war in Iraq and said the government should reprioritize -- a position he took many years before skepticism of the war's success abounded in Washington.
"I am sorry we've taken so much time trying to correct [Gupta's] facts here tonight instead of talking about the real issue" -- the ailing health care system, Moore said.
Michael Moore v. CNN
CNN: "Stomaching" Michael Moore
An empty-headed newsreader on CNN just invited me to watch the second part of Wolf Blitzer's interview with Michael Moore, "if," she added, "you can stomach it." She was doing her bit, I suppose, to defend Wolf and handsome Sanjay against Moore's attack yesterday, in which he vigorously demanded an apology from Blitzer for having trashed Fahrenheit 9/11 three years ago. CNN was wrong on every count, Moore raged, and so helped lead us into this terrible nightmare. Moore demanded that Blitzer and CNN apologize for having failed so dismally to do the crucially important job of a free press in a democracy: to find the truth, to disseminate it, to speak it unflinchingly to power.
The comely newsreader and opinion-purveyor (her primary qualification apparently her cheek bones) also referred with haughty disdain to Moore's "ranting and raving." She would have used just that tone, I think, if the story crawling in front of her had been about the rude way Jesus behaved with the money-changers in the temple, and I can only imagine her horror at having to report on Samson and the Philistines. She reminded me of a similarly vacuous partisan, a character in Jean-Claude van Itallie 60s play, America Hurrah, a cheerleader who chanted "Burn yourselves, not your draft cards, Burn yourselves, not your draft cards!" It's another war, another time, but the same battle lines have been drawn again. Whose side are you on? And if you're not for us, you're against us.
The newsreader and her employers should know that a large and growing part of the American public has no trouble stomaching Michael Moore, who is doing the journalists' abandoned work of speaking truth to power. What we can no longer stomach is the neocon fellow-travelers, people who attack Moore so sneeringly, the very people who from their positions of influence have done and continue to do this country such incalculable damage. Why would CNN position itself in opposition to Moore? What are they thinking, the pundits and poobahs? Whose side are they on?
Stomach Michael Moore? But Moore was right! CNN, like the rest of our craven, dishonored media, was comfortably embedded in the worst administration in history, CNN did trash Fahrenheit 9/11, CNN did help lead us into this nightmare, CNN did fail us, and CNN does owe Michael Moore -- and all of us -- a profound apology. All Main Stream Media are guilty of this abominable dereliction of duty. I used to think CNN was better than most, in the days before the execs decided to go whoring after Fox numbers. (How can CNN provide Glenn Beck a regular platform to dispense his bigotry and ignorance with cheerful self-deprecating bully-boy smarm?)
America is seething with anger. More of us every day want Bush, Cheney, the rubber-stamp Republicans, and the American journalists who were and are their willing accomplices out of power and out of sight, off the stage they have so disgustingly fouled. Why doesn't Blitzer apologize, as Moore asked him to? It's a good idea. Let CNN be the first network to apologize, and then let it commit itself to decent, competent, honest work again. That would be so astonishing, and so welcome, it might even bring in viewers -- viewers with intelligence, heart, soul.
Do better, Wolf. Be worthy of your calling. Tell the truth. Admit when you have made mistakes. The time for pompous business-as-usual is over. And please, please stop embarrassing yourself by shilling for "the best political team in television!" Why do you do that? How do you think that makes you look? Do you have any journalistic heroes -- Edward R. Murrow, say, or Walter Cronkite? Can you imagine either of them repeating, over and over, such a tedious and insipid slogan? "This is Edward R. Murrow, speaking for the best political team in television. Good night, and good luck."
Repent, CNN. Judgment is nigh. Good night. Good luck.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
"I Think We're In The Last Throes... If you will... Of the Insurgency." - Dick Cheney May 2005 (2 years and $12 Billion a Month Later)
Iraqi Government Missed All Targets
WASHINGTON — A progress report on Iraq will conclude that the U.S.-backed government in Baghdad has not met any of its targets for political, economic and other reforms, speeding up the Bush administration's reckoning on what to do next, a U.S. official said Monday.
The "pivot point" for addressing the matter will no longer be Sept. 15, as initially envisioned, when a full report on Bush's so-called "surge" plan is due, but instead will come this week when the interim mid-July assessment is released, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the draft is still under discussion.
But another senior official said Bush's advisers, along with the president, decided last week there was not enough evidence from Iraq to justify a change now in current policy.
They had launched discussions about how to react to the erosion of support for the president's Iraq approach among prominent Republicans, that official said, and the debate was part of a broader search for a way out of a U.S. combat presence in Iraq by the end of Bush's presidency.
The second official said the decision was to wait for the September report _ one originally proposed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other administration officials, and then enshrined into law by Congress _ before deciding whether any course shift is warranted. The official spoke on condition of anonymity so he could talk more freely about internal deliberations.
