Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Disaster Porn

In watching the non-stop horror replayed over and over in slow motion with "experts" and survivors telling me every gruesome detail, I can't help but feel dirty. It is so obvious that these are the stories that cable news live for, that it seems they can barely contain their - well - glee. Not that I'm saying they come across in any way happy about the disaster, it's just they suddenly seem to have re-found their special purpose - missing since shock and awe.

Nowhere is this more apparent that at Fox News where I had the misfortune of seeing them discuss "celebrities" who'd been in the path of the wave. One Fox idiot said to the other Fox idiot something along the lines of "your girl" was there - meaning supermodel Petra Nemcova who Fox Idiot 2 had a hard-on for. I kid you not. Now, Fox Idiot 2 didn't indicate whether he was less attracted to her now that she had a shattered pelvis, but honestly, I didn't stick around to find out.

A final thought. I agree wholeheartedly with Juan Cole's comments that Bush has seriously dropped the ball:
As John F. Harris and Robin Wright of the Washington Post cannily note, US President George W. Bush has missed an important opportunity to reach out to the Muslims of Indonesia. The Bush administration at first pledged a paltry $15 million, a mysteriously chintzy response to what was obviously an enormous calamity. Bush himself remained on vacation, and now has reluctantly agreed to a meeting of the National Security Council by video conference. If Bush were a statesman, he would have flown to Jakarta and announced his solidarity with the Muslims of Indonesia (which has suffered at least 40,000 dead and rising).
Honestly, I can't believe history will be kind to President M.I.A.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Inauguration Day Schedule

Courtesy of Jesus' General:
My work as a GOP Team Leader has finally paid off. Halliburton's hired me to distribute tuna sandwiches during the event. Three cents a sandwich may not add up to a lot of money, but I get to be at the center of a great event. They even gave me a copy of the schedule.

Schedule of Inaugural Events

9:00 A. M. - Catholic League president William Donohue delivers the invocation, asking the Lord to smite the anal-sex loving Jews in Hollywood.

9:30 - Donald Rumsfeld uses an AT4 Light Anti-Armor Weapon to destroy a tank, thus proving his contention that armoring Humvees is not all that important. The families of any attendees killed during this demonstration will receive a thank you letter personally stamped with Sec. Rumsfeld's signature by an E-4 in the Pentagon's mail office.

10:00 - Alberto Gonzalez does an interpretive dance based on his torture memos.

10:30 - Secretary of State nominee Condoleeza Rice pays tribute to her husband by reading an original poem called, "I Guess They Weren't Kidding When They Said that Bin Laden was determined to attack inside the U.S."

10:45 - Zell Miller issues dueling challenges to anyone in the audience who he deems to be giving him "homosexual looks."

Noon - The effectiveness of the use of Clean Coal Technology to make mercury not only safer but tastier is demonstrated when mercury-tainted tuna sandwiches are served to attendees. Although this lunch is free, the fine folks at Hallibuton, the official caterer of the inaugural ceremonies, will assess each attendee $675.72 in handling fees.

12:30 - Cheney Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby, betrays the names of every covert agent in the CIA and thus preempts their spouses from weakening our national resolve by embarrassing the Administration.

1:00 - Singer Toby Keith salutes Our Leader by singing a medley of songs as he takes his annual bath.

1:15 - Sen. Bill Frist explains Social Security reform by dissecting a cat.

2:30 - EPA Director and HHS Nominee Mike Leavitt pays tribute to Our Leader's "Healthy Forest" and "Clear Skies" initiatives by presiding over the chopping down and burning of every tree in the national mall.

3:00 - Vice President Richard "Dick" Cheney speaks about family values. He'll also proudly announce that his daughter, Mary, is engaged to Ken Mehlman.

3:30 - House Majority Leader Tom Delay leads the audience in a loyalty oath to Our Leader.

3:35 - Rush Limbaugh leads the audience in the loyalty oath again, but this time the name "Tom DeLay" is not substituted for "George W. Bush."

3:40 - Former First Lady Barbara Bush leads the audience in the oath yet once again. This time the name "George W. Bush" replaces the words "my hillbilly heroin dealer."

