Sunday, March 26, 2006

'Unit's' military expert calls Iraq utter debacle!

'Unit's' military expert has fighting words for Bush
By David Kronke, TV Critic
Eric Haney, a retired command sergeant major of the U.S. Army, was a founding member of Delta Force, the military's elite covert counter-terrorist unit. He culled his experiences for "Inside Delta Force" (Delta; $14), a memoir rich with harrowing stories, though in an interview, Haney declines with a shrug to estimate the number of times he was almost killed. (Perhaps the most high-profile incident that almost claimed his life was the 1980 failed rescue of the hostages in Iran.) Today, he's doing nothing nearly as dangerous: He serves as an executive producer and technical adviser for "The Unit," CBS' new hit drama based on his book, developed by playwright David Mamet. Even up against "American Idol," "The Unit" shows muscle, drawing 18 million viewers in its first two airings.
Since he has devoted his life to protecting his country in some of the world's most dangerous hot spots, you might assume Haney is sympathetic to the Bush administration's current plight in Iraq (the laudatory cover blurb on his book comes from none other than Fox's News' Bill O'Reilly). But he's also someone with close ties to the Pentagon, so he's privy to information denied the rest of us.
We recently spoke to Haney, an amiable, soft-spoken Southern gentleman, on the set of "The Unit."
Q: What's your assessment of the war in Iraq?
A: Utter debacle. But it had to be from the very first. The reasons were wrong. The reasons of this administration for taking this nation to war were not what they stated. (Army Gen.) Tommy Franks was brow-beaten and ... pursued warfare that he knew strategically was wrong in the long term. That's why he retired immediately afterward. His own staff could tell him what was going to happen afterward.
We have fomented civil war in Iraq. We have probably fomented internecine war in the Muslim world between the Shias and the Sunnis, and I think Bush may well have started the third world war, all for their own personal policies.
Q: What is the cost to our country?
A: For the first thing, our credibility is utterly zero. So we destroyed whatever credibility we had. ... And I say "we," because the American public went along with this. They voted for a second Bush administration out of fear, so fear is what they're going to have from now on.
Our military is completely consumed, so were there a real threat - thankfully, there is no real threat to the U.S. in the world, but were there one, we couldn't confront it. Right now, that may not be a bad thing, because that keeps Bush from trying something with Iran or with Venezuela.
The harm that has been done is irreparable. There are more than 2,000 American kids that have been killed. Tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis have been killed ñ which no one in the U.S. really cares about those people, do they? I never hear anybody lament that fact. It has been a horror, and this administration has worked overtime to divert the American public's attention from it. Their lies are coming home to roost now, and it's gonna fall apart. But somebody's gonna have to clear up the aftermath and the harm that it's done just to what America stands for. It may be two or three generations in repairing.
Q: What do you make of the torture debate? Cheney ...
A: (Interrupting) That's Cheney's pursuit. The only reason anyone tortures is because they like to do it. It's about vengeance, it's about revenge, or it's about cover-up. You don't gain intelligence that way. Everyone in the world knows that. It's worse than small-minded, and look what it does.
I've argued this on Bill O'Reilly and other Fox News shows. I ask, who would you want to pay to be a torturer? Do you want someone that the American public pays to torture? He's an employee of yours. It's worse than ridiculous. It's criminal; it's utterly criminal. This administration has been masters of diverting attention away from real issues and debating the silly. Debating what constitutes torture: Mistreatment of helpless people in your power is torture, period. And (I'm saying this as) a man who has been involved in the most pointed of our activities. I know it, and all of my mates know it. You don't do it. It's an act of cowardice. I hear apologists for torture say, "Well, they do it to us." Which is a ludicrous argument. ... The Saddam Husseins of the world are not our teachers. Christ almighty, we wrote a Constitution saying what's legal and what we believed in. Now we're going to throw it away.
Q: As someone who repeatedly put your life on the line, did some of the most hair-raising things to protect your country, and to see your country behave this way, that must be ...
A: It's pretty galling. But ultimately I believe in the good and the decency of the American people, and they're starting to see what's happening and the lies that have been told. We're seeing this current house of cards start to flutter away. The American people come around. They always do.

