Thursday, November 30, 2006
CENTCOM Straighter Than The Right
Tom Zeller Jr. writes for the New York Times:
Against the backdrop of the civil war, occupation, Baathist insurgency, sectarian conflict, and struggle against terrorists in Iraq, to borrow a few descriptors, in addition to the historic meeting between President Bush and Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki today, another battle is brewing. This one pits conservative bloggers and the military’s communications machine against the Associated Press — and the media at large.
At the center of things is one police Capt. Jamil Hussein. Mr. Hussein was the primary source in an Associated Press wire-dispatch last Friday reporting that Shiite militiamen had “grabbed six Sunnis as they left Friday worship services, doused them with kerosene and burned them alive near Iraqi soldiers who did not intervene.”....
By Monday, Navy Lt. Michael B. Dean, a military spokesman for the joint operations in Iraq, had sent an e-mail to the Associated Press (which somehow made it onto the conservative blog circuit in a flash), essentially saying Mr. Hussein was neither a police officer nor an employee of the Iraq interior ministry (MOI), and therefore, not an approved source...
From Flopping Aces:
Just received another email from Centcom in Iraq from a Lietenent at the MNC-I Joint Operations Center. Pretty important stuff in this email: (MOI = Iraqi Ministry of Interior)....
Since September we have been engaging CPATT to verify the legitimacy and employment status of various MOI/IP spokesmen. Our contact at CPATT has been quite helpful, however, I know helping us is not his full-time job. Interestly, MOI has apparently issued an edict that no one below the level of Chief can speak to the media. We have reminded AP of this but without proof that these spokesman are not employees, they have pretty much ignored us. (If you were a reporter, would who give up a primo source because of rank? Probably not.)
So what we now know is that not one person in the Iraqi police below the rank of Chief is supposed to talk to our media but of course they all ignore this. Our MSM would rather get some hysterical lies that sound good, that sound like anarchy, rather then getting their facts straight.
How scary is it when a lieutenant at CENTCOM who is basically engaging the blogosphere to assist in a ridiculous propaganda campaign (that things in Iraq are better than the media reports...and that the thousands of thousands of insurgent attacks are all the fault of al-Qaeda as opposed to a sectarian civil war) which only fools or liars would believe can be more straight-up ("If you were a reporter, would who give up a primo source because of rank? Probably not.") than folks sitting at home in front of their keyboards.
Are conservative bloggers actually suggesting that only approved spokesmen should ever be quoted by the press?
Does Michelle Malkin really think that the media commits treason by not heeding the advice of Iraqi Ministry of Interior spokesman Brig. Gen. Abdul Kareem Khalaf Al-Kenani who suggests that "unnamed sources" and ranked Iraqis below chief should be "ignored":
However, all of you know that the ministry of interior has a large public affairs office and its official spokesman, and we are ready to answer any questions you may have. Therefore, you should contact MOI PAO for all your needs to get real, true news. Based on that, we strongly deny any relation with those two names. In order to serve you better and strengthen the relationship with MOI, do not take statements that have no meaning and do not represent any official. We would like this note to be helpful to you and any statement made by those persons to be ignored.
Scary. Scary. Scary.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Ballad of the Sad Jefe
From my article at Raw Story, Pelosi: It's 'sad' Bush is blaming Iraqi insurgent violence on al-Qaeda:
House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters on Wednesday that she feels it is "sad" that President Bush continues to blame Iraqi insurgent violence on al Qaeda.
"My thoughts on the president's representations are well-known," Pelosi said. "The 9/11 Commission dismissed that notion a long time ago and I feel sad that the president is resorting to it again."....
Pelosi's statement also followed a press briefing in Baghdad earlier today, where a US military spokesman was unable to state clearly what role al Qaeda plays in Iraq violence. Displaying a series of slides and charts, the spokesman for the multinational forces in Iraq claimed that "since October of 2004, we have now killed or captured over 7,000 al Qaeda in Iraq terrorists."....
A journalist asked the spokesman, "You keep saying al Qaeda in Iraq. What proportion of the Sunni resistance do you think al Qaeda in Iraq is responsible for? It's a handy tag, but in reality is it 10 percent, 50 percent of what we would loosely call Sunni resistance or insurgency?"