3:45 - Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar introduces Our Leader and then waits patiently while the President finishes reading My Pet Goat.

4:07 - Depending on the quality of his newly purchased 278 billion dollar Halliburton "No-Bulge" Personal Communications System, our Leader gives an address that either touts his agenda for the next four years or is the play by play broadcast for the Redskins game. He ends his speech with a rare pre-session recess appointment naming Bernard Kerik to the Washinton DC Court of Appeals. Our Leader sites Kerik's commitment to family values as the reason for the appointment. Members of the Gambino, Genovese, Luchese, Columbo, and Bonnano families are brought onto the stage to express their grattitude.

4:30 - Our Leader is sworn into the office by Judge Bernard Kerik.

Nothing to Fear But....

Brother Can You Spare a Dime?

A great deal has been written about the failure of military strategy in Iraq, but an even more important reason for the failure of the occupation has barely been discussed: the coalition's economic strategy. Following the Second World War, the Allied forces understood that fascism arose in conditions of unemployment, poverty and desperation. That's why there was a massive effort to reflate the German economy; by early 1947, unemployment was down to 10 per cent. In Iraq today, unemployment stands at an incredible 60 per cent. For young Sunni men - the main recruiting pool for the insurgency - it has soared to 80 per cent. This is a recipe for rage and rebellion.

    It would be bad enough if the coalition had simply done nothing to reflate and re-energize the Iraqi economy. Incredibly, the truth is even worse: they have imposed on Iraq a program of ultra-neoliberal reforms that have brought economic collapse to every country they have been inflicted upon. Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel prize-winning economist and dissident former chief economist at the World Bank, describes the economic policies of the coalition as "a proven and predictable catastrophe". They imposed a form of capitalism more extreme than anything tried in a democratic country: immediate privatization of almost all services (without any debate), non-competitive contracts, and a 15 per cent flat tax. This is not democracy. It is market fundamentalism.
Read more.

Not A Member of The Reality Based Community - Ukraine Edition

KIEV - Viktor Yushchenko swept to election victory in Ukraine yesterday, while his bitter rival, the Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, refused to accept the outcome of the presidential rerun and vowed to challenge the result. With less than 1 per cent of the vote left to count, Mr Yushchenko had an impregnable 52 to 44 per cent advantage.

Holy Shit

"What was coming towards us was a wall of foam, sand and white water."

New Zealander Michael Clark was on a cruise ship off a small low-lying island in the Maldives on Sunday morning when a powerful tsunami rocked southeast Asia. "It hit the island and went literally over the island and into the lagoon. Then it decided to come towards us."
- - - - - -
"There was a wall of water, only about two-feet tall, but there was an incredible amount of water behind it surging forward," he told National Radio via satellite telephone.

"It literally sucked all the water inside the atoll out to sea again and then it came back in again about three times."

The wave washed over the tiny island, which was about 120m by 40m and used by resorts as a picnic spot, he said.

"There was a lot of furniture on the island and it all got washed out so there were tables and chairs and people's personal effects. Things were washed around all over the place."


Shooting Off His Mouth

In either a gargantuan slip of the tongue or a momentous gaffe departing from the Bush Administration-approved timeline, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told troops in Iraq that the Sept. 11 flight over Pennsylvania was “shot down,” RAW STORY has discovered.

Friday, December 17, 2004

i-toons

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Kerik

Josh Marshall is leading the charge in the whole Bernie Kerik debacle, but Rude Pundit sums it up best:

Bernard Kerik Is a Fuckwad:

Goddamn, that must've been some hot fucking: Bernard Kerik, Police Commissioner of New York City, and Judith Regan, whore of bookdom, balling like crazed weasels in that $6000 a month condo in lower Manahttan, the fin-de-siecle glow of the still burning rubble of the twin towers turning one of the bedrooms a tawdry red. Aw, shit, how goddamn sizzling it must've been, with the odor of burnt corpses and free-floating asbestos in the air, nothing compared to the musk of Kerik's balls tea-bagged in Regan's mouth, Kerik's bare ass pressed against the window that faced the Pit where his officers scoured the ruins for body parts they could send off in a baggie so some family could have something to bury. Maybe Kerik came, ejaculating all over Regan's tits, just as some cop or firefighter picked up a tooth. And the best part? That the married Kerik was also cheating on his mistress, a corrections officer. Man, you can't make that shit up.

