Dick Cheney- Corporate Criminal


MEPs want face-to-face with Cheney and Rumsfeld over torture

By David Rennie in Brussels
(Filed: 27/01/2006)

Dick Cheney, the American vice-president, and Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, should be called to testify before the European Parliament on allegations of secret CIA prisons and torture of detainees, MEPs said yesterday.

MEPs heading an investigation into the claims vowed to "name and shame" American and European leaders who declined invitations to appear before them.

Donald Rumsfeld will be invited to testify at the European Parliament
The committee was set up by the parliament to examine reports that CIA detainees were held in secret "black sites" in central and eastern Europe or flown through European Union airports on their way to countries where they may have faced torture.

The panel has four months to complete its work and is backed by the European Commission and some member states but has no legal powers.

Baroness Ludford, a Liberal Democrat MEP and one of its vice-chairmen, acknowledged that the committee could not force anyone to appear. But she said that Mr Cheney, Mr Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, the American secretary of state, Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, and Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief, should all be invited to testify.

Lady Ludford said: "Our only power is political embarrassment with governments that are reluctant to co-operate with us."

But British Conservatives elected to sit on the committee immediately charged her with "anti-Americanism".

Charles Tannock, MEP, the Conservative foreign affairs spokesman, said: "We have not even discussed anything substantive yet but the anti-Americans on the committee are already showing their true colours. The idea of Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld coming to testify is breathtakingly naive."


Impeach or Indict Bush and Cheney

by Ronnie Dugger

The year 2006 will be historic for the nation, and probably for humanity. Texans Bush and Rove and their conspirators in the second Bush presidency have disgraced American democracy at home and in the world with debasements of our nation and our values that have now entered their climactic phase. What part will the rest of us Texans play in this decisive year?

As I have written in a review-essay that appears in the tenth-anniversary spring issue of Yes!, the quarterly of new solutions published in Washington state by David and Frances Korten (YesMagazine.org), we are living and working in the very days and nights of the American Emergency, the climactic American Crisis. Our elections are bought, and our government is run by and for the major transnational corporations. Bush announced in 2002 his illegal presidential policy that the United States can and will attack other nations first, waging war on them, when he so decides. He is now waging, as if he were doing it in our names, a bloody war of aggression against Iraq, which on the face of it is a crime against humanity under the Nuremberg principles that we and our allies established and enforced with hangings after World War II. The President, the Vice-President, and their factors sold this war to Congress with twistings and lies that were crafted to infuriate and terrorize us about Iraq’s alleged connections to Al Qaeda and mass-murder endangerments to us from Iraq itself, all of which literally did not exist. In polls now six of 10 Americans do not believe the president is honest. Yet he has three more years of dictatorial control over our nuclear and other arms and our Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps and seems now to be maneuvering to use that control to wage another aggressive war on Iran, with literally incalculable consequences.

We Texans are a major source of this deterioration into crisis. The leading Democrats of the state so dishonored the liberal traditions of their party that in the resulting political vacuum, Bush was elected Governor here, and from Austin he mounted the campaign that a 5-4 majority of the U.S. Supreme Court illegally decreed made him President. After that, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, from Sugar Land, crafted his scheme to use corporate money to widen the Republicans’ majority in the Texas delegation to Washington, D.C., battening down right-wing GOP control of the House and the Congress. The third President from Texas and his Republican Congress then waged aggressive war on Iraq, drove the nation into insolvency to further enrich the already rich, and just for good measure tore up the Constitution.

As we in Texas bear guilt for this we have also begun to join the resistance and revolt against it, starting with Cindy Sheehan’s brigades in Crawford. By happy accident the Texas trip-root that now threatens to help bring the Bush presidency crashing down, crushing itself under its own arrogance, hubris, and criminality, is a law against corporate money in Texas elections that was passed a century ago in the state’s populist afterglow. To uphold that law, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle has braved ruthless contumely, as he had done often before in order to prosecute public officials he believed had violated the laws. While it is merely seemly to await the outcome of the trial of DeLay and his co-defendants on the charges that they laundered corporate money through Washington to elect Republicans to the House from Texas, in a speech in September Earle declared what he believes his prosecution is all about. “Corporate money in politics” has become “the fight of our generation of Americans....It is our job—our fight—to rescue democracy from the money that has captured it,” he said. “The issue that we’re faced with is the role of large concentrations of money in democracy, whether it’s individuals or corporations, the issue is the same.”

Since 1994, although the polls show a majority of Texan citizens support progressive reforms such as adequate taxation for equal education for Texas schoolchildren, the leaders of the disappearing Texas Democratic Party and their statewide candidates, finking out on every ethically important political issue, have proved again and again that nothing fails like failure. Rot-gut Republicans have swept every statewide office and achieved mercenary domination of the Texas courts, too. In my opinion, Texas Democrats ought to have concluded by 2002 at the latest that they should be choosing, from among the waves of the on-comers, entirely new sets of state and local party leaders and candidates. For example, rather than be taken in, even a jot, by the torrent of contemptuous abuse directed at Ronnie Earle by Tom DeLay, his lawyers, and that ilk, Texans should be realizing that—just as the dramatic prosecutions of Thomas E. Dewey in New York made him a Republican presidential candidate and now the populist prosecutions of Eliot Spitzer in New York State are making him a national figure—Ronnie Earle has fully qualified himself as a front-rank leader in Texas politics. For another example, this year, in my opinion—shared, by the way, by Jim Hightower—Texans are very fortunate to have running for Attorney General the lifelong labor lawyer and Democratic firebrand David Van Os of San Antonio. The Observer does not make political endorsements, but I may say here for myself alone that David, in my carefully considered personal judgment, is the Ralph Yarborough of his generation.

