Sunday, October 30, 2005

Connor McGuire...ARTIST

Torture Meister


The Senate amendment to the new Defense Appropriations Act would explicitly prohibit the U.S. government from subjecting those in its custody to cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment. It's pretty straightforward stuff. Yet despite a rousing 90-9 vote for its passage, there are still dark forces at work trying to subvert the intent of this measure, the language of which must survive the conference committee in the House of Representatives.

If the morality perverters have their way, there will be a carve-out to exempt the CIA from this prohibition. They are seeking this with the express knowledge that sadists (acting under the color of CIA authority) have been responsible for the horrific abuses which made necessary further action and clarification of existing law. This exemption would in fact turn the measure on its head to AUTHORIZE torture by a particular agency, diametrically contrary to the amendment's intent. They might as well appoint a "Torture Czar" and make it a cabinet level position.

Actually, for all practical purposes we already have a torture czar . . . it's the Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney. Yes, it is Cheney himself who is PERSONALLY pressuring the conference committee to rescind the McCain amendment in this way (just as he was pressuring CIA analysts in the cooking of the justification for war with Iraq). It has been Cheney himself who has taken a lead role from the beginning, talking in 2002 about the need to revive the "dark arts." Since they could no longer keep the abuses at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and elsewhere classified, they have prosecuted a couple of selected patsies for these crimes, while their agency handlers right up through the chain of command have continued in their unconscionable ways.

This is not to let the president himself off the hook. In the first place there is Bush's own overreaching lust for absolute dictatorial power. Indeed, his longtime attorney and ally, Alberto Gonzales, put his name on the infamous Jan 25, 2002 memo, referring to the Geneva convention as "quaint." But what many people do not realize is that the heart of that reprehensible legal pretzel job was drafted by David Addington, the staff attorney closely associated with Dick Cheney. And would anybody like to guess Mr. Addington's current title in the White House? That's right. He just replaced the indicted "Scooter" Libby as Cheney's Chief of Staff.

There isn't a "talking head" out there not drinking their own "talking points Kool-Aid" who believes the Fitzgerald investigation is remotely close to being finished. If anything, the allegations in the Libby indictment, which identify Cheney as the one who specifically advised Libby that Valerie (Plame) Wilson worked under the covert wing of the CIA, suggest that the Vice President is at least one of the big game that the Special Counsel is still pursuing. The tight-lipped Fifth Amendment-type reactions given by Cheney in the aftermath of the indictment to explain his own role in the leak scandal do nothing to dispel the intrigue. Instead the administration is circling the torture-advocate wagons even tighter with the promotion of Addington, while the shadow of Traitorgate continues to darken over their heads.

Especially now, with the chickens of treason coming home to roost in the nest of the chicken hawks themselves, this is the last time in history for the authors of torture as official American policy to be allowed to push for largesse for even wider atrocities. We must all immediately contact our senators and members of the House of Representative who might have influence on the conference committee to demand that the overwhelmingly approved language of the McCain amendment remain intact in the final Defense Appropriations Bill.

ACTION FORM: (McCain Amendment)

We must also recognize that this is profoundly related to the selection of a replacement for Harriet Miers as Supreme Court nominee. Remember -- one of the talking points of the neocons (before they turned on her for not being sufficiently and demonstrably loyal to their causes) was that she would support the president's policies in the deceptively dubbed "war on terror." But the universal common denominator of all Bush appointees is their submissive endorsement of the unlimited expansion of the president’s power to do whatever he likes in defiance of Congress and even the people themselves.

In his own confirmation hearing Roberts refused to say (among other things) whether the Congress would have the power to stop a war if the president ignored their authority. That case might come before him, he argued, as if he knew something we didn't. And it most certainly will if Bush is not stopped from making any more such appointments. Roberts and his ilk will not legislate from the bench (as if that were the boogie man to be feared). No, instead they will UN-legislate from the bench, perhaps even to remove the McCain language from American law by court order on the grounds that it would interfere with the power of the president to play God. Remember also that in his first day on the bench of the high court Roberts left the sheep's clothing in his chambers to ask aggressively why they should not overturn the TWICE-expressed will of the people in the Oregon "Right to Die" case.

For all of these reasons we must demand that the next nominee to the Supreme Court be a true moderate and a true nonpartisan. One of the truly beautiful things about Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald is that the American people can look at his work and agree that it will be based entirely on the facts and the law. Even opposing attorneys of those he has indicted must concede that he is unwavering in his fairness and his integrity, favoring neither side by any inherent bias. We can demand no less from the next justice to be appointed to the Supreme Court.

ACTION FORM: (Supreme Court)

If we all speak out, we can remove the Vice President from his position as the torture czar. It's not as if he doesn't have enough other black hats to wear; he's already serving in the capacity of treason czar as it is. Sheriff Fitzgerald is working on that last one. The rest is up to we the people.

Please take action NOW, so we can win all victories that are supposed to be ours, and forward this message to everyone else you know.

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Me, Pete Williams? Talking About My Dear Friend Dickie? Who, Me?

Cheney-Staffer-Turned-Reporter Now Covering Libby Indictment for NBC
Posted by Douglas Carpenter
Added to homepage Sun Oct 30th 2005, 02:32 PM ET

Cheney-Staffer-Turned-Reporter Now Covering Libby Indictment for NBC News
by David Sirota

Over at the Huffington Post, Dan Carol asks a great question: how can NBC's Pete Williams be allowed to cover the Scooter Libby story for the network, considering Williams was a longtime former staffer for Dick Cheney?

That's right – according to Williams' biography on NBC's website, Williams is "a native of Casper, Wyoming" – where Cheney is from. In 1986, Williams "joined the Washington, DC staff of then Congressman Dick Cheney as press secretary and a legislative assistant. In 1989, when Cheney was named Assistant Secretary of Defense, Williams was appointed Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs."

Now Williams is being allowed to report on the indictment of Cheney's chief of staff for NBC News, as if he was just a regular old nonpartisan objective journalist. And, as Carol points out, Williams, seems to be using his position on TV in some pretty questionable ways when it comes to the case.

