Saturday, September 17, 2005

Atta Papers Destroyed on Orders

From YahooNews:

WASHINGTON - A Pentagon employee was ordered to destroy documents that identified Mohamed Atta as a terrorist two years before the 2001 attacks, a congressman said Thursday.

The employee is prepared to testify next week before the Senate Judiciary Committee and was expected to name the person who ordered him to destroy the large volume of documents, said Rep. Curt Weldon (news, bio, voting record), R-Pa.

Weldon declined to name the employee, citing confidentiality matters. Weldon described the documents as "2.5 terabytes" — as much as one-fourth of all the printed materials in the Library of Congress, he added.

A Senate Judiciary Committee aide said the witnesses for Wednesday's hearing had not been finalized and could not confirm Weldon's comments.

A message left Thursday with a Pentagon spokesman, Army Maj. Paul Swiergosz, was not immediately returned.
Weldon has said that Atta, the mastermind of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and three other hijackers were identified in 1999 by a classified military intelligence unit known as "Able Danger," which determined they could be members of an al-Qaida cell.

On Wednesday, former members of the Sept. 11 commission dismissed the "Able Danger" assertions. One commissioner, ex-Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., said, "Bluntly, it just didn't happen and that's the conclusion of all 10 of us."

Weldon responded angrily to Gorton's assertions.

"It's absolutely unbelievable that a commission would say this program just didn't exist," Weldon said Thursday.
Pentagon officials said this month they had found three more people who recall an intelligence chart identifying Atta as a terrorist prior to the Sept. 11 attacks.

Two military officers, Army Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer and Navy Capt. Scott Phillpott, have come forward to support Weldon's claims.

Joe Allbaugh

From Salon:

The crony who prospered
Joe Allbaugh was George W. Bush's good ol' boy in Texas. He hired his good friend Mike Brown to run FEMA. Now Brownie's gone and Allbaugh is living large.
By Mark Benjamin

Sept. 16, 2005 George W. Bush relied most heavily on three trusted staffers in his bid for the White House in 2000: political strategist Karl Rove, communications czar Karen Hughes and national campaign manager Joe Allbaugh, who had been Bush's chief of staff in Texas, when Bush was governor. The three were dubbed the "iron triangle" of Bush's top staff. Allbaugh was "the enforcer," says Texan Robert Bryce, the author of "Cronies," about Bush and the oil industry. "And he looked the part: crew-cut, cowboy boots, and just slightly smaller than a side-by-side refrigerator."
When Bush moved into the Oval Office, Hughes took a job as counselor in a spacious White House corner office with a view of the Truman balcony. Rove moved in as senior advisor. Allbaugh, on the other hand, went down the road to C Street in southwest Washington to take over the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Everybody thought [Allbaugh] was going to be White House chief of staff," Robert Novak said on CNN at the time. "And your initial reaction is, boy, what did he have against Allbaugh? But as I talked to politicians, they say this was a brilliant maneuver because FEMA is very important, politically, to any president dealing with disasters."
The FEMA director has turned out to have political consequences for the president all right, but not the kind that Bush supporters could have ever envisioned. Critics say Allbaugh hastened the decline of FEMA -- even before he turned the agency over to his buddy from Oklahoma, Michael D. Brown, the hapless captain when Katrina struck, whose political career appears to have been shipwrecked for good.
As for the president, a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 54 percent of Americans disapprove of his response to Katrina. Allbaugh, meanwhile, has risen above the morass. He and his wife, Diane, now work as Washington lobbyists and consultants for such companies as Halliburton and Northrop Grumman, companies involved in homeland security and disaster relief that do business with the federal government.
When Allbaugh inherited FEMA in February 2001, the relief agency may have been in its best shape since its inception in 1979. It had been in the hands of James Lee Witt for the previous seven years. Witt was an experienced disaster manager who had been the director of the Arkansas Office of Emergency Services for four years before going to FEMA. Witt is credited with implementing sweeping reforms to speed disaster relief, and he was the first FEMA director to get Cabinet-level status -- and crucial access -- to the president. "Access to the president, I think, is critical in an agency like this," Witt told reporters over lunch just as he was leaving FEMA.
Bush, however, did not hand the FEMA reins to Allbaugh because of any long experience in emergency services. "Look at Joe Allbaugh's qualifications," says Eric Holdeman, director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management, who last month penned an editorial in the Washington Post,
"Destroying FEMA." "He was campaign manager for Bush. He was a political strategist. He saw FEMA as a federal entitlement program for people. He had no interest in the mission and functions of the emergency management agency."
However, at FEMA, Allbaugh led federal rescue efforts at Ground Zero with apparently good results, though New York City officials, notably Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, got most of the attention. Allbaugh could also move fast. In February 2001, the Nisqually earthquake in Washington state occurred at 11 a.m. By 11 p.m., Allbaugh was in the Puget Sound area, leading a $157 million response.
Following the terrorist attacks on 9/11, Allbaugh backed plans to fold FEMA into the Department of Homeland Security. "I fully support FEMA's transfer into the new department and commit myself to ensuring its success," Allbaugh told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in September 2002. "This is the right action, at the right time, for the good of the country."
In March 2003, FEMA was folded into DHS. FEMA critic Holdeman explains that the move stripped the FEMA director of Cabinet-level status, buried the agency in red tape, and caused key talent to flee. DHS employees now rate it as one of the worst places to work in the federal government, according to a nonprofit agency's
report, "Best Places to Work in the Federal Government," released this week. "FEMA first became ill with the appointment of Joe Allbaugh," Holdeman says. Not only is it on the back burner of DHS priorities, he says, "it is not even on the stove."
After FEMA's move to DHS, Allbaugh promptly left the agency. "I have been a longtime advocate for the Department of Homeland Security, and now that it is a reality and the president has a great team in place, I feel I can move on to my next challenge," he said in a statement. Of course, before he drove off, he appointed the now infamous Brown as team leader, whom he had brought to FEMA in 2001 as general counsel. Appearing before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee in June 2002, Brown said: "My friend, Joe Allbaugh, whom I have known for some 25 years, has asked me to serve with him. Our friendship goes back many years."
Allbaugh graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1975, the same year Brown moved from Southeastern Oklahoma State University to the University of Central Oklahoma. (It has been incorrectly reported that Allbaugh and Brown were college roommates. They did not attend the same college and were never college roommates.) Both were active in Oklahoma municipal or state government. Allbaugh was once the Oklahoma deputy secretary of transportation, and Brown was the staff director of the Oklahoma Senate Finance Committee from 1980 to 1982.
Patti Giglio, Allbaugh's spokeswoman, says Allbaugh is unavailable for interviews. She says that she is not sure exactly how Allbaugh and Brown met in Oklahoma, but that Allbaugh is "absolutely" responsible for first bringing Brown to FEMA. "He hired him because he was a solid attorney with a strong ethics background," she says.
Like Allbaugh himself, Brown was no veteran of emergency services. He worked as general counsel for Dillingham Insurance in Enid, Okla., from 1988 to 1991, and evaluated judges for the International Arabian Horse Association for the 10 years ending in 2001.
Brown's sole piece of emergency experience before FEMA came in the 1970s, working for the city of Edmond, Okla. In the spring of 2002, Brown delivered written biographical materials to a Senate panel considering his nomination to FEMA as a political appointee. In those papers, Brown said he worked as "Assistant City Manger, Police, Fire & Emergency Response," in Edmond from 1975 to 1978. He signed an affidavit stating that his biographical material and written answers to that Senate panel were "current, accurate and complete."
However, Edmond city spokeswoman Claudia Deakins says city records list Brown as an "assistant to the city manager" -- as opposed to "assistant city manager" -- from August 1977 through September 1980. Randel Shadid was on the Edmond City Council from 1979 to 1991 and was mayor from 1991 through 1995. He says he remembers Brown and described the Edmond job as relatively low level. "My best I can recall he was an assistant to the city manager, which basically means he did certain tasks for the city manager," he says. "He would not have been in charge of the police and fire departments. We had a fire chief and a police chief."
Shadid says Brown may have assisted the city in preparing a response plan for a tornado or a freight train spill. "He was a nice guy, hard worker and pretty bright," he says. "But the scope of doing anything in the city of Edmond is nowhere near the scope of trying to handle what's going on in the gulf."
Today, with the disgraced Brown having quit FEMA, and President Bush's post-Katrina poll numbers sinking, Allbaugh continues to prosper. His stint at FEMA has proven to be lucrative for him and his wife Diane, who are lobbyists and consultants for the Allbaugh Co.
A review by Salon of lobbying registration records shows that seven months after Allbaugh left what was to become the Department of Homeland Security, Diane Allbaugh registered as a lobbyist with three companies to work on homeland security or disaster relief issues. Prior to that, she focused almost exclusively on energy companies and electric utility clients.
Records also show that Diane Allbaugh contacted DHS for undisclosed reasons on behalf of two of those clients. She did less than $10,000 of work for each company and all three contracts were terminated in the summer of 2004.
Washington is full of folks in power with spouses who are lobbyists. Allbaugh's spokeswoman, Giglio, points out that Diane has her own substantial credentials as an attorney and a lobbyist. "Her work is much broader than 'electric utility lobbyist,' as you have described it," Giglio says in an e-mail. "She is an experienced government affairs consultant across many industry sectors."
Federal ethics law bars senior employees from contacting their former employers on business matters for a period of one year. But not necessarily their spouses. Scott Amey, general counsel at the Project on Government Oversight, says it is unclear if Diane violated any of a complex web of ethics laws, but there are provisions intended to prevent the use of spouses to skirt restrictions.
It is not the first time Diane's lobbying could be perceived as cashing in on her husband's connections. Then-governor Bush in 1996 learned from a report in the Dallas Morning News that Diane had been hired by Texas utility companies who had business before the state. Diane and Joe Allbaugh had moved to Texas from Oklahoma because Joe had become Bush's executive assistant. The paper said Diane could get $250,000 from the companies, even though she "had no previous experience with Texas legislators." Diane later dropped the clients to avoid the "perception of a conflict," she wrote Bush's general counsel.
This year, the Allbaugh Co. registered to lobby for Halliburton Co. subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root, Northrop Grumman Corp., and Shaw Group, according to lobbying registration forms. In all three cases, the Allbaughs said they would "educate Congress" on either homeland security or disaster relief issues on the companies' behalf.
The Washington Post reported last week that Allbaugh was in Baton Rouge, La., helping his clients get business in the wake of Katrina. Allbaugh told the Post that he guides his clients toward "entities" that might need their services but, he said, "I don't do government contracts."
Press reports show that Kellogg Brown & Root received a $30 million contract to rebuild Navy bases in Louisiana and Mississippi, and Shaw got a $100 million FEMA contract for housing construction and management. Giglio says Allbaugh had nothing to do with those contracts at all. "He is not in the government contracting business," she says. "Everybody is trying to connect the dots. They just don't connect. He did not secure these contracts for either of these companies."
Watchdog Amey says Allbaugh clearly got the job at FEMA because he was a political operative and he appears to be cashing in on his FEMA post now. "Bush may have stacked the [FEMA] administration with people who may not have been the most qualified, and who then steer business their way afterward. Cronyism gets them into the White House. The revolving door gets them business."