The national resistance to Bush, Cheney, Rove, et al., is coming into focus, too. John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, which is the logical source for impeachment initiatives, has taken the significant step of calling for an investigation of Bush and Cheney with a view to censure, which obviously could metamorphose into impeachment. Tom Daschle, until recently the Minority Leader in the Senate, Sen. Edward Kennedy, and Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader, are all calling for investigations of Bush and Cheney. Elizabeth Holtzman writes for impeachment in the current Nation, and the Internet is on fire with initiatives to impeach Bush and Cheney for crimes committed in office, foremost among them lying our nation into a war of aggression. Impeachment is unlikely as long as the House remains firmly in GOP control, but this year it would be gratifying to see citizens seeking the election of House candidates—whether Democrats, Republicans, or independents—who promise explicitly to vote, if elected, to impeach Bush and Cheney.

If impeachment does not become possible, let me broach with you the idea that a grand jury, federal or state, should indict Bush and Cheney for their manifold official crimes. Are we, as we are so often piously assured, “a nation of laws and not of men,” or is the President above the law if his party controls the House and can block impeaching him?

The Constitution is silent on whether a seated President and Vice President can be indicted, while in office, for crimes committed while they have held those offices. Constitutional lawyers are congenitally prone to announcing that this cannot be done because it would disrupt the ongoing business of the government. But it is time to do it, if necessary absent impeachment, for exactly that reason—to disrupt the continuation of THIS government.

I have not yet found one constitutional lawyer who can cite a Supreme Court case or any other judicial precedent prohibiting their indictment—if you know of one please let me hear from you. In 1973 Nixon’s attorney general said the President can’t be indicted, but why should Nixon’s attorney general bind us?

Committed to nonviolence, determined, in this post-Gandhi era, against violence, nevertheless we are once again in the position of the Framers of the Constitution. In the post-revolutionary emergency, the Founding Fathers took things in their own hands, violating their clear instructions from the states by proposing to create the United States, which the states then created. In the crisis we are in now we must not be misled by expostulating lawyers or posturing politicians. We the citizens can make up our own minds whether we can indict Bush and Cheney and, if they are convicted, throw them out.

May we close here, then, as we began two centuries and more ago, with the words of Tom Paine. “We have it in our power to begin the world over again,” he said. “The birth day of a new world is at hand… We are a people upon experiments. It is an age of revolutions, in which everything may be looked for.”

Ronnie Dugger is the founding editor and former publisher of The Texas Observer. Author of presidential biographies and other books and articles, he writes now from his office in Cambridge, Mass.


Whistleblowers' Stomach-Churning Story Reveals Halliburton Cesspool

Tue, 24 Jan 2006 22:36:23 -0800
By Charlie Cray

Nothing refreshes like raw sewage

Serving dirty water to the troops, Cheney's old company is under fire again
Dick Cheney keeps using the “support our troops” line every time he needs a distraction. So he should be asked what he thinks about the new revelations that his favorite company exposed U.S. troops operating in Iraq to water that was “roughly 2x the normal contamination of untreated water from the Euphrates River.”

How did that happen?

According to two former Halliburton employees turned whistleblowers who testified Tuesday, it’s because KBR was “apparently taking the waste water from the water treatment process, which should have been dumped back in the [Euphrates] river” (from which it was originally extracted – less than a mile downstream from a raw sewage outlet) and using it as the “non-potable water supply.”

This means that thanks to Halliburton/KBR thousands of troops and contract employees stationed at the Ar Ramadi base in Iraq have been using a contaminated bilge for bathing, showering, shaving, laundry and cleaning.

According to one of the whistleblowers who first told this amazing story to Halliburton Watch, the troops have also ignored advisories and used this septic sluice to brush their teeth and make coffee.

So what’s a little dirty water, you ask? After all, most of us have experienced a little gastrointestinal misery while vacationing in certain parts of the world. But for the troops this is already no vacation, and the risk of contamination is exactly why companies like Halliburton get paid a lot of money to operate giant reverse-osmosis filters—so that this kind of problem doesn’t have to happen.

Because when it does, it has the potential to be a major setback. As the U.S. Army Field Manual states, “Thoughout military history, the vast majority of casualties in war have been from disease and nonbattle injury. This loss of manpower can be drastically reduced by ensuring that soldiers have adequate supplies of water.”

The Association of Military Surgeons found that 9 percent of soldiers evacuated in 2003 suffered from problems of the digestive system, but it’s not clear what, if any, waterborne diseases are the result of Halliburton’s reckless actions.

“I don’t know how bad the problem might be, how many troops may have been exposed to untreated water, and how many might have gotten sick as a result” says Ben Carter, one of the two whistleblowers, who has twenty years of experience working as a water purification expert. “I can’t know, because Halliburton apparently has no records and refuses to acknowledge there might be a problem.”

According to the other, Ken May, Halliburton’s “disregard for essential health, safety and security measures, time card fraud, fraudulent documentation and overbilling – not to mention the constant barrage of daily threats and retaliatory behavior from our leadership (after coming forward, the two were no allowed to go into hardened shelters during the likely times of insurgent attacks, such as dusk) – made life at Ar Ramadi nearly unbearable.”