Sources: Dan Carol's post:

Pete Williams' NBC biography:

Discuss this topic (27 responses)

Ah...the Mushroom Cloud...REMEMBER?

A Leak, Then a Deluge
Did a Bush loyalist, trying to protect the case for war in Iraq, obstruct an investigation into who blew the cover of a covert CIA operative?

By Barton Gellman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 30, 2005; A01

Air Force Two arrived in Norfolk on Saturday morning, July 12, 2003, with Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff aboard. They had come "to send forth a great American ship bearing a great American name," as Cheney said from the flag-draped flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.

As Cheney returned to Washington with I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the two men spoke of the news on Iraq -- the most ambitious use of the war machine Reagan built two decades before. A troublesome critic was undermining a principal rationale for the war: the depiction of Baghdad, most urgently by Cheney, as a nuclear threat to the United States.

Defending the war became the animating priority aboard Air Force Two that day. According to his indictment on Friday, Libby "discussed with other officials aboard the plane" how he should respond to "pending media inquiries" about the critic, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. Apart from Libby, only press aide Catherine Martin is known to have accompanied Cheney on that flight.

The crimes alleged in Libby's indictment would come later. But the flight from Norfolk marked a transition in the four-month slide from politics as usual -- close combat in defense of the president's policies -- to what a special prosecutor described as perjury and obstruction of justice. Summer would give way to fall before Libby reached the point of no return, with his first alleged lies to the FBI. But he skirted the line soon after stepping off the aircraft.

That Saturday afternoon, the indictment states, is when Libby confirmed for Matthew Cooper of Time magazine and disclosed to Judith Miller of the New York Times the classified fact that Wilson's wife, who was known as Valerie Plame, "worked at the CIA." Just over two weeks earlier, after a previous conversation with Cheney, Libby had told Miller more tentatively that Plame "might work at a bureau of the CIA."

It may never be clear what drove Libby, the most cautious of Washington insiders, to take such risks, ostensibly to protect the administration. In a news conference Friday, Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald described the question as unanswerable so far. "If you're asking me what his motives were, I can't tell you; we haven't charged it," Fitzgerald said. The obstruction of his inquiry, he said, "prevents us from making the fine judgments we want to make."

Libby's possible motive is only one of many unknowns left in the aftermath of Friday's indictment, which prompted the resignation of one of the most powerful figures in the White House and left the Bush administration reeling politically. Still to be determined is who first leaked Plame's name to syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak -- the original act that led to Fitzgerald's investigation -- and the roles of many other administration officials, including Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove.

Even so, the grand jury's 22-page indictment fleshes out a saga that has been largely shrouded for almost two years by grand jury secrecy. While Friday's disclosures allege no wrongdoing by Cheney, they place the vice president closer than has been known before to events at the heart of the case.

One notable disclosure is that Libby and Cheney made separate inquiries to the CIA about Wilson's wife, and each confirmed independently that she worked there. It was Cheney, the indictment states, who supplied Libby the detail "that Wilson's wife worked . . . in the Counterproliferation Division" -- an unambiguous declaration that her position was among the case officers of the operations directorate. That conversation took place on June 12, 2003, a month before the Norfolk flight and nearly two weeks before Libby first told a reporter about Plame's CIA affiliation.

Wilson was a former ambassador who traveled to Niger in February 2002 after Cheney requested elaboration on a Defense Department report -- based on erroneous information originating from the Italian security service -- that Iraq had an agreement to buy processed uranium ore, or "yellowcake." Upon his return, Wilson reported to CIA and State Department analysts that he had found no support for the allegation and had reasons to believe it was untrue. When the Bush administration nonetheless launched a public relations campaign that highlighted the uranium report -- most prominently in the president's State of the Union speech on Jan. 28, 2003 -- Wilson began raising questions among friends in government. In March, when the International Atomic Energy Agency exposed the documents as forged, a fact Wilson had not discovered, he began telling journalists in not-for-quotation interviews that the White House propounded a deliberate lie.

Wilson pressed himself fully into the spotlight in the late spring and early summer, a vulnerable moment for the president. The occupation of Iraq had turned unpredictably perilous, with casualties rising in an as-yet-unacknowledged insurgency and strong signs emerging that search teams were at a loss to discover evidence of "weapons of mass destruction."

The uranium claims had never been significant to career analysts -- Iraq had plenty already and lacked the means to enrich it. But the allegations proved irresistible to the White House Iraq Group, which devised the war's communications strategy and included Libby among its members. Every layman understood the connection between uranium and the bomb, participants in the group said in interviews at the time, and it was the easiest way for the Bush administration to raise alarms.

The threat Wilson posed was that his charges were equally simple and marketable. He charged that Cheney asked a question and then disregarded, as did the president and his staff, an answer he did not like.

Why some White House officials -- Rove among them -- used Wilson's wife in their counterattack has yet to be made entirely clear. Wilson himself described the outing as punishment, a threat to his family's safety meant to deter future whistle-blowers. Fragments of testimony unveiled Friday, and in published accounts by journalists who testified, suggest that the White House intended to challenge Wilson's competence by asserting that his wife selected him for the mission to Niger.

Novak, whose July 14 column was the first to expose Plame, wrote three months later that nepotism provided "the missing explanation of an otherwise incredible choice by the CIA."
Burglary, Forgery, Delivery

The chain of events that led to Friday's indictment can be traced as far back as 1991, when an unremarkable burglary took place at the embassy of Niger in Rome. All that turned up missing was a quantity of official letterhead with "Republique du Niger" at its top.

More than 10 years later, according to a retired high-ranking U.S. intelligence official, a businessman named Rocco Martino approached the CIA station chief in Rome. An occasional informant for U.S., British, French and Italian intelligence services, Martino brought documents on Niger government letterhead describing secret plans for the sale of uranium to Iraq.