The July report, required by law, is expected to be delivered to Capitol Hill by Thursday or Friday, as the Senate takes up a $649 billion defense policy bill and votes on a Democratic amendment ordering troop withdrawals to begin in 120 days.
The second administration official said the report "will present a picture of satisfactory progress on some benchmarks and not on others."
Also being drafted are several Republican-backed proposals that would force a new course in Iraq, including one by Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Ben Nelson, D-Neb., that would require U.S. troops to abandon combat missions. Collins and Nelson say their binding amendment would order the U.S. mission to focus on training the Iraqi security forces, targeting al-Qaida members and protecting Iraq's borders.
"My goal is to redefine the mission and set the stage for a significant but gradual drawdown of our troops next year," said Collins.
GOP support for the war has eroded steadily since Bush's decision in January to send some 30,000 additional troops to Iraq. At the time, Bush said the Iraqis agreed to meet certain benchmarks, such as enacting a law to divide the nation's oil reserves.
This spring, Congress agreed to continue funding the war through September but demanded that Bush certify on July 15 and again on Sept. 15 that the Iraqis were living up to their political promises or forgo U.S. aid dollars.
The official said it is highly unlikely that Bush will withhold or suspend aid to the Iraqis based on the report.
A draft version of the administration's progress report circulated among various government agencies in Washington on Monday.
White House Press Secretary Tony Snow on Monday tried to lower expectations on the report, contending that all of the additional troops had just gotten in place and it would be unrealistic to expect major progress by now.
"You are not going to expect all the benchmarks to be met at the beginning of something," Snow said. "I'm not sure everyone's going to get an `A' on the first report."
In recent weeks, the White House has tried to shore up eroding GOP support for the war.
Collins and five other GOP senators _ Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, Robert Bennett of Utah, John Sununu of New Hampshire and Pete Domenici of New Mexico _ support separate legislation calling on Bush to adopt as U.S. policy recommendations by the Iraq Study Group, which identified a potential redeployment date of spring 2008.
Other prominent Republican senators, including Richard Lugar of Indiana, George Voinovich of Ohio, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Olympia Snowe of Maine, also say the U.S. should begin redeployments.
Several GOP stalwarts, including Sens. Ted Stevens of Alaska, Christopher Bond of Missouri, Jon Kyl of Arizona and James Inhofe of Oklahoma, said they still support Bush's Iraq strategy.
Kyl said he would try to focus this week's debate on preserving vital anti-terrorism programs, including the detention of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. The defense bill is on track to expand the legal rights of those held at the military prison, and many Democrats want to propose legislation that would shut the facility.
"If Democrats use the defense authorization bill to pander to the far left at the expense of our national security, they should expect serious opposition from Republicans," Kyl said.
As the Senate debate began, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee arranged to run television commercials in four states, beginning Tuesday, to pressure Republicans on the war.
The ads are to run in Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota and New Hampshire, according to knowledgeable officials, but the DSCC so far has committed to spending a relatively small amount of money, less than $100,000 in all. Barring a change in plans that means the ads would not be seen widely in any of the four states.
The targets include Sens. Norm Coleman of Minnesota, Collins of Maine, Sununu of New Hampshire and the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. All face re-election next year.
The boost in troop levels in Iraq has increased the cost of war there and in Afghanistan to $12 billion a month, with the overall tally for Iraq alone nearing a half-trillion dollars, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, which provides research and analysis to lawmakers.
Bush's American Mercenaries: There Are Now More Private Contractors Than Troops Operating In Iraq.
Blackwater manager blamed for 2004 massacre in Fallujah
Military contractors write that a site manager sent four Americans on an ill-advised, fatal mission
When four Blackwater USA security guards were ambushed and massacred in Fallujah in 2004, graphic images showed the world exactly what happened: four men killed, their bodies burned and dragged through the streets. A chanting mob hung two mutilated corpses from a bridge. , Staff Writer
Since then, Congress and the families of the murdered private security contractors have been demanding answers: Why did the lightly armed and undermanned team go through the heart of one of Iraq's most hostile cities? Why did the two teams sent out that day have four members, not the usual six?
Some answers can be found in memos from a second team for Blackwater operating around Fallujah on March 31, 2004.
Blackwater, based in North Carolina, sent two squads through Fallujah without maps, according to memos obtained by The News & Observer. Both of the six-man teams, named Bravo 2 and November 1, were sent out two men short, leaving them more vulnerable to ambush.
The Bravo 2 team members had protested that they were not ready for the mission and had not had time to prepare their weapons, but they were commanded to go, according to memos written by team members. The team disregarded directions to drive through Fallujah and instead drove around it and returned safely to Baghdad that evening.
The November 1 team went into Fallujah and was massacred.
