United States News Digest
Bush-Cheney Ohio Honcho Indicted for Money Laundering
On Oct. 27, a Federal grand jury issued an indictment against Tom Noe, the former Toledo, Ohio-area coin dealer at the center of a state investment scandal; Noe was charged with laundering money into President Bush's re-election campaign last year. The three-count indictment in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio says that Noe contributed over the legal limit to the Bush campaign by giving money to 24 friends and associates to make contributions under their own names; the other two counts are for conspiracy and filing false statements. "Noe faces the maximum penalty of five years in prison on each count. The conspiracy and false statement counts carry a maximum fine of $250,000 and the campaign finance violation carries a mandatory fine of between $136,200 and $454,000," the Toledo Blade reported Oct. 27, adding that the U.S. Attorney's office said the Bush campaign had no part in Noe's alleged crimes.
DeLay Reports Error in Fundraising List
The New York Times reported Oct. 27 on a correction in erstwhile House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's annual ethics-in-government filing, concerning $20,850 in contributions to his legal defense fund in 2000 and 2001 which had not been reported. Additional amounts were reported in the fund's quarterly report, but not in the disclosure report, and some dollar amounts were misreported. Tom DeLay Legal Expense Trust Fund trustee Brent Perry is quoted, "It was not an ethical lapse. It was a bookkeeping lapse. I did not review the reports thoroughly enough."
Perry's Oct. 6 letter to the House Ethics Committee lists these items. The items not reported in the 2000 and 2001 statements include $5,000 each from John and Katherine McGovern (Houston), Douglas DeVos (Grand Rapids, Mich.), and Richard DeVos (Manalapan, Fla.). Items which were reported by the Fund, but not forwarded to those preparing the disclosure statement in 2000, include $5,000 each from Reliant Energy, Texans for Lamar Smith (San Antonio), and Duncan for Congress (Knoxville, Tenn.); they total $17,300. DeLay's letter to the Committee, sent a week after Perry's, says that he discovered discrepancies in the reports in February 2005, notified the Committee, and initiated an audit of the Fund.
Bush Administration Drops Nuclear Bunker-Busters from Budget
Senior intelligence and security personnel from two nuclear development labs commented to the Washington Times Oct. 27 that the pullback on the so-called nuclear bunker-buster bombs is a major shift away from the preemptive-nuclear-strike policy of Vice President Dick Cheney. Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) said Oct. 26 that the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration had requested that funding for the development of nuclear bunker busters be pulled from the Energy Department's budget. Over the last year the Congress has refused to fund the relevant research and had asked a National Academy of Sciences panel to produce a report on what the real effects of such tactical nuclear weapons would be. The panel found that the Earth-penetrating nuclear devices would have the same casualties as a surface burst of a nuclear weapon of equal size. These conclusions of the panel stood in direct opposition to what the neo-cons were telling the Congress.
Wilkerson: Detainee Abuse Will Be 'Shameful' for U.S.
The story of detainee abuse by the U.S. military, once it is discovered by historians, "is going to be shameful for my country and for my armed forces," stated Lawrence Wilkerson, former Secretary of State Colin Powell's former Chief of Staff, in a C-SPAN interview Oct. 27. Responding to a question about the public's understanding of America's war in Iraq from books such as those of Bob Woodward and Richard Clarke, Wilkerson called them "instant history," which nonetheless do a service, but that when dispassionate historians look over the information in the future, they will find a different story, and "one of those stories" is detainee abuse. We've seen a few privates and NCOs punished, but few of higher rank, and no civilians; no one in a decision-making position has been punished or held accountable, he said.
To one caller's attack on his alleged failure to appreciate President Bush's bold doctrine of preemption, Wilkerson pointed out that while the doctrine, as such, has been around for a long time, and is the right of any nation-state faced with imminent attack, "I would be very reluctant ... to use force in a massive way, in a preemptive way, in today's world, based on intelligence that comes from the intelligence community, the sources that we have available to us.... We were so grievously in error about [WMD], that I would have great reluctance to strike another nation, to kill people, to perhaps bring us into conflict with that nation, based on intelligence that heretofore has shown me, is anything but trustworthy. So, it would have to be ironclad."