Bernard Kerik is a motherfucking thug, a lump of steaming shit who got where he is from tough guy looks, a G. Gordon Liddy moustache, and an oath of fealty to that other wad of fuck, Rudy Giuliani (who hopefully has been forever tarnished). And it's all, all falling out now. All the dirty connections, the acceptance of unreported cash "gifts" (didn't we used to call that a "bribe," "extortion," or at least "graft"?), and more, so much more, going back to his time as "cleaning up" Riker's Island. Let's not forget about the ties to Taser, so enriched by selling to the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense. And Kerik claimed a "nanny" problem? Man, that's like a syphilitic hooker with crabs and genital warts telling you she can't fuck you because she has a cracked fingernail.

Back in October 2003, when Kerik was just back from his time in Iraq (time which may have just been an excuse to stay away while his house was being renovated - really), Bush couldn't praise Kerik enough: apparently, in just three months, "Because of his leadership, his knowledge and his experience, he was able to stand up a police force in Baghdad in a very quick period of time. I think he told me opened up 37 different precinct stations -- 35 different precinct stations. They activated and trained 35,000 Iraqi police force." And look at the difference it's made in the last year in Iraq. When Kerik spoke, oh, how pissy he was with the media and the sayers of nay: "Well, try to stand up 35 police stations in New York City. It would take you about 11 years, depending on who is in the city council. It takes a while. You only have 24 hours in a day. But they have made tremendous progress." He shook his finger at those who thought David Kay's report on the lack of WMDs was significant: "There was one weapon of mass destruction -- he's no longer in power." And then, the money quote, bringin' it on home to 9/11: "I understand, probably more than anyone, what a threat Iraq was and the people that threatened Iraq was. I was beneath the towers on September 11th when they fell. And I -- again, I just -- I want to thank the President for the honor in allowing me to go there, because I lost 23 people. I wear this -- this memorial band for the 23 I lost."

It must have been so devastating for Kerik to take off that memorial band when he was stripping off his clothes so he could fuck Regan or Jeanette Pinero in that apartment that was originally donated so that rescuers might have a resting place while digging up bodies. How carefully he must have placed that band on the bedside table before he shoved his penis in his book editor's ass. When Kerik said, as he did when he was nominated to head the DHS, "There isn't a day that has passed since the morning of September 11th that I haven't thought of the sacrifices of those heroes and the losses we all suffered," do you think that thinking was done on the way to the apartment to fuck one of his former employees? The rescue effort was a noisy one. One can imagine that the music in the apartment was turned up loud so Kerik and Pinero wouldn't be interrupted by the sounds of the cranes and bulldozers. Maybe they didn't even change the sheets. Maybe it was even more exciting to fuck on the same sheets that stunk of the sweat of those working in the fallen buildings, some of them Kerik's own men, sifting for bits and pieces of their dead comrades for whom Kerik so grimly wore that band.

Somewhere, Andy Sipowicz is sneering in disgust.

And what of our President, mighty leader that he is. How he just wanted some of that tough guy glow, his own fuckin' J. Edgar Hoover, a man unafraid of using homicide detectives to search for his mistress's missing cell phone. How the White House just wanted to continue to bask in that 9/11 glow, like the pumping asses of Kerik and Regan in that apartment. Oh, my, some pundits say, how could the White House vetting process have missed anything that a solid Lexis-Nexis search would have picked up. But that misses the point.

