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Impeach Bush

Report: Pentagon consultant spoke with investors before war
San Fransico Chronicled(AP)
(05-07) 00:40 PDT LOS ANGELES

Pentagon adviser Richard Perle briefed an investment seminar on ways to profit from conflicts in Iraq and North Korea just weeks after he received a top-secret government briefing on the crises in the two countries, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

Perle, who until March was chairman of the Defense Policy Board, a group of outside advisers to the Pentagon, also serves on the board of several defense contractors. The revelation raises concerns about conflicts of interest.

The Times reported that Perle attended a Defense Intelligence Agency briefing in February and three weeks later participated in a Goldman Sachs conference call in which he advised investors in a talk titled "Implications of an Imminent War: Iraq Now. North Korea Next?"

Perle did not return phone calls or e-mails from the newspaper seeking comment.

One of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's closest advisers, Perle was a vocal advocate of going to war against Iraq and publicly questioned the reliability of some longtime U.S. allies, including France and Saudi Arabia.

He resigned as chairman of the Defense Policy Board on March 27 after it was reported he had worked as a consultant to bankrupt telecommunications company Global Crossing Ltd., which was trying to get Pentagon approval to be sold to Asian investors.

In offering his resignation, Perle, 61, denied any wrongdoing and said he didn't want questions about his outside interests to be a distraction to Rumsfeld. He remained a member of the board.

"The guiding principle here is that you do not give advice in the Defense Policy Board on any particular matter in which you have an interest," he said at the time. "And I don't do that. I haven't done that."

Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, has asked the Pentagon's inspector general to investigate Perle's business activities and any conflicts they might pose for his membership.

©2003 Associated Press

Commentary:
Profiting from war is immoral and used to be illegal. Enough said.


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USC students protest Bush as commencement speaker
The State.com (South Carolina)
By NICOLE SWEENEY
Thursday, May 15, 2003

USC student Amanda Martin should be receiving dual master's degrees in social work and public health Friday, but don't expect to see her crossing the stage at the Carolina Center.

Martin will be leading a rally of students, faculty and others who are outraged over USC's choice of President Bush as commencement speaker.

"I won't be attending my own graduation because George W. Bush will be stealing that graduation," she said. "I will be attending my alternative graduation on the streets of Columbia."

The protesting graduates plan to don their caps and gowns for a sidewalk ceremony outside the Koger Center for the Arts. Instead of diplomas, they'll accept copies of the U.S. Constitution.

The rally will include "people of very different political backgrounds who have grievances with Bush on a wide variety of issues," Martin said.

Some USC professors have expressed support for the students. Greg Forter, a USC English professor, said he'll be protesting because Bush's fiscal policies have been damaging to higher education.

"We feel very strongly that Bush's position on education is a lot of talk and not a lot of money," Forter said. "And when you're giving tax breaks to the rich and waging unjust and expensive wars, it's very hard to fund education."

Martin believes Bush's visit has less to do with graduation and more to do with the recent Democratic presidential debate. She accuses USC administrators of "selling our graduation away like a pay-by-the-hour hotel."

Organizers say they have invited thousands and expect protesters from neighboring states.

A graduation protest doesn't bother the university.

"It's a university campus, and everyone certainly has the right to express themselves as they want to," said Russ McKinney, USC spokesman.

USC senior David Byer feels Bush doesn't deserve an honorary degree from USC.

"He shouldn't be upheld as a standard for academia," Byer said. "If all of us were C students and drove drunk up the steps of Yale Library, our country wouldn't be very well off."

But Byer's parents don't share his views and weren't happy to hear their son would be protesting instead of accepting his diploma. They're driving down from Connecticut and still hope he'll change his mind.

"They are both upset and disappointed with me," said Byer, an accounting major. "But I think they understand that this is just something I have to do."

Not everyone agrees. USC senior Chris Andrews was excited that Bush would be the speaker, but not so about the protests.

"I knew it was going to become a spectacle with the protests and people's dividing view of the war," said Andrews, a finance major. "I knew it was no longer going to be about graduation; it was going to be President Bush coming to Columbia. It's kind of sad."

Staff writer John C. Drake contributed to this story.

© thestate.com 2003

Commentary:
For a US president there's nothing bigger than National Security. Bush lied about Saddam's threat to us, about his WMD and getting an up or down vote to go to war.

Instead of hanging his head in shame as most of us do when we're caught in a lie he revels in it. The parents of these students too must be ashamed. If one of their children lied to them about something really important, they wouldn't stand for it. But when Bush lies to them they (and the media) give him a pass.

Bush has ushered in a new era--the death of shame.


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TV watchdog checks claims of bias on Murdoch channel
The Guardian
Matt Wells
Thursday May 8, 2003

The Murdoch-owned Fox News Channel, whose determinedly patriotic stance during the Iraq conflict brought it critical notoriety but commercial success, is under investigation by television regulators in Britain for alleged bias.

The independent television commission is investigating nine complaints by viewers of the channel, broadcast on Sky Digital satellite, also controlled by Rupert Murdoch.

If the network is found to have breached the ITC's "due impartiality" rules, it could be forced out.

In 1999 the ITC revoked the licence of Med TV, a channel aimed at the Kurdish diaspora, for failing to conform to the impartiality rules.

