George Bush, April 2004:
"There are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.
Clinton lied, Clinton got impeached. How many times does the world have to see Georgie eat his own words before Americans (ch)impeach him? What is worse, to lie about an affair you're having or to lie about the war(s) you started?
WASHINGTON - Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's AIDS charity paid nearly a half-million dollars in consulting fees to members of his political inner circle, according to tax returns providing the first financial accounting of the presidential hopeful's nonprofit.
The returns for World of Hope Inc., obtained by The Associated Press, also show the charity raised the lion's share of its $4.4 million from just 18 sources. They gave between $97,950 and $267,735 each to help fund Frist's efforts to fight AIDS.
The tax forms, filed nine months after they were first due, do not identify the 18 major donors by name. Frist's lawyer, Alex Vogel, said Friday that he would not give their names because tax law does not require their public disclosure. Frist's office provided a list of 96 donors who were supportive of the charity, but did not say how much each contributed. The donors included several corporations with frequent business before Congress, such as insurer Blue Cross/Blue Shield, manufacturer 3M, drug maker Eli Lilly and the Goldman Sachs investment firm.
World of Hope gave $3 million it raised to charitable AIDS causes, such as Africare and evangelical Christian groups with ties to Republicans — Franklin Graham's Samaritan Purse and the Rev. Luis Cortes' Esperanza USA, for example. The rest of the money went to overhead. That included $456,125 in consulting fees to two firms run by Frist's longtime political fundraiser, Linus Catignani. One is jointly run by Linda Bond, the wife of Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo.
The charity also hired the law firm of Vogel's wife, Jill Holtzman Vogel, and Frist's Tennessee accountant, Deborah Kolarich. Kolarich's name recently surfaced in an e-mail involving Frist's controversial sale of stock in his family founded health care company. That transaction is now under federal investigation. Jill Holtzman Vogel, who is raising money for a run for the state Senate in Virginia in 2007, has received thousands in contributions this year from Catignani & Bond and from her husband, among numerous other sources, according to data released by the Virginia Public Access Project.
Alex Vogel said Frist picked people to work on his charity whom he trusted and knew, such as Vogel's wife, and was proud that overhead costs amounted to less than $1 of every $5 raised. "It's leaner than the average charity," Vogel said. Frist is listed as the charity's president and his wife was listed as secretary. Neither was compensated.
Political experts said both the size of charity's big donations and its consulting fees raise questions about whether the tax-exempt group benefited Frist's political ambitions. "One of the things people who are running for president try to do is keep their fundraising staff and political people close at hand. And one of the ways you can do that is by putting them in some sort of organization you run," said Larry Noble, the government's former chief election lawyer who now runs the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics that studies fundraising.
Kent Cooper, the Federal Election Commission's former public disclosure chief, said the big donors' motives are also suspect. "These tax deductible gifts were earmarked through Senator Frist," Cooper said. "They were raised in the political arena at the 2004 Republican Convention and the natural question is were they given to the Senate majority leader to gain favor or were they given for true charitable purposes?" Cooper said the consulting fees were "excessively high" and the fact that they were "paid to primarily political consultants also raises questions about the long-range strategic benefits for the 2008 presidential race."
A charity could lose its tax-exempt status if it is found to be involved with political activity, said Marcus S. Owens, a former director of the Internal Revenue Service's Exempt Organizations Division.
"If the IRS were to conduct an examination, what they would look for would be the relationship between the organization and any incumbent politician or candidate," Owens said. "They'd be particularly interested in transactions of money or assistance of any kind being provided." Frist formed the charity in 2003. It drew attention in August 2004 when it held a benefit concert in New York during the Republican National Convention at which President Bush was nominated for re-election. The group's 2004 tax return was due April 15, 2005, but it filed for two extensions and only reported its activity to the IRS last month.
The tax forms show at least 11 of the charity's 18 biggest donors gave $97,950 each, that one gave $100,000 and that the rest gave more than $245,000 each. Vogel said Catignani was paid the fees because he helped arrange the New York concert that featured country stars Brooks & Dunn, handling both the event arrangements and fundraising. The tax forms show Catignani's fundraising firm, Catignani & Bond, was paid a total of $276,125 and his event-planning arm, Consulting Services Group, was paid $180,000. The amount Catignani was paid by Frist's charity in 2004 is roughly the same as what his firms received over the past three years for work for Frist's political action committee, Volunteer PAC. The firm collected $523,666 in fees from the PAC since 2003, FEC records show.