Retired Supreme Court Justice warns of Dictatorship

Retired Supreme Court Justice hits attacks on courts and warns of dictatorship
RAW STORYPublished: March 10, 2006

Supreme Court justices keep many opinions private but Sandra Day O’Connor no longer faces that obligation. Yesterday, the retired justice criticized Republicans who criticized the courts. She said they challenge the independence of judges and the freedoms of all Americans. O’Connor’s speech at Georgetown University was not available for broadcast but NPR’s legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg was there.
Nina Totenberg: In an unusually forceful and forthright speech, O’Connor said that attacks on the judiciary by some Republican leaders pose a direct threat to our constitutional freedoms. O’Connor began by conceding that courts do have the power to make presidents or the Congress or governors, as she put it “really, really angry.” But, she continued, if we don’t make them mad some of the time we probably aren’t doing our jobs as judges, and our effectiveness, she said, is premised on the notion that we won’t be subject to retaliation for our judicial acts. The nation’s founders wrote repeatedly, she said, that without an independent judiciary to protect individual rights from the other branches of government those rights and privileges would amount to nothing. But, said O’Connor, as the founding fathers knew statutes and constitutions don’t protect judicial independence, people do.

POLITICAL: Iraq is Bleeding

"The Country Is Bleeding"
by georgia10
Sun Mar 26, 2006 at 08:39:01 PM PDT
It was less than a week ago that U.S. ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad stated that "the country is bleeding," though he insisted that the violence was not yet a civil war. Recent developments in Iraq reveal the country isn't just bleeding--it's hemorrhaging, and unfortunately, it appears there is little doubt that Iraq is suffering from an all-out civil war.
Politically, the process of forming a unity government has stalled. After meeting for just a half hour last week, the Iraqi leaders have failed to make substantial progress towards forming a government. While Bush and Rice make excuses about how difficult the process of forming a government can be, Democrats are calling on the administration to show some leadership and tell the Iraqis to either get their act together or lose our support.
On the security front, what is occuring in Iraq is nothing short of "sectarian cleansing," as one Kurdish member of the Iraqi Parliament put it. The New York Times reports "security is deteriorating by the hour." Thirty beheaded Iraqis were found today. Bodies are being found by the dozens and car bombs continue to explode. The leading Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr narrowly escaped getting killed in a mortar attack on his camp. American forces clashed with members of his militia today in/near a mosque (reports differ), killing 17 or 20 "insurgents." The police claim 22 bystanders died and al-Sadr's aides claim 18 innocent men were killed (after allegedly being tied up and shot). More on this story from the New York Times here. As the confusion and chaos escalates, Shiite politicians are accusing the U.S. of a "massacre." The incident, according to one source, has "injured the whole political process."
American forces also found a secret prison where prisoners were secretly held and apparently tortured by the Iraqi Interior Ministry. They arrested 40 policemen in the raid. An Iraqi police major was also arrested for heading up a death squad. The militias are out of control. Ambassador Khalilzad stated that "[m]ore Iraqis are dying today from the militia violence than from the terrorists."
The country is bleeding. In the heart of Baghdad, Shiite and Sunni militias are already fighting for control over districts, with scores of Iraqis killed as a result:
"The fighting will only stop when a new balance of power has emerged," Fuad Hussein, the chief of staff of Massoud Barzani, the Kurdish leader, said. "Sunni and Shia will each take control of their own area." He said sectarian cleansing had already begun.
Many Iraqi leaders now believe that civil war is inevitable but it will be confined, at least at first, to the capital and surrounding provinces where the population is mixed. "The real battle will be the battle for Baghdad where the Shia have increasing control," said one senior official who did not want his name published. "The army will disintegrate in the first moments of the war because the soldiers are loyal to the Shia, Sunni or Kurdish communities and not to the government." He expected the Americans to stay largely on the sidelines.
The American plan, according to Donald Rumsfeld, is indeed to stay on the sidelines as the Iraqi Army we trained disintegrates and the Iraqi people we promised to protect from terror see terror firsthand in their streets and in their homes. As reports stream out from Iraq, it appears that what we feared and hoped to never see is finally occurring: a complete breakdown in order, and an all-out civil war in Iraq. At last word, the Iraqi leaders are debating on having the entire Parliament chose Iraqi's new Prime Minister, in the hopes that the sooner a government is formed, the sooner the infighting in their country stops. Can a stabilized political process stop the chaos before it reaches a tipping point? Is the country already there? Can the bleeding, for the sake of Iraqis and our troops in harm's way, finally be stopped?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Another Top Bush White House Aide Indicted. This one arrested for Theft !