Wilkerson added that he's also concerned that if there's another catastrophic attack, e.g., with a nuclear weapon, 9/11 will pale in comparison. "I fear for what a President will have to do under those circumstances.... I think we have a real good chance for martial law; I think there's a chance we may see our civil liberties abridged in ways we haven't seen since the Civil War, and maybe further."
Bipartisan Senate Majority Demands Full Funding for LIHEAP
A bipartisan majority of the Senate just won't take "no" for an answer, until full-funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which aids the poor and elderly, is passed. On Oct. 25, Republican Senators Susan Collins (Me) and Arlen Specter (Pa), and Democrats Jack Reed (RI), Robert Byrd (WVa), and Edward M. Kennedy (Mass), announced their support for an amendment increasing LIHEAP emergency funding by $2.92 billion, so it reaches the full $5.1 billion authorized in the budget. This will be the third attempt to get the amendment passed, support for which has grown (from 50 to 53 Senators) every time it comes up. The Bush/Cheney Republicans thus far have applied procedural games to require 60 votes for passage. Refusing to accept defeat, the Senators have attached the same amendment just defeated to yet another bill, to force another vote.
Each of the five Senators spoke on the Senate floor about how it is a disgrace that America's poor and elderly face the choice of "heat or eat." Even if the full authorized $5.1 billion is funded, it is inadequate, as even at that level only one-seventh of the 35 million households poor enough to qualify for assistance will get help, they pointed out. Because Federal funding for LIHEAP has been stagnant for over a decade, the purchasing power of LIHEAP assistance, adjusted for inflation, is now only a little over half of what it was in 1982, Kennedy said.
Insane House Republicans, meanwhile, propose that the $2 billion currently allocated for LIHEAP be cut by half, to a laughable $1 billion!
Leahy Issues Call To Withdraw from Iraq War
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) delivered a call to withdraw from the "handful of political operatives' war" in Iraq, as the death toll of U.S. soldiers there hit 2,000. Speaking on the Senate floor Oct. 25, he said, "Once a new government is in place, I believe the President should consult with Congress on a flexible plan that includes pulling our troops back from the densely populated areas where they are suffering the most casualties, and bring them home."
Leahy added that we "now know" the war plan was "hatched by a handful of political operatives" even before 9/11 ... [and that] history will not judge kindly those who got us into this debacle ... after deceiving the American people."
Also, on the afternoon of Oct. 25, the office of Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass) said that he has drafted a bill to be introduced by Oct. 31, to cut off all funding for additional military operations in Iraq, allowing already appropriated funds only to be used for the withdrawal of troops, and for equipping of existing forces.
Bush Is 'Frustrated' and 'Angry'
"Facing the darkest days of his Presidency, President Bush is frustrated, sometimes angry and even bitter," according to Bush associates cited in the Oct. 25 New York Daily News. Bush is lashing out at his top aides and junior-level staffersincluding Andrew Card, Karl Rove, and even Dick Cheney. Bush has reportedly told associates that Cheney was overly involved in intelligence issues leading up to the Iraq war, which has been seized on by Administration critics. This is the sort of response by Bush forecast by Dr. Justin Frank, author of the book, Bush on the Couch (see InDepth for interview with Dr. Frank.)
Arnie's Name Pulled from Ads for His Ballot Initiatives
As an indication of how bad things have gotten for California Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneggerwhose poll numbers are below those of George Bushthe special election campaign for the fascist ballot initiatives (#74-77), pulled two ads that featured Arnie sitting in a backyard, pumping the initiatives, pleading, "Help me change Sacramento, so we can rebuild California." The campaign is running instead three ads advocating the proposals without mentioning Schwarzenegger's name, according to the Los Angeles Times Oct. 23. This, even though the George Shultz-marionette Schwarzenegger put the initiatives on the ballot. The special election for the initiatives takes place on Nov. 8.