Friday, July 07, 2006

 

US Troops Death Toll Nears 9/11 Level

The number of total US military deaths in the US occupation of Iraq is climbing steadily higher, and right now is pegged at 2,523. This is just shy of the official 9/11 death toll, which has been established at 2,752, a difference of 229 deaths. The total number of US military deaths in the "War on Terror", however, has already surpassed those suffered in NYC and Washington. The inclusion of the 311 US soldiers killed in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan brings the US total to 2,834... 82 more deaths than 9/11.

All numbers are as of 7/7/2006.


Friday, June 30, 2006

 

H.R. 895

I thought I'd post a copy of the anti- New York Times resolution passed in the House recently. I accessed this online on June 30th 2006 at 2:00pm from http://thomas.loc.gov/. I haven't edited it at all.



IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

June 28, 2006

Mr. OXLEY submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Financial Services


RESOLUTION

Supporting intelligence and law enforcement programs to track terrorists and terrorist finances conducted consistent with Federal law and with appropriate Congressional consultation and specifically condemning the disclosure and publication of classified information that impairs the international fight against terrorism and needlessly exposes Americans to the threat of further terror attacks by revealing a crucial method by which terrorists are traced through their finances.

Whereas the United States is currently engaged in a global war on terrorism to prevent future attacks against American civilian and military interests at home and abroad;

Whereas intelligence programs are essential to gathering critical information necessary for identifying, disrupting, and capturing terrorists before they carry out further attacks;

Whereas there is a national security imperative for maintaining the secrecy of our intelligence capabilities from our potential enemies;

Whereas effective intelligence depends on cooperation with foreign governments and individuals who trust the United States to protect their confidences;

Whereas the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction found that `the scope of damage done to our collection capabilities from media disclosures of classified information is well documented. Hundreds of serious press leaks have significantly impaired U.S. capabilities against our hardest targets';

Whereas the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive intelligence information inflicts significant damage to United States activities in the global war on terrorism by assisting terrorists in developing countermeasures to evade United States intelligence capabilities, costs the United States taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in lost capabilities, and ultimately endangers American lives;

Whereas the 1998 disclosure of classified information regarding efforts to monitor the communications of Usama bin Laden eliminated a valuable source of intelligence information on al Qaeda's activities, an example of the significant damage caused by unauthorized disclosures;

Whereas following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Congress passed the USA PATRIOT ACT, which included anti-terrorist financing provisions that bolster Federal Government and law enforcement capabilities to find and disrupt the financiers of terrorist organizations;

Whereas following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the President, with the support of Congress, directed the Federal Government to use all appropriate measures to identify, track, and pursue not only those persons who commit terrorist acts here and abroad, but also those who provide financial or other support for terrorist activity;

Whereas consistent with this directive, the United States Government initiated a lawfully classified Terrorist Finance Tracking Program and the Secretary of the Treasury issued lawful subpoenas to gather information on suspected international terrorists through bank transaction information;

Whereas under the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program, the United States Government only reviews information as part of specific terrorism investigations and based on intelligence that leads to targeted searches, such as searches of a specific individual or entity;

Whereas the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program is firmly rooted in sound legal authority based on Executive Orders and statutory mandates, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977 and the United Nations Participation Act;

Whereas the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program consists of the appropriate and limited use of transaction information while maintaining respect for individual privacy;

Whereas the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program has rigorous safeguards and protocols to protect privacy in that record searches must identify a terrorism-related basis, and regular, independent audits of the program have confirmed that the United States Government has consistently observed the established safeguards and protocols;

Whereas appropriate Members of Congress, including the members of the Committees on Intelligence of the Senate and House of Representatives, have been briefed on the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program and have conducted oversight of the Program;

Whereas the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program has successfully provided vital intelligence in support of the global war on terrorism, including information leading to the capture of Hambali, the Operations Chief of Jemaah Islamiyah, an al Qaeda affiliate, who masterminded the 2002 nightclub bombing in Indonesia that killed over 200 people;

Whereas the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program has helped authorities uncover terrorist financiers worldwide and find Uzair Paracha, an al Qaeda money launderer operating in the United States;

Whereas Congress has authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to explore the implementation of systems to review all cross-border wire transactions;

Whereas the bipartisan 9/11 Commission recommended that `Vigorous efforts to track terrorist financing must remain front and center in U.S. counterterrorism efforts';

Whereas persons in positions of trust and responsibility granted access to highly sensitive intelligence programs violated their solemn obligations not to disclose classified information and made unauthorized disclosures regarding the program;

Whereas at some point before June 23, 2006, classified information regarding the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program was illegally and improperly disclosed to members of the news media;