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Where was Cheney?

A lot of people, blogs, and websites have asked "where was Dick Cheney" during the first week of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Here might be an answer...

From Hattiesburg American:

Power crews divertedRestoring pipeline came firstBy Nikki Davis Maute Shortly after Hurricane Katrina roared through South Mississippi knocking out electricity and communication systems, the White House ordered power restored to a pipeline that sends fuel to the Northeast.

That order - to restart two power substations in Collins that serve Colonial Pipeline Co. - delayed efforts by at least 24 hours to restore power to two rural hospitals and a number of water systems in the Pine Belt.

At the time, gasoline was in short supply across the country because of Katrina. Prices increased dramatically and lines formed at pumps across the South.

"I considered it a presidential directive to get those pipelines operating," said Jim Compton, general manager of the South Mississippi Electric Power Association - which distributes power that rural electric cooperatives sell to consumers and businesses.

"I reluctantly agreed to pull half our transmission line crews off other projects and made getting the transmission lines to the Collins substations a priority," Compton said. "Our people were told to work until it was done.
"They did it in 16 hours, and I consider the effort unprecedented."

Katrina slammed into South Mississippi and Southeast Louisiana on Aug. 29, causing widespread devastation and plunging most of the area - including regional medical centers and rural hospitals - into darkness.

The storm also knocked out two power substations in Collins, just north of Hattiesburg. The substations were crucial to Atlanta-based Colonial Pipeline, which moves gasoline and diesel fuel from Texas, through Louisiana and Mississippi and up to the Northeast.

"We were led to believe a national emergency was created when the pipelines were shut down," Compton said.

White House call
Dan Jordan, manager of Southern Pines Electric Power Association, said Vice President Dick Cheney's office called and left voice mails twice shortly after the storm struck, saying the Collins substations needed power restored immediately.

Jordan dated the first call the night of Aug. 30 and the second call the morning of Aug. 31. Southern Pines supplies electricity to the substation that powers the Colonial pipeline.

Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Mike Callahan said the U.S. Department of Energy called him on Aug. 31. Callahan said department officials said opening the fuel line was a national priority.

Cheney's office referred calls about the pipeline to the Department of Homeland Security.

Calls there were referred to Kirk Whitworth, who would not take a telephone message and required questions in the form of an e-mail.

Susan Castiglione, senior manager of corporate and public affairs with Colonial Pipeline, did not return phone calls.
Compton said workers who were trying to restore substations that power two rural hospitals - Stone County Hospital in Wiggins and George County Hospital in Lucedale - worked instead on the Colonial Pipeline project.

The move caused power to be restored at least 24 hours later than planned.

Mindy Osborn, emergency room coordinator at Stone County Hospital, said the power was not restored until six days after the storm on Sept. 4. She didn't have the number of patients who were hospitalized during the week after the storm.

"Oh, yes, 24 hours earlier would have been a help," Osborn said.

Compton said workers who were trying to restore power to some rural water systems also were taken off their jobs and placed on the Colonial Pipeline project. Compton did not name specific water systems affected.

Callahan's visit
Callahan is one of three elected public service commissioners who oversee most public utilities in the state. Commissioners, however, have no authority over rural electric power cooperatives.

Nevertheless, Callahan said he drove to Compton's office on U.S. 49 North in Hattiesburg to tell him about the call from the Department of Energy. Callahan said he would support whatever decision Compton made.

Callahan said energy officials told him gasoline and diesel fuel needed to flow through the pipeline to avert a national crisis from the inability to meet fuel needs in the Northeast.

Callahan said the process of getting the pipelines flowing would be difficult and that there was a chance the voltage required to do so would knock out the system - including power to Wesley Medical Center in Hattiesburg.
With Forrest General Hospital operating on generators, Wesley was the only hospital operating with full electric power in the Pine Belt in the days following Katrina.

"Our concern was that if Wesley went down, it would be a national crisis for Mississippi," Callahan said. "We knew it would take three to four days to get Forrest General Hospital's power restored and we did not want to lose Wesley."
Compton, though, followed the White House's directive.

Nathan Brown, manager of power supply for the electric association, was responsible for overseeing the delicate operation of starting the 5,000-horsepower pumps at the pipeline.

Engineers with Southern Co., the parent company of Mississippi Power Co., did a dual analysis of what it would take to restore power and Brown worked with Southern Co. engineers on the best and quickest way to restore power.
Work began at 10 a.m. Sept. 1 and power was restored at 2 a.m. Sept. 2 - a 16-hour job.

Night work
A good bit of the work took place at night.

Line foreman Matt Ready was in charge of one of the teams that worked to power the substations and the pipeline. Ready's shift started at 6 a.m. Sept. 1; he received word about the job four hours later and saw it to completion.
"We were told to stay with it until we got power restored," Ready said. "We had real safety issues because there were fires in the trees on the lines and broken power poles."

Ready described working on the lines in the dark like attempting to clear fallen trees out of a yard with a flashlight and a chain saw.

"Everything was dangerous," he said.

Ready said the crew members did not learn they were restoring power to pipelines until after the job was done.
How did they feel about that?

"Is this on the record?" Ready asked. "Well, then, we are all glad we were able to help out."

Compton said he was happy to support the national effort. But he said it was a difficult decision to make because of the potential impact in the region had the plan not worked and the area's power restoration was set back days.
"It was my decision to balance what was most important to people in South Mississippi with this all-of-a-sudden national crisis of not enough gas or diesel fuel," Compton said.

"In the future, the federal government needs to give us guidelines if this is such a national emergency so that I can work that in my plans."

Canadian Mounties reached St. Bernard before troops did

From SF Gate (edited):

The parish that feds overlooked Canadian Mounties reached St. Bernard before troops did
Cecilia M. Vega, Chronicle Staff Writer

St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana -- For five days, the world forgot about St. Bernard Parish.

Just across the Mississippi River from New Orleans and only a 15-minute drive from Bourbon Street, the parish received no U.S. government assistance in the first days after Hurricane Katrina struck.

The 6,000 residents stranded in its mix of marshland, oil refineries, blighted houses and sprawling new subdivisions were left to fend for themselves, including 34 people who died in a nursing home here.

"I guess nobody knew we were here," said St. Bernard Parish Councilwoman Judy Hoffmeister, who on Wednesday recalled being trapped on the roof of a building, awaiting rescue, on the night of the storm. "Why wouldn't somebody say, 'Where's St. Bernard.' "

At first, the only rescuers on hand were the residents and officials of St. Bernard Parish. Two days after Katrina hit, a team of Canadian Mounties from Vancouver showed up to help, and a sprinkling of officials from neighboring parishes paid visits, but it would be days before there was any sign of assistance from the United States government.
"I'm saying, where's the Department of Defense?" said parish Sheriff Jack Stephens. "The Canadians can show up, but the Department of Defense can't get to St. Bernard Parish?"

The military eventually made food drops from helicopters, and locals insisted soldiers leave with a load of evacuees every time they landed.

But 17 days after the storm, the resentment still runs deep.

"It was the worst response to the worst catastrophe ever," said Stephens, sitting in his department's new command post, a floating barge on the Mississippi that deputies commandeered because they had nowhere else to go. "While all of this s -- is going on here, the Louisiana National Guard is right on the other side of the parish border, and they weren't here because they were evacuated."

Around the New Orleans area, the finger-pointing began immediately after Katrina hit. The city's Mayor Ray Nagin blasted federal officials for being slow to respond and questioned whether the delay was because so many of the stranded hurricane victims were black. The president of another neighboring parish cried on national TV and pleaded for help. And on Wednesday, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco continued the criticism against the Federal Emergency Management Agency, saying it was taking too long to collect the dead.

