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Page   1 - Duke Energy Employee Advocate

Washington - Page 43

“I will never privatize Social Security, period! Never! Never! Never!” – John Kerry - NPR

Rice Ignored Attack Warning by Clarke

Employee Advocate – – March 25, 2004

Richard Clarke has unassailable credibility as a counterterrorism adviser who tried to prevent the 9/11 terrorist attack. According to The Washington Post, Mr. Clarke warned of the possibility of such an attack – seven days before it happened!

He warned that hundreds of Americans could die in a strike by al-Qaida. He warned that the Bush administration was not doing enough to combat the threat. He urged "policymakers to imagine a day after a terrorist attack, with hundreds of Americans dead at home and abroad, and ask themselves what they could have done earlier."

Mr. Clarke correctly made the call and provided advance warning. To whom was the warning given? It was given to, none other than, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice on Sept. 4, 2001! No wonder she has refused to answer questions publicly.

Mr. Clarke was fulfilling his role as top counterterrorism adviser. Advising on how to protect against terrorism was the limit of his authority. He could not force an oblivious administration into taking action. Mr. Clarke is the only one to apologize for failing the American people. But it looks like he is not the one who should be apologizing. It appears that he is the only one in the Bush administration who was doing his job.

The hearing uncovered some interesting items:

Ms. Rice suggested that G. W. Bush had requested a certain terrorist briefing because of his keen concern about the terrorist threat. The briefing author did not recall such a request from Bush. He said the request cam form within the CIA.

In 2001, counterterrorism officers "were so worried about an impending disaster that one of them told us that they considered resigning and going public with their concerns."

The First 9/11 Apology

The First 9/11 Apology

Employee Advocate – – March 25, 2004

Today, relatives of the 9/11 victims praised Richard Clarke for apologizing for not preventing the terrorist attack, according to Reuters.

When the former counter-terrorism official joined the ranks of insiders that are exposing G. W. Bush, the administration predictably released the attack dogs. How does it work out when an administration with no credibility attacks the credibility of whistleblowers? It looks like a blatant attempt to suppress the truth by the most secretive administration in history.

The apology brought cheers and tears in the hearing room.

Patty Casazza, who lost her husband in the attack, said "It's the first time we have had a public apology by any of the officials that were in office on that terrible morning."

Clarke faced the relatives and said: "Those entrusted with protecting you, failed you. And I failed you. We tried hard but that doesn't matter because we failed. I would ask, once all the facts are out, for your understanding and for your forgiveness."

The credibility of Mr. Clarke, a registered Republican, is well established. He served as counterterrorism adviser under the last four U.S. presidents.

Beverly Eckert also lost her husband in the terrorist attack. She said "It was a very emotional moment. As Patty said, no one has ever apologized. Most of the witnesses who come to these hearings come with, I would categorize them, as rather self-serving statements and everything they tried to do.

"He's the only one who said we tried our best but we failed ... not only did he apologize, he asked for our forgiveness. That meant a lot.”

Kristen Breitweiser said on the “Today” show "We want it to be independent, bipartisan. I think it is most unfortunate that it became a character assassination."

But that is the way it always is. If the facts cannot be refuted, the messenger is attacked.

Some relatives are disappointed that White House national security advisor Condoleezza Rice has refused a public appearance at a commission hearing. Some question why G. W. Bush has not taken the stand.

Ms. Eckert said “From the president on down, if they have nothing to hide, they should testify."

Who Really Supports the Troops?

Who ReallySupports the Troops?

Employee Advocate – – March 22, 2004

The Associated Press and The Charlotte Observer reported that hundreds of thousands of war protesters turned out Saturday. In Charlotte, North Carolina, black, white, Palestinian, Muslim and Jewish speakers called for an end to the war and a new president in November.

David Marrash, a 78-year-old speaker, said "If you think that this man (Bush) is listening to this protest, you're crazy.

"He didn't listen to millions who marched before the war. What he does best is turn his back on the American public."

The Bush camp will try to spin the war protest as a lack of support for American troops. But that is a total distortion. The war protesters have the best interests of American troops at heart. It was not their wish that any of them die or be maimed in an insane, useless, politically motivated war.

The one who is responsible for the deaths and injuries of American soldiers, for no good reason, is the one who does not support them.

If the warnings given by the protesters had been heeded, no American would have died in Iraq. No innocent Iraqi men, women, and children would have been slaughtered. American families would not have been split apart, some to never be reunited.

Millions of people protested the war before it started. They knew the war was totally unnecessary and would only bring misery for all. But G. W. Bush forced his will upon the American people and the world. Now the facts prove what lunacy the war was, and there is no end in sight.