Caldwell didn't have an answer to the question. "We also, you know, look at that also very closely, try to identify exactly what percentage it is," he said. "What we do know is that al Qaeda in Iraq are the most well-funded, produce the most sensational attacks than any element out there. So that's where we put our predominant effort against."
Also at Raw, Gore: 'I would have heeded 9/11 warnings':
In an interview with GQ Magazine, former Vice President Al Gore - who many Democrats believe should have been determined the winner in the 2000 presidential election against George Bush which the Supreme Court eventually decided - maintained that he would have "heeded the warnings" before the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, although he added that "no one can say that the 9-11 attack wouldn’t have occurred whoever was president."....
Gore admitted that "it’s almost too easy to say, 'I would have heeded the warnings,'" but left little doubt that he thought the president hadn't done as much as he should have, when warned by the CIA that bin Laden was determined to attack the Unites States in the summer of 2001.....
According to GQ, Gore "practically" began screaming when he spoke of the lack of "accountablity" by the Bush Administration.
"But dammit, whatever happened to the concept of accountability for catastrophic failure?" Gore said. "This administration has been by far the most incompetent, inept, and with more moral cowardice, and obsequiousness to their wealthy contributors, and obliviousness to the public interest of any administration in modern history, and probably in the entire history of the country!"
(hat tip to Luke for the GQ link)
The Telegraph reports that "Senior Pakistani officials are urging Nato countries to accept the Taliban and work towards a new coalition government in Kabul that might exclude the Afghan president Hamid Karzai."
Pakistan's foreign minister, Khurshid Kasuri, has said in private briefings to foreign ministers of some Nato member states that the Taliban are winning the war in Afghanistan and Nato is bound to fail. He has advised against sending more troops.
Western ministers have been stunned. "Kasuri is basically asking Nato to surrender and to negotiate with the Taliban," said one Western official who met the minister recently.
Pakistan continues its slide into darkness as the government attempts to appeases the Taliban. While the Chingai al-Qaeda training camp air stike, which killed 80 Taliban, gave some hope that the Pakistani government may change its policy of appeasement to the Taliban, the follow up suicide bombing at the Dargai Army base, which killed 45 recruits, sent a message to the Pakistani government and military. Pakistan has ceased to aggressively or passively fight the Taliban and al-Qaeda in the tribal areas, essentially ceding the region to the terrorists.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Atrocious & Less Compassionate
Raw Story is still slightly affected by server-switching problems, but I have two stories currently running over there.
Former Democratic President Jimmy Carter called Israeli "domination" over Palestinians "atrocious" during an interview Monday on ABC's Good Morning America, RAW STORY has learned.
Appearing on the morning talk show to promote his new book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, Carter dismissed criticism by some Democrats that his book comes down too harshly on America's key ally in the Middle East.
Robin Roberts told Carter that "many people find surprising that you come down a little hard on Israel, and that there have been some key Democrats who have distanced themselves a little bit from your view on Israel."
"In fact, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said 'it is wrong to suggest that the Jewish people would support a government in Israel or anywhere else that institutionalizes ethnically based suppression, and Democrats reject that allegation vigorously,'" Roberts said. "What is your response to that?"
"Well, Robin, I have spent the last 30 years trying to find peace for Israel and Israel's neighbors, and the purpose of this book is to do that," Carter responded. "But you can't find peace unless you address the existing issues honestly and frankly."
Carter said that there was "no doubt now that a minority of Israelis are perpetuating apartheid on the people in Palestine, the Palestinian people."
Many Democrats are uncomfortable with Carter's use of the term "apartheid" to describe Israeli policies. Even Congressman John Conyers, the incoming House Judiciary Committee chairman known for his more liberal ideology, has criticized the term's usage.
A study conducted by an international Christian child development organization finds that many Americans are ambivalent about the world's HIV/AIDS crisis, with nearly two-fifths admitting to having difficulty sympathizing with victims, RAW STORY has found.....
The study shows that political ideology plays a large role in the degree of sympathy Americans hold for victims.
"Demonstrating that these issues have been co-opted by political considerations, easily the most significant gap related to sociopolitical ideology," the study says. "Political conservatives (50%) were twice as likely as liberals (23%) to say that they have less compassion for those with the 'lifestyle' disease."
"Also, Republicans’ lack of sympathy outpaces that of Democrats (45% versus 34%, respectively)," the study adds.
