"Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past." Orwell-- The US is probably moving toward becoming a heavily controlled Rightist state. This blog is an effort to document how that happened.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

ABLE DANGER--revised and updated

There have been many conflicting stories about what was involved in Able Danger. It is hard to believe that Al Qaeda and many foreign intelligence agencies do not have almost complete information on the project. Why are American citizens kept in the dark?

We already knew that US intelligence people had been tracking the future highjackers in Hamburg, Germany for years, and that Al Qaeda Cells in Brooklyn and in the west had also long been in the sights of the FBI. With the revelation of the Able Danger project, it becomes almost impossible to escape the conclusion that the federal government had more than enough information to prevent 9-11. The 9-ll 1 either was not told about Able Danger or it chose to ignore the information because it would have derailed its major conclusions. Commission co-chairman Lee Hamilton said the conclusions would have been different had they known about Able Danger, but he is the man who presided over what seemed to be a clumsy cover up of an October 19, 1980 deal with Iran to hold 52 hostages until after the U.S. election.
In 1999, the Pentagon Special Operations Command established Able-Danger, a secret program, to gather information on Al Qaeda. In that year, it had identified Mohammed Atta, the architect of 9-11, and three others as members of the cell that attacked the World Trade complex in 1993. .Atta would mastermind the 9-11, and the other three were also among the hijackers.
Army Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, who worked at the DIA, became aware of Atta and his three colleagues in mid-2000. Shaffer informed the FBI of what was known about these four Al Quada operatives. He urged the arrest of Atta, but Pentagon lawyers became involved to prevent the arrest. The lawyers claimed they had problems recommending action against someone holding a green card. But Atta did not have a green card or a valid entry visa. He came to the US three times on a visitor’s visa. The Pentagon is now denying that it knew anything about these people before 9-11. There is mounting evidence that Able Danger was much more than an anti-terrorist operation, and the Pentagon should not be faulted with keeping quiet about those aspects that involved highly sophisticated electronic surveillance of foreign targets outside the US.

When the Kean Commission came into being, Shaffer personally informed its executive director, Dr. Philip Zelikow, about Able-Danger and what was known about Atta and the three other hijackers. Zelikow did not give this information to the commission and did not include it in the document. Zelikow said it was "not historically relevant."1 Zeliknow had been on loan from the White House National Security Office and is now special counsellor to his friend, Secretary of State Rice.

Eventually the Army destroyed the Able Danger files on Atta claiming this was necessary because he was a "US person" under the meaning of legislation that said the military could only retain intelligence information on US persons for 90 days. It has been reported that some of the destroyed information involved ties between prominent Americans and the Chinese military The data also showed that several Al Quaeda operatives rented rooms in a New Jersey hotel and that a cell met there.

. The Joint Chiefs of Staff were briefed on what the Able Danger information-mining task force had learned. In February and March of 2001, Able Danger was shut down by the Defense Department, only to be reactivated later. Shaffer, a Bronze medal winner, lost his security clearance as well as his DIA job.Shaffer claimed that when the Bush administration replaced his top superior General Schoomaker, that all hope of using the knowledge gained was gone.Navy Captain Scott Philpott, hade of the team, said they identified Atta as a member of the Brooklyn cell, but the US had certain knowledge Atta was in Hamburg at the time Philpott gave. However, J.D. Smith, a civilian contractor, has said he was "absolutely positive" Atta was in Brooklyn at that time. . Shaffer was forbidden to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee. However, this decision was later reversed.

The DIA is moving to take Shaffer off its payroll, and an unidentified DIA representative told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that Shaffer was having an affair with one of Congressman Curt Weldon’s staffers. The Congressman answered that the colonel did not know anyone on his staff. Some other members of the Able Danger team are represented by Shaffer’s lawyer and are now saying Other members of the data-mining task force do not support his claim that they knew Atta was physically in the United States. The colonel must be under enormous pressure to modify his story.