In St. Bernard, officials hesitate to name names, but their message was clear.

"They were worried about terrorists more than they were about disasters," parish President Henry Rodriguez Jr. said Wednesday.

Dome City Radio Goes Live in Houston

From Village Voice:

Activists sidestep FEMA bureaucracy to broadcast relief info to Katrina survivors
by Sarah FergusonSeptember 13th, 2005 11:04 PM

After a week of wading through FEMA red tape, media activists finally fired up a low-power radio station to serve Hurricane Katrina evacuees still living in the Houston Astrodome and adjacent Reliant convention center.
KAMP (Katrina Aftermath Media Project) 95.3 FM, Dome City Radio went live at noon today, broadcasting from a donated Airstream trailer in the Astrodome’s parking lot.
The station had been stalled after local FEMA officials refused to allow access to the Astrodome, citing “security concerns.”

But on Monday, the FCC granted KAMP a new temporary license for a 6-watt transmitter located right outside the Dome.

“It made our job a lot more complicated because we had to figure out a way to get the signal though walls of concrete and steel without interfering with other radio stations in the area,” says Renee Feltz, news director of KPFT, the local Pacifica station, which partnered with Houston Indymedia and the Prometheus Radio Project to put the station on air and distribute donated radios.

Notwithstanding the objection of officials, the purpose of KAMP FM was to make life easier for local officials scrambling to coordinate relief efforts. In addition to broadcasting FEMA and Red Cross service announcements, KAMP is now airing information like contact numbers for employers seeking to get paychecks to displaced staffers and relaying offers for free meal and movie ticket from Texas companies anxious to help out.

KAMP producers are also doing interviews with people who’ve lost family members and networking the tapes with ones by independent media producers in other cities, in hopes of reuniting far-flung people.
“These are things that regular radio stations can only air sporadically, if at all,” notes Feltz.

But with the population at the Astrodome complex now down to 3,760 people, from about 25,000 last week, and Houston’s mayor looking to clear the shelters by September 18, Feltz concedes the station could have done a lot more if it had been allowed to open sooner.

She points to the chaos last Thursday, when Hurricane survivors scuffled with police and the National Guard was sent in to close off the Astrodome complex after more than 4,000 people showed up to get $2,000 FEMA debit cards, which it turns out, were intended only for evacuees staying in the Astrodome complex. “We could have told people to not bother standing in line in the hot sun for hours and hours. There were a lot of rumors about a riot inside the Astrodome and information about eligibility requirements that could have been communicated in real time,” Feltz says.

Yet activists say the need is still there. “When I was there handing out radios, every person I walked up to said I need info about how to get an ID card, how to apply for benefits or a FEMA debit card,” says Indymedia organizer Tish Stringer. “There’s definitely still a real sense of desperation about the lack of information—and they’re angry about it.”

Even officials at the FCC were frustrated by the bureaucratic logjam after the agency went out of its way to expedite temporary emergency licenses for the station over Labor Day weekend. In an e-mail to one of the KAMP volunteers, FCC audio division chief Peter Doyle wrote: “Good luck! Maybe you should give a radio to Mr. Royal so he can catch a few broadcasts.” RW Royall, Jr. is the incident commander of FEMA’s Joint Information Center in Houston who nixed the Dome station last week.

Survivor rescued 16 days after the hurricane

From Orange County Register:

Survivor rescued 16 days after the hurricane
By KEITH SHARON The Orange County Register

NEW ORLEANS – This was just another body in the growing number of bodies that they encounter every day.
A human foot arching at an odd angle was visible through the front window of a locked and dark home.
The National Guard team of searchers was about to call in a "DB," or dead body, at 1927 Lopez St. in the Broadmoor district when Lt. Frederick Fell decided to investigate.

In the past few days, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has ordered searchers not to break into homes. They are supposed to look in through a window and knock on the door. If no one cries out for help, they are supposed to move on. If they see a body, they are supposed to log the address and move on.

The morticians will remove the deceased later.

But Fell broke the rules and ordered his men to bash open the door, launching a series of events that would save a man's life and revitalize California Task Force 5 from Orange County. In the past two days, the 80-member task force had identified seven dead bodies in the same neighborhood, and they had rescued no one.

But Tuesday, 16 days after Hurricane Katrina smacked this aging community in the face, an unconscious and emaciated man identified as Edgar Hollingsworth, 74, was rescued. The man is expected to survive.

"I'm on cloud nine," said Task Force leader Marc Hawkins. "It was awesome to be a part of that."

Richard Ventura, a Task Force 5 logistics specialist who works as a paramedic for the Orange County Fire Authority, was on the scene trying to get an IV into Hollingsworth.

"I feel like my battery got recharged," Ventura said. "That's why we're here."

Medics from California Task Force 5, which had been searching in the same neighborhood, were eventually able to get intravenous fluids through a vein under the man's clavicle in an intricate curbside medical procedure that may have saved the man's life.

The man had been lying on the couch in his locked and sweltering home. Fell and Sgt. Jeremy Ridgeway, who also had been searching the neighborhood for survivors, peered through the front window at 1927 Lopez St. and saw Hollingsworth's foot extending over the edge of his couch.

When they crashed through the door, Hollingsworth didn't move. But he was breathing.

National Guard medics draped an IV bag over his ceiling fan, but his veins were too weak to support the needle. They pulled him out of the house and laid him on the sidewalk. He looked as if he weighed less than 80 pounds.

Task Force 5 sent a team that included Dr. Peter Czuleger, an emergency-room doctor at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, to the scene. Czuleger didn't have the proper equipment, so he improvised, using a short needle to pierce the vein under Hollingsworth's clavicle.

"It's like trying to climb into a third-story window with a stepladder," Czuleger said.

Once the IV was in place, medics were able to pump 2 liters of saline solution into the man.

The hospital attendants hadn't expected to see a survivor 16 days after the storm.

"They were surprised at the hospital that anyone in his condition would still be alive," Czuleger said. "In 24 hours, he would have been dead.

"I think the young Army guy that found him saved his life."

Afterward, the Guardsmen, like the members of Task Force 5, were excited to have finally saved someone.
"Everyone's adrenaline was pumping, but they were professional about it," said National Guard officer-in- charge Bruce Gaffney said. "We're just happy we got this guy out. He needed to be saved yesterday."

Hollingsworth had been lying naked on his blue-green couch. It was unclear if he had eaten or drunk anything for several days. He was not surrounded by food or water containers. His house was still in disarray from the storm. A chair had landed on top of the kitchen table. Medical vials with the name Lillian Hollingsworth were lying on an easy chair on the other side of the room.

A pit-bull puppy was also pulled from the house. It appeared to be healthy and was transported to the hospital along with Edgar Hollingsworth.

The rescue pumped up the spirits of Task Force 5, which has been mostly marking the locations of bodies for the last week. Earlier, they had been frustrated when FEMA delayed their deployment for four days, housing them in the Hyatt Regency in Dallas.

They were frustrated further when they were given the FEMA order that they weren't allowed to force their way into houses to search them. They hope Hollingsworth's rescue will coax FEMA to rethink its directive.
On Tuesday, they were congratulating each other.

They celebrated that night by eating pizza in their base camp, ordered from a recently re-opened Domino's.
"You can feel the electricity around here," Ventura said.

From DailyKos:

While Mr Hollingsworth lay on a couch in his home -- apparently alone, forgotten, without food or water, sinking into unconsciousness -- Mr Bush was doing the following :

Licking cake frosting off his fingers
Strumming a guitar
Giving a propaganda speech in San Diego comparing Iraq to WWII and himself to FDR
Flying 2,000 feet overhead
Dragging his feet - sitting on his LAZY ASS - for FIVE LONG DAYS, while he and his gov't were in a state of PARALYSIS
Telling that horse's ass, 'Brownie you're doing a heck of a job'
Engaging in a pissing match with the Governor of Louisiana
Playing the Blame Game to try to pin his own inaction and negligence on everyone else
Finally - Taking full responsibility for the federal government failure to save people like Mr Hollingsworth ( Will Mr Bush receive consequences for his deadly inaction ? WILL HE ? )

Conyers Statement on Valerie Plame Resolution

From BuzzFlash:

News from Congressman
John Conyers, Jr., Michigan, 14th District; Ranking Member, U.S. House Judiciary Committee; Dean, Congressional Black Caucus:

H. Res. 420, Resolution of Inquiry to Attorney General Regarding CIA Leak

We are here because the Bush administration refuses to police itself in the midst of criminal and ethical misconduct. We are here because this Congress continues to turn a blind eye to the wrongdoing of this administration. In July 2003, over two years ago, a Bush administration official committed one of the most serious breaches of national security in recent history by disclosing to the press the identity of an undercover Central Intelligence Agency operative. Even worse, it likely was done for political reasons, to retaliate against the operative's husband for successfully challenging the President's claim that Iraq had sought nuclear material in Africa.

The purpose of this resolution is to get to the bottom of what happened and why the Justice Department slow-walked the investigation at the beginning. We know that, despite urgent pleas from the CIA for a criminal investigation into the leaker, the Justice Department and White House dragged their feet. The Department waited three days before notifying the White House of the breach and subsequent investigation. The White House, then waited eleven hours before telling staff to preserve evidence.

Despite these serious irregularities, early last year, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle rejected this same measure. They apparently did not believe that the Judiciary Committee, whose job it is to police the Justice Department, should look into a national security breach and delayed investigation.