World of Hope's beneficiaries include evangelical Christian groups with Republican connections. Cortes, Esperanza USA's president, is an influential evangelical leader who hosted Bush at this year's National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast. Frist has worked and traveled extensively with Samaritan's Purse in Africa as well as during the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Franklin Graham is the son of the Rev. Billy Graham. Weeks before Frist's convention fundraiser, the senate leader traveled to Chad, Sudan and Kenya on a trip underwritten by Samaritan's Purse, Senate records show.
Samaritan's Purse spokesman Jeremy Blume said the $490,000 that World of Hope donated to Samaritan's Purse in 2004 was spent on AIDS programs in sub-Saharan Africa. The recipients of the charity's money were Africare, Samaritan's Purse, Esperanza USA, Nashville's Meharry Medical College, Taso-Uganda and Save the Children.
Iraqi official: Authorities didn't realize the prisoner was al-Zarqawi
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqi security forces caught the most wanted man in the country last year, but released him because they didn't know who he was, the Iraqi deputy minister of interior said Thursday. Hussain Kamal confirmed that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- the al Qaeda in Iraq leader who has a $25 million bounty on his head -- was in custody at some point last year, but he wouldn't provide further details.
A U.S. official couldn't confirm the report, but said he wouldn't dismiss it. "It is plausible," he said. Thursday's news tops a list of reports of missed opportunities to capture the terrorist mastermind. An official said the military receives frequent reports of al-Zarqawi sightings, all of which are investigated. In April, U.S. troops stormed a hospital in Ramadi based on credible intelligence that terrorists were hiding there, but no suspects were found, military officials said in early May.
A high-ranking Iraqi Army officer said there were rumors that al-Zarqawi was at the Ramadi medical center, and several groups affiliated with the al Qaeda operative issued statements saying the same. Iraqi Lt. Gen. Nasser Abadi said Thursday that al-Zarqawi was taken to the hospital.
"When we got the news, we rushed there, but he was out of there," the general said.
WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 - The Bush administration based a crucial prewar assertion about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda on detailed statements made by a prisoner while in Egyptian custody who later said he had fabricated them to escape harsh treatment, according to current and former government officials. The officials said the captive, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, provided his most specific and elaborate accounts about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda only after he was secretly handed over to Egypt by the United States in January 2002, in a process known as rendition.
The new disclosure provides the first public evidence that bad intelligence on Iraq may have resulted partly from the administration's heavy reliance on third countries to carry out interrogations of Qaeda members and others detained as part of American counterterrorism efforts. The Bush administration used Mr. Libi's accounts as the basis for its prewar claims, now discredited, that ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda included training in explosives and chemical weapons. The fact that Mr. Libi recanted after the American invasion of Iraq and that intelligence based on his remarks was withdrawn by the C.I.A. in March 2004 has been public for more than a year. But American officials had not previously acknowledged either that Mr. Libi made the false statements in foreign custody or that Mr. Libi contended that his statements had been coerced.
A government official said that some intelligence provided by Mr. Libi about Al Qaeda had been accurate, and that Mr. Libi's claims that he had been treated harshly in Egyptian custody had not been corroborated. A classified Defense Intelligence Agency report issued in February 2002 that expressed skepticism about Mr. Libi's credibility on questions related to Iraq and Al Qaeda was based in part on the knowledge that he was no longer in American custody when he made the detailed statements, and that he might have been subjected to harsh treatment, the officials said. They said the C.I.A.'s decision to withdraw the intelligence based on Mr. Libi's claims had been made because of his later assertions, beginning in January 2004, that he had fabricated them to obtain better treatment from his captors.
At the time of his capture in Pakistan in late 2001, Mr. Libi, a Libyan, was the highest-ranking Qaeda leader in American custody. A Nov. 6 report in The New York Times, citing the Defense Intelligence Agency document, said he had made the assertions about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda involving illicit weapons while in American custody. Mr. Libi was indeed initially held by the United States military in Afghanistan, and was debriefed there by C.I.A. officers, according to the new account provided by the current and former government officials. But despite his high rank, he was transferred to Egypt for further interrogation in January 2002 because the White House had not yet provided detailed authorization for the C.I.A. to hold him.
While he made some statements about Iraq and Al-Qaeda when in American custody, the officials said, it was not until after he was handed over to Egypt that he made the most specific assertions, which were later used by the Bush administration as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained Al-Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons.
Beginning in March 2002, with the capture of a Qaeda operative named Abu Zubaydah, the C.I.A. adopted a practice of maintaining custody itself of the highest-ranking captives, a practice that became the main focus of recent controversy related to detention of suspected terrorists. The agency currently holds between two and three dozen high-ranking terrorist suspects in secret prisons around the world. Reports that the prisons have included locations in Eastern Europe have stirred intense discomfort on the continent and have dogged Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during her visit there this week.