Rumsfeld Wanted a War Excuse

Rumsfeld Wanted a War Excuse

Employee Advocate – – March 21, 2004

The Associated Press and Reuters reported that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was looking for any excuse to attack Iraq, immediately after the 9/11 terrorists attacks in 2001. Former White house Counterterrorism Coordinator Richard Clarke said that on September 12, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stated "there aren't any good targets in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in Iraq."

A little more truth slips out about this administration each day. Mr. Clarke’s book "Against All Enemies," spills even more beans.

The Illegal Iraq War

Someone Else's Promise

Seattle Times – by Frome Harrop– March 15, 2004

Watch Out When Workers Discover They're Chumps

Someday, the working lugs of America are going to figure out who is paying for all these tax cuts. Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan recently offered a hint when he urged Congress to scale back Social Security benefits.

For two decades, politicians have been shifting the tax burden from high-income taxpayers to the sweating masses. Lunch-pail Americans represent easy pickings, since their taxes get automatically plucked out of weekly paychecks. And the tax for Social Security has proven to be an especially fat goose.

Congress has developed a bad habit: Whenever red ink threatens the federal budget, Social Security is the first place it looks for money. Raising the retirement age for benefits and slowing cost-of-living increases might make sense at some point. But everyone knows this infuriating discussion is about preserving tax breaks for the rich.

Social Security is the working stiff's tax. Three out of four households now pay more in Social Security taxes than in income tax. The Social Security tax takes 6.2 cents out of every dollar of salary, up to a maximum $87,000. As a result, the tycoon making $10 million pays the same amount to Social Security as the shopkeeper earning $87,000.

For a full account of the working chump's growing role as America's star taxpayer, consult a new book titled, "Perfectly Legal: The covert campaign to rig our tax system to benefit the super rich — and cheat everyone else." Readers should take their blood-pressure pills before letting author David Cay Johnston, a New York Times reporter, show them the various cons.

For example, politicians weep violently over the alleged unfairness of taxing stock dividends. That's double taxation, they exclaim. But, as Johnston points out, Social Security taxes apply to wages that have already been subject to the personal income tax. Nobody cries over that.

And here is the really big rip-off: Social Security is supposed to be a pay-as-you-go program. That is, today's workers pay for today's retirees. But from 1984 to 2002, workers paid $1.7 trillion more than was required to meet current needs. That $1.7 trillion surplus disappeared into government coffers, thus taking pressure off the income tax.

Why have workers been overpaying for Social Security? Look no farther than Ronald Reagan's tax cuts of 20 years ago. The loss of tax revenues helped double the 1982 federal budget deficit in one year. Alarmed by the surging tide of federal debt, the Reagan administration scouted around for new sources of income.

At the time, Social Security was facing a modest deficit that could have been fixed with minor adjustments. But the Reaganites, aided by the dumb Democrats then running Congress, declared a crisis and rang the alarms. They pushed through big increases in Social Security taxes and raised the future retirement age. They said that collecting more Social Security taxes than currently needed would "build up a surplus" for the baby boomers' retirement.

The late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the not-at-all-dumb New York Democrat, saw the trick for what it was. He called the Social Security tax increase "thievery."

The federal government goes through the motions of issuing IOUs to cover the overpayments.

Economists have called those securities "worthless pieces of paper." And three years ago, then-Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill dismissed them as "someone else's promise."

During the last presidential campaign, Democrat Al Gore supported the idea of a Social Security "lockbox": All Social Security tax money not going to current retirees would be used to pay down the national debt. That would leave the nation in better financial shape to pay benefits to the baby boomers. Republican candidate George W. Bush said: Me too. "In my economic plan," he pledged, "more than $2 trillion of the federal surplus is locked away for Social Security."

The surplus is, of course, gone, and Bush's tax cuts are helping to pile up more debt, not reduce it. And while the president swings the tax-cutting saber with abandon, the blade never comes anywhere near the Social Security tax.

So we now have Greenspan saying that the nation can't afford the Social Security benefits for which workers have paid extra taxes since 1983. Someday, the lugs will "get it." And when that light finally goes on, they won't be amused.

Crawl Back Into Your Hole Greenspan

Actuary Pressured to Lie

Employee Advocate – – March 14, 2004

Knight Ridder reports that a government actuary was pressured into lying to members of Congress about the true cost of the Bush-promoted Medicare bill. Richard Foster, the chief actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, revealed that he was threatened with being fired if he told the truth about the Medicare bill. His former boss, Thomas Scully, ordered him to lie about the true Medicare prescription drug bill cost estimates. Scully also gave orders to ignore members of Congress who requested Medicare cost information. Scully even put his threat in a note. Mr. Foster said the note "was a direct order not to respond to certain requests and instead to provide the responses to him and (to) warn about the consequences of insubordination."

