Condi's Fantasy Posted by Hello


Everything Old is New Again Posted by Hello


The Neocon Secret Weapon Posted by Hello

Mad Dr. Cheney's creation Posted by Hello
Secret Unit Expands Rumsfeld's Domain New Espionage Branch Delving Into CIA Territory
By Barton GellmanWashington Post Staff WriterSunday, January 23, 2005; Page A01
The Pentagon, expanding into the CIA's historic bailiwick, has created a new espionage arm and is reinterpreting U.S. law to give Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld broad authority over clandestine operations abroad, according to interviews with participants and documents obtained by The Washington Post.
The previously undisclosed organization, called the Strategic Support Branch, arose from Rumsfeld's written order to end his "near total dependence on CIA" for what is known as human intelligence. Designed to operate without detection and under the defense secretary's direct control, the Strategic Support Branch deploys small teams of case officers, linguists, interrogators and technical specialists alongside newly empowered special operations forces.
Military and civilian participants said in interviews that the new unit has been operating in secret for two years -- in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places they declined to name. According to an early planning memorandum to Rumsfeld from Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the focus of the intelligence initiative is on "emerging target countries such as Somalia, Yemen, Indonesia, Philippines and Georgia." Myers and his staff declined to be interviewed.
The Strategic Support Branch was created to provide Rumsfeld with independent tools for the "full spectrum of humint operations," according to an internal account of its origin and mission. Human intelligence operations, a term used in counterpoint to technical means such as satellite photography, range from interrogation of prisoners and scouting of targets in wartime to the peacetime recruitment of foreign spies. A recent Pentagon memo states that recruited agents may include "notorious figures" whose links to the U.S. government would be embarrassing if disclosed.
Perhaps the most significant shift is the Defense Department's bid to conduct surreptitious missions, in friendly and unfriendly states, when conventional war is a distant or unlikely prospect -- activities that have traditionally been the province of the CIA's Directorate of Operations. Senior Rumsfeld advisers said those missions are central to what they called the department's predominant role in combating terrorist threats.
The Pentagon has a vast bureaucracy devoted to gathering and analyzing intelligence, often in concert with the CIA, and news reports over more than a year have described Rumsfeld's drive for more and better human intelligence. But the creation of the espionage branch, the scope of its clandestine operations and the breadth of Rumsfeld's asserted legal authority have not been detailed publicly before. Two longtime members of the House Intelligence Committee, a Democrat and a Republican, said they knew no details before being interviewed for this article.
Pentagon officials said they established the Strategic Support Branch using "reprogrammed" funds, without explicit congressional authority or appropriation. Defense intelligence missions, they said, are subject to less stringent congressional oversight than comparable operations by the CIA. Rumsfeld's dissatisfaction with the CIA's operations directorate, and his determination to build what amounts in some respects to a rival service, follows struggles with then-CIA Director George J. Tenet over intelligence collection priorities in Afghanistan and Iraq. Pentagon officials said the CIA naturally has interests that differ from those of military commanders, but they also criticized its operations directorate as understaffed, slow-moving and risk-averse. A recurring phrase in internal Pentagon documents is the requirement for a human intelligence branch "directly responsive to tasking from SecDef," or Rumsfeld.
The new unit's performance in the field -- and its latest commander, reserve Army Col. George Waldroup -- are controversial among those involved in the closely held program. Pentagon officials acknowledged that Waldroup and many of those brought quickly into his service lack the experience and training typical of intelligence officers and special operators. In his civilian career as a federal manager, according to a Justice Department inspector general's report, Waldroup was at the center of a 1996 probe into alleged deception of Congress concerning staffing problems at Miami International Airport. Navy Vice Adm. Lowell E. Jacoby, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, expressed "utmost confidence in Colonel Waldroup's capabilities" and said in an interview that Waldroup's unit has scored "a whole series of successes" that he could not reveal in public. He acknowledged the risks, however, of trying to expand human intelligence too fast: "It's not something you quickly constitute as a capability. It's going to take years to do."
Rumsfeld's ambitious plans rely principally on the Tampa-based U.S. Special Operations Command, or SOCOM, and on its clandestine component, the Joint Special Operations Command. Rumsfeld has designated SOCOM's leader, Army Gen. Bryan D. Brown, as the military commander in chief in the war on terrorism. He has also given Brown's subordinates new authority to pay foreign agents. The Strategic Support Branch is intended to add missing capabilities -- such as the skill to establish local spy networks and the technology for direct access to national intelligence databases -- to the military's much larger special operations squadrons. Some Pentagon officials refer to the combined units as the "secret army of Northern Virginia."
Known as "special mission units," Brown's elite forces are not acknowledged publicly. They include two squadrons of an Army unit popularly known as Delta Force, another Army squadron -- formerly code-named Gray Fox -- that specializes in close-in electronic surveillance, an Air Force human intelligence unit and the Navy unit popularly known as SEAL Team Six.
The Defense Department is planning for further growth. Among the proposals circulating are the establishment of a Pentagon-controlled espionage school, largely duplicating the CIA's Field Tradecraft Course at Camp Perry, Va., and of intelligence operations commands for every region overseas.
Rumsfeld's efforts, launched in October 2001, address two widely shared goals. One is to give combat forces, such as those fighting the insurgency in Iraq, more and better information about their immediate enemy. The other is to find new tools to penetrate and destroy the shadowy organizations, such as al Qaeda, that pose global threats to U.S. interests in conflicts with little resemblance to conventional war.
In pursuit of those aims, Rumsfeld is laying claim to greater independence of action as Congress seeks to subordinate the 15 U.S. intelligence departments and agencies -- most under Rumsfeld's control -- to the newly created and still unfilled position of national intelligence director. For months, Rumsfeld opposed the intelligence reorganization bill that created the position. He withdrew his objections late last year after House Republican leaders inserted language that he interprets as preserving much of the department's autonomy.
Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, deputy undersecretary for intelligence, acknowledged that Rumsfeld intends to direct some missions previously undertaken by the CIA. He added that it is wrong to make "an assumption that what the secretary is trying to say is, 'Get the CIA out of this business, and we'll take it.' I don't interpret it that way at all."
"The secretary actually has more responsibility to collect intelligence for the national foreign intelligence program . . . than does the CIA director," Boykin said. "That's why you hear all this information being published about the secretary having 80 percent of the [intelligence] budget. Well, yeah, but he has 80 percent of the responsibility for collection, as well."
CIA spokeswoman Anya Guilsher said the agency would grant no interviews for this article.
Pentagon officials emphasized their intention to remain accountable to Congress, but they also asserted that defense intelligence missions are subject to fewer legal constraints than Rumsfeld's predecessors believed. That assertion involves new interpretations of Title 10 of the U.S. Code, which governs the armed services, and Title 50, which governs, among other things, foreign intelligence.
Under Title 10, for example, the Defense Department must report to Congress all "deployment orders," or formal instructions from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to position U.S. forces for combat. But guidelines issued this month by Undersecretary for Intelligence Stephen A. Cambone state that special operations forces may "conduct clandestine HUMINT operations . . . before publication" of a deployment order, rendering notification unnecessary. Pentagon lawyers also define the "war on terror" as ongoing, indefinite and global in scope. That analysis effectively discards the limitation of the defense secretary's war powers to times and places of imminent combat.
Under Title 50, all departments of the executive branch are obliged to keep Congress "fully and currently informed of all intelligence activities." The law exempts "traditional . . . military activities" and their "routine support." Advisers said Rumsfeld, after requesting a fresh legal review by the Pentagon's general counsel, interprets "traditional" and "routine" more expansively than his predecessors.
"Operations the CIA runs have one set of restrictions and oversight, and the military has another," said a Republican member of Congress with a substantial role in national security oversight, declining to speak publicly against political allies. "It sounds like there's an angle here of, 'Let's get around having any oversight by having the military do something that normally the [CIA] does, and not tell anybody.' That immediately raises all kinds of red flags for me. Why aren't they telling us?"
The enumeration by Myers of "emerging target countries" for clandestine intelligence work illustrates the breadth of the Pentagon's new concept. All those named, save Somalia, have allied themselves with the United States -- if unevenly -- against al Qaeda and its jihadist allies.
A high-ranking official with direct responsibility for the initiative, declining to speak on the record about espionage in friendly nations, said the Defense Department sometimes has to work undetected inside "a country that we're not at war with, if you will, a country that maybe has ungoverned spaces, or a country that is tacitly allowing some kind of threatening activity to go on."
Assistant Secretary of Defense Thomas O'Connell, who oversees special operations policy, said Rumsfeld has discarded the "hide-bound way of thinking" and "risk-averse mentalities" of previous Pentagon officials under every president since Gerald R. Ford.
"Many of the restrictions imposed on the Defense Department were imposed by tradition, by legislation, and by interpretations of various leaders and legal advisors," O'Connell said in a written reply to follow-up questions. "The interpretations take on the force of law and may preclude activities that are legal. In my view, many of the authorities inherent to [the Defense Department] . . . were winnowed away over the years."
After reversing the restrictions, Boykin said, Rumsfeld's next question "was, 'Okay, do I have the capability?' And the answer was, 'No you don't have the capability. . . . And then it became a matter of, 'I want to build a capability to be able to do this.' "
Known by several names since its inception as Project Icon on April 25, 2002, the Strategic Support Branch is an arm of the DIA's nine-year-old Defense Human Intelligence Service, which until now has concentrated on managing military attachés assigned openly to U.S. embassies around the world.
Rumsfeld's initiatives are not connected to previously reported negotiations between the Defense Department and the CIA over control of paramilitary operations, such as the capture of individuals or the destruction of facilities.
According to written guidelines made available to The Post, the Defense Department has decided that it will coordinate its human intelligence missions with the CIA but will not, as in the past, await consent. It also reserves the right to bypass the agency's Langley headquarters, consulting CIA officers in the field instead. The Pentagon will deem a mission "coordinated" after giving 72 hours' notice to the CIA.
Four people with firsthand knowledge said defense personnel have already begun operating under "non-official cover" overseas, using false names and nationalities. Those missions, and others contemplated in the Pentagon, skirt the line between clandestine and covert operations. Under U.S. law, "clandestine" refers to actions that are meant to be undetected, and "covert" refers to those for which the U.S. government denies its responsibility. Covert action is subject to stricter legal requirements, including a written "finding" of necessity by the president and prompt notification of senior leaders of both parties in the House and Senate.
O'Connell, asked whether the Pentagon foresees greater involvement in covert action, said "that remains to be determined." He added: "A better answer yet might be, depends upon the situation. But no one I know of is raising their hand and saying at DOD, 'We want control of covert operations.' "
One scenario in which Pentagon operatives might play a role, O'Connell said, is this: "A hostile country close to our borders suddenly changes leadership. . . . We would want to make sure the successor is not hostile."