The company declined to appear at the hearing, and yet doesn’t seem to be able to get its story straight. While denying there is even a problem, it met with Carter three times, to try to find out what documents were in his posession. The whistleblowers say there’s a 21-page internal investigation out there somewhere that hasn’t yet been released.

Do you think Rumsfeld or Cheney can get it?

GNN contributer Charlie Cray is director of the Center for Corporate Policy and a collaborator with Halliburton Watch.


Halliburton cited in Iraq contamination

By Larry Margasak, Associated Press Writer | January 22, 2006

WASHINGTON --Troops and civilians at a U.S. military base in Iraq were exposed to contaminated water last year and employees for the responsible contractor, Halliburton, couldn't get their company to inform camp residents, according to interviews and internal company documents.

Halliburton, the company formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, disputes the allegations about water problems at Camp Junction City, in Ramadi, even though they were made by its own employees and documented in company e-mails.

"We exposed a base camp population (military and civilian) to a water source that was not treated," said a July 15, 2005, memo written by William Granger, the official for Halliburton's KBR subsidiary who was in charge of water quality in Iraq and Kuwait.

"The level of contamination was roughly 2x the normal contamination of untreated water from the Euphrates River," Granger wrote in one of several documents. The Associated Press obtained the documents from Senate Democrats who are holding a public inquiry into the allegations Monday.

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., who will chair the session, held a number of similar inquiries last year on contracting abuses in Iraq. He said Democrats were acting on their own because they had not been able to persuade Republican committee chairmen to investigate.

The company's former water treatment expert at Camp Junction City said that he discovered the problem last March, a statement confirmed by his e-mail the day after he tested the water.

While bottled water was available for drinking, the contaminated water was used for virtually everything else, including handwashing, laundry, bathing and making coffee, said water expert Ben Carter of Cedar City, Utah.

Another former Halliburton employee who worked at the base, Ken May of Louisville, said there were numerous instances of diarrhea and stomach cramps -- problems he also suffered.

A spokeswoman for Halliburton said its own inspection found neither contaminated water nor medical evidence to substantiate reports of illnesses at the base. The company now operates its own water treatment plant there, spokeswoman Melissa Norcross said.

A military medical unit that visited Camp Ramadi in mid-April found nothing out of the ordinary in terms of water quality, said Marine Corps Maj. Tim Keefe, a military spokesman. Water-quality testing records from May 23 show the water within normal parameters, he said.

"The allegations appear not to have merit," Keefe said.

Halliburton has contracts to provide a number of services to U.S. forces in Iraq and was responsible for the water quality at the base in Ramadi.

Granger's July 15 memo said the exposure had gone on for "possibly a year" and added, "I am not sure if any attempt to notify the exposed population was ever made."

The first memo on the problem -- written by Carter to Halliburton officials on March 24, 2005 -- was an "incident report" from tests Carter performed the previous day.

"It is my opinion that the water source is without question contaminated with numerous micro-organisms, including Coliform bacteria," Carter wrote. "There is little doubt that raw sewage is routinely dumped upstream of intake much less than the required 2 mile distance.

"Therefore, it is my conclusion that chlorination of our water tanks while certainly beneficial is not sufficient protection from parasitic exposure."

Carter said he resigned in early April after Halliburton officials did not take any action to inform the camp population.

The water expert said he told company officials at the base that they would have to notify the military. "They told me it was none of my concern and to keep my mouth shut," he said.

On at least one occasion, Carter said, he spoke to the chief military surgeon at the base, asking him whether he was aware of stomach problems afflicting people. He said the surgeon told him he would look into it.

"They brushed it under the carpet," Carter said. "I told everyone, 'Don't take showers, use bottled water."

A July 14, 2005, memo showed that Halliburton's public relations department knew of the problem.

"I don't want to turn it into a big issue right now," staff member Jennifer Dellinger wrote in the memo, "but if we end up getting some media calls I want to make sure we have all the facts so we are ready to respond."

Halliburton's performance in Iraq has been criticized in a number of military audits, and congressional Democrats have contended that the Bush administration has favored the company with noncompetitive contracts.


The Other Big Brother
The Pentagon has its own domestic spying program. Even its leaders say the outfit may have gone too far.

By Michael Isikoff

Jan. 30, 2006 issue - The demonstration seemed harmless enough. Late on a June afternoon in 2004, a motley group of about 10 peace activists showed up outside the Houston headquarters of Halliburton, the giant military contractor once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney. They were there to protest the corporation's supposed "war profiteering." The demonstrators wore papier-mache masks and handed out free peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches to Halliburton employees as they left work. The idea, according to organizer Scott Parkin, was to call attention to allegations that the company was overcharging on a food contract for troops in Iraq. "It was tongue-in-street political theater," Parkin says.

But that's not how the Pentagon saw it. To U.S. Army analysts at the top-secret Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), the peanut-butter protest was regarded as a potential threat to national security. Created three years ago by the Defense Department, CIFA's role is "force protection"—tracking threats and terrorist plots against military installations and personnel inside the United States. In May 2003, Paul Wolfowitz, then deputy Defense secretary, authorized a fact-gathering operation code-named TALON—short for Threat and Local Observation Notice—that would collect "raw information" about "suspicious incidents." The data would be fed to CIFA to help the Pentagon's "terrorism threat warning process," according to an internal Pentagon memo.