Mr. Libi was returned to American custody in February 2003, when he was transferred to the American detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, according to the current and former government officials. He withdrew his claims about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda in January 2004, and his current location is not known. A C.I.A. spokesman refused Thursday to comment on Mr. Libi's case. The current and former government officials who agreed to discuss the case were granted anonymity because most details surrounding Mr. Libi's case remain classified. During his time in Egyptian custody, Mr. Libi was among a group of what American officials have described as about 150 prisoners sent by the United States from one foreign country to another since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks for the purposes of interrogation. American officials including Ms. Rice have defended the practice, saying it draws on language and cultural expertise of American allies, particularly in the Middle East, and provides an important tool for interrogation. They have said that the United States carries out the renditions only after obtaining explicit assurances from the receiving countries that the prisoners will not be tortured.
Nabil Fahmy, the Egyptian ambassador to the United States, said in a telephone interview on Thursday that he had no specific knowledge of Mr. Libi's case. Mr. Fahmy acknowledged that some prisoners had been sent to Egypt by mutual agreement between the United States and Egypt. "We do interrogations based on our understanding of the culture," Mr. Fahmy said. "We're not in the business of torturing anyone." In statements before the war, and without mentioning him by name, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Colin L. Powell, then the secretary of state, and other officials repeatedly cited the information provided by Mr. Libi as "credible" evidence that Iraq was training Qaeda members in the use of explosives and illicit weapons. Among the first and most prominent assertions was one by Mr. Bush, who said in a major speech in Cincinnati in October 2002 that "we've learned that Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb making and poisons and gases."
The question of why the administration relied so heavily on the statements by Mr. Libi has long been a subject of contention. Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, made public last month unclassified passages from the February 2002 document, which said it was probable that Mr. Libi "was intentionally misleading the debriefers." The document showed that the Defense Intelligence Agency had identified Mr. Libi as a probable fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda involving illicit weapons.
Mr. Levin has since asked the agency to declassify four other intelligence reports, three of them from February 2002, to see if they also expressed skepticism about Mr. Libi's credibility. On Thursday, a spokesman for Mr. Levin said he could not comment on the circumstances surrounding Mr. Libi's detention because the matter was classified.
Funny shit, I need to get me a classified-stamp as well. can come in handy when they're checking your PC for porn. Another question that keeps bothering me: Saddam kept claiming Iraq had no WMD but Bush didn't believe him. Bush needed hard evidence...and he got it, when he didn't find any smoking guns, nor WMD's, nor WLD's or Weapons of Little Destruction. Yet, when Bush makes a claim - like saying Al-qaida and Iraq were cooperating, or Saddam had nuclear weaponry - he doesn't even try to give evidence because clearly he knows there is none. Then how come it seems like everybody still accepts the bull that is coming out of his mouth? Some need to be shut up, for they won't do it themselves. Peace out!~
John Murtha: Let me start by going through a timeline and then get to what the president said.
In May 1, 2003, the president declared it was the end of major operations, mission accomplished. Then he sent John Hamre to Iraq. John Hamre was undersecretary of defense in the Clinton administration. And he found all kinds of problems. He said: You got three months, three critical months to get this thing under control if you want to control the security; 12 months at the most, but three months are crucial, the first three months.
MURTHA: I went there -- now this was July that Hamre made his report and it was a very prescient report. I mean, it was a very accurate report about the predictions of what was going to happen. And we have a copy of it here for you. In August 16th, I went to Iraq, from August 16th to the 20th. When I came back, I said to Secretary Rumsfeld: We require immediate attention of body armor. They said they were prepared. They said they had what they needed.
Forty thousand troops didn't have body armor. They needed armored Humvees. They needed jammers and Kevlar blankets they asked for. This was all levels of people in Iraq at the time. And then I wrote to the president on September 4th and I said, "I believe you have miscalculated the magnitude of the effort we are facing. We should energize, Iraqitize and internationalize this effort." And we have copies of that letter in there. Then we had the $87 billion supplemental in October of 2003. I said on the floor that I felt the most important part of that supplemental was the construction money. A lot of people voted against it because they didn't think we should be spending money in Iraq for construction when Wolfowitz, Assistant Secretary Wolfowitz, had said: It's going to be paid for by oil money. So a lot of people opposed it on the floor, but it passed handily.
