United States News Digest
White House Connection to AIPAC-Franklin Case
On May 19, the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA) reported that Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, former directors of the powerful lobby group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), could very well be indicted next month in the Larry Franklin espionage case. (See EIR Online, Vol. 4, No. 20.) But, there appears to be new twist to the case. The JTA reports that the investigation actually goes back to just before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The JTA reports that, in early September 2001, the fact that President George W. Bush was considering meeting the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat was leaked to the New York Times. Condoleezza Rice, then National Security Advisor, became furious at the leak and demanded a clampdown.
It seems that Rosen could very well be involved in that earlier leaking. It is reportedly documented in the Franklin case, that on July 21, 2004, Franklin passed classified information to Weissman, that Iranian agents were planning to kidnap and torture American and Israeli agents in the Kurdish region of Iraq. Weissman informed Rosen, and "the information was relayed to the White House, sources close to the defense" told the JTA. Rosen and Weissman then called Naor Gilon, the political attache at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, and Glenn Kessler, the State Department correspondent for the Washington Post. It is not reported exactly to whom, nor for what purpose, the information was passed to the White House.
JTA says that at the time of the July 2004 Weissman meeting, Franklin "apparently had been cooperating with the FBI for several months and was being used in what is believed to have been a sting against AIPAC staffers, sources said." JTA says that the FBI is believed to have "co-opted" Franklin a year earlier, after observing a lunchtime meeting he had with Weissman and Rosen at an Arlington, Va. restaurant.
If indicted, Rosen and Weissman will plead innocent, claiming they did not know the information was classified, and that they were the target of an entrapment. Yet the FBI is said to have tapes of Rosen, Weissman, and Kessler joking about "not getting in trouble" over the information. Then Rosen is recorded saying that, "at least we have no Official Secrets Act," an indication that he knew the information he received was secret. But the fact that they handed over the information to Gilon could be considered a violation of the 1917 Espionage Act, which deals with receiving classified and secret information, and handing it over to a foreign power.
Rosen and Weissman were fired from their positions at AIPAC under the recommendation of AIPAC's lawyer Nathan Lewin, after he had reviewed the incriminating evidence. Nonetheless, AIPAC continues to pay their legal fees, which have reportedly reached $1 million. Rosen is being represented by John Nassikas of the elite Arent Fox law firm.
Rosen is known to have transformed AIPAC in the 1980s from a primarily Congressional lobby to one that "excelled in access to the executive branch." Since the case broke, "AIPAC has returned to its Congressional roots...."
Bush's 'Coalition of the Coerced' Exposed
Assembling President Bush's "Coalition of the Willing" involved incredible coercion, according to Anne Wright, a former Foreign Service officer, who had resigned from the State Department in protest over the launching of the Iraq War. Wright has had an illustrious career, a former Army colonel who had served in the U.S. Southern Command during the Reagan Administration, and later, as a diplomat, in hot spots in Somalia and Sierra Leone, where she received an award for valour for her actions during her tour in that country at the height of a civil war. Wright was serving at the American Embassy in Mongolia when she tendered her resignation.
Speaking at a forum May 19, sponsored by the International Relations Center, Wright explained how Mongolia had taken clear positions in support of the International Court of Justice, and against the Iraq War. Desperate to find allies in its ill-conceived crusade, the U.S. threatened to cut off aid to the impoverished nation if it didn't change its positions on these both these issues. What could Mongolia say? They changed their positions, and the aid was increased.
Wright stressed that many people in the Foreign Service and in the uniformed military are unalterably opposed to the Bush policy, although they aren't always prepared to put their careers on the line to oppose it. "I had serious doubts about the policy when President Reagan went into Grenada, but I wasn't prepared to oppose it publicly. But it finally got to a point with Bush. that I felt there was no other way," Wright said.
