United States News Digest
Kerry Was Right: Iraq War Will Cost $300 Billion by Year-End
With the May 10 final passage in Senate of the latest Iraq war "supplemental" budget of $82 billion, the United States will have spent $350 billion in war-related expenses since Sept. 11, 2001, the Washington Post reported May 11. The cost of the Iraq war alone reaches $208 billion with this supplemental, confirming candidate John Kerry's charge during the 2004 Presidential campaign. And although this supplemental, when Bush signs it, will bring the FY2005 earmarked Iraq war spending total to $100 billion, that will only last until the first month of FY2006this Octoberwhen the Pentagon expects to demand another supplemental budget which it estimates at $50 billion for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Republican Congressional aides told the Washington Post that the October request will actually be significantly larger than that.
The war supplemental budgets are now accounting for about one-third of the Federal budget deficit. The newspaper reports a rise in resistance, including among Republicans in Congress, and in the military, to financing Iraq/Afghanistan by any further supplementals. "It's a hell of a way to do business," said one retired Army general. "The base budget of the Army needs to be adjusted to fight the war on terror, and I have no idea where the money is going to come from." Congressmen are particularly angry that the Rumsfeld Pentagon is obviously using the supplementals to get funding for "military modernization" ($5 billion of this $82 billion) and for Army training needs, which the Bush Administration doesn't want to put in the regular defense budget, in order to appear to hold the Federal deficit down. But these are not unpredictable "emergency" spending as the supplementals are claimed to be. Senator Hagel called this "dangerously irresponsible"; Senator McCain said, "We all know what's being done. There's greater and greater resistance" to it.
Ridge Was at Odds with White House on Alert Status
Former Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge told a forum in Washington May 10 that he disagreed with the Bush Administration's habit of periodically putting the USA on high alert for terrorist attacks, even when Ridge argued there was at best flimsy evidence to justify raising the threat level.
At the Washington forum on May 10, Ridge described spirited debates over terrorist intelligence. Ridge said he wanted to "debunk the myth" that his former agency was responsible for repeatedly raising the alert under the color-code system he inaugurated in 2002.
USA Today May 11 quotes Ridge as saying: "More often than not we were the least inclined to raise it. Sometimes we disagreed with the intelligence assessment. Sometimes we thought even if the intelligence was good, you don't necessarily [want to] put the country on [alert].... There were times when some people were really aggressive about raising it, and we said, 'For what?'"
The discussion comes as the Department of Homeland Security is considering whether to scrap the color-code system.
Ridge told reporters at the forum that Homeland Security officials didn't want to raise the level because they knew local governments and businesses would have to spend money putting temporary security upgrades in place.
Ridge added: "You have to use the tool of communication very sparingly." USA Today reminds readers that Ridge and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft publicly clashed over how to communicate threat information.
Hillary-Gate Goes into High Gear
With a cast of characters that is eerily familiar to that of the Monica Lewinsky affair, Karl Rove and friends are happily watching as the spotlight is being shifted off House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) and onto Sen. Hillary Clinton. David Rosen, a former fundraiser for Clinton, is going on trial May 17, charged with "under-reporting" the cost of a Hollywood gala event, in August of 2000, that played a significant role in clinching her bid for a New York Senate seat, later that year. The case pivots around the testimony of Peter Paul, a three-time convicted felon, who, as recently as March of this year, pleaded guilty to securities fraud charges. Paul became one of the largest donors to Clinton's campaign, until her staff found out about his record; then, he essentially turned state's evidence, stating that $1.1 million of the "in-kind" contributions he made to this campaign event, were reported by Rosen as worth only $400,000. This is the first time ever that a Senate campaign worker has been brought to trial for financial misdoings.
Now, an array of "get Hillary" operations have been set in motion. Paul, in collusion with a "conservative activist" named Gary Kreep (the name recalls the old Watergate "plumbers unit," CREEP), has launched a website called the "Hillary Clinton Accountability Project," or HilCAP. Kreep, who is in the orbit of neo-cons like Phyllis Schlafley, founded the United States Justice Foundation in 1979, and has been escalating his clout from his office in Escondido, Calif., taking up cases involving "conservative" issues. Another group, Judicial Watch, which at one time had about 50 legal actions against the Clinton Administration, has filed papers with the Senate Ethics Committee, urging they take up Hillary's case. One source, referencing the case, indicated that large international networks are involved, having connections to right-wing Israeli circles, including their "Christian" counterparts.
The case has spawned a series of articles in the national press, including the New York Times, and this week's Time magazine, whose headline is, "Hillary in 2008? No Way!"
Whatever the outcome, this case has galvanized the forces which had been scattered as a result of the DeLay revelations, and is intended to have a chilling effect on Bill Clinton's faction in the Democratic Party. The activation of these networks, especially the extreme right-wing Zionist factions, could represent an actual physical threat to the Senator, a source said.
Bush Pushes Nuclear Bunker-Buster Bombs Again
The White House is again trying to get funding for nuclear "bunker buster" bombs, officially named Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrators, or RNEPs, the Washington Times reported May 10. Last year, the Bush proposal was voted down, partly because it included the prospect of actual production of weapons. This year, although the possibility of production has been removed from the discussion, opposition is still running high. The only thing the administration is "cautiously optimistic" about getting authorized, is a program to "rehabilitate" existing nuclear warheads, the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program. All this, in the middle of the United Nations' discussion of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.
Yet Another Abramoff Scandal Emerges
The New York Times surfaced another scandal around lobbyist Jack Abramoff May 9, when it reported on the use of his not-for-profit National Security Caucus Foundation to bring members of Congress on expensive international trips. Abramoff, who is best known for building the fundraising empire of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), and who is under multiple investigations for allegedly scamming American Indian tribes in lobbying for their gambling operations, has been exposed in another questionable lobbying operation, this time involving the network of "Cold War" organizations around the American Security Council, which dates back to 1955.
The Times charges that Abramoff was a lobbyist for Pakistan, at the time that he served as a "tour guide" in 1997, for an expensive bipartisan trip for Congressmen to that country, under the auspices of the National Security Caucus Foundation, a tax-exempt organization that was then headed by one Gregg Hilton. Rep. Michael R. McNulty (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C.) were on the trip, but claim that they did not know that Abramoff was a lobbyist for Pakistan at the time, through his law firm, Preston Gates & Ellis. Documents reviewed by the Times show that Abramoff paid more than $350,000 on his personal credit card in travel expenses for trips for various Congressmen, but DeLay was one of the most frequent participants in Abramoff's trips. While it is reported that DeLay was on the Pakistan junket, he was taken to Moscow, London, Scotland, and the slave-labor empire of the Northern Mariana Islands, on trips paid for by Abramoff in part.
The Times reports that both Henry A. Kissinger and George P. Shultz were identified as members of the National Security Caucus Foundation on the organization's letterhead. But, they deny giving permission for this identification. Gregg Hilton says they were affiliated with "a sister organization," and adds that he feels "deceived" by Abramoff, who never revealed to Hilton that he was a lobbyist.
EIR is investigating what the "sister organization" might be that link Shultz and Abramoff. The National Security Caucus Foundation is a spin-off of the Cold War-era American Security Council, and the Coalition of Peace Through Strength, which was created by an amalgam of utopian nuclear-warmongers from the neo-conservatives, Straussian inner circle, right-wing Social Democrats, and RAND Corporation utopians. Shultz and Kissinger, of course, were associated with many of those "sister organizations."