It's not that Bush's vetting failed or that Alberto Gonzales is an incompetent piece of shit. The point here is that they just didn't care. The Bush administration thought it could do whatever it wanted in the wake of the election and that nobody would fucking care. And the other point is that it doesn't matter. Bush could have a cabinet made up of deaf-mute quadriplegics who shit themselves on a regular basis, and they'd be as effective as whoever Bush appoints. But the Kerik nomination, among so many other things, lays bare the arrogance and contempt the Bush administration feels for the American public. We just happened to catch this one. How many others get by us?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

How Can I Be Broke? I Still Have Checks Left (Part VII)

Vice President Dick Cheney said Wednesday that it is critical to make President Bush's tax cuts permanent during his second term, while achieving broader reforms in the tax code and bolstering Social Security.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

And The Death's Just Keep On Coming

Freedom's Just Another Word For Failure

US President George W Bush has given America's highest civilian award to three men closely involved in the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Former CIA director George Tenet, Gen Tommy Franks and Iraq overseer Paul Bremer were given the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House.

A Nation's Shame

Evidence of more prisoner abuse in Iraq has come to light after the US military was forced to release it by the courts.

So What If I Can't Afford To Retire, At Least Those Gays Can't Marry

Many companies are dropping their promise of health benefits for future retirees, who now might have to stay on the job longer and rely on government health care in their old age.
Given a clear choice between a challenger promising to increase the number of people with affordable health care in this country by twenty odd million and an incumbent promising medical savings accounts for those who could actually manage to save a few dollars in this crappy economy, 60 million people chose the latter. Well, you certainly get what you pay for. Expect stories like these to increase over the next four years as Bush does jack shit about lowering health care costs for lower and middle class Americans.

Monday, December 13, 2004

The Wheels Are Coming Off In Ohio

It seems apparent to us that it's only a matter of time before the Ohio vote fraud scandal explodes. The only question is whether the issue can be forced before Shrubby is offically coronated by the Electoral College.

For how desperately the forces of "W"rong are trying to close Pandora's box we link to today's hearing in Ohio in which it was revealed by one David Cobb that a representative of Triad Systems came to an Ohio Board of Elections office last Friday to "see if they had any questions". He quickly moved to the back room where the Triad vote tabulator was located. Before you can say "Vote fraud" he had "found" a battery problem with the machine and proceeded to take it apart, swapping out parts and who knows what else.

But wait, it gets worse.

The Triad rep. then asked which county would be selected in the upcoming 3% recount. When he was told, he went back in to do something else to the tabulator.

But wait, it gets even worse.

He then told them that since the hand recount had to match the machine count exactly, and that it would be hard for them to memorize the number sequence needed to get the machine to give them that number, that they should post these series of numbers on the wall where they would not be noticed by observers. The counters could then report these numbers NO MATTER WHAT THEY ACTUALLY COUNTED IN THE BALLOT. This would then "match" what the precinct reported exactly.

At this point in his testimony, Rep. Conyers told Mr. Cobb to arrange an immediate meeting with his staff regarding this issue. To listen to the audio of David Cobb's testimony on this, click here.

More to come...

If At First You Don't Succeed, Go Work For Bush

Rewarding EPA Secretary Mike Leavitt for his work paving the Earth, Shrubby is nominating him to replace Tommy Thompson at HHS.

Brother Can You Spare a Fed?

From today's LA Times:
The rapid turnover of top-level managers and highly trained specialists since Sept. 11 is causing disorder within the FBI and undercutting its efforts to meet the mandate of Congress to dramatically expand its intelligence and counter-terrorism capabilities.

Its new intelligence arm, which is to form the core of a transformed FBI, is losing dozens of analysts who are supposed to connect the dots to protect the country from another terrorist attack. All four members of the top management team announced by Director Robert S. Mueller III shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks have left their jobs — as have their successors. Some other officials have had three or even four jobs since the attacks.

Since Sept. 11, five people have held the bureau's top counter-terrorism job. Five others filled the top computer job within a 24-month period.
Feel safer yet?

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Worst. Defense Secretary. Ever.

The headline says it all:
Armor Holdings Could Boost Humvee Armor Output 22%.
So apparently the current shortage isn't "a matter of physics" after all. Nobody fucking asked them to do it.

Why Does Bush Hate Liberty?