There have been significant developments in the case since that time that I believe should lead them to support it this time. First, for the past two years, the White House has denied that any of its top officials, namely Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove, vice presidential Chief of Staff I. Lewis Libby, or National Security Council official Elliot Abrams, were involved in any way in the leak of Mrs. Wilson's covert identity. We now know that both Karl Rove and Lewis Libby spoke to reporters about Mrs. Wilson's identity.

Second, when the Justice Department first started investigating, the President made it clear that he would fire anyone involved in the leak. But when it became clear that his top political advisor, Mr. Rove, was implicated, he changed his ethical standards. This past July, the President said he would fire someone only if that person "committed a crime," raising the bar for firing someone like Mr. Rove.

Further, we now know that then-Attorney General John Ashcroft insisted on being briefed on Department interviews of Mr. Rove that were conducted in connection with the leak. He did so despite his long-standing ties to Mr. Rove; Mr. Ashcroft had paid Mr. Rove almost $750,000 for work on several campaigns. That Mr. Ashcroft eventually recused himself demonstrates there were conflicts of interest with his continued involvement.

It is time for Congress to exercise its duty to oversee the Executive Branch. Some will claim that we should not look into a matter that is being investigated by the Justice Department. That is not and has never been our standard. This year alone, Congress has held hearings on allegations of criminal misconduct in the United Nation's Oil-for-Food Program; the same misconduct being reviewed by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Congress also has been looking into the Jack Abramoff scandal at the same time as the Justice Department.

Let us not forget the endless hearings in this Committee and others on alleged Clinton-Gore campaign finance violations, the Whitewater claims, and Clinton White House Travel Office firings. These were matters all under Justice Department review at the time of our hearings.

Finally, I must remind my colleagues of the numerous House and Senate hearings on Watergate that were simultaneous with the Justice Department's own investigation.
I urge my colleagues vote "Yes" on this resolution.

Bush's Bathroom Note

"In what seems destined to become one of the most joked about photos of the month, a well-known Reuters photographer today seems to have captured President George W. Bush scribbling a note to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a session at the United Nations. On the note is a message revolving around the need to take a 'bathroom break.'"

All I have to say is "who cares?" So the guy has to go to the bathroom... I think that's the most reasonable thing about him I've heard.

World poll

From BBC:

States 'not run by people's will'

Sixty-five percent of citizens across the world do not think their country is governed by the will of the people, a poll commissioned by the BBC suggests.

The Gallup International Voice of the People 2005 poll questioned more than 50,000 people in 68 states for the BBC World Service survey about power.

Only in Scandinavia and South Africa do the majority believe that they are ruled according to their wishes.
But 47% thought elections in their countries were free and fair.

The figure is 55% for the US and Canada and up to 82% in EU countries - but just 24% in West Africa.
The survey also found that only 13% of people trusted politicians and only 16% thought they should be given more power.

About a third of those asked thought more power should go to writers and academics.
A quarter felt more should go to religious leaders - who are also seen as the most trusted group.
A fifth of those asked thought military, business leaders and journalists should be given more power.

Other key findings include:
Family exerts the greatest single influence on people
Sixty-one percent said a partner or family member has most influenced decisions about their life in the past year.
In Mexico, the figure is 88%. The lowest rating for family influence comes from North America (35%), where people report a wider range of influences, especially religious leaders (12%).

There is a wide gap between the developed and developing world on the degree to which people feel they can control their lives.
Least control is felt in Africa, the Asia-Pacific region and the former Soviet bloc.
The highest scores are in Latin America (65%), followed by Canada and the US (62%) and Europe (53%).

National identity is still strong
Nationality was used by a third of those surveyed to 'define' themselves. About a fifth chose religion.
The sense of nationality is strongest in Latin America (54%).
Religion gained the highest scores in Africa (56%), followed by the US and Canada (32%).

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Body Count & the Media

As many in the nation were outraged at the government’s slow reaction to help New Orleans and surrounding areas immediately after Hurricane Katrina, many news outlets warned of further outrage and horror when the final casualty count comes in. As the response is ongoing, how many bodies will be recovered is unknown.

Originally, the estimates given were considered “high.” ``We need to prepare the country for what's coming,'' Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said on ``Fox News Sunday.'' ``We are going to uncover people who died, maybe hiding in houses, got caught by the flood. ... It is going to be about as ugly of a scene as I think you can imagine.'' ``I think it's evident it's in the thousands,'' Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt said Sunday on CNN, echoing predictions by city and state officials last week about the death toll. Craig Vanderwagen, rear admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service, said one morgue alone, at a St. Gabriel prison, expected 1,000 to 2,000 bodies.

Prior to August's hurricane, a 400 page report on a simulated Hurricane in the New Orleans area that planned for a weaker and slower-moving storm than Katrina, said tens of thousands of deaths and injuries would overwhelm local officials.

Officials have set aside 25,000 body bags as federal workers and specialists from across the country descend on the Gulf Coast to help retrieve the bodies and counsel grieving families.

But as the federal response took over, it was announced that the expected death toll was now much lower. “Some of the catastrophic deaths some people have predicted may not have occurred," said Col. Terry Ebbert, the city’s director of homeland security. "The numbers, so far, are relatively minor as compared with the dire predictions of 10,000."

But at the same time as federal officials lowered the estimate, they also barred reporters from the recovery process.

On Saturday September 10, 2005, after being challenged in court by CNN, the Bush administration agreed not to prevent the news media from following the effort to recover the bodies of Hurricane Katrina victims.

But on Monday, in the Bywater district, that assurance wasn't being followed. The 82nd Airborne soldier told reporters the Army had a policy that requires media to be 300 meters -- more than three football fields in length -- away from the scene of body recoveries in New Orleans. If reporters wrote stories or took pictures of body recoveries, they would be reported and face consequences, he said, including a loss of access for up-close coverage of certain military operations.

Originally, the high estimates were explained as necessary to prepare the nation for the high number of victims. Now it appears, away from media scrutiny, the federal response team wants to prepare the nation for lower numbers.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Hostages to fear

From Salon:

The bullies using Sept. 11 to threaten America's religious and moral freedom must be opposed with a stubbornness to match their own.

Editor's note: This article is excerpted from Bill Moyer's address at the Union Theological Seminary in New York on Sept. 7.
By Bill Moyers
Sept. 11, 2005

At the Central Baptist Church in Marshall, Texas, where I was baptized in the faith, we believed in a free church in a free state. I still do. My spiritual forebears did not take kindly to living under theocrats who embraced religious liberty for themselves but denied it to others. "Forced worship stinks in God's nostrils," thundered dissenter Roger Williams as he was banished from Massachusetts for denying Puritan authority over his conscience. Baptists there were a "pitiful negligible minority," but they were agitators for freedom and therefore denounced as "incendiaries of the commonwealth" for holding to their belief in that great democracy of faith -- the priesthood of all believers. For refusing to pay tribute to the state religion they were fined flogged, and exiled.

In 1651 Baptist Obadiah Holmes was given 30 stripes with a three-corded whip after he violated the law and took forbidden Communion with another Baptist in Lynn, Mass. His friends offered to pay his fine for his release but he refused. They offered him strong drink to anesthetize the pain of the flogging. Again he refused. It is the love of liberty, he said, "that must free the soul."

Such revolutionary ideas made the new nation with its Constitution and Bill of Rights "a haven for the cause of conscience." No longer could magistrates order citizens to support churches they did not attend and recite creeds that they did not believe. No longer would "the loathsome combination of church and state" -- as Thomas Jefferson described it -- be the settled order. Unlike the Old World that had been racked with religious wars and persecution, the government of America would take no sides in the religious free-for-all that liberty would make possible and politics would make inevitable.

The First Amendment neither inculcates religion nor inoculates against it. Americans could be loyal to the Constitution without being hostile to God, or they could pay no heed to God without fear of being mugged by an official God Squad.

It has been a remarkable arrangement that has guaranteed "soul freedom." It is at risk now, and the fourth annual observance of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 is an appropriate time to think about it. Four years ago this week, the poet's prophetic metaphor became real again and "the great dark birds of history" plunged into our lives. They came in the name of God. They came bent on murder and martyrdom. It was as if they rode to earth on the fierce breath of Allah himself, for the sacred scriptures that had nurtured these murderous young men are steeped in images of a violent and vengeful God who wills life for the faithful and horrific torment for unbelievers.