While in Afghanistan, Shaffer told what he knew to Dr. Philip Zelikow, then US ambassador there. Zelikow expressed great interest in the information but avoided seeing Shaffer when the colonel attempted to contact him in Washington.
Former FBI director Louis Freeh has used this to sell his book, claiming the Clintons kept him from hunting Al Qaeda. Of course, he is a very partisan Republican and has never explained why three good leads within his agency were quashed or why he did not stand by John O’Neill, the best terrorist hunter we have had to date.

Two conclusions are inescapable. (1) There was great reluctance on the part of the Pentagon, under both Clinton and Bush, to act on the knowledge it had about Atta and his three friends.( 2) Now it is clear to all, that it is busy denying it had this knowledge, and it was mightily assisted in this cover-up by the executive director of the 9-11 commission.
Republicans note it was the Clinton Pentagon that failed to act on information about these terrorists. However, it was under Freeh, a very partisan Republican, that the FBI repeatedly failed to act on information that could have been used to stop terrorists. Moreover, it is clear that the FBI had knowledge of the movements of Atta and two others in Venice, Florida before 9-11.

James Woolsey, former CIA director and neocon who detested Clinton, is now working closely with Pa. Republican Congressman Curt Weldon to give the story a strong anti-Clinton spin. It is expected that Weldon will hold hearings to counterbalance those chaired by Specter in the Senate.

What is known is that Atta attended a flight school in Venice. The DEA confiscated and auctioned a private jet owned by one of the owners of the school. The agency found 43 pounds of heroin. No action was ever taken against the Venezuelan pilot or the owner Wally Hilliard. The same jet had made 39 weekly milk runs to Venezuela before the DEA acted. The school’s co-owner was Rudi Dekkers, a native of Holland who owed his government $3,000,000. There was a second flight school at that airport owned by another native of Holland, Arne Kruithof. The two Hollanders bought flight schools within months of one another. Dekkers claimed he did not know her, but they both used ascal Schreier, a German, to recruit Arab students.
Dekkers said Atta was a terrible person, an incompetent pilot who left school December 20, 2000 and did not return.. Others claim Atta was there in 2001 and that he and the operator were friendly. In August, two of the other hijackers were with Atta, and Atta’s attorney father visited from Egypt. The three younger men were said to hire a Yellow Cab in the evenings which was driven by a retired Navy Seal, who left soon after they left Venice.Another driver reported that the two were oin very friendly terms and that they shared a cab to a Sarasota night spot in August, 2001. Atta was apparently a hard drinker. ``Following the lead of the FBI, the 9-11 commission did not discuss the schools.

The Knight Rider papers, the Washington Post, and Newsweek reported a week after 9-11 that five of the hijackers had been trained at US military facilities at one time or another. This did not involve Atta’s brief employment much earlier in Hamburg, before he experienced a religious conversion in Egypt. It was said that Atta was at the International Officers School at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. Abdulaziz Alomari was at the Areospace Medical School in Texas.
The Sarasota Herald-Times discovered that Atta lived for more than two months at the Sandpiper Apartments in Venice in March and April of 2001 with a part-time stripper and longerie model. She reported that the FBI urged her to keep quiet.
Soon after 9-11, FBI agents were in Venice asking questions that made it clear they knew about Atta’s movements there. They questioned another cabbie about their nocturnal rides with the other driver. They seized a pharmacy’s security tape for the day Atta and his father were there and excised that part of the tape. It develops in an odd coincidence that the woman who helped one of the hijackers find an apartment was the wife of Michael Irish, the senior National Enquirer editor who received an anthrax letter. Irish also used that aifield.
There were rumors that the flight schools had a CIA connection, and that their records were removed on September 12, 2001. . The limited action taken after the biggest drug seizure in central Florida history led to speculation about some kind of a protected drug trade. For years there have been rumors about CIA and DIA drug trading; and those who have written about this have had their careers ruined. There will probably never be enough evidence to prove why the Pentagon did not want to move against Atta and now claims it knew nothing about him. One employee said Atta and others moved on to a school in Pompano Beach to learn to fly big jets via simulator. He added that he did not think this approach could be successful.

Fired FBI translator Sibel Edmunds was asked if she came across evidence that there was any evidence of a connection between drug trading and 9-11. She is now under a very tough gag orders, and she only offered a sort of "nondenial-denial." Don’t look for solid answers anytime soon.