And, in case you missed it, Larisa Alexandrovna had a must-reader on Sunday called Was former KGB agent murdered over false-flag terrorism within Russia?:
Were a Russian journalist and an ex-KGB officer murdered over an investigation of the Beslan terrorist attack?
Former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko, who passed away late last week from what many intelligence officials have indicated they believe to be a state-sponsored assassination, was likely the victim of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki (SVR), well-placed sources tell RAW STORY.
Specifically, two former Cold War CIA officers, who still on occasion provide consulting work for the CIA, point to the S Directorate of SVR, which is in charge of black operations and other allegedly highly illegal transnational activities. They believe that the murders are closely tied to terrorist activities within Russia, and likely do involve Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Tas to MySpace patriots: Suck it
For far too long, the patriotic members of myspace have sucked down bandwidth on my loadedmouth.com domain by sharing this image, that I host, with their friends:
So today, I changed the name of that file, uploaded a new image and gave it the same name as the old file, thus insuring that this new image shows up on their myspace sites.
That should piss all of them off. They deserve it, though... They voted for Bush, so they deserve any torment one can dole out on them. And just check out how improved this
poor sap's profile looks with the new image! (And what is it with rockabilly wannabes going Republican and/or skinhead? I just don't get it.)
Friday, November 24, 2006
Slow News Day
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Imagine There's No Blogosphere
...it's easy if you try.
I said goodbye to Tas the other day, it's time to say welcome to Larisa!
Larisa Alexandrovna started a new site called at-Largely which will allow her to blog unplugged-style, in between breaking stories left and right and back again at Raw Story.
Here's a Thanksgiving Day treat, a track from the new mixtape by DJ Kay Slay, Drama Season Begins Now, which pairs Nas and Pitbull over John Lennon's "Imagine." It isn't a sample of "Imagine." It is Imagine: Lennon starts the track, Nas grabs the mic for a bit before passing it back, then Pitbull follows John. It's not too often when you hear rappers slangin' over an untouched track, and as Kay Slay notes half-way through, "I know this shit ain't gettin' cleared....no fuckin' way."
Miami Cuban-American rapper Pitbull really shines on this:.
America land of the free
America land of opportunity
America what's the point of having a Statue of Liberty
If you turning refugees back at sea
Music was made to move even the devil he dances
I got a lot of questions and I’m searching for answers
We're taught to believe in religion
But religion's the reason the twin towers are missing
Listen that was the past but maybe now you realize
The man above is the only thing that keeps us alive
We breathe the same air we bleed the same blood
Imagine all people treated equal
Imagine one love
Despite its appearance on the latest Kay Slay mixtape, it turns out that this Nas/Pitbull/Lennon track is over two-and-a-half years old, and was previously featured on Pitbull's mixtape, Unleashed Vol. 3, as dissed in the Village Voice. I imagine it's been on other mixtapes, as well, though I don't think I ever heard it before.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Tas at Loaded Mouth is bidding a fond "fuck you" adieu to the blogosphere:
...In 2003, I started as a writer who was just learning about blogging before it became a household word, The desire for more readers drove me to become a blogger who frequently attacked others in order to be more outrageous, which I had hoped would make me become more well known.
And now... Now, I'm sick of being part of the problem.
I met Tas online after the RNC in NYC in 2004, and we've been friends ever since. Working with Tas on stories about a fake Democratic blogger in early 2005 and our frequently frustrating, foolish and - finally - failed campaigns to democratize the liberal blogosphere are two things I'll always look back on with fondness. Hopefully, we'll see some Tas guest-blogging here from time to time in the future.
Friday, November 17, 2006
Things I Learned This Week
I have nothing to write today because I've wasted too much time pursuing stories I've seen elsewhere, which, upon further research, turned out to be either incorrect or questionable.
Without mentioning names of erroneous bloggers on the right and left, here is what I learned this week (and, yeah, this is one of those annoying "inside baseball" posts that I write from time to time which pisses off people who don't know exactly who or what I'm exactly referring to...but everything in Googlable for those who need to know or are bored):
Victoria Clarke, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, most definitely does not blog at Free Republic using the handle "Torie."
Many White House videos from 2003 have large black bars at the top and bottom, but that does not necessarily mean that they're trying to hide stuff from being seen.
Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney did not buy Clear Channel.
Bloggers reporting about how a purportedly leaked memo matches up perfectly with the way that stories were reported on a certain cable news channel, either accidently, conveniently or deliberately overlook the fact that one of the items on that memo was not a done deal on that day.