Yes, the Koran speaks of mercy and compassion and calls for ethical living. But such passages are no match for the ferocity of instruction found there for waging war for God's sake. Scholar Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer carefully traces this trail of holy violence in his important book, "Is Religion Killing Us?" He highlights many of the verses in the Koran that the Islamic terrorists could have had in their hearts and on their lips four years ago as they moved toward their gruesome rendezvous. As you read some of below, close your eyes and recall the scenes of that September morning that began in the bright sun under a blue sky:
"Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah, and those who reject faith fight in the cause of evil." (4:76) "So we sent against them a furious wind through days of disaster, that we might give them a taste of a penalty of humiliation in this life; but the penalty of the hereafter will be more humiliating still: And they will find No help." (41:16) "Then watch thou for the day that the sky will bring forth a kind of smoke (or mist) plainly visible, enveloping the people: This will be a penalty grievous." (44:10-11) "Did the people of the towns feel secure against the coming Of our wrath by night while they were asleep? Or else did they feel secure against its coming in broad daylight while they played about (carefree)? Did they then feel secure against the plan of Allah? But no one can feel secure from the plan of Allah, except those (doomed) to ruin." (7:97-99)

So the holy warriors came -- an airborne death cult, their sights on God's enemies: regular folks, starting the day's routine. One minute they're pulling off their jackets, shaking Sweet'N Low into their coffee, adjusting the height of their chair or a picture of a child or sweetheart or spouse in a frame on their desk, booting up their computer -- and in the next, they are engulfed by a horrendous cataclysm. God's will. Poof!
But it is never only the number of dead by which terrorists measure their work. It is also the number of living -- the survivors -- taken hostage to fear. Their mission was to invade our psyche, get inside our heads -- deprive us of trust, faith and peace of mind; keep us from ever again believing in a safe, just and peaceful world, and from working to bring that world to pass. Writer Terry Tempest Williams has said "the human heart is the first home of democracy." Fill that heart with fear and people will give up the risks of democracy for the assurances of security; fill that heart with fear and you can shake the house to its foundations.

In the days leading up to 9/11 our daughter and husband adopted their first baby. On the morning of Sept. 11 our son-in-law passed through the shadow of the World Trade Center toward his office a few blocks up the street. He arrived as the horrors erupted. He saw the flames, the falling bodies, the devastation. His building was evacuated, and for long awful moments he couldn't reach his wife, our daughter, to say he was OK. Even after they connected it wasn't until the next morning that he was able to make it home. Throughout that fearful night our daughter was alone with their new baby. Later she told us that for weeks thereafter she would lie awake at night, wondering where and when it might happen again, going to the computer at 3 in the morning to check out what she could about bioterrorism, germ warfare, anthrax and the vulnerability of children. The terrorists had violated a mother's deepest space.

Who was not vulnerable? That morning my wife, Judith, and I made it to our office at Channel Thirteen on West 33rd Street just after the second plane struck. Our building was evacuated, although the two of us remained with other colleagues to do what we could to keep the station on the air. The next day it was evacuated again because of a bomb scare at the Empire State Building nearby. We had just ended a live broadcast for PBS when security officers swept through and ordered everyone out. This time we left. As we were making our way down the stairs I took Judith's arm and was struck by the thought: Is this the last time I'll touch her? Could what we had begun together a half-century ago end here on this dim, bare staircase? I forced the thought from my mind, willed it away, but in the early hours of morning, as I sat at the window of our apartment looking out at the sky, the sinister intruder crept back.

Terrorists plant time bombs in our heads, hoping to turn each and every imagination into a private hell governed by our fear of them. They win only if we let them, only if we become like them: vengeful, imperious, intolerant, paranoid. Having lost faith in all else, zealots have nothing left but a holy cause to please a warrior God. They win if we become holy warriors, too; if we kill the innocent as they do; strike first at those who had not struck us; allow our leaders to use the fear of terrorism to make us afraid of the truth; cease to think and reason together, allowing others to tell what's in God's mind. Yes, we are vulnerable to terrorists, but only a shaken faith in ourselves can do us in.
So over the past four years I have kept reminding myself of not only the horror but the humanity that was revealed that day four years ago, when through the smoke and fire we glimpsed the heroism, compassion and sacrifice of people who did the best of things in the worst of times. I keep telling myself that this beauty in us is real, that it makes life worthwhile and democracy work and that no terrorist can take it from us. But I am not so sure. As a Christian realist I honor my inner skeptic. And as a journalist I always know the other side of the story. …
The other side of the story: Muslims have no monopoly on holy violence. As Nelson-Pallmayer points out, God's violence in the sacred texts of both [the Islamic and the Christian] faiths reflects a deep and troubling pathology "so pervasive, vindictive, and destructive" that it contradicts and subverts the collective weight of other passages that exhort ethical behavior or testify to a loving God.

For days now we have watched those heartbreaking scenes on the Gulf Coast: the steaming, stinking, sweltering wreckage of cities and suburbs; the fleeing refugees; the floating corpses, hungry babies and old people huddled together in death; the dogs gnawing at their feet; stranded children standing in water reeking of feces and garbage; families scattered; a mother holding her small child and an empty water jug, pleading for someone to fill it; a wife pushing the body of her dead husband on a wooden plank down a flooded street; desperate people struggling desperately to survive.

Now transport those current scenes from our newspapers and television back to the first book of the Bible -- the Book of Genesis. They bring to life what we rarely imagine so graphically when we read of the Great Flood that devastated the known world. If you read the Bible as literally true, as fundamentalists do, this flood was ordered by God. "And God said to Noah, 'I have determined to make an end of all flesh ... behold, I will destroy them with the earth." (6:5-13) "I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall die." (6:17-19) Noah and his family are the only humans spared -- they were, after all, God's chosen. But for everyone else, "the waters prevailed so mightily ... that all the high mountains ... were covered ... And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, birds, cattle, beasts ... and every man; everything on the dry land, in whose nostrils was the breath of life, died." (7:17-23)

The flood is merely Act 1. Read on: This God first "hardens the heart of Pharaoh" to make sure the Egyptian ruler will not be moved by the plea of Moses to let his people go. Then because Pharaoh's heart is hardened, God turns the Nile into blood so people cannot drink its water and will suffer from thirst. Not satisfied with the results, God sends swarms of locusts and flies to torture them, rains hail and fire and thunder on them and destroys the trees and plants of the field until nothing green remains, and orders every first-born child to be slaughtered. … The massacre continues until "there is not a house where one was not dead." While the Egyptian families mourn their dead, God orders Moses to loot from their houses all their gold and silver and clothing. Finally, God's thirst for blood is satisfied. God pauses to rest -- and boasts: "I have made sport of the Egyptians."

Violence: the sport of God. God, the progenitor of shock and awe. And that's just Act 2. As the story unfolds women and children are hacked to death on God's order; unborn infants are ripped from their mother's wombs; cities are leveled -- their women killed if they have had sex, the virgins taken at God's command for the pleasure of his holy warriors. When his holy warriors spare the lives of 50,000 captives, God is furious and sends Moses back to rebuke them and tell them to finish the job. One tribe after another falls to God-ordered genocide. … "And when the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must utterly destroy them; you shall make no covenant with them, and show no mercy to them ... [and] your eyes shall not pity them." So it is written in the Holy Bible.
Yes, I know: The early church fathers, trying to cover up the blood-soaked trail of God's sport, decreed that anything that disagrees with Christian dogma about the perfection of God is to be interpreted spiritually. … Yes, I know: We can go through the Bible and construct a God more pleasing to the better angels of our nature (as I have done). Yes, I know: Christians claim the Old Testament's God of wrath was supplanted by the Gospel's God of love.

I know these things; all of us know these things. But we also know that the "violence of God" tradition remains embedded deep in the DNA of monotheistic faith. We also know that fundamentalists the world over and at home consider the "sacred texts" to be literally God's word on all matters. Inside that logic you cannot read part of the Bible allegorically and the rest of it literally; if you believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus, his Crucifixion and Resurrection, and the depiction of the Great Judgment at the end times, you must also believe that God is sadistic, brutal, vengeful, callow, cruel and savage -- that God slaughters.
Millions believe it.

Let's go back to 9/11 four years ago. The ruins were still smoldering when the Revs. Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell went on television to proclaim that the terrorist attacks were God's punishment of a corrupted America. They said the government had adopted the agenda "of the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians," not to mention the ACLU and People for the American Way. … Just as God had sent the Great Flood to wipe out a corrupted world, now disgusted with a decadent America, "God almighty is lifting his protection from us."
Critics said such comments were deranged. But millions of Christian fundamentalists and conservatives didn't think so. They thought Robertson and Falwell were being perfectly consistent with the logic of the Bible as they read it: God withdraws favor from sinful nations, and the terrorists were meant to be God's wake-up call: Better get right with God. Not many people at the time seemed to notice that Osama bin Laden had also been reading his sacred book closely and literally, and had called on Muslims to resist what he described as a "fierce Judeo-Christian campaign" against Islam, praying to Allah for guidance "to exalt the people who obey him and humiliate those who disobey him."
Suddenly we were immersed in the pathology of a "holy war" as defined by fundamentalists on both sides. You could see this pathology play out in Gen. William Boykin. A professional soldier, Gen. Boykin had taken up with a small group called the Faith Force Multiplier whose members apply military principles to evangelism with a manifesto summoning warriors "to the spiritual warfare for souls." After Boykin had led Americans in a battle against a Somali warlord, he announced: "I know my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his God was an idol." Now Boykin was going about at evangelical revivals preaching that America was in a holy war as "a Christian nation" battling Satan and that America's Muslim adversaries will be defeated "only if we come against them in the name of Jesus." For such an hour, America surely needed a godly leader. So Gen. Boykin explained how it was that the candidate who had lost the election in 2000 nonetheless wound up in the White House. President Bush, he said, "was not elected by a majority of the voters -- he was appointed by God." Not surprisingly, instead of being reprimanded for evangelizing while in uniform, Gen. Boykin is now the deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence. …

We can't wiggle out of this, people. … We're talking about a powerful religious constituency that claims the right to tell us what's on God's mind and to decide the laws of the land according to their interpretation of biblical revelation and to enforce those laws on the nation as a whole. For the Bible is not just the foundational text of their faith; it has become the foundational text for a political movement.