Julian Petley, chairman of the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom, called on the ITC to act against Fox News: "I'm not in favour of censorship, but Murdoch would like to do with British television news what he has done with newspapers, which is to force people to compete on his own terms.

"So if we allow into Britain the kind of journalism represented by Fox, that would bring about a form of censorship ."

MediaGuardian.co.uk © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003

Commentary:
Media bias is something the US is getting used to. For eight years we had a media that spewed out one lie after another about President Clinton---calling every republican accusation a scandal. I think most of us know the media can't be trusted anymore.

Who pushed war more than Bush? The war networks. But it's not just the low brow cable channels, it was every news broadcast, every newspaper in the country and every news magazine. What evidence did Tom Brokaw have that Saddam had WMD? None! Did he care? Nope. Did any of them care if there was evidence. NOPE! In fact, they spouted off one lie after another until a majority of Americans believe things that were either false or unknown (i.e. polls showed a majority believed Saddam had nuclear weapons---there was no evidence).

I'd like to see a poll on how many Americans think WMD were found in Iraq. I'd be a majority still think so.

ABC News ran stories for two days claiming the US found the smoking gun, found WMD in Iraq. When it was later revealed Bush lied to them, they simply dropped the story without comment. Millions upon millions heard something on ABC that was a lie.

I have a suggestion for the media, though I think they're hopeless. Verify everything before you put it on the air. Those pesky facts used to make news worth watching, but now news is for small minded people who think baseless opinion is news.


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London Mayor Ken Livingstone Calls Bush Corrupt
BBC News
Last Updated: Thursday, 8 May, 2003, 21:44 GMT 22:44 UK

London Mayor Ken Livingstone has launched an astonishing attack on US President George W Bush, calling him "corrupt".

Mr Livingstone made his attack during an address to schoolchildren in a debate on the Iraq war.

He said he would get as much pleasure from Mr Bush being forced out of office as he had done from the downfall of former Iraq leader Saddam Hussein.

The outburst was immediately criticised by London politicians who fear a negative effect on the mayor's efforts to attract American tourists here.

Mr Livingstone was answering questions on the Iraq war and other subjects during a two-hour meeting with 200 schoolchildren at City Hall on Thursday morning.

'Red mist'

After making a pointed reference to Mr Bush, he was asked by Channel 4 broadcaster Krishnan Guru-Murthy, who was chairing the meeting, to explain his making a personal attack on the US president when he disliked answering personal questions himself.

The mayor said: "I think George Bush is the most corrupt American president since Harding in the Twenties.

"He is not the legitimate president."

He later added: "This really is a completely unsupportable government and I look forward to it being overthrown as much as I looked forward to Saddam Hussein being overthrown."

Conservative mayoral candidate Steve Norris described Mr Livingstone's attack on President Bush as "utterly irresponsible".

"The red mist comes down and his judgement flies out of the window. He has no right whatever to insult President Bush," he said.

"He has every right to his own view but not to express it when he is mayor of this city."

But Mr Livingstone later played down notions his comments could have an effect on tourism.

The mayor said it was as ridiculous as thinking British tourists would be put off some holiday destinations because of the opinions held of Tony Blair by local politicians.

Asked about Mr Livingstone's comments, White House Press Secretary, Ari Fleischer, said: "First of all, I've never heard of the fellow. Second, I'm not going to dignify it with a response."

And in a statement, officials from the US embassy in London, said: "Mayor Livingstone's opinions about the United States are a matter of complete indifference to the American embassy, the American government and the American people."

© BBC 2003

Commentary:
We should never lose track of truth because to most of us truth is not a variable. Bush said we needed to go to war and go against a UN resolution because of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. Bush lied. France, Germany, Russia and China were right, the US and Great Britain were not.

So what facts did Bush have to justify war? If he had evidence of WMD he would have given that evidence to the UN inspectors, they would have destroyed the weapons and there would have been no need for war.

But when you're corrupt, you lie about WMD, berate the UN and its inspectors, violate the will of the UN Security Council and go to war and

Why are Livingstone's comments incorrect? Because truth is incorrect?


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Rumsfeld's Company sold nuclear reactor is N. Korea
The Guardian (UK)
Randeep Ramesh
Friday May 9, 2003

2000: director of a company which wins $200m contract to sell nuclear reactors to North Korea
2002: declares North Korea a terrorist state, part of the axis of evil and a target for regime change

Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, sat on the board of a company which three years ago sold two light water nuclear reactors to North Korea - a country he now regards as part of the "axis of evil" and which has been targeted for regime change by Washington because of its efforts to build nuclear weapons.
Mr Rumsfeld was a non-executive director of ABB, a European engineering giant based in Zurich, when it won a $200m (£125m) contract to provide the design and key components for the reactors. The current defence secretary sat on the board from 1990 to 2001, earning $190,000 a year. He left to join the Bush administration.

The reactor deal was part of President Bill Clinton's policy of persuading the North Korean regime to positively engage with the west.

The sale of the nuclear technology was a high-profile contract. ABB's then chief executive, Goran Lindahl, visited North Korea in November 1999 to announce ABB's "wide-ranging, long-term cooperation agreement" with the communist government.

The company also opened an office in the country's capital, Pyongyang, and the deal was signed a year later in 2000. Despite this, Mr Rumsfeld's office said that the de fence secretary did not "recall it being brought before the board at any time".