To be a little more specific, that certain cable news channel, which I happened to be watching all morning on the day in question, did not stick to the memo's script and report that a Republican Senator was definitively conceding. In fact, the channel went out of its way to suggest that nearly every single report that said a concession was imminent may not be accurate.
Does this mean that the memo is a fake? Not necessarily. Perhaps another memo was sent out later that same day with different "instructions."
But how come - as far as I know - I'm the only person who noticed this?
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Olbermann On Raw
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann mentioned a Raw Story article I worked on during last night's broadcast. Olbermann was discussing the arrest of Chad Conrad Castagana, who is "accused of mailing at least 13 threatening letters, maybe 17, filled with white powder to the likes of Senator Chuck Schumer, Speaker presumptive Nancy Pelosi, Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone, David Letterman, Jon Stewart and me." (that's Olbermann "me" not me me)
"And the Web site RawStory reports that many bloggers believe he is also a contributor, under a different name, to the conservative Web site FreeRepublic," Olbermann said. "In fact, the name used is supposed to be Marc Costanzo."
From our article at Raw, Alleged anthrax hoaxer may be Free Republic poster, written by Larisa Alexandrovna and Brian Beutler, with additional research by me:
The man arrested on Saturday for sending more than a dozen envelopes containing "fake anthrax" to anti-war celebrities, journalists, and politicians may have ties to the conservative supersite Free Republic, RAW STORY has found.
Chad Castagana, a 39 year old Californian named as the FBI's prime suspect in the case, is due in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles today, where procecutors are expected to file criminal complaint against him for sending threatening letters through the U.S. mail. Castagana has an extensive online history, often writing about science fiction and conservative politics, and many bloggers are convinced that he is also a contributor at the conservative activist Free Republic website under the name Marc Costanzo, whose online profile, once available here was suspended after this story first ran this morning.
Earlier today, users at the liberal websites Democratic Underground and Daily Kos brought to light the similarities between Castagana's Internet footprint and Costanzo's writings at Free Republic, and RAW STORY has found a series of eyebrow-raising connections between the two men.
In one Free Republic post, Costanzo contends that he hails from the town of Woodlands Hills; the same city where Castagana was arrested.
We should have video of Olbermann on Raw later today.
Here are links to two other Raw articles I worked on the last couple of days:
Story ("Olbermann on what motivated Coulter 'acolyte' to allegedly send threatening 'white powder' letters") with video this link.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
What Is Okinawa
The question being why it's absolutely ridiculous that a Democratic Congressman being considered for the Majority Leader position is considered as some kind of saviour for our failed Iraq adventure.
"We can go to Okinawa," Rep. John Murtha believes. "We can redeploy there almost instantly."
For some reason, the only Democrat who has a clue about what to do in Iraq, John Kerry, is the subject of widespread ridicule and venom by online progressives, but a dude who seriously thinks that troops protecting oil in the Middle East can be redeployed to a nation over five thousand miles away - that doesn't even want us there anymore - is some sort of viable exit strategy.
Do the "powers that be" want Murtha for his Iraq policies? Or do they prefer Dems with less liberal leanings? Got me.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Jeff Gannon Doesn't Like Male Prostitutes
More importantly, liberal gay Americans are getting a new hero, an untrustworthy, drug-dealing gay prostitute. Now there’s something to be proud of.Jeff, you really shouldn't be dissing male prostitutes.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Jay-Z Feels Guilty About Katrina
In a rap about Hurricane Katrina, Hova rides a haunting Dr. Dre track, interspliced with news report soundbites, sounds of storm and constantly flowing water, plus loud-ass helicopters. "Minority Report" comes from the unretired Jay-Z's soon-to-be-released Kingdom Come (which hit the internets today minus bonus tracks).
But unlike other stellar rap songs by New Orleans rappers like Juvenile and Lil Wayne, Jay-Z does more than just blame Bush (though he does say it would have been something if Air Force One ran out of fuel during Bush's fly-through over New Orleans in September of 2005).