The station chief "saw they were fakes and threw [Martino] out," the former CIA official said. But Italy shared a similar report with the Americans in October 2001, he said, and the CIA gave it circulation because it did not know the Italians relied on the same source.

On Feb. 12, 2002, Cheney received an expanded version of the unconfirmed Italian report. It said Iraq's then-ambassador to the Vatican had led a mission to Niger in 1999 and sealed a deal for the purchase of 500 tons of uranium in July 2000. Cheney asked for more information.

The same day, Plame wrote to her superior in the CIA's Counterproliferation Division that "my husband has good relations with both the PM [prime minister] and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity." Wilson -- who had undertaken a similar mission three years before -- soon departed for Niamey, the Niger capital. He said he found no support for the uranium report and said so when he returned.

Martino continued to peddle his documents, with an asking price of more than 10,000 euros -- this time to Panorama, an Italian magazine owned by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Panorama editor Carlo Rossella said his staff concluded the letters were bogus but in the interim sent copies to the U.S. Embassy in Rome in October 2002. "I believed the Americans were the best source for verifying authenticity," he said. When the documents reached the State Department, according to a commission that investigated prewar intelligence this year, analysts there said they had "serious doubts about the authenticity" of the "transparently forged" documents.

By summer 2002, the White House Iraq Group assigned Communications Director James R. Wilkinson to prepare a white paper for public release, describing the "grave and gathering danger" of Iraq's allegedly "reconstituted" nuclear weapons program. Wilkinson gave prominent place to the claim that Iraq "sought uranium oxide, an essential ingredient in the enrichment process, from Africa." That claim, along with repeated use of the "mushroom cloud" image by top officials beginning in September, became the emotional heart of the case against Iraq.

President Bush invoked the mushroom cloud in an Oct. 7, 2002, speech in Cincinnati. References to African uranium remained in his speech until its fifth draft, but a last-minute intervention by Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet excised them.

Tenet's success was short-lived. The uranium returned repeatedly to Bush administration rhetoric in December and January. National security adviser Condoleezza Rice cited the report in a Jan. 23 newspaper column, and three days later, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell demanded, "Why is Iraq still trying to procure uranium and the special equipment needed to transform it into material for a nuclear weapon?"
16 Words and Wilson Strikes Back

By the time Bush stated the case personally -- in the notorious "16 words" of his Jan. 28 State of the Union address -- the uranium had been thoroughly integrated into his government's case for impending war with Iraq.

The IAEA exposed the documents as forgeries on March 7, 2003. The Bush administration, while acknowledging uncertainty, did not admit its primary evidence had been faked.

Late April and early May saw a succession of Bush administration assertions that the search for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction had just begun. By then, The Washington Post was reporting that teams looking for weapons in Iraq were departing in frustration, making way for a new Iraq Survey Group that became an 18-month forensic examination of where U.S. intelligence had gone wrong.

Wilson spoke anonymously about his trip to Niger to New York Times opinion writer Nicholas D. Kristof, whose May 6 column accused Cheney of permitting truth to go "missing in action." The failure of the weapons hunt, and alleged deception of the public, had been laid at Cheney's feet.

In the vice president's office, Libby had long since come to believe that the CIA was undermining Cheney and the president's conduct of the war. One undercurrent of the events to come was a venerable form of Washington institutional combat, between the White House and the executive agencies ostensibly under its command.

Miller of the New York Times wrote later that Libby believed the CIA was hedging against accusations of failure by blaming Cheney and Bush for its mistakes. Another top official, a longtime ally of Libby's, told a reporter at the time that the CIA was working actively to conceal evidence favorable to the White House.

Libby had known enemies inside government -- but an unknown enemy outside. It did not take him long to discover that the latter was Wilson.
'There Would Be Complications'

In late May and early June 2003, according to Fitzgerald's indictment, Libby asked for and received information about Wilson's trip from a senior State Department official, who is not named in the indictment but is identified by colleagues as then-Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman.

On June 9, the CIA faxed classified accounts of Wilson's assignment "to the personal attention of Libby and another person in the Office of the Vice President." Two or three days later, Grossman told Libby that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA and had been involved in planning Wilson's trip. An unidentified "senior officer of the CIA" confirmed Plame's employment for Libby on June 11, and Cheney told Libby the next day which part of the agency employed her.

For Libby, according to a senior official who worked with him at the time, "I think this just hit a nerve." By June, he said, "the blind, deaf and dumb had to be aware that something was wrong in Iraq." Uranium was "always a side issue," but it was also "the beginning of the unraveling of the big story . . . calling attention to a huge mistake he was part of. So it's no wonder he took this personally."

A senior intelligence officer who knew of Libby's inquiries about Wilson and Plame said in an interview yesterday, "It didn't occur to anyone that the reason why was so that her name would go out to reporters." That, the official said, is "the lesson you learn from this."

On June 12, The Post published a story challenging the uranium claims. Wilson has since said he was among the sources for that story.

A man identified by colleagues as John Hannah, described in the indictment as Libby's "then principal deputy," asked Libby soon afterward whether "information about Wilson's trip could be shared with the press." Libby replied, the indictment states, "that there would be complications at the CIA in disclosing that information publicly."

On June 23, Libby allegedly crossed his first big line. At a meeting in his office with Miller of the Times, he said Wilson's wife might be a CIA employee.
Attack and Counterattack

Wilson emerged from anonymity with a splash on July 6, telling his story in a New York Times opinion column, a lengthy on-the-record interview with The Post and an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press."

The next day, Libby lunched with Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary, according to the indictment. He told Fleischer that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA and noted that the information was not widely known. The same day, the State Department sent Powell a classified memorandum written a month earlier identifying Wilson's wife as a CIA employee and saying it was believed she recommended Wilson for the Niger mission. Powell was traveling with Bush to Africa, and sources said the memorandum was widely circulated among officials with appropriate clearances aboard Air Force One.

On July 8, Libby met Miller, the reporter, for breakfast at the St. Regis Hotel at 16th and K streets. Asking that she attribute the information to a "former Hill staffer" -- he had once been legal adviser to a House select committee -- Libby criticized CIA reporting of Wilson's trip and "advised reporter Judith Miller of his belief that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA," the indictment states.