The Bravo 2 team memos, in emotional, coarse and damning language, placed the blame squarely on Blackwater's Baghdad site manager, Tom Powell.
"Why did we all want to kill him?" team member Daniel Browne wrote the following day. "He had sent us on this [expletive] mission and over our protest. We weren't sighted in, we had no maps, we had not enough sleep, he was taking 2 of our guys cutting off [our] field of fire. As we went over these things we new the other team had the same complaints. They too had their people cut."
The memos surface amid heightened congressional scrutiny of Blackwater, a private security firm based in Moyock, and the private security industry, which grows ever more valuable to the Pentagon. Reports last week indicate that there are now more private contractors than troops operating in Iraq. Blackwater has received hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts.
The aftermath of the killings shows one difference between contractors and the military. Had an officer sent four lightly armed soldiers into Fallujah, he would likely have faced public scrutiny in the military justice system. In this case, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has been trying to get documents such as these memos from Blackwater without success.
The families of the four men killed in the ambush -- Jerry Zovko, Wesley Batalona, Scott Helvenston and Michael Teague -- sued Blackwater in Wake County Superior Court in an effort to find out what happened. Blackwater countersued the estates of the four men in federal court, successfully arguing for arbitration, in which the proceedings are closed to the public and the investigation of the incident can be much more limited.
Powell, the site manager, left Blackwater shortly after the Fallujah incident. He will not discuss the event while litigation is pending, said his attorney, Clifford Higby of Panama City, Fla. Efforts to reach the other Blackwater contractors for comment were unsuccessful.
Blackwater, owned by former Navy SEAL Erik Prince, did not respond to requests for comment starting in early June. A company lawyer, John W. Phillips of Seattle, sent a letter protesting the paper's possession of the memos and suggesting possible legal action if they were used in a news report.
Mission under protest
Team Bravo 2 arrived in Baghdad late on the night of March 30, 2004, according to the memo written by team leader Jason Shupe. The team members had just driven up from Kuwait after flying in from the United States.
At that point in the war, attacks on the U.S. military had been growing steadily. Still, aid workers and journalists could travel throughout Iraq. Today, by contrast, they are largely confined to safe zones in Baghdad.
Then, as now, the U.S. was leaning more heavily on private security contractors than in any previous war. Many of the contractors are paid far more than soldiers for their work guarding U.S. officials or, in the case of the four who were killed, empty flatbed trucks.
In a meeting held just before midnight, Powell -- the Blackwater site manager -- told Shupe that his team would likely go on a mission the next morning. Shupe protested; his team members were fighting jet lag and had not "sighted" their weapons, or adjusted the scopes so that the bullets would hit the targets sighted in the cross hairs.
The next morning, Powell said the mission was on, according to memos from three team members. Bravo 2 was ordered to go to the Jordanian border and pick up an executive for ESS, a food catering company, and escort him to Baghdad. The team would go in two vehicles, with two men in each vehicle. Two team members would stay in Baghdad.
Shupe protested, calling it "a bad idea" to send out the crew shorthanded: "Tom disregarded our concern and stated, 'The guys in Falluja only have four guys, you can do this mission with four guys.' " Shupe and the other team members were concerned that vehicles with a driver and one passenger could not protect themselves against attack from the rear.
Powell said he was keeping two men from the squad in Baghdad.
Shupe argued back, according to his memo: "I stated very sarcastically, 'you are going to split my team so you can have an admin guy and a phone watch. ... [M]y guys were fighting jet lag, we have not sighted our weapons in, we have no maps of the route, and no one is familiar with the route.' "
Powell responded: "The route is easy you just drive to Falluja, then through Fallujah to Al Ramiadia then to the boarder."
Do the job or go home
Shupe wrote that he continued to argue against the mission and noted that Blackwater's contract with ESS didn't start until April 3.
"Tom stated 'everything is not a debate you do your job and I will do mine,' " Shupe wrote. Powell gave him an ultimatum, Shupe wrote: Do the job, or go home.
Shupe briefed his team. Like Shupe, they thought the mission was a bad idea, according to the written accounts of two other team members.
Shupe and his three teammates left Baghdad in two vehicles, with four extra cans of fuel. Shupe wrote that he had no idea where or when he would be able to refuel.
As Bravo 2 drove into Fallujah on Highway 10, the team came to an interchange and passed a road sign that pointed to Fallujah. They made a U-turn to go back into Fallujah, as Powell had instructed. But Shupe then decided to pull off the highway. He wrote that he found a map with Highway 10 on it and consulted a global positioning system device.
"I made the call to stay on the highway," Shupe wrote. "The road that we would have got on would have taken us into downtown Falluja. This was at approx. 1000 hrs."
A deadly ambush
Unknown to Shupe, about a half-hour before, Blackwater's November 1 squad had driven into Fallujah, on its way to Camp Ridgeway, an American base west of town. Two team members had been kept behind in Baghdad.