Jigga blames himself:
Same old story in New Orleans
Silly rappers cause we gotta couple Porsches
Empty [to be deciphered later] fill my fortresses
We forget the unfortunate
Sure, I ponied up a mil but I didn't give 'em the time
So in reality I didn't give a dime or a damn
I just put my monies in the hands of the same people that left my people stranded
Nothing but abandoned, left my folks abandoned
Damn, the money that we gave was just a band-aid
Can't say we're better off than we was before
In synopsis, this is my minority report
Can't say we're better off than we was before
In synopsis, this is my minority report
Near the end, after Ne-Yo finishes singing basically what Jay-Z offered up in one long verse, some more soundbites are heard of Bush and news reports, then Kanye West's famous line about Bush not caring about black people is sampled. But when Ne-Yo sings "seems like we don't even care" softly then powerfully, the song becomes more than just a blame Bush diatribe.
Jay-Z has only done a few real political raps in his long illustrious career. Before "Minority Report," I'd have to say his strongest statement rap was "99 Problems," and many people just focused on the "b word" in the chorus and missed what he was really talking about.
But the rap industry has changed the last few years. Common, Talib Kweli, and even Immortal Technique may not sell as many records as the Nellys, T.I.s and Eminems (all of whom i like, no disses), but with the Internet they've become far more known, heard and respected, and they've gained the respect of their peers, and are namedropped more often in their songs and interviews. With shit like Katrina, Iraq and take-your-pick-the-last-six-years, I expect the trend to continue, and the content to become even stronger.
It would be nice to get a record by a major artist that contains more than one "Mosh" or "Why?" or "Diamonds (remix)." Major artists other than Nas, of course.
Now, of course, everybody that takes advantage of the following link should make sure to cop this legitimately on November 21. Hope President S. Carter doesn't mind but this is an important song that needs to be heard, however long that link lasts.
My early verdict on the whole CD is that it's not as good as The Blueprint or The Black Album, but it's top notch, all the same. Two other tracks that haven't surfaced yet which stand out are "30 Something" - another Dre production in which Jigga claims that "30 is the new 20" - and "Oh My God" - a Just Blaze track which is so slamming that even this particular "best rapper alive" can't overshadow (other B.R.A.'s may have better luck on future mixtapes).
At this stage, I'd have to give "album of the year" honors to The Game for The Doctor's Advocate, but the new Nas is just around the corner.
Different Kitchen has the oddest track on the record, the Coldplay Chris Martin collaboration "Beach Chair."
It's a day later, and I am starting to feel Kingdom Come a lot more. The four Dre tracks are all standouts. "Trouble" is definitely not the same Chronic 2000 sound Dre's been bumping for the last six years. I still think he's the best (followed by Timbaland and Swizz Beatz), but I understand why a lot of folks think he's just doing the same song over and over again. Dre is the Phil Spector of rap, and his songs, especially the ones he mixes, all sound louder and more powerful and more THX sounding than anything else on the radio.
Dre did some great work on the also-leaked Snoop record, as well. Check out Diff. Kitchen for "Imagine," which has the Doctor rapping, and reminded me of Jadakiss' "Why?" just a little bit.
Friday, November 10, 2006
GOP lost Coulter, Foley votes
At Raw Story:
Before Tuesday's midterm elections, Republican officials boasted that their "highly sophisticated get-out-the-vote operation" in the final hours would keep Congress in its control. But at least two "notorious" and high profile party members didn't do enough to aid the cause, a Florida newspaper reveals.
"Mark Foley, the former U.S. congressman in rehab for alcohol and sex-related problems, didn't send an absentee ballot request to the St. Lucie County elections office," Lambiet writes. "Conservative pundit Ann Coulter, accused of voting in the wrong precinct earlier this year, didn't cast her ballot, contributing further to the demise of the GOP in Congress."
"No 'I Voted' stickers for them," Jose Lambiet writes for the Palm Beach Post.
The Associated Press recently reported that Coulter's case will soon be turned over to prosecutors because of her refusal to cooperate with Florida election officials.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
DeLay: A 'Texas whupping'
From Raw Story yesterday, DeLay: I'd call it a 'Texas whupping,' that's for sure:
Appearing on MSNBC's post-election coverage this morning, Tom DeLay, the former Republican House Majority Leader said that his party had suffered a "Texas whupping."
The former Republican leader resigned from Congress earlier this year after being indicted for allegedly violating campaign finance laws and amid reports of links to the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. In the race for his seat, Democratic challenger Nick Lampson handily defeated his Republican opponent, Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, who ran as a write-in candidate since DeLay's name was still on the ballot.