Jan. 18, 2005-Salon.com
Once upon a time -- about five years ago -- conservative pundits often talked about "scandal fatigue." Remember scandal fatigue? It was an affliction supposedly either turning voters against Democrats or, alternatively, a weariness in the body politic preventing Republicans from pursuing even more grievances against Bill Clinton. By any objective measure, however, after four years of George W. Bush's presidency, the entire nation should be suffering from utter scandal exhaustion.
Consider the raw materials of scandal that this administration has produced: False claims about Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction. Torture in Abu Ghraib. The virtually treasonous exposure of a CIA agent by White House officials. And those are just the best-known examples.
After all, how many citizens can name all the ongoing investigations of Halliburton, Vice President Dick Cheney's old firm? Who remembers that the administration illicitly diverted $700 million from Afghanistan to Iraq? Or that, on Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans stole strategy memos from Democrats, while a House Republican said he was offered a bribe during a crucial vote? Even a conscientious citizen cannot be expected to keep score, so Salon has compiled a list.
If the next four years of Bush and the GOP running the federal government are anything like the previous four, however, potential scandals will lead to few political consequences for the Republicans. Bush opponents will likely be disappointed if they are waiting for a renewal of the supposed "second-term scandal jinx" dogging Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Clinton.
After all, Washington Republicans are insulated by a rabidly partisan Congress with no interest in investigating the executive branch (and little taste for disciplining itself). By contrast, presidents Nixon, Reagan and Clinton each faced an adversarial Congress. As the late Senate Watergate Committee counsel Sam Dash noted in 2003 about congressional oversight: "Although it worked then, it doesn't mean it would work now."
Moreover, Congress allowed the independent-counsel statute, the law that brought us Ken Starr, to expire as Bush assumed office. And the right-wing media -- cable news, talk radio, several newspapers -- are not about to replicate the drumbeat of scandal they pounded out while Clinton held office. Thus scandals are not a defining part of the GOP's current identity.
The Democrats, terminally cautious even in the minority, seem unlikely to change this dynamic -- although Harry Reid, the Democrats' new Senate leader, has announced his party will hold monthly oversight hearings, beginning this January, on "unasked and unanswered questions" about the Bush administration. Reid's project, however, is an uphill battle. The Democrats cannot compel anyone to testify, unlike standard congressional committees, and memorable rhetoric is not a party strength. "This is about honesty and accountability and reforming our federal government," Reid said in the prepared statement the Democratic Policy Committee released about its oversight plans.
Just think: Someone prepared that quote. To put it more bluntly than Reid did: This is about the dozens of scandals occurring while the Republican Party has enjoyed almost complete control over the federal government. This is about the GOP's utter disrespect for the laws of the United States. This is about stopping greed, bribery and influence-peddling.
Indeed, here are 34 Republican scandals worthy of further attention, gathered into one place. The list focuses on scandals involving apparently illegal activity or violations of ethics codes. Not everything that is politically, legally or ethically scandalous constitutes a scandal. It is scandalous, for instance, that House Republicans have further weakened their own ethics committee. But that is not, properly speaking, a political scandal. It is just contemptible governance.
This list is also limited to events of the past four years, or those coming to light in that time. It covers both the executive branch and the Congress, since the latter, especially the Senate, is increasingly a mere adjunct to the White House. However, the items are not arranged in terms of moral or historical gravity. Abu Ghraib might create years of anti-American hatred abroad, but it and some other headline-generating events appear near the end of the list, to help familiarize readers first with lesser-known or now-overlooked scandals. Recall how John Ashcroft broke the law? Know why Dick Cheney wants to keep those energy task force documents secret? Read on. You too, Harry Reid.
1. Memogate: The Senate Computer Theft
The scandal: From 2001 to 2003, Republican staffers on the Senate Judiciary Committee illicitly accessed nearly 5,000 computer files containing confidential Democratic strategy memos about President Bush's judicial nominees. The GOP used the memos to shape their own plans and leaked some to the media.
The problem: The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act states it is illegal to obtain confidential information from a government computer.
The outcome: Unresolved. The Justice Department has assigned a prosecutor to the case. The staff member at the heart of the matter, Manuel Miranda, has attempted to brazen it out, filing suit in September 2004 against the DOJ to end the investigation. "A grand jury will indict a ham sandwich," Miranda complained. Some jokes just write themselves.
2. Doctor Detroit: The DOJ's Bungled Terrorism Case
The scandal: The Department of Justice completely botched the nation's first post-9/11 terrorism trial, as seen when the convictions of three Detroit men allegedly linked to al-Qaida were overturned in September 2004. Former Attorney General John Ashcroft had claimed their June 2003 sentencing sent "a clear message" that the government would "detect, disrupt and dismantle the activities of terrorist cells."
The problem: The DOJ's lead prosecutor in the case, Richard Convertino, withheld key information from the defense and distorted supposed pieces of evidence -- like a Las Vegas vacation video purported to be a surveillance tape. But that's not the half of it. Convertino says he was unfairly scapegoated because he testified before the Senate, against DOJ wishes, about terrorist financing. Justice's reconsideration of the case began soon thereafter. Convertino has since sued the DOJ, which has also placed him under investigation.
The outcome: Let's see: Overturned convictions, lawsuits and feuding about a Kafkaesque case. Nobody looks good here.
3. Dark Matter: The Energy Task Force
The scandal: A lawsuit has claimed it is illegal for Dick Cheney to keep the composition of his 2001 energy-policy task force secret. What's the big deal? The New Yorker's Jane Mayer has suggested an explosive aspect of the story, citing a National Security Council memo from February 2001, which "directed the N.S.C. staff to cooperate fully with the Energy Task Force as it considered the 'melding' of ... 'operational policies towards rogue states,' such as Iraq, and 'actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields.'" In short, the task force's activities could shed light on the administration's pre-9/11 Iraq aims.
The problem: The Federal Advisory Committee Act says the government must disclose the work of groups that include non-federal employees; the suit claims energy industry executives were effectively task force members. Oh, and the Bush administration has portrayed the Iraq war as a response to 9/11, not something it was already considering.
The outcome: Unresolved. In June 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court sent the case back to an appellate court.
4. The Indian Gaming Scandal
The scandal: Potential influence peddling to the tune of $82 million, for starters. Jack Abramoff, a GOP lobbyist and major Bush fundraiser, and Michael Scanlon, a former aide to Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas), received that amount from several Indian tribes, while offering access to lawmakers. For instance, Texas' Tigua tribe, which wanted its closed El Paso casino reopened, gave millions to the pair and $33,000 to Rep. Robert Ney (R-Ohio) in hopes of favorable legislation (Ney came up empty). And get this: The Tiguas were unaware that Abramoff, Scanlon and conservative activist Ralph Reed had earned millions lobbying to have the same casino shut in 2002.
The problem: Federal officials want to know if Abramoff and Scanlon provided real services for the $82 million, and if they broke laws while backing candidates in numerous Indian tribe elections.
The outcome: Everybody into the cesspool! The Senate Indian Affairs Committee and five federal agencies, including the FBI, IRS, and Justice Department, are investigating.
5. Halliburton's No-Bid Bonanza
The scandal: In February 2003, Halliburton received a five-year, $7 billion no-bid contract for services in Iraq.
The problem: The Army Corps of Engineers' top contracting officer, Bunnatine Greenhouse, objected to the deal, saying the contract should be the standard one-year length, and that a Halliburton official should not have been present during the discussions.
The outcome: The FBI is investigating. The $7 billion contract was halved and Halliburton won one of the parts in a public bid. For her troubles, Greenhouse has been forced into whistle-blower protection.
6. Halliburton: Pumping Up Prices
The scandal: In 2003, Halliburton overcharged the army for fuel in Iraq. Specifically, Halliburton's subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root hired a Kuwaiti company, Altanmia, to supply fuel at about twice the going rate, then added a markup, for an overcharge of at least $61 million, according to a December 2003 Pentagon audit.
The problem: That's not the government's $61 million, it's our $61 million.
The outcome: The FBI is investigating.
7. Halliburton's Vanishing Iraq Money
The scandal: In mid-2004, Pentagon auditors determined that $1.8 billion of Halliburton's charges to the government, about 40 percent of the total, had not been adequately documented.
The problem: That's not the government's $1.8 billion, it's our $1.8 billion.
The outcome: The Defense Contract Audit Agency has "strongly" asked the Army to withhold about $60 million a month from its Halliburton payments until the documentation is provided.
8. The Halliburton Bribe-apalooza
The scandal: This may not surprise you, but an international consortium of companies, including Halliburton, is alleged to have paid more than $100 million in bribes to Nigerian officials, from 1995 to 2002, to facilitate a natural-gas-plant deal. (Cheney was Halliburton's CEO from 1995 to 2000.)
The problem: The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prohibits U.S. companies from bribing foreign officials.
The outcome: A veritable coalition of the willing is investigating the deal, including the Justice Department, the SEC, the Nigerian government and a French magistrate. In June, Halliburton fired two implicated executives.
9. Halliburton: One Fine Company
The scandal: In 1998 and 1999, Halliburton counted money recovered from project overruns as revenue, before settling the charges with clients.
The problem: Doing so made the company's income appear larger, but Halliburton did not explain this to investors. The SEC ruled this accounting practice was "materially misleading."
The outcome: In August 2004, Halliburton agreed to pay a $7.5 million fine to settle SEC charges. One Halliburton executive has paid a fine and another is settling civil charges. Now imagine the right-wing rhetoric if, say, Al Gore had once headed a firm fined for fudging income statements.
10. Halliburton's Iran End Run
The scandal: Halliburton may have been doing business with Iran while Cheney was CEO.
The problem: Federal sanctions have banned U.S. companies from dealing directly with Iran. To operate in Iran legally, U.S. companies have been required to set up independent subsidiaries registered abroad. Halliburton thus set up a new entity, Halliburton Products and Services Ltd., to do business in Iran, but while the subsidiary was registered in the Cayman Islands, it may not have had operations totally independent of the parent company.
The outcome: Unresolved. The Treasury Department has referred the case to the U.S. attorney in Houston, who convened a grand jury in July 2004.
11. Money Order: Afghanistan's Missing $700 Million Turns Up in Iraq
The scandal: According to Bob Woodward's "Plan of Attack," the Bush administration diverted $700 million in funds from the war in Afghanistan, among other places, to prepare for the Iraq invasion.
The problem: Article I, Section 8, Clause 12 of the U.S. Constitution specifically gives Congress the power "to raise and support armies." And the emergency spending bill passed after Sept. 11, 2001, requires the administration to notify Congress before changing war spending plans. That did not happen.
The outcome: Congress declined to investigate. The administration's main justification for its decision has been to claim the funds were still used for, one might say, Middle East anti-tyrant-related program activities.
12. Iraq: More Loose Change
The scandal: The inspector general of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq released a series of reports in July 2004 finding that a significant portion of CPA assets had gone missing -- 34 percent of the materiel controlled by Kellogg, Brown & Root -- and that the CPA's method of disbursing $600 million in Iraq reconstruction funds "did not establish effective controls and left accountability open to fraud, waste and abuse."
The problem: As much as $50 million of that money was disbursed without proper receipts.
The outcome: The CPA has disbanded, but individual government investigations into the handling of Iraq's reconstruction continue.
13. The Pentagon-Israel Spy Case
The scandal: A Pentagon official, Larry Franklin, may have passed classified United States documents about Iran to Israel, possibly via the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a Washington lobbying group.
The problem: To do so could be espionage or could constitute the mishandling of classified documents.