A Defense document shows that Army analysts wrote a report on the Halliburton protest and stored it in CIFA's database. It's not clear why the Pentagon considered the protest worthy of attention—although organizer Parkin had previously been arrested while demonstrating at ExxonMobil headquarters (the charges were dropped). But there are now questions about whether CIFA exceeded its authority and conducted unauthorized spying on innocent people and organizations. A Pentagon memo obtained by NEWSWEEK shows that the deputy Defense secretary now acknowledges that some TALON reports may have contained information on U.S. citizens and groups that never should have been retained. The number of reports with names of U.S. persons could be in the thousands, says a senior Pentagon official who asked not be named because of the sensitivity of the subject.

CIFA's activities are the latest in a series of disclosures about secret government programs that spy on Americans in the name of national security. In December, the ACLU obtained documents showing the FBI had investigated several activist groups, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and Greenpeace, supposedly in an effort to discover possible ecoterror connections. At the same time, the White House has spent weeks in damage-control mode, defending the controversial program that allowed the National Security Agency to monitor the telephone conversations of U.S. persons suspected of terror links, without obtaining warrants.

Last Thursday, Cheney called the program "vital" to the country's defense against Al Qaeda. "Either we are serious about fighting this war on terror or not," he said in a speech to the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank. But as the new information about CIFA shows, the scope of the U.S. government's spying on Americans may be far more extensive than the public realizes.

It isn't clear how many groups and individuals were snagged by CIFA's dragnet. Details about the program, including its size and budget, are classified. In December, NBC News obtained a 400-page compilation of reports that detailed a portion of TALON's surveillance efforts. It showed the unit had collected information on nearly four dozen antiwar meetings or protests, including one at a Quaker meetinghouse in Lake Worth, Fla., and a Students Against War demonstration at a military recruiting fair at the University of California, Santa Cruz. A Pentagon spokesman declined to say why a private company like Halliburton would be deserving of CIFA's protection. But in the past, Defense Department officials have said that the "force protection" mission includes military contractors since soldiers and Defense employees work closely with them and therefore could be in danger.

CIFA researchers apparently cast a wide net and had a number of surveillance methods—both secretive and mundane—at their disposal. An internal CIFA PowerPoint slide presentation recently obtained by William Arkin, a former U.S. Army intelligence analyst who writes widely about military affairs, gives some idea how the group operated. The presentation, which Arkin provided to NEWSWEEK, shows that CIFA analysts had access to law-enforcement reports and sensitive military and U.S. intelligence documents. (The group's motto appears at the bottom of each PowerPoint slide: "Counterintelligence 'to the Edge'.") But the organization also gleaned data from "open source Internet monitoring." In other words, they surfed the Web.

That may have been how the Pentagon came to be so interested in a small gathering outside Halliburton. On June 23, 2004, a few days before the Halliburton protest, an ad for the event appeared on houston.indymedia.org, a Web site for lefty Texas activists. "Stop the war profiteers," read the posting. "Bring out the kids, relatives, Dick Cheney, and your favorite corporate pigs at the trough as we will provide food for free."

Four months later, on Oct. 25, the TALON team reported another possible threat to national security. The source: a Miami antiwar Web page. "Website advertises protest planned at local military recruitment facility," the internal report warns. The database entry refers to plans by a south Florida group called the Broward Anti-War Coalition to protest outside a strip-mall recruiting office in Lauderhill, Fla. The TALON entry lists the upcoming protest as a "credible" threat. As it turned out, the entire event consisted of 15 to 20 activists waving a giant BUSH LIED sign. No one was arrested. "It's very interesting that the U.S. military sees a domestic peace group as a threat," says Paul Lefrak, a librarian who organized the protest.

Arkin says a close reading of internal CIFA documents suggests the agency may be expanding its Internet monitoring, and wants to be as surreptitious as possible. CIFA has contracted to buy "identity masking" software that would allow the agency to create phony Web identities and let them appear to be located in foreign countries, according to a copy of the contract with Computer Sciences Corp. (The firm declined to comment.)

Pentagon officials have broadly defended CIFA as a legitimate response to the domestic terror threat. But at the same time, they acknowledge that an internal Pentagon review has found that CIFA's database contained some information that may have violated regulations. The department is not allowed to retain information about U.S. citizens for more than 90 days—unless they are "reasonably believed" to have some link to terrorism, criminal wrongdoing or foreign intelligence. There was information that was "improperly stored," says a Pentagon spokesman who was authorized to talk about the program (but not to give his name). "It was an oversight." In a memo last week, obtained by NEWSWEEK, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England ordered CIFA to purge such information from its files—and directed that all Defense Department intelligence personnel receive "refresher training" on department policies.

That's not likely to stop the questions. Last week Democrats on the Senate intelligence committee pushed for an inquiry into CIFA's activities and who it's watching. "This is a significant Pandora's box [Pentagon officials] don't want opened," says Arkin. "What we're looking at is hints of what they're doing." As far as the Pentagon is concerned, that means we've already seen too much.


How Dick Cheney Used The NSA
For Domestic Spying Pre-9/11

By Jason Leopold
20 January, 2006

In the months before 9/11, thousands of American citizens were inadvertently swept up in wiretaps, had their emails monitored, and were being watched as they surfed the Internet by spies at the super-secret National Security Agency, former NSA and counterterrorism officials said.