Batalona and Zovko were in the front vehicle, followed by three empty flatbed trucks, followed by Helvenston and Teague in the rear vehicle. Gunmen approached the rear of the convoy and shot Helvenston and Teague. When the lead vehicle doubled back, the gunmen shot and killed Batalona and Zovko. A crowd gathered, set the cars on fire, pulled the men out and dragged their bodies through the street.
Oblivious of the massacre, Bravo 2 drove to the Jordanian border.
Back in Baghdad, Troy James Lewis, one of the Bravo 2 members kept behind, was handed several boxes of maps and told to sort them out, he wrote.
"I came across a small bundle of maps, approximately 5-6, that were listed at the tops as Al Falluja," Lewis wrote. "I thought this to be an important find as I remembered that my team had gone out without any maps of Al Falluja because they were told there were not any to be had."
Lewis finished his task and sat around drinking coffee. After lunch, Lewis wrote, the other Bravo 2 team member who stayed behind, Jay Suits, pounded on his door, visibly upset. He said a Blackwater team had been hit. The two men ran into Powell's office. Powell told them that a Blackwater team had been attacked and that Powell would lead a "quick reaction force" of five men to Fallujah.
"I immediately thought this to be a very bad idea as it sounded tactically unsound as we were obviously out numbered and out gunned," Lewis wrote. "The mission was later scrubbed."
Meanwhile, Bravo 2 arrived at the Jordanian border and picked up the ESS executive, who had been waiting for hours. While filling up the vehicles, Shupe got a phone call from Kuwait telling him that a Blackwater team had been ambushed. Shupe spoke with Powell: "The conversation was very vague and he was still trying to figure out what the situation was."
After the call, Shupe decided he wasn't going to take any more information or orders from Powell. The team stopped at an American military base for information, then drove back safely to Baghdad, taking care to skirt Fallujah.
The next day, Browne typed up an angry report on the day: "If [Powell] had been right and by treating us like children had saved our lives I would be eternally grateful. As it is he [expletive] up and the mission that he sent them out on with no planning and preparation went bad and all aboard died."
Browne later wrote a second report in a more analytical tone. He did not, however, back away from his initial report: "While it is not cool, calm and collected it is accurate."
Labels: Blackwater, Hessian Mercs?
Alberto Gonzales LIED to the Senate.
Gonzales Was Told of FBI ViolationsAfter Bureau Sent Reports, Attorney General Said He Knew of No Wrongdoing
By John Solomon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 10, 2007; A01
As he sought to renew the USA Patriot Act two years ago, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales assured lawmakers that the FBI had not abused its potent new terrorism-fighting powers. "There has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse," Gonzales told senators on April 27, 2005.
Six days earlier, the FBI sent Gonzales a copy of a report that said its agents had obtained personal information that they were not entitled to have. It was one of at least half a dozen reports of legal or procedural violations that Gonzales received in the three months before he made his statement to the Senate intelligence committee, according to internal FBI documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.
The acts recounted in the FBI reports included unauthorized surveillance, an illegal property search and a case in which an Internet firm improperly turned over a compact disc with data that the FBI was not entitled to collect, the documents show. Gonzales was copied on each report that said administrative rules or laws protecting civil liberties and privacy had been violated.
The reports also alerted Gonzales in 2005 to problems with the FBI's use of an anti-terrorism tool known as a national security letter (NSL), well before the Justice Department's inspector general brought widespread abuse of the letters in 2004 and 2005 to light in a stinging report this past March.
Justice officials said they could not immediately determine whether Gonzales read any of the FBI reports in 2005 and 2006 because the officials who processed them were not available yesterday. But department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said that when Gonzales testified, he was speaking "in the context" of reports by the department's inspector general before this year that found no misconduct or specific civil liberties abuses related to the Patriot Act.
"The statements from the attorney general are consistent with statements from other officials at the FBI and the department," Roehrkasse said. He added that many of the violations the FBI disclosed were not legal violations and instead involved procedural safeguards or even typographical errors.
Each of the violations cited in the reports copied to Gonzales was serious enough to require notification of the President's Intelligence Oversight Board, which helps police the government's surveillance activities. The format of each memo was similar, and none minced words.
"This enclosure sets forth details of investigative activity which the FBI has determined was conducted contrary to the attorney general's guidelines for FBI National Security Investigations and Foreign Intelligence Collection and/or laws, executive orders and presidential directives," said the April 21, 2005, letter to the Intelligence Oversight Board.
The oversight board, staffed with intelligence experts from inside and outside government, was established to report to the attorney general and president about civil liberties abuses or intelligence lapses. But Roehrkasse said the fact that a violation is reported to the board "does not mean that a USA Patriot violation exists or that an individual's civil liberties have been abused."