There is compelling evidence that the FBI was keeping track of Atta’s movements in Venice, Florida in 9-11. It has also been suggested that he had been involved in a protected heroin smuggling operation and that this accounts for the Pentagon’s reluctance to pursue him earlier.
Below is info of CIA surveillance abroad from the cooperative research operation called Complete 911 Timeline

Thursday, December 29, 2005

What to Expect from Condi

Secretary of State Condi Rice has returned from Europe, where she was reasonably successful at dealing with reports of torture and a network of black holes with a mass of double-speak, obfuscation, and misleading language. Much depended upon how "torture" is defined, and she used the new definition given it by George W. Bush in a 2002 "finding."

This is the same Condi Rice who offered dead wrong explanations about what was known about terrorists in the US before 9/11 and who went beyond even Dick Cheney in hyping the case for war--talking about mushroom clouds over American cities as a result of Iraqi action. Yet her popularity grows by the day, and right-wing strategist Dick Morris is probably right in suggesting she would be verey hard to beat in 2008. If the Roman orator, lawyeer, and historian Cicero could be recovered via a time machine, he would say that when the masses are filled with fear and terror, they seek individuals to save them and eschew truth and reason.
Condi seems to be the ultimate beneficiary of the fear and paranoia strategy. Her reversal of Powell's Sudan policy offers a strong hint of what to expect from her as Secretary of State and potential president.

Colin Powell charged the Sudanese government with genocide in Dafur. The Sudanese army and paramilitarys known as the Arab Janjaweed accomplished this by gang rapes, burning of villages, and mass killings. Condi Rice, his successor, has reversed Powell's policy and written to Lieutenant General Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir, the Sudanese head of state, saying that she hoped for "close cooperation" in battling terrorism.

In late April, a CIA jet brought Major General Salah Abdalah Gosh, head of the Sudanese intelligence agency Mukhabarat, to Washington for secret talks. Gosh has been accused of playing a major role in the mass murders. His agency has provided useful information on Al Qaeda, and the US relies on his operatives in Muslim countries where it lacks human assets.In May, the White House moved to kill the Dafur Accountability Act. The death toll in Dafur is somewhere between 400,000 and 800,000 human beings. The UN refuses to deal with the Dafur situation, and the International Criminal Court will probably not be able to address the matter for at least a year.
posted by Sherman De Brosse

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

What Are US Options as a De Facto Shiite Republic of Iraq Emerges?

The US invasion of Iraq has produced an Islamic republic with very close ties to Iran. The new constitution may not use the name “ Islamic Republic of Iraq,” but those words describe what is emerging. Such a state, with religious law and roving religious police, already is taking shape in the regions controlled by the two dominant Shiite parties, SCIRI and DAWA. Any US exit strategy must take account of these facts.

The fact is a Shiite Islamic Republic has emerged. Even before the legislative elections of late 2005, the Shiite government has moved against Sunni power centers. The new constitution is seen by some experts as less the blueprint for a long-term unified stat than a formula for eventual dissolution into three states. Few doubt that it is only a matter of time before the Kurds opt for a separate state.

Shiite death squads are already taking hundreds of lives, a number of mass graves have been discovered. Many of the murders are the handiwork of the Iraqi government's Special Police Commandos. These strike units are advised by the same American officer who guided Central American death squads in the mid-1980s. There are more and more signs that US airpower is being used against Sunnis in urban centers to teach them that there is a heavy price to pay for supporting insurgents. American officers have complained about being required to provide security while Shiite military forces abuse Sunnis. Former Minister Alawi referred to the abuse of Sunnis by comparing what is happening now to the activities of the Saddam regime. Recently, it was learned that the Shiites were torturing many Sunni prisoners and that over 120 Sunni captives were found in such a condition that some of their skin was about to fall off. Murder and terrorism proved an effective tactic in C entral America two decades ago, and it appears our government is betting on this approach again.