On July 12, the day Cheney and Libby flew together from Norfolk, the vice president instructed his aide to alert reporters of an attack launched that morning on Wilson's credibility by Fleischer, according to a well-placed source.

Libby talked to Miller and Cooper. That same day, another administration official who has not been identified publicly returned a call from Walter Pincus of The Post. He "veered off the precise matter we were discussing" and told him that Wilson's trip was a "boondoggle" set up by Plame, Pincus has written in Nieman Reports.

Earlier that week Rove and another unknown source gave the information to Novak as well.

On July 14, for the first time, the name passed into the public domain in sixth paragraph of Novak's syndicated column: "his wife, Valerie Plame, is an agency operative." For all its seismic importance now, that column provoked little immediate response.

Time magazine reported on its Web site shortly afterward -- based on sources that Cooper, the author, has since identified as Rove and Libby -- that "some government officials have noted to Time in interviews . . . that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA official who monitors the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."

David Corn of the Nation was among the first to protest. Naming Wilson's wife, he wrote July 16, "would have compromised every operation, every relationship, every network with which she had been associated her entire career."

By the following week the story reached NBC's "Today Show," and Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) demanded an investigation. The administration replied without apology at first. According to Wilson, MSNBC's Chris Matthews told him off camera: "I just got off the phone with Karl Rove, who said your wife was 'fair game.' "

Out of view of the public, the CIA took the first steps towards a formal investigation. On July 30, it reported to the Justice Department a possible offense "concerning the unauthorized disclosure of classified information." In August the agency completed an 11-question form detailing the potential damage done. In September, Tenet followed up with a memo raising questions about whether the leakers had violated federal law.

On Sept. 26, 2003, the FBI launched an inquiry into who leaked Plame's name and occupation.
'If Only It Were True'

Justice Department lawyers notified then-White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales at about 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 29, that the investigation had begun. Gonzales, now attorney general, has said he alerted Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. at once. But he did not tell anyone else -- or instruct White House employees to preserve all evidence -- until the following morning. According to Gonzales, lawyers at Justice said it would be fine to wait.

John Dion, a veteran counter-espionage prosecutor, ran the initial investigation with a team of FBI agents at his disposal. They soon brought in Rove and other top aides for questioning.

But early signals from the White House suggested the probe might come to nothing. Bush expressed doubts on Oct. 7. "I don't know if we're going to find out the senior administration official," he said. "Now, this is a large administration, and there's a lot of senior officials."

Three days later, White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters he had talked to three officials -- Libby, Rove and Elliot Abrams -- and "those individuals assured me they were not involved in this."

The following Tuesday, Oct. 14, Libby reached a decision point. The FBI asked whether he had disclosed Plame's job or identity to any reporter, and he said he had not even known those details until July 10 or 11. His source, he asserted, was NBC's Tim Russert. According to the indictment, he said he passed along Russert's information as gossip to Cooper of Time. He told the FBI that he did not discuss Plame with Miller at all when they met on July 8.

Current and former officials said they did not know why Libby made those statements. Perhaps, they said, Libby believed the reporters would never be forced to testify, or that the statements from Bush and McClellan encouraged him to believe the inquiry would reach no result. Whatever his reasons, Libby had committed himself. He would give much the same account to agents again in November, and repeated them twice in sworn testimony before a grand jury.

"It would be a compelling story that will lead the FBI to go away, if only it were true," Fitzgerald said in his Friday news conference. "It is not true, according to the indictment."

Libby's attorney, Joseph Tate, has said Libby testified to the best of his recollection. "We are quite distressed the special counsel has now sought to pursue alleged inconsistencies in Mr. Libby's recollection and those of others and to charge such inconsistencies as false statements," Tate said in a statement Friday.
'Eliot Ness With a Harvard Law Degree'

On the next to last day of 2003, John D. Ashcroft, then attorney general, abruptly recused himself from the case. He had ignored months of complaints from Democrats that his political ties to potential suspects should disqualify him from supervising the investigation. Rove, in particular, was a longtime friend and paid adviser to Ashcroft's campaigns for Missouri governor and the U.S. Senate.

Through the fall and winter, officials said, Ashcroft received periodic briefings on the case. In the last week of December, about a month after Libby's second interview with the FBI, then-Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey had multiple discussions with Ashcroft about whether it was time for a change, Comey has said.

Comey told reporters on Dec. 30 that an "accumulation of facts" in the investigation had brought about Ashcroft's recusal. Details of their conversations have not been made public, and it is not known who initiated them.

"The issue surrounding the attorney general's recusal is not one of actual conflict of interest," Comey said, but "one of appearance."

Juleanna Glover Weiss, a spokesman for Ashcroft's Washington consulting firm, said yesterday that the former attorney general would not discuss the decision.

Republican officials expressed the hope at that time that Ashcroft's recusal would provide political cover for the White House if no indictment resulted. One said the move would "depoliticize" the case on the eve of presidential campaign season.

Ashcroft's departure brought to the probe a man Comey described as "Eliot Ness with a Harvard law degree." Fitzgerald, an old colleague of Comey who had recently become U.S. attorney in Chicago, asked for and received the full delegated powers of the attorney general. A month later, Comey clarified in writing that Fitzgerald could pursue any violation of criminal law associated with the case -- including perjury and obstruction of justice, the heart of the indictment handed up Friday against the vice president's chief of staff.
Indictment and Resignation

After a year-long struggle with journalists, who resisted demands to disclose their sources, Fitzgerald persuaded Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan -- and the appellate judges above him -- that reporters were the only available "eyewitness[es] to the crime." Pincus, Cooper and Russert gave testimony under negotiated limits after receiving the consent of their sources. Miller went to jail for 85 days, then testified after Libby gave her his direct consent, by letter and telephone. Novak has never disclosed whether he spoke to Fitzgerald's grand jury.

