Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee, who came under fire for his department’s handling of the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin, has been fired, City Manager Norton Bonaparte announced in statement on Wednesday evening.
“After much thoughtful discussion and deep consideration for the issues facing the City of Sanford, I have determined the Police Chief needs to have the trust and respect of the elected officials and the confidence of the entire community,” Bonaparte said. “We need to move forward with a police chief that all the citizens of Sanford can support.”
Many of the documents publicize for the first time what was first made clear in the 9/11 Commission: The White House received a truly remarkable amount of warnings that al-Qaida was trying to attack the United States. From June to September 2001, a full seven CIA Senior Intelligence Briefs detailed that attacks were imminent, an incredible amount of information from one intelligence agency. One from June called “Bin-Ladin and Associates Making Near-Term Threats” writes that “[redacted] expects Usama Bin Laden to launch multiple attacks over the coming days.”
The famous August brief[ing] called “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike the US” is included. “Al-Qai’da members, including some US citizens, have resided in or travelled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure here,” it says. During the entire month of August, President Bush was on vacation at his ranch in Texas – which tied with one of Richard Nixon’s as the longest vacation ever taken by a president. CIA Director George Tenet has said he didn’t speak to Bush once that month, describing the president as being “on leave.” Bush did not hold a Principals’ meeting on terrorism until September 4, 2001, having downgraded the meetings to a deputies’ meeting, which then-counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke has repeatedly said slowed down anti-Bin Laden efforts “enormously, by months.”
A document declassified this week by the National Security Archive reveals that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) delivered a briefing to the Bush administration which directly contradicts former Vice President Dick Cheney’s claim that 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta visited an Iraqi intelligence official in Prague.
The document (PDF), dated Dec. 1, 2001 and delivered to the White House on the 8th, claims that Atta “did not travel to the Czech Republic on 31 May 2000,” and adds that “the individual who attempted to enter the Czech Republic on 31 May 2000… was not the Atta who attacked the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001.”
Try to run this one through your brain: Security Agency Won’t Release Number of Americans it Spied On Because it Would ‘Violate Their Privacy’
Last month, Democratic Senators Ron Wydon and Mark Udall asked the National Security Agency how many U.S. residents were spied on under Bush’s 2008 expansion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allowed for warrantless eavesdropping. But on Monday, the agency told the Senators that they couldn’t know how many Americans it spied on because that kind of oversight would violate people’s privacy.
Wired.com acquired Charles McCullough’s response to the two senators, who are members of the Senate’s Intelligence Oversight Committee. McCullough, Inspector General of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, wrote that the NSA “agreed that an IG review of the sort suggested would itself violate the privacy of U.S. persons.”
Wyden said that he and Udall simply wanted a “ballpark estimate” of the number.
But McCullough wrote that the agency was incapable of providing such a number, and an attempt to calculate the number would hamper intelligence missions.
With government employees like these, who need enemies?
I hope everyone is okay, there have been tremendous storms today…and some have produced some killer tornadoes.
So here’s a few updates on the weather:
NOAA Storm Prediction Center Best source for warnings.
I just have a couple other links for you tonight.
I would love to get your take on the recent news regarding possible connections of Saudi Arabia to the attacks on September 11th, 2001.
A few days ago, former Senators Bob Graham and Bob Kerrey filed sworn statements regarding their investigation into the possible involvement of Saudi Arabia in the 9/11 attacks.
For more than a decade, questions have lingered about the possible role of the Saudi government in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, even as the royal kingdom has made itself a crucial counterterrorism partner in the eyes of American diplomats.
Now, in sworn statements that seem likely to reignite the debate, two former senators who were privy to top secret information on the Saudis’ activities say they believe that the Saudi government might have played a direct role in the terrorist attacks.
“I am convinced that there was a direct line between at least some of the terrorists who carried out the September 11th attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia,” former Senator Bob Graham, Democrat of Florida, said in an affidavit filed as part of a lawsuit brought against the Saudi government and dozens of institutions in the country by families of Sept. 11 victims and others. Mr. Graham led a joint 2002 Congressional inquiry into the attacks.
Bob Graham was my Senator in Florida. I have always respected him and found him to be one of the few genuine politicians I have met. Having said that, I want to give you the rest of the story from the NYT.
His former Senate colleague, Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, a Democrat who served on the separate 9/11 Commission, said in a sworn affidavit of his own in the case that “significant questions remain unanswered” about the role of Saudi institutions. “Evidence relating to the plausible involvement of possible Saudi government agents in the September 11th attacks has never been fully pursued,” Mr. Kerrey said.
Their affidavits, which were filed on Friday and have not previously been disclosed, are part of a multibillion-dollar lawsuit that has wound its way through federal courts since 2002. An appellate court, reversing an earlier decision, said in November that foreign nations were not immune to lawsuits under certain terrorism claims, clearing the way for parts of the Saudi case to be reheard in United States District Court in Manhattan.