The US continues to refer to Iran as a terrorist state, but quiet, low-level talks are being carried out with Iran. Zalmay Khalilzad, an Afghan native and new US ambassador to Iran, onstitutes the best hope for protecting US interests there and facilitating the removal of most ground forceds in the next few years. Though one of the neo-cons who led the US into this adventure, he has shown a remarkable pragmatic streak, and he is a superb strategist and negotiator. Statements coming from US sources in the GReen Zone refer less and less to a unified Iraqi state in the future. He has been empowered to talk to the Iranians and has been given power to help shape US policy in the region.

His best option is an alliance with the Shiites, and Us policy on the ground indicates it is taking shape. Rumsfeld announced trhe eginning of troop withdrawls, indicating some assurance that a deal facilitating long term extrication is likely to emerge.

There is a potential fly in the ointment. The European press is reporting that the US is courting support for air attacks on Iranian military and nuclear sites, including the plant at Bushehr and the uraniam site at Saghad. Should this attack materialize, it wouild be difficult to count on Shiite and Iranian help in puilling large numbers ot troops out of Iraq.

Developments in Iraq give the lie to claims of an emerging democracy there, and Shiite policy seems likely to provoke civil war and/or dissolution. The US does not have many options that tgry to pick the winner, who unfortunately is linked at the hip to Iran.

In Baghdad, Shiites on city council in league with the military have deposed the city's mayor. So much for the democratic process.Iraq has apologized for the Iran-Iraq , and leader of SCIRI has said that Iraq should pay Iran billions in reparations. Iraq and Iran have also entered into a mutual defense arrangement. The Iraqi intelligence service has been thoroughly infiltrated by Iranian agents, and the two countries have already agreed that Iranians would train the new Iraqi army. Shiites remember that Iranians supported their 1991 revolt against Saddam, while the US did nothing to help as 300,000 of their coreligionists were slaughtered. Many Iraqis this massive loss of life was part of some sort of American plan.There can be little doubt that Karen Hughes and Karl Rove can spin away for most Americans the unpleasant facts that the war strengthened the hand of Iran—a member of the “axis of evil”-- and that over 1800 Americans have died to create an Islamic republic. A supine mainstream press will not dwell on these facts. The important thing is that our policy makers do not believe their own PR releases. They must swallow some hard facts and improve relations with Iran so that some sort of deal can be made to allow a face-saving exit. It can only be hoped that the price of extracting most of our forces is not turning a blind eye to Iran's nuclear ambitions.Another fact is that the only effective Iraqi military units are Kurdish, including some that are sponsored by the Kurdish Communist party. If these units are to remain outside Kurdistan to keep the Sunni insurgency in check, the US must take the needs of the secular Kurds into account while negotiating an exit deal. None of this will be easy.


In May, 2005, Newsweek magazine published an apology for printing an article which said that an unidentified Pentagon official said that a certain document showed that military interrogators at Guanatanamo had flushed a copy of the holy Koran down a toilet. For an undisclosed reason, the anonymous source later said he was not sure which document said this had occurred. He did not deny that he was privy to this information; he simply claimed he did not know in which document or documents he had read it. There is no question that Newsweek reporters had not properly verified the story.There had been other complaints about abuses of the Koran in military prisons, and days after the apology The Los Angeles Times reported that seven other detainees had lodged similar complaints.

On May 25, 2005 the FBI's summaries of interviews were obtained by the ACLU, and they revealed that almost a dozen detainees reported mistreatment of copies of the Koran. In reports in 2002 and early 2003, the International Committee of the Red Cross provided documentation of "corroborated allegations" of "multiple instances" in which US troops were mishandling or disrespectful Korans at Guantanamo. The Financial Times ( December 30, 2004) reported that some prisoners had tape placed over their mouths for reciting the Koran. The Independent of London reported on March 17, 2004 that 70 inmates went on a hunger strike after a guard kicked a copy of the Koran. On May 1, 2004, The New York Times reported that one of the three hunger strikes at the facility was touched off by guards tossing copies of the Koran into a pile and apparently stomped upon.The mishandling of the Koran was only the tip of the iceberg; there appears to have been a pattern of interrogation methods designed to be offensive to Muslims. Dogs were used to threaten Islamic detainees, and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez’s September, 2003 memo authorizing the practice indicates that this would "exploit Arab fear of dogs."