Two of the earliest reports sent to Gonzales, during his first month on the job, in February 2005, involved the FBI's surveillance and search powers. In one case, the bureau reported a violation involving an "unconsented physical search" in a counterintelligence case. The details were redacted in the released memo, but it cited violations of safeguards "that shall protect constitutional and other legal rights." The second violation involved electronic surveillance on phone lines that was reinitiated after the expiration deadline set by a court in a counterterrorism case.
The report sent to Gonzales on April 21, 2005, concerned a violation of the rules governing NSLs, which allow agents in counterterrorism and counterintelligence investigations to secretly gather Americans' phone, bank and Internet records without a court order or a grand jury subpoena. In the report -- also heavily redacted before being released -- the FBI said its agents had received a compact disc containing information they did not request. It was viewed before being sealed in an envelope.
Gonzales received another report of an NSL-related violation a few weeks later. "A national security letter . . . contained an incorrect phone number" that resulted in agents collecting phone information that "belonged to a different U.S. person" than the suspect under investigation, stated a letter copied to the attorney general on May 6, 2005.
At least two other reports of NSL-related violations were sent to Gonzales, according to the new documents. In letters copied to him on Dec. 11, 2006, and Feb. 26, 2007, the FBI reported to the oversight board that agents had requested and obtained phone data on the wrong people.
Nonetheless, Gonzales reacted with surprise when the Justice Department inspector general reported this March that there were pervasive problems with the FBI's handling of NSLs and another investigative tool known as an exigent circumstances letter.
"I was upset when I learned this, as was Director Mueller. To say that I am concerned about what has been revealed in this report would be an enormous understatement," Gonzales said in a speech March 9, referring to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller. The attorney general added that he believed back in 2005, before the Patriot Act was renewed, that there were no problems with NSLs. "I've come to learn that I was wrong," he said, making no mention of the FBI reports sent to him.
Marcia Hofmann, a lawyer for the nonpartisan Electronic Frontier Foundation, said, "I think these documents raise some very serious questions about how much the attorney general knew about the FBI's misuse of surveillance powers and when he knew it." A lawsuit by Hofmann's group seeking internal FBI documents about NSLs prompted the release of the reports.
Caroline Fredrickson, a lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the new documents raise questions about whether Gonzales misled Congress at a moment when lawmakers were poised to renew the Patriot Act and keenly sought assurances that there were no abuses. "It was extremely important," she said of Gonzales's 2005 testimony. "The attorney general said there are no problems with the Patriot Act, and there was no counterevidence at the time."
Some of the reports describe rules violations that the FBI decided not to report to the intelligence board. In February 2006, for example, FBI officials wrote that agents sent a person's phone records, which they had obtained from a provider under a national security letter, to an outside party. The mistake was blamed on "an error in the mail handling." When the third party sent the material back, the bureau decided not to report the mistake as a violation.
The memos also detail instances in which the FBI wrote out new NSLs to cover evidence that had been mistakenly collected. In a June 30, 2006, e-mail, for instance, an FBI supervisor asked an agent who had "overcollected" evidence under a national security letter to forward his original request to lawyers. "We would like to check the specific language to see if there is anything in the body that would cover the extra material they gave," the supervisor wrote.
Sometimes the FBI reached seemingly contradictory conclusions about the gravity of its errors. On May 6, 2005, the bureau decided that it needed to report a violation when agents made an "inadvertent" request for data for the wrong phone number. But on June 1, 2006, in a similar wrong-number case, the bureau concluded that a violation did not need to be reported because the agent acted "in good faith."
Labels: Alberto Gonzales Lies
Monday, July 09, 2007
"This is neither normal government conduct nor "politics as usual," but a national disgrace of a magnitude unseen since the days of Watergate."
Bush justice is a national disgrace
Article Last Updated: 07/05/2007 11:48:30 PM MDT
The Denver Post
As a longtime attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, I can honestly say that I have never been as ashamed of the department and government that I serve as I am at this time.
The public record now plainly demonstrates that both the DOJ and the government as a whole have been thoroughly politicized in a manner that is inappropriate, unethical and indeed unlawful. The unconscionable commutation of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's sentence, the misuse of warrantless investigative powers under the Patriot Act and the deplorable treatment of U.S. attorneys all point to an unmistakable pattern of abuse.
In the course of its tenure since the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration has turned the entire government (and the DOJ in particular) into a veritable Augean stable on issues such as civil rights, civil liberties, international law and basic human rights, as well as criminal prosecution and federal employment and contracting practices. It has systematically undermined the rule of law in the name of fighting terrorism, and it has sought to insulate its actions from legislative or judicial scrutiny and accountability by invoking national security at every turn, engaging in persistent fearmongering, routinely impugning the integrity and/or patriotism of its critics, and protecting its own lawbreakers. This is neither normal government conduct nor "politics as usual," but a national disgrace of a magnitude unseen since the days of Watergate - which, in fact, I believe it eclipses.