The denouement came Friday. Just after noon, six men and 13 women filed silently into Courtroom Four in the E. Barrett Prettyman federal courthouse. They had served on Fitzgerald's grand jury for two years. Now they sat silently before U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson. Calling the courtroom to order, Robinson asked whether the grand jury had something to present. The forewoman, wearing a black cardigan, rose and walked a few steps with a sheaf of papers. She handed them up to the magistrate's clerk. Robinson declared them in order and adjourned.

Charged with five felony counts, Libby resigned from the vice president's office that day.

Fitzgerald, in his news conference, said he could not speculate on whether anyone else would be charged. He said "the substantial bulk of the work of this investigation has concluded," but not all of it.

"I will not end the investigation," he said, "until I can look anyone in the eye and tell them that we have carried out our responsibility."

Staff writers Dan Eggen, Dafna Linzer, Dana Milbank and Christopher Lee, and researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.
© 2005 The Washington Post Company

60 Minutes: Where's the BEEF?(Yellow CAKE nixed?)

(October 30, 2005 -- 10:45 AM EDT)

At the Washington Post online yesterday, Jeff Morley raised the possibility that last year's Dan Rather/National Guard papers scandal may have prevented CBS's 60 Minutes from airing a story on the origins of the Niger forgeries. Referring to Elisabetta Burba, the Italian journalist who was offered the forgeries in October 2002, Morley writes ...

Burba "has also been interviewed by the CBS investigative show '60 Minutes ' for a piece on the documents that was pulled in the wake of the problems that brought down Dan Rather," according to the LAT.

But after suffering a major black eye last year for relying on forged documents for a story about President Bush's National Guard service, CBS would risk controversy if it aired a story about how the Bush administration allegedly relied on doctored intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war. CBS's coverage would seem to be handcuffed, at least temporarily, by Rather's 2004 election mistake.

This account is incomplete and substantially incorrect. But that's no criticism of Morley because the actual story has never been publicly aired.

Allow me to explain.

By the late spring of 2004, 60 Minutes had interviewed Burba, the Italian journalist, Rocco Martino, the 'security consultant' who had attempted to sell her the documents in October 2002, and the SISMI asset (the female Italian national) who works in the Nigerien Embassy in Rome. The interviews implicated Antonio Nucera, a colonel from the Italian intelligence service SISMI, as the immediate source of the documents. After an initial conversation, Nucera himself refused all contact with the reporters working on the story.

After this, a string of problems delayed the airing of the story.

First, given the nature of the story, CBS, understandably, felt it was necessary to have an administration official interviewed to provide the administration's side of the story. Yet after initial arrangements had been made to interview mid-range administration officials for the story, they later declined to be interviewed. Eventually, it became clear that no Bush administration officials would agree to be interviewed for the story.

That delayed the story. But eventually, Sen. Roberts (R-KS), chairman of the senate select committee on intelligence, himself agreed to provide an interview. His only condition was that he would only speak on camera after the senate intelligence committee issued its report that summer.

That necessitated a further delay. But it also appeared to clear the way for the airing of the story mid-summer. The story was held until the senate report was released.

However, after the senate intel report appeared in early July, Roberts first equivocated and then finally withdrew his promise to provide an interview for the story.

Again, the story was held up because there was no administration official or Republican congressional figure who agreed to be interviewed. And that is where the matter stood late in the summer of 2004.

Over the next two months, in response to the interviews noted above and other reporting implicating SISMI, a series of leaks began to emerge out of SISMI that were picked up in sympathetic Italian dailies as well as the Financial Times and the Daily Telegraph. In response to these reports and, for the first time, the publication of his name, Martino again travelled to the United States for another round of interviews.

Eventually, a version of the Niger story was produced. But it had the interviews with Martino and the SISMI asset who works in the Nigerien embassy removed. While the segment provided a compelling narrative of the story of the infamous "sixteen words", it contained little or no information that had not already been reported in major newspaper coverage of the story. The reporting implicating the Italian government and SISMI were set aside for a possible follow-up report.

The produced segment was scheduled to be aired on Wednesday, September 8th, 2004. Several days before the airing, however, the possibility was raised that the Niger story would be bumped in favor of Dan Rather's segment on President Bush and the National Guard. As late as the day of airing itself, a final decision had yet to be made on which segment would run.

Once the scandal over Guard memos erupted, CBS decided that it could not run a story about forged Niger memos while it was embroiled in a scandal about forged National Guard memos. Later, CBS announced it would not run the story because it was too soon before the November election. After the election was over, no plans were made to run the piece, either in the expurgated or complete form.

-- Josh Marshall

Disabled VET? Take a hike, hey?

Tell A Friend

by Larry Scott

Last week the partisan attacks on disabled veterans took an ugly turn as two high-profile Republicans joined the ever-growing camp of fellow party members working to strip veterans of benefits already approved.

The targets are veterans who receive benefits for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) and veterans who have been declared by the VA as being too disabled to work and, therefore, receive compensation under the Individual Unemployability (IU) rating.

First, it was VA Secretary Jim Nicholson speaking on a cable TV show in El Paso, Texas. One of the topics of discussion was the VA’s review of 72,000 PTSD claims that have already been awarded to veterans. The VA has determined that it may have awarded some benefits without proper documentation from the veteran. Veterans’ groups have protested the review claiming that the benefits could not have been awarded without proper documentation.

In an amazing display of ignorance and arrogance, Secretary Nicholson said, "We need to try to restore them [veterans] to the extent that we can. People can be treated for that [PTSD] and most people can recover from that." Note the use of the word “recover,” a word frighteningly close in meaning to the word “cure.” Nicholson cited no medical authority for his opinion that veterans with PTSD can “recover.”

Secretary Nicholson also stated that a "vast" number of veterans who get PTSD compensation don't continue therapy. This is a deliberately misleading statement designed to denigrate veterans and Nicholson offered no statistics to back up his assertion.

According to many PTSD counselors, the major stress on veterans seeking compensation is financial in nature. Once the PTSD claim is approved and compensation is received, that stress is removed and the veteran’s need for therapy declines.