Similarly, the frequent photographing of nude Muslim men and "removal of facial hair" were approved by Donald Rumsfeld in November, 2002, and were designed to place detainees in positions in which they were in violation of deeply held religious beliefs.Detainees were often forced to be naked in front of one another or in front of the opposite sex, and threats were made to show these humiliating photographs to their families.There were also reports of Muslims having alcohol and pork being forced down their throats.Reports began to surface in 2004 t hat some prisoners who were released from Guantanamo were claiming that they had been tortured by "prostitutes." These men were questioned by women in late night sessions that included fake menstrual blood. The fake menstrual blood would render the detainees unclean and unable to pray. After smearing it on a prisoner, a female interrogator said, "Have a fun night in your cell without any water to clean yourself."

Sexual intimidation included interrogators sporting tight T-shirts, sexual touching, parading in miniskirts, and leaving bras and thong underwear hanging in the room. One woman in a tight shirt rubbed her breasts against the back of a praying internee and then mocked him because he had an erection.Vice Admiral Albert T. Church III later investigated these incidents and said only two women were involved and that they had devised these techniques entirely on their own.Even before the first abuses were reported. British observers voiced concerns that that many American troops had an unhealthy attitude toward the Iraqis which would threaten the success of the occupation. A senior British commander said, "They don’t see the Iraqi people the way we see them. They view them as untermenschen. If such an attitude did sometimes prevail, it would be worthwhile to learn why. Similarly, it is imperative that we learn why the evidence points to a pattern of interrogation techniques that exploited Muslim religious and cultural sensibilities.One can only wonder to what extent these abuses can be traced to the Bush administration's decision to redefine the meaning of "torture" as used in Title 18 of the US Code, Sections 2340-2340. The Bush Justice Department decided that abuse was not turture if its main intention was extraction of information.

Later, in July 2005, Senator John McCain attempted to amend a defense appropriations bill to ban torture, and he had enough support among Republican senators that Vice President Cheney was sent to bring them into line. The Bush administration threatened to veto the bill if it included the McCain amendment. Only nine senators voted against it.On the other hand, some abuses of human rights are simply inherent in warfare and particularly in wars that claims that all enemies are somehow complicit in terrorism. British troops, like American, seemed to believe this and the first abuses reported by Tariq Ali in Bush in Babylon were of British soldiers sexually abusing civilians and filming themselvbes doing so.Conservatives used Newsweek’s blunder to underscore its claim that the mainstream press could not be trusted and to insist that the claims of abuse of Muslim detainees have been greatly exaggerated. The mainstream press framed the story of the magazine’s sloppy reporting in a manner that usually ignored the fact that there had been many other reports of the abuse of the Koran in military prisons. Just as the uproar over Dan Rather’s poor handling of documents relating to George W. Bush’s military service made inquiries into the president’s Texas-Arkansas Air Guard services almost impossible to cover, the flap over Newsweek’s error could produce similar results. However, the main conservative response to the torture scandal is to minimize it. Rush Limbaugh consistently refers to "Club Gitmo," claiming the conditions there are similar to those at a resort. On another occasion, he pronouncedm "This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation, and we're going to ruin people's lives over it....." He added that we should recognize that our troops needed "to blow some steam off." The "its no big deal" defense has worked pretty well.Some aspects of the scandal, such as torture at the hands of civilian contractors, have received very little attention. Brigadier General Karl R. Horst recently complained that mercenaries who are on the streets lften "do stupid stuff" like shoot people. Yet the whole matter of using mercenaries are nearly invisible, even after they turned up in New Orleans, boasting about their pay and what they had done in Iraq.There are now reports that some of the meals an American contractor provides Iraqi truck drivers provides Filipino and and Turkish employees of the occupation forces contain pork. Moreover, they regularly send outdated and spoiled food to Filipino and Muslim employees. Some of the Filipinos are Muslim. Some of the Filipino employees are Muslim , as are the Turks. Often the food is left over from soldiers' cafeterias and is shipped in garbage bags. To be fair here, it should be noted that American soldiers also receive spoiled and outdated food. What is involv ed here is not discriminatioon, rather it is good, old-fashioned greed and run of the mill overilling. . Let's watch the mainstream press to see how much coverage this gets