In more than a quarter of a century at the DOJ, I have never before seen such consistent and marked disrespect on the part of the highest ranking government policymakers for both law and ethics. It is especially unheard of for U.S. attorneys to be targeted and removed on the basis of pressure and complaints from political figures dissatisfied with their handling of politically sensitive investigations and their unwillingness to "play ball." Enough information has already been disclosed to support the conclusion that this is exactly what happened here, at least in the case of former U.S. Attorney David C. Iglesias of New Mexico (and quite possibly in several others as well). Law enforcement is not supposed to be a political team sport, and prosecutorial independence and integrity are not "performance problems."
In his long-awaited but uninformative testimony concerning the extraordinary firings of U.S. attorneys, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales did not allay these concerns. Indeed, he faced a no-win situation. If he testified falsely regarding his alleged lack of recollection and lack of involvement, he perjured himself and lied to both Congress and the American people. On the other hand, if he told the truth, he clearly has been derelict in the performance of his duties and is not up to the job. Either way, his fitness to serve is now in doubt.
Tellingly, in his congressional testimony, D. Kyle Sampson (the junior aide to whom the attorney general delegated vast authority) expressed the view that the distinction between "performance" considerations and "political" considerations was "largely artificial." This attitude, however, is precisely the problem. The administration that Sampson served has elided the distinction between government performance and politics to an unparalleled extent (just as it has blurred the boundaries between the White House counsel's office and the attorney general's office). And it is no answer to say that U.S. attorneys are political appointees who serve at the pleasure of the president. The point that is lost on those who make this argument is that U.S. attorneys must not serve partisan purposes or advance a partisan agenda - which has nothing to do with requiring them to promote an administration's legitimate policy priorities.
As usual, the administration has attempted to minimize the significance of its malfeasance and misfeasance, reciting its now-customary "mistakes were made" mantra, accepting purely abstract responsibility without consequences for its actions, and making hollow vows to do better. However, the DOJ Inspector General's Patriot Act report (which would not even have existed if the administration had not been forced to grudgingly accept a very modest legislative reporting requirement, instead of being allowed to operate in its preferred secrecy), the White House-DOJ e-mails, and now the Libby commutation merely highlight yet again the lawlessness, incompetence and dishonesty of the present executive branch leadership.
They also underscore Congress' lack of wisdom in blindly trusting the administration, largely rubber-stamping its legislative proposals, and essentially abandoning the congressional oversight function for most of the last six years. These are, after all, the same leaders who brought us the WMD fiasco, the unnecessary and disastrous Iraq war, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, warrantless domestic NSA surveillance, the Valerie Wilson leak, the arrest of Brandon Mayfield, and the Katrina response failure. The last thing they deserve is trust.
The sweeping, judicially unchecked powers granted under the Patriot Act should neither have been created in the first place nor permanently renewed thereafter, and the Act - which also contributed to the ongoing contretemps regarding the replacement of U.S. attorneys, by changing the appointment process to invite political abuse - should be substantially modified, if not scrapped outright. And real, rather than symbolic, responsibility should be assigned for the manifold abuses. The public trust has been flagrantly violated, and meaningful accountability is long overdue. Officials who have brought into disrepute both the Department of Justice and the administration of justice as a whole should finally have to answer for it - and the misdeeds at issue involve not merely garden-variety misconduct, but multiple "high crimes and misdemeanors," including war crimes and crimes against humanity.
I realize that this constitutionally protected statement subjects me to a substantial risk of unlawful reprisal from extremely ruthless people who have repeatedly taken such action in the past. But I am confident that I am speaking on behalf of countless thousands of honorable public servants, at Justice and elsewhere, who take their responsibilities seriously and share these views. And some things must be said, whatever the risk.
The views presented in this essay are not representative of the Department of Justice or its employees but are instead the personal views of its author.
John S. Koppel has been a civil appellate attorney with the Department of Justice since 1981.
The Decider? "I'm Not Sure Bush Had A Choice," says one of his Advisors about Libby decision.
Why Bush Gave Scooter Libby a Pass
Inside Bush's decision to give Scooter Libby a pass.
By Michael Isikoff
July 16, 2007 issue - As is often the case in the Bush White House, it was a decision made swiftly, and with stealth. For weeks, allies of I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby had aggressively lobbied the president to pardon Dick Cheney's former chief of staff. Libby's powerful supporters—including major GOP fund-raisers like Florida developer Melvin Sembler, the chairman of his legal-defense trust—argued that Libby's conviction in March in the CIA leak case was a miscarriage of justice. Libby's allies pressed their argument with White House aides but got nowhere. George W. Bush's senior staff was under strict instructions: listen politely, but give away nothing about what the president might ultimately do.