It makes sense that some information…especially the pertinent intelligence against the Saudi’s would be withheld during the Bush years. It is about damn time this was fully investigated.
The Saudis are seeking to have the case dismissed in part because they say American inquiries — including those in which Mr. Graham and Mr. Kerrey took part — have essentially exonerated them. A recent court filing by the Saudis prominently cited the 9/11 Commission’s “exhaustive” final report, which “found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi individuals funded” Al Qaeda.
But Mr. Kerrey and Mr. Graham said that the findings should not be seen as an exoneration and that many important questions about the Saudis’ role had never been fully examined, partly because their panels simply did not have the time or resources given their wider scope.
Yeah…that bit about the wider scope is something we would use in college when we did not know the answer to one of Prof VanNeste killer questions. “That is beyond the scope of my research.”
I think the matter of Saudi involvement was beyond the scope of friendship between the Bushes and the Saudi Royal Family. It also was beyond the meme needed to get our asses into Iraq, so that old “Bushie” scores could be settled with Saddam.
Cannonfire has a post about it here: Were the Saudis behind 9/11? Cannonfire
Emptywheel has yet to write about it, I am eagerly awaiting her take on it.
Some interesting points via Cannonfire:
In a sense, nothing new here. But the assertion that the Saudi connection won’t be probed because we are on the verge of war with Iran — now that is disturbing.
Lichtblau has been on this story for a while. Here, from 2009:
Allegations of Saudi links to terrorism have been the subject of years of government investigations and furious debate. Critics have said that some members of the Saudi ruling class pay off terrorist groups in part to keep them from being more active in their own country.
A self-described Qaeda operative in Bosnia said in an interview with lawyers in the lawsuit that another charity largely controlled by members of the royal family, the Saudi High Commission for Aid to Bosnia, provided money and supplies to the terrorist group in the 1990s and hired militant operatives like himself.
Another witness in Afghanistan said in a sworn statement that in 1998 he had witnessed an emissary for a leading Saudi prince, Turki al-Faisal, hand a check for one billion Saudi riyals (now worth about $267 million) to a top Taliban leader.
And a confidential German intelligence report gave a line-by-line description of tens of millions of dollars in bank transfers, with dates and dollar amounts, made in the early 1990s by Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz and other members of the Saudi royal family to another charity that was suspected of financing militants’ activities in Pakistan and Bosnia.
Of interest to me is the Israeli angle. There has been talk of Saudi/Israeli cooperation in a potential war with Iran — see, for example, here.
An investigation of possible Saudi involvement with 9/11 could seriously gum up the works.
Over at Naked Capitalism, the Saudi connections are something they have written about for some time.
As we noted last year:
The Co-Chair of the Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 and former Head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Bob Graham, previously stated that an FBI informant had hosted and rented a room to two hijackers in 2000 and that, when the Inquiry sought to interview the informant, the FBI refused outright, and then hid him in an unknown location, and that a high-level FBI official stated these blocking maneuvers were undertaken under orders from the White House (confirmed here).
Today, Graham called for a new 9/11 investigation. As Raw Story notes:
Graham on Monday called on the U.S. government to reopen its investigation into 9/11 after a report found that links between Saudi Arabia and the hijackers were never disclosed by the FBI to the 2002 joint Congressional intelligence committee investigating the attacks.
“In the final report of the congressional inquiry, there was a chapter related primarily to the Saudi role in 9/11 that was totally censored, every word of the chapter has been withheld from the public,” Graham said on MSNBC’s The Dylan Ratigan Show.
“Some of the other questions we ought to be asking are if we know that the Saudis who lived in San Diego and now apparently in Sarasota received substantial assistance, what about the Saudis who lived in Phoenix, Arizona? Or Arlington, Virginia? … What was happening in those places?”
“I believe these are questions for which there are definitive answers, but the American people and largely their elected representatives have been denied that information.”
The article goes on to say:
As we’ve repeatedly noted:
9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey said that “There are ample reasons to suspect that there may be some alternative to what we outlined in our version . . . We didn’t have access . . . .” He also says that it might take “a permanent 9/11 commission” to end the remaining mysteries of September 11
Indeed, while everyone remembers the false allegations about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, most forget that the other primary justification for the war was the false linkage between Iraq and 9/11.
So we have idiots like MSNBC talking head Joe Scarborough saying that – even if the Saudi government backed the 9/11 attacks – Saudi oil is too important to do anything about it:
Video of Morning Joe at this link.
So what are your thoughts?
Oh, in the latest Romney news, it seems he has the red neck vote in hand…aside from his statements about NASCAR team owners are some of his closest friends…and lets not forget the way he made fun of the rain ponchos the fans were wearing. Yes, Romney got Waffle House King of Scattered and Smothered…Kid Rock to come aboard the Romney Starship. Today he secured the heavy metal, gun lovin’ NRA hunter vote: Ted Nugent endorses Mitt Romney for president
Rocker (and Detroit native) Ted Nugent has endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for president.