The White House wanted this bill passed by any means necessary. For this administration, it was business-as-usual. The Bush administration has been quoting a cost of $395 billion in the first 10 years. The administration knew that this figure was a lie.

Months earlier, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had revealed that the true cost was $100 billion more that the Bush administration was willing to admit.

The White House felt it was necessary to offer the bogus figure because 13 Republicans were revolting against voting for the bill. Rep. Sue Myrick, was one of the revolting Republicans. But, as usual, she caved into the Bush demands. Now she is upset because she was lied to.

Look! The rules are simple. When you deal with a liar, expect to be lied to. Expect to be lied to about the reasons for an unprovoked attack of another country. Expect to be lied to about the true cost of “tax cuts.” In general, just expect to be lied to and don’t pretend to be shocked about it.

Mr. Foster knew the true cost would be $551 billion, not 395 billion. He lied to save his job.

Mr. Foster stated in an e-mail: "This whole episode which has now gone on for three weeks has been pretty nightmarish. I'm perhaps no longer in grave danger of being fired, but there remains a strong likelihood that I will have to resign in protest of the withholding of important technical information from key policy makers for political reasons."

Only after Bush had safely signed the drug bill, did Joshua Bolten, budget director, raise the cost estimate by $139 billion.

This scheme to ram the Medicare bill through Congress brings to mind the stunts pulled in an attempt to legalize age discrimination in cash balance plans. A Treasury official tried to sneak cash-balance-plan-friendly comments into Treasury regulations. Shortly thereafter, he went to work for a law firm that peddled cash balance plans!

In the Medicare case, Thomas Scully threatened a government employee, to ensure the passage of the Medicare bill. Then he went to work for law firm Alston & Bird. The firm represents a number of hospitals and health insurers - the big winners of the Medicare bill..

The game is simple. Get laws and regulations changed to favor a certain angle. Then leave goverment to profit from those very laws!

This is not the only skullduggery to come to light regarding the Medicare bill. There have been calls for an investigation of alleged bribery and vote buying in Congress!

Medicare Bill Hurting Retirees

The Illegal Iraq War

Employee Advocate – – March 6, 2004

The Independent reported that chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix has declared that the war in Iraq was illegal.

“Mr Blix, speaking to The Independent, said the Attorney General's legal advice to the Government on the eve of war, giving cover for military action by the US and Britain, had no lawful justification. He said it would have required a second United Nations resolution explicitly authorising the use of force for the invasion of Iraq last March to have been legal.”

Mr. Blix, who is an international lawyer, said: "I don't buy the argument the war was legalised by the Iraqi violation of earlier resolutions."

Mr. Blix said "Some people say Bush and Blair should be put before a tribunal and I say that you have the punishment in the political field here. Their credibility has been affected by this: Bush too lost some credibility."

The Guardian reported that David Kay, who led the CIA's postwar effort to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, has called on the Bush administration to "come clean with the American people" and admit it was wrong about the existence of the weapons.

Mr. Kay welcomed the creation of a bipartisan commission to investigate prewar intelligence on Iraq, and said "It's about confronting and coming clean with the American people."

This War on Terrorism is Bogus

This War on Terrorism is Bogus

The Guardian – by Michael Meacher – March 6, 2004

The 9/11 attacks gave the US an ideal pretext to use force to secure its global domination

(Saturday September 6, 2003) - Massive attention has now been given - and rightly so - to the reasons why Britain went to war against Iraq. But far too little attention has focused on why the US went to war, and that throws light on British motives too. The conventional explanation is that after the Twin Towers were hit, retaliation against al-Qaida bases in Afghanistan was a natural first step in launching a global war against terrorism. Then, because Saddam Hussein was alleged by the US and UK governments to retain weapons of mass destruction, the war could be extended to Iraq as well. However this theory does not fit all the facts. The truth may be a great deal murkier.

We now know that a blueprint for the creation of a global Pax Americana was drawn up for Dick Cheney (now vice-president), Donald Rumsfeld (defence secretary), Paul Wolfowitz (Rumsfeld's deputy), Jeb Bush (George Bush's younger brother) and Lewis Libby (Cheney's chief of staff). The document, entitled Rebuilding America's Defences, was written in September 2000 by the neoconservative think tank, Project for the New American Century (PNAC).