Many of us do not fully understand how the Right managed to take control of the country. The fact is that the US has long tilted to the right.1. It has accepted only 13 of 44 UN human rights treaties.2. It has ratified 14 0f the ILO's 162 active treaties.3. Only the US and Somalia have refused to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the ChildThe current administration is particularly opposed to such agreements and is very committed to a go-it-alone posture. Though having a much better record on human rights than the GOP, Democrats have not rushed to embrace such agreements. A recent position paper issued by the Republican Policy Committee denounces the International Red Cross because it has raised questions about the treatment of detainees by the military and says it is losing credibility by claiming the torture has occurred in these facilities.Recall the scorn and vitriol heaped on Jimmy Carter when he tried to address human rights. Even in those last days of Democratic power, there were real limits to what an administration could do on behalf of human rights.LOOSE BUSHIE TALK ABOUT DEPLOYMENT OF NUCLEAR ARMS THREATENS NON-PROLIFERATIONDouglas Roche, former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament, has raised warning flags about the Bush administration's speculation about when it could deploy nuclear weapons in a China-Taiwan conflict, a North Korean attack on South Korea, and various scenarios in which Arabs attack Israel. In some cases, this talk represents the first time the US has contemplated using nuclear devices against non-nuclear powers. Of course, it is a violation of the letter and spirit of the Non-Prolifertion Treaty of 1970.In 2000, the signatories agreed upon Thirteen Practical Steps that would lead to eliminating nuclear weapons. Since 2001, the United States has moved in violation of these principles and carried out a nucler posture review that makes it all too clear that nuclear weapons will remain the cornerstone of our national security policy for another half century. Commenting on all this, a Brazilian spokesman said, "one cannot worship at the altar of nuclear weapons and raise heresy charges against those who do not join the sect."The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty comes up for review again in May. No doubt the signatories will find a way to paper over the problem, adjusting to the policy shifts of the main nuclear power, but the movement has probably lost its steam. In 2015, there will probably be many more than 8 nuclear powers.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Rather-Mapes Inquisition Revisited

On September 9, 2004, CBS aired a program segment that would cost producer Mary Mapes her job and would seriously damage the reputation of Dan Rather. The network produced photocopies of documents that showed that George W. Bush tried so evade his Air Guard duties in 1972. The documents were attributed to his commanding officer, Colonel Jerry Killian. One documents expert told Mapes the documents were trustworthy, and another supported his view. The problem was that several other experts advised CBS not to use them

The rest the mainstream press made the story CBS’s failure to establish beyond doubt that the copies were legitimate and resolutely refused to consider the context in which Mapes and Rather made their decisions. As a result, questions about George W. Bush’s Guard service was rendered out of bounds.CBS did not reveal its source, and some conservatives insisted they came from the Democratic National Committee. Later, USA Today turned up another document in which Killian tried to find out if Bush ever took the physical examination. Marian Carr Knox , Killian’s former secretary, said she did not type them but was certain their contents reflected the facts of the situation then and Killian’s frustration that Bush was defying him.

In the ensuing debate, neither her comments or the USA Today document were given any weight.Killian was not alive to verify the documents, but CBS had contacted his commanding officer General Bobby Hodges who said the memos reflected what Killian had told him about Bush. He did not vouch for their authenticity. After a storm of criticism arose, he told CBS they were forgeries and refused to verify that the contents reflected accurately what Killian reported about Bush.2 Right-wing bloggers said the documents were forgeries because they contained "superscripts", and they said typewriters in 1972-1973 were not equipped for that. CBS soon proved that government typewriters then did have "superscript," but no one seemed to listen and even now journalists praise the accuracy of those right-wing bloggers.

