Saturday, February 11, 2006

Ex-C.I.A. Official Says Iraq Data Was Distorted - New York Times

Ex-C.I.A. Official Says Iraq Data Was Distorted - New York Times

February 11, 2006
Ex-C.I.A. Official Says Iraq Data Was Distorted

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10 — A C.I.A. veteran who oversaw intelligence assessments about the Middle East from 2000 to 2005 on Friday accused the Bush administration of ignoring or distorting the prewar evidence on a broad range of issues related to Iraq in its effort to justify the American invasion of 2003.

The views of Paul R. Pillar, who retired in October as national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia, echoed previous criticism from Democrats and from some administration officials, including Richard A. Clarke, the former White House counterterrorism adviser, and Paul H. O'Neill, the former treasury secretary.

But Mr. Pillar is the first high-level C.I.A. insider to speak out by name on the use of prewar intelligence. His article for the March-April issue of Foreign Affairs, which charges the administration with the selective use of intelligence about Iraq's unconventional weapons and the chances of postwar chaos in Iraq, was posted Friday on the journal's Web site after it was reported in The Washington Post.

"If the entire body of official intelligence on Iraq had a policy implication, it was to avoid war — or, if war was going to be launched, to prepare for a messy aftermath," Mr. Pillar wrote. "What is most remarkable about prewar U.S. intelligence on Iraq is not that it got things wrong and thereby misled policymakers; it is that it played so small a role in one of the most important U.S. policy decisions in decades."

In an interview on Friday, Mr. Pillar said he recognized that his views would become part of the highly partisan, three-year-old battle over the administration's reasons for going to war. But he said his goal in speaking publicly was to help repair what he called a "broken" relationship between the intelligence produced by the nation's spies and the way it is used by its leaders.

"There is ground to be replowed on Iraq," said Mr. Pillar, now a professor at Georgetown University. "But what is more important is to look at the whole intelligence-policy relationship and get a discussion and debate going to make sure what happened on Iraq doesn't happen again."

President Bush and his aides have denied that the Iraq intelligence was politicized. Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, said in November, "Our statements about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein were based on the aggregation of intelligence from a number of sources, and represented the collective view of the intelligence community. Those judgments were shared by Republicans and Democrats alike."

Reports by the Senate Intelligence Committee and the presidential commission on weapons intelligence headed by Laurence H. Silberman, a senior federal judge, and Charles S. Robb, the former Virginia governor and senator, found that C.I.A. analysts had not been pressed to change their views. A second phase of the Senate committee review, on how administration officials used intelligence, has not been completed.

Mr. Pillar alleged that the earlier studies had considered only "the crudest attempts at politicization" and that the real pressures were far more subtle. "Intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions that had already been made," chiefly to topple Mr. Hussein in order to "shake up the sclerotic power structures of the Middle East," he wrote.

According to Mr. Pillar's account, the administration shaped the answers it got in part by repeatedly asking the same questions, about the threat posed by Iraqi weapons and about ties between Mr. Hussein and Al Qaeda. When intelligence analysts resisted, he wrote, some of the administration's allies accused Mr. Pillar and others of "trying to sabotage the president's policies."

In light of such accusations, he wrote, analysts began to "sugarcoat" their conclusions.

Mr. Pillar called for a formal declaration by Congress and the White House that intelligence should be clearly separated from policy. He proposed the creation of an independent office, modeled on the Government Accountability Office and the Congressional Budget Office, to assess the use of intelligence at the request of members of Congress.

Mr. Pillar suggested that the root of the problem might be that top intelligence officials serve at the pleasure of the president.

A C.I.A. spokeswoman, Jennifer Millerwise Dyck, said the agency had no comment.

Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said that the C.I.A. had long resisted intervention in Iraq, and that internal pressure on analysts to resist war was greater than any external pressure.

"If the C.I.A. had spent less time leaking its opinions, throughout the 1990's, opposed to any conflict with Iraq, and more time developing assets inside Iraq, the agency would have more credibility and better intelligence," said Ms. Pletka, who served for a decade, until 2002, as a Republican staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Pentagon document mentions Venezuela as a concern

KRT Wire | 02/10/2006 | Pentagon document mentions Venezuela as a concern

Pentagon document mentions Venezuela as a concern
Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON - A new Pentagon long-term planning document for the first time mentions Venezuela as a concern, reflecting Washington's mounting sense that President Hugo Chavez's fiery populism represents a challenge to U.S. security.

The 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review says poor income distribution and weak democratic institutions have led to a ``resurgence of populist authoritarian political movements in some countries, such as Venezuela.''

``These movements ... are a source of political and economic instability,'' added the QDR, issued last week. Put out every four years, the QDR serves as a strategic guide for future U.S. troop allocations and weapons purchases.

Venezuela's mention in the QDR was unusual because the document typically discusses broad trends and seldom mentions individual countries. Cuba, for example, was not mentioned. The 2001 QDR did not mention any Latin American country.

The QDR's reference to Venezuela was the latest in a steady drumbeat of U.S. statements criticizing the leftist Chavez as an increasingly authoritarian ruler at home, a buyer of massive new weaponry and exporter of an aggressive brand of populism that could destabilize Latin America.

Earlier this week, Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte said Venezuela posed the most serious threat to U.S. interests in Latin America and was seeking closer ties with North Korea and Iran - both accused of having or seeking nuclear weapons. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld compared Chavez to the also democratically elected Adolf Hitler.

Ryan Henry, the deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, asked later by a reporter about the Venezuela reference in the QDR, said ``we do view with concern what's happened in Venezuela, we think that that's going in the wrong direction.''

In November, defense analyst William Arkin reported in his Washington Post blog that a Pentagon budget planning document, known as FY08-13 POM and dated in October, had listed Venezuela as a ``rogue nation'' along with Syria. Pentagon officials confirmed the document's existence to The Miami Herald, but denied it represented an official policy view of Caracas.

Venezuela's ambassador to Washington, Bernardo Alvarez, says his country is only promoting alternatives to the Bush agenda of development for Latin America. ``We are not a threat to the national interest of the United States,'' he told a group of journalists Thursday.

Chavez has repeatedly alleged that the Bush administration supported a 2002 coup attempt against him and is now plotting to either assassinate him or invade his oil-rich country. Late last month he alleged that Washington was considering declaring Venezuela a state sponsor of terrorism, but gave no details. Washington has just as repeatedly denied all the charges.

The Bush administration has been wary of the populist leader for some time. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has voiced her concern that governments elected democratically may then govern undemocratically.

``It is a greater threat than if you're dealing with an illegitimate authoritarian regime,'' said Steve C. Ropp, a Latin American and national security specialist at the University of Wyoming.

The paradox, he added, is that such populist challenges are likely to get worse as more countries become democracies and elect leaders that offer quick-fix solutions for income inequality and corruption, and often blame Washington's policies for their troubles.

In the QDR, Venezuela is mentioned in a section titled ``shaping the choices of countries at strategic crossroads,'' which argues that major and emerging powers will affect the future strategic position of Washington and its friends.

``The United States will attempt to shape these choices in ways that foster cooperation and mutual security interests,'' the QDR says. ``At the same time, the United States, its allies and partners must also hedge against the possibility that a major or emerging power could choose a hostile path in the future.''

VA Nurse Investigated for "Sedition" for Criticizing Bush

Published on Friday, February 10, 2006 by the Progressive
VA Nurse Investigated for “Sedition” for Criticizing Bush
by Matthew Rothschild

Laura Berg is a clinical nurse specialist at the VA Medical Center in Albuquerque, where she has worked for 15 years.

Shortly after Katrina, she wrote a letter to the editor of the weekly paper the Alibi criticizing the Bush Administration.

After the paper published the letter in its September 15-21 issue, VA administrators seized her computer, alleged that she had written the letter on that computer, and accused her of “sedition.”

Here’s what her letter said.

“I am furious with the tragically misplaced priorities and criminal negligence of this government,” it began. “The Katrina tragedy in the U.S. shows that the emperor has no clothes!” She mentioned that she was “a VA nurse” working with returning vets. “The public has no sense of the additional devastating human and financial costs of post-traumatic stress disorder,” she wrote, and she worried about the hundreds of thousands of additional cases that might result from Katrina and the Iraq War.

“Bush, Cheney, Chertoff, Brown, and Rice should be tried for criminal negligence,” she wrote. “This country needs to get out of Iraq now and return to our original vision and priorities of caring for land and people and resources rather than killing for oil. . . . We need to wake up and get real here, and act forcefully to remove a government administration playing games of smoke and mirrors and vicious deceit.

Otherwise, many more of us will be facing living hell in these times.”

After her computer was seized, Berg wrote a memo to her bosses seeking information and an explanation.

Mel Hooker, chief of the human resources management service at the Albuquerque VA, wrote Berg back on November 9 and acknowledged that “your personal computer files did not contain the editorial letter written to the editor of the weekly Alibi.”

But rather than apologize, he leveled the sedition charge: “The Agency is bound by law to investigate and pursue any act which potentially represents sedition,” he said. “In your letter . . . you declared yourself ‘as a VA nurse’ and publicly declared the Government which employs you to have ‘tragically misplaced priorities and criminal negligence’ and advocated, ‘act forcefully to remove a government administration playing games of smoke and mirrors and vicious deceit.’ ”

Berg, who is not talking to the press, is “scared for her job” and “pretty emotionally distressed,” says Peter Simonson, executive director of the ACLU of New Mexico.