The NSA, with full knowledge of the White House, crossed the line from routine surveillance of foreigners and suspected terrorists into illegal activity by continuing to monitor the international telephone calls and emails of Americans without a court order. The NSA unintentionally intercepts Americans' phone calls and emails if the agency's computers zero in on a specific keyword used in the communication. But once the NSA figures out that they are listening in on an American, the eavesdropping is supposed to immediately end, and the identity of the individual is supposed to be deleted. While the agency did follow protocol, there were instances when the NSA was instructed to keep tabs on certain individuals that became of interest to some officials in the White House.

What sets this type of operation apart from the unprecedented covert domestic spying activities the NSA had been conducting after 9/11 is a top secret executive order signed by President Bush in 2002 authorizing the NSA to target specific American citizens. Prior to 9/11, American citizens were the subject of non-specific surveillance by the NSA that was condoned and approved by President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, according to former NSA and counterterrorism officials.

The sources, who requested anonymity because they were instructed not to talk about NSA activities but who hope they can testify before Congress about the domestic spying, said that in December 2000, the NSA completed a report for the incoming administration titled "Transition 2001," which explained, among other things, how the NSA would improve its intelligence gathering capabilities by hiring additional personnel.

Moreover, in a warning to the incoming administration, the agency said that in its quest to compete on a technological level with terrorists who have access to state-of-the-art equipment, some American citizens would get caught up in the NSA's surveillance activities. However, in those instances, the identities of the Americans who made telephone calls overseas would be "minimized," one former NSA official said, in order to conceal the identity of the American citizen picked up on a wiretap.

"What we're supposed to do is delete the name of the person," said the former NSA official, who worked as an encryption specialist.

The former official said that even during the Clinton administration, the NSA would inadvertently obtain the identities of Americans citizens in its wiretaps as a result of certain keywords, like bomb or jihad, NSA computers are programmed to identify. When the NSA prepares its reports and transcripts of the conversations, the names of Americans are supposed to be immediately destroyed.

By law, the NSA is prohibited from spying on a United States citizen, a US corporation or an immigrant who is in this country on permanent residence. With permission from a special court, the NSA can eavesdrop on diplomats and foreigners inside the US.

"If, in the course of surveillance, NSA analysts learn that it involves a US citizen or company, they are dumping that information right then and there," an unnamed official told the Boston Globe in a story published October 27, 2001.

But after Bush was sworn in as president, the way the NSA normally handled those issues started to change dramatically. Vice President Cheney, as Bob Woodward noted in his book Plan of Attack, was tapped by Bush in the summer of 2001 to be more of a presence at intelligence agencies, including the CIA and NSA.

"Given Cheney's background on national security going back to the Ford years, his time on the House Intelligence Committee, and as secretary of defense, Bush said at the top of his list of things he wanted Cheney to do was intelligence," Woodward wrote in his book about the buildup to the Iraq war. "In the first months of the new administration, Cheney made the rounds of the intelligence agencies - the CIA, the National Security Agency, which intercepted communications, and the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency. "

It was then that the NSA started receiving numerous requests from Cheney and other officials in the state and defense departments to reveal the identities of the Americans blacked out or deleted from intelligence reports so administration officials could better understand the context of the intelligence.

Separately, at this time, Cheney was working with intelligence agencies, including the NSA, to develop a large-scale emergency plan to deal with any biological, chemical or nuclear attack on US soil.

Requesting that the NSA reveal the identity of Americans caught in wiretaps is legal as long as it serves the purpose of understanding the context of the intelligence information.

But the sources said that on dozens of occasions Cheney would, upon learning the identity of the individual, instruct the NSA to continue monitoring specific Americans caught in the wiretaps if he thought more information would be revealed, which crossed the line into illegal territory.

Cheney advised President Bush of what had turned up in the raw NSA reports, said one former White House official who worked on counterterrorism related issues.

"What's really disturbing is that some of those people the vice president was curious about were people who worked at the White House or the State Department," one former counterterrorism official said. "There was a real feeling of paranoia that permeated from the vice president's office and I don't think it had anything to do with the threat of terrorism. I can't say what was contained in those taps that piqued his interest. I just don't know."

An NSA spokesperson would not comment for this story. Because of the level of secrecy at the agency, it's impossible to ascertain for the record how far the agency has gone in its domestic surveillance.

James Bamford, the author of the bestselling books The Puzzle Palace and Body of Secrets, which blew the door wide open by first revealing the NSA's covert activities, said he doesn't believe terrorism was a priority for the administration before 9/11 and he doesn't think the agency targeted specific Americans as it is doing now.

"I looked into that theory," Bamford said in an interview. "And I was assured that domestic surveillance was a black area the NSA stayed away from before 9/11. The NSA was sort of a side agency before 9/11. At that point they were looking for a mission. Terrorism was not a big priority. (American) names may have been picked up but I was told they dropped them immediately after. That's the procedure."

But Bamford said it's possible the NSA may have conducted the type of spying prior to 9/11 that the former NSA officials described. "It's hard to tell" if that happened, Bamford said. "It's a very secret agency."

In the summer of 2001, the NSA spent millions of dollars on a publicity campaign to repair its public image by taking the unprecedented step of opening up its headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland to reporters, to dispel the myth that the NSA was spying on Americans.

In a July 10, 2001, segment on "Nightline," host Chris Bury reported that "privacy advocates in the United States and Europe are raising new questions about whether innocent civilians get caught up in the NSA's electronic web."

