Friday, February 17, 2006

Link Dump!

I'm way backed up so here are some links I wanna keep track of. . .

Ex-CIA Official Faults Use of Data on Iraq:
The former CIA official who coordinated U.S. intelligence on the Middle East until last year has accused the Bush administration of "cherry-picking" intelligence on Iraq to justify a decision it had already reached to go to war, and of ignoring warnings that the country could easily fall into violence and chaos after an invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein

Ex-Cheney Aide Testified Leak Was Ordered, Prosecutor Says:
Lewis Libby Jr., the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, told a grand jury that he was authorized by his ''superiors'' to disclose classified information to reporters about Iraq's weapons capability in June and July 2003

Cartoons worth killing for to defend the purity of your religion

A Pakistani cleric announced a $1 million bounty for killing a cartoonist who drew the Prophet Muhammad.

Show me the pony:
The main reason why I didn't watch the speech to hear what Bush would say about science policy is that it doesn't matter what he says. This administration doesn't do policy, they do politics. If Bush says something in a speech, it's because they think it will sound good in a speech, period.

Presidential signing statements are more than just executive branch lunacy.
There are two ways President Bush likes to wage war on your civil liberties: He either asks you to surrender your rights directly—as he does when he strengthens and broadens provisions of the Patriot Act. Or he simply hoovers up new powers and hopes you won't find out—as he did when he granted himself authority to order warrant-less wiretapping of American citizens.

Intelligence, Policy,and the War in Iraq, By Paul R. Pillar
The most serious problem with U.S. intelligence today is that its relationship with the policymaking process is broken and badly needs repair. In the wake of the Iraq war, it has become clear that official intelligence analysis was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions, that intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made, that damaging ill will developed between policymakers and intelligence officers, and that the intelligence community's own work was politicized.

EFF's Class-Action Lawsuit Against AT&T for Collaboration with Illegal Domestic Spying Program
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a class-action lawsuit against AT&T on January 31, 2006, accusing the telecom giant of violating the law and the privacy of its customers by collaborating with the National Security Agency (NSA) in its massive and illegal program to wiretap and data-mine Americans' communications.

'The Biggest Secret' by Thomas Powers
The challenges posed to American democracy by secrecy and by unchecked presidential power are the two great themes running through the history of the Iraq war. How long the war will last, who will "win," and what it will do to the political landscape of the Middle East will not be obvious for years to come, but the answers to those questions cannot alter the character of what happened at the outset. Put plainly, the President decided to attack Iraq, he brushed caution and objection aside, and Congress, the press, and the people, with very few exceptions, stepped back out of the way and let him do it.

DirecTV confirms EchoStar wireless plans
We love it when a good rumor turns out to be true (and, yeah, we love 'em when they're not true, too). And it turns out that almost everything was right about the tales that were spun last month about DirecTV and EchoStar planning to spend as much as $1 billion to bring a high-speed wireless service to the masses in the US.

Blair-Bush deal before Iraq war revealed in secret memo
A memo of a two-hour meeting between the two leaders at the White House on January 31 2003 - nearly two months before the invasion - reveals that Mr Bush made it clear the US intended to invade whether or not there was a second UN resolution and even if UN inspectors found no evidence of a banned Iraqi weapons programme.

Revenue From Corporate Taxes Could Decline Sorry, paywall
President Bush's 2007 budget anticipates a decline in corporate income-tax revenue next year. And while a growing economy and corporate profits will boost corporate tax receipts in later years, corporate taxes will continue to shrink as a percentage of federal revenue if the president has his way.

Rove's Early Warning, by E. J. Dionne Jr.
And, yes, the core questions must be asked: Are we really safer now than we were five years ago? Has the Iraq war, as organized and prosecuted by the administration, made us stronger or weaker? Do we feel more secure knowing the heck of a job our government did during Hurricane Katrina? Do we have any confidence that the Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies will clean up their act if Washington remains under the sway of one-party government?

Republicans today control the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House. They have absolute power, and it has corrupted their Party and led to the culture of corruption that we see now in Washington.

Can Deregulating Toilets Revive Republicans?
`It was a terrible idea,'' Lieberman says, ``and the toilets were terrible, too.''The new 1.6 gpf models had to be flushed two or three times each use and even then succumbed to constant clogging. They backed up easily, causing sanitary, not to mention olfactory, problems. Utility officials reported sewage system blockages caused by insufficient quantities of water flowing through community pipes -- blockages that were undone only by flushing the pipes with thousands of gallons of fresh water.