Nugent, the self-professed “Motor City Madman,” said in a tweet from his @tednugent Twitter feed: “after a long heart&soul conversation with MittRomney today I concluded this goodman will properly represent we the people & I endorsed him.”
Nugent has been a lifelong conservative and gun rights advocate, not at all shy about expressing his views. He toyed with the idea of running for governor of Michigan, but now lives in Texas.
Now, all he needs is to get is Walker, Texas Ranger to defect from the Eye of Newt campaign and the “rural” vote will surely step into line. (Cough, cough)
The wind is picking up and the sound of thunder is overpowering the sound of strange bald kids playing their banjos on the front porch. I’m outta here. I’ll try to catch up with you all later in the comments.
It has been more than ten years since September 11, 2001. Ever since that day, our
elected selected leaders have chosen to trash the U.S. Constitution, attack several other countries (Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, and more), build secret military bases and prisons around the world, and spy on and even assassinate American citizens.
For a concise summary of many of the Constitutional abuses that have taken place since that awful day ten years ago, I highly recommend reading this essay by Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Here’s a sample:
In response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, George W. Bush shredded the U.S. Constitution, trampled on the Bill of Rights, discarded the Geneva Conventions, and heaped scorn on the domestic torture statute and the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
As we mark the 10th anniversary of the terrible events of September 11, 2001, none of us has any desire to play down the horrors of that day, but two wrongs do not make a right, and, in response to the attacks, the Bush administration engineered and presided over the most sustained period of constitutional decay in our history.
Moreover, although George W. Bush entered the first decade of the 21st century by dismantling the rights that are fundamental to the identity of the United States and the security of its people, Barack Obama ended the decade by failing to fully reinstate those rights. Through his own indecision, or through ferocious opposition in Congress, he has been unable to close the infamous prison at Guantánamo Bay, as promised, and has also refused to even contemplate holding anyone in the Bush administration accountable for their crimes.
As a result, the democratic principles which we hold dear have suffered a massive blow in the first ten years of the 21st century, although that is not the main problem. The deep erosion of our civil liberties is to be lamented, and should be resisted, however difficult the political climate, but the most painful truth about the last decade is that it marks an undoing of democracy so severe that without concerted and deliberate action by the people in this country — and, one hopes, by their elected leaders — the values which defined us, before the events of 9/11 allowed the Bush administration to reshape our perception of executive power, may never be regained.
The Bush and Obama administrations and Congress by supporting and passing the Patriot Act and other clearly unconstitutional laws, have also given free rein to the FBI to spy on and persecute American citizens–usually peace activists or Muslim-Americans.
Today I want to focus on the FBI’s “investigations” of “homegrown terrorism.” I use those quotes because I don’t consider sting operations in which the FBI seeks out vuknerable Muslim-Americans and suggests methods by which they could attack the U.S., provides weapons and funds, and then arrests people who haven’t yet taken any action to be real “investigations.”
I’m really getting sick and tired of reading stories like the one that broke on Wednesday about a young Ashland, MA man named Rezwan Ferdaus. Ferdaus is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston. He was indicted yesterday for
attempting to damage and destroy a federal building by means of an explosive, attempting to damage and destroy national defense premises, receiving firearms and explosive materials, and attempting to provide material support to terrorists and a terrorist organization.
“With the goal of terrorizing the United States, decapitating its ‘military center,’ and killing as many ‘kafirs’ [an Arabic term meaning nonbelievers] as possible, Ferdaus extensively planned and took substantial steps to bomb the United States Pentagon and United State Capitol Building using remote controlled aircraft filled with explosives,”
Read the indictment here (PDF).
Please keep in mind that the “investigation” of Ferdaus was done by the FBI. This is the same FBI that can’t get their 80-year-old definition of rape changed without being pressured for years, after which they finally decide to form a committee to consider proposed changes. This is the same FBI that couldn’t catch Whitey Bulger for 16 years even though he hiding in plain sight. Never mind that, this is the same FBI that tried to use Whitey Bulger as an “informant” while he was murdering people right and left. This is the same FBI whose agents enabled Bulger to go on the lam instead of being prosecuted. By 1994, the FBI was “considered compromised” and so the DEA joined with Massachusetts law enforcement to investigate Bulger, and chose not to inform the FBI of their task force.
This is just a bit of the history of FBI incompetence in the Boston area. Imagine if we looked at the agency’s failures in every major city and state!
I want to begin my recommended reads on the Ferdaus case with a piece by a Boston writer who knows the local background of FBI “investigations” well. Here’s Charlie Pierce, writing at Esquire Magazine. He suggests that the FBI is “busting its own conspiracies.”