Then-NSA Director Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden, who was interviewed by "Nightline," said it was absolutely untrue that the agency was monitoring Americans who are suspected of being agents of a foreign power without first seeking a special warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

"We don't do anything willy-nilly," Hayden said. "We're a foreign intelligence agency. We try to collect information that is of value to American decision-makers, to protect American values, America - and American lives. To suggest that we're out there, on our own, renegade, pulling in random communications, is - is simply wrong. So everything we do is for a targeted foreign intelligence purpose. With regard to the - the question of industrial espionage, no. Period. Dot. We don't do that."

But, when asked "How do we know that the fox isn't guarding the chicken coop?" Hayden responded by saying that Americans should trust the employees of the NSA.

"They deserve your trust, but you don't have to trust them," Hayden said. "We aren't off the leash, so to speak, guarding ourselves. We have a body of oversight within the executive branch, in the Department of Defense, in the president's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, which is comprised of both government and nongovernmental officials. You've got both houses of Congress with - with very active - in some cases, aggressive - intelligence oversight committees with staff members who have an access badge to NSA just like mine."

One former NSA official said in response to Hayden's 2001 interview, "What do you expect him to say? He's got to deny it. I agree. We weren't targeting specific people, which is what the President's executive order does. However, we did keep tabs on some Americans we caught if there was an interest" by the White House. "That's not legal. And I am very upset that I played a part in it."

James Risen, the New York Times reporter credited with exposing the NSA's covert domestic surveillance activities that came as a result of a secret executive order President Bush issued in 2002, wrote in his just-published book, State of War, that the administration was very aggressive in its intelligence gathering activities before 9/11. However, Risen does not say that means the administration permitted the NSA to spy on Americans.

"It is now clear that the White House went through the motions of the public debate over the (2001) Patriot Act, all the while knowing that the intelligence community was secretly conducting a far more aggressive domestic surveillance campaign," Risen wrote in State of War.

Jason Leopold is the author of the explosive memoir, NEWS JUNKIE, to be published in April on Process/Feral House books.


Iraq Déjà Vu: Cheney Already Undermining Rice’s Diplomatic Efforts on Iran

Think Progress

Iran will likely soon be referred to the U.N. Security Council. The State Department’s stated hope is that this move will coalesce world opinion leading into a new round of negotiations, which thus far have been undertaken with little to no direct involvement from three central players: Russia, China, and the United States.

In other words, this is a new effort to solve the issue diplomatically — not, as hardliners argue, to move directly to punitive measures like strict sanctions or military action. As Robert Joseph, under secretary of state for arms control and international security, said Wednesday, “We’ve always said that going to the Security Council is not an end in itself and did not signal an end to negotiations.”

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice went even further:

“Nobody is saying that there have to be immediate sanctions in the Security Council,” Rice said in an interview with CBS News.

“Everybody wants to give the Iranians a chance to show us — to reconsider their position,” she said. …

“And then, we’re going to have consultations about what to do next,” she said. “I don’t think anyone is talking about sanctions today. We’re talking now about the referral and then we’ll see what’s necessary.”

Actually, someone is talking about sanctions today, describing them as the “number one item on the agenda.” Here’s Vice President Cheney, asked about Iran on Wednesday by Fox News’ Tony Snow:

Well, I think the next step will be probably to go before the U.N. Security Council. What would be probably the number one item on the agenda would be the resolution that could be enforced by sanctions, were they (the Iranians) to fail to comply with it.

So how long before we learn of a newly-formed White House Iran Group?


Are Bush, Cheney & Rumsfeld Guilty Of Major Crimes?

Jim Downey's Rants & Raves
January 10th, 2006

President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld are, in my understanding of criminal law, guilty of second degree murder or manslaughter by way of reckless disregard for the lives of over 2000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. Their collective disregard for the safety of our military members is a clear criminal conspiracy to ignore the facts. They have knowingly, without regard for the consequences—with full knowledge of the potential for injury, permanent disability, and death—ignored the need for proper vehicle and body armor for troops in the field.

A recent study indicates that proper body armor would have prevented over eighty percent of the injuries that are caused by combat and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The study comes from within the military structure, as reported by Associated Press:

“The unreleased study last summer by the Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner looked at 93 fatal wounds from the start of the war in March 2003 through June 2005. It concluded that 74 were bullet or shrapnel wounds to shoulders or areas of the torso not protected by ceramic armor plating.” – 01/10/2006

It is important to note that the study is not the first notification that body armor was needed. In April, 2004, there was clamor over the lack of proper armor, indicating that over twenty percent of injuries incurred could have been less deadly had there been proper armor for the most widely used light-weight personnel vehicle, the so-called “Humvee.” The Hummer vehicles being used in combat situations in Afghanistan and Iraq were not equipped with full armor, exposing the undercarriage of the Humvee to the full effects, and additional potential for secondary shrapnel, of the IEDs being used by the Taliban, Iraqi insurgents and foreign mercenaries involving themselves in the battles for a stable Iraq.

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld responded to questions regarding the lack of full and proper armor for the Humvee by stating, “As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.” SecDef Donald Rumsfeld – 12/08/2005

Rumsfeld also blamed the defense industry and manufacturers of the armor for not ramping up faster and supplying the Pentagon with the requested adjunct armor kits faster. However, major manufacturers of the armor for the Humvee indicated that they were indeed up to the task of supplying the armor, but the Pentagon and Department of Defense had not responded to their inquiries and status reports.