True, people of faith have always tried to bring their interpretation of the Bible to bear on American laws and morals …; it's the American way, encouraged and protected by the First Amendment. But what is unique today is that the radical religious right has succeeded in taking over one of America's great political parties -- the country is not yet a theocracy, but the Republican Party is -- and they are driving American politics, using God as a battering ram on almost every issue: crime and punishment, foreign policy, healthcare, taxation, energy, regulation, social services and so on.

What's also unique is the intensity, organization and anger they have brought to the public square. Listen to their preachers, evangelists and homegrown ayatollahs: Their viral intolerance -- their loathing of other people's beliefs, of America's secular and liberal values, of an independent press, of the courts, of reason, science and the search for objective knowledge -- has become an unprecedented sectarian crusade for state power. They use the language of faith to demonize political opponents, mislead and misinform voters, censor writers and artists, ostracize dissenters, and marginalize the poor. These are the foot soldiers in a political holy war financed by wealthy economic interests and guided by savvy partisan operatives who know that couching political ambition in religious rhetoric can ignite the passion of followers. …

Let's take a brief detour to Ohio, and I'll show you what I am talking about. In recent weeks a movement called the Ohio Restoration Project has been launched to identify and train thousands of "patriot pastors" to get out the conservative religious vote next year. According to press reports, the leader of the movement -- the senior pastor of a large church in suburban Columbus -- casts the 2006 elections as an apocalyptic clash between "the forces of righteousness and the hordes of hell." The fear and loathing in his message are palpable: He denounces public schools that won't teach creationism, require teachers to read the Bible in class or allow children to pray. He rails against the "secular jihadists" who have "hijacked" America and prevent school kids from learning that Hitler was "an avid evolutionist." He links abortion to children who murder their parents. He blasts the "pagan left" for trying to redefine marriage. He declares that "homosexual rights" will bring "a flood of demonic oppression." …

One of the prominent allies of the Ohio Restoration Project is a popular televangelist in Columbus who heads a $40 million-a-year ministry that is accessible worldwide via 1,400 TV stations and cable affiliates. Although he describes himself as neither Republican nor Democrat but a "Christocrat" -- a gladiator for God marching against "the very hordes of hell in our society" -- he nonetheless has been spotted with so many Republican politicians in Washington and elsewhere that he has been publicly described as a "spiritual advisor" to the party. …

He sees the Christian Church as a sleeping giant that has the ability and the anointing from God to transform America. The giant is stirring. At a rally in July he proclaimed to a packed house: "Let the revolution begin!" And the congregation roared back: "Let the revolution begin!" … Now he is crisscrossing Ohio, meeting with patriot pastors and their congregations and proclaiming that "America is at its best when God is at its center."… The Ohio Restoration Project is spreading. In one month alone last year in the president's home state of Texas, a single Baptist preacher added 2,000 "patriot pastors" to the rolls. On his Web site he encourages pastors to "speak out on the great moral issues of our day ... to restore and reclaim America for Christ."

Alas, these "great moral issues" do not include building a moral economy. The Christian right trumpets charity (as in faith-based initiatives) but is silent on social and economic justice. Inequality in America has reached scandalous proportions: A few weeks ago the government acknowledged that while incomes are growing smartly for the first time in years, the primary winners are the top earners -- people who receive stocks, bonuses and other income in addition to wages. The nearly 80 percent of Americans who rely mostly on hourly wages barely maintained their purchasing power. Even as Hurricane Katrina was hitting the Gulf Coast, giving us a stark reminder of how poverty can shove poor people into the abyss, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that last year 1 million people were added to 36 million already living in poverty. And since l999 the income of the poorest one-fifth of Americans has dropped almost 9 percent.

None of these harsh realities of ordinary life seem to bother the radical religious right. To the contrary, in the pursuit of political power they have cut a deal with America's richest class and their partisan allies in a law-of-the-jungle strategy to "starve" the government of resources needed for vital social services that benefit everyone while championing more and more spending that benefits rich corporations and larger tax cuts for the rich.

How else to explain the vacuum in their "great moral issues" of the plight of millions of Americans without adequate healthcare? Of the gross corruption of politics by campaign contributions that skew government policies toward the wealthy at the expense of ordinary taxpayers? (On the very day that oil and gas prices reached a record high, the president signed off on huge taxpayer subsidies for energy conglomerates already bloated with windfall profits plucked from the pockets of average Americans filling up at gas tanks across the country; yet the next Sunday you could pass a hundred church signboards with no mention of a sermon on crony capitalism.)

This silence on economic and political morality is deafening but revealing. The radicals on the Christian right are now the dominant force in America's governing party. Without them the government would not be in the hands of people who don't believe in government. They are culpable in upholding a system of class and race in which, as we saw last week [in the wake of Hurricane Katrina,] the rich escape and the poor are left behind. …

This is the crux of the matter: To these fundamentalist radicals there is only one legitimate religion and only one particular brand of that religion that is right; all others who call on God are immoral or wrong. They believe the Bible to be literally true and that they alone know what it means. Behind their malicious attacks on the courts ("vermin in black robes," as one of their talk show allies recently put it) is a fierce longing to hold judges accountable for interpreting the Constitution according to standards of biblical revelation as fundamentalists define it. To get those judges they need a party beholden to them. So the Grand Old Party -- the GOP -- has become God's Own Party, its ranks made up of God's Own People "marching as to war."

Go to the Web site of an organization called
America 21. There, on a red, white and blue home page is praise for President Bush's agenda -- including his effort to phase out Social Security and protect corporations from lawsuits by aggrieved citizens. On the same home page is a call to "Enlist now," with a reminder that "there are [X] hours until our next National Election." There's also a summons to Christian pastors "to lead God's people in the turning that can save America from our enemies." Under the headline "Remember -- Repent -- Return" is language reminiscent of Robertson and Falwell: "One of the unmistakable lessons [of 9/11] is that America has lost the full measure of God's hedge of protection. When we ask ourselves why, the scriptures remind us that ancient Israel was invaded by its foreign enemy, Babylon, in 586 B.C. ... [and] Jerusalem was destroyed by another invading foreign power in 70 A.D. ... Psalm 106:37 says that these judgments of God ... were because of Israel's idolatry. Israel, the apple of God's eye, was destroyed ... because the people failed ... to repent." If America is to avoid a similar fate, the warning continues, we must "remember the legacy of our heritage under God and our covenant with Him and, in the words of II Chronicles 7:14: 'Turn from our wicked ways.'"
Just what does this have to do with the president's political agenda praised on the home page? Well, squint and look at the fine print at the bottom of the site. It reads: "America21 is a 501(c)(4) not-for-profit organization whose Mission is to educate, engage, and mobilize Christians to influence national policy at every level. Founded in 1989 by a multi-denominational group of Pastors and Businessmen, it is dedicated to being a catalyst for revival and reform of the culture and the government."

The corporate, political and religious right converge here, led by a president who, in his own disdain for science, reason and knowledge, is the most powerful fundamentalist in American history. What are the stakes? In his last book, the late Marvin Harris, a prominent anthropologist of the time, wrote that "the attack against reason and objectivity is fast reaching the proportions of a crusade." To save the American dream, "we desperately need to reaffirm the principle that it is possible to carry out an analysis of social life which rational human beings will recognize as being true, regardless of whether they happen to be women or men, whites or blacks, straights or gays, employers or employees, Jews or born-again Christians. The alternative is to stand by helplessly as special interest groups tear the United States apart in the name of their 'separate realities' or to wait until one of them grows strong enough to force its irrational and subjective brand of reality on all the rest." That was written 25 years ago, just as the radical Christian right was setting out on its long march to political supremacy. The forces Harris warned against have gained strength ever since and now control much of the U.S. government and are on the verge of having it all.

It has to be said that their success has come in no small part because of our acquiescence and timidity. Our democratic values are imperiled because too many people of reason are willing to appease irrational people just because they are pious. Republican moderates tried appeasement and survive today only in gulags set aside for them by the Karl Roves, Bill Frists and Tom DeLays. Democrats are divided and paralyzed, afraid that if they take on the organized radical right they will lose what little power they have. Trying to learn to talk about God as Republicans do, they're talking gobbledygook, compromising the strongest thing going for them -- the case for a moral economy and the moral argument for the secular checks and balances that have made America "a safe haven for the cause of conscience."

As I look back on the conflicts and clamor of our boisterous past, one lesson about democracy stands above all others: Bullies -- political bullies, economic bullies and religious bullies -- cannot be appeased; they have to be opposed with a stubbornness to match their own. This is never easy. These guys don't fight fair; "Robert's Rules of Order" is not one of their holy texts. But freedom on any front -- and especially freedom of conscience -- never comes to those who rock and wait, hoping someone else will do the heavy lifting. Christian realism requires us to see the world as it is, without illusions, and then take it on. Christian realism also requires love. But not a sentimental, dreamy love. Reinhold Niebuhr, who taught at Union Theological Seminary and wrestled constantly with applying Christian ethics to political life, put it this way: "When we talk about love we have to become mature or we will become sentimental. Basically love means ... being responsible, responsibility to our family, toward our civilization, and now by the pressures of history, toward the universe of humankind."

Christian realists aren't afraid to love. But just as the Irishman who came upon a brawl in the street and asked, "Is this a private fight or can anyone get in it?" we have to take that love where the action is or the world will remain a theater of war between fundamentalists.
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About the writerBill Moyers, a broadcast journalist and former host of the PBS program "Now With Bill Moyers," is president of the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy.