In a statement to the American magazine Newsweek, his spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said that there "was no vote on this". A spokesman for ABB told the Guardian yesterday that "board members were informed about the project which would deliver systems and equipment for light water reactors".

Just months after Mr Rumsfeld took office, President George Bush ended the policy of engagement and negotiation pursued by Mr Clinton, saying he did not trust North Korea, and pulled the plug on diplomacy. Pyongyang warned that it would respond by building nuclear missiles. A review of American policy was announced and the bilateral confidence building steps, key to Mr Clinton's policy of detente, halted.

By January 2002, the Bush administration had placed North Korea in the "axis of evil" alongside Iraq and Iran. If there was any doubt about how the White House felt about North Korea this was dispelled by Mr Bush, who told the Washington Post last year: "I loathe [North Korea's leader] Kim Jong-il."

The success of campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq have enhanced the status of Mr Rumsfeld in Washington. Two years after leaving ABB, Mr Rumsfeld now considers North Korea a "terrorist regime _ teetering on the verge of collapse" and which is on the verge of becoming a proliferator of nuclear weapons. During a bout of diplomatic activity over Christmas he warned that the US could fight two wars at once - a reference to the forthcoming conflict with Iraq. After Baghdad fell, Mr Rumsfeld said Pyongyang should draw the "appropriate lesson".

Critics of the administration's bellicose language on North Korea say that the problem was not that Mr Rumsfeld supported the Clinton-inspired diplomacy and the ABB deal but that he did not "speak up against it". "One could draw the conclusion that economic and personal interests took precedent over non-proliferation," said Steve LaMontagne, an analyst with the Centre for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in Washington.

Many members of the Bush administration are on record as opposing Mr Clinton's plans, saying that weapons-grade nuclear material could be extracted from the type of light water reactors that ABB sold. Mr Rumsfeld's deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, and the state department's number two diplomat, Richard Armitage, both opposed the deal as did the Republican presidential candidate, Bob Dole, whose campaign Mr Rumsfeld ran and where he also acted as defence adviser.

One unnamed ABB board director told Fortune magazine that Mr Rumsfeld was involved in lobbying his hawkish friends on behalf of ABB.

The Clinton package sought to defuse tensions on the Ko rean peninsula by offering supplies of oil and new light water nuclear reactors in return for access by inspectors to Pyongyang's atomic facilities and a dismantling of its heavy water reactors which produce weapons grade plutonium. Light water reactors are known as "proliferation-resistant" but, in the words of one expert, they are not "proliferation-proof".

The type of reactors involved in the ABB deal produce plutonium which needs refining before it can be weaponised. One US congressman and critic of the North Korean regime described the reactors as "nuclear bomb factories".

North Korea expelled the inspectors last year and withdrew from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty in January at about the same time that the Bush administration authorised $3.5m to keep ABB's reactor project going.

North Korea is thought to have offered to scrap its nuclear facilities and missile pro gramme and to allow international nuclear inspectors into the country. But Pyongyang demanded that security guarantees and aid from the US must come first.

Mr Bush now insists that he will only negotiate a new deal with Pyongyang after the nuclear programme is scrapped. Washington believes that offering inducements would reward Pyongyang's "blackmail" and encourage other "rogue" states to develop weapons of mass destruction.

© BBC 2003

Commentary:
So here's how the rules work for these moral hypocrites. When you can make money from something, like selling to a country of evil, it's ok. But when you have political power you have to destroy what you made money on.

An interesting tid bit about North Korea. Bush recently began talks with N. Korea (they quickly broke down), but Bush never held one meeting with Saddam. Powell too didn't lift a finger to help resolve the conflict. War is considered the failure of diplomacy, but for Bush and Powell, there never was any diplomacy–there was only war.

So, if you're a small country and you want to get the US's attention, build nukes. Bush will sit down with you and give you whatever you want. But if you're a nearly defenseless country that been disarmed by the UN, Bush will go to war with you.


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European Union Stands Up to American Corporations
Pravda (RU)
Dmitry Slobodanuk
05/08/2003 20:02

Europe may punish the USA for its swindling in international trade
It seems that Old Europe's intention to play a more independent role in the world is not a momentary caprice or an intensification of a suppressed inferiority complex. The USA has managed to threaten France and Germany with a boycott and some economic punishment, while the European Union found an opportunity to crack down on the superpower with the help of subtlety in the field of international trade, which brings incredible profits to American companies. Everything is legal about it.

It became known today that the WTO allowed the European Union to introduce trade sanctions against the United States. Such a decision looks astounding against the background of the situation, when the whole world is waiting for the USA to overcome its crisis with the help of Iraqi oil. Yet, the Old Word is famous for its pragmatism and craftiness, so it gave a reminder that one should not ignore its outdated ambitions.

What was the reason for EU officials to make such an amazing decision? American export laws stipulate considerable benefits for large USA-based exporters. American companies, such as Microsoft, Walt Disney or Boeing, obtain extra-large profits with the help of those benefits. This seems to be totally illegal for Europe. American administrative bodies do not pay attention to the fact that American companies conduct their business operations through their own divisions in offshore zones, paying decreased export duties. Analysts at the European committee believe that American companies have unfair advantages over their European competitors. It goes without saying that this cannot but raise indignation.