As we've previously quoted here at What We Know, Thomas Jefferson once said "A society that will trade a little liberty for a little order will lose both, and deserve neither". Time and again, though, Shrubby and his gang have succeeded in scaring the American people into giving up their hard won freedoms.

First we had the Patriot Act which (besides winning the George Orwell award of 2002) chipped away at many our liberties. Now we have the troubling, recently passed Intelligence Bill. USA Today explains:
"Overall, it's another threat to civil liberties in this country," said Charlie Mitchell, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. "It's just a continuation of what the administration's been doing."

Under the bill, a legal presumption would be established denying bail for anyone indicted by a grand jury on terrorism charges. Although the suspect could appeal to a judge, the burden of proof would be on the defendant to show release would be prudent.
Now before you get all up in arms that terrorists deserve whatever they get:
Skeptics say the provision has the potential to be abused, possibly resulting in long detentions for people ultimately found innocent.

"Unfortunately, this Justice Department has a record of abusing its detention powers post-9/11 and of making terrorism allegations that turn out to have no merit," said Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis.
Don't believe him. Look at the record number of terrorism convictions since 9/11. What's that? There haven't been any?

Bottom line, it's understandable to want to live your life in safety, but at what cost? They say it's for our own good, but haven't they lied to us about enough that we should no longer trust them?

Another Critic Forced To Walk The Plank

The man who has issued many critical reports about the mismanagement and security flaws at the Department of Homeland Security was told Wednesday night that he was out of a job.

Clark Ervin made himself very unpopular by issuing a series of stinging reports on security programs that he said had failed, officials he called inept, and fraud that he suspected. His year-end report, out today, alleges that millions of dollars have been wasted or are unaccounted for by the department.

Dancing On Their Graves

Even at a time of war when more than 138,000 American troops are serving in Iraq, the organizers say that the inaugural celebration at the end of the January will not be marked by any noticeable restraint and will cost more than any other in history.

But organizers also say that the prodigious Republican fund-raising will pay for a celebration that is to have a "solemnity" missing from other inaugurals.
What We Know has heard rumors that to commerate the sacrifice being made by the nation's soldiers, all checks will be written in their blood. Neat, hunh?

Beware The Tsunami of Bullshit

Or so says the WP (although not in quite the same way):
Convinced his leadership style and policy vision were vindicated by the election results, Bush is aggressively targeting these domestic programs for the second term by essentially replicating the formula he used to reshape foreign policy in the first. This includes creating a small, loyal and trustworthy team to press for sweeping changes largely dictated by the White House.

To build public support and circumvent critics in Congress and the media, the president will travel the country and warn of the disastrous consequences of inaction, as he did to sell his Iraq and terrorism policies during the first term, White House officials said. He is also enlisting well-funded conservative groups such as the Heritage Foundation to help build the case for change -- or "reform," in the words of the White House -- through ads and commentary on television and in targeted publications, the aides said.
Get your shovels ready boys and girls. And be prepared for a fight, because if they win on the "ownership society" crap, you can say goodbye to your healthcare and pensions (and forget about Social Security.)

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The BradBlog Too

Brad's new site is up. You can find it and the original "Whistleblower Affidavit" story at BradBlogToo.

This is a fascinating and terrifying story that bears a thorough and public investigation.

2+2=? (Part IV) - The BradBlog Edition Part II

The BradBlog is currently breaking all kinds of stories regarding Clint Curtis, Cong. Tom Feeney, Yang (YEI) and the FDOT. Because of this, his site is being overrun. He is currently setting up a second blog to try and handle the traffic. (Because he's got even more white hot info to break.)

More to come very shortly.

Fin

Quagmire

No, I'm not talking about Iraq (at least not in this post). I'm talking about our economy. From today's CNN Money:
Hit by rising health care and energy costs, employers announced more than 100,000 job cuts last month, capping the worst three months of cutbacks since early 2002, an outplacement firm said Tuesday.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

i-quote

"A nation, as a society, forms a moral person, and every member of it is personally responsible for his society."
~ Thomas Jefferson

Knock Knock

A group of election activists called Transparent Democracy - including civil rights attorney Michael Sussman, Greenburgh town supervisor Paul Feiner, and four others - attempted to present the complaint at noon today while dozens of protestors carried signs outside supporting the call for an investigation.