MSNBC host Rita Cosby asked DeLay if he'd call the results, which put the Democratic Party in control of the House and in contention to control the Senate, an "avalanche, 'Black Tuesday,' or a political tsunami."
"Well, Rita, I'd call it a 'Texas whupping,' that's for sure," DeLay said with a chuckle. "The Republicans really took a bath last night."
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Dana Carvey Defends Kerry
Unless that really was John McLaughlin: McLaughlin: Maybe Kerry's 'telling the truth'.
A few other articles I have at Raw Story, which I'm too busy to excerpt from:
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Blogs I've Been Peepin'
Since changing my template, I still have a ton of links to re-add to my blogroll, and a few new ones, which I hope to get to shortly, but here's a list of the five blogs that I've been reading most regularly lately:
Luke's Wot Is It Good 4 is usually my first stop each day. Along with the hottest links - backed with commentary sometimes profound, sometimes edgy, sometimes mocking, sometimes makes you go huh - Luke also does a lot of original reporting, including great interviews with an emphasis on the intel and Iraq tip (plus an added special feature is that Luke usually highlights emptywheel posts at The Next Hurrah, including choice comments left there by ew, special guests and sock puppets, that I might have otherwise missed).
TPMmuckraker simply rocks. Paul Kiel and Justin Rood are two of my favorite journalists, by far. Except for the (flawed, overly partisan and pretty petty: yeah i know kind of weak to diss without explaining...but i can't go into detail on this because it deals with stuff i've been working on for over a year which isn't close to being finished yet, unfortunately) coverage of a certain Democratic Senator's questionable practices, I'm in awe of these guys.
Notes from a Different Kitchen is the best one stop when I need a fix of hip hop and politics. Awesome downloads and well-linked political rants keep me addicted.
Mike Rogers is another good friend on this short list (of course, I'm also still peeping Tas, TCI, Michael, Brad, Jay, and the Brassers). And blogActive has been a hot spot the last month due to Foley and company.
The Fourth Rail by Bill Roggio has probably gotten more links by this blog than anywhere else the last month. Bill's going back to Iraq to report shortly...I hardly ever even leave Brooklyn (though if I had the opportunity to go there I would jump at it). It's nice to see a lot more liberal blogs linking to Bill these days, because his work really isn't partisan, and much of his stuff on Pakistan and Afghanistan hasn't really been warmly received on the right (until that recent "fly swat" strike which looked for a minute to be politically useful for them). Except for his occasional forays into unskeptically reporting on unauthenticated Iraqi documents released by a former terrorist spokesman who has deep ties to Iran, Roggio's stuff is some of the best out there.
And this is like the only artist I've been listening to the last month:
Best rapper alive? I dunno...maybe.
Friday, November 03, 2006
Ney's Office Wouldn't Respond To Raw
Congressman Bob Ney (OH-Rep.) formally resigned today.
Who would have guessed that?
Flashback to April at Raw Story:
A pre-trial motion filed by federal prosecutors in the case of indicted former Bush Administration official David Safavian contends that his share of the costs in a trip to play golf in Scotland and England arranged by convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff should have been nearly five times more than what he paid, RAW STORY has found.
Perhaps more significantly, however, it also provides the first formal evidence that powerful Ohio Republican Bob Ney – then chairman of the House Administration Committee – provided false figures for the cost of his own trip to Scotland. Ney has been under fire for his role in allegedly helping Abramoff aid his clients in violation of House ethics rules and possibly federal laws.
Ney was referenced as “Congressman #1” in a plea agreement Abramoff made in January, in which he admitted to bribing members of Congress and their staffs.
David Safavian, chief of staff of the United States General Services Administration (GSA) at the time, paid Abramoff $3,100 for a trip that prosecutors say "was in excess of $130,000." According to The Washington Post, tax records show that a non-profit owned by Abramoff, the Capital Athletic Foundation, doled out $150,225 for the trip.
A footnote contained in the government’s motion for pretrial determination of certain evidence – which includes hundreds of emails between Safavian and Abramoff, which prosecutors allege prove a business relationship between the two – notes that “Mr. Safavian’s pro rated cost [for the trip] would have been approximately $15,000.”
Safavian’s attorney Barbara Van Gelder provided RAW STORY a copy of Safavian’s response. In it, Van Gelder asserts that Safavian has never said he paid an equal share and was in the dark about the total cost of the trip. Moreover, she argues that the government should not be able to present “evidence of offenses not charged in the indictment.”