The plan shows Bush's cabinet intended to take military control of the Gulf region whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power. It says "while the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein."

The PNAC blueprint supports an earlier document attributed to Wolfowitz and Libby which said the US must "discourage advanced industrial nations from challenging our leadership or even aspiring to a larger regional or global role". It refers to key allies such as the UK as "the most effective and efficient means of exercising American global leadership". It describes peacekeeping missions as "demanding American political leadership rather than that of the UN". It says "even should Saddam pass from the scene", US bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait will remain permanently... as "Iran may well prove as large a threat to US interests as Iraq has". It spotlights China for "regime change", saying "it is time to increase the presence of American forces in SE Asia".

The document also calls for the creation of "US space forces" to dominate space, and the total control of cyberspace to prevent "enemies" using the internet against the US. It also hints that the US may consider developing biological weapons "that can target specific genotypes [and] may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool".

Finally - written a year before 9/11 - it pinpoints North Korea, Syria and Iran as dangerous regimes, and says their existence justifies the creation of a "worldwide command and control system". This is a blueprint for US world domination. But before it is dismissed as an agenda for rightwing fantasists, it is clear it provides a much better explanation of what actually happened before, during and after 9/11 than the global war on terrorism thesis. This can be seen in several ways.

First, it is clear the US authorities did little or nothing to pre-empt the events of 9/11. It is known that at least 11 countries provided advance warning to the US of the 9/11 attacks. Two senior Mossad experts were sent to Washington in August 2001 to alert the CIA and FBI to a cell of 200 terrorists said to be preparing a big operation (Daily Telegraph, September 16 2001). The list they provided included the names of four of the 9/11 hijackers, none of whom was arrested.

It had been known as early as 1996 that there were plans to hit Washington targets with aeroplanes. Then in 1999 a US national intelligence council report noted that "al-Qaida suicide bombers could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the CIA, or the White House".

Fifteen of the 9/11 hijackers obtained their visas in Saudi Arabia. Michael Springman, the former head of the American visa bureau in Jeddah, has stated that since 1987 the CIA had been illicitly issuing visas to unqualified applicants from the Middle East and bringing them to the US for training in terrorism for the Afghan war in collaboration with Bin Laden (BBC, November 6 2001). It seems this operation continued after the Afghan war for other purposes. It is also reported that five of the hijackers received training at secure US military installations in the 1990s (Newsweek, September 15 2001).

Instructive leads prior to 9/11 were not followed up. French Moroccan flight student Zacarias Moussaoui (now thought to be the 20th hijacker) was arrested in August 2001 after an instructor reported he showed a suspicious interest in learning how to steer large airliners. When US agents learned from French intelligence he had radical Islamist ties, they sought a warrant to search his computer, which contained clues to the September 11 mission (Times, November 3 2001). But they were turned down by the FBI. One agent wrote, a month before 9/11, that Moussaoui might be planning to crash into the Twin Towers (Newsweek, May 20 2002).

All of this makes it all the more astonishing - on the war on terrorism perspective - that there was such slow reaction on September 11 itself. The first hijacking was suspected at not later than 8.20am, and the last hijacked aircraft crashed in Pennsylvania at 10.06am. Not a single fighter plane was scrambled to investigate from the US Andrews airforce base, just 10 miles from Washington DC, until after the third plane had hit the Pentagon at 9.38 am. Why not? There were standard FAA intercept procedures for hijacked aircraft before 9/11. Between September 2000 and June 2001 the US military launched fighter aircraft on 67 occasions to chase suspicious aircraft (AP, August 13 2002). It is a US legal requirement that once an aircraft has moved significantly off its flight plan, fighter planes are sent up to investigate.

Was this inaction simply the result of key people disregarding, or being ignorant of, the evidence? Or could US air security operations have been deliberately stood down on September 11? If so, why, and on whose authority? The former US federal crimes prosecutor, John Loftus, has said: "The information provided by European intelligence services prior to 9/11 was so extensive that it is no longer possible for either the CIA or FBI to assert a defence of incompetence."

Nor is the US response after 9/11 any better. No serious attempt has ever been made to catch Bin Laden. In late September and early October 2001, leaders of Pakistan's two Islamist parties negotiated Bin Laden's extradition to Pakistan to stand trial for 9/11. However, a US official said, significantly, that "casting our objectives too narrowly" risked "a premature collapse of the international effort if by some lucky chance Mr Bin Laden was captured". The US chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Myers, went so far as to say that "the goal has never been to get Bin Laden" (AP, April 5 2002). The whistleblowing FBI agent Robert Wright told ABC News (December 19 2002) that FBI headquarters wanted no arrests. And in November 2001 the US airforce complained it had had al-Qaida and Taliban leaders in its sights as many as 10 times over the previous six weeks, but had been unable to attack because they did not receive permission quickly enough (Time Magazine, May 13 2002). None of this assembled evidence, all of which comes from sources already in the public domain, is compatible with the idea of a real, determined war on terrorism.