Then, Secretary Nicholson dropped a bombshell on veterans. He said, "Every veteran has a right to appeal their claim indefinitely for the rest of their lives.” Nicholson has set up a revolving door for veterans: file claim, get denied, appeal, file claim, get denied, appeal, ad infinitum.

Most of the 72,000 veterans having their PTSD claims reviewed by the VA served in Vietnam. A great number had to re-file their claim multiple times and had to wait as long as ten years for their claim to be approved. Now, Secretary Nicholson is saying this never-ending appeals process is just fine.

The constant stress of reviews and denials and appeals is tantamount to torture for veterans who suffer from PTSD.

The view from one attorney who represents veterans is that the VA is trying to “rid itself” of high-dollar awards and push disabled veterans into filing for lower dollar amount benefits from the Social Security Administration.

The other attack on disabled veterans last week came from Senator Larry Craig (R-ID), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (SCVA). Craig held a Senate oversight hearing titled, "The Rising Number of Disabled Veterans Deemed Unemployable: Is the System Failing? A closer look at VA’s individual unemployability benefit.”

The IU rating is a judgment by the VA that a veteran is unable to follow a "substantially gainful occupation" as a result of service-connected disabilities. The minimum requirement for consideration of an IU rating is 60 per cent for a single disability or a combined 70 per cent evaluation with at least one 40 per cent disability. When the VA declares a veteran unemployable, they receive benefits at the 100 per cent level, a little over $2,200 a month.

Senator Craig noted that about 200,000 veterans are now deemed unemployable. Between 1999 and 2004, the number of IU awards more than doubled. It’s interesting to note that the years chosen by Craig are the same years included in the VA’s PTSD review.

At the hearing, Senator Craig stated, "With today’s modern technologies, individuals with disabilities have more opportunities than ever to become productive members of society…” Craig’s clear indication is that ALL veterans can be employed and those who are unemployed are not productive members of society.

The hearing was contentious, and divided along party lines, with support for veterans’ IU benefits coming from Democrat Senators Patty Murray of Washington, Barack Obama of Illinois and others.

Then, Senator Craig went on to twist the testimony of others by saying, "I reject the notion, put forth by some at the hearing, that veterans with disabilities can’t work, that we shouldn’t waste resources even making the effort to try, and that looking for work is somehow demeaning.” No one testified to that. But, Craig had to spin the testimony to achieve his goal of disparaging IU benefits.

The day after the hearing, Senator Craig issued a press release titled, “Craig Wants VA to Help Unemployed Veterans Find Work.” Directly under the title referring to “unemployed” veterans was a graph depicting the rise in awards to “unemployable” veterans.

This deliberate distortion, equating unemployed veterans with unemployable veterans, is disgusting and demeaning. Craig said, “…the presumption must be that every individual with disabilities can overcome barriers to employment.” If that is so, why does the VA rate veterans as unemployable if they meet all the requirements?

The VA currently has excellent programs designed to help veterans become, and stay, gainfully employed. Those veterans who need further assistance qualify for Vocational Rehabilitation programs. Senator Craig said, "The IU benefit should be viewed as the benefit of last resort." It already is! The VA established the IU rating because there had to be a benefit of last resort to protect those veterans who truly cannot work.

One of the few moments of sanity in the hearing came from Cynthia Bascetta, Director of the Education, Workforce, and Income Security Issues department at the Government Accountability Office. Bascetta stated, "Incorporating return-to-work practices could help VA modernize its disability program to enable veterans to realize their full productive potential without jeopardizing the availability of benefits for people who cannot work.”

Secretary Nicholson and Senator Craig both claim that they are working for the best interests of veterans. But, it’s all about money. The VA is spending billions of dollars a year on PTSD and IU awards and is seeking ways to lighten what they view as a financial burden.

The previously-mentioned attorney who represents veterans provided me with an email from one of his colleagues. It stated: “…today we got a call from one of the doctors at our local VA. She said she was sending a patient over for me to do his SS [Social Security benefits] claim because he needed help. She said that the VA is trying to drastically cut back on the aid they are giving the Vietnam Era Vets…They are trying to reduce the ratings…She was livid with the treatment the veterans are getting…I have never had a doctor call me up and send one [veteran] directly to us and be so angry at the VA..."

Last week was quite a stressful time for veterans receiving PTSD or IU benefits. First, VA Secretary Jim Nicholson tells veterans suffering from PTSD that their compensation is in jeopardy but that’s okay, because they have the right to appeal ‘til the Lord comes. Then, Senator Craig, Chair of the SCVA, tells veterans who are unemployable that they are really just unemployed and should find work.

Some veterans feel there is a great conspiracy designed to deprive them of their benefits. There is no conspiracy. It’s much simpler than that. It is just the way Republicans do business. Veterans’ benefits have been reduced to the level of just another expense.

What Secretary Nicholson, Senator Craig and other Republicans are doing to veterans is truly adding insults to injuries…injuries sustained on the field of battle…injuries, physical and emotional, that will not, and many times, cannot, heal. When we send our men and women to do battle and they come home with broken bodies and broken minds it is our responsibility, our solemn duty, to care for them.

Most of the veterans receiving PTSD and IU benefits served during the Vietnam-era. As these veterans age, the only lifeline, for many, is their VA benefits. If those benefits are taken away……

Larry Scott ( four years in the U.S. Army with overseas tours as a Broadcast Journalist in Korea and the Azores and a stateside tour as a Broadcast Journalism Instructor at the Defense Information School (DINFOS). He was awarded DOD's First Place Thomas Jefferson Award for Excellence in Journalism. After the Army, Larry was a news anchor on WNBC Radio in New York City. He receives VA compensation for a service-connected disability. Larry is a regular on the Thom Hartmann show on KPOJ radio in Portland, Oregon. Today, Larry resides in Southwest Washington and operates the website VA Watchdog dot Org.

Contact Author

How to Win Friends and Influence PEOPLE

October 28, 2005
Op-Ed Contributor
Give Them Shelter

Garrison, N.Y.