CBS had to reveal that the copies came from Lt. Colonel Bill Burkett, who had become an anti-Bush zealot because, earlier he had claimed, Bush operatives had purged Air Guard records of damaging information. He said that aids of the governor visited the archives of the Texas Guard at Camp Mabry in 1997 and scrubbed them of much of the information about Governor Bush’s service according to Burkett. He reported hearing Joe Albaugh, Bush’s chief of staff, discussing with Adjutant General Daniel James the need to get rid of documents that could embarrass the governor. Several days later, Burkett saw several such documents in a trash can and read them When he made that claim, he was counting on a colleague to support him; but that man backed out at the last minute.Burkett had said he made repeated attempts to tell the Kerry campaign that he saw documents like them at in the trash at his base. He never got beyond a number of youthful workers, so he sent an e-mail to Senator Max Cleland. He said he was never contacted by anyone from the campaign.

Burkett, a very religious man, probably did not forge the papers. He later admitted the were given to him by a Hispanic woman whose story he very much wanted to believe. This person seems to have vanished from the radar. Who sent her remains a mystery, but this writer would not be astonished if Karl Rove had enlisted her in a brilliant sting that discredited CBS and Dan Rather and made explorations into George W. Bush’s background out of bounds.

The known information about Bush’s Guard service certainly suggested that what the documents said was true, and this is probably why Mapes and Rather went with the story and made the mistake of assuming the documents were legitimate. For some reason, none of the critics of CBS showed an ioata of intererst in what was known from other sources about Bush's Air Guard Service. The team appointed to investigate Rather and Mapes was unable to demonstrate that they were forgeries. It was not instructed to look into Bush's service in the Air Guard. The inquisitors had many questions about Ms. Mapes' politics, as though liberals had a compulsion to fabricate evidence.

George W. Bush made a six year commitment to the Texas Air National Guard in 1968.The sons of other prominent Texas families occupied had found this a convenient way to have stateside duty. Bush scored the minimal points on a qualifying test and with the help of Lieutenant Governor Ben Barnes was given one of two remain flying slots in a Guard Unit known as the "champaign unit." He was assigned to flying F102 interceptors. At the time there was a waiting list of over 100,000 people trying to get into the Air National Guard. 4 People who saw the papers of the papers of the late Colonel Jerry Killian indicate that Bush discussed with him ways to avoid regularly scheduled drills from May to November and to get around taking a physical examination in 1972 and that the colonel was pressured by superiors– one of whom was a legendary retired officer- too see that Bush received good ratings. Bush was ordered to take the annual physical examination but never did so .

Dan Rather later apologized for using the documents since it had become impossible to authenticate them.On September 29, 1972, the Air National Guard confirmed orders suspending Lt. Bush from flying status because he had not accomplished a medical exam. Years later, an aid to Governor Bush explained that he had decided to quit flying. This was at a time wheen the military started testing for drug use and insisting that the examinations be administered by military physicians. Bush had managed to arrange to meet his Guard obligations in Alabama, where he was involved in a Senate campaign.

Linda Allison, widow of the campaign chairman, and others reported that they had kn knowledge that Bush wanted to participate in the campaign until several days before his arrival. She said, "Well, you have to know Georgie....He really was a totally irresponsible person. Big George called Jimmy [ her husband] and said, he’s killing us in Houston, take him down there and let him work on that campaign...." She said she thought he was using pot and "perhaps cocaine."It was said that Bush thrashed the house he rented in Montgomery and did not pay the damages. There is no record he ever appeared for drills there in 1972-1973. General William Turnipseed, who then commanded the Alabama Guard, said Bush did not appear for duty. He received two special orders instructing him to return to Texas for duty, and he did log 36 days of duty, beginning in July, 1973.In the Fall of 1973, Bush was demoted to assignment in the Obligated Reserve Section in Denver because he was unable to meet his obligations as a jet fighter pilot. Bush was released early from the Guard in return for his signing a promise that he would enter the Reserves, but he never kept the promise. However, pay records that were later released showed that he made some effort to make up some service obligations while there working on a senatorial campaign.