The smaller group was denied access to the FBI's Westchester offices at 222 Bloomingdale Road in White Plains. Organizer Nicholas Mottern had previously arranged with the office to present the complaint. However, when they arrived in the building's lobby, he and the others were informed by building security that the FBI had instructed management not to allow them access to the Bureau's offices, and that the FBI would not send a representative down to the desk to accept the complaint. In response to the Bureau's action, Sussman, Feiner and Mottern signed into the building register and left the document with the desk clerk for delivery to the Bureau.

A local cable news station later reported that the FBI refused to accept delivery of it. In response to the Bureau's actions, the group called another rally for Wednesday, December 8 at noon to demand that the Bureau accept the complaint and investigate the allegations of fraud in time to prevent a possible theft of the election. Wednesday's rally will likewise take place at 222 Bloomingdale Road in White Plains. Video of the attempted presentation of the complaint, and some footage of the rally, is available at www.debar2004.com/video/120304fbi1.rm and more footage will be posted over the weekend.

What Are Friends For? (No Really, Bush Wants To Know)

After calling Musharraf his best bud, this is the thanks Bush gets:
Iraq war has made world 'less safe'

i-toons

McCain Runs Interference for Bush

Rather than spending Sunday morning talking about life and death matters, such as the cluster fuck that is Iraq or the economy, John McCain hit the airwaves to talk about steroids.

We at What We Know are not sure what the big deal is. After all, the Governator/Gropenator took them and he's a Republican - the paragons of moral virtues.

Duh

As President Bush lays the groundwork for a possible overhaul of the U.S. tax code, one option under consideration would deal its biggest financial blow to citizens of blue states such as California and New York.

Bizzaro World Part III

Thump. Thump.

Is this thing on?

Testing 1, 2, 3.

All right, let's see if this shit works.

In another clear indication that we descended through a massive irony wormhole when the Supreme Court appointed Shrubby president in 2000, Bush is now praising Pakistan and president Musharraf for their work in this whole "war on terra". We here at What We Know are not surprised given the outstanding job Musharraf and his soldiers have done rounding up Osama Bin Laden--

Wait a second...we've just been handed an update...Osama remains at large.

And what's this?
The global investigation into Abdul Qadeer Khan's black market trade in nuclear technology has stalled in a clash of national interests that threatens a full accounting of his secret partners and clients, according to interviews with diplomats and officials from several countries.

International authorities fear the full scope of the Pakistani scientist's ring may never be known. Senior investigators said they were especially worried that dangerous elements of the illicit network of manufacturers and suppliers would remain undetected and capable of resuming operations once international pressures eased.

Investigators also said that records obtained in Libya and elsewhere showed that some nuclear equipment purchased or manufactured by the network had yet to be found, raising the possibility that it was diverted to still unidentified customers.

"We are far from knowing everything," a senior European diplomat involved in the inquiry said. "I'm frustrated by the lack of cooperation. We are losing a lot of time."
- - - - - -
Pakistan has not permitted investigators to interview Khan, and his closest confidant is being held in Malaysia under that country's restrictive security act. Investigators also are concerned about the level of cooperation of former Soviet republics and China.
- - - - - -
Not everyone is eager for full disclosure, however.

Amid speculation that Khan may have operated with the knowledge or assistance of other high-ranking military officials in Pakistan, President Pervez Musharraf pardoned Khan early this year and has refused to permit investigators from the IAEA or the United States to interview the scientist.
Is there any doubt why Bush publicly praised this committed partner in our fight against all things terror-ible? So from all of us at What We Know:

THANK YOU MUSHARRAF.

You're the best.

How Can I Be Broke? I Still Have Checks Left (Part VI)

With a firmly Republican Executive and Legislative Branch, surely there's no one to blame for the recent bloated tick of a spending bill just passed, right? Wrong:
Arizona's junior senator, Republican Jon Kyl, also voted against the bill, but in a more low-key and partisan manner, placing the blame squarely on the shoulders of congressional Democrats.