The outcome: A grand jury is investigating. In December 2004, the FBI searched AIPAC's offices. A Senate committee has also been investigating the apparently unauthorized activities of the Near East and South Asia Affairs group in the Pentagon, where Franklin works.
14. Gone to Taiwan
The scandal: Missed this one? A high-ranking State Department official, Donald Keyser, was arrested and charged in September with making a secret trip to Taiwan and was observed by the FBI passing documents to Taiwanese intelligence agents in Washington-area meetings.
The problem: Such unauthorized trips are illegal. And we don't have diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
The outcome: The case is in the courts.
15. Wiretapping the United Nations
The scandal: Before the United Nations' vote on the Iraq war, the United States and Great Britain developed an eavesdropping operation targeting diplomats from several countries.
The problem: U.N. officials say the practice is illegal and undermines honest diplomacy, although some observers claim it is business as usual on East 42nd Street.
The outcome: Little fuss here, but a major British scandal erupted after U.K. intelligence translator Katherine Gun leaked a U.S. National Security Agency memo requesting British help in the spying scheme, in early 2003. Initially charged under Britain's Official Secrets Act for leaking classified information, Gun was cleared in 2004 -- seemingly to avoid hearings questioning the legality of Britain's war participation.
16. The Boeing Boondoggle
The scandal: In 2003, the Air Force contracted with Boeing to lease a fleet of refueling tanker planes at an inflated price: $23 billion.
The problem: The deal was put together by a government procurement official, Darleen Druyun, who promptly joined Boeing. Beats using a headhunter.
The outcome: In November 2003, Boeing fired both Druyun and CFO Michael Sears. In April 2004, Druyun pled guilty to a conspiracy charge in the case. In November 2004, Sears copped to a conflict-of-interest charge, and company CEO Phil Condit resigned. The government is reviewing its need for the tankers.
17. The Medicare Bribe Scandal
The scandal: According to former Rep. Nick Smith (R-Mich.), on Nov. 21, 2003, with the vote on the administration's Medicare bill hanging in the balance, someone offered to contribute $100,000 to his son's forthcoming congressional campaign, if Smith would support the bill.
The problem: Federal law prohibits the bribery of elected officials.
The outcome: In September 2004, the House Ethics Committee concluded an inquiry by fingering House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), saying he deserved "public admonishment" for offering to endorse Smith's son in return for Smith's vote. DeLay has claimed Smith initiated talks about a quid pro quo. The matter of the $100,000 is unresolved; soon after his original allegations, Smith suddenly claimed he had not been offered any money. Smith's son Brad lost his GOP primary in August 2004.
18. Tom DeLay's PAC Problems
The scandal: One of DeLay's political action committees, Texans for a Republican Majority, apparently reaped illegal corporate contributions for the campaigns of Republicans running for the Texas Legislature in 2002. Given a Republican majority, the Legislature then re-drew Texas' U.S. congressional districts to help the GOP.
The problem: Texas law bans the use of corporate money for political purposes.
The outcome: Unresolved. Three DeLay aides and associates -- Jim Ellis, John Colyandro and Warren RoBold -- were charged in September 2004 with crimes including money laundering and unlawful acceptance of corporate contributions.
19. Tom DeLay's FAA: Following Americans Anywhere
The scandal: In May 2003, DeLay's office persuaded the Federal Aviation Administration to find the plane carrying a Texas Democratic legislator, who was leaving the state in an attempt to thwart the GOP's nearly unprecedented congressional redistricting plan.
The problem: According to the House Ethics Committee, the "invocation of federal executive branch resources in a partisan dispute before a state legislative body" is wrong.
The outcome: In October 2004, the committee rebuked DeLay for his actions.
20. In the Rough: Tom DeLay's Golf Fundraiser
The scandal: DeLay appeared at a golf fundraiser that Westar Energy held for one of his political action committees, Americans for a Republican Majority, while energy legislation was pending in the House.
The problem: It's one of these "appearance of impropriety" situations.
The outcome: The House Ethics Committee tossed the matter into its Oct. 6 rebuke. "Take a lap, Tom."
21. Busy, Busy, Busy in New Hampshire
The scandal: In 2002, with a tight Senate race in New Hampshire, Republican Party officials paid a Virginia-based firm, GOP Marketplace, to enact an Election Day scheme meant to depress Democratic turnout by "jamming" the Democratic Party phone bank with continuous calls for 90 minutes.
The problem: Federal law prohibits the use of telephones to "annoy or harass" anyone.
The outcome: Chuck McGee, the former executive director of the New Hampshire GOP, pleaded guilty in July 2004 to a felony charge, while Allen Raymond, former head of GOP Marketplace, pleaded guilty to a similar charge in June. In December, James Tobin, former New England campaign chairman of Bush-Cheney '04, was indicted for conspiracy in the case.
22. The Medicare Money Scandal
The scandal: Thomas Scully, Medicare's former administrator, supposedly threatened to fire chief Medicare actuary Richard Foster to prevent him from disclosing the true cost of the 2003 Medicare bill.
The problem: Congress voted on the bill believing it would cost $400 billion over 10 years. The program is more likely to cost $550 billion.
The outcome: Scully denies threatening to fire Foster, as Foster has charged, but admits telling Foster to withhold the higher estimate from Congress. In September 2004, the Government Accountability Office recommended Scully return half his salary from 2003. Inevitably, Scully is now a lobbyist for drug companies helped by the bill.
23. The Bogus Medicare "Video News Release"
The scandal: To promote its Medicare bill, the Bush administration produced imitation news-report videos touting the legislation. About 40 television stations aired the videos. More recently, similar videos promoting the administration's education policy have come to light.
The problem: The administration broke two laws: One forbidding the use of federal money for propaganda, and another forbidding the unauthorized use of federal funds.
The outcome: In May 2004, the GAO concluded the administration acted illegally, but the agency lacks enforcement power.
24. Pundits on the Payroll: The Armstrong Williams Case
The scandal: The Department of Education paid conservative commentator Armstrong Williams $240,000 to promote its educational law, No Child Left Behind.
The problem: Williams did not disclose that his support was government funded until the deal was exposed in January 2005.
The outcome: The House and FCC are considering inquiries, while Williams' syndicated newspaper column has been terminated.
25. Ground Zero's Unsafe Air
The scandal: Government officials publicly minimized the health risks stemming from the World Trade Center attack. In September 2001, for example, Environmental Protection Agency head Christine Todd Whitman said New York's "air is safe to breathe and [the] water is safe to drink."
The problem: Research showed serious dangers or was incomplete. The EPA used outdated techniques that failed to detect tiny asbestos particles. EPA data also showed high levels of lead and benzene, which causes cancer. A Sierra Club report claims the government ignored alarming data. A GAO report says no adequate study of 9/11's health effects has been organized.
The outcome: The long-term health effects of the disaster will likely not be apparent for years or decades and may never be definitively known. Already, hundreds of 9/11 rescue workers have quit their jobs because of acute illnesses.
26. John Ashcroft's Illegal Campaign Contributions
The scandal: Ashcroft's exploratory committee for his short-lived 2000 presidential bid transferred $110,000 to his unsuccessful 2000 reelection campaign for the Senate.
The problem: The maximum for such a transfer is $10,000.
The outcome: The Federal Election Commission fined Ashcroft's campaign treasurer, Garrett Lott, $37,000 for the transgression.
27. Intel Inside ... The White House
The scandal: In early 2001, chief White House political strategist Karl Rove held meetings with numerous companies while maintaining six-figure holdings of their stock -- including Intel, whose executives were seeking government approval of a merger. "Washington hadn't seen a clearer example of a conflict of interest in years," wrote Paul Glastris in the Washington Monthly.
The problem: The Code of Federal Regulations says government employees should not participate in matters in which they have a personal financial interest.
The outcome: Then White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, spurning precedent, did not refer the case to the Justice Department.
28. Duck! Antonin Scalia's Legal Conflicts
The scandal: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia refused to recuse himself from the Cheney energy task force case, despite taking a duck-hunting trip with the vice president after the court agreed to weigh the matter.
The problem: Federal law requires a justice to "disqualify himself from any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned."
The outcome: Scalia stayed on, arguing no conflict existed because Cheney was party to the case in a professional, not personal, capacity. Nothing new for Scalia, who in 2002 was part of a Mississippi redistricting ruling favorable to GOP Rep. Chip Pickering -- son of Judge Charles Pickering, a Scalia turkey-hunting pal. In 2001, Scalia went pheasant hunting with Kansas Gov. Bill Graves when that state had cases pending before the Supreme Court.
29. AWOL
The scandal: George W. Bush, self-described "war president," did not fulfill his National Guard duty, and Bush and his aides have made misleading statements about it. Salon's Eric Boehlert wrote the best recent summary of the issue.
The problem: Military absenteeism is a punishable offense, although Bush received an honorable discharge.
The outcome: No longer a campaign issue. But what was Bush doing in 1972?
30. Iraq: The Case for War
The scandal: Bush and many officials in his administration made false statements about Iraq's military capabilities, in the months before the United States' March 2003 invasion of the country.
The problem: For one thing, it is a crime to lie to Congress, although Bush backers claim the president did not knowingly make false assertions.
The outcome: A war spun out of control with unknowable long-term consequences. The Iraq Survey Group has stopped looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
31. Niger Forgeries: Whodunit?
The scandal: In his January 2003 State of the Union address, Bush said, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
The problem: The statement was untrue. By March 2003, the International Atomic Energy Agency showed the claim, that Iraq sought materials from Niger, was based on easily discernible forgeries.
The outcome: The identity of the forger(s) remains under wraps. Journalist Josh Marshall has implied the FBI is oddly uninterested in interviewing Rocco Martino, the former Italian intelligence agent who apparently first shopped the documents in intelligence and journalistic circles and would presumably be able to shed light on their origin.
32. In Plame Sight
The scandal: In July 2003, administration officials disclosed the identity of Valerie Plame, a CIA operative working on counterterrorism efforts, to multiple journalists, and columnist Robert Novak made Plame's identity public. Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had just written a New York Times opinion piece stating he had investigated the Niger uranium-production allegations, at the CIA's behest, and reported them to be untrue, before Bush's 2003 State of the Union address.
The problem: Under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act it is illegal to disclose, knowingly, the name of an undercover agent.
The outcome: Unresolved. The Justice Department appointed special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to the case in December 2003. While this might seem a simple matter, Fitzgerald could be unable to prove the leakers knew Plame was a covert agent.
33. Abu Ghraib
The scandal: American soldiers physically tortured prisoners in Iraq and kept undocumented "ghost detainees" in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
The problem: The United States is party to the Geneva Conventions, which state that "No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever."
The outcome: Unresolved. A Pentagon internal inquiry found a lack of oversight at Abu Ghraib, while independent inquiries have linked the events to the administration's desire to use aggressive interrogation methods globally. Notoriously, Gonzales has advocated an approach which "renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions." More recently, Gonzales issued qualified support for the Geneva Conventions in January 2005 Senate testimony after being nominated for attorney general. Army reservist Charles Graner was convicted in January 2005 for abusing prisoners, while a few other soldiers await trial.
34. Guantánamo Bay Torture?
The scandal: The U.S. military is also alleged to have abused prisoners at the U.S. Navy's base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. FBI agents witnessing interrogations there have reported use of growling dogs to frighten prisoners and the chaining of prisoners in the fetal position while depriving them of food or water for extended periods.
The problem: More potential violations of the Geneva Conventions.
The outcome: An internal military investigation was launched in January 2005.
There is also a petition, from Barbara Boxer to hold Condi accountable
John Kerry is circulating a petition asking Dubya to can Rumsfeld, you can sign it here


The Coronation Headress Posted by Hello
Condi tries to impress congress Posted by Hello
Text from a zine created by OKRA, a local affinity group from Washington, DC in preparation for the Counter-Inauguration. Provides over-view of DC geography, and political economic history and a perspective on impacts on mass mobilizing on local communities. Enjoy!
A project of OKRAokra (at) mutualaid.org//////////
This letter is our effort to help raise awareness of the history,geography and people of DC, as well as the struggles carried out here.We see this mass convergence as an opportunity to make connections betweenlocal, national and international movements; a time to consider theimpacts of mass mobilizations on local communities; to consider how we canwork in solidarity with local struggles; and develop new tactics andstrategies of resistance.We hope this becomes an opportunity for activists to consider the presenceof white supremacy within mass mobilizing efforts and social justicemovements, and strengthen strategies for challenging this legacy.OKRA is an affinity group of primarily white DC residents in their 20'sand 30's. We are also activists and organizers interested in connectingwith others to create/strengthen a long-term strategy for challengingwhite supremacy and other forms of oppression.* Does a group like this exist in your town/city?* What might a group like this add to organizing efforts in your town/community?
When people come to DC from out of town, they see a landscape of monumentsand big, stoic buildings that house our nation’s powerful elite. A daywalking around all of DC’s four quadrants (NE, SE, NW, and SW) will giveyou a very different portrait of our nation’s capitol. Each quadrant hasmany distinctive neighborhoods and communities. The population of DC is60% African American and is home to a large community of immigrants fromLatin America, Africa and Southeast Asia. Despite this diversity, DCremains a very segregated city, both racially and economically, andservices follow accordingly.There is a public health crisis here in DC- with folks living in the mostdensely populated areas with the highest concentrations of poverty facingthe bulk of this burden. In the past ten years the District governmentshut down one of the only public hospitals left in the country. Thishospital, DC General, was the only hospital and emergency facilityservicing this area. DC has the highest HIV/AIDS rate in the entire nationand one of the highest rates of infant mortality.Clearly, there is a massive disparity between the rich and poor in ournation’s capitol. This past summer, the DC Fiscal Policy Instituteconducted a study that cited, "The top 20 percent of the city’s householdshave 31 times the average income of the 20 percent at the bottom" The poorhave less average income than in most of the country’s 40 biggest cities,and the rich have more.
Washington, DC, is like no other city in the world. It is the capital ofthe United States; the seat of the federal government. It is also the homeof over 600,000 people. Its citizens have voting rights similar to thoseof US colonies like Guam and Puerto Rico. Though DC has 1 vote in theElectoral College ( DC residents didn’t get to vote for President until1964), our US Representative cannot vote in Congress. For much of DC’shistory Congress had control over DC’s budget, city council and executivebranch. Congress voted to establish Home Rule for the District in 1974,allowing DC residents to vote for members of the city council, schoolboard and mayor. Up to that time, the House of Representatives DistrictCommittee- controlled by white southern racists- was the main roadblock ingaining voting rights and home rule. Since in 1974, Congress has, attimes, appointed a board that controlled much of the District governmentand rendered the mayor’s position a ceremonial role.DC’s political reality is exasperated by its difficult financialsituation. DC cannot levy property taxes on the federal government,embassies, or many "nonprofit" organizations like Fannie Mae and the WorldBank. Nor can the District levy any commuter tax on the hundreds ofthousands of people that commute into DC for work every day but contributenothing to the tax base. DC has the burden, but none of the benefit, ofbeing the home of the federal government.Currently, gentrification is systematically displacing the people andculture of Washington, DC. This impacts communities of color the most. Thecultural heritage that has made DC a world-renowned epicenter for AfricanAmerican art, intellectual thought and politics is being pushed out by amassive recruitment of new residents that have higher incomes and requirefewer services. With this influx of new residents there is also an influxof high-end businesses, some local and some corporate, that are notdesigned to appeal to the needs of current residents. This threatens thesurvival of long-time, small businesses as well as the economic andcultural diversity of our neighborhoods. While patronizing businesseshere, consider which businesses reflect this gentrification process andtry and support long-time, local shops.*How can your group be working in solidarity with DC organizers aroundaddressing these disparities while visiting DC?*How can you be an ally to DC when you return home?*Are any of these trends present in your own town or city?
With its history and position as the seat of the federal government,Washington, DC was the site of many historic demonstrations, marches, andrallies. From 1903, when Mother Jones lead children to DC to demand an endto child labor, to 1963’s historic March on Washington, to 1998’s JerichoMarch to free all political prisoners, DC has a long been the site ofnational and international political protest. These struggles, often leadby people of color and poor people, have created the foundation for modernsocial justice movements in the US and continually inspire people to cometo the seat of power to protest.Since the World Trade Organization (WTO) protests in 1999 in Seattle,Washington, mass actions and demonstrations in DC have increased. Many ofthese demonstrations have been planned by people from the area but areheavily attended by people from out of town. In the realm of national andinternational politics, DC continuously becomes a stage for politicaltheater and must provide the necessary infrastructure to accommodate theinflux of visitors.Though the majority of people at mass mobilizations (IMF/World Bank,Counter Inaugurations or Anti-War protests) are not from DC, this does notmean that DC residents are not organizing and fighting againstprivitization, militarization and corporate control of their communitiesevery day. Nor does it mean that DC residents do not support the causesthat demonstrators are out protesting. In fact, 91% of DC residents votedagainst George Bush. Though DC is home of many national non-profitorganizations and institutions that work on social justice issues that arenational and global in focus, there are also a whole host of grassrootsorganizations working on issues directly related to Washington, DC. Fromjuvenile justice to a campaign to stop a publicly financed baseballstadium in Southeast DC, District residents are organizing every day tomeet the human needs for all residents.Be conscious of these realities. Educate yourself about the organizationsand groups organizing in DC and familiarize yourself with some of theissues that are most pressing here in the District. There are enormousconnections between the struggles faced by residents and thenational/global system of oppression that many of us mass mobilizers cameto speak out against.*Which groups are most impacted by Bush’s policies?*What are their demands?*How can you support the call for these demands? *Did you ask what supportwas needed around local organizing efforts before planning an action ofyour own?*How can your community better connect and network w/DC organizers?
Mass mobilizing can present an opportunity for voices to be heard in unityand solidarity, for people to connect with struggles faced by people intheir regions, countries and around the world. It is a moment to put fortha vision for the world we want and dream for. Unfortunately, corporatemedia has a history of marginalizing the people most affected by Bush andthe global elite’s polices, ie., people of color, queer people, non genderprivileged people, low income and homeless communities, disabled people,young people, etc. This marginalization prevents all voices from beingheard in unison. This fractures our movement and short-changes our hopesfor full participation. It is our responsibility to send messages that areproactive, critical and demanding. But we also need our messages to berepresentative of those who are facing the brunt of the oppressivepolicies we wish to end. We must consider the space we occupy in themedia’s lens and consider whose voice is getting heard and whose voicesare still being excluded.* Do you ever step back from an interviewers mic or camera to make spacefor some one else’s perspective?*How can you as an individual create opportunities for other voices to beheard?*How can we hold the media
This is the first inauguration since 9/11 and it has been designated as anational security event. The security force for this event will be likenothing DC has ever seen before. Downtown and the area around theNational Mall will be fully militarized. This affects everyone, residentswhose homes are in the militarized area and people working on January20th. It particularly affects homeless people who live downtown and sexworkers who are at an increased risk for police arrest and violence- inaddition to the violence they face everyday. In preparation for thesemass demonstrations, the DC police force has acquired more high tech gear,weapons, training and "less than lethals" (rubber bullets, wooden dowels,and other projectiles that are, by design, not intended to kill). Thoughthis equipment is acquired for use at demonstrations, the gear and tacticsdo not go away after the last activist is out of jail or has left theNational Mall. What the police acquire here will likely be used again onthe people of DC, especially communities of color and low-incomecommunities that bear the brunt of police repression long after theprotesters have left. Just this past fall, a woman celebrating the playoffwin of the Boston Red Sox died when she was struck with a "less thatlethal" weapon that had been acquired by the Boston police for theDemocratic National Convention.Once protesters are arrested and in jail, the police will try to pitarrested protesters and those already in the system against each other.The police will use race, class, gender and sexuality as intimidatingfactors. Thus, it is of vital importance that protesters extend theirsolidarity to everyone they are locked up with, not just the people whoare in for "political" reasons. The police will often privilege whitepeople, people perceived to be heterosexual, people easily defined aseither a man or a woman, and documented citizens. They may offer a "postand forfeit" option to protesters arrested on minor charges; one can pay asmall fine and forfeit a trial but walk out of jail with no major mark onone’s record and no court to come back to. This is specific to DC and isnot offered to someone who gets picked up in a neighborhood for disorderlyconduct, it is only offered to protesters. And there will be unprecedentedmedia, resources and attention given to protesters in jail that otherfolks on the inside do not get, and we need to learn to work for justicefor all prisoners, not just the ones arrested for protesting theinauguration. How can we be allies with DC residents, and communities inour own town that deal with police brutality all year? How can we act insolidarity with other people in the jails who weren’t arrested at theinauguration protests?
NYC and Boston each received $50 million in federal funding to providesecurity for the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. However,the federal government has refused to reimburse DC for the costs ofsecurity, including hiring police from other states, estimated at $11.9million. DC has been requested to cover those costs from funds alreadydesignated for other purposes. When protesters leave town, DC will go backto "normal." Millions of dollars will be spent by the DC government on theunnecessary security for the protest for the inauguration, money thatcould have gone to housing, education, and health care. The communities inDC fighting for survival will still be here. We hope that while you are inDC, you take the time to think and find out a bit about local groups andstruggles. If you are talking to the media, mention how residents of DChave even less of a voice in this rotten political system than otherpeople in this country do. While planning action, understand that those ofus who live here will be dealing with the clean up and aftermath formonths and possibly years.We hope that this document does not become the rhetoric for a movementthat is not actively working towards and making space for racial justiceand equality as one of the main tenants of social justice work and in oureveryday lives. In regards to challenging white supremacy and other formsof interconnected oppression white folks must be committed topersonal/organizational reflection and action. This can mean steppingaside and taking cues instead of giving them, educating yourself, workingwithin your own community to challenge oppression and building bridges andconnections with local groups and communities of color on mutual terms.Very importantly, we need to educate ourselves on many fronts and seek outa whole host of opinions, feelings and possible solutions. There is muchmore to add to this perspective and we hope you and your group expand thisdialogue at home and with the folks you meet here in Washington, DC. Weshare this with you in hopes that they provoke discussion and groupstrengthening. This pamphlet is a step but not the answer. Please beforthcoming with criticism, support and ideas. This is essential to ourlearning and forward movement.Thanks for coming to our city, and we hope this sparks some discussionamongst your friends and comrades.
Good luck and stay safe.
See ya in thestreets.
In Love and Solidarity,
Okra Affinity GroupContact: okra (at) mutualaid.org
Eight Questions for Condoleezza Rice-from the Center for American Progress

QUESTION ONE: In a January 2002 memo to the president, Colin Powell said excluding detainees from the Geneva Conventions, as White House legal counsel Alberto Gonzales had recommended, would "undermine the protections of the law of war for our troops" and have "immediate adverse consequences for our conduct of foreign policy." The president rejected Powell's advice, and adopted Gonzales's recommendations. Who do you agree with, Colin Powell or Alberto Gonzales?
A memo written by White House counsel Alberto Gonzales on 1/25/02 advised the Bush administration to ignore the advice of senior military and State Department officials regarding the application of the Geneva Conventions. The memo pushed to exempt al Qaeda and Taliban detainees from the Geneva Conventions' provisions on the proper, legal treatment of prisoners. Secretary of State Colin Powell responded sharply to the Gonzales memo the next day (1/26/02), warning the White House that failure to consider all prisoners as under the protection of the Geneva Conventions would have an adverse impact on the United States. Specifically, he cautioned: "It will reverse over a century of U.S. policy and practice in supporting the Geneva Conventions and undermine the protections of the law of war for our troops; it has a high cost in terms of negative international reaction, with immediate adverse consequences for our conduct of foreign policy; It will undermine public support among critical allies, making military cooperation more difficult to sustain; and Europeans and others will likely have legal problems with extradition." Bush decided to exclude al Qaeda from the Geneva Conventions and deny the Taliban prisoner of war status.

QUESTION TWO: Only $2.2 billion of the $18 billion in funds allocated for the reconstruction of Iraq have been distributed. Explain why the funds are not being used, and why Congress should feel compelled to sign off on another $100 billion supplemental?
Due to America's inability to control the insurgency and what Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) has called "the incompetence in the [Bush] administration," only about 5 percent of the money Congress has allocated for Iraqi reconstruction has actually been spent in the country. In September, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) called that record "beyond pitiful and embarrassing; it is now in the zone of dangerous." Part of the problem was the White House's reliance on young, inexperienced volunteers with good family connections (like 28-year-old Simone Ledeen, daughter of neoconservative pundit Michael Ledeen), who "found themselves managing the country's $13 billion budget [and] making decisions affecting millions of Iraqis" in the opening months of the occupation. The failure to allocate the funds has stalled efforts at reconstructing the country. Two years after the invasion, Iraqis are suffering from major food shortages and the country is producing less electricity than it was before the war. In addition, the deterioration of water and sewage systems has led to the spread of hepatitis and outbreaks of typhoid fever.

QUESTION THREE: Three years after the creation of the Millennium Challenge Account, the White House has yet to distribute a single dollar of funds to boost development assistance. What would you do to change this?
In 2002, President Bush announced the creation of the Millennium Challenge Account, a program intended to boost core development assistance by 50 percent over three years; Bush pledged to increase spending by $1.7 billion after one year and $3.3 billion after two. During the MCA's first year, however, President Bush requested only $1.3 billion from Congress, and Congress further reduced the amount to $1 billion. The following year, the administration asked for only $2.5 billion, and Congress agreed to fund just $1.5 billion. Not a single dollar from the account has yet been dispensed.

QUESTION FOUR: How would you evaluate your performance as head of the Iraq stabilization group?
In October 2003, President Bush announced he was "giving his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, the authority to manage postwar Iraq." With great fanfare, Rice was appointed head of the "Iraq Stabilization Group," intended to coordinate committees on counterterrorism, economic development, political affairs and media messages. The purpose of the group, said White House spokesman Scott McClellan, was to "cut through the red tape and make sure that we're getting the assistance there quickly." But seven months later, the Washington Post reported, "the four original leaders of the Stabilization Group have taken on new roles, and only one remains concerned primarily with Iraq." Within the White House, the Post noted, "the destabilized Stabilization Group is a metaphor for an Iraq policy that is adrift." According to the White House website, the Iraq stabilization group hasn't been publicly mentioned for more than a year.

QUESTION FIVE: Recently, the Pentagon has been considering organizing assassination and kidnapping squads of Iraqis to fight the insurgents. Do you oppose this tactic, known as the "Salvador Option"?
To deal with the growing insurgency in Iraq, the Pentagon is considering creating secret death squads. Known as the "Salvador Option," the strategy is named after a clandestine operation implemented by the Reagan White House in the 1980s in El Salvador, where the U. S. government funded "nationalist" forces "that allegedly included so-called death squads" which killed scores of innocent civilians. According to a 1993 U.N.-sponsored truth commission, 85 percent of the atrocities in that conflict were committed by the U.S.-sponsored army and its surrogates. Now, according to Newsweek, the Pentagon has dusted off that model and has a proposal on the table to "advise, support and possibly train" secret squads in Iraq, "most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria."

QUESTION SIX: Do you support increasing funds for promoting democracy in Russia, given the ongoing erosion of democratic and economic freedom under Russian President Vladimir Putin?
The Bush administration has cut funds to the FREEDOM Support Act, the program designed to promote and ensure democracy. Overall, funding for FSA was sliced from $958 million to $548 million since 2002; funding for Russia specifically was cut from $162 million to $93 million (President Bush only requested $73 million for the program). At the same time, however, Russian President Vladimir Putin shut down the Russian press, jailed his political opposition and attempted to validate his hand-picked, fraudulently elected lapdog in Ukraine. Noting a "dangerous and disturbing drift toward authoritarianism in Russia," Freedom House, a U.S.-based organization that tracks the progress of political rights and civil liberties around the world, has shifted Russia from "partly free" status to "not free."

QUESTION SEVEN: The White House has blocked over $88 million from the Global Fund, a group known internationally as "the best weapon in the battle against AIDS." Will you follow through on support to the fund?
The White House has been reluctant to provide funding to the Global Fund, the international group that has been devoted to fighting AIDS. Last year, Congress cut the U.S. pledge to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to $350 million – almost $200 million less than the previous year's donation. The White House has also blocked the Fund from receiving $88 million that Congress appropriated in fiscal year 2004, claiming that other nations were not doing their fair share. In fact, "Europe contributes over 50 percent of the Fund's total contributions while the U.S. with an equal share of the global economy will end up contributing less than one-third." According to a statement by the Global Aids Alliance (GAA), the Global Fund – which uses the cheapest and most effective drugs to fight the virus – is "The best weapon in the battle against AIDS."

QUESTION EIGHT: In 2004, you spent time campaigning for President Bush even though America had pressing wartime security needs. Will you vow to keep partisan politicking out of your position as secretary of state?
Outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell made a concerted effort not to politicize his position, staying out of last year's election talk by saying "I don't do politics." On the opposite end of the spectrum, Condoleezza Rice has shown an unprecedented willingness to take time away from her job to engage in partisan political affairs. The Washington Post reports that Rice broke the "long-standing precedent that the national security adviser try to avoid overt involvement in the presidential campaign" by giving pro-Bush speeches in key battleground states, including Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania, beginning in May 2004. Rice's actions were sharply criticized by Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national security adviser under President Jimmy Carter, who "said the national security adviser is the 'custodian' of the nation's most sensitive national security secrets and should be seen as an objective adviser to the president." With the nation at war in Iraq and in the midst of trying to stabilize Afghanistan, Brzezinski said, Rice didn't need the distractions associated with a political campaign.
INAUGURATION BY THE NUMBERS Facts and figures on President George W. Bush, the nation's 43rd president who will take the oath of office for a second term on Jan. 20: --- 58, president's age
2, number of children, twin daughters Jenna and Barbara
41, number president of his dad, George Herbert Walker Bush
45, number of visits to his ranch in Crawford, Texas, since taking office in January 2001
44, number of trips to Pennsylvania, the state he has visited the most outside the Washington, D.C., area and places where he or his family have a home
17, number of solo news conferences
745,066, number of miles on Air Force One since taking office (as of Dec. 31, 2004)
226,544, number of miles on Air Force One in 2004
2, number of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
$1.75 trillion, total amount of major tax cuts during Bush's presidency
$413 billion, record deficit reached on Bush's watch
122,000, number of net jobs lost since Bush took office
1,355, number of U.S. military killed in Iraq since March 2003 (as of Jan. 11)
10,372, number of U.S. military wounded in Iraq since March 2003 (as of Jan. 11)
6, number of trips by Bush to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to visit soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan
1,583, number of acres on Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas
41, number of countries visited plus Kosovo, a province of Serbia and Montenegro
3, number of states Bush hasn't visited - Vermont, Idaho and Rhode Island
4, number of state dinners


Celebrity Deaths in 2004
Artie Shaw , bandleader, died December 30 at the age of 94.

