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Impeachable Offenses Page 10

An Impeachable Offense
December 8, 2007

Blackwater Contracts Mostly Blank

The State Department has released copies of its contracts for private security services with Blackwater Lodge and Training Center and Blackwater Security Consulting. It's a hefty 323-page stack, and it comes with a catch:

About 169 of the pages are blank or mostly blank.

Released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the contracts -- worth up to $1.2 billion -- have been heavily redacted by the government. A State Department spokesman said the officials responsible for the cuts are simply trying to protect sensitive information that might put individuals at risk. He declined to say what kind of information was cut.

An Impeachable Offense
December 4, 2007

Debunking Iran's Nuclear Program: Another 'Intelligence Failure' -- On the Part of the Press?

NEW YORK (December 04, 2007) -- Press reports so far have suggested that the belated release of the National Intelligence Estimate yesterday throwing cold water on oft-repeated claims of a rampant Iranian nuclear weapons program has deeply embarrassed, or at least chastened, public officials and policymakers who have promoted this line for years. Gaining little attention so far: Many in the media have made these same claims, often extravagantly, which promoted (deliberately or not) the tubthumping for striking Iran.

As I've warned in this space for years, too many in the media seemed to fail to learn the lessons of the Iraqi WMD intelligence failure -- and White House propaganda effort -- and instead, were repeating it, re: Iran. This time, perhaps, we may have averted war, with little help from most of the media. In this case, it appears, the NIE people managed to resist several months of efforts by the administration to change their assessment. If only they had stiffened their backbones concerning Iraq in 2002.

An Impeachable Offense
November 28, 2007

Head of Rove Inquiry in Hot Seat Himself

WASHINGTON -- The head of the federal agency investigating Karl Rove's White House political operation is facing allegations that he improperly deleted computer files during another probe, using a private computer-help company, Geeks on Call.

Scott Bloch runs the Office of Special Counsel, an agency charged with protecting government whistleblowers and enforcing a ban on federal employees engaging in partisan political activity. Mr. Bloch's agency is looking into whether Mr. Rove and other White House officials used government agencies to help re-elect Republicans in 2006.

At the same time, Mr. Bloch has himself been under investigation since 2005. At the direction of the White House, the federal Office of Personnel Management's inspector general is looking into claims that Mr. Bloch improperly retaliated against employees and dismissed whistleblower cases without adequate examination.

An Impeachable Offense
November 27, 2007

Feds withdraw subpoena seeking Amazon records

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Federal prosecutors withdrew a subpoena of Amazon.com's records of customers who purchased used books after a Wisconsin judge warned that "rumors of an Orwellian" probe could "frost keyboards across America."

"If word were to spread over the Net -- and it would -- that the FBI and the IRS had demanded and received Amazon's list of customers and their personal purchases, the chilling effect on expressive e-commerce would frost keyboards across America," Crocker wrote in June.

An Impeachable Offense
November 19, 2007

20,000 Injured Vets Not Counted

Marine Lance Cpl. Gene Landrus was hurt in a roadside bomb attack outside Abu Ghraib, Iraq, on May 15, 2006, and faces medical separation from the Corps. He's also up for a Purple Heart.

Along with 20,000 other veterans, he's not included in the Pentagon's official count of U.S. troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That's because Landrus' wound was to his brain and hidden from view. Landrus, 24, of Clarkston, Wash., says he did not realize the nausea, dizziness, memory loss and headaches he suffered after the blast were signs of a lasting brain injury.

An Impeachable Offense
November 20, 2007

We have the Christian Taliban and the Christian Al Qaeda inside our military

Weinstein is certain that fundamentalists will stop at nothing to transform the United States military into an army of God. He notes that Officers Christian Fellowship, with chapters in every major U.S. military installation in the world, envisions—and here he quotes its mission statement—a "spiritually transformed military, with ambassadors for Christ in uniform, empowered by the Holy Spirit." The group has helped boost fundamentalist Christianity among the armed forces from a negligible presence 20 years ago to a faith currently held by 30 percent of U.S. soldiers, according to Weinstein. He adds that many of those soldiers—hardcore end-timers and Dominionists—desperately want America to invade Iran, thereby triggering the biblical prophecy of the Rapture.

Weinstein long ago stopped believing that evangelicals in the military will grow more tolerant or less militant when faced with calm talk and logical reasoning. The Constitution is the only weapon there is against them, he says, and he has faith that it's a powerful one. "If you don't agree with me," he often scoffs, "then tell it to the judge."

An Impeachable Offense
November 18, 2007

Losing Afghanistan, One Civilian at a Time

Last year was the worst year for civilian casualties since the fall of the country's cruel Taliban regime, and 2007 is shaping up to be even worse. The most alarming point: As of July, more civilians had died as a result of NATO, U.S. and Afghan government firepower than had died due to the Taliban. According to U.N. figures, 314 civilians were killed by international and Afghan government forces in the first six months of this year, while 279 civilians were killed by the insurgents.

So why on Earth are the NATO and U.S. forces and their Afghan allies killing more civilians than the Taliban? One explanation can be found in the relatively low number of Western boots on the ground. Afghanistan, which is 1 1/2 times the size of Iraq and has a somewhat larger population, has only about 50,000 U.S. and NATO soldiers stationed on its soil. By contrast, more than 170,000 U.S. troops are now in Iraq. So the West has to rely far more heavily on airstrikes in Afghanistan, which inevitably exact a higher toll in civilian casualties. Indeed, the Associated Press found that U.S. and NATO forces launched more than 1,000 airstrikes in Afghanistan in the first six months of 2007 alone -- four times as many airstrikes as U.S. forces carried out in Iraq during that period.

An Impeachable Offense
November 19, 2007

Former White House press secretary blames Bush for efforts to mislead the public about the role of White House aides in leaking the identity of a CIA operative

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan blames President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for efforts to mislead the public about the role of White House aides in leaking the identity of a CIA operative.

In an excerpt from his forthcoming book, McClellan recounts the 2003 news conference in which he told reporters that aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby were "not involved" in the leak involving operative Valerie Plame.

An Impeachable Offense
November 14, 2007

When Did We Become Like Syria

Nov. 14, 2007 | When visiting my grandmother's house in Damascus a few years ago, I never could have imagined sitting one day in a U.S. court, listening to the U.S. government defend its covert transfer of a Canadian citizen to Syria to be tortured.

Yet, that's precisely what happened last Friday in a U.S. circuit court in New York, with the beginning of Maher Arar's appeal of a decision last year by a district court to throw out his suit against the U.S. government. Arar's case was the first to challenge in court the Bush administration's use of rendition -- the process of secretly handing over people to other countries where torture is used during interrogations.

An Impeachable Offense
November 19, 2007

30,000 Medicaid providers cheating on their taxes

More than 30,000 Medicaid providers in seven states - California, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas - failed to pay more than $1 billion in federal taxes last year, according to a report released Nov. 14.

In its fifth report to a Senate panel investigating tax cheats that do business with the government, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says 5 percent of Medicaid providers in the seven states cheat on their taxes - particularly payroll taxes collected from employers.

An Impeachable Offense
November 16, 2007

U.S. Army Desertion Rate Increases 80%

WASHINGTON (CBS News) -- Soldiers strained by six years at war are deserting their posts at the highest rate since 1980, with the number of Army deserters this year showing an 80 percent increase since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003.

While the totals are still far lower than they were during the Vietnam War, when the draft was in effect, they show a steady increase over the past four years - and a 42 percent jump since last year.

An Impeachable Offense
November 11, 2007

Mentally Ill Veterans Sent Back To War

"I don't believe in another circumstance with the war, that Russell would be redeployed with his PTSD," his girlfriend Catherine Colone said. "But in this war, there just aren't enough soldiers."

One day after Michael DeVlieger was released from an Army hospital in Kentucky for acute stress disorder, he got the redeployment order. Now he's on the front lines.

An Impeachable Offense
November 14, 2007

FBI report: Blackwater killed 14 Iraqis without cause

WASHINGTON (AFP) - FBI investigators have found that Blackwater guards shot 14 people with no justification in the controversial September 16 incident in Baghdad, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

Seventeen people were killed when Blackwater private security guards opened fire in a crowded Baghdad neighborhood as they protected a State Department convoy. Blackwater said the guards came under attack.

At least 14 of the shootings broke rules for private security guards in Iraq regarding the use of deadly force, the Times reported, citing unnamed civilian and military officials briefed on the case.

An Impeachable Offense
November 14, 2007

Are Iraq's Detainees Treated Fairly?

Whether guilty or innocent, those detainees are then likely to be in for a months-long journey of questioning and petitions. Citing a provision of the Geneva Convention and U.N. Security Council resolutions, U.S. forces in Iraq claim authority to arrest individuals deemed a threat to either the government of Iraq or U.S.-led multinational troops in the country. Initially, anyone arrested by U.S. forces can be held informally for about 14 days before their case gets officially started. After that, the detainee is sent to a U.S. detention compound if military officials decide there is enough evidence of insurgent violence or militia activity.

An Impeachable Offense
October 13, 2007

UN Accuses US Contractors of War Crimes

BAGHDAD (AP) — U.N. officials in Iraq stepped up pressure on the United States on Thursday to prosecute any unjustified killings of Iraqi civilians by private security contractors, saying such killings could amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity if "done in cold blood."

While Americans are unlikely to face such charges, the words served as a harsh rebuke as outrage spreads over what many Iraqis perceive as overly aggressive behavior of the heavily armed foreigners protecting U.S. government-funded work.

"For us, it's a human rights issue," said Ivana Vuco, a human rights officer with the U.N. Assistance Mission to Iraq, or UNAMI. "We will monitor the allegations of killings by security contractors and look into whether or not crimes against humanity and war crimes have been committed."

An Impeachable Offense
October 13, 2007

US soldiers: Blackwater attacked fleeing Iraqi civilian

The Blackwater security forces that opened fire on a public square in Baghdad last month, leaving 17 dead, attacked fleeing Iraqi civilians in a "criminal event," according to American soldiers on the scene just minutes after the incident. News of the Army report comes just a day after the families of three Iraqis killed in the September 16 incident, along with another Iraqi man who was injured, filed a lawsuit against Blackwater in US federal court. The fallout over the incident has made it increasingly difficult for contractors to operate in Iraq, and also Afghanistan.

The Washington Post says that according to their report, the US soldiers – after investigations at the square and interviews with witnesses and Iraqi police – found no evidence that any Iraqis had fired weapons and concluded that there was "no enemy activity involved." They did find evidence, however, that indicated Blackwater contractors fired on civilian vehicles fleeing the square.

An Impeachable Offense
October 30, 2007

Mukasey: Law is no longer supreme

President Bush's nominee for attorney general, Michael Mukasey, was asked an important question about Congress's power at his confirmation hearing. If witnesses claim executive privilege and refuse to respond to Congressional subpoenas in the United States attorneys scandal — as Karl Rove and Harriet Miers have done — and Congress holds them in contempt, would his Justice Department refer the matter to a grand jury for criminal prosecution, as federal law requires?

Mr. Mukasey suggested the answer would be no. That was hardly his only slap-down of Congress. He made the startling claim that a president can defy laws if he or she is acting within the authority "to defend the country." That is a mighty large exception to the rule that Congress's laws are supreme.

An Impeachable Offense
November 1, 2007

Foreign drugs get little scrutiny by FDA

Prescription drugs and drug ingredients pour into the United States from an estimated 3,000 foreign companies, though the real number is unknown and could be as high as 6,700, congressional inspectors said in a memo to members of the subcommittee ahead of Thursday's hearing. Among those invited to testify: FDA commissioner Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach. The agency declined an interview request ahead of the hearing.

The FDA plans to inspect just 300 foreign drug firms this year, announcing in advance its intent to do so each time. Of those inspections, most are of plants that make drugs awaiting FDA approval. Just 15 are of the type of periodic assessment meant to ensure a company's products remain safe in the years following FDA approval, though some pre-approval inspections also include some post-approval surveillance.

An Impeachable Offense
October 29, 2007

ElBaradei: UN has no evidence Iran is making nuclear weapons

The head of the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reiterated on Sunday that he had no evidence Iran is building nuclear weapons and accused US leaders of adding "fuel to the fire" with recent bellicose rhetoric. "I have not received any information that there is a concrete active nuclear weapons program going on right now," Mohamed ElBaradei told CNN.

"Even if Iran were to be working on a nuclear weapon ... they are at least a few years from having such a weapon," he added, citing assessments by US officials themselves.

An Impeachable Offense
October 29, 2007

Immunity deal hampers Blackwater inquiry

WASHINGTON - The State Department promised Blackwater USA bodyguards immunity from prosecution in its investigation of last month's deadly shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians, The Associated Press has learned.

As a result, it will likely be months before the United States can — if ever — bring criminal charges in the case that has infuriated the Iraqi government.

"Once you give immunity, you can't take it away," said a senior law enforcement official familiar with the investigation.

An Impeachable Offense
October 26, 2007

Judgment Day for the CIA?

The de jure trial has now been postponed until next week. It may be postponed again, or it might never happen, but for 25 alleged CIA officers and paramilitaries charged in an Italian court with kidnapping an imam from a Milan street in 2003, the de facto trial is pretty much over. Their identities have been exposed in hundreds of pages of warrants and indictments and then picked up by the Italian press and various bloggers worldwide. A couple of them have even made it into Wikipedia. Not only has the court revealed sacrosanct "sources and methods," it offers full names, passport details, home addresses, credit card numbers—even the frequent flier numbers they are said to have used while they traveled on missions to abduct suspected terrorists and deliver them in secret to interrogation centers beyond the reach of the U.S. Constitution or, for that matter, common humanity.

In the past the American Congress, American prosecutors and an aggressive American press carried out these kinds of investigations. Now it seems we're so intimidated by the words "national security" that we have to count on foreign cops and courts to tell us when our own spies run amok.

An Impeachable Offense
October 26, 2007

FEMA's fake 'news conference'

On Tuesday, FEMA held what was called a "news briefing" on the California fires, but the questions asked did not come from reporters. They were asked instead by FEMA staffers.

"It is not a practice that we would employ here at the White House or that we -- we certainly don't condone it," Press Secretary Dana Perino said. "We didn't know about it beforehand. FEMA has issued an apology, saying that they had an error judgment when they were attempting to get out a lot of information to reporters, who were asking for answers to a variety of questions in regard to the wildfires in California. It's not something I would have condoned. And they, I'm sure, will not do it again."

An Impeachable Offense
October 23, 2007

Reports Assail State Department on Iraq Security

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22 — A pair of new reports have delivered scorching judgments about the State Department's performance in overseeing work done by the private companies that the government relies on increasingly in Iraq and Afghanistan to carry out delicate security work and other missions.

A State Department review of its own security practices in Iraq assails the department for poor coordination, communication, oversight and accountability involving armed security companies like Blackwater USA, according to people who have been briefed on the report. In addition to Blackwater, the State Department's two other security contractors in Iraq are DynCorp International and Triple Canopy.

An Impeachable Offense
October 14, 2007

OMB Edits CDC Testimony

WASHINGTON - The White House severely edited congressional testimony given Tuesday by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the impact of climate change on health, removing specific scientific references to potential health risks, according to two sources familiar with the documents.

Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Atlanta-based CDC, the government's premier disease monitoring agency, told a Senate hearing that climate change "is anticipated to have a broad range of impacts on the health of Americans."

An Impeachable Offense
October 24, 2007

House Judiciary Committee told Justice Department targeted Democrats

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23 — Richard L. Thornburgh, attorney general in the Reagan and first Bush administrations, charged Tuesday that political reasons motivated the Justice Department to open corruption investigations against Democrats in Mr. Thornburgh's home state, Pennsylvania.

In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Mr. Thornburgh became the first former Republican attorney general to join with Democratic lawmakers to suggest that the Justice Department under Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales had singled out Democratic politicians for prosecution.

An Impeachable Offense
October 13, 2007

Former Qwest CEO Says U.S. Punished Phone Firm

Details about the alleged NSA program have been redacted from the documents, but Nacchio's lawyer said last year that the NSA had approached the company about participating in a warrantless surveillance program to gather information about Americans' phone records.

In the court filings disclosed this week, Nacchio suggests that Qwest's refusal to take part in that program led the government to cancel a separate, lucrative contract with the NSA in retribution. He is using the allegation to try to show why his stock sale should not have been considered improper.

An Impeachable Offense
October 14, 2007

The 'Good Germans' Among Us

Ten days ago The Times unearthed yet another round of secret Department of Justice memos countenancing torture. President Bush gave his standard response: "This government does not torture people." Of course, it all depends on what the meaning of "torture" is. The whole point of these memos is to repeatedly recalibrate the definition so Mr. Bush can keep pleading innocent.

By any legal standards except those rubber-stamped by Alberto Gonzales, we are practicing torture, and we have known we are doing so ever since photographic proof emerged from Abu Ghraib more than three years ago. As Andrew Sullivan, once a Bush cheerleader, observed last weekend in The Sunday Times of London, America's "enhanced interrogation" techniques have a grotesque provenance: "Verschärfte Vernehmung, enhanced or intensified interrogation, was the exact term innovated by the Gestapo to describe what became known as the 'third degree.' It left no marks. It included hypothermia, stress positions and long-time sleep deprivation."

An Impeachable Offense
October 11, 2007

UN: Prosecute Iraq's 'rogue' security guards

BAGHDAD (AFP) — The UN called Thursday for rogue security guards in Iraq to be prosecuted for possible war crimes as Blackwater was handed a lawsuit in the US on behalf of victims of a deadly Baghdad shootout.

The legal position of private contractors, especially protective security details often used by foreign diplomats, is a hot-button issue in Iraq after two high-profile shooting incidents in the capital within a month.

An Impeachable Offense
October 11, 2007

US detains 860 children in Iraq

BAGHDAD (AFP) — The US military is holding nearly 25,000 people in its prisons in Iraq, 860 of whom are under the age of 16, the general in charge of their detention said on Wednesday.

Eighty-three percent of inmates are Sunnis and 16 percent are Shiite, General Douglas Stone told a press conference in Baghdad.

Egyptians, Iranians, Saudis and Syrians number among 280 foreign nationals imprisoned by the US military in Iraq, he said.

An Impeachable Offense
October 9, 2007

Supreme Court refuses torture case

WASHINGTON - A German man who says he was abducted and tortured by the CIA as part of the anti-terrorism rendition program lost his final chance Tuesday to persuade U.S. courts to hear his claims.

The Supreme Court rejected without comment an appeal from Khaled el-Masri, effectively endorsing Bush administration arguments that state secrets would be revealed if courts allowed the case to proceed.

El-Masri, 44, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, says he was mistakenly identified as an associate of the Sept. 11 hijackers and was detained while attempting to enter Macedonia on New Year's Eve 2003.

An Impeachable Offense
October 9, 2007

Government leak ruined Al-Qaeda monitoring

WASHINGTON - A leak from the White House or US spy agencies about a video from Osama bin Laden sabotaged a private intelligence firm's secret ability to intercept Al-Qaeda communications, the Washington Post reported today.

The Post said that SITE Intelligence Group had covertly developed access over several years to Al-Qaeda's communications network but that the access was lost after the administration of President George W.

An Impeachable Offense
October 7, 2007

Bush's torturers follow where the Nazis led

From almost the beginning of the war, it is now indisputable, the Bush administration made a strong and formative decision: in the absence of good intelligence on the Islamist terror threat after 9/11, it would do what no American administration had done before. It would torture detainees to get information.

This decision was and is illegal, and violates America's treaty obligations, the military code of justice, the United Nations convention against torture, and US law. Although America has allied itself over the decades with some unsavoury regimes around the world and has come close to acquiescing to torture, it has never itself tortured. It has also, in liberating the world from the evils of Nazism and communism, and in crafting the Geneva conventions, done more than any other nation to banish torture from the world. George Washington himself vowed that it would be a defining mark of the new nation that such tactics, used by the British in his day, would be anathema to Americans.

An Impeachable Offense
October 6, 2007

Blackwater Offical: We're creating terrorists

"Where do you all expect them to go?" I shrieked. "It was an old guy and a family, for goodness' sake. Was it necessary for them to destroy their poor old car?"

My driver responded impassively: "Ma'am, we've been trained to view anyone as a potential threat. You don't know who they might use as decoys or what the risks are. Terrorists could be disguised as anyone."

"Well, if they weren't terrorists before, they certainly are now!" I retorted. Sulking in my seat, I was stunned by the driver's indifference.

An Impeachable Offense
October 3, 2007

National Guard Troops Denied Benefits After Longest Deployment Of Iraq War

MINNEAPOLIS, MN (NBC) -- When they came home from Iraq, 2,600 members of the Minnesota National Guard had been deployed longer than any other ground combat unit. The tour lasted 22 months and had been extended as part of President Bush's surge.

1st Lt. Jon Anderson said he never expected to come home to this: A government refusing to pay education benefits he says he should have earned under the GI bill.

"It's pretty much a slap in the face," Anderson said. "I think it was a scheme to save money, personally. I think it was a leadership failure by the senior Washington leadership... once again failing the soldiers."

Anderson's orders, and the orders of 1,161 other Minnesota guard members, were written for 729 days.

Had they been written for 730 days, just one day more, the soldiers would receive those benefits to pay for school.

An Impeachable Offense
October 4, 2007

Iraqi probe implicates Blackwater

BAGHDAD - The official Iraqi investigation into the Blackwater shooting last month recommends that the security guards face trial in Iraqi courts and that the company compensate the victims, an Iraqi government minister told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The three-member panel, led by Defense Minister Abdul-Qader al-Obeidi, determined that Blackwater guards sprayed western Baghdad's Nisoor Square with gunfire Sept. 16 without provocation, Minister of State for National Security Sherwan al-Waili told AP.

An Impeachable Offense
October 2, 2007

17 Iraqi Civilians Killed by US

American-led coalition forces in Iraq are so far not commenting on eyewitness claims that women and children are among the dead following the enemy engagement near Baquba, 60km north of the capital Baghdad.

"Seventeen people were killed, 27 were wounded and eight are missing including women and children," an unnamed Iraqi government official told al-Jazeera.

An Impeachable Offense
October 4, 2007

No Murder Charges After Haditha Massacre

It was called the Haditha massacre: 24 Iraqis killed and four Marines charged with murder. But now the case against those Marines appears to be falling apart.

The investigating officer in the case recommended Wednesday that the most serious charges be dropped. If the officer's recommendation is accepted -- and it usually is -- nobody will face murder charges in connection with an incident that left 24 Iraqis dead.

An Impeachable Offense
October 2, 2007

U.N. says Afghan violence up 30 percent

KABUL, Afghanistan - Violence in Afghanistan has surged nearly 30 percent this year and suicide bombings are inflicting a high toll on civilians, a new United Nations report says.

The report said Afghanistan is averaging 550 violent incidents a month, up from an average of 425 last year. It said three-fourths of suicide bombings are targeting international and Afghan security forces, but suicide bombers also killed 143 civilians through August.

An Impeachable Offense
October 2, 2007

Blackwater contractor wrote government report on incident

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The State Department's initial report of last month's incident in which Blackwater guards were accused of killing Iraqi civilians was written by a Blackwater contractor working in the embassy security detail, according to government and industry sources.

The deadly incident produced an outcry in Iraq and raised questions about the accountability of foreign security contractors in Iraq, who, under an order laid down by the U.S.-led occupation government, are not subject to Iraqi law for actions taken within their contracts.

An Impeachable Offense
October 8, 2007

General Petraeus wins a battle in Washington—if not in Baghdad

The critics make a good case. Yet let us ignore them. Let us assume instead that Petraeus genuinely believes that he has broken the code in Iraq and that things are improving. Let's assume further that he is correct in that assessment.

What then should he have recommended to the Congress and the president? That is, if the commitment of a modest increment of additional forces —the 30,000 troops comprising the surge, now employed in accordance with sound counterinsurgency doctrine —has begun to turn things around, then what should the senior field commander be asking for next?

A single word suffices to answer that question: more. More time. More money. And above all, more troops.

An Impeachable Offense
September 30, 2007

Bush's EPA Is Pursuing Fewer Polluters

The Environmental Protection Agency's pursuit of criminal cases against polluters has dropped off sharply during the Bush administration, with the number of prosecutions, new investigations and total convictions all down by more than a third, according to Justice Department and EPA data.

The number of civil lawsuits filed against defendants who refuse to settle environmental cases was down nearly 70 percent between fiscal years 2002 and 2006, compared with a four-year period in the late 1990s, according to those same statistics.

An Impeachable Offense
September 24, 2007

Department of Homeland Security: Data Breaches

The FBI is investigating a major information technology firm with a $1.7 billion Department of Homeland Security contract after it allegedly failed to detect cyber break-ins traced to a Chinese-language Web site and then tried to cover up its deficiencies, according to congressional investigators.

At the center of the probe is Unisys Corp., a company that in 2002 won a $1 billion deal to build, secure and manage the information technology networks for the Transportation Security Administration and DHS headquarters. In 2005, the company was awarded a $750 million follow-on contract.

An Impeachable Offense
September 26, 2007

GAO Report: Walter Reed Problems Have Not Been Fixed

Remember Walter Reed? After the huge scandal last spring, President Bush and the members of Congress promised to improve troops' care. They promised to take action and get our wounded veterans the care they were waiting for. They promised to make things right. Well, that promise has been broken.

This week, we got definitive proof that our nation's wounded veterans are still waiting for government leaders to deliver much needed resources. According to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the response to shoddy outpatient treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center has been woefully inadequate.

The US Congress is passing laws that violate the US Constitution and their condemning speech they don't agree with. Who are our REAL enemies?

An Impeachable Offense
September 27, 2007

Two Patriot Act Provisions Ruled Unlawful

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- A federal judge issued a stern rebuke of a key White House antiterror law, striking down as unconstitutional two pillars of the USA Patriot Act. U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken ruled that using the act to authorize secret searches and wiretapping to gather criminal evidence - instead of intelligence gathering - violates the Constitution.

"For over 200 years, this nation has adhered to the rule of law - with unparalleled success," the judge wrote Wednesday. "A shift to a nation based on extra-constitutional authority is prohibited, as well as ill-advised."

The case began when the FBI misidentified a fingerprint in the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people in 2004, leading investigators to a Portland attorney whose home and office were secretly searched and bugged.

Betraeus cooked the books, lied to Congress. MoveOn.org called him on it and the US House and Senate condemned them for daring to speak the truth. Good grief.

An Impeachable Offense
September 25, 2007

What Defines a Killing as Sectarian?

On Sept. 1, the bullet-riddled bodies of four Iraqi men were found on a Baghdad street. Two days later, a single dead man, with one bullet in his head, was found on a different street. According to the U.S. military in Iraq, the solitary man was a victim of sectarian violence. The first four were not.

Such determinations are the building blocks for what the Bush administration has declared a downward trend in sectarian deaths and a sign that its war strategy is working. They are made by a specialized team of soldiers who spend their nights at computer terminals, sifting through data on the day's civilian victims for clues to the motivations of killers.

Note how the media uses a right wing organization to defend the WH position even though the member it quotes isn't a scientist. It seems some in the media think being fair and balanced means they need to put out known lies also. Shame on the AP. It's rapidly becoming worthless. Another Bush lie, another impeachable offense.

An Impeachable Offense
September 27, 2007

Physicists challenge US missile defense claims

WASHINGTON - A number of top U.S-based physicists have concluded that the Bush administration used inaccurate claims to reassure NATO allies about U.S. missile defense plans in Eastern Europe.

But the six scientists, whose backgrounds include elite American universities, research labs and high levels of government, said in interviews that Russia's concerns were justified.

"The claim by the Missile Defense Agency is not correct," said Theodore Postol, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a longtime missile defense critic. "And it is hard to understand how they could get something so basic wrong."

An Impeachable Offense
September 26, 2007

State Dept. blocks Blackwater probe

WASHINGTON -- The State Department has interceded in a congressional investigation of Blackwater USA, the private security firm accused of killing Iraqi civilians last week, ordering the company not to disclose information about its Iraq operations without approval from the Bush administration, according to documents revealed Tuesday.

In a letter sent to a senior Blackwater executive Thursday, a State Department contracting official ordered the company "to make no disclosure of the documents or information" about its work in Iraq without permission.

An Impeachable Offense
September 25, 2007

Lawmaker says Rice interfered with Iraq inquiry

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A leading Democratic lawmaker on Tuesday accused Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of interfering in congressional inquiries into corruption in Iraq's government and the activities of U.S. security firm Blackwater.

Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman said State Department officials had told the Oversight and Government Reform Committee he chairs they could not provide details of corruption in Iraq's government unless the information was treated as a "state secret" and not revealed to the public.

Another Bush and Petraeus lie exposed.

An Impeachable Offense
September 21, 2007

Iraqi forces take lead in only 8 percent of Baghdad

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Iraqi forces have taken the lead for security in only about eight percent of Baghdad's neighborhoods more than eight months after the start of the US troop surge, a senior US commander said Friday.

Major General Joseph Fil said violence has declined sharply in the city and more than half of its 474 neighborhoods, or "mahalas," are under the joint control of US and Iraqi forces, up from about 19 percent in June.

Will the Senate take time out of its busy schedule to condemn illegal arms sales to Iraqis or does the Senate only condemn free speech by fellow Americans?

An Impeachable Offense
September 22, 2007

U.S. investigates Blackwater arms smuggling

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Federal prosecutors are looking into whether private U.S. security contractor Blackwater USA has shipped unlicensed automatic weapons and military goods into Iraq, a newspaper reported on Saturday.

Two former Blackwater employees have pleaded guilty in Greenville, North Carolina, to weapons charges and are cooperating with the investigation, The News & Observer of Raleigh, North Carolina reported.

Will the US Senate take time out of its busy schedule to condemn the military for losing so many weapons and causing so many deaths or will the Senate condemn MoveOn.org again?

An Impeachable Offense
September 20, 2007

Are Lost U.S. Weapons In Enemy Hands?

(CBS) Last month, a government report revealed the U.S. military could not account for 190,000 -- or 30 percent -- of all weapons issued to Iraqi Security Forces between June 2004 and December 2005.

Thursday, Pentagon officials said $88 billion in spending in Iraq and Afghanistan is now under audit by the Department of Defense for fraud.

Now, in his exclusive report CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian has learned some of those missing weapons have ended up in the worst possible hands.

The evidence appears to be overwhelming. Blackwater is a criminal enterprise. Does the US government look the other way (as with so many other atrocities) because we don't have enough troops and no one in congress has the courage to demand we reinstate the draft so there are enough troops?

On the other side of the coin, is anyone tracking the number of mercenaries killed in Iraq? It seems the US military can easily create the illusion of fewer US military deaths by simply hiring others to do the hard work for them.

An Impeachable Offense
September 21, 2007

US resumes Blackwater convoys in Iraq

BAGHDAD - American convoys under the protection of Blackwater USA resumed on Friday, four days after the U.S. Embassy suspended all land travel by its diplomats and other civilian officials in response to the alleged killing of civilians by the security firm.

A top aide to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had earlier conceded it may prove difficult for the Iraqi government to follow through on threats to expel Blackwater and other Western security contractors.

An Impeachable Offense
August 28, 2007

Industry Challenges Impede Cancer Research

"We discovered that industry has tried to use DQA to challenge every aspect of the NTP scientific review and release process," said Clayton Northouse, Information Policy Analyst at OMB Watch. "Special interest associations have challenged meetings, press releases, notices to study specific chemicals and other documents that are clearly beyond the parameters of DQA. Instead of seeking to improve the quality of data, the intent of these challenges seems to be to keep scientific information out of the hands of health professionals and government decision-makers."

An Impeachable Offense
September 19, 2007

Report: Private Contractor Oversite Lacking

The Iraqi government's decision to temporarily ban the security company Blackwater USA after a fatal shooting of civilians in Baghdad reveals a growing web of rules governing weapons-bearing private contractors but few signs U.S. agencies are aggressively enforcing them.

Nearly a year after a law was passed holding contracted employees to the same code of justice as military personnel, the Bush administration has not published guidance on how military lawyers should do that, according to Peter Singer, a security industry expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Another Bush lie is always good for another in the long list of impeachable offenses

An Impeachable Offense
September 18, 2007

Security Took 'Turn for Worse' In Southern Iraq

Security is deteriorating in southern Iraq as rival Shiite militias vying for power have stepped up their attacks after moving out of Baghdad to avoid U.S.-led military operations, according to the latest quarterly Pentagon report on Iraq released yesterday.

"The security environment in southern Iraq took a notable turn for the worse in August" with the assassination of two governors, said the report, which covers June through August. "There may be retaliation and an increase in intra-Shi'a violence throughout the South," it said, whereas previously the violence was centered in the main southern city of Basra.

An Impeachable Offense
September 19, 2007

State Department's inspector general repeatedly thwarted investigations into fraud

Howard J. Krongard, the State Department's inspector general, has repeatedly thwarted investigations into contracting fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan, including construction of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, and censored reports that might prove politically embarrassing to the Bush administration, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform charged yesterday in a 13-page letter.

The letter, addressed to Krongard and signed by the committee chairman, Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), who released it yesterday, said the allegations were based on the testimony of seven current and former officials on Krongard's staff, including two former senior officials who allowed their names to be used, and private e-mail exchanges obtained by the committee. The letter said the allegations concerned all three major divisions of Krongard's office -- investigations, audits and inspections.

An Impeachable Offense
September 14, 2007

IAEA: US Iran report branded dishonest

The UN nuclear watchdog has protested to the US government over a report on Iran's nuclear programme, calling it "erroneous" and "misleading".

In a leaked letter, the IAEA said a congressional report contained serious distortions of the agency's own findings on Iran's nuclear activity.

The IAEA also took "strong exception" to claims made over the removal of a senior safeguards inspector.

This White House continues to rewrite history faster than it can be recorded. Lying to the American people is an impeachable offense. Lying and being cavalier about such lies reinforces the belief that this White House is amoral, inept and most of all considers this war something they can use against the media and the Democrats. If they spent as much time winning this war as defending their failures, the war would have been won years ago.

An Impeachable Offense
September 13, 2007

Who said anything about benchmarks?

Sometimes, these guys make it too easy. White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, yesterday, in his final appearance:

"No, benchmarks were something that Congress wanted to use as a metric. And we're going to produce a report. But the fact is that the situation is bigger and more complex, and you need to look at the whole picture."

Reality, as reported last week:

It was the White House and the Iraqi government, not Congress, that first proposed the benchmarks for Iraq that are now producing failing grades, a provenance that raises questions about why the administration is declaring now that the government's performance is not the best measure of change.

The administration presented a to-do list and said, "Judge us in September on these points." They've successfully completed three of the 18 tasks. In response, the new line is, "To-do lists are stupid."

The fact that a majority of Sunni and Shia polled think it's ok to attack US forces should be enough to convince anyone the surge has failed. Nearly a majority also think it's ok for al Qaeda to attack US forces in Iraq. How did it come to pass that a sitting president can get up and lie to our faces?

An Impeachable Offense
September 13, 2007

AP Fact-Checks Bush Iraq Speech

BUSH SAID: "Anbar province is a good example of how our strategy is working," Bush said, noting that just last year U.S. intelligence analysts had written off the Sunni area as "lost to al-Qaida."

FACT CHECK: Anbar is not secure, accounting for 18 percent of the U.S. deaths in Iraq so far this year - making it the second deadliest province after Baghdad.

There are two possibilies; either McConnell intentionally lied to congress or he had no idea what he was talking about. Either way he's unfit and should be fired or prosecuted.

An Impeachable Offense
September 12, 2007

Mike McConnell lied to Congress about major terror plot in German

Sept. 12, 2007 - In a new embarrassment for the Bush administration's top spymaster, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell is withdrawing an assertion he made to Congress this week that a recently passed electronic-surveillance law helped U.S. authorities foil a major terror plot in Germany.

After questions about his testimony were raised, McConnell called Lieberman to clarify his statements to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, an official said. (A spokeswoman for Lieberman confirmed that McConnell called the senator Tuesday but could not immediately confirm what they spoke about.) Late Wednesday afternoon, McConnell issued a statement acknowledging that "information contributing to the recent arrests [in Germany] was not collected under authorities provided by the 'Protect America Act'."

Bush says one thing, the facts say otherwise. Why does Bush lie? And why has the media let him get away with all these lies without calling him a liar? They had no problem calling Bill Clinton a liar and he never lied about anything that had to do national security or his duties as president. The media remains seriously dysfunctional.

An Impeachable Offense
October 2007 (posted Sept.15, 2007)

Al-Qaeda in Iraq: 1 to 5 percent

The State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), which arguably has the best track record for producing accurate intelligence assessments, last year estimated that AQI's membership was in a range of "more than 1,000." When compared with the military's estimate for the total size of the insurgency—between 20,000 and 30,000 full-time fighters—this figure puts AQI forces at around 5 percent. When compared with Iraqi intelligence's much larger estimates of the insurgency—200,000 fighters—INR's estimate would put AQI forces at less than 1 percent. This year, the State Department dropped even its base-level estimate, because, as an official explained, "the information is too disparate to come up with a consensus number."

There are two possibilies; either McConnell intentionally lied to congress or he had no idea what he was talking about. Either way he's unfit and should be fired or prosecuted.

An Impeachable Offense
September 12, 2007

Mike McConnell lied to Congress about major terror plot in German

Sept. 12, 2007 - In a new embarrassment for the Bush administration's top spymaster, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell is withdrawing an assertion he made to Congress this week that a recently passed electronic-surveillance law helped U.S. authorities foil a major terror plot in Germany.

After questions about his testimony were raised, McConnell called Lieberman to clarify his statements to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, an official said. (A spokeswoman for Lieberman confirmed that McConnell called the senator Tuesday but could not immediately confirm what they spoke about.) Late Wednesday afternoon, McConnell issued a statement acknowledging that "information contributing to the recent arrests [in Germany] was not collected under authorities provided by the 'Protect America Act'."