The Europeans made up a list of 95 categories of American goods which would have additional duties of up to 100 percent imposed on them. The BBC reported that the list includes practically all the goods that the USA delivers on the world market: from oranges to nuclear reactors. Afterward, EU spokespeople addressed the World Trade Organization; one could say that they gave it an ultimatum. The WTO completely acknowledged the correctness of the indignant Europeans. Later on, the European Committee gave a trade ultimatum to the USA, which could be called a Euro-Atlantic knockdown. Analysts acknowledge that, if sanctions come into effect, it would be the most massive pressure on the American economy in the WTO's history.

Nevertheless, Europe gave the USA some time to reconcile with its transoceanic allies and partners. At the end of the day, a poor peace is always better than a good quarrel. EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy told reporters that the European Committee would hold a review of the actual trade issue in the fall of the current year. If the situation does not change in accordance with European recommendations, the sanctions will be put into effect. In this case, the USA is at risk of losing up to four billion dollars every year.

European media report that the American administration is ready to make some concessions about it now. It is possible to understand President Bush: The American president, the victor, would be brought down by the WTO's and EU's ultimatum. It goes without saying that such a thing is out of the question: George W. Bush is going to remain US president for another term.

Apparently, the correction of American laws on the base of the WTO's decision does not bring any honor to American lawmakers. In addition to that, the positions of American corporations on the world market will worsen. On the other hand, if the USA ignores Old Europe's requirements, American exports might face a very serious threat. The USA has problems in exports and in the economy on the whole, so 100 percent duties on American goods will become a disaster that might lead to a considerable devaluation of the dollar. Furthermore, American lawmakers fear that the Europeans might go even further and ask for a cancellation of all duties on all kinds of European steel. The WTO has already taken a pro-European position on this question: In March of the current year, the USA was forced to withdraw increased duties on 178 kinds of steel production from Europe.

The argument between the USA and the EU regarding the benefits of American companies that have divisions abroad has been going on since 1971. Such benefits allow USA-based companies to deduct up to 30 percent from taxable export sales profits. However, a protest about it was filed at the WTO only last fall, when it became known that Europe and America cannot find a common language regarding the new organization of the world.

Until recently, the USA has tried to adjust its laws to WTO norms by means of various amendments. Yet, the lobbying pressure of America's largest corporations never allowed for a resolution of the problem.

The EU's determination is not really surprising after the war in Iraq.

Pascal Lamy believes that the American law still provides exporters an opportunity to obtain illegal state grants. It seems that Old Europe is not going to stand for that any longer.

©1999-2002 "PRAVDA.Ru". When reproducing our materials in whole or in part, reference to PRAVDA.Ru should be made. The opinions and views of the authors do not always coinside with the point of view of PRAVDA.Ru's editors.

Commentary:
The speed at which the world is taking on the US has surprised me. Every region of the world is taking us on and they're probably going to win. Bush's tiny little war stirred resentment towards the US that may last for a very long time. It doesn't help that Bush doesn't believe in free trade (awarding contracts without bids), democracy (Bush supported the overthrow of a democratically elected government in Venezuela) or freedom of choice (Bush bans political parties in Iraq). All in all, Bush would make a damn good communist.

Back to free trade, Bush like Reagan talk(ed) about free trade but they never practiced it. Reagan for example, never say an tariff he didn't like. Bush has put tariffs on US lumber and steel etc. He's a paper president, saying one thing and easily blown away by the facts.


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White House refuses to release Sept. 11 info
Miami Herald (Knight Ridder Newspapers)
By FRANK DAVIES
Posted on Mon, May. 05, 2003

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration and the nation's intelligence agencies are blocking the release of sensitive information about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, delaying publication of a 900-page congressional report on how the terrorist assault happened.

Intelligence officials insist the information must be kept secret for national security reasons. But some of the information is already broadly available on the Internet or has been revealed in interim reports on the investigation, leading to charges that the administration is simply trying to avoid enshrining embarrassing details in the report.

Disputed information includes a well publicized warning from an FBI agent that al-Qaida supporters might be training in U.S. flight schools and the names of the president and his national security adviser as people who may have received warnings that a terrorist attack was possible before Sept. 11, one official said.

"We're trying to keep in this report some matters that have been talked about in public, discussed in newspapers, and not to do that, flies in the face of common sense," Rep. Porter Goss, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Monday.

"The White House is continuing a trend of presenting obstacles to us rather than cooperating with us," said Tim Roemer, a former House member who participated in the congressional inquiry and is now a member of the independent commission investigating Sept. 11.

Goss, a Florida Republican, and Sen. Bob Graham, a Florida Democrat who headed the Senate Intelligence Committee last year, co-chaired a joint investigation over 10 months that detailed security lapses, bad communication and missed clues by the CIA and FBI that preceded the Sept. 11 attacks.

In December, the joint inquiry produced a summary of findings and recommendations on how to improve intelligence, but the complete report was withheld so agencies could review and declassify some portions of it.

Graham, who will officially announce his presidential campaign Tuesday, has said he thinks much of the delay is because agencies and the administration want to avoid embarrassment, not for valid national security reasons.

Goss, Graham and staff director Eleanor Hill had hoped to release the final report by February or March. Now they are hoping to release it Memorial Day, Goss said.