Former White House Aide Is Arrested on Theft Charges
By JOHN FILES and ROBERT PEAR, The New York Times

WASHINGTON, (March 11) - A former top White House aide was arrested on Thursday in the Maryland suburbs on charges that he stole merchandise from a number of retailers, the police in Montgomery County, Md., said Friday.
The former aide, Claude A. Allen, 45, was President Bush's top domestic policy adviser until resigning last month. Known as a rising conservative star, he previously served as deputy secretary of the Health and Human Services Department, and in 2003 the White House announced its intention to nominate him to a seat on the federal appeals court based in Richmond, Va. Democrats raised questions about the nomination, and it never came to a vote.
The police said Mr. Allen was seen on Jan. 2 leaving a department store in Gaithersburg, Md., with merchandise for which he had not paid. He was apprehended by a store employee and issued a misdemeanor citation for theft, said Lt. Eric Burnett, a spokesman for the Montgomery County Police Department.
A statement issued on Friday by the police said store employees saw Mr. Allen fill a shopping bag with merchandise and put additional items into a shopping cart. He then sought, and received, a refund for some of the items and left the store without paying for others.
The Police Department said that as a result of an investigation it opened after the initial incident in January, it found that Mr. Allen had received refunds of more than $5,000 last year at stores like Target and Hecht's. Mr. Allen was arrested on Thursday and charged in connection with a series of allegedly fraudulent returns. The police said he was charged with a theft scheme over $500 and theft over $500.
The President's Reaction
"When I heard the story last night, I was shocked, and my first reaction was one of disappointment, deep disappointment - if it's true - that we were not fully informed," Bush said Saturday morning. "Shortly thereafter, I felt really sad for the Allen family." "If the allegations are true, Claude Allen did not tell my chief of staff and legal counsel the truth, and that's deeply disappointing," the president said at the White House following an event on Iraq. "If the allegations are true, something went wrong in Claude Allen's life, and that is really sad."
Source: AP
"He would buy items, take them out to his car and return to the store with the receipt," the police said in the statement. "He would select the same items he had just purchased and then return them for a refund."
Mr. Allen was released on his own recognizance, the police said.
Mr. Allen's lawyer, Mallon Snyder, said: "We deny that Claude Allen took anything from a Target store or any other department store. We would welcome an opportunity to meet with Target store personnel to explain the confusion. Once they have an opportunity to examine the record, these charges will be dropped."
Mr. Snyder said that Mr. Allen had returned merchandise to the Target store on several occasions, but that "there was no impropriety."
Mr. Allen was the secretary of health and human resources for the State of Virginia when he was chosen by Mr. Bush in 2001 for the No. 2 job at the federal Health and Human Services Department. Last year, he was named as top domestic policy adviser in the White House.
Mr. Allen went to the White House after his nomination to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit stalled in the Senate. The nomination never came to a vote, in part because some Democrats raised questions about comments he had made in 1984, while working for Senator Jesse Helms, Republican of North Carolina. He had been quoted as saying that Mr. Helms's opponent that year was vulnerable because his campaign could be "linked with the queers." He later apologized and said he had not intended his words to be a slur against gay men and lesbians.
The White House announced on Feb. 9 that Mr. Allen was resigning as Mr. Bush's domestic policy adviser.
Asked about the charge against Mr. Allen, Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, said, "If it is true, no one would be more shocked and more outraged than the president."
Mr. McClellan said Mr. Allen reported the initial incident to Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff, on Jan. 2, the day it occurred. But, he said, Mr. Card did not inform the president until early February because Mr. Allen had said the incident resulted from a misunderstanding.
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Mr. McClellan gave this chronology: On Jan. 3, Mr. Allen discussed the incident with Harriet E. Miers, the White House counsel, and told her that he had been returning merchandise and there was confusion with his credit cards because he had moved many times. He assured Ms. Miers that the matter would be cleared up.
Mr. McClellan said the White House gave Mr. Allen "the benefit of the doubt" because he had gone through extensive background checks before his judicial nomination.
Within a few days of the incident, Mr. McClellan said, Mr. Allen told Mr. Card and Ms. Miers that he was thinking of leaving the White House to spend time with his family. But Mr. Allen decided to stay for a while because he was working on domestic initiatives for the State of the Union address, which Mr. Bush delivered on Jan. 31.
William A. Pierce, a former spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said he was "stunned, absolutely stunned" to hear of the arrest.
"I think a great deal of Claude," Mr. Pierce said. "He served ably as deputy secretary. He was, in effect, the chief operating officer of the department. He made sure that the machinery of the agency worked well. Many regulations came through him."
A neighbor reached by phone on Friday night said that Mr. Allen belonged to the Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Md., and moved into the neighborhood along with several other members of the church. County records show that Mr. Allen bought his home in October 2005 for $958,300, along with his wife, Jannese.
David Sanger contributed reporting for this article.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Brad and Angelina....The Ring of Truth

Brad and Angelina -- The Ring of Truth
Photos of famous couple sporting same band
(Mar. 6, 8:00PM ET) -- Hollywood gossip blogs have been burning up the Internet recently (including Celebrityblog, Skyshowbiz and Filmfodder), speculating that Brad and Angelina have secretly tied the knot. One report has it that Angelina was spotted wearing a band on her ring finger. Another report claims that both are wearing rings but on the right hand. A number of blogs limit the sighting to Angelina wearing a band.