Up until now, “homegrown terrorism” has been a phrase reserved for people like Timothy McVeigh, who blew up the Murrah building in Oklahoma City, and Kevin Harpham, who tried to do the same to the Martin Luther King Day parade in Spokane last January. In other words, “homegrown terrorism” meant rightwing violence either in fact, or in actual attempt…Now…what is being called “homegrown terrorism” is being applied to Ferdaus, an America citizen who is a Muslim. And certainly, if the FBI is to be believed — which is always a very big if, especially in Boston, as history has taught us — Ferdaus had it in him to be a very bad actor. If the FBI is to be believed, he had every intention of carrying out his plans. If the FBI is to be believed, he spouted off extensively to FBI agents whom Ferdaus believed were recruiters for Al Qaeda. He bought cellphones to be used as detonators. On Wednesday, he took delivery of what he believed to be weapons and explosives, which is when the FBI busted him. The Justice Department even helpfully supplied a photo of a model of a Sabre jet of the type it says Ferdaus planned to use to deliver his explosives.
If the FBI is to be believed, that is.
But why should we believe them? Look at their history. Just think about what the FBI did back in the ’60s and ’70s–spying on the Jack and Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Vietnam Veterans who spoke out against the war, and of course peace activists of every stripe. This is their history: enabling criminals and persecuting anyone who questions the government. And since 9/11, they have almost no brakes on their activities. Back to Charlie Pierce:
Ferdaus is only the latest person arrested by the FBI for being part of what they believed to be an enterprise — terrorist or otherwise — in which his “partners” actually were FBI agents themselves. (There is no evidence yet presented that Ferdaus did anything except run his mouth prior to meeting the two counterfeit jihadis who worked for Uncle Sam.) The pattern is now familiar. There is an announcement at maximum volume. The suspect is usually described as being fully dedicated — and fully capable — of carrying out the plans he is charged with making. And, as a bonus, all the psychological alarms that the country has been carrying around since 9/11 begin to rattle to life again. The problems arise when the cases fall part, as several of them have, or when the question arises as to whether or not the FBI is simply busting its own conspiracies. When the cases fall apart, or when they turn out to be rather less serious than the original blare of publicity would have had the nation believe, the news is often buried, but the fear and the political utility of the original announcement remain.
Again, why should we believe them this time? Will Ferdaus get a fair trial? Will he be tortured? Who knows? But I do not trust these people. Anyway, I’ve collected some interesting reads on this subject to share with you today. Please feel free to discuss any other stories you wish in the comments.
First, Mother Jones had a great series awhile back on the FBI, and they have posted an update on the Ferdaus case.
UPDATE: On September 28, Rezwan Ferdaus, a 26-year-old graduate of Northeastern University, was arrested and charged with providing resources to a foreign terrorist organization and attempting to destroy national defense premises. Ferdaus, according to the FBI, planned to blow up both the Pentagon and Capitol Building with a “large remote controlled aircraft filled with C-4 plastic explosives.”
The case was part of a nearly ten-month investigation led by the FBI. Not surprisingly, Ferdaus’ case fits a pattern detailed by Trevor Aaronson in his article below: the FBI provided Ferdaus with the explosives and materials needed to pull off the plot. In this case, two undercover FBI employees, who Ferdaus believed were al Qaeda members, gave Ferdaus $7,500 to purchase an F-86 Sabre model airplane that Ferdaus hoped to fill with explosives. Right before his arrest, the FBI employees gave Ferdaus, who lived at home with his parents, the explosives he requested to pull off his attack. And just how did the FBI come to meet Ferdaus? An informant with a criminal record introduced Ferdaus to the supposed al Qaeda members.
From the Aaronson article on the FBI’s use of informants:
Ever since 9/11, counterterrorism has been the FBI’s No. 1 priority, consuming the lion’s share of its budget—$3.3 billion, compared to $2.6 billion for organized crime—and much of the attention of field agents and a massive, nationwide network of informants. After years of emphasizing informant recruiting as a key task for its agents, the bureau now maintains a roster of 15,000 spies—many of them tasked, as Hussain was, with infiltrating Muslim communities in the United States. In addition, for every informant officially listed in the bureau’s records, there are as many as three unofficial ones, according to one former high-level FBI official, known in bureau parlance as “hip pockets.”
The informants could be doctors, clerks, imams. Some might not even consider themselves informants. But the FBI regularly taps all of them as part of a domestic intelligence apparatus whose only historical peer might be COINTELPRO, the program the bureau ran from the ’50s to the ’70s to discredit and marginalize organizations ranging from the Ku Klux Klan to civil-rights and protest groups.
Throughout the FBI’s history, informant numbers have been closely guarded secrets. Periodically, however, the bureau has released those figures. A Senate oversight committee in 1975 found the FBI had 1,500 informants. In 1980, officials disclosed there were 2,800. Six years later, following the FBI’s push into drugs and organized crime, the number of bureau informants ballooned to 6,000, the Los Angeles Times reported in 1986. And according to the FBI, the number grew significantly after 9/11. In its fiscal year 2008 budget authorization request, the FBI disclosed that it it had been been working under a November 2004 presidential directive demanding an increase in “human source development and management,” and that it needed $12.7 million for a program to keep tabs on its spy network and create software to track and manage informants.