"I'm very frustrated this has taken this long," said Goss, a retired CIA officer with close ties to the administration. "There's a tendency for every executive to keep matters closed up, but most of what's in dispute should be made public."

Hill said she could not discuss the specifics of the information in dispute, but said a working group of intelligence officials objected to including some testimony from public hearings last fall and some data in her interim reports.

"Maybe they didn't realize it had already been made public, but we see no reason to keep it out of the report," said Hill, a former Pentagon inspector general.

An intelligence official familiar with the review process said on condition of anonymity Monday that "the process has taken time because many portions of the report need to remain classified to protect sources and methods."

The official would not comment on specific issues in the report, and said "we hope to complete the process by the end of this month."

But an official familiar with the report said one topic of disagreement was the so-called Phoenix memo of July 2001, in which an FBI agent warned his supervisors that Osama bin Laden's followers might be enrolling in U.S. flight schools.

The joint inquiry, in a Sept. 24 staff report, included portions of the memo and summarized how it was handled and ignored by FBI officials. Most of the memo is on several Internet sites. Now intelligence officials want to block releasing excerpts of the memo.

Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Senate committee during the investigation, said: "The memo should be declassified except for portions that might compromise an ongoing investigation."

The Bush administration also consistently have fought identifying top officials, including the president and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, who may have received warnings in 2001 that bin Laden's network planned to hijack commercial aircraft.

As a result, the report includes vague references to "senior administration officials."

"We fought that argument (to name officials) and lost," said Goss. "There's a history in these types of reports, going back many presidencies, that you do not mention the president of the United States, period."

Goss said there was "no cover-up of vital information" and predicted the final report will include some embarrassing details but "no 'gotcha' material about any administration."

Roemer, an Indiana Democrat, said he sees a pattern of "overclassification" by an administration unwilling to disclose information and agencies that reflexively fight disclosure.

When Roemer recently tried to read transcripts of closed-door interviews from last year's probe, the Justice Department blocked him, citing possible executive privilege.

Bush officials relented after Roemer publicly complained the administration was not following its pledge of cooperation with the independent investigation.

"There is a tight definition of what should be classified, and it does not include references to mistakes, missed communications or political embarrassments," he added.

(Knight Ridder Newspapers correspondent James Kuhnhenn contributed to

© Knight Ridder Newspapers 2003

Commentary:
Again, all we can go back to the Challenger accident. The investigation began within seconds and every piece of information is being reviewed by numerous sources. This is how we find the truth, assign blame and make sure it doesn't happen again.

It all comes down to what did the president know and when did he know it. Bush is doing his best to classify everything and his actions indicate he's guilty as sin.


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Halliburton contracts are classified
CBS News
April 27, 2003

(CBS) After dropping more than 28,000 bombs on Iraq, the United States has now begun the business of rebuilding the country.

And it promises to be quite a business. With at least $60 billion to be spent over the next three years, the Iraqi people won't be the only ones benefiting. The companies that land the biggest contracts to do the work will cash in big-time.

Given all the taxpayer money involved, you might think the process for awarding those contracts would be open and competitive. Well, so far, it has been none of the above. And the early winners in the sweepstakes to rebuild Iraq have one thing in common: lots of very close friends in very high places, correspondent Steve Kroft reports.

One is Halliburton, the Houston-based energy services and construction giant whose former CEO, Dick Cheney, is now vice president of the United States.

Even before the first shots were fired in Iraq, the Pentagon had secretly awarded Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root a two-year, no-bid contract to put out oil well fires and to handle other unspecified duties involving war damage to the country's petroleum industry. It is worth up to $7 billion.

But Robert Andersen, chief counsel for the Army Corps of Engineers, says that oil field damage was much less than anticipated and Halliburton will end up collecting only a small fraction of that $7 billion. But he can't say how small a fraction or exactly what the contract covers because the mission and the contract are considered classified information.

Under normal circumstances, the Army Corps of Engineers would have been required to put the oil fire contract out for competitive bidding. But in times of emergency, when national security is involved, the government is allowed to bypass normal procedures and award contracts to a single company, without competition.

And that's exactly what happened with Halliburton.

"We are the only company in the United States that had the kind of systems in place, people in place, contracts in place, to do that kind of thing,' says Chuck Dominy, Halliburton's vice president for government affairs and its chief lobbyist on Capitol Hill.

He says the Pentagon came to Halliburton because the company already had an existing contract with the Army to provide logistical support to U.S. troops all over the world.

"Let me put a face on Halliburton. It's one of the world's largest energy services companies, and it has a strong engineering and construction arm that goes with that' says Dominy.

"You'll find us in 120 countries. We've got 83,000 people on our payroll, and we're involved in a ton of different things for a lot of wonderful clients worldwide.'

"They had assets prepositioned,' says Anderson. "They had capability to reach out and get sub-contractors to do the various types of work that might be required in a hostile situation.'

"The procurement of this particular contract was done by career civil servants, and I know that it's a perception that those at the very highest levels of the administration, Democrat and Republican, get involved in procurement issues. It can happen. But for the very most part, the procurement system is designed to keep those judgments with the career public servants.'

But is political influence not unknown in the process? In this particular case, Anderson says, it was legally justified and prudent.