US: Top War Profiteer Doug Feith Retires Wealthy

From CorpWatch:

Douglas Feith, who recently resigned as undersecretary of defense planned ahead for his retirement and will not be seen in the unemployment line.
by Evelyn Pringle,
Dissident VoiceSeptember 11th, 2005

Douglas Feith, the recently resigned Undersecretary of Defense, who just happened to be one of the main people who for years on end advocated for war on Iraq, and who in large part developed the disastrous policies for the war, planned ahead for his retirement and will not be seen in the unemployment line.

On January 27, 2005, the Washington Post announced: "A principal architect of the Defense Department's postwar strategy in Iraq ... will leave his post this summer."The announcement came after two years of rumors that top administration officials had decided that Feith had to go, but were dissuaded by Donald Rumsfeld who argued that his ouster would be viewed as an admission that the war in Iraq was a mistake. But the administration had definitely reduced Feith's authority over the past two years. In announcing his departure, Feith claimed he was leaving for personal reasons, citing the desire to spend more time with his children. "For the last four years, they haven't seen me a lot," he told the Post.He used the standard administration exit line.
Sort of like the noticeably absent in light of Katrina ex-FEMA director, Joe Albaugh, who left his job to spend time with his family. Joe was Bush’s chief of staff when he was governor of Texas and his campaign manager in 2000. Once Bush took office, Joe accepted a gig as director of FEMA.Like Feith, when he announced his resignation, Joe said, "Now I am going to take the opportunity to spend some time with my wife and children." I sure hope Doug spends more time with his kids than Joe did, because judging from hindsight, Joe should have been a psychic. He somehow knew at the beginning of March 2003, that he should quit FEMA and go into the business of securing reconstruction contracts in Iraq for wealthy clients before the first bomb was dropped. And his family could not have enjoyed much quality time at all with Joe, being he opened up New Bridge Strategies for business within a few short weeks of leaving the White House.At the time, Josh Marshall, who writes a column for the Washington newspaper, The Hill, said that he believed that each new piece of legislation needs a catchy title, and came up with title “The Bush Crony Full-Employment Act of 2003,” for the $87 billion allocated for rebuilding Iraq.According to Josh, New Bridge was actually an outgrowth of Haley Barbour’s lobbying firm, Barbour Griffith & Rogers. Josh says he reached that conclusion after he learned that both firms were located in the same office space. And also because Lanny Griffith was the CEO of New Bridge and Ed Rogers was the vice president. Sounds like a logical conclusion to me.When the company began, the New Bridges official web site said, "the opportunities evolving in Iraq today are of such an unprecedented nature and scope that no other existing firm has the necessary skills and experience to be effective both in Washington, D.C., and on the ground in Iraq." That phrasing was quickly changed.How could it get any sweeter than this? Joe quits FEMA, moves into the office space of one of the most successful and powerful GOP lobbying firms in the country and starts advertising for clients who want to win reconstruction contracts in Iraq.First Brother, Neil Bush, also jumped on this money train and landed a $60,000 a year consultant contract with a principal in New Bridge. According to Neil's testimony in his divorce deposition in March 2004, in return for his salary, he took phone messages for about three hours a week.However, three people contacted by the Financial Times of London reported seeing letters written by Neil that recommend business ventures promoted by New Bridges in the Middle East. So we had Neil being paid an annual fee to "help companies secure contracts in Iraq," the Times reported. I'm not too worried about Doug Feith ending up in the unemployment lines because following in Joe's footsteps, Feith and his law partner stayed very busy behind the scenes planning for Feith's retirement when it came time to leave the White House.The Iraqi International Law GroupBefore Feith was inducted into the Bush administration, he was the Feith half of the Feith & Zell, law firm in Washington. His partner, Marc Zell, simply renamed the firm, Zell, Goldberg & Co, when they decided to set up shop to start cashing in on the Iraq contracting business.According to The Hill, Zell, was helping with international marketing for a concern called the Iraqi International Law Group. Billing itself as a group of lawyers and businessmen interested in helping investors in Iraq, the venture was run by Ahmed Chalabi's nephew Salem, who doubled as a legal adviser to Iraq's governing council, of which his uncle was a member. How powerful was Feith in awarding contracts? Extremely. According to a June, 2004, by an article in Time Magazine entitled, "The Paper Trail: Did Cheney Okay a Deal? Feith is the person who approved the controversial no-bid contract for Halliburton in Iraq.Time Magazine quoted an email sent by Stephen Browning of the Army Corps of Engineers, that said the contract for construction of oil pipelines was approved by Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith "contingent on informing WH tomorrow. We anticipate no issues since action has been coordinated w VP’s [Vice President’s] office.Browning, later said in an interview that he wrote the memo after he and retired Lt Gen. Jay Garner met with Feith. According to Browning, Feith told him that he had already informed Cheney's office. The email was dated March 5, 2003, and Halliburton was awarded the contract three days later with no bids tendered by any other companies.If he could pull this off for Halliburton, what he could do for the IILG, goes without saying. According to its web site, the IILG was made up of lawyers and businessmen who claimed to have, “dared to take the lead in bringing private sector investment and experience” to the war-torn country and offered to “be your Professional Gateway to the New Iraq.”The way it was set up, nephew Salem was charge of the IILG and Feith's partner, Zell, was in charge of international marketing. The IILG's website claimed that it was the only firm worth consulting. "At IILG, our task is to provide foreign enterprise with the information and tools it needs to enter the emerging Iraq and to succeed," it said. "Our clients number among the largest corporations and institutions on the planet" it said, "They have chosen IILG to provide them with real-time, on the ground intelligence they cannot get from inexperienced local firms or from overburdened coalition and local government officials." Imagine that, the top firms on the planet."Many firms outside the country purport to counsel companies about doing business in Iraq," the web site read. "The simple fact is: you cannot adequately advise about Iraq unless you are here day in and day out, working closely with officials at the CPA, the newly constituted governing council and the few functioning civilian ministries [oil, labor and social welfare, etc]." The truth is, the IILG was nothing more than another one of many front companies, in a web-like profiteering network, that was specifically set up to funnel tax dollars through Iraq and back into the pockets of the Bush gang.And talk about blatant. When the company was set up, its website was not registered to Salem Chalabi; it was registered under the name of Marc Zell, located at the very same address as Zell, Goldberg & Co. According to Salem, quoted in the National Journal, Zell was IILG's "marketing consultant" and had been contacting law firms in Washington and New York to ask if they had clients interested in doing business in Iraq. This tied in with an announcement by Zell, Goldberg & Co, that it had set up a "task force" dealing with issues and opportunities relating to the "recently ended" war in Iraq, and to assist companies "in their relations with the United States government in connection with Iraqi reconstruction projects as prime contractors and consultants." Of course Zell made no mention of the firm's ties to the infamous nephew Salem or the IILG. Zell said it was working with the Federal Market Group, an organization which specialized in helping companies win government contracts, which boasted of having a 90% success rate.Considering all of its boasting about high level connections, IILG was also rather modest about the family ties of its founder. The website did not mention that he was the nephew of Ahmed Chalabi even once. Geez, I wonder why.Implementing The Iraq Profiteering SchemeFeith had been pushing for the ouster of Saddam for years. In 1998, him and Richard Perle sent a letter to President Bill Clinton proposing that the US team up with Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress to get rid of Saddam. Clinton refused.As we all know, Ahmed had strong support within the Pentagon. In fact, two of his staunchest supporters were Feith, and Perle, chairman of the Defense Policy Board. Perle, an assistant defense secretary during the Reagan administration, was appointed by his old crony Donald Rumsfeld to lead the board in 2001. It’s a well-known fact that the board exerts tremendous influence when it comes to war policies. As soon as Bush took office, Perle, Feith and Ahmed Chalabi all started working diligently together to get the war in Iraq off the ground, with Ahmed providing bogus intelligence about WMDs and bragging about a secret network within Iraq which could take over running the country after the invasion."There was a close personal bond, too, between Chalabi and Wolfowitz and Perle, dating back many years," according to Seymour Hersh in the May 5, 2003 the New Yorker."Their relationship deepened after the Bush Administration took office, and Chalabi’s ties extended to others in the Administration, including Rumsfeld; Douglas Feith, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy; and I. Lewis Libby, Vice-President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff," Hersh wrote."With the Pentagon’s support, Chalabi’s group worked to put defectors with compelling stories in touch with reporters in the United States and Europe," Hersh said, "The resulting articles had dramatic accounts of advances in weapons of mass destruction or told of ties to terrorist groups. In some cases, these stories were disputed in analyses by the C.I.A." he noted.Almost immediately after September 11th, "the I.N.C. began to publicize the stories of defectors who claimed that they had information connecting Iraq to the attacks, Hersh said.For example, in a October 14, 2001, interview on PBS Frontline, Sabah Khodada, an Iraqi Army captain, said that the 9/11 attack “was conducted by people who were trained by Saddam,” and that Iraq had a program to instruct terrorists in the art of hijacking. Another defector, who was identified as a retired lieutenant general in the Iraqi intelligence service, said that in 2000 he witnessed Arab students being given lessons in hijacking on a Boeing 707 parked at an Iraqi training camp near the town of Salman Pak, south of Baghdad. Feith then fed this type of INC data into a fabrication mill operating at top speed known as the Office of Special Plans and some of the information processed through the OSP was not even shared with official intelligence agencies. In many instances it was passed on to the National Security Council, Cheney, and Bush without having been vetted by anyone besides this group of nitwits.And they had to know that much of the information was false. A former high-level intelligence official told Hersh that American Special Forces units had been sent into Iraq in mid-March 2003, before the start of the war, to investigate sites suspected of being missile or chemical- and biological-weapon storage depots. “They came up with nothing,” the