Behind the scenes, Bush was intensely focused on the matter, say two White House advisers who were briefed on the deliberations, but who asked not to be identified talking about sensitive matters. Bush asked Fred Fielding, his discreet White House counsel, to collect information on the case. Fielding, anticipating the Libby issue would be on his plate, had been gathering material for some time, including key trial transcripts. Uncharacteristically, Bush himself delved into the details. He was especially keen to know if there was compelling evidence that might contradict the jury's verdict that Libby had lied to a federal grand jury about when—and from whom—he learned the identity of Valerie Plame Wilson, wife of Iraq War critic Joe Wilson. But Fielding, one of the advisers tells NEWSWEEK, reluctantly concluded that the jury had reached a reasonable verdict: the evidence was strong that Libby testified falsely about his role in the leak.
The president was conflicted. He hated the idea that a loyal aide would serve time. Hanging over his deliberations was Cheney, who had said he was "very disappointed" with the jury's verdict. Cheney did not directly weigh in with Fielding, but nobody involved had any doubt where he stood. "I'm not sure Bush had a choice," says one of the advisers. "If he didn't act, it would have caused a fracture with the vice president." (White House officials and Cheney declined to comment. "As you know, we don't discuss internal deliberations," a Cheney spokeswoman tells NEWSWEEK.)
Last week, just hours after a three-judge panel rejected an appeal for a delay in Libby's sentence, the president intervened. He said Libby's 30 months were "excessive," and he was reducing it to zero. He left intact the conviction and $250,000 fine—which Libby promptly paid with a cashier's check. But Bush didn't clear Libby entirely. He said he respected the jury's verdict and described special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald as a "professional prosecutor." Bush's choice of words rankled Libby's supporters, since it seemed to make it harder for Bush to grant a full pardon. (The next day, Bush said he wouldn't "rule out" a pardon.)
The grumbling from Libby's supporters was nothing compared with the howls of indignation from Democrats, who condemned Bush for pushing harsh mandatory sentences for criminals—except the one who happened to work at the White House. But the Democrats' outrage lost steam when Hillary Clinton came forward to scold Bush for not respecting "the rule of law." White House aides were all too happy to remind the country about Bill Clinton's own questionable pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich.
In part, Bush may have stopped short of a full pardon precisely to keep Libby and other White House aides away from Democrats on Capitol Hill. Investigators in Congress are eager to call Libby to testify about the Plame case and prewar Iraq intel—an invitation Libby can continue to resist by claiming he can't talk as long as his appeal remains alive in the courts.
The White House has used the same line to shield itself from questions about the case. When the effort to discredit Wilson surfaced in 2003, Bush vowed to fire anyone on his staff who leaked classified information about Plame to the press. Last week a reporter asked White House Press Secretary Tony Snow why Bush hadn't dismissed Karl Rove—who was found to be one of the White House leakers. "We are not going to make comments in detail until the legal process is over," Snow responded. "And it is not—there is still an appeal." Nobody at the White House would be disappointed if that appeal just happened to drag on until Jan. 20, 2009.
Labels: Bush the Puppet, Dick Cheney Branch
Non-Profit Blue Cross Develops Strategy Memo to Deal With "Sicko." Claims Lifestyle Choices (obesity etc) are driving up health care costs. Bullshit
Friday, July 6th, 2007
BlueCross Secret Memo Re: 'Sicko' ... "You would have to be dead to be unaffected by Moore's movie..."
July 6th, 2007
An employee who works at Capital BlueCross has sent us a confidential memo written and circulated by its Vice President of Corporate Communications, Barclay Fitzpatrick. His job, it seems, was to go and watch "Sicko," observe the audience's reaction, and then suggest a plan of action for how to deal with the movie.
The memo, which I am releasing publicly in this email, is a fascinating look at how one health care company views "Sicko" -- and what it fears its larger impact will be on the public. The industry's only hope, the memo seems to indicate, is if the movie "flops."
Mr. Fitzpatrick writes: "In typical Moore fashion, Government and business leaders are behind a conspiracy to keep the little guy down and dominated while getting rich."
No. You don't say! That can't be!
BlueCross V.P. Fitzpatrick seems downright depressed about the movie he just saw. "You would have to be dead to be unaffected by Moore's movie," he writes. "Sicko" leaves audiences feeling "ashamed to be...a capitalist, and part of a 'me' society instead of a 'we' society."
He walks out of the theater only to witness an unusual sight: people -- strangers -- mingling and talking to each other. "'I didn't know they (the insurers) did that!' was a common exclamation followed by a discussion of the example," according to Fitzpatrick.