“We were shocked to see the word ‘sedition’ used,” Simonson tells The Progressive. “Sedition? That’s like something out of the history books.”

In a press release, Simonson also said: “Is this government so jealous of its power, so fearful of dissent, that it needs to threaten people who openly oppose its policies with charges of ‘sedition’?”

The ACLU of New Mexico is working in Berg’s behalf. It has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents relating to this incident. And it is asking “at the very least” that Berg “receive a pubic apology from Mr. Hooker to remedy the unconstitutional chilling effect on the speech of VA employees that has resulted from these intimidating tactics,” according to a letter from the New Mexico ACLU to the VA’s Office of Regional Counsel.

Hooker refused to return a phone call, and the VA’s Office of Regional Counsel refused to comment but referred questions to public affairs.

"While VA does not prohibit employees from exercising their freedom of speech, we do ask that such activity occurs outside government premises and not during their official tour of duty,” says Bill Armstrong, a public affairs specialist for New Mexico’s VA Health Care System. “When we have reason to believe that this policy is not being adhered to, we have the obligation to review an individual's computer activity."

The VA in Washington also refused to comment on the sedition charge.

“We don’t discuss internal personnel issues,” says Phil Budahn, a VA spokesman in Washington, D.C.

Berg has an additional concern: that the VA may have got the FBI on her case.

A union employee “shared with me that Mel Hooker conveyed to him that my letter had been reported ‘up through VA channels’ to the FBI in Washington, and that this had been discussed and confirmed” with union officials at the national office, Berg wrote in her November 2 complaint. (The union she belongs to is the American Federation of Government Employees.)

Hooker denied that the VA had contacted the FBI. “The Agency has no knowledge of any report alleged to have been made to the FBI regarding you or your letter,” he said in his November 9 memo.

Meanwhile, Senator Jeff Bingaman, Democrat of New Mexico, has taken up the Berg case.

“I am writing to express my deep concern regarding news reports that Ms. Laura Berg . . . was investigated for sedition after writing a letter that was critical of the current Administration,” Senator Bingaman wrote to R. James Nicholson, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, on February 7. “In a democracy, expressing disagreement with the government’s actions does not amount to sedition or insurrection—it is, and must remain, protected speech.”

Friday, February 10, 2006

Halliburton Secretly Doing Business with Key Member of Iran's Nuclear Team

Published on Saturday, August 6, 2005 by

by Jason Leopold

Scandal-plagued Halliburton, the oil services company once headed by Vice President Dick was secretly working with one of Iran’s top nuclear program officials on natural gas related projects and, allegedly, selling the officials' oil development company key components for a nuclear reactor, according to Halliburton sources with intimate knowledge into both companies’ business dealings.
Just last week a National Security Council report said Iran was a decade away from acquiring a nuclear bomb. That time frame could arguably have been significantly longer if Halliburton, which just reported a 284 percent increase in its fourth quarter profits due to its Iraq reconstruction contracts, was not actively providing the Iranian government with the financial means to build a nuclear weapon.
Now comes word that Halliburton, which has a long history of flouting U.S. law by conducting business with countries the Bush administration said has ties to terrorism, was working with Cyrus Nasseri, the vice chairman of the board of directors of Oriental Oil Kish, one of Iran’s largest private oil companies, on oil development projects in Tehran. Nasseri is also a key member of Iran’s nuclear development team.
“Nasseri, a senior Iranian diplomat negotiating with Europe over Iran's controversial nuclear program is at the heart of deals with US energy companies to develop the country's oil industry”, the Financial Times reported.
Nasseri was interrogated by Iranian authorities in late July for allegedly providing Halliburton with Iran’s nuclear secrets and accepting as much as $1 million in bribes from Halliburton, according to Iranian government officials.
It’s unclear whether Halliburton was privy to any of Iran’s nuclear activities. A company spokesperson did not return numerous calls for comment. A White House spokesperson also did not return calls for comment.
Oriental Oil Kish dealings with Halliburton became public knowledge in January when the company announced that it had subcontracted parts of the South Pars natural gas drilling project to Halliburton Products and Services, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Halliburton that is registered in the Cayman Islands.
Following the announcement, Halliburton announced the South Pars gas field project in Tehran would be its last project in Iran. The BBC reported that Halliburton, which took in $30-$40 million from its Iranian operations in 2003, "was winding down its work due to a poor business environment."
Halliburton, under mounting pressure from lawmakers in Washington, D.C., pulled out of its deal with Nasseri's company in May, but has done extensive work on other areas of the Iranian gas project and was still acting in an advisory capacity to Nasseri's company, two people who have knowledge of Halliburton's work in Iran said.
In attempt to curtail other U.S. companies from engaging in business dealings with rogue nations, the Senate approved legislation July 26 that would penalize companies that continue to skirt U.S. Law by setting up offshore subsidiaries as a way to legally conduct business in Libya, Iran and Syria, and avoid U.S. sanctions under International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is part of the Senate Defense Authorization bill.
"It prevents U.S. corporations from creating a shell company somewhere else in order to do business with rogue, terror-sponsoring nations such as Syria and Iran," Collins said in a statement.
"The bottom line is that if a U.S. company is evading sanctions to do business with one of these countries, they are helping to prop up countries that support terrorism - most often aimed against America," she said.
The law currently doesn’t prohibit foreign subsidiaries from conducting business with rogue nations provided that the subsidiaries are truly independent of the parent company.
But Halliburton’s Cayman Island subsidiary never did fit that description.
Halliburton first started doing business in Iran as early as 1995, while Vice President Cheney was chief executive of the company and in possible violation of U.S. Sanctions According to a February 2001 report in the Wall Street Journal, "Halliburton Products & Services Ltd. works behind an unmarked door on the ninth floor of a new north Tehran tower block. A brochure declares that the company was registered in 1975 in the Cayman Islands, is based in the Persian Gulf sheikdom of Dubai and is "non-American." But, like the sign over the receptionist's head, the brochure bears the company's name and red emblem, and offers services from Halliburton units around the world." Moreover, mail sent to the company’s offices in Tehran and the Cayman Islands is forwarded to the company’s Dallas headquarters.
Not surprisingly, in a letter drafted by trade groups representing corporate executives vehemently objected to the amendment saying it would lead to further hatred and perhaps incite terrorist attacks on the U.S and “greatly strain relations with the United States’ primary trading partners.”
"Extraterritorial measures irritate relations with the very nations the U.S. must secure cooperation from to promote multilateral strategies to fight terrorism and to address other areas of mutual concern," said a letter signed by the Coalition for Employment through Exports, Emergency Coalition for American Trade, National Foreign Trade Council, USA Engage, U.S. Council on International Business and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "Foreign governments view U.S. efforts to dictate their foreign and commercial policy as violations of sovereignty, often leading them to adopt retaliatory measures more at odds with U.S. goals.”
Still, Collins’ amendment has some holes. As Washington Times columnist Frank Gaffney pointed out in a July 25 story, “the Collins amendment would seek to penalize individuals or entities who evade IEEPA sanctions — if they are "subject to the jurisdiction of the United States."
“This is merely a restatement of existing regulations. The problem with this formulation is that, in the process of purportedly closing one loophole, it would appear to create new ones. As Sen. Collins told the Senate: "Some truly independent foreign subsidiaries are incorporated under the laws of the country in which they do business and are subject to that country's laws, to that legal jurisdiction. There is a great deal of difference between a corporation set up in a day, without any real employees or assets, and one that has been in existence for many years and that gets purchased, in part, by a U.S. firm. It is a safe bet that every foreign subsidiary of a U.S. Company doing business with terrorist states will claim it is one of the ones Sen. Collins would allow to continue enriching our enemies, not one prohibited from doing so.”
Going a step further, Dow Jones Newswires reported that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sent letters in June to energy corporations demanding that the companies disclose in their security filings any business dealings with terrorist supporting nations.
“The letters have been sent by the SEC's Office of Global Security Risk, a special division that monitors companies with operations in Iran and other countries under U.S. Sanctions, which were created by the U.S. Congress in 2004,” Dow Jones reported.
The move comes as investors have become increasingly concerned that they may be unwillingly supporting terrorist activity. In the case of Halliburton, the New York City Comptroller's office threatened in March 2003 to pull its $23 million investment in the company if Halliburton continued to conduct business with Iran.
The SEC letters are aimed at forcing corporations to disclose their profits from business dealings rogue nations. Oil companies, such as Devon Energy Corp., ConocoPhillips, Marathon Oil Corp. and Occidental Petroleum Corp. that currently conduct business with countries that sponsor terrorism, have not disclosed the profits received from terrorist countries in their most recent quarterly reports because the companies don’t consider the earnings “material.”
Devon Energy was until recently conducting business in Syria. The company just sold its stake in an oil field there. ConocoPhillips has a service contract with the Syrian Petroleum Co. that expires on Dec. 31.
Jason Leopold is the author of the explosive memoir, News Junkie, to be released in the spring of 2006 by Process/Feral House Books. Visit Leopold's website at for updates.
© 2005 Jason Leopold

