United States News Digest
BRAC Commission Delivers Its Report to Bush
The Defense base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) delivered its final report to President Bush, late on Sept. 8, approving a total of 86% of the Pentagon's original closure recommendations, although rejecting a number of high-profile ones, in particular, recommendations to close the New London, Conn. submarine base, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine, and Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota. In total, the commission approved 21 of 33 major closures and a total of 800 facilities will be affected by changes approved by the commission. The report also omits the recommendation to close Connecticut's only Air National Guard unit as the result of an injunction issued by a Federal judge, but Tennessee's request for a similar injunction was overturned by a Federal appeals court judge after it had originally granted by a district judge. Bush has 15 days to decide whether or not to accept the report and sent it on to Congress, or send it back to the commission for further action.
New Indictments of DeLay's Texas PAC
The Travis County, Texas District Attorney's Office, on Sept. 8, announced five new indictments concerning the 2002 Texas elections. These indictments supplement 32 indictments issued in September 2004 concerning involvement of House Majority Leaders Tom DeLay's state PAC, Texans for a Republican Majority PAC (TRMPAC), with corporate money. The trial of TRMPAC Executive Director John Colyandro and other DeLay associates is in progress. One of the indictments charges TRMPAC with illegally soliciting and accepting corporate contributions from AT&T and Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care.
The other four indictments involve the Texas Association of Business (TAB), which bills itself on its website as "Texas's leading employer organization," which is "on the front lines of the legislative, regulatory, and judicial battlefields." The indictments accuse the Texas Association of Business and DeLay's political action committee of working together in a complicated scheme to circumvent state law. The charges, in light of the results of the 2002 elections which gave DeLay's Republicans a majority in the state legislature with the power to re-draw election districts to the GOP's benefit in Congressional elections, are breathtaking:
* One indictment charges TAB with 83 counts of illegally funnelling large amounts of corporate money into the elections via mailings and TV ads.
* Another indictment charges TAB with 28 counts of fraudulently soliciting money from corporationsprimarily insurance companiesfor the elections.
* Another indictment charges TAB with 14 counts of illegal corporate contributions, specifically that TAB's president and CEO William Hammond, and its Governmental Affairs Manager Jack Campbell, were paid with TAB corporate money while doing work for various PACs.
The D.A.'s press release says the corporate donors have been unmasked, and many are not even Texas companies.
Cheneyac Bolton on Offensive Against the UN
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton blasted away at the UN, on Sept. 7, declaring that "business-as-usual" is unacceptable, and that "reform" has to "prevent another Oil-for-Food scandal."
Bolton made the statement after a UN commission headed by former Fed chairman Paul Volcker issued its 1,000-page report, which found that about $1.4 billion of Iraq's Oil-for-Food program was misappropriated, and that about $8 billion was earned by Iraq in oil sales outside the Oil-for-Food structure, from Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and other countries. These "side" sales were tacitly allowed by the UN Security Council.
However, there is a much bigger scandal that Cheneyac Bolton is ignoring: The U.S. Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) looted about $8 billion in "fraud and unaccounted for funds" from the Development Fund for Iraq, which took control from the UN of the Iraq oil money, after the Iraq war began. As one senior staffer in Congress told EIRthe U.S. took the oil money for Halliburton et al. in only 11 months whereas the Oil-for-Food program covered almost eight years!
Bolton had already begun an effort to paralyze the upcoming UN General Assembly meeting, when he first arrived in August. Bolton submitted six letters rewriting already drafted "reform" documents that have been under preparation for a year. This included Bolton reneging on the "Millennium Development Goals" signed by Bush in March 2002, at a conference in Monterrey, Mexico. Millennium Goals was aimed to fight AIDS, and increase education in the poorest countries, with contributions from the richest nations of 0.7% of the GDP.
Bush Rejects Senate Initiative on Supreme Court
For the second time, President George W. Bush rejected a Senate initiative by nominating John Roberts to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to succeed William Rehnquist, who died Sept. 3. After Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement, last June, Senate Democrats Mary Landrieu (La) and Barbara Boxer (Calif) and Maine Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe asked O'Connor to withdraw her resignation and make herself available to be nominated for Chief Justice, a proposal which was supported by Lyndon LaRouche. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa) had made a similar proposal, which was backed by Sen. Pat Leahy (Vt), the senior Democrat on the panel.
That initiative was revived when Rehnquist's death was announced, and raised by George Stephanopolous on ABC's This Week on Sept. 3, to Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY). Schumer responded: "I think it would be a great idea for President Bush to ask Justice O'Connor to stay on as Chief Justice for, say, a year. She is respected by all sides. At a time when the nation needs unity and stability more than ever, she would bring it."
Bush Sneaks in Another Recess Appointment
President Bush used a "recess appointment" Aug. 31, to name Alice S. Fisher (a protege of Homeland Defense Secretary Michael Chertoff), who has no prosecutorial experience, to lead the Justice Department's Criminal Division. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich) had blocked the nomination because he wants to question Fisher about her knowledge of FBI complaints about torture and illegal interrogation methods used at Guantanamo. An FBI e-mail lists Fisher as a participant in discussions of military interrogation tactics which the FBI considered to be in violation of the Federal anti-torture statute.
Pentagon IG Resigns; Suspected of Blocking Criminal Probes
Department of Defense Inspector General Joseph Schmitz announced his resignation, on Aug. 31, to be effective Sept. 9, saying that he was taking a job with the private security firm Blackwater USA. Schmitz's announcement comes as Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) is investigating allegations that Schmitz blocked two criminal investigations, and issued false press releases about them. One of those investigations was of John Shaw, the former deputy undersecretary of defense for technology security, who is accused of trying to manipulate a contract award to a telecommunications company whose board included a friend of his. The second investigation involves Mary L. Walker, the general counsel of the Air Force; Grassley says Walker may have lied under oath, either about Air Force Academy scandals, or about the Boeing tanker scandal. Grassley had also reprimanded Schmitz this year for planning a ceremonial trip to Potsdam, Germany, which would have cost taxpayers $16,000, which Schmitz later cancelled under the glare of publicity.