HHS Chief Forms Sham Medicaid Commission
Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt signed the charter for the Medicaid Commission to decide the future of Medicaid, on May 10. The Commission will include 15 voting and 18 non-voting members. Voting members, appointed by Leavitt, include Leavitt or his designee, Federal Medicaid officials, current or former state governors; current or former state Medicaid directors; three health-care policy experts from public-policy organizations; and other "individuals with expertise in health, finance, or administration." Congressional leaders will appoint four Democrats and four Republicans as non-voting members. The commission will be advised by ten people involved in Medicaid, state and local officials, consumer advocates, and care providers. Cost-cutting recommendations (elimination of $10 billion over five years) are expected by Sept. 1. The charter states that by Dec. 12, 2006, the commission must make longer-term recommendations on the future of the Medicaid program.
In appointing the 15 voting members himself, Leavitt rejected the advice of a bipartisan group of Senators, led by Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), to charge the Institute of Medicine with the responsibility to conduct a thorough review of the Medicaid program and to make recommendations on how savings can be made without harming beneficiaries or the services they depend on.
DHS Can't Account for Hurricane Recovery Money
A Department of Homeland Security Inspector General's report shows that $31 million was spent in Miami-Dade County, Fla., for hurricane disaster relief, but it can only account for $936,000! On May 18, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing to release the report, which outlines staggering fraud and abuse by FEMA in the Miami area, in the wake of Hurricane Frances, which made landfall about 100 miles north of Miami, in September 2004.
The damage was reported to have been typical of a thunderstorm, with some downed trees and power lines. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who chairs the Government Affairs Committee, stated that the Miami-Dade County Office of Emergency Management said the damage from the hurricane was minimal and there were no reports of flooding. Collins further commented that last October, FEMA had awarded $18,452.37 to Miami-Dade residents for rental assistance, as well as for the replacement of clothing and household appliances. Yet, a subsequent inspection found that the homes had suffered no storm damage whatsoever. There were also reports of FEMA paying for funerals that were not hurricane related. There were no reported hurricane-related deaths due to Frances, but in 1992, with Hurricane Andrew, 15 deaths were reported.
Sharansky Leads Off 'Democracy' Hearings in Congress
A hearing before the Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations on Democracy in the Middle East on May 16 was an "Alice-in-Wonderland" farce, when former Soviet political prisoner and now ultra-right Israeli politician Nathan Sharansky defended U.S. invasions of countries run by dictatorships as the only means to stop terrorism and attain democracy. Sharansky was followed by Mithal Al-Alusi, the Iraqi who had headed the U.S. occupation's De-Ba'athification Commission, who said the only way to stop terrorism in Iraq is for Iraq to immediately make peace with Israel, and then form an "anti-terrorism" alliance of "the U.S., Israel, Iraq, Turkey, and, maybe, Kuwait and the U.A.E."
Sharansky has a lot of political capital in Washington, having been a Soviet political prisoner, and because his book, The Case for Democracy, was played up as having educated George W. Bush on "democracy," but his sole message was that preemptive war, sanctions, and the Iraq invasion strategy are the only things that work against dictators. He buttered up the Congressmen, telling them that he spent "only" nine years in Soviet prisons, because the Congress made his freedom a big issue. But, then he railed against the U.S. for having "appeased" the U.S.S.R. from the very beginning, through the 1950s and 1960s (though he did admit that Roosevelt was correct to prioritize defeating Hitler before taking on Stalin). He also criticized the U.S. for not taking advantage of Cuba's weakness, and overthrowing Fidel Castro long ago.
Karpinksi: Miller Responsible for Abu Ghraib Abusers
Janis Karpinski, the former Army Reserve Brigadier General who was nominally in charge of military police at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, blamed Gen. Geoffrey Miller for the prisoner abuse that took place after Miller had come from Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib. In a May 13 interview with ABC's "Nightline," Karpinski said that Miller was responsible for introducing the use of human pyramids and dog leashes in the treatment of detainees.
"I believe that General Miller gave them the ideas, gave them the instruction on what techniques to use," Karpinski said. Asked if she was referring to the positioning of prisoners in human pyramids and putting dog leashes on detainees, Karpinski said, "I can tell you with certainty that the MPs [military police] certainly did not design those techniques, they certainly did not come to Abu Ghraib, or to Iraq, with dog collars and dog leashes."