Feds see terrorists under every bed- James Bovard/LA Times/ Annistonstar
Feds see terrorists under every bed
By James Bovard
Special to The Los Angeles Times
President Bush and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales insist that the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping of American citizens is a necessary “terrorist surveillance program.” And polls show that most Americans support permitting the government to tap the phone calls and e-mails of those considered “suspicious.”
But what exactly does that mean? A close look suggests that the feds’ definition of a “suspected terrorist” may not meet the laugh test.
In the mass roundup of more than 1,200 people shortly after 9/11, for example, it took very little for a Muslim or Arab illegal immigrant to be considered a “suspected terrorist,” according to a 2003 report by the Justice Department’s inspector general. Arab students were locked up as suspected terrorists for working at pizza parlors (in violation of their student visas); a Pakistani immigrant was jailed after attracting attention because he and his Queens housemates let their grass grow long and hung their underwear out to dry on the fence; and one Muslim was arrested because “he had taken a roll of film to be developed and the film had multiple pictures of the World Trade Center on it but no other Manhattan sites,” the inspector general noted. Some FBI agents were even instructed to look in phone books to find Arab- or Muslim-sounding names, according to Newsweek columnist Steven Brill.
The Department of Homeland Security in May 2003 urged 18,000 local and state police departments to treat critics of the war on terror as potential terrorists, according to a confidential DHS memo made public in 2004. Suicide bombers, the feds told local lawmen, could be detected by such traits as a “pale face from recent shaving of beard”; they “may appear to be in a `trance’ ”; their eyes may “appear to be focused and vigilant”; and their clothing may either be “out of sync with the weather” or just “loose.”
The Transportation Security Administration is also extremely arbitrary in how it designates names for its “no-fly” list. There are an estimated 70,000 names in the registry — many of them stuck there for reasons that even the government cannot explain. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., were placed on the list. Everyone with the common name of “David Nelson” is treated like a would-be bomber — as are 4-year-old children unlucky enough to have a name matching one on the list.
Since December, according to media reports, TSA agents have been chatting up airline passengers to determine if they are terrorists, looking for such warning signs as “involuntary physical and psychological reactions” — including whether people appear stressed out, frightened or deceptive. The number of people who fear flying outnumber al-Qaida associates by at least a few thousand-fold, yet visible anxiety will be enough for the TSA to justify taking people aside for far more intensive examination.
And the Pentagon has its own catchall definitions of suspicious and/or terrorist-related behavior. Its “counterintelligence field activity” program, ostensibly set up to protect domestic military bases and personnel, has been covertly gathering information on Americans who have done nothing more suspicious than protest against the Iraq war. Names gathered in such fishnets are being added to a Pentagon database involving the “terrorism threat warning process,” according to Newsweek.
When Americans hear Bush say “terrorism surveillance program,” they should recognize that the crosshairs may very well be on them. The more expansive and arbitrary the definition of “suspected terrorist,” the more of our rights the feds can violate. Invoking the word “terrorism” must not raze all limits on the government’s power to target citizens who pose no threat to public safety.
James Bovard is the author of “Attention Deficit Democracy” and eight other books.

Insiders say Bush is full of it

Intel pros say Bush is lying about foiling 2002 terror attack
Posted at February 10, 2006 06:56 AM in The Rant .


Outraged intelligence professionals say President George W. Bush is "cheapening" and "politicizing" their work with claims the United States foiled a planned terrorist attack against Los Angeles in 2002.

"The President has cheapened the entire intelligence community by dragging us into his fantasy world," says a longtime field operative of the Central Intelligence Agency. "He is basing this absurd claim on the same discredited informant who told us Al Qaeda would attack selected financial institutions in New York and Washington."

Within hours of the President’s speech Thursday claiming his administration had prevented a major attack, sources who said they were current and retired intelligence pros from the CIA, NSA, FBI and military contacted Capitol Hill Blue with angry comments disputing the President’s remarks.

“He’s full of shit,” said one sharply-worded email.

Although none were willing to allow use of their names, saying doing so would place them in legal jeopardy, we were able to confirm that at least four of the 23 who contacted us currently work, or had worked, within the U.S. intelligence community.

But Los Angeles Mayor Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is willing to go on the record, claiming Bush blind-sided his city with the claims.

"I'm amazed that the president would make this (announcement) on national TV and not inform us of these details through the appropriate channels," the mayor says. "I don't expect a call from the president — but somebody." Villaraigosa also said he has twice requested meetings with Bush to discuss security issues for Los Angeles and was turned down both times.

Intelligence pros say much of the information used by Bush in an attempt to justify his increased spying on Americans by the National Security Agency, trampling of civil rights under the USA Patriot Act, and massive buildup of the Department of Homeland Security, now the nation’s largest federal bureaucracy, was “worthless intel that was discarded long ago.”

“A lot of buzz circulated in the months following the September 11, 2001, attacks,” says an NSA operative. “Snippets here and there were true but most were just random information that could never be confirmed. One thing we do know about al Qaeda is that they seldom use the same technique twice. They tried a car bomb to bring down the World Trade Center and it failed. Then they went to planes. The next time will be something different because we’ve geared up to prevent hijacking planes and using them as flying bombs.”

In August 2004, just as the Presidential campaign was about to heat up, the Bush White House raised the terror alert, claiming attacks were imminent on major financial institutions. The alert, apparently timed to steal thunder from Democrat John Kerry’s nomination for President, was withdrawn after administration officials admitted it was based on old information from a discredited informant.

The discredited information dated back to the same period when intelligence agencies began receiving reports of a planned attack against Los Angeles.

Counterterrorism officials say they are surprised that Bush claimed the plot was "set in motion."

"There was no definitive plot. It never materialized or got past the thought stage," says a senior counterterrorism official, who has worked at the CIA and the FBI, who talked to Capitol Hill Blue and the New York Daily News.

FBI Deputy Director John Pistole refused to characterize it as an advanced plot when discussing it in June 2004.

Former DHS secretary Tom Ridge admits the U.S. raised terror alerts for the wrong reasons and now says he often disagreed with the timing of such alerts but was overruled by the White House.

"More often than not we were the least inclined to raise it," Ridge says. "Sometimes we disagreed with the intelligence assessment. Sometimes we thought even if the intelligence was good, you don't necessarily put the country on alert, There were times when the White House was really aggressive about raising it, and we said, 'For that?' We often lost the argument."

Ridge left DHS in February 2005 and Bush replaced him with Michael Chertoff who agrees with the “cry wolf” strategy of the White House.

“Chertoff is a lackey,” says Kevin Riley, a retired New York City Detective who knew Chertoff during his days as a U.S. Attorney in New York. “He’ll do whatever Bush tells him to do.”

Intelligence pros at established Washington agencies laugh at DHS operatives, calling them “Keystone Kops” and “overpaid rent-a-cops,” saying they lack any real expertise in dealing with terrorism.

“DHS is a political police force,” says a retired CIA agent. “They exist to enforce the political propaganda program of George W. Bush. That’s all they’re good for and they’re not very good at that.”

© Copyright 2006 by Capitol Hill Blue

The Ayatollah Joke Book

The Ayatollah Joke Book

By Michael Kinsley
Friday, February 10, 2006; A19

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the noted wit, expert on freedom and unelected
religious leader -- the leader who counts -- of Iran, observed the
other day that in the West, "casting doubt or negating the genocide of
the Jews is banned but insulting the beliefs of 1.5 billion Muslims is
allowed." He apparently thought that this was a devastating point.
Touche, Ayatollah Khamenei.

The worldwide fuss over 12 cartoon images of the prophet Muhammad
(some mocking, some benign) that ran in a Danish newspaper has already
killed a number of people. Many self-styled voices of Islam have made
the bizarre comparison between showing pictures of Muhammad and
expressing doubt about the Holocaust. A government-controlled Tehran
newspaper announced a contest for cartoons about the Holocaust, asking
"whether freedom of expression" applies to "the crimes committed by
the United States and Israel." In a spirit of "see how you like it," a
European Muslim group posted on the Web a cartoon of Anne Frank in bed
with Hitler.

Muslim complaints about a Western double standard would be more
telling if the factual premise were accurate. But it is not. In fact,
it is nearly the opposite of the truth. Nothing is easier and more
common in the West, including the United States, than criticizing the
United States -- except for criticizing Israel. A few Western
countries have stupid laws, erratically enforced, against denying the
Holocaust, but that hasn't stopped Holocaust denial from becoming a
literary industry and cultural phenomenon. Nevertheless, there has
been no rioting about the historical reality of the Holocaust. No one
has died over it.

Meanwhile, whatever point these European Muslims were making with
their cartoon of Hitler and Anne Frank is more or less disproved by
their very exercise. No one tried to stop them from putting the
cartoon on the Web. The notion that jokes about Frank are beyond the
pale is provably false. There's a play running in New York right now
called "25 Questions for a Jewish Mother." It's a monologue written
and acted by stand-up comic Judy Gold, who says on stage every night
that her mother used to read to her from a pop-up version of Anne
Frank's diary, and would say, "Pull the tab, Judith. Alive. Pull it
again. Dead." Maybe you had to be there. But the New York Times
reviewer called the play "fiercely funny, honest and moving" and did
not demand that the author be executed or even admonished.

By contrast, in a spectacular exercise of self-censorship, almost
every major newspaper in this country is refraining from publishing
the controversial Danish cartoons, even though they are at the center
of a major news story that these papers cover at length every day. An
editorial in the Times on Wednesday said that not publishing the
cartoons was "a reasonable choice" because they would offend many
people and "are so easy to describe in words." As I write I am looking
at a front-page photo in today's Times of Mariah Carey singing into a
microphone. Words do it justice, I think.

Of course it is not Western values that are trampling freedom of
expression, it is the ayatollah's own values, combined with the threat
of violence. The other problem with his little joke about double
standards, and with the whole, supposedly mordant, comparison between
denying the Holocaust and portraying the prophet is that the offended
Muslims do not want a world where people are free to do both. They
don't even want a world where people are not free to do either, which
would at least be consistent. They want a world where you may not
portray Muhammad (even flatteringly, slaying infidels or whatnot), but
you may deny the Holocaust all day long.

The bewildered prime minister of Denmark, trying to calm the whirlwind
that has descended on his innocent, unsuspecting country, gets it
spectacularly wrong when he reassures disgruntled Muslims that Denmark
supports "freedom of religion" and is "one of the world's most
tolerant and open societies." Tolerance, openness and freedom of
religion are not what they have in mind.

A lively debate is going on about whether Islam really does forbid any
portrayal of the prophet, however benign, or whether that is a recent
innovation of some subset of the faithful with possible ulterior
motives. This debate misses the point. Some Christians believe they
are required to wear particular sorts of clothing. Some Jews and
Muslims don't eat pork. They don't claim that their religion requires
other people to wear special clothing or avoid eating pork. Tolerance
and ecumenism can do only so much. They have nothing to offer a Muslim
in Afghanistan who is personally insulted and enraged about an image
that appears in a newspaper in Denmark.

The shameful American position on all this is boilerplate endorsement
of free expression combined with denunciation of the cartoons as an
"unacceptable" insult. When three protesters died this week in a
confrontation at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan, an American
spokesman there said that Afghans "should judge us on what we're doing
here, not on what some cartoonist is doing somewhere else." But the
limits of free expression cannot be set by the sensitivities of people
who don't believe in it. How can President Bush continue to ask young
Americans to sacrifice their lives for freedom in the Muslim world, if
he won't even defend freedom verbally when forces from that world are
suppressing it in our own?
© 2006 The Washington Post Company

Early Warning by William M. Arkin -

Early Warning by William M. Arkin -

William M. Arkin on National and Homeland Security
No Big Deal, Pentagon Says

Oh my goodness, Donald Rumsfeld, says. Well-meaning, honest mistakes: "no big deal."

That's how the Secretary of Defense describes his Department's own admission to Congress that the Pentagon "inappropriately" collected information on anti-war and anti-military protestors in the United States.

I've written in these pages that in contrast to the government's remorseless defense of warantless domestic NSA surveillance, the Pentagon has been quick to apologize for its post 9/11 overreach.

"There is nothing more important to the U.S. military than the trust and good will of the American people," the Department wrote (pdf) to Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) on January 27. "The DOD values that trust and good will and consequently views with the (sic) great concern any potential violation of the strict DOD policy governing the protection of civil liberties."
Is that all there is here? A few over zealous protectors of America just trying to connect the dots?

Ever since I worked with NBC News in December to first report the existence of Pentagon databases that were tracking domestic demonstrations and anti-military activity, the Defense Department has moved quickly to review the TALON force protection reporting system that it instituted in 2003.

The Department describes TALON "as a source of timely information about possible foreign terrorist threats to their personnel and facilities." TALON reports were collected by military intelligence, counterintelligence, and law enforcement personnel together into a database which was used to analyze patterns of activity and security issues. It was the military's version of connecting the dots.

In a January 26 letter to Sen. Levin and other Congressional leaders, the Defense Department admits:

"Although the TALON reporting system was intended to document suspicious incidents possibly linked to foreign terrorist threats to DOD resources, some came to view the system as a means to report information about demonstrations and anti-base activity… A very small percentage of these reports were submitted to the TALON/CORNERSTONE database."

All sorts of new procedures and reviews are being implemented, according to the Pentagon, to ensure that the military doesn't inadvertently collect information on U.S. persons in the course of its counter-terrorism and force protection operations.

Speaking at the National Press Club on February 6, Secretary Rumsfeld was asked about the reports of domestic spying by the Pentagon, and said that what took place was "a perfectly understandable thing."

The military, Rumsfeld says,

"decided to establish a program whereby they would be able to observe and do the kind of counter surveillance to see who was taking pictures of military installations or sensitive activities and who was observing them and gather information of that type so that we would not be accused of failing to protect our forces and their families and the military installations in the country."

"Everyone accused the government of not connecting the dots," Rumsfeld continued. "So here they are trying to connect the dots, and someone looks on it and says, oh, my goodness gracious. Isn't that terrible? You're collecting information on people in the United States."

My goodness gracious indeed. Rumsfeld is trying to gloss over the fact that military police and intelligence personnel clearly collected information far beyond potential terrorist's casing U.S. facilities.

Maybe it is no big deal, but more likely, as I've been told by numerous military sources, since 9/11, the military intelligence and counter-terror warriors, like other government spies, have taken it upon themselves to leave no stone unturned, to let no previous restriction stop them in the process of perhaps, maybe, finding terrorists.

These same sources say that for all of the sensitivity training and reform now, if intelligence indicates that terrorists are using student or anti-war groups as cover for their activity, the government won't hesitate to spy and collect information.

White House Knew of Levee's Failure on Night of Storm - New York Times

White House Knew of Levee's Failure on Night of Storm - New York Times

White House Knew of Levee's Failure on Night of Storm

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9 — In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Bush administration officials said they had been caught by surprise when they were told on Tuesday, Aug. 30, that a levee had broken, allowing floodwaters to engulf New Orleans.

But Congressional investigators have now learned that an eyewitness account of the flooding from a federal emergency official reached the Homeland Security Department's headquarters starting at 9:27 p.m. the day before, and the White House itself at midnight.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency official, Marty Bahamonde, first heard of a major levee breach Monday morning. By late Monday afternoon, Mr. Bahamonde had hitched a ride on a Coast Guard helicopter over the breach at the 17th Street Canal to confirm the extensive flooding. He then telephoned his report to FEMA headquarters in Washington, which notified the Homeland Security Department.

"FYI from FEMA," said an e-mail message from the agency's public affairs staff describing the helicopter flight, sent Monday night at 9:27 to the chief of staff of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and recently unearthed by investigators. Conditions, the message said, "are far more serious than media reports are currently reflecting. Finding extensive flooding and more stranded people than they had thought — also a number of fires."

Michael D. Brown, who was the director of FEMA until he resigned under pressure on Sept. 12, said in a telephone interview Thursday that he personally notified the White House of this news that night, though he declined to identify the official he spoke to.

White House officials have confirmed to Congressional investigators that the report of the levee break arrived there at midnight, and Trent Duffy, the White House spokesman, acknowledged as much in an interview this week, though he said it was surrounded with conflicting reports.

But the alert did not seem to register. Even the next morning, President Bush, on vacation in Texas, was feeling relieved that New Orleans had "dodged the bullet," he later recalled. Mr. Chertoff, similarly confident, flew Tuesday to Atlanta for a briefing on avian flu. With power out from the high winds and movement limited, even news reporters in New Orleans remained unaware of the full extent of the levee breaches until Tuesday.

The federal government let out a sigh of relief when in fact it should have been sounding an "all hands on deck" alarm, the investigators have found.

This chain of events, along with dozens of other critical flashpoints in the Hurricane Katrina saga, has for the first time been laid out in detail following five months of work by two Congressional committees that have assembled nearly 800,000 pages of documents, testimony and interviews from more than 250 witnesses. Investigators now have the documentation to pinpoint some of the fundamental errors and oversights that combined to produce what is universally agreed to be a flawed government response to the worst natural disaster in modern American history.

On Friday, Mr. Brown, the former FEMA director, is scheduled to testify before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. He is expected to confirm that he notified the White House on that Monday, the day the hurricane hit, that the levee had given way, the city was flooding and his crews were overwhelmed.

"There is no question in my mind that at the highest levels of the White House they understood how grave the situation was," Mr. Brown said in the interview.

The problem, he said, was the handicapping of FEMA when it was turned into a division of the Homeland Security Department in 2003.

"The real story is with this new structure," he said. "Why weren't more things done, or what prevented or delayed Mike Brown from being able to do what he would have done and did do in any other disaster?"

Although Mr. Bahamonde said in October that he had notified Mr. Brown that Monday, it was not known until recently what Mr. Brown or the Homeland Security Department did with that information, or when the White House was told.

Missteps at All Levels

It has been known since the earliest days of the storm that all levels of government — from the White House to the Department of Homeland Security to the Louisiana Capitol to New Orleans City Hall — were unprepared, uncommunicative and phlegmatic in protecting Gulf Coast residents from the floodwaters and their aftermath. But an examination of the latest evidence by The New York Times shines a new light on the key players involved in the important turning points: what they said, what they did and what they did not do, all of which will soon be written up in the committees' investigative reports.

Among the findings that emerge in the mass of documents and testimony were these:

¶Federal officials knew long before the storm showed up on the radar that 100,000 people in New Orleans had no way to escape a major hurricane on their own and that the city had finished only 10 percent of a plan for how to evacuate its largely poor, African-American population.

¶Mr. Chertoff failed to name a principal federal official to oversee the response before the hurricane arrived, an omission a top Pentagon official acknowledged to investigators complicated the coordination of the response. His department also did not plan enough to prevent a conflict over which agency should be in charge of law enforcement support. And Mr. Chertoff was either poorly informed about the levee break or did not recognize the significance of the initial report about it, investigators said.

¶The Louisiana transportation secretary, Johnny B. Bradberry, who had legal responsibility for the evacuation of thousands of people in nursing homes and hospitals, admitted bluntly to investigators, "We put no plans in place to do any of this."

¶Mayor C. Ray Nagin of New Orleans at first directed his staff to prepare a mandatory evacuation of his city on Saturday, two days before the storm hit, but he testified that he had not done so that day while he and other city officials struggled to decide if they should exempt hospitals and hotels from the order. The mandatory evacuation occurred on Sunday, and the delay exacerbated the difficulty in moving people away from the storm.

¶The New Orleans Police Department unit assigned to the rescue effort, despite many years' worth of flood warnings and requests for money, had just three small boats and no food, water or fuel to supply its emergency workers.

¶Investigators could find no evidence that food and water supplies were formally ordered for the Convention Center, where more than 10,000 evacuees had assembled, until days after the city had decided to open it as a backup emergency shelter. FEMA had planned to have 360,000 ready-to-eat meals delivered to the city and 15 trucks of water in advance of the storm. But only 40,000 meals and five trucks of water had arrived.

Representative Thomas M. Davis III, Republican of Virginia, chairman of the special House committee investigating the hurricane response, said the only government agency that performed well was the National Weather Service, which correctly predicted the force of the storm. But no one heeded the message, he said.

"The president is still at his ranch, the vice president is still fly-fishing in Wyoming, the president's chief of staff is in Maine," Mr. Davis said. "In retrospect, don't you think it would have been better to pull together? They should have had better leadership. It is disengagement."

One of the greatest mysteries for both the House and Senate committees has been why it took so long, even after Mr. Bahamonde filed his urgent report on the Monday the storm hit, for federal officials to appreciate that the levee had broken and that New Orleans was flooding.

Eyewitness to Devastation

As his helicopter approached the site, Mr. Bahamonde testified in October, there was no mistaking what had happened: large sections of the levee had fallen over, leaving the section of the city on the collapsed side entirely submerged, but the neighborhood on the other side relatively dry. He snapped a picture of the scene with a small camera.

"The situation is only going to get worse," he said he warned Mr. Brown, then the FEMA director, whom he called about 8 p.m. Monday Eastern time to report on his helicopter tour.

"Thank you," he said Mr. Brown replied. "I am now going to call the White House."

Citing restrictions placed on him by his lawyers, Mr. Brown declined to tell House investigators during testimony if he had actually made that call. White House aides have urged administration officials not to discuss any conversations with the president or his top advisors and declined to release e-mail messages sent among Mr. Bush's senior advisors.

But investigators have found the e-mail message referring to Mr. Bahamonde's helicopter survey that was sent to John F. Wood, chief of staff to Secretary Chertoff at 9:27 p.m. They have also found a summary of Mr. Bahamonde's observations that was issued at 10:30 p.m. and an 11:05 p.m. e-mail message to Michael Jackson, the deputy secretary of homeland security. Each message describes in detail the extensive flooding that was taking place in New Orleans after the levee collapse.

Given this chain of events, investigators have repeatedly questioned why Mr. Bush and Mr. Chertoff stated in the days after the storm that the levee break did not happen until Tuesday, as they made an effort to explain why they initially thought the storm had passed without the catastrophe that some had feared.

"The hurricane started to depart the area on Monday, and then Tuesday morning the levee broke and the water started to flood into New Orleans," Mr. Chertoff said on CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday, Sept. 4, the weekend after the hurricane hit.

Mr. Chertoff and White House officials have said that they were referring to official confirmation that the levee had broken, which they say they received Tuesday morning from the Army Corps of Engineers. They also say there were conflicting reports all day Monday about whether a breach had occurred and noted that they were not alone in failing to recognize the growing catastrophe.

Mr. Duffy, the White House spokesman, said it would not have made much difference even if the White House had realized the significance of the midnight report. "Like it or not, you cannot fix a levee overnight, or in an hour, or even six hours," he said.

But Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine and chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, said it was obvious to her in retrospect that Mr. Chertoff, perhaps in deference to Mr. Brown's authority, was not paying close enough attention to the events in New Orleans and that the federal response to the disaster may have been slowed as a result.

"Secretary Chertoff was too disengaged from the process," Ms. Collins said in an interview.

Compounding the problem, once Mr. Chertoff learned of the levee break on Tuesday, he could not reach Mr. Brown, his top emergency response official, for an entire day because Mr. Brown was on helicopter tours of the damage.

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, the ranking Democrat on the homeland security committee, said the government confusion reminded him of the period surrounding the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"Information was in different places, in that case prior to the attack," Mr. Lieberman said, "and it wasn't reaching the key decision makers in a coordinated way for them to take action."

Russ Knocke, a homeland security spokesman, said that although Mr. Chertoff had been "intensely involved in monitoring the storm" he had not actually been told about the report of the levee breach until Tuesday, after he arrived in Atlanta.

"No one is satisfied with the response in the early days," Mr. Knocke said.

But he rejected criticism by Senator Collins and others that Mr. Chertoff was disengaged.

"He was not informed of it," Mr. Knocke said. "It is certainly a breakdown. And through an after-action process, that is something we will address."

The day before the hurricane made landfall, the Homeland Security Department issued a report predicting that it could lead to a levee breach that could submerge New Orleans for months and leave 100,000 people stranded. Yet despite these warnings, state, federal and local officials acknowledged to investigators that there was no coordinated effort before the storm arrived to evacuate nursing homes and hospitals or others in the urban population without cars.

Focus on Highway Plan

Mr. Bradberry, the state transportation secretary, told an investigator that he had focused on improving the highway evacuation plan for the general public with cars and had not attended to his responsibility to remove people from hospitals and nursing homes. The state even turned down an offer for patient evacuation assistance from the federal government.

In fact, the city was desperately in need of help. And this failure would have deadly consequences. Only 21 of the 60 or so nursing homes were cleared of residents before the storm struck. Dozens of lives were lost in hospitals and nursing homes.

One reason the city was unable to help itself, investigators said, is that it never bought the basic equipment needed to respond to the long-predicted catastrophe. The Fire Department had asked for inflatable boats and generators, as well as an emergency food supply, but none were provided, a department official told investigators.

Timothy P. Bayard, a police narcotics commander assigned to lead a water rescue effort, said that with just three boats, not counting the two it commandeered and almost no working radios, his small team spent much of its time initially just trying to rescue detectives who themselves were trapped by rising water.

The investigators also determined that the federal Department of Transportation was not asked until Wednesday to provide buses to evacuate the Superdome and the convention center, meaning that evacuees sat there for perhaps two more days longer than necessary.

Mr. Brown acknowledged to investigators that he wished, in retrospect, that he had moved much earlier to turn over major aspects of the response effort to the Department of Defense. It was not until the middle of the week, he said, that he asked the military to take over the delivery and distribution of water, food and ice.

"In hindsight I should have done it right then," Mr. Brown told the House, referring to the Sunday before the storm hit.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Telegraph | News | CIA man held over burglaries

Telegraph | News | CIA man held over burglaries

CIA man held over burglaries
By Francis Harris in Washington
(Filed: 09/02/2006)

A CIA officer has been arrested and charged over a wave of burglaries close to the agency's headquarters in the Washington suburbs.

Some of the 17 break-ins blamed on George Dalmas III involved homes belonging to fellow CIA employees.

Police said the suspect might have used his inside knowledge of CIA rotas to target his colleagues' homes. The burglaries were carried out over a four-month period in the wealthy suburb of McLean, close to the CIA's headquarters in Langley.

Dalmas, 44, was described by the CIA as a "mid-level employee".

An administrative officer, he has been suspended without pay. The agency said it was co-operating with police.

The burglaries began in October and generally took place during office hours, at an average of at least one a week. Dalmas was arrested after a woman walked into her home to find him running down her stairs.

She gave police a description of both the burglar and his black car.

It is alleged that when police raided Dalmas' s home, they found a stash of jewellery, cash, antiques and more than 1,000 stolen items of women's underwear.

A Virginia court set bail for Dalmas at $1.6 million (£950,000).

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Pentagon brass caught with their dirty fingers in the 'assassination cookie jar' -Former Military Assassin & Green Beret In

Former Military Assassin and Green Beret In Vietnam Wins Federal Libel Case Backed By CIA And Pentagon

Pentagon brass caught with their dirty fingers in the 'assassination cookie jar' as jury found former Colonel in Special Forces told the truth in tell-all book exposing CIA-backed assassination attempts and U.S. government policy aimed at killing its own soldiers during the Vietnam War.
5 Feb 2006
By Greg Szymanski

Col. "Dangerous" Dan Marvin, once asked to assassinate a military officer at Bethesda Naval Hospital holding damaging pictures of the JFK autopsy, has "stuck it big time" to the Pentagon brass.

With a recent federal court victory this week revealing hit squads and assassinations are accepted military policy, Col. Marvin fought off a long and costly legal battle for libel concerning statements made in his controversial 2003 book, The Expendable Elite.