Then I went back to Iraq and I told Ambassador Bremer, General Sanchez and General Odierno and the young general that was their public relations guy, "You guys are way too optimistic about this." They took umbrage. I got some nasty letters, as I usually do when I say something like this. Now, you remember, I wrote to the president in September 4th of 2003. I got a letter back in April 6th, 2004. The president didn't write back. I received a response from a deputy undersecretary that painted a totally rosy, unrealistic picture, saying 200,000 Iraqis -- now, hear what I'm saying -- 200,000 Iraqis under arms, reconstruction projects and 70 percent of Iraqis feel -- or 2,200 reconstruction projects -- 70 percent of Iraqis feel life is good. The irony is that this was the month with the most U.S. deaths; 137 were killed. But that's what they wrote to me.
Then we have Abu Ghraib that very year. Now I said to the secretary of defense: You have got a shortage of people in specialty, MOS specialties, that's a military specialist. We had truck drivers who couldn't back up a truck. We had security guards who weren't trained in security at all. We had National Guard security people without radios -- couldn't talk to the front, the back of the convoy, endangering their lives. We got radios over there and we tried to address this very problem. And we had a press conference. Nancy Pelosi and I did. We said, "the military's overstretched and there's poor planning." And I said at that time I did not think we could win this militarily. I got a lot of criticism. DeLay got up on the floor and said I was a traitor. What I said to him, publicly, I won't tell you. Now, here's the way I measure progress. The president said we got slow progress. We want to help the government of Iraq -- this is the State Department -- provide essential services, crude oil production. MURTHA: Now, the green line you see here is the goal -- and they got charts here that you can get copies of. This is what we actually had in oil production. Now, you remember, Secretary Wolfowitz said, we're going to have oil -- going to pay for this. And this is all we've gotten. We didn't get up to prewar level in oil production. Today they said we're making progress. I can only measure progress by what I see and the things that I can actually measure, not by what they say are brigades and so forth and so on.
Now, water production: We put $2.1 billion into water production. They're short of water all over the country. And they have only spent $581 billion -- or $581 million. Now, that's why Hamre's report was so important. You had to get this insurgency under control immediately. You had to win the hearts and minds of the people. That's the key in a guerrilla-type war. This is electricity overview. This is the demand. The yellow line is the demand. The red line is the prewar level. And you can see that occasionally you got up to prewar level. That's the way I measure progress. Now, there's one other area where I measure progress, and that's incidents. Incidents have increased fivefold in a year. A year ago there were five times less than today. And at Abu Ghraib -- now, again, we didn't have the right people in the right kind of specialties. We didn't have them trained. So at Abu Ghraib, we had untrained people that were taking care of prisoners. And you see the result of that.
The secretary offered to resign at that time. I would have accepted his resignation, because I think this was a Defense Department responsibility. And we had many other (inaudible). Right now, GAO says in a report of November -- November? -- November -- we have 112,000 shortages in critical MOSs. Now, what are those shortages?
MURTHA: Number one, they're in demolition experts; number two, special forces people; number three, intelligence experts, which are absolutely essential; and fourth is translators. Now could there be any more important specialties than that? And we're short in every one of those fields.And you know what? We're paying someone to go into the Army. When I was in, they paid $72 a day. I volunteered in the middle of the Korean War. They are now paying $150,000 for somebody that's in special forces, in one of the specialties, in order to get them to re- enlist.
They have lowered the standards. They're accepting 20 percent last year in category four. Now, this is a highly technical service we're dealing with, And yet they lowered the standards to category four, which they said when we had the volunteer army, that would eliminate all the category four.
Now, let me tell you the major problem we have. You heard the president talk today about terrorism. Every other word was "terrorism." Let me separate terrorism from insurgency. When I was in Iraq in 1991, president -- or King Fahd said to me -- this was an early morning meeting, like two or three o'clock in the morning, when he normally met with people during the air war. And he said: Get your troops out of Saudi Arabia the minute this war's over. You're on sacred ground. You're destabilizing the whole region. I reported that back to the State Department and, as you know, we didn't get our troops out of there. We left our troops there. Bin Laden said he attacked the United States because of the troops in Saudi Arabia. That's terrorism. Terrorism was in London. Terrorism was in Spain. Terrorism was, obviously, in the United States.