I find that very frightening. Please read the whole article if you can find the time. Talking Points Memo has more information on the supposed “plot,” along with photos provided by the FBI. But check this out: a guy who knows a lot about the model planes in question says the plan wouldn’t work.
As hobbyist Bill DiRenzo warms up the real jet engine of his remote control airplane, he said the alleged plot to use jets like his to blow up the U.S. Capitol or the Pentagon sounds a little far-fetched.
DiRenzo said the suspect most likely didn’t even have the skills needed to make his alleged plot succeed.
“If you’ve never flown one, there’s no way, especially these turbine powered ones where there are the safety issues. I mean there’s so many things in the sophistication in the electronics in it. You have to be in the hobby to even think about doing what that kid did,” DiRenzo said.
DiRenzo also said from what he’s seen and read, the planes the suspect allegedly tried to use in his plot were simply not large enough to carry the explosives and the guidance system needed to be successful.
“They’re pretty close to their wing load when they take off, so to put 40 pounds of explosives on it, even some of these huge jets I have seen, they wouldn’t fly,” DiRenzo said.
The FBI is clearly targeting young Muslim-American men for their terror sting operations, so I’d like to call your attention to this scary story by Spencer Ackerman at Wired’s Danger Room blog about the FBI’s blatantly bigoted attitudes toward Muslim-Americans.
The FBI is teaching its counterterrorism agents that “main stream” [sic] American Muslims are likely to be terrorist sympathizers; that the Prophet Mohammed was a “cult leader”; and that the Islamic practice of giving charity is no more than a “funding mechanism for combat.”
At the Bureau’s training ground in Quantico, Virginia, agents are shown a chart contending that the more “devout” a Muslim, the more likely he is to be “violent.” Those destructive tendencies cannot be reversed, an FBI instructional presentation adds: “Any war against non-believers is justified” under Muslim law; a “moderating process cannot happen if the Koran continues to be regarded as the unalterable word of Allah.”
These are excerpts from dozens of pages of recent FBI training material on Islam that Danger Room has acquired. In them, the Constitutionally protected religious faith of millions of Americans is portrayed as an indicator of terrorist activity.
“There may not be a ‘radical’ threat as much as it is simply a normal assertion of the orthodox ideology,” one FBI presentation notes. “The strategic themes animating these Islamic values are not fringe; they are main stream.”
The FBI isn’t just treading on thin legal ice by portraying ordinary, observant Americans as terrorists-in-waiting, former counterterrorism agents say. It’s also playing into al-Qaida’s hands.
Read it and weep. This is what we’ve come to as a country. At the UK Guardian, there are some questions being asked: FBI faces entrapment questions over Rezwan Ferdaus bomb plot arrest
The dramatic arrest of a man in Massachusetts accused of plotting to crash explosive-filled miniature airplanes into the US Capitol and the Pentagon has sparked fresh concerns that the FBI might be using entrapment techniques aimed at Muslims in America.
some legal organisations and Muslim groups have questioned whether Ferdaus, whose activities were carried out with two undercover FBI agents posing as terrorists, would have been able to carry out such a sophisticated plot if left to his own devices. In numerous previous cases in the US, the FBI has been accused of over-zealousness in its investigations and of entrapping people into terror plots who might otherwise not have carried out an attack.
“It deeply concerns us. It is another in a pattern of high-profile cases. Would this person have conceived or executed this plot without the influence of the FBI?” said Heidi Boghosian, president of the National Lawyers Guild.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations also expressed its concern and wondered if more details would later emerge at trial that showed the full scale of the FBI involvement in setting up the sting. “There is a big, big difference between a plot initiated by the FBI and a plot initiated by a suspect, and it seems this might have been initiated by the FBI,” said Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR’s director of communications.
There lots more in the article. Finally, here’s an excellent blog post by Stephen Lendman, “Entrapping Muslims in America,” and a scare story in the Christian Science Monitor about how we’re going to be attacked by terrorists with drones. In actuality, it is the U.S. who is attacking other countries (and U.S. citizens abroad) with drones. Talk about projection!
Those are my offerings for today. What are you reading and blogging about?
Okay, I am going to start this morning’s post with some humor, and end it with something solemn…I am in a melancholy mood. No surprise, right? I swear, the Obama job policy speculations are so depressing. (Yes, I am in complete agreement with the other Sky Dancers, I am not expecting anything Obama pitches will actually help the situation.)
Well, let’s get this party started…
Mike Luckovich has a new cartoon, this time he jokes about Mother Nature. Personally, I think Luckovich is one of the best political cartoonists around. You be the judge on this one:
Dakinikat wrote about this news out of the swamp, Boehner, Cantor Want to Meet With Obama Before Speech – Billy House – NationalJournal.com
She went with the Peanuts analogy of Lucy and the Football…I am going to take it a bit further…as you will see after this quote:
The two top House GOP leaders are asking President Obama to call a “bipartisan, bicameral” meeting with House and Senate leaders before his speech to Congress on Thursday to discuss cooperation on jobs legislation and other items to spur the economy.