Ney, however, was obliged under Congressional rules to provide a “good faith” estimate of his share of the trip’s actual cost. He has also come under fire for other elements of the trip.
From Ney's plea agreement signed on September 13:
As part of the conspiracy described in paragraphs 8 through 11 and the substantive false statement violations set forth in counts 2 and 3 of the Information, NEY knowingly concealed and misrepresented his receipt of the stream of things of value from Abramoff, Volz, Rudy, Scanlon, the Foreign Businessman, and others by, among other things, falsifying the following forms:
a. Travel Disclosure Forms
i. NEY's August 2002 trip to Scotland: On September 9, 2002, NEY signed and eventually caused to be filed his Member Travel Disclosure Form for the August 2002 Scotland golf trip. On that form, NEY substantially under reported the costs paid by Abramoff and his clients and mischaracterized the purpose of the trip.
Back to Raw Story's "Court filing in case of indicted Bush official suggests Ohio congressman provided false report to Congress," which I co-wrote with John Byrne in April:
On September 9, 2002, a month after returning from the trip, Ney filed a form with the Clerk of the House of the Representatives which indicated that his share of the trip was $3200. He reported $1,500 for travel, $1,200 for lodging and $500 for meal expenses.
According to the prosecutors’ estimate, Ney likely should have reported the trip at $15,000. Ney's office did not respond to a call placed for comment Friday.
Back to Ney's plea agreement:
b. Annual Financial Disclosure Forms NEY's 2002 Financial Disclosure Form: On May 15, 2003, NEY signed and caused to be filed his Annual Financial Disclosure Statement for calendar year 2002 in which NEY mischaracterized the purpose of the trip, and failed to disclose as gifts the golf expenses from the Scotland trip as well as the tickets, meals and entertainment provided by Abramoff, Volz, and other lobbyists working with Abramoff. On June 2, 2003, and again on June 18, 2004, NEY filed amended financial disclosure forms for calendar year 2002, in which NEY made the same material false statements and omissions as with the original filing.
Back to our story at Raw:
Ney has not been charged with any crime, and no ethics complaint has been filed against him in the House. The Ohio Republican says he welcomes any Ethics Committee inquiry, which he believes will clear his name.
Back to Ney's plea agreement:
The preceding statement is a summary, made for the purpose of providing the Court with a factual basis for my guilty plea to the charges against me. It does not include all of the facts known to me concerning criminal activity in which I and others engaged. I am competent to make this statement and I do so knowingly and voluntarily and because I am in fact guilty of the crimes charged. I have discussed this factual basis with my attorneys, and I understand that under the terms of the plea agreement this statement is admissible as evidence against me if my plea of guilty is not entered or if I otherwise fail to comply with the plea agreement.
Back to Raw in April:
Safavian’s lawyer says she believes her client will ultimately be cleared, citing numerous discrepancies in the government’s case. She notes that the prosecutors maintained in a filing that Abramoff was a lobbyist who did all his lobbying on Capitol Hill and had no business before the agency where Safavian worked.
"I think my client is innocent and that after a full and fair presentation of the relevant evidence he should be acquitted of all charges," Van Gelder said.
Last Friday, Safavian was sentenced to eighteen months in prison for lying and obstruction of justice.
On January 19, 2007, former Congressman Bob Ney, facing as much as twenty-seven months in prison and half-a-million dollars in fines, is due to learn his fate.
Smoking Gun Paragraph?
William J. Broad (or his editors) have confused a helluva lot of folks with this awkward paragraph in an otherwise great article in Friday's New York Times called U.S. Web Archive Is Said to Reveal a Nuclear Primer:
Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq had abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.
As Captain Ed reads it:
That appears to indicate that by invading in 2003, we followed the best intelligence of the UN inspectors to head off the development of an Iraqi nuke.
Maybe if I change the subject matter, that paragraph will make a little bit more sense:
Among the dozens of memorable rap albums were ones by Tupac released in the 1990s and in 2002 for Interscope Records that featured unconventional hip-hop themes such as abortion and respecting women. Experts say that at the time, Tupac Shakur was the best rapper alive.
For those not in the know, Tupac was murdered in 1996, which happens to be five years after Iraq's plans to enrich enough uranium for at least one bomb was halted by Bush 41's Gulf War.