MURTHA: That's completely separate from what's going on in Iraq. Iraq is an insurgency. At one of the hearings early on, Secretary Rumsfeld denied there was an insurgency. He said it was a gang of something or another. But they wouldn't admit that they were having real problems over there. They kept being unrealistic, illusionary about what was going on in Iraq. One of the major problems we have in fighting an insurgency is the military and the way they fight. And I adhere to the way they fight. They send in massive force. They use artillery, they use air and mortars. And they kill a lot of people in order to suppress fire and protect our military. I'm for that. But it doesn't make you any friends. That's part of the problem. For instance, in Fallujah, which happened about the same time -- the first Fallujah happened about the same time as Abu Ghraib -- we put 150,000 people outside their homes in Fallujah.
If you remember in Jordan, the bomber said that the reason she became a bomber was because two of her relatives were killed in Fallujah. We lost the hearts and minds of the people. Hamre had said: You've got three months to win the hearts and minds of the people, to get this under control, to get the looting and so forth under control. We didn't do that. There's been poor planning from the start by the Defense Department. The Defense Department fought to keep this planning under their control. State Department had entirely different reasons for wanting it. And we even voted in the House to give it to the State Department. And finally, in conference, we had to agree to let the president make the decision. He made the decision to give it to the Defense Department. Now, in an insurgency and nation-building -- what did President Bush say when he ran for office the first time? "We are not into nation-building. And we're not into nation-building because of the way our military has to operate." It's that simple. We've got to go in and level the place, destroy a place. And when we destroy a place, we lose the very thing that's absolutely essential to winning the insurgency.
MURTHA: Now, let's talk about terrorism versus insurgency in Iraq itself. We think that foreign fighters are about 7 percent -- might be a little bit more, a little bit less. Very small proportion of the people that are involved in the insurgency are terrorists or how I would interpret them as terrorists.
And we don't have enough troops to guard against the border. The generals in charge of that part of Anbar said, "I don't have enough troops. They've given me a mission to protect against the Syrian border. I don't have enough troops to do that." They have never had enough troops to get it under control. They didn't have enough troops for the looters. And they haven't had enough troops ever since then to get the place under control.
But the key elements, as I see it -- you heard him say that 70 percent of the Iraqis were satisfied, in that paper they sent me. Now, you'll see a document that's in this package here that told me six months before -- well, in the victory document he says we have 212,000 people trained now, Iraqi security people. Last year, we had 96,000.
Yet, they wrote to me six months before the last year's statement that said they had 200,000. Now, why don't I believe them when they say anything? They said we got weapons of mass destruction. They said we got an Al Qaida connection. They said we got nuclear weapons. They said we cross this red line which surrounds Baghdad and we're going to have a war with them.
Eighty percent of the people, according to a British poll reported by the Washington Times, says we want the United States out; 77 percent of the people in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt say there's a better chance of democracy if the United States is not there because we're considered occupiers; 45 percent of the people in Iraq think that it's justified to kill Americans. They even had an official communique that says it's justified to attack Americans.
So in this country, when I made my initial proposal to redeploy the troops and to make a diplomat effort and the only way I think this will work -- I don't think you can continue to draw down the way they're talking about. They're going to withdraw. There's no question they're going to withdraw. I predict a big proportion of the troops will be out by next year. When I said we can't win a military victory, it's because the Iraqis have turned against us. They throw a hand grenade or a rocket into American forces and the people run into the crowd and they -- nobody tells them where they are. I am convinced, and everything that I've read, the conclusion I've reached is there will be less terrorism, there will be less danger to the United States and it'll be less insurgency once we're out.
Hillary Clinton Co-Sponsors Anti-Flag Burning Bill:
A Republican bill that would ban some forms of flag burning has one Democratic co-sponsor: Senator Hillary Clinton. Clinton is the sole co-sponsor of a bill that would make it a crime to intimidate anyone by burning a flag, burn someone else's flag, or destroy a flag on federal property.
Why, isn't that nice. We can't 'intimidate' anyone anymore by burning a or their flag. It seems this was an idea of a real PATRIOT, hey? But it takes one stupid patriot is he's going to be offended by seeing someone light his nations' flag on fire. I certainly can't think of any flag that isn't worth burning. Aren't humans all the same? Aren't Americans and Iraqi's the same breed of humans? Why would we need flags at all then?? Burn all flags, dissolve all countries, counties, continents, nations and nationalities.... Destroy the borders, destroy the barriers.
From now on we will all be humans and carry no more nationalities. From now on all humans will be one and the same - HUMAN - so there need not be any more wars, discrimination, lack of emergency relief etc. etc... Just to make A point I'll keep a picture here of a burning US flag. As long as the President hiding under that flag is guilty of murder, lies, theft, intimidation, discrimination, and not helping people in need, it deserves to burn. The Gods are with us on this.