The catalogue of evidence does, however, fall into place when set against the PNAC blueprint. From this it seems that the so-called "war on terrorism" is being used largely as bogus cover for achieving wider US strategic geopolitical objectives. Indeed Tony Blair himself hinted at this when he said to the Commons liaison committee: "To be truthful about it, there was no way we could have got the public consent to have suddenly launched a campaign on Afghanistan but for what happened on September 11" (Times, July 17 2002). Similarly Rumsfeld was so determined to obtain a rationale for an attack on Iraq that on 10 separate occasions he asked the CIA to find evidence linking Iraq to 9/11; the CIA repeatedly came back empty-handed (Time Magazine, May 13 2002).

In fact, 9/11 offered an extremely convenient pretext to put the PNAC plan into action. The evidence again is quite clear that plans for military action against Afghanistan and Iraq were in hand well before 9/11. A report prepared for the US government from the Baker Institute of Public Policy stated in April 2001 that "the US remains a prisoner of its energy dilemma. Iraq remains a destabilising influence to... the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle East". Submitted to Vice-President Cheney's energy task group, the report recommended that because this was an unacceptable risk to the US, "military intervention" was necessary (Sunday Herald, October 6 2002).

Similar evidence exists in regard to Afghanistan. The BBC reported (September 18 2001) that Niaz Niak, a former Pakistan foreign secretary, was told by senior American officials at a meeting in Berlin in mid-July 2001 that "military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October". Until July 2001 the US government saw the Taliban regime as a source of stability in Central Asia that would enable the construction of hydrocarbon pipelines from the oil and gas fields in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, through Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the Indian Ocean. But, confronted with the Taliban's refusal to accept US conditions, the US representatives told them "either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs" (Inter Press Service, November 15 2001).

Given this background, it is not surprising that some have seen the US failure to avert the 9/11 attacks as creating an invaluable pretext for attacking Afghanistan in a war that had clearly already been well planned in advance. There is a possible precedent for this. The US national archives reveal that President Roosevelt used exactly this approach in relation to Pearl Harbor on December 7 1941. Some advance warning of the attacks was received, but the information never reached the US fleet. The ensuing national outrage persuaded a reluctant US public to join the second world war. Similarly the PNAC blueprint of September 2000 states that the process of transforming the US into "tomorrow's dominant force" is likely to be a long one in the absence of "some catastrophic and catalyzing event - like a new Pearl Harbor". The 9/11 attacks allowed the US to press the "go" button for a strategy in accordance with the PNAC agenda which it would otherwise have been politically impossible to implement.

The overriding motivation for this political smokescreen is that the US and the UK are beginning to run out of secure hydrocarbon energy supplies. By 2010 the Muslim world will control as much as 60% of the world's oil production and, even more importantly, 95% of remaining global oil export capacity. As demand is increasing, so supply is decreasing, continually since the 1960s.

This is leading to increasing dependence on foreign oil supplies for both the US and the UK. The US, which in 1990 produced domestically 57% of its total energy demand, is predicted to produce only 39% of its needs by 2010. A DTI minister has admitted that the UK could be facing "severe" gas shortages by 2005. The UK government has confirmed that 70% of our electricity will come from gas by 2020, and 90% of that will be imported. In that context it should be noted that Iraq has 110 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves in addition to its oil.

A report from the commission on America's national interests in July 2000 noted that the most promising new source of world supplies was the Caspian region, and this would relieve US dependence on Saudi Arabia. To diversify supply routes from the Caspian, one pipeline would run westward via Azerbaijan and Georgia to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. Another would extend eastwards through Afghanistan and Pakistan and terminate near the Indian border. This would rescue Enron's beleaguered power plant at Dabhol on India's west coast, in which Enron had sunk $3bn investment and whose economic survival was dependent on access to cheap gas.

Nor has the UK been disinterested in this scramble for the remaining world supplies of hydrocarbons, and this may partly explain British participation in US military actions. Lord Browne, chief executive of BP, warned Washington not to carve up Iraq for its own oil companies in the aftermath of war (Guardian, October 30 2002). And when a British foreign minister met Gadaffi in his desert tent in August 2002, it was said that "the UK does not want to lose out to other European nations already jostling for advantage when it comes to potentially lucrative oil contracts" with Libya (BBC Online, August 10 2002).