THE earthquake in Pakistan has left millions homeless. Umar Ghuman, Pakistan's minister of foreign investment and a longtime customer of my foundry supply company, has asked me to help find housing for as many of these people as possible before the onset of winter in the next few days.

Tents are not protection enough, and conventional prefabricated houses are neither readily available nor easy to ship. The solution, then, is to think of something less conventional, like the work shed-greenhouse combinations sold at Sam's Club and other retailers. Such sheds - small (882 cubic feet), plastic, weather-tight, insulated and portable - retail for around $2,000. Two hundred thousand of these houses - temporary homes for a million people - would cost less than $400 million.

These sheds come in sections, such that a C5-A military cargo plane could fit hundreds of units on a single flight. The manufacturer can produce nearly 20,000 units per month, but additional new machinery could be developed promptly to speed up production. Although there are many garden structures to choose from, the one that combines both shelter and greenhouse functions is manufactured in Winfield, Kan.

Large enough to house a small family, the work shed and greenhouse, if supplied with water and seed, can also provide bean and alfalfa sprouts as well as other fast- growing vegetables. It can be fitted with solar panels for hot water and electricity. The built-in workbenches are ideal bed platforms.

Once delivered to Pakistan, the house kits could be carried in sections by the region's ubiquitous minitrucks, or even by backpackers or helicopters where mountain villages are inaccessible. An experienced team can assemble the houses in minutes on firm, dry, level ground. Their construction is both rugged and flexible enough to withstand future shocks.

This is an opportunity for the United States to present to the world a product of our manufacturing ingenuity delivered by our military might. The United States needs to regain credibility with its friends throughout the region, and the people there need housing desperately.

How about it, retailers? Can you contribute your inventory to start these houses on their way immediately? How about it, United States Air Force? Will you fly your C5-A's on a humanitarian mission?

We need to do this now, not next week or next month. Winter - with mountain blizzards, powerful winds and subzero temperatures - will come to the Himalayas in days. The commercial air freight system is already shipping blankets, tents and medical supplies. That's a good start, but it is in no way adequate for housing people in winter.

Of course we must remember the needs of our own hurricane victims, as well as the tsunami victims still in makeshift camps. But the winter storms of the high mountains present a mortal threat that demands an immediate response. We have the means. So what are we waiting for?

Alexander Saunders is a founder of Clearwater, an environmental organization.

* Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

Weapons of Mass US WATERS

Millions of pounds of unused weapons of mass destruction were dumped in oceans before Congress banned the practice in 1972. The threat is still out there, and may be growing.
By John Bull
Special to The Morning Call

October 30, 2005

First of a two-day series

A clam dredging operation off the coast of Atlantic City, N.J., in 2004 pulled up an old artillery shell.

The long-submerged, World War I-era explosive was filled with a black, tar-like substance.

Bomb disposal technicians from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware were brought in to dismantle it. Three of them were injured, one hospitalized with large, pus-filled blisters on his arm and hand.

The shell was filled with mustard gas in solid form.

What was long-feared by the few military officials in the know had come to pass: Chemical weapons that the Army dumped at sea decades ago had finally ended up on shore in the United States.

While it has long been known that some chemical weapons went into the ocean, records obtained by the Daily Press of Newport News, Va., show that the previously classified weapons-dumping program was far more extensive than has ever been suspected.

The Army now admits in reports never before released that it secretly dumped 64 million pounds of nerve and mustard gas agent into the sea, along with 400,000 chemical-filled bombs, land mines and rockets and more than 500 tons of radioactive waste either tossed overboard or packed into the holds of scuttled vessels.

A Daily Press investigation also found:

These weapons of mass destruction virtually ring the country, concealed off the coasts of at least 11 states: six on the East Coast, including New Jersey and Maryland, two on the Gulf Coast, and in California, Hawaii and Alaska. Few, if any, state officials have been informed of their existence.

The chemical agents could pose a hazard for generations. The Army has examined only a few of its 26 dump zones, and none in 30 years.

The Army can't say exactly where all the weapons were dumped from World War II to 1970. Army records are sketchy, missing or were destroyed.

More dump sites probably exist. The Army hasn't reviewed records from the World War I era, when ocean dumping of chemical weapons was common.

''We do not claim to know where they all are,'' said William Brankowitz, a deputy project manager in the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency and a leading authority on the Army's chemical weapons dumping. ''We don't want to be cavalier at all and say this stuff was exposed to water and is OK. It can last for a very, very long time.''

A drop of nerve agent can kill within a minute. When released in the ocean it lasts up to six weeks, killing every organism it touches before breaking down into its nonlethal chemical components.

Mustard gas can be fatal. When exposed to seawater it forms a concentrated, encrusted gel that lasts for at least five years, rolling around on the ocean floor, killing or contaminating sea life.

Sea-dumped chemical weapons may be slowly leaking from decades of saltwater corrosion, resulting in a time-delayed release of deadly chemicals over the next 100 years and an unforeseeable environmental impact. Steel corrodes at different rates depending on the water depth, ocean temperature and thickness of the shells.

That was the conclusion of Norwegian scientists who in 2002 examined chemical weapons dumped off Norway's coast after World War II by the U.S. and British military.

Overseas, more than 200 fishermen over the years have been burned by mustard gas pulled on deck. A fisherman in Hawaii was burned in 1976 when he brought up an Army-dumped mortar round full of mustard gas.

Although it seems unlikely the weapons will begin to wash up on shore, last year's discovery that a mustard gas-filled artillery shell was dumped off the coast of New Jersey was ominous for several reasons.

It was the first ocean-dumped chemical weapon to make its way to shore in the United States.

It was pulled up with clams in relatively shallow water only 20 miles off the coast of Atlantic City. The Army had no idea chemical weapons were dumped in the area.

Most alarming: It was found intact in a residential driveway in Delaware.

It had survived being dredged up and put through a crusher to create cheap clamshell driveway fill sold throughout the Delmarva Peninsula in Delaware and Maryland.