"We've been telling the Pentagon for months that we have the capacity to double our production," said former U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon, a consultant for ArmorWorks of Tempe. We're ready, and we haven't heard a thing." www.azcentral.com – 12/10/2004

As late as April, 2005, there were continued reports that Humvees were still not fully and properly armored, and that Republican members of congress were opposing the funding needed to properly fit the vehicles already in the areas of operation. www.azcentral.com – 04/28/2005

Despite letters sent to President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld, including one sent by Senator Chris Dodd (D- Connecticutt), the matter of proper armor of vehicles and body armor has largely gone unnoticed and ignored by the Commander-in-Chief and the Secretary of Defense, the two highest civilian authorities in regard to military operations. Although many Americans, including veterans and families of those serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, have spoken out regarding the lack of proper armor, these voices have remained “cries in the desert” and treated as minor nuisances to the current administration.

Other studies concluded that the use of better equipped vehicles like the Stryker medium-weight fighting vehicle would have been a better choice altogether. As a result, at least 142 members of the military were killed by mines, IEDs or RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) that may have been thwarted by proper armor.

"Almost all those soldiers were killed while in unprotected vehicles, which means that perhaps one in four of those killed in combat in Iraq might be alive if they had had stronger armor around them." Newsweek Magazine – April, 2004

In November, 2003, the military reported that the newly developed Interceptor line of body armor, which could withstand most small arms fire and shrapnel flying about as a result of IEDs and mines, were being rushed to the frontlines of Afganistan and Iraq.

“The Army and Marines are rushing to get enough body armor into Iraq and Afghanistan by December for everyone who needs it, as fast as it comes off the assembly line. ‘Body armor is saving lives,’ Moran emphasized. ‘There have been dozens and dozens of instances where body armor has saved lives of individual soldiers. We're producing that as quickly as we possibly can.’ Army Col. John Norwood, PEO Soldier's project manager for soldier equipment, said all soldiers in Iraq will have body armor by December.” usmilitary.about.com/cs/weapons/a/newbodyarmor.htm – 11/01/2003

Now comes the internal report from the summer of 2005 that our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines still do not have the full body armor that would protect them from death in over 80 percent of the cases involving IEDs, mines and small arms fire.

Some responses to the report have indicated that it would cost approximately $260 per service member to provide the full body armor. The defense against providing the additional body armor indicates that the cost may be prohibitive in nature. The lack of consideration for the cost of battlefield treatment, surgery, rehabilitation, VA benefits, burial, and payments to military family members is quite striking. The cost of lives lost, the after care of those wounded, the continued care for those permanently injured, and other concerns is far greater than the $260 it would cost to provide the armor to each and every member of the military serving in harm’s way.

Family members of those serving in combat areas are actively seeking out ways to supply full body armor to their sons and daughters serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is even a law that calls for the military to reimburse family members that have purchased and shipped armor to their relatives serving in combat zones. It is noteworthy that this law has gone largely ignored and unimplemented, even though it was passed, and signed into law by President Bush, several months ago.

Further, the current administration touts its support for our troops. President Bush has declared his respect and praise for the members of our military that serve at great sacrifice to themselves and their families. But how much respect and admiration does this administration have for our troops if there is continued delay in providing proper armor—vehicle and body armor—after OVERWHELMING evidence that it saves lives, money and the honor of our great nation?

The fact that President Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney and Secretary Rumsfeld have not addressed these issues in a full and expeditious manner is prima facie evidence of a reckless disregard for the lives of our troops. Their collective disregard for the safety of our troops, which has resulted in over 2000 deaths and almost 16,000 wounded in Iraq alone, is evidence of criminal wrongdoing. The federal criteria for manslaughter is as follows:

“Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought. Every murder perpetrated by poison, lying in wait, or any other kind of willful, deliberate, malicious, and premeditated killing; or committed in the perpetration of, or attempt to perpetrate, any arson, escape, murder, kidnapping, treason, espionage, sabotage, aggravated sexual abuse or sexual abuse, child abuse, burglary, or robbery; or perpetrated as part of a pattern or practice of assault or torture against a child or children; or perpetrated from a premeditated design unlawfully and maliciously to effect the death of any human being other than him who is killed, is murder in the first degree. ANY OTHER MURDER IS MURDER IN THE SECOND DEGREE.” USC Title 18, Part I, Ch. 51, §1111. Murder – www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode (emphasis added)

The most common definition for second degree murder involves the reckless disregard of a duty to act to protect life, such as that found in the New York definition:

“Second-degree murder is ordinarily defined as 1) an intentional killing that is not premeditated or planned, nor committed in a reasonable "heat of passion" or 2) a killing caused by dangerous conduct and the offender's obvious lack of concern for human life.” – http://criminal.findlaw.com/crimes/a-z/murder_second_degree.html

The common definition of manslaughter also involves the concept of reckless disregard for human life or conduct that leads to the death of others:

“Involuntary manslaughter usually refers to an unintentional killing that results from recklessness or criminal negligence, or from an unlawful act that is a misdemeanor or low-level felony.” – http://criminal.findlaw.com/crimes/a-z/manslaughter_involuntary.html

At the very least, there are grounds for the crime of conspiracy, which is defined as acts in concert:

“A criminal conspiracy exists when two or more people agree to commit almost any unlawful act, then take some action toward its completion. The action taken need not itself be a crime, but it must indicate that those involved in the conspiracy knew of the plan and intended to break the law. One person may be charged with and convicted of both conspiracy and the underlying crime based on the same circumstances.” – http://criminal.findlaw.com/crimes/a-z/conspiracy.html

If we examine the conduct of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, we can see that there has been a reckless disregard for the safety and lives of our troops. They have acted in concert and those actions have led to the deaths of others. Unfortunately, each of these people are protected from such charges in the case of military action. So our only recourse under the Constitution is the avenue of impeachment, or accepting their voluntary resignation from office.