Captain Ed seems to be overlooking this key line from the second paragraph:
But in recent weeks, the site has posted some documents that weapons experts say are a danger themselves: detailed accounts of Iraq’s secret nuclear research before the 1991 Persian Gulf war.
Jim Geraghty at National Review is "blown away" by the confusing paragraph, but still tries to score points:
Is this sentence referring to 1990, before the Persian Gulf War? Or 2002, months before the invasion of Iraq? Because "Iraq is a year away from building a nuclear bomb" was supposed to be a myth, a lie that Bush used to trick us into war.
But as Joby Warrick reported in January, 2003 for one of the few "questioning" stories published in the Washington Post (front page, no less):
The IAEA spent seven years in the 1990s documenting and ultimately destroying all known vestiges of Iraq's nuclear weapons program, including its gas centrifuges.
Hopefully, by tomorrow, the Times editors will clear things up, and fix the "time" which comes after a sentence with two different periods.
Michelle Malkin doesn't seem to understand the difference between publishing "All The President's Men" and "The Anarchist's Cookbook," but that's to be expected.
I used to enjoy making fun of Captain Ed and his mates, but there's actually been some pretty decent, reality-based, against the grain blogging at Captain's Quarters the past nine months or so.
But how the hell does one explain this Captain Ed conclusion:
This is apparently the Times' November surprise, but it's a surprising one indeed. The Times has just authenticated the entire collection of memos, some of which give very detailed accounts of Iraqi ties to terrorist organizations.
Not sure how an article about "documents, roughly a dozen in number" written before 1991 "authenticated the entire collection" or why Captain Ed thinks that the Times journo are experts in this field:
On March 16, after the documents’ release was approved, Mr. Negroponte’s office issued a terse public announcement including a disclaimer that remained on the Web site: “The U.S. government has made no determination regarding the authenticity of the documents, validity or factual accuracy of the information contained therein, or the quality of any translations, when available.”
Trusting the Times to authenticate documents is almost as silly as relying on Laurie Mylroie to link Qaeda to the Easter Bunny.
From "Counselor to President uses NY Times story to push 'Iraq had nuke program' meme:"
In an interview on MSNBC earlier this morning, Dan Bartlett, Counselor to the President, dismissed concerns about a U.S. government Website shut down because it may have revealed sensitive bomb building data, but insisted that the unauthenticated Iraqi documents online did show that "Saddam Hussein had the capability and was working towards a nuclear weapon program," which would bolster Bush's preemptive war strategy, RAW STORY has found.
Read my Raw Story article at this link.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Youtube Video For Ron's Quiz
Name That Loon
What potential 2008 presidential nominee said these words two years ago?
"The President was cautious, the President was prudent, the President did what a Commander in Chief should do. No matter how you try to blame it on the president the actual responsibility for it really would be for the troops that were there. Did they search carefully enough? Didn't they search carefully enough?"
What was his excuse?
Because I was talking about--if you listen to what I said before that and what I said right after, I'm talking about John Kerry's position. The point that I was making then, if I wasn't clear enough then, I've been clear since then and I'm clear now, but I think I was clear enough then, and they jumped on it.
How did the White House respond?
"He's talking about how we don't know the facts, we don't know what happened to these explosives. We know that we have seized and destroyed more than 400,000 munitions from some 10,000 caches spread all throughout Iraq. But when you look at the regime and you look at the way they operate, it is a likely possibility that they were removed prior to our forces arriving there. We don't know -- Senator Kerry shows that he will say anything for his own political advantage. And I think this goes to an issue that the American people will be looking at very closely. And that's, who can you trust to lead this nation forward on the big priorities? A President can't jump to conclusions without knowing the facts."
"What was current White House spokesman Tony Snow's take on it back then?
John Kerry -- the Kerry campaign is not criticizing the president here. They're criticizing our troops because those are the people who were going into the Al Qaqaa facility -- yes, that's its real name, the Al Qaqaa facility -- and what they're saying is, ah, these guys -- you know, they were in such haste to get to Baghdad, they didn't do their job."
Some elephants never forget how to spin.
(Answer can be found on this Quick Time video clip, formerly at a certain Massachusetts Senator's Web site)
Who Owes Who An Apology?
A Raw Story reader named Kevin sent us this video that he made today: