Friday, April 02, 2004


308,000 jobs last month.
Whew....At least there's a sign of life.
President Bush was quick to take credit for the fastest rate of job creation since April 2000.
I guess that means he's as readily accountable for the past 3+ years of job losses and creation-stagnancy.

Oh, by the way, the average during Clinton's second term was a consistent 240, 000 new jobs per month.
Oh--that's every month....

Not one month out of

Whoopsie--Unemployment's up..oh, but it's just a tad.
Are we using mercenaries in Iraq?

Today's Eric Alterman blog says:
The horrific murders in Falluja raises the issue of whether mercenaries are being hired to fight our wars. There’s a provocative series of posts on that question here.
There's a letter in the Syracuse Post Standard today by citizen Ed Kinane concerning the topic. It reads as follows:

'Civilians' in Iraq more like 'mercenaries'

To the Editor:

Four unnamed men guarding a U.S. convoy in a war zone were killed Wednesday in Fallujah, Iraq. This is a tragedy for those individuals, for their families, for all involved.

As the folly and brutality of the invasion and occupation become daily more obvious, more doubletalk must be used to spin such deaths to the voters back home. Thursday's front-page coverage of the killings referred to the victims as "civilians" and "contractors." It kind of sounds like they may have been electricians or engineers. In the Iraq context, however, "contractor" is often simply sanitized language for "mercenary" - a growing personnel category in U.S. "defense" in Iraq and around the world.

In this case, the four men worked for Blackwater Security Consulting out of North Carolina. According to its Web site, Blackwater provides, among other lethal arts, sniping and advanced sniper training. It "employ[s] only the most highly motivated and professional operators, all drawn from various U.S. and international Special Operations Forces, Intelligence and Law Enforcement organizations." Such operators may technically be "civilians," but hardly civilians in the usual sense.

The use of mercenaries allows the jiggling of U.S. casualty stats: Dead and maimed mercenaries need not be counted. Such use evades accountability for military operations and functions. As U.S. soldiers increasingly come to doubt the wisdom and morality of their mission, more mercenaries are deployed. Mercenaries take on jobs and take risks honorable soldiers refuse.

Quotes From the Headlines

"...Maxwell No. 1; Harvard No. 2 - Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs edged out Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government as having the nation's top graduate program for public affairs in the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings...."


"...Those awful pictures from Falluja are a necessary part of Americans’ education and must be shown to them just as frequently as the deliberate deceptions the media so gullibly passed along when the president was misleading us into war. As horrific and inhuman as these actions may be, Bush asked for this....."


"...Former Sen. Gary Hart says he, too, warned Condi Rice about an imminent terror attack on two occasions before 9/11..."

"........the Pentagon had no coherent postwar plan and not enough troops. Mistakes followed mistakes, and today the administration is still in denial about the extent to which resistance to the Americans is becoming a popular uprising rather than the work of leftover Saddamists and foreign terrorists."


"...Before the Vietnam schism, Democrats and liberals were credibly tough about protecting America precisely because they were the realists, while the Republican right were the utopians.....Now, courtesy of Bush's astonishing bungling, Democrats are on the verge of reclaiming that legacy -- not by being more extreme saber-rattlers, but by being better realists about how best to keep America safe..."


"...if unnamed "administration officials" spread rumors about administration critics, reporters have an obligation to check the facts before giving those rumors national exposure. And there's no excuse for disseminating unchecked rumors because they come from "the White House," then denying the White House connection when the rumors prove false. That's simply giving the administration a license to smear with impunity...."


"...Fallujah should teach even the administration's most die-hard optimists that the mission is deeper and muddier than they'd imagined...Many are wondering how President Bush will retaliate for the brutal slayings of the four American contractors who were shot, beaten, dismembered, dragged down the street, and strung up on bridge poles. The universal feeling is that some response is necessary to let the insurgents know they can't get away with this. The question is what kind of response?"


"..The US is creating its own Iraqi Gaza...Military convoys trundle through or near Falluja every day. The usual tactic is to ambush them with homemade bombs, followed by grenades and small arms fire when the survivors jump out of their vehicles. Then the resistance runs off into the suburban side-streets. The American response is heavy-handed and indiscriminate. "The US is indirectly supporting the resistance by targeting innocent people. It makes us more sympathetic to the resistance," Shaban Rajab, 45, a taxi-driver, told me."

Polls: Free or Safe?

Rather than asking the scaredy-cat poll question:

"Do you feel safer since 9-11?"

......why don't they ask the all-American question:

"Do you feel more free since 9-11?"

How can we be 'the home of the brave' if we're always being asked whether or not we're chickenshit?
Meet Sibel Edmonds


"This whole situation is outrageous and I am going public."

--Sibel Edmonds


Mrs. Sibel Edmonds is 33 years old. She's been a citizen of the United States for ten years. She is a Turkish-American who speaks Azerbaijani, Farsi, Turkish and English. (How many languages do you fluently speak?)

Sibel was hired as a translator for the FBI's Washington field office on September 13, 2001-- just two days after the al-Qaeda attacks. Her task was to translate documents and recordings from FBI wire-taps. When you work side-by-side with 200 translators, you get to see and hear a lot of things. Her job was to determine if anything was missed in the translations that related to the 9-11 plot. In her review, Sibel said the documents clearly showed that the 9-11 hijackers were in the country and plotting to use airplanes as missiles. The documents also included information relating to their financial activities. Sibel has not been able to publically comment in detail because she has been under a Justice Department gag order since October 2002. However, Sibel has testified before the 9-11 commission, the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Select Intelligence Committee.

Tom Flocco has reported that Sibel was offered a substantial raise and a full time job to encourage her not to go public that she had been asked by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to retranslate and adjust the translations of [terrorist] subject intercepts that had been received before September 11, 2001 by the FBI and CIA.

Sibel has called Condi Rice an outrageous liar. Ouch. That's a politically potent accusation. I wonder how long before Sibel's character will be assassinated by the White House? She's not that big a fish....perhaps they'll just call her crazy or create a story about how she's got a grudge.


See DEMOCRACY NOW for interview with Sibel Edmonds on Wednesday, March 31st.
AMY GOODMAN: "She [Sibel Edmonds] says the FBI had information that an attack using airplanes was being planned before Sept. 11 and calls Condoleezza Rice's claim the White House had no specific information on a domestic threat or one involving planes "an outrageous lie."

Tom Flocco questions Commission Chairman Thomas Kean's potential conflict of interest:
....9/11 Commission Chairman and Amerada-Hess Oil director Kean's company maintained Caspian joint venture Delta Oil business ties to bin Laden's brother-in-law for 15 months after attacks despite reported terrorism finance links--and just 21 days prior to Kean's appointment by Bush to commission. This, as FBI translator Sibel Edmonds' letter and follow-up calls to Kean charging FBI internal security and espionage breaches went unanswered for a year......

9-11: Bush Aides Are Blocking Clinton Papers From Commission


"The legislature's job is to write law. It's the executive
branch's job to interpret law."

—GW Bush, 11/22/00, Austin, Texas


Why has the Bush administration blocked thousands of pages of classified foreign policy and counterterrorism documents from President Clinton's White House files from being turned over to the panel's investigators? The Commission members are sratching their heads and wondering why. The Bush-hugging trolls will tell me it's because of an honorable defense of Executive privilege or it's "too sensitive" to release. These are merely code words. If there's one thing I understand about the Bush administration by now, it's this: they won't do ANYTHING that makes them look bad. Knowing how they operate (as Watergate-era John Dean has said, they're "creepier than Nixon's administration"), I can only assume the Bush administration is withholding Clinton's papers because it would flow perfectly with Richard Clarke's statements and would cause the current Administration to take heavy, heavy political damage. Condi's head would implode under the pressure of such scrutiny and demand for truth. The Bush Administration's extreme legalistic approach to the documents once again shows how hypocritical they are when accusing trial attorneys of gaming the legal system.