official told Hersh. “Never found a single Scud.” A 46-page report, based on a 15-month investigation, titled, Report of an Inquiry into the Alternative Analysis of the Issue of an Iraq-al Qaeda Relationship, was released on October 21, 2004, which said, "There is ample evidence that the Bush Administration had a predisposition to overthrow Saddam Hussein before the 9/11 attacks."The report accused Feith's office of compiling "selective reinterpretations of intelligence" that went beyond the views of American spy agencies in order to help make the case for an invasion of Iraq. The report concluded that Feith and his staff were convinced that a relationship existed between Saddam and Al Qaeda, and that the office had advanced that perspective by trying to change the intelligence community's views and "by taking its interpretation straight to policymakers.""That alleged relationship," the report said, "coupled with the assertion that Iraq possessed stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), was the major argument presented by the Administration for invading Iraq."Relying on selective reporting, irrespective of credibility and reliability, Feith’s briefing concluded the following: * Iraq had “more than a decade of numerous contacts” with al Qaeda; * there were “multiple areas of cooperation” between Iraq and al Qaeda; * Iraq and al Qaeda had a “shared interest and pursuit of WMD;” and * there was “[o]ne indication of Iraq coordination with al Qaeda specifically related to 9/11,” presumably a reference to the alleged (but doubted by the IC) Atta meeting in Prague.The report states that there are no known intelligence reports, other than those provided by Feith's office that could explain where this view originated. "A pattern emerges of senior administration officials exaggerating the extent of the relationship in public statements which more closely reflect the Feith analysis" than those of the intelligence community, it said. As an obvious example, the report said Feith's office repeatedly asserted in the months leading up to the war that lead hijacker Mohammed Atta had met with an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague in the spring before the September 11 attacks, an account that the CIA dismissed because evidence existed that Atta was elsewhere at the time.And in at least one case, according to the report, the Pentagon office included the purported meeting in a report sent to the White House, but omitted it from the version of the same report sent to the CIA.The meeting was then constantly referred to by senior administration officials, and especially Cheney, as evidence of a possible Saddam link to 9/11. In fact, Cheney said the Feith analysis was the “best source of information,” according to the report. However, not only had the alleged meeting never been “known,” at the time of the briefing to the White House, the Intelligence Community was skeptical in late spring 2002 that such a meeting ever took place. Yet in September of 2002, Feith called the meeting a "known contact" in a crucial misstatement about the intelligence, since it indicated a link which did not exist. "The professional objectivity and independence required in the assessment of the Iraq-Al Qaeda relationship, a major reason given for going to war, were compromised to support a predetermined policy -- to present the government of Saddam Hussein as a serious threat to the security of the United States" the report wrote.Finally, relative to the attacks, the final 911 Commission Report itself said that the “Intelligence Community has no credible information that Baghdad had foreknowledge of the 11 September attacks or any other al-Qaida strike.”Inventing bogus intelligence was bad enough but during the pre-war planning, the military experts were systematically excluded from participating in that process as well. In the end, Feith and the OSP had so grossly underestimated the Iraqi resistance that it caused General Tommy Franks, who led the invasion in Iraq, to call Feith “the fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth,” according Bob Woodward in his book Plan of Attack.Feith and the Defense Policy BoardThe DPB is a group of 30 people, who for the most part were chosen by Rumsfeld and Feith, that advises officials on whether to go to war or not. Many of its members are literally making a fortune off a war which they had been promoting for years. At least 9 members have ties to companies that won more than $76 billion in defense contracts during 2001 and 2002.Feith excluded many top Middle East experts from the State Department from playing any meaningful role in the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). Feith's office and the CPA were tasked with awarding reconstruction contracts in Iraq. So this was another sweet setup. Feith was deciding who would get contracts, at the same time that his middleman law partner, Zel, was hustling up business deals in Iraq for rich clients. Of course, for members of the Bush war profiteering club, this was merely business as usual.Among the firms that have profited the most, are those with consultants serving on the DPB, many of which were hand-picked by Feith. Some of the construction and defense companies with direct ties to DPB members include Boeing, Bectel, TRW, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Booz Allen Hamilton, along with smaller players like Symantec Corp, Technology Strategies and Alliance Corp, and Polycom Inc.How much money was up for grabs when it came to doling out defense contracts? For starters, during the major combat phase of the war, the US military launched over 800 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Iraqi forces, according to figures released by the US Navy. At a price of about $569,000 each, replacing those missiles no doubt generated a lofty amount for Raytheon Systems, the Pentagon contractor for Tomahawks. Close to a 100 more missiles were fired during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Occupation forces later launched over 19,000 guided munitions in Iraq, most of which came from the US, according to a report on Operation Iraqi Freedom published by the US Central Command Air Forces on 30 April 2003. There was a $10.3 billion proposal for the development of a missile defense program in Bush’s 2005 defense spending budget, of which Lockheed Martin would be heavily involved in, according to a report from the World Policy Institute.Northrop Grumman, the country's third largest defense contractor, secured contracts to build new weapons systems such as the unmanned predator drones. The firm is the prime contractor for the Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). Bush proposed $12 billion for UAV development for the years between 2004-2009. Northrop earned a company record of $11.1 billion in defense contracts in 2003.And Bush is funneling our tax dollars to known crooks. Northrop‘s Vinnell subsidiary was awarded a $48 million contract to train the new Iraqi Army, even though Northrop was forced to pay $191.7 million in penalties over the previous 4 years.In less than a year after he took office, Bush got rid of regulations implemented by President Clinton that barred contracts for companies convicted or penalized for crimes during the previous 3 years. Clinton strengthened the rules before leaving office, and said that repeated violations would make a company ineligible for new contracts. Bush suspended the regulations within his first 3 months in office. By December 2001, he had revoked them entirely. Who Else Is Raking In War Profits?Lets look at a couple members of the Defense Policy Board. Former CIA Director, James Woolsey, is a prime example of how the revolving door never stops spinning for this gang of war profiteers. After he left the CIA, Woolsey remained a senior advisor on intelligence and national security issues, and specifically the war in Iraq. When the war began, he worked for two private companies that did business in Iraq, and was a partner in a company that invested in firms that provide security and anti-terrorism services.At the time, Woolsey was a vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton. In that role, less than two months after the war began, he was a featured speaker at a May 2003 conference titled "Companies on the Ground: The Challenge for Business in Rebuilding Iraq," at which 80 corporate executives paid $1,100 to attend. He spoke about the many potential business opportunities in Iraq and about Bush's decision to steer reconstruction contracts to US firms.With Woolsey in a Vice President position, Booz Allen became a subcontractor for a $75-million telecommunications contract in Iraq. Of course in true Dick Cheney style, Woolsey denies any involvement in that work. But then, it really does not matter whether he was directly involved or not because as VP of the company he would get a cut of the profits resulting from any contracts the firm enters into.Soon after 9/11, Woolsey wrote an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal saying a foreign state had aided Al Qaeda in preparing the attacks and named Iraq as the leading culprit. In October 2001, Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz sent Woolsey to the UK to hunt for evidence to link Saddam to the attacks. Before the war, Woolsey was up to his neck in war planning. In addition to sitting on the DPB and giving direct advice to Rumsfeld, he was a founding member of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq (CLI), an organization set up by the WH in 2002 to help garner public support for going to war in Iraq.They actually put together a promotion team to rally support for the war funded with our tax dollars no less. Tell me this scheme wasn't well planned and directed.Before the war, another DPB member, Margaret Bartel, managed the funds channeled to Amhed Chalabi's exile group, the INC, including funds for its bogus prewar intelligence program on WMDs. Once it began, Bartel went on to head a consulting firm which helped investors find Iraqi partners.Bartel established Global Positioning and told the LA Times that the firm's primary purpose was to "introduce clients to the Iraqi market, help them find potential Iraqi partners, set up meetings with government officials … and provide on-the-ground support for their business interests." So here was another sweet set up.As for the chairman of the DPB, Richard Perle was a "special government employee," subject to federal ethics rules, including the rule that bars the chairman from using his public office for private gain.Perle decided to resign as chairman after a little ethical problem came under scrutiny in March 2003. It was discovered that at the same time that he was advising the Pentagon on war policies, Perle had been retained by the telecommunications company Global Crossing to help overcome opposition by the Department of Defense and the FBI to the firms proposed sale to a Chinese company.The agencies objected to the sale citing national security and law enforcement problems, because it would put Global's fiber-optic network, used by the US government, under Chinese ownership.According to a legal notice that Global was preparing to file in bankruptcy court at the time, Perle was set to make $725,000, including $600,000 if the government approved the sale of the firm to the joint venture of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd, and Singapore Technologies Telemedia Pte, a company controlled by the Singapore government.Perle was quick to pipe up to reporters and make the distinction that he was not involved in the lobbying of Defense Department officials, that his job was merely to advise Global on the process of gaining approval. That sure put my mind at ease.In the end, I don't think it’s likely that Feith will end up in the welfare lines. Because of careful post-White House planning, I think it’s safe to say that Feith and his band of cronies will enjoy financial benefits for life, just so long as their never-ending war policies are carried on by their successor.