As a veteran, I am appalled at the lack of respect and concern for our troops in the field. I am further outraged by the lack of adequate response to the established need for vehicle and body armor. Three years of controversy over the armor issue is a ludicrous and unwarranted amount of time. Eighty percent of the wounds received could have been less damaging and less deadly if our troops were better protected. That means out of every 10 soldiers, sailors, airmen or marines injured or killed in the field, EIGHT of them could have been saved or received less severe wounds. If that is not criminal neglect, I cannot fathom a better definition. Sending our troops into combat without the highest protection and best equipment possible is a crime.


USW Says Bush Record Makes Mockery of Cheney Harley Visit

KANSAS CITY, Mo., Jan. 6 /PRNewswire/ --

The United Steelworkers union today took exception to the visit of Vice President Dick Cheney to the Harley-Davidson factory in Kansas City, pointing out that the Bush Administration has done far too little to help workers in the nation's manufacturing sector.

"Crediting Dick Cheney and this administration's policies with the success
of Harley-Davidson - or any other American manufacturing plant - is like
awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to China for its actions at Tien An Men
Square," said David Foster, District 11 Director of the United Steelworkers,
which represents workers at the Harley-Davidson plant visited by the vice

Over the past five years, the U.S. manufacturing base has shed good jobs
at an alarming rate. In the first two years of the Bush presidency alone over
1.5 million manufacturing jobs were lost, according to an analysis by the AFL-
CIO. Over 63,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in Missouri between 1998-2002.
Employment in manufacturing fell to 14.3 million nationwide by March 2005,
lower than it was in 1945.

At the same time, the U.S. trade deficit in goods has grown to
approximately $1.78 billion a day.

The administration showed its colors at year's end when Bush turned his
back on several thousand U.S. workers who make steel pipes, when he refused to
place limits on Chinese-made steel pipe imports flooding the U.S. market. In
October, the U.S. International Trade Commission found Chinese imports were a
threat to domestic industry and jobs, and recommended that the president
impose import limits.

"Cheney's appearance is especially galling a week after this
administration refused to back up its own International Trade Commission
ruling that China is dumping steel pipe products into the U.S., threatening
the jobs of thousands of American steelworkers," Foster said.


Cheney strongly backs eavesdropping operation

Jan 4, 3:21 PM (ET)
By Patricia Wilson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Dick Cheney on Wednesday strongly defended a secret domestic eavesdropping operation and said that had it been in place before the September 11 attacks the Pentagon might have been spared.

Cheney insisted that the highly classified program, authorized by President George W. Bush after hijackers flew planes into the World Trade Center's twin towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, had helped prevent potential terrorist attacks and did not violate civil liberties.

He said as the memory of September 11 faded, some politicians were "yielding to the temptation to downplay the ongoing threat to our country and to back away from the business at hand."

"The enemy that struck on 9/11 is weakened and fractured yet it is still lethal and planning to hit us again. Either we are serious about fighting this war or we are not," Cheney told the Heritage Foundation think tank.

Revelations that the National Security Agency was secretly monitoring phone calls between people in the United States and al Qaeda suspects abroad has sparked an outcry from Democrats and Republicans. Many questioned whether it violates the U.S. Constitution.

A 1978 law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, forbids domestic spying on U.S. citizens without the approval of a special court. Bush secretly authorized the NSA to intercept communications without court approval.

The agency may have begun to broaden its eavesdropping even before Bush's authorization, according to a declassified letter released by Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, leader of the minority Democrats in the House of Representatives.

"There are no communications more important to the safety of the United States than those related to al Qaeda that have one end in the United States," Cheney said. "If we'd been able to do this before 9/11, we might have been able to pick up on two of the hijackers who flew a jet into the Pentagon."

"They were in the United States, communicating with al Qaeda associates overseas, but we didn't know they were here plotting until it was too late," he said.

Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin dismissed Cheney's argument as "the kind people like to make sometimes when they're trying to cover their tracks."

He said that before September 11, the government could, with court approval, have tried to intercept such conversations.


Cheney said Bush was committed to protecting civil liberties and had made clear that "our duty to uphold the law of the land admits no exceptions in wartime."

Pointing out that four years and four months had passed without another attack in the United States, Cheney acknowledged a "natural impulse" to let down one's guard.

However, he said, "America has been protected not by luck, but by sensible policy decisions, by decisive action at home and abroad, and by round-the-clock efforts on the part of people in law enforcement, intelligence, the military and homeland security."

Pelosi's letter, written four years ago, said that Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, who was then NSA director, informed the House intelligence committee of a change in the scope of the agency's activities at an October 1, 2001, briefing.

"I am concerned whether, and to what extent, the National Security Agency has received specific presidential authorization for the operations you are conducting," said Pelosi, then the intelligence committee's ranking Democrat.

Pelosi's office also released a heavily edited October 18, 2001, reply from Hayden which said: "In my briefing, I was attempting to emphasize that I used my authorities to adjust NSA's collection and reporting."