Angelina, Brad and family in Paris
VideoBrangelina in Tokyo
Photo galleryAngelina JolieBrad PittBrad and Angelina
Celeb spotlightAngelina Jolie Brad Pitt
You be the judge!Speak out on the TMZ message boards
TMZ did some digging and turned up several interesting pictures. Angelina was photographed Saturday (March 4) in Paris with a gold band on her right thumb.

X17TEXT -->
Now take a look at the matching band on Brad's right middle finger.
Could this be the unconventional couple's way of unconventionally telegraphing their marriage? You be the judge.
Related link:Juliette, Gwen, Jen and Jolie

From Greg 'Peace Song' Jones...Why I Wrote the Anthem for World Peace!

Why I Wrote The Anthem for World Peace SongFrom Greg JonesGOD BLESS THE WORLDWhile You Bless AmericaThe special CD release by Greg Jones considered the new anthem for world peace is entitled God Bless the World-While You Bless America. Already available on over 125 music sites worldwide, this special peace anthem is garnering accolades worldwide. Below, Greg explains the motivation behind his powerful musical message for world peace.

"Yesterday, I was interviewed by a very nice reporter from the Euclid (Ohio) Sun Newspaper who is doing a story on the release of my Peace Song CD GOD BLESS THE WORLD-While You Bless America. His story will likely include how this special anthem has been garnering accolades worldwide and how it's already available on over 125 music sites worldwide and hasn't even hit national radio yet. He'll probably mention how thankful I am for all of the support worldwide and how happy I am for the incredible snowball affect. But he asked me a question that I really did not give the true, full answer to. He asked, 'what led me to write the world peace song?' Simple question right? But after we departed, I thought back a bit and realized that the answer I had given... that I just want 'to see the war end and our troops safe at home' was not a full answer. The fact is, when 9/11 occured, I found it to be one of the most horrific events of modern day history. I could not believe that anyone could do something like the terrorists did, to absolute strangers. At that exact time, my daughter and wonderful son-in-law, who I proudly must add is serving our country in the Air Force, had just arrived at their new assignment which had them based and living in London, England. When the planes hit the Twin Towers all I kept wondering, in absolute panic was, are my daughter and son-in-law ok? I was going nuts! Because phone lines were so jammed up, I attempted calling them over repeatedly but it was 2 weeks before I heard anything from my daughter, and wow...was I thankful to hear that they were OK. During this 2 week period I, (as we all were) had been going through such a roller coaster of emotions. Anger, fear, desire to learn everything I could overnight about the whole thing. Who is this Bin Laden? How did they know he did it so quickly? What the heck is going on? Man! My head was spinning. I was glued to the news channels. In the meantime, I was also witnessing and experiencing the greatest show of American patriotism and togetherness that I had ever seen. EVERYWHERE you looked you saw the American flag blazed with pride. Stories were on the news about how flag companies couldn't manufacture flags fast enough. It was incredible! You also saw, everywhere you looked big, pretty red, white and blue banners stretched everywhere stating 'God Bless America !'. I remember the pride I felt for my country as I would see street after street literally lined with Old Glory and these after day. I would ride around and in my travels just look at all of the flags, even counting how many were on various streets. I would see the banners and get this feeling of pride and say to myself, yea! God Bless America!.... God Bless America ! .......(and the it started to hit me).......God Bless America??........ (It hit me harder) God Bless AMERICA??? WAIT A MINUTE!!!! What about my daughter and son-in-law IN LONDON!! God Bless America ??? We need God to bless the whole world !!! By now I found myself actually getting a bit upset. I'm thinking and thinking. My mind takes it even a step deeper. Now I'm analyzing this wonderfully patriotic historic phrase. God Bless America? Are we asking God to bless just America? Can't be. Who do we think WE are. Do we really think that God created people all over the world, but he only desires to bless us! Are we nuts? So, THAT bugged me and bugged me as I found myself praying for God to bless us and keep us safe here in America, while at the same time I had to pray that God would bless and protect my loved ones in London. So one day, while sitting on the edge of my bed watching the news, I grabbed my guitar and it just came to me. The chorus to what is now considered the New Anthem for World Peace. God Bless THE WORLD-While You Bless America. And now, the more I pay attention to what's going on in this world, not just Iraq...but the 300 children killed in Russia...the starvation in the Sudan...the Tsunami...the attacks in London...Katrina...thing after thing...I realize just how important my musical message really is. The fact is, there is no way that WE can be blessed if we don't have the desire to see the entire world be blessed. That's why I sing it with every grain in my body... GOD BLESS THE (whole) WORLD!!! (Not JUST America) p.s. Thanks Jeff. You got me thinkin' ! Greg Jones Peace!"

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