The 2003 Medicare Modernization Act
The legislation passed on November 22, 2003, right around dawn. The vote was held open an unprecedented three hours to ensure passage (by contrast, when Democratic leaders held a vote open for 15 extra minutes in 1987, then-congressman Dick Cheney called it "the most arrogant, heavy-handed abuse of power I've ever seen in the 10 years that I've been here."), a lawmaker was bribed, and the arm-twisting reached such epic proportions that staffers still find severed limbs beneath desks annd behind podiums. If you're interested in a full recounting of the night, the story is best told in Bob Cusack's definitive article, "The Night the Clocks, Scoreboard Stood Still."

For the lockstep Republican Conference of 2003 to prove so fussy and reluctant requires a truly monstrous bill, and the MMA did not disappoint. A normal drug benefit would, as Kate said, simply tack on prescription coverage to Medicare Part B, paying a portion of pharmaceutical costs as part of the outpatient benefits. Medicare could then use its massive size and market share to bargain down drug prices, ensuring affordability and long-term savings over the fractured, smaller private system. But the two losers in that equation -- private insurers and pharmaceutical companies -- were the two with access to Congress, and so the bill takes precisely the opposite approach, choosing to involve and enrich the affected industries rather than achieve savings, comprehensive coverage, or simplicity.

Bush and the War Red Herring
When President George Bush is feeling political heat generated by questions about illegal domestic spying, secret overseas prisons, or prisoner torture, he seeks refuge in the solemn proclamation, "we are at war." The war excuse, which is usually accompanied by the elaboration that these excesses are necessary to protect the American people, does not hold water. If President Bush was serious about his insistence that we are at war, his Administration would be on a war footing. But, we are not.
If we were serious about this war there would be a supreme commander in charge of tracking down Bin Laden and the remnants of the Al Qaeda network. Instead, the NSC job for coordinating the war on terror has been held by seven different people since the President assumed office. General Wayne Downing, who held the post from October 2001 until September 2002, ultimately resigned in frustration after being repeatedly sand bagged and undercut by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Rather than impose order and discipline, President Bush has allowed the coordination function to atrophy.
Today there is no one individual or agency in charge of finding Bin Laden or dismantling Al Qaeda.

Audit: U.S. lost track of $9 billion in Iraq funds
Nearly $9 billion of money spent on Iraqi reconstruction is unaccounted for because of inefficiencies and bad management, according to a watchdog report published Sunday.

'Bin-Laden tape'
"We do not mind offering you a truce that is fair and long-term ... so we can build Iraq and Afghanistan. …There is no shame in this solution because it prevents wasting of billions of dollars ... to merchants of war."

Retiree Accounting: More Than Meets The Eye
Despite plowing billions in borrowed funds into its pension plan, General Motors Corp.'s (GM ) worldwide retirement schemes still had a shortfall of $7.5 billion at the end of 2004. On top of that, the auto maker had a $57 billion gap in its retiree health-care plans. Investors must delve deep into GM's 196-page annual report, to footnote 16, to learn all this. It's certainly not clearly laid out on the balance sheet, where much of GM's retiree obligations are not accounted for at all.

Microsoft lagging in antitrust settlement effort, report says
The situation is delaying efforts to assess a portion of the settlement meant to put some of Microsoft's rivals on a more even footing with the software maker, according to the filing by lawyers for the Justice Department and states involved in the case.

White House Got Early Warning on Katrina, by Joby Warrick
In the 48 hours before Hurricane Katrina hit, the White House received detailed warnings about the storm's likely impact, including eerily prescient predictions of breached levees, massive flooding, and major losses of life and property, documents show.

Welcome to the Machine
How the GOP disciplined K Street and made Bush supreme.

In Martin Luther King Day address, Gore compares wiretapping of Americans to surveillance of King
As we begin this new year, the Executive Branch of our government has been caught eavesdropping on huge numbers of American citizens and has brazenly declared that it has the unilateral right to continue without regard to the established law enacted by Congress precisely to prevent such abuses. It is imperative that respect for the rule of law be restored in our country.

We never had enough troops on the ground to keep order in Iraq, and both George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld knew it.

Bush defends Iraq invasion, acknowledges faulty prewar intelligence
"It's true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong," Bush admitted - omitting that he and top aides had ignored warnings from midlevel intelligence agents that some of the evidence was suspect - then quickly added that he has no regrets about his decision to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. "We are in Iraq today because our goal has always been more than the removal of a brutal dictator. It is to leave a free and democratic Iraq in its place."

Bush Administration Refuses to Comply With FOIA Request on Pre-War Intelligence
House Judiciary Committee Democratic staff members report that the White House and the Departments of State and Defense have for six months refused to comply with a request filed under the Freedom of Information Act by 52 Congress Members – a request seeking information on the Bush Administration's reasons for going to war.