The conclusion of all this analysis must surely be that the "global war on terrorism" has the hallmarks of a political myth propagated to pave the way for a wholly different agenda - the US goal of world hegemony, built around securing by force command over the oil supplies required to drive the whole project. Is collusion in this myth and junior participation in this project really a proper aspiration for British foreign policy? If there was ever need to justify a more objective British stance, driven by our own independent goals, this whole depressing saga surely provides all the evidence needed for a radical change of course.

· Michael Meacher MP was environment minister from May 1997 to June 2003

Whistle-Blower Deserves Celebration

Bush Strips More Protections – March 5, 2004

Bush Strips More Protections From Mountain Top Mining Rules

A proposed reversal in federal rules that protect mountain streams can soon lead to the streams' destruction. The proposal is the latest in a series of actions by the Bush Administration to weaken protections against the devastation caused by mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia.

The rule change follows the administration's gutting of an environmental impact statement (EIS) on mountaintop mining; the repeal of a 25-year-old prohibition against dumping waste in streams; and a proposal by the Office of Surface Mining to weaken oversight of state mining programs.

The Interior Department stream rule change, which could take affect as early as mid-summer, would eliminate a ban put in place by the Reagan Administration that prohibits mining activity within 100 feet of a stream. The ban was enacted to prevent the burial of streams in Appalachia from mountaintop strip mining, a practice whereby mountain peaks are leveled to extract coal. Countless tons of rock are simply dumped into the adjacent valleys and streams.

Mountaintop mining has resulted in the burial of or damage to more than 1,200 miles of streams and the destruction of 380,000 acres of Appalachian forests, according to a federal environmental impact statement (EIS). The environmental analysis was conducted to settle a citizen lawsuit filed over the issue in the 1990s.[1]

The Bush Administration describes the rule change as a "clarification" of surface mining rules. But rather than protecting streams, the new rule would establish that filling valleys and streams is permitted if companies show they are trying to minimize damage "to the extent practicable."[2]

This latest reversal of policy comes on the heels of the administration's gutting of an environmental impact statement on mountaintop mining that led to internal agency strife and complaints by officials in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Internal documents were obtained through a federal Freedom of Information Act request filed by Trial Lawyers for Public Justice.[3]

Under the Clinton Administration, a preliminary draft of the EIS outlined restrictions for mining and valley fills. But Steven Griles, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, reversed that position. Griles removed any meaningful reforms and reduced the document to what one FWS official referred to as nothing more than "permit process tinkering," because it focused only on easing coal mine permitting.

"All we've proposed is alternative locations to house the rubber stamp that issues the permits," complained one Fish and Wildlife Service official, according to the internal documents. An EPA official said the public would want to know, "where's the beef?"[4]

The proposed rule change on streams was made public the day after public comments on the environmental impact statement closed, said Jim Hecker, Environmental Enforcement Director for Trial Lawyers for Public Justice.

"The proposed stream rule is another in a series of actions by the Bush Administration to gut longstanding safeguards against the wholesale burial and pollution of streams in Appalachia by the coal mining industry," Hecker told BushGreenwatch. "It's just another example of the Bush Administration's preferential treatment of the energy industry."

[1] Trial Lawyers for Public Justice.
[2] “Decapitating Appalachia,” New York Times editorial, January 13, 2004.
[3] Trial Lawyers for Public Justice.
[4] Ibid.

Preemptive Legislation?

Haiti Investigation Demanded

Employee Advocate – – March 4, 2004

The Hill reported that the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has accused the Bush administration of working to hasten the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. CBC charges that the White House misled lawmakers, as it went about undermining Aristide.

CBC is calling for the White House to prove that Aristide was not kidnapped.

Rep. Charles Rangel asked “What makes this not a coup?”

Rep. Major Owens said “We are very troubled that this was a terrorist takeover.”

Rep. Donald Payne had this to say: “Aristide made mistakes, but President Bush made mistakes, President Clinton made mistakes, but we don’t run them out of office… We could have nipped this in the bud, but it seems like the administration just wanted Aristide out. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said “Had peacekeepers been sent earlier, a political settlement that better respected the results of the last democratic election with less bloodshed and chaos could have been achieved.”

Rep. Kendrick Meek noted: “We were misled about their plan to force out Aristide. I don’t think any member of Congress can trust what this administration now tells us.”

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters relayed that Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide said that he ''did not resign'' and was ''kidnapped'' by U.S. diplomatic and military officials, according to the The Miami Herald.