In a letter dated Tuesday, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., note their request comes amid reports that Obama intends to unveil his own “jobs” agenda.
They suggest there may be several potential areas for “common ground,” even as they complain that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has refused to allow many of the jobs-related measures passed by the House to come up for a Senate vote.
The two also reiterate in their letter that House Republicans have themselves already announced a legislative calendar for the fall with a heavy focus on the repeal of regulations, and that they will continue to push to reduce those that are “hampering job growth in our country.”
They write that they “appreciate” Obama’s announcement on Friday asking the EPA to withdraw its new draft ozone standards. But they say it is “critical” that such actions not stop there and hope that Obama, prior to his scheduled address to a joint session of the Senate and House on Thursday night, will “disclose the cost estimates” for what they say are 212 other regulatory actions still in the works by his administration.
I don’t know why, but reading about this possible meeting of the three stooges, before the Obama jobs speech makes me think of that scene in Naked Gun 2 and a half….The Blue Note. Where you see all those disaster pictures in frames along the wall, as the camera scans the depressed clientele.
I think that photograph of Dukakis needs to be updated with a photo of Obama… No word yet on if Obama will concede to a meeting with the Tangerine and his little buddy…and yes, I am conjuring up images of the Skipper and Gilligan.
To continue the train wreck, I mean this morning’s post, I give you this article from Scarecrow over at FDL: Pelosi’s Picks for Super Committee Embrace Tea-GOP Economics and Budget Gibberish | MyFDL
If you’re hoping that Nancy Pelosi’s picks for the Congressional Super Committee have either the wisdom or courage to stand against the job-killing spending cuts Obama and Congress imposed on the nation, you’ll be disappointed.
Two of Nancy Pelosi’s picks, Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), revealed that their understanding of depression economics is no better than Herbert Hoover’s or Michele Bachmann’s. From Brian Buetler at TPM:
Democrats on the new joint deficit Super Committee will seek more than the $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction they’ve been tasked with finding, in order to help offset some of those costs [of funding jobs programs].
“All of us would like to set as a target for ourselves even more than $1.5 trillion,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who’s also the top House Democrat on the Budget Committee, told reporters at a Tuesday Capitol press conference. . . .
Committee member Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) agrees with Van Hollen, and says he’d be willing to put key progressive programs on the table if it gives Congress more running room to shore up the economy now.
“It’s incumbent upon the Congress and the government not to make things worse,” Becerra said. “I’m looking at the last six months and I’m not seeing how job growth has come from some of this cutting of services, but again I’ll be open to it so long as…there’s proof that the proposal will lead to job growth and deficit reduction.”
Where do they come up with these absurd notions?The answer is: from the White House, where the President told them and the American people that the debt deal would “create room” for doing some useful things. That’s beyond wrong, beyond stupid.
Dakinikat has written so many posts about how ridiculous these kinds of cuts are…so this next bit should not be a surprise to you… That these “Democrats” are buying into the Cantor Crap, you know, the Offsets bullshit.
So they have to cut back on other government spending or let the jobless remain jobless. Didn’t need that for wars, or for multiple tax cuts or this fiscal year’s budget; it’s a new thing. Even the simple notion that it makes sense to borrow at zero real interest rates now, spend it on whatever the country needs now, and pay it back/raise taxes later, seems to be beyond their understanding.
Even if Pelosi’s picks get their way, we’re likely to get the same results Congress and FDR achieved in 1937, when the federal government contracted and imposed a balanced budget on an economy still struggling to get out of the depression: they’ll rekindle a recession and put lots more people out of work.
Pelosi has greased the wheels for the jump onto the austerity bandwagon. Just like Obama has buttered us up for his next Republican-like jobs policy, to go with all the other Republican policies that this Democrat…cough…president has kept alive. But, back to the Scarecrow post…
Ms. Pelosi told us weeks ago that we “live in the age of austerity,” so why not choose mindless austerians to punish the nation? But there’s nothing requiring elected officials to accept that ignorant belief, because it’s nuts. Daily headlines from Europe are virtually screaming how disastrous austerity is when nations are on the verge of financial collapse.
We don’t need, and the country cannot survive, two Tea Parties or two wings of the Corporate Party. The age we live in demands just the opposite of the austerity delusions the Democratic leaders and the President have ignorantly, recklessly embraced. And come 2012, voters will have every reason to show them all what the phrase “you’re fired” means.
Next, I have a couple of World news links for you.
The US-led coalition in Afghanistan has suspended its transfer of detainees to Afghan prisons following allegations by the UN that prisoners are being tortured.