He then assesses the film's impact: "[T]he impact on small business decision makers, our members, the community, and our employees could be significant. Ignoring its impact might be a successful strategy only if it flops, but that has not been the history of Moore's films ... If popular, the movie will have a negative impact on our image in this community."
The BlueCross memo then suggests a strategy in dealing with "Sicko" and offers the BCBS "talking points" to be used in discounting the film.
My heartfelt thanks to the employee who sent this to me.
And now a word from me to Capital BlueCross:
How 'bout a debate? No more secret memos and hand wringing about the millions seeing "Sicko." Just me and your CEO openly debating the merits of a system that kills thousands of innocent Americans every year.
In the meantime, I hope you don't mind me sharing your thoughts and impressions in your well-written memo. And if the rest of your executive team hasn't seen "Sicko," it opens in an additional 100 cities tonight for a total of over 700 screens across North America. Attendance went up a whopping 56% on the 4th of July, higher than any other film in the theaters right now. But don't be scared, and certainly don't be ashamed to be a capitalist. Greed is good! Especially good for you. There's nothing like having the pre-existing condition of being rich, should you ever get sick and need help.
This is a NON-PROFIT?
July 7th, 2007 2:40 pm
Moore takes on Capital BlueCross
By David Wenner / Patriot-News
Central Pennsylvania's Capital BlueCross walked right into the crosshairs of Michael Moore.
The controversial director of the documentary "Sicko" obtained a memo written by Barclay Fitzpatrick, Capital's vice president for corporate communications.
Moore gave the memo top billing on his Web site yesterday. His taunts at Capital soon spread across the Internet.
Of Fitzpatrick, Moore writes: "His job, it seems, was to go and watch 'Sicko,' observe the audience reaction, and then suggest a plan of action to deal with the movie."
Fitzpatrick wrote in the memo, "You would have to be dead to be unaffected by Moore's movie."
In previous films, Moore has gone after the auto industry and the federal government's reaction to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. In "Sicko," now playing nationwide, he takes on the health care industry.
"Sicko" recounts stories of people who were denied medical care by insurers. Moore shows former health insurance employees who say their goal was finding ways to deny claims. He ends with a call for a government-run health system.
But Fitzpatrick says Moore focused on exceptions rather than the norm, and called the movie one-sided and misleading. Often, the medical treatment being denied was experimental, he noted.
Moore challenged Capital yesterday on his Web site, calling for a debate involving "just me and your CEO openly debating the merits of a system that kills thousands of innocent Americans every year."
In an e-mailed statement, Capital spokesman Joe Butera said, "Like most health-care companies, we already were being asked about Michael Moore's movie before it came out. So our communications person decided to see it. He wrote a memo summarizing his personal opinions and impressions of the film."
Butera added, "What his memo doesn't say is the company's position on [Moore's] movie. So here it is: We think anything that addresses the complex subject of health care is overall a good thing because it is such an important issue for our nation."
Butera said neither CEO Anita Smith nor Fitzpatrick would comment further.
In his memo, Fitzpatrick chided the film for ignoring the main culprits of America's health care crisis, which he said have much to do with lifestyle factors including poor nutrition, obesity and lack of exercise.
Still, he concluded that the vast majority of moviegoers who see the film will "have their perceptions substantially affected" in a way that would harm the reputation of Capital and other health insurers. Capital should prepare employees to respond to questions from customers, friends, family and neighbors, he wrote.
Fitzpatrick suggested "the most successful strategy will not be in attacking the movie for its weaknesses or misperceptions, but in distancing ourselves and our brand from the groups and motivations he attacks, demonstrating the good that we do and achieve ... and in articulating our disappointment that he did not address the truly relevant issue of improving our health and wellness."
Butera said Capital isn't interested in a debate.
"We remain focused on our mission -- not on debating others. We will continue to work hard every day to fulfill our mission by delivering quality health care at an affordable cost," he wrote.
Fitzpatrick's memo pointed out Moore makes no distinction between for-profit insurers, which include many of the nation's best-known insurers, and non-profit plans such as Capital.
The for-profit plans, which in the Harrisburg area include Health America and Aetna, generate profits for stockholders. The non-profit Blues accumulate "reserves," which must benefit their customers, or serve a charitable purpose.
In 2005, Pennsylvania's four Blues plans agreed to contribute $1 billion toward the state's insurance program for the poor. The Blues have pointed out that most of their reserves are amassed through investments, and they aim to collect premiums that are roughly equal to what they pay toward medical expenses and overhead.
In an online chat, Moore noted that Capital has $795 million in reserves and that Smith's salary is "over $800,000 a year."
"If that is non-profit, I am sure a lot of people would be interested in working for that kind of pay. Where is all that money coming from?" Moore wrote.
Smith actually earned $1.2 million in 2006, according to the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. Ken Melani of Highmark Inc. was the highest paid Blues CEO in the state, earning $3.2 million.