After hearing evidence, the jury quickly decided in Col Marvin's favor after only deliberating two hours, coming back with a decision that essentially quashed any attempts by the Pentagon in calling him a liar by what was printed in his book.

"The most difficult part of the whole trial was that the Pentagon bribed and coerced some of my men to lie on the stand about what really happened in Vietnam," said Col. Marvin this week on Greg Szymanski's radio show, The Investigative Journal, where he emphasized the importance of the trial verdict, saying it was "an ultimate victory for the truth and for the American people."

"Originally, years ago when I started working on the book, I made tape recordings of the statements of my men in order to back up my story. We played these tape recordings to the jury and they believed I was telling the truth and not fabricating anything like the government contended."

The saddest moment of the trial, according to Col. Marvin, came when one his former men of Camp A-424 in An Phu, John Strait, took the stand, saying the tapes were fabrications and the incident reported in the book where Col. Marvin talked about saving his life from a mortar blast was also not true.

"I had talked to John's wife when I found out my men were being coerced by the CIA to lie and she told me I couldn't talk to John anymore otherwise they would lose their military pension," said Col. Marvin. "The incident about saving his life also was, of course, true and it saddened me deeply to hear him on the stand."

Col. Marvin in his book also tells how he uncovered the Johnson administration was funneling weapons and providing safe-havens for the enemy during the Vietnam War on the shores of the Mai Cong Delta in Cambodia

He further accused the Pentagon and President Lyndon Johnson of slaughtering many innocent American soldiers in furtherance of a hidden policy to keep the war going at any cost with the intent of losing, not winning the war.

Col. Marvin's trial centered on this warmongering policy as it related to the centerpiece of the book, a CIA mission which Col. Marvin led with his regiment to kill Cambodian Crown Prince Norodum Sihanouk.

In the book, Col. Marvin recounts the CIA orders he received to kill the Prince:

"We want you to take care of it, 'Dangerous,' because we believe you can get the job done. We've been asked to terminate Prince Sihanouk.Your job will be to bring about his death and make it appear to have been done by the Viet Cong," the CIA agent told Col. Marvin.

Col. Marvin recalls the mission came from the "highest authority" and although he accepted, it came with an important stipulation as Col. Marvin demanded an end to the enemy's safe haven's just inside the Cambodian borders and the end to the needless killing of American GI's.

However, when Col Marvin's demands were ignored, he then refused to carry out the Prince Sihanouk hit, causing the American government to then turn on Col. Marvin.

"The CIA or the Company, as we called them, then dispatched an ARVN regiment to kill me and my men for retribution for standing up against the CIA," said Col. Marvin. "Our own government turned on us and would have killed all of us if it wasn't for the dramatic rescue by ARVN Lt. Gen. Quang Van Dang of eight American Green Berets, including myself and hundreds of South Vietnamese who were fighting with us. Gen. Van Dang got wind of the hit squad and basically saved our lives. He is a heroic, brave an honorable man and there is much, much more to his story.

"In 1989 I learned Van Dang had been exiled to Canada, living in poverty as a dishwasher in a por section of Montreal. After the disrupted the CIA hit on our unit, tour government put out a smear campaign, not wanting him to tell the truth and saying he was a drug lord. It just wasn't true and I tried for 10 months to go through diplomatic channels to get him into this country, but nothing worked.

"Finally, I wrote President George H. Bush, saying I would never stop trying to get Van Dang into the U.S. until I was dead or the Lord came to take me. But What I did was slip a little piece of pink paper in the letter saying, 'I am intimately familiar with you involvement in the CIA prior to the date you admitted.' And after that it wasn't more than two weeks that the authority came down to allow Dang in the county.

"So I get ready to go get Dang in a rented U-haul and bring him over the Canadian border in 1989. Two days before I was to leave, I get a call from a friend in the CIA, saying I and Dang were being set up for a Company hit right before the border so I better watch out."

Although Col. Marvin said he had no proof Bush ordered the hit, it is a fact Bush was the first recipient of the note and being the President, should have been able to stop any effort to kill Marvin and Dang since he obviously gave the official nod to let Dang in the country based on Col Marvin's note tucked inside the letter.

"I alerted the Senator from New York that there was going to blood on the border if he didn't do something since I had obtained the volunteer services of five state troopers who were going to follow me and Dang in unmarked cars loaded with assault weapons," recalled Col. Marvin. "The warning to the Senator worked. The day I brought Dang through customs everything went smooth and I even noticed all the cars pulled over to the side of the road a couple miles before the border checkpoint as it was smooth sailing from there. He has always been an honorable man and he and his wife, in their 70's now, are still living happily in California."

Besides the struggle to vindicate Gen. Dang's good name, Col. Marvin's struggle to publish his book was just as difficult.

He first tried to go public with his manuscript almost 20 years ago when he said "he found the Lord" and was no longer afraid of being whacked by military assassins who were trained in the same manner he was through out his career.

After he gathered the inner strength to publish the truth, it took him more than 15 years and 120 rejections from publishers to finally get The Expendable Elite published in 2003 by truth-publisher Kris Millegan.

"I was just about to give up when I met Kris," said Marvin. "I want to say he has stood by me all the way, even when he didn't have to during the lawsuit. My lawyer told him he could have backed out since I had the sole copyright, but Kris stayed with me even in the face of bankruptcy from the legal bills.

Although victorious in court, Col. Marvin and Millegan remain hundreds of thousands in debt, hoping to sell books in order to avert bankruptcy.

"Remember, the truth will set you free and the Lord will provide," said Col. Marvin.

The federal libel lawsuit, ending last Monday, was officially filed by the fraternal organization called the Special Forces Association against Col. Marvin, a group he said t corrupted, bank rolled and used as a front-plaintiff by the CIA and Pentagon.

Tim Bates, who followed the trial closely had this to say about the use of the fraternal organization as a plaintiff against Col. Marvin:

"It is a fact that was brought out in court that the Special Forces Association financed the entire lawsuit against Col. Marvin and Mr. Millegan One can only wonder why this association would get involved in a personal legal battle that has nothing to do with a fraternal organization. I wonder how many members know how much of their dues went to fund this fight.

"The letters from the Special Forces Association (SFA) to Millegan stated they, SFA, had hard evidence to prove the book was nothing but lies. We can only imagine if the evidence presented in court was all they had. I also wonder if the members of the SFA agreed to the spending of their dues for this lawsuit that had to cost in excess of $100,000. With the truth coming out in court, maybe the SFA will get the truth and decide to go in a new direction with new leadership. I would hope Col. Marvin receives an apology in the SFA newsletter, but I won't hold my breath."

For more informative articles go to
Greg Szymanski

CIA ousts al-Qa'eda hunter 'for lack of aggression'

Telegraph | News | CIA ousts al-Qa'eda hunter 'for lack of aggression'

CIA ousts al-Qa'eda hunter 'for lack of aggression'
By Alec Russell in Washington
(Filed: 08/02/2006)

The man at the head of America's efforts to hunt down terrorists has been forced to resign amid concern that he was too cautious in pursuing al-Qa'eda leaders.

Robert Grenier, the head of the CIA's counter-terrorism centre, is the latest in a series of senior officials to resign from the agency over the past year.

Intelligence officials told the Los Angeles Times that the head of the CIA's clandestine service had become increasingly frustrated by Mr Grenier's approach, which he thought too tentative.

However, they insisted that his resignation was not connected with the failure of last month's attempt to kill Ayman al-Zawahiri, the deputy leader of al-Qa'eda, in a missile strike against a remote Pakistani village.

Mr Grenier has been a key figure in America's fight against terrorism since the attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001.

He was the station chief in Islamabad at that time and played a major role in co-ordinating the subsequent campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

He was also pivotal in the countdown to the war against Iraq. In the summer of 2002 he was brought back to the CIA's headquarters and put in charge of a newly-created and euphemistically named Iraq Issues Group.

He was appointed to his new post about a year ago at a time of considerable turmoil at the CIA following the appointment of a new director, Porter Goss.

"The word on Bob was that he was a good officer but not the one for the job and not quite as aggressive as he might have been," a CIA official told the Washington Post. Names David Tennenhouse Chief Executive Officer --DARPA Names David Tennenhouse Chief Executive Officer | Nachrichten | Aktienkurs | Names David Tennenhouse Chief Executive Officer
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Prior to joining Intel, Tennenhouse was Director of the DefenseAdvanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Information TechnologyOffice, where he guided programs in several areas, including search,datamining, information management, machine learning and distributedcomputing. Additionally, Tennenhouse held positions at theMassachusetts Institute of Technology in the Department of ElectricalEngineering and Computer Science, and the Sloan School of Management.

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Tennenhouse earned his bachelor's and master's degrees inengineering from the University of Toronto and completed his Ph.D. atthe Computer Laboratory of the University of Cambridge. He is a fellowof the IEEE, an active member of numerous professional organizations,boards, and committees, and the author of numerous journal articles,research papers, and book chapters. launched its site on September 2004 to make searching theInternet more effective. Today, helps users discover deepinformation from more than 200 available sources, and with the A9Toolbar makes it easy for users to manage and organize the informationthey discover. In January 2005, transformed traditional YellowPages by introducing Yellow Pages and its "BlockView"technology that lets users virtually walk streets and see businessesfrom street-level. In addition to street-level images of more than amillion businesses in 35 U.S. cities, Yellow Pages usesfeatures on that allow users to review, rate, provide moreinformation, create lists, and get recommendations on more than 14million U.S. businesses. Maps brings traditional maps to lifeby combining driving directions and other convenient mapping toolswith BlockView images of millions of places and their surroundingsinto a single interface.