"Obstructionist tactics by the Democratic minority prevented much of the federal government's discretionary spending from even being legitimately debated, by grinding the budget bill and individual appropriations bills to a halt with endless amendments and other parliamentary delaying tactics," observed Kyl.

The end result, he added, "is a lousy way to legislate."
Anyone understand what the fuck he's even talking about? Or how Democrats just bending and spreading would have somehow kept the pork (no pun intended) to a minimum?

Feel Safer Yet?

Bush is purging the CIA of critics and calling for the hiring of a whole new crop. A move that's sure to leave the country safer. What? It won't?? What the fuck?
"Let’s just start with the ‘hire more case officers’ stuff," says a highly respected and decorated veteran intelligence officer who spoke with the Phoenix on condition of anonymity (necessitated by the turmoil at Langley) in mid and late November. "Let’s first note that the president’s memo doesn’t say where the money to hire all these people is coming from, and that what it in fact orders Goss to do is draw up a plan with a budget and get it to the White House three months from now. So when you’re going to see the actual process begin to get this new 50 percent recruited is God knows when.

"Next, once you begin that process, for new DO officers you’re looking at the expenditure of at least half a million dollars and at least one year of training. And then you really need three to four years to figure out if someone is, in fact, good at being a DO officer. So they can talk all they want about increasing levels, but the devil is in the ‘as soon as is feasible’ part of the memo. ‘As soon as feasible,’ when it comes to training and fielding a new officer, is not the same as ‘immediately.’ "

It’s even more complicated for non-official cover officers, or NOCs — CIA officers who, unlike most DO officers, operate under corporate or non-governmental cover without benefit of diplomatic immunity. Another seemingly bold move, this one by Goss, was revealed in the November 17 edition of USA Today, which reported that Goss had instructed his new deputy director for operations, Jose Rodriguez, to "launch a much more aggressive espionage campaign that would use undercover officers to penetrate terrorist groups and hostile governments." This "risky new strategy" would call for a radical increase in the number and use of NOCs, and would be a "sharp departure from the CIA’s traditional style of human intelligence, in which field officers under flimsy cover as diplomats in US embassies try to recruit foreign spies and gather tips from allied intelligence services."

Innovative as this sounds, according to another veteran intelligence officer intimately familiar with the NOC program, it’s going to take even longer for this new "aggressive" campaign to come to realization. Furthermore, if history is any indicator, it may not yield much except grief.

"Goss could very well be long gone before the first NOC hired under this new effort ever sets foot on the field," the veteran officer says. "First is the issue of actually resuscitating the NOC program — there have never been that many NOCs, and the number is very, very low right now. Then there’s time and money. For your average case-officer trainee, it’s an investment of about half a million dollars and a year of time. For a NOC, it’s more like a million dollars and two years. While the training itself isn’t that different, everything with a NOC has to be done away from the formal CIA environment, which means you have to set up a mobile training process, which is costly and takes more time."

And, he says, after all the costly training, NOCs generally don’t last all that long. "A lot of them end up quitting the agency earlier than most for one of two reasons. The first is because it’s really one of the most thankless, frustrating jobs there is. You can’t keep all the salary you’re paid in your cover job — you have to return anything beyond your GS salary, which makes it effectively impossible to maintain your cover if you’re supposed to be in a $200,000-a-year job and you have only $57,000. People have actually quit and gone to work for the companies that were providing their cover, and who can blame them? More money, less stress.

"The second reason," the officer continues, "is that the counterintelligence capabilities of most local intelligence services have gotten much better in recent years due to technology, and it’s much easier to crack someone’s cover now. You can’t just send people out there with the highest-quality forged identification when a CI officer in some other country can go online and oh, what does he find? There’s nothing in public records you can pull off the Web that backs up the guy’s identity. These days, it takes a lot more in time and other expenses to just adequately backstop a NOC."