Rep. Waters quoted Aristide as saying “The world must know it was a coup. That I was kidnapped. That I was forced out. That's what happened. I did not resign. I did not go willingly. I was forced to go.''

The Miami Herald also reported that the 15-member Caribbean Community has called for an independent investigation into the charges that Jean-Bertrand Aristide was kidnapped by U. S. forces. It has no intention of participating in the interim peacekeeping force in Haiti.

Crawl Back Into Your Hole Greenspan

Employee Advocate – – February 26, 2004

Tax Cuts for the Wealthy – Cat Food for the Elderly

The Associated Press reported that Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has a “nifty” idea to decrease the budget deficits, which were created by G. W. Bush. Greenspan wants Congress to reduce Social Security benefits!

Greenspan said the deficit is projected to be $521 billion this year. But Bush said that this would not happen. Does this mean that Bush is a liar? Does it mean that Bush is stupid? To cover all bases, one could conclude that Bush is a stupid liar.

You will recall that there was a budget surplus until G. W. Bush came to town. Tax cuts for the wealthy and starting a war for personal reasons are what caused the deficits.

Bush lied about the effects of his tax cuts, just as he lied about the reason for killing Iraqi citizens. Bush said the tax cuts would never cause a reduction in Social Security or Medicare.

What will Bush’s campaign slogan be - “Tax Cuts for the Wealthy – Cat Food for the Elderly”?

Greenspan said that the country can't afford the retirement benefits promised to baby boomers. The country could very well afford them until G. W. Bush wrecked the economy!

What the country cannot afford is another day of idiotic babbling by Greenspan! His normal “function” is to talk in circles, in an attempt to manipulate the stock market.

It is true that something must be done about the problems in the federal government. All of the problems can be solved by sending G. W. Bush back to Texas, with a one-way ticket.

The country would also be far better off if Greenspan would crawl back into whatever hole he crawled out of, never to return!

Even Republicans have little stomach for cutting Social Security benefits in an election year. Republican Rep. Clay Shaw is chairman of the Ways and Means subcommittee in charge of Social Security. He said "My message to seniors and those nearing retirement: You will receive nothing less than 100 percent of what you've been promised. Your benefits are safe and secure."

William D. Novelli, head of AARP, had some comments on the subject. But he has proven himself to be a Bush toady, by helping get the disastrous Medicare bill passed. He has lost all credibility. So who cares what he has to say?

The Alliance for Worker Retirement Security is a shill organization, composed of 40 employer groups. The name of the group is an exercise in deception. It has zero interest in workers or their retirement security and was ecstatic about the Greenspan proposal. Not only do corporations want to deny you the pension and health care benefits that you have earned, they want to deprive you of your Social Security benefits also!

Democratic presidential candidates John Kerry and John Edwards did not share the opinion of Greenspan. Either one of them could be the ticket out of this mess. Several polls have indicated that either candidate would take Bush, if the election were held today.

Greenspan Babbles Again

Administration Altered Health Report

Employee Advocate – – February 22, 2004

The New York Times reported that the Bush administration has admitted to improperly altering a health report. Many scientists have charged this administration with altering the facts to suit the Bush agenda.

On February 10, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson admitted to Congress that the report had been altered. He said "There was a mistake made." He added that "some individuals took it upon themselves" to make the report more positive than was justified by the data.

Rep. Henry Waxman said the changes were "another example of the administration's manipulation of science to fit its political goals."

Professor M. Gregg Bloche of Georgetown University said: "The administration's report does not fabricate data, but misrepresents the findings. It submerges evidence of profound disparities in an optimistic message about the overall excellence of the health-care system."

An administration that will tinker with intelligence data to promote a war will certainly not hesitate to edit health data.

Scientists Charge ´Suppression of Information´

Employee Advocate – – February 22, 2004

A group of scientists charge the Bush administration with distorting facts and manipulating the advice of experts to promote his own agenda, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Imagine that!

Dr. Gordon Orians is a professor of zoology at the University of Washington and member of the National Academy of Sciences. He said "I've never seen it this bad. People will always disagree on the interpretation of facts, but what's going on now is the systematic suppression of information."

The Union of Concerned Scientists issued a report which was signed by world-renowned scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates. The report stated "the scope and scale of the manipulation, suppression and misrepresentation of science by the Bush administration is unprecedented."

Kurt Gottfried, president, said "We're not taking issue with administration policies. We're taking issue with the administration's distortion ... of the science related to some of its policies."

Specific examples were given:

  • In 2003, information in an climate report deleted pertinent information that conflicted with the Bush agenda.