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Amazon and its affiliates operate websites,,,,,,, and

As used herein, "," "we," "our" and similar termsinclude, Inc., and its subsidiaries, unless the contextindicates otherwise.

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This announcement contains forward-looking statements within themeaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21Eof the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Actual results may differsignificantly from management's expectations. These forward-lookingstatements involve risks and uncertainties that include, among others,risks related to potential future losses, significant amount ofindebtedness, competition, management of growth, potentialfluctuations in operating results, international expansion, outcomesof legal proceedings and claims, fulfillment center optimization,seasonality, commercial agreements, acquisitions, and strategictransactions, foreign exchange rates, system interruption, consumertrends, inventory, limited operating history, government regulationand taxation, fraud, and new business areas. More information aboutfactors that potentially could affect's financial resultsis included in's filings with the Securities and ExchangeCommission, including its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the yearended December 31, 2004, and all subsequent filings.

Telegraph | News | How to avoid a marriage disaster, by the Pentagon

Telegraph | News | How to avoid a marriage disaster, by the Pentagon
How to avoid a marriage disaster, by the Pentagon
By Francis Harris in Washington
(Filed: 08/02/2006)

Stung by a soaring divorce rate among the American military, the Pentagon has launched a scheme called "How to avoid marrying a jerk".

Run by the military chaplain's office, the scheme is seeking to slow a fast-rising tide of divorces as America's battle-tested legions serve ever longer tours overseas.

"There is a deep concern and some significant resources aimed at helping families survive," said Lt Col Peter Frederich, of the Pentagon's chaplain office.

The programme being taught at 250 military bases around the country is packed with the acronyms beloved by Americans.

Soldiers are advised to Pick (Premarital Interpersonal Choices and Knowledge) a partner and to study a potential spouse's Faces, or Family experiences, Attitudes, Compatibility, Examples in previous relationships and Skills.

There is even a Ram (relationship attachment model) chart, which is designed to calm those driven into marriage by sexual over-enthusiasm.

The course is designed to make young soldiers ask questions about potential partners and try to assess whether they would be able to cope with the strains of military life.

The issue has become extremely serious for America's military planners and the families that have been left wrecked by marital break-up.

Divorce rates have rocketed since the September 11 suicide attacks, which sent American units on long combat deployments across the globe. There were more than 10,000 divorces last year in the 500,000-strong army. That accounted for 3.5 per cent of other ranks and six per cent of officers, a tripling of the rate in 2001.

With the country's leaders rebranding the war against terrorism as the Long War, the pressure on military families is unlikely to abate.

The Pentagon acknowledges that the strain on family life is especially severe. "The stresses are extreme in the officer corps, especially when we're at war, and officers have an overwhelming responsibility to take care of their soldiers as well as the soldiers' families," Col Pamela Hart told USA Today.

The Pick programme was devised by John Van Epp, a civilian counsellor, who said: "Too many people simply do not know what to look for when dating. Too many people simply do not know how to keep a dating relationship in balance."

The problems for the military have become stark. Some soldiers are returning home with serious physical impairments, while others suffer mental anguish. Advisers say that would test even a well-grounded marriage, and not all unions are that strong.

The latest defence department budget proposes spending around $5.5 billion (£3 billion) on support services to soldiers and their families. That includes the cost of child care, counselling and job hunting for military spouses.

Support for the family has been reinforced by the military's decision to bar all contact between servicemen and prostitutes. America's servicemen have been told that they face court martial for the offence.

The Art of Saying Nothing - New York Times
February 8, 2006
The Art of Saying Nothing
We thought President Bush's two recent Supreme Court nominees set new lows when it came to giving vague and meaningless answers to legitimate questions, but Attorney General Alberto Gonzales made them look like models of openness when he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday about domestic spying. Mr. Gonzales seems to have forgotten the promise he made to the same panel last year when it voted to promote him from White House counsel to attorney general: that he would serve the public interest and stop acting like a hired gun helping a client figure out how to evade the law.
The hearing got off to a bad start when Senator Arlen Specter, the Republican who leads the committee, refused to have Mr. Gonzales testify under oath. Mr. Gonzales repaid this favor with a daylong display of cynical hair-splitting, obfuscation, disinformation and stonewalling. He would not tell the senators how many wiretaps had been conducted without warrants since 2002, when Mr. Bush authorized the program. He would not even say why he was withholding the information.
On the absurd pretext of safeguarding operational details, Mr. Gonzales would not say whether any purely domestic communications had been swept up in the program by accident and what, if anything, had been done to make sure that did not happen. He actually refused to assure the Senate and the public that the administration had not deliberately tapped Americans' calls and e-mail within the United States, or searched their homes and offices without warrants.
Mr. Gonzales repeated Mr. Bush's claim that the program of intercepting e-mail and telephone calls to and from the United States without the legally required warrants was set up in a way that protects Americans' rights. But he would not say what those safeguards were, how wiretaps were approved or how the program was reviewed. He even refused to say whether it had led to a single arrest.
About the only senators Mr. Gonzales managed to answer directly were the more depressingly doctrinaire Republicans, who asked penetrating questions like whether Al Qaeda is a threat to the United States and whether Mr. Bush is trying hard to protect Americans from terrorists.
Generally, Mr. Gonzales stuck to the same ludicrous arguments the administration has continually offered for sidestepping the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which expressly forbids warrantless spying on people in the United States. He said that the president could make his own rules in time of war and that Congress had authorized warrantless spying in giving the president the authority to invade Afghanistan. Only the panel's most blindly loyal Republicans bought that argument.
To his credit, Mr. Specter pressed the attorney general hard on a legal position that, he said, "just defies logic and plain English." Mr. Specter forcefully pointed out that this isn't just an issue of public relations, but of the bedrock democratic principle of checks and balances. He said it is not possible to judge a program without knowing what it involves and said Congress's intelligence panels should review the domestic spying "lock, stock and barrel."
"Because if they disagree with you," he said, "it's the equilibrium of our constitutional system which is involved."
Mr. Gonzales seemed to brush off this idea, something that should surprise no one since Mr. Bush clearly sees no limit to his powers. But even Bush loyalists on the Senate panel seemed at least faintly troubled. Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas said it would be simple to amend the wiretapping law if it's too confining. And Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona suggested that some group — maybe even Congress — review the spying program regularly.
One hopeful sign of nonpartisan sanity came from the House yesterday. Representative Heather Wilson, the New Mexico Republican who heads the subcommittee that supervises the National Security Agency, told The Times that she had "serious concerns" about the spying and wanted a full investigation. With Karl Rove reported to be threatening Election Day revenge against anyone who breaks ranks on this issue, Ms. Wilson deserves support for a principled stand.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Halliburton Subsidiary Gets Contract to Add Temporary Immigration Detention Centers
Halliburton Subsidiary Gets Contract to Add Temporary Immigration Detention Centers

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3 — The Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a contract worth up to $385 million for building temporary immigration detention centers to Kellogg Brown & Root, the Halliburton subsidiary that has been criticized for overcharging the Pentagon for its work in Iraq.

KBR would build the centers for the Homeland Security Department for an unexpected influx of immigrants, to house people in the event of a natural disaster or for new programs that require additional detention space, company executives said. KBR, which announced the contract last month, had a similar contract with immigration agencies from 2000 to last year.

The contract with the Corps of Engineers runs one year, with four optional one-year extensions. Officials of the corps said that they had solicited bids and that KBR was the lone responder.

A spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Jamie Zuieback, said KBR would build the centers only in an emergency like the one when thousands of Cubans floated on rafts to the United States. She emphasized that the centers might never be built if such an emergency did not arise.

"It's the type of contract that could be used in some kind of mass migration," Ms. Zuieback said.

A spokesman for the corps, Clayton Church, said that the centers could be at unused military sites or temporary structures and that each one would hold up to 5,000 people.

"When there's a large influx of people into the United States, how are we going to feed, house and protect them?" Mr. Church asked. "That's why these kinds of contracts are there."

Mr. Church said that KBR did not end up creating immigration centers under its previous contract, but that it did build temporary shelters for Hurricane Katrina evacuees.

Federal auditors rebuked the company for unsubstantiated billing in its Iraq reconstruction contracts, and it has been criticized because of accusations that Halliburton, led by Dick Cheney before he became vice president, was aided by connections in obtaining contracts. Halliburton executives denied that they charged excessively for the work in Iraq.

Mr. Church said concerns about the Iraq contracts did not affect the awarding of the new contract.

Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California, who has monitored the company, called the contract worrisome.

"With Halliburton's ever expanding track record of overcharging, it's hard to believe that the administration has decided to entrust Halliburton with even more taxpayer dollars," Mr. Waxman said. "With each new contract, the need for real oversight grows."

In recent months, the Homeland Security Department has promised to increase bed space in its detention centers to hold thousands of illegal immigrants awaiting deportation. In the first quarter of the 2006 fiscal year, nearly 60 percent of the illegal immigrants apprehended from countries other than Mexico were released on their own recognizance.

Domestic security officials have promised to end the releases by increasing the number of detention beds. Last week, domestic security officials announced that they would expand detaining and swiftly deporting illegal immigrants to include those seized near the Canadian border.