Whereas beginning on June 23, 2006, certain media organizations knowingly published details about a classified program that the United States Government had legally and with appropriate safeguards used to track the financing of terrorism, including specific intelligence gathering methods;

Whereas the Administration, Members of Congress, and the bipartisan chairmen of the 9/11 Commission requested that media organizations not disclose details of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program so that terrorists would not shift their financing to channels in the international financial system that are less easily observed by intelligence agencies;

Whereas the disclosure of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program has unnecessarily complicated efforts by the United States Government to prosecute the war on terror and may have placed the lives of Americans in danger both at home and in many regions of the world, including active-duty armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan;

Whereas persons who have access to classified information, or who have classified information passed onto them, have a responsibility to the people of the United States not to endanger the populace through their exercise of the right to freedom of speech; and

Whereas Federal statutes criminalize the unauthorized disclosure and publication of sensitive intelligence information, regardless of the source: Now, therefore, be it


 

Killing the Messenger

As of late, it seems as though whenever the media reports about the egregiously illegal actions of the Bush administration, the issues are somehow twisted around and journalists are stuck with the blame. Yesterday the House, caught in the clutches of Republicans, approved a resolution introduced by Rep. Michael Oxley, (R) Ohio, condemning media sources for doing their job by a vote of 227-183.

What is going on in this country? Doesn't anyone else recognize this as an attack on the First Amendment? The answer, of course, is that yes, some people do see this for what it is. The House vote was largely drawn down party lines, with republicans falling into line one by one against the Democrats, and the Democrats themselves accusing the Republicans of trying to "intimidate the press". Just look at the last passage of the resolution:

(4) expects the cooperation of all news media organizations in protecting the lives of Americans and the capability of the government to identify, disrupt, and capture terrorists by not disclosing classified intelligence programs such as the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program.

Carl Hulse of The New York Times reports that "
Republicans refused to allow a vote on a Democratic alternative, which supported tracking terror financing and raised concern about leaks of classified material, including the 'names of clandestine service officers of the Central Intelligence Agency,' a clear reference to the Valerie Wilson case."

Oh that's right, there was another widely publicized media leak a while back, this one involving an undercover CIA agent named Valerie Plame. Where was the mighty republican outrage at this traitorous disclosure of highly classified information? This is a disgusting example of biased reactions.

I am appalled by the manner with which this administration has blatantly ignored the laws of this country. Every time they are caught in another scandal, they simply declare that 'classified information has been leaked' and scream about terrorism and national security. What arrogance.

Bush and the rest of the Republican Party are watching their numbers plummet, and yet despite this growing disapproval, they are still astonishingly good at avoiding any true repercussions. But if the American people begin to truly believe that they are not being heard, that there is no consequence for treason, and that our political system has fallen into tyranny, I have a bad feeling that the inevitable result of this severe mistreatment of our country will be a revolt.

Lets hope that the Democrats win the next few elections.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

 

Time to go, Joe

Recently Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont launched their respective television ads against one another, Lieberman hoping to stem Lamont's momentum and Lamont hoping to gain even more political footing. I've been following the race for the primary fairly closely, and I was struck by the differences in the two TV spots.

In an extremely immature fashion, Lieberman's commercial revisits his 1988 'sleeping bear' campaign, which in one fell swoop tries to paint Lowell Weicker as bitter and lazy, and at the same time attempts to portray Lamont as an inexperienced cub who is only running at Weicker's bidding. Weicker is, of course, the liberal republican who lost the race for senate to Lieberman back in '88. I found the commercial to be seriously distasteful, a clear sign that Lieberman is feeling the heat from Lamont's rising poll numbers.

Lamont's commercial, on the other hand, struck me as clever and well planned. Earlier today I got my first glimpse of his ad about Lieberman, which consisted of footage of President Bush giving a speech. The footage of the president was dubbed over with audio from a speech given by Lieberman, unedited, about The United States' involvement in Iraq. The message Lamont was trying to put forth was quite clear, and best summarized by the final words of the commercial: "If it talks like George W. Bush and acts like George W. Bush, it’s certainly not a Connecticut democrat."

In other realms of the campaigns Lieberman's camp has made desperate attempts to sully Lamont's image, as evidenced in a New York Times article from May of this year. The Times' William Yardley and Stacey Stowe quote Lieberman's campaign manager, Sean Smith, as claiming that, "[Lamont] pumped half a million of his own money to try to buy [the democratic] convention." Lamont responded by pointing out that Lieberman outspent him 3 to 1, soundly quashing the senator's attempt at criticism.

I find it telling that Lieberman, our 'veteran senator', feels that he has to resort to petty campaign ads and misinformation to beat his new opponent, while Lamont manages craft a smart campaign without sinking to the all-too-common low of using smear tactics and fear factors.


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