  • The EPA report on mercury pollution from some power plants was delayed.

  • The administration attemptsed to end projects when the results conflicted with the Bush agenda.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science held its annual meeting in Seattle. Dr. Alan Leshner, CEO of the AAAS, said "Neither ideology nor policy concerns should constrain the research agenda in any way."

Dr. Leshner referred to a "frightening trend," and added "We're all really worried about this. This is dangerous."

Whistle-Blower Deserves Celebration

Creators Syndicate – by Molly Ivins – February 16, 2004

Whistle-Blower Deserves Celebration Rather Than Cell

(Sunday 15 February 2004) - Friends of liberty, raise hell! To the barricades -- or at least to the post office and the e-mails.

British citizen Katharine Gun faces two years in prison for revealing that the U.S. National Security Agency tried -- and succeeded -- in getting the Brits to help us with illegal spying operations at the United Nations.

The targets were the delegations of the six countries on the U.N. Security Council that were undecided on how to vote on the crucial Iraqi war resolution.

Now, there are two schools of reaction to this tawdry, slimy little spy episode: It was illegal, immoral and wrong, and Gun should get a medal for exposing it; or some are shocked -- shocked! -- to hear of spying at the United Nations, where it is apparently only slightly less common than dirt.

If it wasn't much of a secret to begin with, why is this woman going to prison for telling the truth? Give her a medal anyway.

Not in Britain, where the Official Secrets Act is used to scare the bejeezus out of people. Fear of the act may have played a role in the suicide of David Kelly, the scientist who claimed that the British government overstated Iraq's weapons capability.

If Britain had a constitution guaranteeing freedom of the press, or even a halfway decent whistle-blower law, this truly Orwellian Secrets Act would be tossed out by the courts in no time flat.

Meanwhile, Gun may be sentenced to prison for doing precisely what we all hope every government employee will try to do: prevent the government from committing an illegal and immoral act. Some dare call it patriotism.

Gun, 29, worked for Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) as a translator. I spoke to her father while in London recently -- Gun herself is not allowed to speak to anyone about this, and he could not say much.

Gun was raised partly in the Far East and speaks fluent Chinese. During the lead-up to the Iraqi invasion, she came across an e-mail from Frank Koza of NSA proposing an intelligence "surge" to gather "the whole gamut of information that could give U.S. policymakers an edge in obtaining results favorable to U.S. goals or to head off surprises."

Under the Vienna conventions on diplomatic relations, espionage at the United Nations is strictly forbidden.

Nevertheless, the United States wanted information at the time of Secretary of State Colin Powell's appearance at the United Nations seeking a second resolution on Iraq.

The British paper The Observer reported recently that Britain did indeed help the United States conduct secret and "potentially illegal" spying operations at the United Nations.

"It is also known that the operation caused significant disquiet in the intelligence community on both sides of the Atlantic," the report said.

Ooops -- even the spooks were nervous about it.

The Observer also notes it was likely that China was a target of the operations: "Security experts have said it is highly unlikely that someone as junior as Gun would have seen the memo had she not been expected to use her language expertise in the operation."

You've never seen anything as pathetically deformed as the British press efforts to report what its own government is up to when it looks as though the Official Secrets Act might come into play.

The Hutton report was an investigation into Kelly's suicide that politely exempted Prime Minister Tony Blair's administration from all blame (this was achieved by failing to ask a number or pertinent questions).

The day before Lord Hutton was to present his report, its contents were leaked to a pro-Blair newspaper, setting off a great chorus of cries for an inquiry to investigate the leak of the report of the inquiry to investigate the leak of the … etc.

The thing would have leaked as a matter of course in Washington. It's not as though any damage was done like, say, exposing a CIA agent who worked abroad without diplomatic cover.

As a rule, it is not a good idea to set things up so that people get punished for telling the truth -- or even re-elected for telling lies.

Americans are in no position to lecture other countries on freedom these days, given the Patriot Act and attendant damage to the Fourth Amendment. But given Gun's dicey situation, it's worth dropping a line to the British Embassy at 3100 Massachusetts Ave., Washington, D.C. 20008, or via a group in the United States supporting Gun: the Institute for Public Accuracy at

Gun probably is guilty under the misbegotten Official Secrets Act (the e-mail she leaked was marked "Top Secret"), but one wonderful thing about the system of justice we inherited largely from the Brits is that a jury doesn't have to follow the law -- a jury can do what it thinks is right.

I can think of at least 536 really good reasons why I wish American government employees had blown their whistles before we went to war over weapons of mass destruction that didn't exist.

Evidence Shows No WMD

Washington - Page 42