Advocates for immigrants said they feared that the new contract was another indication that the government planned to expand the detention of illegal immigrants, including those seeking asylum.

"It's pretty obvious that the intent of the government is to detain more and more people and to expedite their removal," said Cheryl Little, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center in Miami.

Ms. Zuieback said the KBR contract was not intended for that.

"It's not part of any day-to-day enforcement," she said.

She added that she could not provide additional information about the company's statement that the contract was also meant to support the rapid development of new programs.

Halliburton executives, who announced the contract last week, said they were pleased.

"We are especially gratified to be awarded this contract," an executive vice president, Bruce Stanski, said in a statement, "because it builds on our extremely strong track record in the arena of emergency management support."

Rioting with well-planned spontaneity

Rioting with well-planned spontaneity

Rory McCarthy in Beirut
Monday February 6, 2006
The Guardian

It was one of those unpredictable Lebanese Sunday mornings. The ski slopes in the mountains overlooking Beirut would have been crowded with skiers enjoying the brilliant winter sunshine. Walkers were out along the Corniche, strolling in designer tracksuits. Downtown, the chic restaurants were preparing for lunchtime. And there were a few men on scooters riding around town broadcasting an imminent protest.

It wasn't long before the heavily-laden coaches and minivans began to arrive from Beirut and the rest of Lebanon. They were all full of young, often bearded men who wore headbands and carried identical flags with calligraphic inscriptions in Arabic such as: "There is no god but God and Mohammad is his Prophet" and "O Nation of Muhammad, Wake Up."

rest of article at:,,1703506,00.html

ThreatsWatch.Org: RapidRecon: Pentagon QDR sees China as greatest potential rival

ThreatsWatch.Org: RapidRecon: Pentagon QDR sees China as greatest potential rival
Pentagon QDR sees China as greatest potential rival

The Financial Times takes a look at the Quadrennial Defense Review’s view on China.

Defeating terror networks and preventing the spread of unconventional weapons remain top military priorities. But the QDR also states that “shaping the choices of countries at strategic crossroads” – including China, Russia and India - is just as important to US security. It devotes by far the most detailed discussion to China, saying it is the power most likely to “field disruptive military technologies that could over time offset traditional US military advantages”.

Although the Pentagon made similar warnings in its annual report on the Chinese military last year, the prominent mention in the QDR - essentially a statement to Congress of how it will structure the US military to meet international threats - underscores the Bush administration view that China represents its biggest long-term conventional military rival.

The report is careful to state that US policy remains focused on encouraging China to work with other Asian countries as partners to develop regional security structures and deal with common threats, such as terrorism, proliferation and piracy.

“US policy seeks to encourage China to choose a path of peaceful economic growth and political liberalisation, rather than military threat and intimidation,” the review states.

The 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (PDF) can be read in its entirety here.

Global strike concept raises hopes and fears-07/02/2006-Flight International

Global strike concept raises hopes and fears-07/02/2006-Flight International

Global strike concept raises hopes and fears

The US military has launched a 14-year project to develop a new conventional weapon that can defeat a heavily-defended major target, such as a weapons of mass destruction site, without warning and within hours or potentially even minutes of receiving an initial command.

Dubbed the Prompt Global Strike (PGS) concept, the initiative will open new opportunities for ballistic or hypersonic vehicle technologies, but is already a source of concern for critics who fear that the USA’s launch of such a weapon could be misinterpreted by non-targeted nations as a nuclear strike.

For an initial capability, the US Navy has volunteered to convert the Lockheed Martin Trident II D-5 submarine-launched nuclear missile to a conventional warhead. That approach is intended to satisfy the immediate desire of US Strategic Command for a near-term PGS strike option, but the Trident’s ballistic trajectory is unlikely to meet long-term accuracy requirements.

Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) has been charged with analysing a more suitable technical approach and late last month issued a request for information seeking the input of industry. Three feasible options are expected to emerge from the request, says Maj Gen Mark Shackelford, the command’s director of requirements.

At the low-end would be a next-generation intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), while the most ambitious approach would involve the hypersonic Commmon Aero Vehicle and Small Launch Vehicle under development by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Falcon programme.

Between these extremes, says Shackelford, is an approach that combines an ICBM with a new conventional warhead that has some ability to shape its own trajectory on re-entry, greatly improving the accuracy of a ballistic vehicle.

Industry responses are due on 14 March, with the AFSPC hoping to launch a two-year analysis of alternatives in early 2006. In the first year, this will focus on a weapon that can respond to an attack order with no prior warning, with the next phase to be dedicated to exploring a solution for an attack scenario that is preceded by unambiguous warning of a hostile threat, says Shackelford.

Since its creation a few years ago, DARPA’s Falcon programme has carried the banner for a PGS capability. However, the Common Aero Vehicle concept, which is based on the development of a still-untested hypersonic glide vehicle, is not the presumed favourite candidate.

Shackelford says the results from the Falcon demonstration programme, which involves a three-year series of flight tests on three increasingly capable versions of a hypersonic test vehicle, will be used to compete with the other candidates identified under the analysis of alternatives.

“Think of the DARPA Falcon programme as a technology demonstration of a small launch capability as well as to potentially carry a Common Aero Vehicle,” says Shackelford.


Some companies helped the NSA, but who?

Some companies helped the NSA, but who?
too many links and neat stuff to post the whole article....

CNET - San Francisco,CA,USA
... spooks? Some reports have identified executives at "major telecommunications companies" who chose to open their networks to the NSA. ...

ABC News: Senators Question Gonzales on NSA Wiretaps

ABC News: Senators Question Gonzales on NSA Wiretaps

Senators Question Gonzales on NSA Wiretaps
Attorney General Gonzales Defends Legality of NSA Surveillance to Skeptical Senators
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Senators raised doubts about the legal rationale for the Bush administration's eavesdropping program Monday, forcing Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to provide a lengthy defense of the operations he called a vital "early warning system" for terrorists.

A handful of Republicans joined Democrats in raising questions about whether President Bush went too far in ordering the National Security Agency's monitoring operations. The senators were particularly troubled by the administration's argument that a September 2001 congressional resolution approving use of military force covered the surveillance of some domestic communications.

"The president does not have a blank check," said Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., who wants the administration to ask the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to review the program.

"You think you're right, but there are a lot of people who think you're wrong," Specter told Gonzales. "What do you have to lose if you're right?"

Gonzales didn't respond to Specter's proposal directly. "We are continually looking at ways that we can work with the FISA court in being more efficient and more effective," said the former Texas judge.

Under Bush's orders, the ultra-secret National Security Agency has been eavesdropping without warrants on international communications of people in the United States whose calls and e-mails may be linked to Muslim extremists.

During the daylong committee hearing, Gonzales and the senators reached as far back as eavesdropping ordered by President Washington and delved into court decisions surrounding presidential powers and the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Gonzales repeatedly defended the current program as lawful, reasonable and essential to national security. He said the president's authority was strongest in a time of war, and he called the monitoring operations an "early warning system designed for the 21st century." He said no changes in law were needed to accommodate the monitoring.

"To end the program now would be to afford our enemy dangerous and potential deadly new room for operation within our own borders," he said.

Democrats pressed Gonzales for details about the program and other similar operations, almost all of which he would not provide. They've asked Specter to file subpoenas for classified legal opinions on the subject.

"The president and the Justice Department have a constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws," said Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, the committee's top Democrat. "Nobody is above the law, not even the president of the United States."

Leahy asked if the administration has authorized the opening of U.S. citizens' mail. Throughout the hearing, Gonzales chose his words carefully. "We're only focused on international communications where one part of the communication is al-Qaida," he said.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., asked if the Bush administration had issued "any other secret order or directive" that would be prohibited by law. Said Gonzales: "The president has not authorized any conduct that I'm aware of that is in contravention of law."

Republicans, too, were skeptical. Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, said Bush's power and the country would be stronger if he came to Congress for statutory authorization.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said future presidents could be hurt when they seek authorizations to use force because the Bush administration interpreted Congress' post 9/11-resolution so broadly.

And Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., said he wanted to review whether changes were needed in the 1978 intelligence law to permit this type of monitoring.

Gonzales tried to paint eavesdropping as less heavy-handed than firing missiles or holding terrorists in detention. He noted the Supreme Court found it was appropriate to detain an American citizen for fighting alongside al-Qaida. "How can it be that merely listening to al-Qaida phone calls into and out of the country in order to disrupt their plots is not?" Gonzales asked.

He also tried to downplay reports of dissent within the Justice Department. To his knowledge, he said, no one had reservations about the program under discussion. But Gonzales said he could not tell Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., whether some department officials felt they needed private legal counsel.

Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., asked Gonzales to help him reconcile public comments from Bush administration officials. Some have said the program is not a "drift net" vacuuming up communications. Yet Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told one publication that the NSA was culling from "thousands" of phone numbers.

Gonzales said the program was "very narrowly tailored." Separately, Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke disputed the published report, saying "the secretary was describing in general terms the legal principles involved, rather than providing details specific to the program."

Democrats repeatedly questioned the truthfulness of Gonzales and Bush, citing statements they'd made about wiretapping before the program became public. In one dustup, Democrats sought and failed to have Gonzales sworn in.

Specter said the committee would hold at least two more hearings, which may include Gonzales. Specter has also invited former Attorney General John Ashcroft to testify.

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