The allegations were leaked on Tuesday ahead of a UN report that claims prisoners have been beaten with rubber hoses, threatened with sexual assault and given electric shocks.
A NATO official said that transfers have been suspended pending an investigation by the International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF).
The suspension affects detention centres run by the Afghan police and intelligence service in Herat, Khost, Lagman, Kapisa and Takhar.
Dan McNorton, a spokesman for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) told Al Jazeera that it shared its findings with the Afghan government, including the national directorate of security.
“We understand they are taking the findings very seriously and are proposing a series of remedial actions,” McNorton said.
“Our findings indicate that the mistreatment of detainees is not an institutional or government policy of the Government of Afghanistan.”
The article goes on to say that this can further complicate the inevitable withdrawal of foreign troops in Afghanistan.
“The NATO nations are members of the convention against torture,” he said. “Article III requires that if they have reason to believe that a person if turned over to another government would be tortured, they’re not permitted to turn them over. So the decision that was taken today is exactly what is required of them.”
I guess we will hear more about this after the jobs speech is over and done with.
Barely a month after a teenager was terrorised by an intruder with a fake collar bomb, Sydney was the scene of another bomb drama yesterday, this time involving a man who locked himself in a barristers’ chambers with his daughter and a backpack he claimed contained explosives.
After an 11-hour stand-off, police stormed the building last night and arrested the man. His 12-year-daughter was said to be distressed but unharmed. With explosives experts still examining the backpack, it was not clear if the bomb threat was genuine.
Last month, an intruder broke into the home of a wealthy Sydney family and strapped what turned out to be a fake collar bomb to the neck of 18-year-old Madeleine Pulver. An Australian banker, Paul Peters, was arrested in Kentucky a fortnight later, and faces extradition.
Geez, what the hell is going on in this world?
I swear, people are acting crazy. Violence and desperation seems to be truly taking hold. Yesterday a man killed 3 people and wounded six in Nevada.
Which reminds me, talk about going “postal.” White House to Propose Plan to Help Postal Service – NYTimes.com
The Obama administration said on Tuesday that it would seek to save the deficit-plagued Postal Service from an embarrassing default by proposing to give it an extra three months to make a $5.5 billion payment due on Sept. 30 to finance retirees’ future health coverage.
I guess the offset cut will have to come from somewhere, unless it is just another carrot Obama is dangling before us….
Mr. Berry said the Obama administration would push for legislation to allow a three-month delay in the $5.5 billion payment. But he stopped short of endorsing a far-reaching proposal, backed by the postal service, to allow the agency to claw back more than $50 billion that two independent actuaries have said the post office has overpaid into a major federal pension plan. Postal Service officials say such a move would go far to alleviate the agency’s financial problems.
Mr. Berry said the administration was studying the proposal, but not endorsing or opposing it at this point.
He said the administration would release a more comprehensive proposal in coming weeks “to ensure a sustainable future for the postal service,” one that would be part of the broader $1.5 trillion deficit reduction package that the President Obama has promised to send to Congress.
Oh, wait…Obama is pushing the Postal Problem on the Super Committee…so I guess the postal workers are up shit creek, and we all will have to find some other way to send those Mother’s Day and Christmas cards.
I want to end with this small article from Democracy Now. It is about Father Mychal Judge, the NYFD’s Cathoic chaplain, who was killed on September 11th, 2001. Amy Goodman: 9/11 Victim 0001: Father Mychal’s Message – Truthdig
The body bag marked “Victim 0001” on Sept. 11, 2001, contained the corpse of Father Mychal Judge, a Catholic chaplain with the Fire Department of New York. When he heard about the disaster at the World Trade Center, he donned his Catholic collar and firefighter garb and raced downtown. He saw people jump to their deaths to avoid the inferno more than 1,000 feet above. At 9:59 a.m., the South Tower collapsed, and the force and debris from that mass of steel, concrete, glass and humanity as it hit the ground is likely what killed Father Mychal. His was the first recorded death from the attacks that morning. His life’s work should be central to the 10th anniversary commemorations of the Sept. 11 attacks: peace, tolerance and reconciliation.
Goodman goes on to discuss Father Mychal’s journal that was given by his twin sister to journalist Michael Daly. More particularly, the admission in those diaries.
Father Mychal was well known to the poor and afflicted of New York City and New Jersey. He helped the homeless, and people with HIV/AIDS. As a member of the Franciscan order, he would often wear the traditional brown robe and sandals. But there was a half-known secret about him: He was gay. In his private diaries, the revered Catholic priest wrote, “I thought of my gay self and how the people I meet never get to know me fully.”
Brendan Fay is a longtime Irish-American gay activist who was a friend of Judge’s….[says] “He was one of the priests at Dignity New York, an organization for gay and lesbian Catholics. … He ministered to [us] during the AIDS crisis, when there were few priests available to our community.”
I remember a few seconds of the documentary film 9/11, by Jules and Gedeon Naudet. Father Mychal is seen praying while you can hear the sound of jumpers as they fall on the plaza.