In September, 2004, it was reported that critical written reports on Bush’s service, though required to be preserved had either not been written or had somehow disappeared. Bush had missed his medical examination in `1972, but somehow the report on this incident was missing. He had clearly missed five months of drills and regulations required that he receive counseling after this infarction. Yet no information on these events were found in his files.Questions about Bush’s military service were explored in some detail by the AP wire service, The Washington Post, Boston Globe, and other print media during the campaign of 2000. The television news programs did not deal with it then and it was not a major issue. 7The issue briefly reappeared in early 2003. In February, 2004, the Bush White House tried to end the discussion of his Guard Service by making public hundreds of documents.They were mostly payroll records, but many key pieces of correspondence had somehow disappeared.

The documents proved difficult to understand, and only independent Paul Lukasiak of Philadelphia bothered to study them. The president claimed he had "made up" all their monthly training exercises he had missed, but Lukasiak proved that five months had not been made up. Bush’s records showed he often took substitute training before scheduled monthly training but there was no proof Alabama Guard authorities authorized these substitutions. Moreover, his substitute training did not conform to Air Force regulations requiring it occur no more than 15 days before a scheduled Unit Training Assembly or 30 days after it. One John Calhoun claimed he was Bush at 8 or 10 of the assemblies, but Bush himself never claimed to be at more than one of the assemblies Calhoun mentioned. Nevertheless, Calhoun was featured on many right-wing talk and cable shows in 2004. At the same time, one Bob Mintz, until recently a Republican, came forward to testify that he had been looking for Bush at the base because he wanted to find another bachelor to chum around with but never found him. Retired Colonel and flight instructor Leonard Walls, who is non-political, also testified that he never met Bush at Dannelly Air National Guard Base in Montgomery. Lukasiak raised many other troubling matters, one of which was why Bush was stripped of flight status in 1973, but the mainstream press showed no interesting in his investigative work.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The IRS and Religion

Two decades ago conservative strategists decided to play the religion card, and some of them talked about turning conservative churches into a vast network of Republican "club houses." The reference was to the political club houses of the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries. Now, they have succeeded beyond their wildest expectations, and the political churches or religious Republican club houses are vastly more powerful than the old club houses where people played cards, smoked cigars, and haggled over minor patronage.Last years, hundreds of Protestant and Catholic churches were treated to sermons on the theme that a good Christian could not vote for John Kerry. The priests and ministers usually stopped just short of saying the congregants should vote for George W. Bush.

However, these political churchmen came so close to doing so that conservative Congressman talked about introducing legislation permitting men of the cloth to cross the line a few times before endangering the tax-exempt status of their churches.In October, 2004, Rector Emeritus George Regas told the folks at All Saints Episcopal in Pasadena that Christ would not support a preemptive or preventive war. He also talked about poverty, but did not endorse the tough love approach to compassion, stripping the poor of benefits to compel them become creative and industrious. Regas did not urge people to vote for Kerry or against George W. Bush.Nevertheless, the IRS is now considering whether to strip that church of its tax exempt status. It is unlikely occur. Perhaps the threat to All Saints was intended as a means of arguing in favor of legislation permitting churchmen to discuss politics in the pulpit.

More than a few progressive clergymen will hear the warning shot and learn to trim their sails, even if it means backing off from some of the Christian message.How many religious Republican club houses has the IRS investigated? Narry a one.This is partly about intimidation and smart politics. Much more is involved. The people behind these policies support religious indoctrionation in public schools and at the Air Force Academy. They tried to produce a specially annotate version of the Bible for the Armed Forces.

At bottom many on the Religious Right are true believers who cannot brook dissent and find it blasphemous to even suggest that Jesus Christ would question American exceptionmalism or refuse to enlist in a crusade led by George W. Bush. The Catholics among them, worked ov ertime to explain John Paul II's opposition to both!

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Sherm spent seven years writing an analytical chronicle of what the Republicans have been up to since the 1970s. It discusses elements in the Republican coalition, their ideologies, strategies, informational and financial resources, and election shenanigans. Abuses of power by the Reagan and G. W. Bush administration and the Republican Congresses are detailed. The New Republican Coalition : Its Rise and Impact, The Seventies to Present (Publish America) can be acquired by calling 301-695-1707. On line, go to http://www.publishamerica.com/shopping. It can also be obtained through the on-line operations of Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Do not consider purchasing it if you are looking for something that mirrors the mainstream media!