Jerry Orbach, actor best known for Law & Order, died December 28 at the age of 69.

Susan Sontag, intellectual, died December 28 at the age of 71.

Pierre Berton, Canadian literary icon, died November 30 at the age of 84.

Arthur Hailey, author best known for Airport, died November 25 at the age of 84.

Yasser Arafat, Palestinian leader, died November 11 at the age of 75.

Howard Keel, actor/singer best known for his roles in musicals like Annie Get Your Gun, died November 7 at the age of 85.

Ken Caminiti, all star baseball player, died October 10 at the age of 41.

Christopher Reeve, actor best known for his role as Superman, died October 10 at the age of 52.

Jacques Derrida, founder of deconstructionism, died October 9 at the age of 74.

Rodney Dangerfield, comedian, died October 5 at the age of 82.

Janet Leigh, actress best known for Psycho, died October 3 at the age of 77.

Richard Avedon, photographer, died October 1 at the age of 81.

Geoffrey Beene, fashion designer, died September 28 at the age of 77.

Francoise Sagan, author best known for Bonjour Tristesse, died September 24 at the age of 69.

Russ Meyer, film maker, died September 18 at the age of 82.

Johnny Ramone, founder of the Ramones, died September 15 at the age of 55.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, psychiatrist best known for her book on death and dying, died August 24 at the age of 78.

Elmer Bernstein, composer, died August 18 at the age of 82.

Julia Child, chef, died August 13 at the age of 91.

Fay Wray, actress best known for King Kong, died August 8 at the age of 96.

Paul 'Red' Adair, famed oil well fire fighter, died August 7 at the age of 89.

Rick James, musician best known for Super Freak, died August 6 at the age of 56.

Francis Crick, codiscover of the DNA double helix, died July 28 at the age of 88.

Jerry Goldsmith, composer best known for scoring films such as The Omen, Alien, and Chinatown, died July 21 at the age of 75.

Isabel Sanford, actress best known as Louise Jefferson on the tv series The Jeffersons, died July 9 at the age of 86.

Marlon Brando, actor, died July 1 at the age of 80.

Ray Charles, musician, died June 10 at the age of 73.

Ronald Reagan, one time president of the United States, died June 5 at the age of 93.

Brian Linehan, celebrity interviewer, died June 4 at the age of 58.

Tony Randall, actor best known as Felix on the tv series The Odd Couple, died May 17 at the age of 84.

June Taylor, dancer and choreographer best known for the Jackie Gleason show, died May 17 at the age of 86.

Alan King, comedian, died May 9 at the age of 76.

Estee Lauder, cosmetics queen, died April 24 at the age of 97.

Carrie Snodgress, actress best known for Diary of a Mad Housewife, died April 1 at the age of 57.

Alistair Cooke, broadcaster best known in North America as the host of Masterpiece Theater, died March 30 at the age of 95.

Peter Ustinov, actor, died March 28 at the age of 82.

Jan Berry, musician best known as half of Jan & Dean, died March 26 at the age of 62.

Queen Juliana, former queen of the Netherlands, died March 20 at the age of 94.

Robert Pastorelli, actor best known as house painter Eldin on Murphy Brown, died March 8 at the age of 49.

Paul Winfield, actor best known as the father in Sounder, died March 7 at the age of 62.

Spalding Gray, monologist, was found dead March 7 at the age of 62.

Mercedes McCambridge, actress known for films such as Touch of Evil and The Exorcist, died March 2 at the age of 85.

Marge Schott, one time owner of the Cincinnati Reds, died March 2 at the age of 75.

John Randolph, actor known for his Tony award winning performance in Broadway Bound and as Rock Hudson's alter ego in Seconds, died February 24 at the age of 88.

Claude Ryan, Quebec federalist intellectual, died February 9 at the age of 79.

M.M. Kaye, author best known for The Far Pavilions, died January 29 at the age of 95.

Jack Paar, talk show pioneer, died January 27 at the age of 85.

Bob Keeshan, better known as Captain Kangaroo, died January 23 at the age of 76.
Yup, 2004-Molly Ivans
December 29, 2004
-- Oh 2004, 2004, bird thou never wert. Was it really that horrible a year, or does it only seem that way? Abu Ghraib, the endless trials anent Kobe Bryant and Scott Peterson, war in Iraq looking worse every day, Howard Dean eliminated over a whoop and a presidential race so devoid of joy that the high point was when the president claimed God speaks through him -- leaving us to contemplate the news that God doesn't know how to pronounce nuclear and has yet to master subject-verb agreement. "Performance enhancing drugs" in baseball.
Ray Charles died. Karl Rove is Man of the Year. We're all overweight. Swift Boat Liars win the presidential race for Bush. Then just to round things off nicely, a terrible natural disaster. What a bummer. But, look at it this way
... the Boston Red Sox won the championship. Eliot Spitzer is scaring the spit out of the insurance industry (check out those year-end bonuses on Wall Street, El). The Greek Olympics went well. Maybe we could end the payola by just having them in Greece every time. Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France for a record sixth time, a symbolic victory for cancer patients everywhere. Jon Stewart survived a storm of approval and came out just as sardonic as ever. Richard Clarke showed us all that public servant, class act and bureaucrat can be the same thing. In other highlights
: -- The Coalition of the Willing was depleted when Hungary, Thailand, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Honduras, Ukraine, Spain, the Philippines, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Poland (so movingly cited by President Bush during one of the debates) all proved less than willing. On the other hand, Tonga is still with us.
-- Texan Jessica Simpson, the one who makes Paris Hilton look like a genius, showed an astonished nation what a Texas intellectual looks like. Upon being introduced to Interior Secretary Gale Norton, she said, "You've done a nice job decorating the White House."
-- The Ukrainians showed us all what people who really care about democracy do when there's cheating at the polls. Bless them for just not standing for it.
-- Media Low Point of the Year: Rush Limbaugh on Abu Ghraib: "I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You ever heard of the need to blow some steam off?"
-- Emblematic Political Moment of the Year: As the full dimensions of the tidal wave in the Indian Ocean became clear, Bush's staff used the occasion to
... take a few cheap shots at Bill Clinton. Explaining why the president had neither returned to Washington nor even bothered to come out and read a statement of sorrow, The Washington Post reported that one official said: "'The president wanted to be fully briefed on our efforts. He doesn't want to make a symbolic statement about 'We feel your pain.'' Many Bush aides believe Clinton was too quick to head for the cameras and to hold forth on tragedies with his trademark sympathy. 'Actions speak louder than words,' a top Bush aide said." So for action, the Bushies pledged $15 million to help out, less than half the amount that will be spent on parties for the Bush inauguration.
-- What Were They Thinking? Moment of the Year: Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" at the Super Bowl. Seriously, who planned that?
-- Dumbest Reaction to Wardrobe Malfunction: FCC decides its job is to censor bad taste on television (got their life's work cut out for them, haven't they?), instead of preventing the truly obscene and dangerous concentration of ownership in the media. -- Another high point: John Ashcroft (the man whose understanding of the right to dissent is so profound he said, "To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve") will be replaced as attorney general by Al (Defining Torture Down) Gonzales. Gonzales put out the legal memo that says "cruel, inhumane or degrading" treatment does not constitute torture as long as it is not "equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function or even death." Well, friends, the old ball is starting another orbit of the sun, giving us all a chance to do better this time.
Let's not blow it, because we sure look like dogmeat after this one.