Many remember the iconic photo of Father Mychal being carried from the rubble of the WTC, taken by photographer, Shannon Stapleton. But when I think of Father Judge, the image from the film 9/11, his look of worry and his mouth moving in prayer is what comes to mind. I think it is fitting that Amy Goodwin ends her post with this quote from Brendan Fay.
“On 9/11, the one thing we can take from Mychal Judge is, in the midst of this hell and war and evil and violence, here is this man who directs us to another possible path as human beings: We can choose the path of compassion and nonviolence and reconciliation. Mychal Judge had a heart as big as New York. There was room for everybody. And I think that’s the lesson.”
That is all I have for you today, what are you reading and watching today? Anything good? Please be sure to share some links below…
FIRST JUXTAPOSITION: COMPARE AND CONTRAST
Huffington Post reported today that a little-known amendment in the new 9/11 health bill requires anyone who applies for benefits to be checked by the FBI to make sure they’re not terrorists.
The tens of thousands of cops, firefighters, construction workers and others who survived the worst terrorist assault in U.S. history and risked their lives in its wake will soon be informed that their names must be run through the FBI’s terrorism watch list, according to a letter obtained by HuffPost.
Any of the responders who are not compared to the database of suspected terrorists would be barred from getting treatment for the numerous, worsening ailments that the James Zadroga 9/11 Health And Compensation Law was passed to address.
It’s a requirement that was tacked onto the law during the bitter debates over it last year.
The letter from Dr. John Howard, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, informs medical providers and administrators that they should begin letting patients know before the new program kicks in this July.
Yes, the people who risked their lives and their health to help after 9/11 will be treated like suspected terrorists by their government.
From Voice of America: Chernobyl’s Cleanup Crew Pay a Steep Price, 25 Years On
On April 26, 1986 a nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl plant caught fire and exploded, sending radioactive debris high into the sky. Aleksey Breus was an engineer at Chernobyl at the time of the explosion. He worked four straight days inside the plant after the explosion. He wore protective equipment, but still received a large dose of radiation.
According to Breus, all “lucheviki” – the Russian word surviving cleanup workers use for describing one another – have been left with one thing in common: illness and a lack of money to pay for medications. He says virtually all of them live in poverty.
Another Chernobyl worker, Aleksander Kramer, says he was one of the first to go into the plant after the explosion. Kramer, who now lives in Germany, remains angry at how he was treated by authorities in what was then the Soviet Union. From the very beginning, he says, the authorities doubted those claiming they were part of the clean-up effort.
And the suspicions have lingered. In 1993, Kramer says former rescue workers had to prove to Ukranian authorities “that their documents were not a sham and that their health problems were real.”
Remember when we were told over and over again that the United States was morally superior to the Soviet Union? What’s the difference again?
SECOND JUXTAPOSITION: COMPARE AND CONTRAST
Nixon had just come from a ten-day working holiday in San Clemente, where he found himself angered by the coverage given the Manson case in the local media. Many of the young, Nixon said in Denver, “tend to glorify and to make heroes out of those who engage in criminal activities.”
In Los Angeles, the effect of Nixon’s remarks on the Manson trial was instant and dramatic. While the Los Angeles Times came out the same afternoon with a four-inch headline reading MANSON GUILTY, NIXON DECLARES, Judge Charles Older went to great lengths to ensure that the jury, which has been sequestered since the trial began, would not learn of Nixon’s remarks. The windows of the jury bus were whited over with Bon Ami so that no juror could glimpse the headline on street newsstands. If the jury discovered Nixon’s verdict, the defense might have grounds for a mistrial.
Remember when Americans (and the media) cared when the President did something wrong?
WL Central, April 22, 2011: President Obama tells protestors that Bradley Manning “broke the law.”
Transcript and comments from WL Central:
“People can have philosophical ideas about certain things,” President Obama explains. “But, look, I can’t conduct diplomacy on open source.” He then goes on to add that he has to abide by certain classified information rules or law and if he had released material like Manning did he’d be breaking the law.
Now, here is the remark that deserves the most attention: “We’re a nation of laws. We don’t individually make our decisions about how the laws operate.” He adds, “He broke the law.” Finally, before removing himself from the conversation, he says Manning “dumped” information and “it wasn’t the same thing” as what Daniel Ellsberg did because what Ellsberg leaked “wasn’t classified in the same way.”
First, President Obama says Bradley Manning did it. It is not entirely clear that he did it unless you solely rely on the chat logs published by Wired magazine. Manning is the alleged whistleblower in the case. And, displaying this attitude that he is guilty before he actually is put on trial and convicted may prejudice Manning’s case.
That’s if Mr. Obama ever allows Bradley Manning’s case to go to trial. When is that going to happen? And when will today’s media be as outraged by Obama’s irresponsible remarks as the media of 1970 was at Nixon’s?