But not everyone thought it was prudent. Bob Grace is president of GSM Consulting, a small company in Amarillo, Texas, that has fought oil well fires all over the world. Grace worked for the Kuwait government after the first Gulf War and was in charge of firefighting strategy for the huge Bergan Oil Field, which had more than 300 fires. Last September, when it looked like there might be another Gulf war and more oil well fires, he and a lot of his friends in the industry began contacting the Pentagon and their congressmen.

"All we were trying to find out was, who do we present our credentials to,' says Grace. "We just want to be able to go to somebody and say, ‘Hey, here's who we are, and here's what we've done, and here's what we do.''

"They basically told us that there wasn't going to be any oil well fires.'
Grace showed 60 Minutes a letter from the Department of Defense saying: "The department is aware of a broad range of well firefighting capabilities and techniques available. However, we believe it is too early to speculate what might happen in the event that war breaks out in the region."

It was dated Dec. 30, 2002, more than a month after the Army Corps of Engineers began talking to Halliburton about putting out oil well fires in Iraq.

"You just feel like you're beating your head against the wall,' says Grace.
However, Andersen says the Pentagon had a very good reason for putting out that message.

"The mission at that time was classified, and what we were doing to assess the possible damage and to prepare for it was classified,' says Andersen. "Communications with the public had to be made with that in mind.'

"I can accept confidentiality in terms of war plans and all that. But to have secrecy about Saddam Hussein blowing up oil wells, to me, is stupid,' says Grace. "I mean the guy's blown up a thousand of them. So why would that be a revelation to anybody?'

But Grace says the whole point of competitive bidding is to save the taxpayers money. He believes they are getting a raw deal. "From what I've read in the papers, they're charging $50,000 a day for a five-man team. I know there are guys that are equally as well-qualified as the guys that are over there that'll do it for half that.'

Grace and his friends are no match for Halliburton when it comes to landing government business. Last year alone, Halliburton and its Brown & Root subsidiary delivered $1.3 billion worth of services to the U.S. government.
Much of it was for work the U.S. military used to do itself.

"You help build base camps. You provide goods, laundry, power, sewage, all the kinds of things that keep an army in place in a field operation,' says Dominy.

"Young soldiers have said to me, ‘If I go to war, I want to go to war with Brown & Root.'"

And they have, in places like Afghanistan, Rwanda, Somalia, Kosovo and now Iraq.

"It's a sweetheart contract,' says Charles Lewis, executive director of the Center For Public Integrity, a non-profit organization that investigates corruption and abuse of power by government and corporations. "There's no other word for it.'

Lewis says the trend towards privatizing the military began during the first Bush administration when Dick Cheney was secretary of defense. In 1992, the Pentagon, under Cheney, commissioned the Halliburton subsidiary Brown & Root to do a classified study on whether it was a good idea to have private contractors do more of the military's work.

"Of course, they said it's a terrific idea, and over the next eight years, Kellogg, Brown & Root and another company got 2,700 contracts worth billions of dollars,' says Lewis.

"So they helped to design the architecture for privatizing a lot of what happens today in the Pentagon when we have military engagements. And two years later, when he leaves the department of defense, Cheney is CEO of Halliburton. Thank you very much. It's a nice arrangement for all concerned.'

During the five years that Cheney was at Halliburton, the company nearly doubled the value of its federal contracts, and the vice president became a very rich man.

Lewis is not saying that Cheney did anything illegal. But he doesn't believe for a minute that this was all just a coincidence.

"Why would a defense secretary, former chief of staff to a president, and former member of congress with no business experience ever in his life, not for a day, why would he become the CEO of a multibillion dollar oil services company,' asks Lewis

"Well, it could be related to government contracts. He was brought in to raise their government contract profile. And he did. And they ended up with billions of dollars in new contracts because they had a former defense secretary at the helm.'

Cheney, Lewis says, may be an honorable and brilliant man, but "as George Washington Plunkett once said, ‘I saw my … seen my opportunities and I took them."

Both Halliburton and the Pentagon believe Lewis is insulting not only the vice president but thousands of professional civil servants who evaluate and award defense contracts based strictly on merit.

But does the fact that Cheney used to run Halliburton have any effect at all on the company getting government contracts?

"Zero,' says Dominy. "I will guarantee you that. Absolutely zero impact.'

"In fact, I wish I could embed [critics] in the department of defense contracting system for a week or so. Once they'd done that, they'd have religion just like I do, about how the system cannot be influenced.'
Dominy has been with Halliburton for seven years. Before that, he was former three-star Army general. One of his last military assignments was as a commander at the Army Corps of Engineers.

And now, the Army Corps of Engineers is also the government agency that awards contracts to companies like Halliburton.

Asked if his expertise in that area had anything to do with his employment at Halliburton, Dominy replies, "None.'

But Lewis isn't surprised at all.

"Of course, he's from the Army Corps. And of course, he's a general,' says Lewis. "I'm sure he and no one else at Halliburton sees the slightest thing that might look strange about that, or a little cozy maybe.'

Lewis says the best example of these cozy relationships is the defense policy board, a group of high-powered civilians who advise the secretary of defense on major policy issues - like whether or not to invade Iraq. Its 30 members are a Who's Who of former senior government and military officials.

There's nothing wrong with that, but as the Center For Public Integrity recently discovered, nine of them have ties to corporations and private companies that have won more than $76 billion in defense contracts. And that's just in the last two years.

"This is not about the revolving door, people going in and out,' says Lewis. "There is no door. There's no wall. I can't tell where one stops and the other starts. I'm dead serious.'

"They have classified clearances, they go to classified meetings and they're with companies getting billions of dollars in classified contracts. And their disclosures about their activities are classified. Well, isn't that what they did when they were inside the government? What's the difference, except they're in the private sector.'

Richard Perle resigned as chairman of the defense policy board last month after it was disclosed that he had financial ties to several companies doing business with the Pentagon.

But Perle still sits on the board, along with former CIA director James Woolsey, who works for the consulting firm of Booz, Allen, Hamilton. The firm did nearly $700 million dollars in business with the Pentagon last year.

Another board member, retired four-star general Jack Sheehan, is now a senior vice president at the Bechtel corporation, which just won a $680 million contract to rebuild the infrastructure in Iraq.

That contract was awarded by the State Department, which used to be run by George Schultz, who sits on Bechtel's board of directors.

"I'm not saying that it's illegal. These guys wrote the laws. They set up the system for themselves. Of course it's legal,' says Lewis.

"It just looks like hell. It looks like you have folks feeding at the trough. And they may be doing it in red white and blue and we may be all singing the "Star Spangled Banner," but they're doing quite well.'

© MMIII, CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Commentary:
Conservatives say they believe in capitalism but capitalism is based on competition. When one company gets a bid and the rest are excluded, where is the competition? Conservatives believe in taking care of those who give them lots of money so they can get elected or re-elected and they don't give a damn about any other concept of system of government.


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AIDS Scientists at the NIH have a Secret Code
New York Times
NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
May 9, 2003

ost AIDS scientists are terrified these days. They describe witch hunts by neo-Puritans in and out of the Bush administration, and many are so nervous that in e-mail and research abstracts they avoid using words like "gays," "homosexuals," "anal sex" or "sex workers."

So scientists at the National Institutes of Health and elsewhere are devising their own secret code. I won't give it away, but one term stands for "gay" or "homosexual," another for "anal sex" and so on.

"I would recommend avoiding all electronic communication to any N.I.H. office," one scientist warned in one of many e-mail notes buzzing among AIDS researchers. "Phone communication does not appear tapped at this time. Even so, I am advising staff to speak `in code' unless an N.I.H. staff member indicates you can speak freely. In short, assume you are living in Stalinist Russia when communicating with the United States government."

As my Times colleague Erica Goode noted in breaking the story last month, researchers have been told by N.I.H. project officers to avoid "sensitive language" in grant applications. A University of California researcher, for example, was told to "cleanse" the abstract of his grant proposal of words like "gay," "homosexual" and "transgender."

Since his research was on H.I.V. in gay men, this was a challenge. How can scholars investigate how AIDS spreads without using words that make the religious right blush?

Perhaps this seems like an obscure issue. It's not: the fundamental question is whether elements of the Bush administration are politicizing science, using budgets, advisory committees and the fear of embarrassment to chill the way science is conducted in America.

Particularly in the case of AIDS, which kills more people in two hours than SARS has killed in total, vast numbers of human lives are at stake. In America alone, 12,000 people die annually of AIDS. The difference between solid scientific research and pseudoscience will be measured in millions of lives saved.

"We need science-based H.I.V. prevention, not politically or ideologically driven policies," said David Harvey of the AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth and Families. "H.I.V. and AIDS are an uncomfortable topic for many people because of issues related to gay sex and IV drug use. We can't shy away, though."

Some of the upheaval in the research community may be a paranoid overreaction among scientists, who tend to be liberal and secular. The Bush administration itself seems divided about how to deal with AIDS. Some officials have denounced condoms, for example, and want to promote only abstinence.

But Mr. Bush himself is fighting for his $15 billion AIDS initiative, an outstanding effort that sensibly relies on condoms as well as abstinence. Probably no initiative of Mr. Bush's will save so many lives or make so much difference in Africa and Asia as his AIDS effort.

Domestically, the administration announced a new strategy last month for fighting H.I.V., moving the focus from community outreach to more testing and treatment (particularly of expectant mothers). One can quibble about the new strategy, but it's a credible, serious effort, and since new H.I.V. infections in the U.S. have stubbornly remained at 40,000 annually, the new approach is reasonable.

One reason for the new strategy is that conservatives have had fits about past community outreach efforts. A recent letter from a Congressional subcommittee thundered about the use of federal money to finance "great sex workshops, pointers on where to have anonymous sex in public places, masturbation instructions, `fisting' forums and tips of how to negotiate sex with prostitutes."

Hmm. Defenders say that many at-risk men don't attend meetings on safe sex, so the only way to save their lives is to lure them to picnics or, yes, sex workshops. Still, the efficacy is unclear, and most Americans are unlikely to regard tax dollars as well spent when used to finance gay sex workshops. If President Bush makes a serious effort to combat AIDS using other approaches, like testing, that's fair.

The bottom line, though, is that Mr. Bush must make it clear that he is on the side of scientists, not the witch burners. He can't stay on the fence. Too many Americans have already died of AIDS to allow promising fields of research to wither because some Americans get the willies when they see terms like "anal sex."   

© New York Times 2003

Commentary:
Reread this part again; "A recent letter from a Congressional subcommittee thundered about the use of federal money to finance 'great sex workshops, pointers on where to have anonymous sex in public places, masturbation instructions, `fisting' forums and tips of how to negotiate sex with prostitutes.'" Have you ever heard such rubbish. I'd like to see proof that any of the above took place--no matter, when you don't like the truth, change the rules or make it up.


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Mr. Virtues caught in a vise between Republican factions
Sun Spot Net (Maryland)
By Clarence Page
Originally published May 9, 2003

WASHINGTON -- Some of his fellow moral crusaders express disappointment that William J. Bennett admits to big-bucks gambling and a high-roller life at big-time casinos. I'm disappointed that he's giving it up.
After all, Mr. Bennett pointed out when first confronted with his expensive hobby that his gambling apparently was legal, harmless to his family and between him and other consenting adults.

I would be delighted to let Mr. Bennett, former secretary of education and author of the best-selling Book of Virtues, gamble all he wants without a peep of protest, if he would just give Sen. Rick Santorum and other modern-day Puritans a spirited Bennett-style lecture on the virtue of staying out of other people's personal business.

The Washington Monthly and Newsweek reported last week that Mr. Bennett had placed $8 million in bets over the last decade at casinos in Atlantic City, N.J., and Las Vegas.

So what? Mr. Bennett is not poor. His books and merchandising tie-ins reportedly have made millions of dollars, and he commands $50,000 per appearance on the lecture circuit.

Still, when you prosper as a preacher of virtue, people do expect you to live by virtue. So, when the two magazines first confronted Mr. Bennett with questions about his gambling appetites, he likened it to another legal, although controversial, adult activity: drinking alcohol. "If you can't handle it, don't do it," he said.

But after some of his fellow conservative moral crusaders, such as the Concerned Women for America and James C. Dobson, president of Focus on the Family, reminded Mr. Bennett of how many families have been destroyed by gambling, he changed his tune to something like the famous Kenny Rogers song about knowing when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em, when to walk away and when to run.

"I have done too much gambling, and this is not an example I wish to set," Mr. Bennett announced Monday in a prepared statement. "Therefore, my gambling days are over."

Perhaps that's just as well, but I preferred Mr. Bennett's first position. Gambling is legal, after all, in 28 states and more to come. In Maryland, where Mr. Bennett lives, the new Republican governor, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., is trying to introduce slot machines to fill revenue shortfalls. It's not unreasonable in the more libertarian branch of American conservatism to find activities that are legal, claim no victims and are practiced only by consenting adults to be nobody else's business.

That's why I'd like to see Mr. Bennett promote that virtuous argument to fellow Puritans such as Senator Santorum, the rising Republican star from Pennsylvania, who arched many eyebrows recently by defending the Texas sodomy law.

"If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home," Mr. Santorum told an Associated Press reporter, "then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything."

Hogwash. Comparing sex acts between consenting adults in the privacy of one's home to bigamy, polygamy, incest and adultery is about as odious as comparing an illegal craps game to a church bingo night.

It's much less of a rational stretch to say that sex between consenting adults should not be a matter that justifies unleashing the courts or police SWAT teams into the nation's bedrooms.

By "consensual sex," Mr. Santorum meant consensual homosexual sex, although nine states also criminalize sodomy between any two consenting adults in private homes. It is the laws in Texas, one of the four states whose sodomy statutes apply only to homosexuals, that are in question before the Supreme Court. In that case, Lawrence vs. Texas, two men were arrested while caught in the act by police, who burst into their house after being summoned by a nosy neighbor.

Mr. Bennett is caught between two different schools of conservatism. One wants to let people handle their private lives on their own. The other wants to use government as an instrument for its particular moral crusades.

In Afghanistan, we called people of the intrusive persuasion "the Taliban." In Washington these days, we simply call them "the folks in charge."

Clarence Page is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, a Tribune Publishing newspaper. His column appears Fridays in The Sun. He can be reached via e-mail at cpage@tribune.com.

Copyright © 2003, The Baltimore Sun

Commentary:
Bennett is guilty of hypocrisy. Adultery and gambling are legal, but Bennett damned Bill Clinton for a few blow jobs. Bennett lost over $8 million and deprived his family of presence. Which do you think is worse? According to the articles mentioned above, Bennett sometimes lived at casinos for up to three weeks. What kind of family man lives in a casino and gambles all night.</.p>

Newt Gingrich committed adultery and lied under oath (he was fined $300, 000), Bennett didn't damn him and Gingrich wasn't impeached. Whatever rules these guys use seems to be based entirely on what party you belong to.

Using government to force others to do something against their will is unconstitutional and immoral, yet conservatives don't want women to have choice over their own bodies, and they don't want gays to have sex or get married (or tell the truth if they're in the military). Conservatives also have a major problem with the truth and taxes. We don't have surpluses to give away as Bush promised, but don't bother, he simply changes the rules. Now you get a tax cut to stimulate the economy.</.p>

And what about that small thing called weapons of mass destruction. Bush wanted war–he, like the war networks needed war to keep their rating up. When there we find Bush lied about WMD, he simply change the rules again. No matter what version of reality you believe in you get war.


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