Saturday, December 04, 2004

The Vision Thing

From Thomas Friedman:
If President Bush made energy independence his moon shot, he would dry up revenue for terrorism; force Iran, Russia, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia to take the path of reform - which they will never do with $45-a-barrel oil - strengthen the dollar; and improve his own standing in Europe, by doing something huge to reduce global warming. He would also create a magnet to inspire young people to contribute to the war on terrorism and America's future by becoming scientists, engineers and mathematicians. "This is not just a win-win," said the Johns Hopkins foreign policy expert Michael Mandelbaum. "This is a win-win-win-win-win."

Or, Mr. Bush can ignore this challenge and spend the next four years in an utterly futile effort to persuade Russia to be restrained, Saudi Arabia to be moderate, Iran to be cautious and Europe to be nice.

Friday, December 03, 2004

2+2=? (Part IV) - The BradBlog Edition

It's hard to know where to start. The last few days have seen a flurry of activity concerning voting irregularities on and around the November 2nd presidential election. The biggest event has got to be the announced hearings in the House of Representatives. Their fifteen page letter (and supplemental letter) to SoS Blackwell, laying out the truly extraordinary volume of questionable practices and events in Ohio, is worth the price of admission alone.

Rather than trying to condense it all, we recommend that you go directly to BradBlog. Brad has been leading the charge into all things irregular and, I truly believe, helped to get these hearings off the ground. So if you can, while you're over there, kick in a little monetary support, cause unlike a reporter he's not getting paid to do this.

(Psst. Don't tell anybody, but we have it on good authority that all this is just the tip of the iceberg.)

Insult to Injury

From the Chicago Tribune:
Even worse, because the bulk of their replacements will be in Iraq within weeks, there will be a shortage of living space. As a result, the soldiers of the 2nd Brigade are to be kicked out of the comfortable two-person trailers where they have been living and sent to cots in crowded tents, just as the cold, wet winter settles into this region of Iraq.

"It's an insult," one soldier complained as the news spread through the base Thursday.

If You Teach Them, They Will Cum

in a rubber and prevent STDs and unwanted pregnancies. If you don't:
Kate is now a statistic - a pregnant teenager. In Dimmitt, 80 miles north of Lubbock, she is one of 12 pregnant girls at a school of 330 students, a Dimmitt school official said. Now she's living in Lubbock, which doesn't fare much better. According to local lore, this dusty town eight hours from Austin boasts more churches per capita than any other in the nation. But it also boasts some of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the state, with 36.4 percent in 2002, compared to the statewide rate of 28.5 percent, according to the Texas Department of Health's Vital Statistics from 2002. Lubbock County also has one of the highest STD numbers in the state, with 1,725 STD cases in 2003. Texas has the fifth-highest rate in the nation for teen pregnancy for girls aged 15 to 17.

Yet, since 1995, Texas has taught its teens that the only safe sex is no sex when then-Gov. George W. Bush signed into law a bill that made Texas the third state requiring abstinence-only sex education. Now, of course, Bush as president has taken that philosophy nationwide, putting millions of dollars into abstinence-only programs.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The War On Science (Part II)

AmericaBlog joins the Resistance:
Here's one thought: the next time someone tries to shove their religious beliefs into your local public school's science class, make a counter proposal. Demand that the school teach that the pyramids in Egypt were built by aliens. You could quickly print out lists of hundreds -- if not thousands -- of books, movies and TV specials that bolster this claim and prove it's a valid "scientific theory" that your kids should not be denied hearing in the interest of fairness.

Also propose that your kids be taught humans were put on earth by aliens, the truth about UFO abductions, time travel, how we didn't really travel to the moon (it was faked, you know) and you name it. There are plenty of quack "scientists" with actual degrees who will argue for this bunk. Once your school board has to deal with a whole bunch of junk "science," they might be more willing to dismiss it ALL in favor of accepted scientific fact. Point out that not ONE public university teaches Creationism as a valid scientific fact and ask why you want to teach your children something that every reputable college in the country will tell them is idiotic and wrong.

Next week: how to defend your geography class from fundamentalists who insist the world is flat.