Decades of dumping

The United States never used chemical weapons in war but amassed a huge stockpile to be unleashed if enemy forces used them first. Their existence was a known, ultimately successful, deterrent.

The Army's secret ocean-dumping program spanned at least three decades, from 1944 to 1970.

The dumped weapons were deemed to be unneeded surplus. They were hazardous to transport, expensive to store, too dangerous to bury and difficult to destroy.

In the early 1970s, the Army publicly admitted it had dumped some chemical weapons off the U.S. coast. Congress banned the practice in 1972. Three years later, the United States signed an international treaty prohibiting ocean disposal of chemical weapons.

Only now have Army reports come to light that show how much was dumped, what kind of chemical weapons they were, when they were thrown overboard, and rough nautical coordinates of where some are located.

The reports contain bits and pieces of information on the Army's long-running ocean dumping program. The reports were released to the Daily Press, which cross-indexed them to obtain the most comprehensive, detailed picture yet compiled of what was dumped, where and when.

To put the information in context, the newspaper also examined nautical charts, National Archive records and scientific studies and interviewed many experts on unexploded ordnance and chemical warfare, both in the country and overseas.

The Army's Brankowitz created the seminal report on ocean dumping. He examined classified Army records and in 1987 wrote a lengthy report on chemical weapons movements over the decades. It included the revelation that more than a dozen shipments ended in the ocean. The report was not widely disseminated.

His follow-up report in 1989 revealed, through review of other previously classified documents, the rough nautical coordinates of some dump sites and the existence of more dump zones. In 2001, a computer database was created to include additional dump zones the Army discovered and more details of some of the dumping operations.

The database summary and the 1989 report had never before been released publicly.

''I know I didn't find everything,'' said Brankowitz, who has worked for more than 30 years on chemical weapons issues for the Army. ''I'm very much convinced there are records at the National Archives that have been misfiled. Short of a major research effort that would cost a lot of money, we've done the best we can.''

The reports reveal that the Army created at least 26 chemical weapons dump sites off the coastlines of at least 11 states, but knows the rough nautical coordinates of only half the sites.

At least 64 million pounds of liquid mustard gas and nerve agent in one-ton steel canisters were dumped into the sea, along with at least 400,000 chemical-filled bombs, grenades, land mines and rockets as well as radioactive waste, according to the reports.

The Army's documents are incomplete or vague. Years of records are missing or were destroyed to clear office space at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, a longtime chemical weapon research and testing base.

And the Army has not reviewed its records of chemical weapons dumping before World War II, when it was common to just throw the weapons into the ocean in relatively shallow water, Brankowitz said.

As a result, more dump sites probably exist, he conceded.

Possible environmental disaster

The environmental impact of chemical weapons dump sites is unknown, but potentially disastrous.

The ocean depth varies widely off the East Coast, as a rule gradually deepening to 600 feet before hitting the outer continental shelf, which drops off into very deep water. The shelf's location can be as close as 60 miles or as far as 200 miles from shore.

''The perception at the time was the ocean is vast, it would absorb it,'' said Craig Williams, director of the Chemical Weapons Working Group in Kentucky, a grass-roots citizen group. ''Certainly, it is insane in retrospect they would do it.''

''It would be inevitable, I assume, all of this will be released into the ocean at some point or another,'' said Williams, who has fought Army plans to incinerate some of the 44 million pounds of chemical weapons the country now has stockpiled. ''I don't think anyone knows for sure the true danger. It's just a matter of opinion. You can say, 'It's going to kill everyone,' or you can say, 'It's not a problem.' The truth is somewhere in between.''

Based on the information available, the Army presumes most of the weapons are in very deep water and are unlikely to jeopardize divers or commercial fishing operations that dredge the ocean bottom.

John Chatterton doesn't believe that.

''I don't think it all is where they say it is,'' said Chatterton, a 25-year veteran diver who searches for undiscovered shipwrecks as host of the History Channel's ''Deep Sea Detectives.'' ''I've found a lot of stuff where it's not supposed to be. Absolutely, positively, it is not a guarantee it is there [in deep water].''

Chemical weapons were dumped long before electronic navigation systems were invented. Their nautical locations are based on the word of ship captains, who surely wanted to ditch their cargo quickly and, Chatterton suspects, probably cut corners.

''The guys who were doing this were scared of this stuff. They were well-motivated to get rid of this stuff as fast as they could,'' Chatterton said. ''So they could take it all the way out there or else they could say, 'This is good enough,' and be back in port in three hours. I know what they did. It's mariner nature.''

State officials in the dark

One of the first of the now-identified dump zones created at the end of World War II was also one of the largest.

The Army dubbed it Disposal Site Baker.

The Army has only the vaguest idea where it is on the ocean floor somewhere off Charleston, S.C., according to the most specific of surviving records.

''I have never had any information to suggest this was done,'' said Charles Farmer, a marine biologist who has worked for South Carolina's Department of Natural Resources for almost 40 years. ''I would say this is not well-known to us at all. This is something that is new, at least to me. It's incredible some of the things we've managed to do.''

The first documented dump off that state took place in March 1946 when four railroad cars full of mustard gas bombs and mines were tossed over the side of the USS Diamond Head, an ammunition ship.

Several months later, an estimated 23 barges full of German-produced nerve gas bombs and U.S.-made Lewisite bombs were dumped in the same location. Lewisite is a blister agent chemically akin to mustard agent. A single barge carried up to 350 tons.

''If we don't have any idea of depths of water or location, hell, they could be anywhere,'' Farmer said. ''As we have more and more activity and more and more development off the coast, I hope this was buried in 6,000 feet of water or a lot of this stuff is going to come back to haunt us.''

There is one indication those weapons were dumped in relatively shallow water: Army records show that many of those 23 slow-moving barges were unloaded in one-day, out-and-back operations.

The records leave no doubt that other chemical weapons were dumped close to shore:

In 1944, at least 16,000 mustard-filled 100-pound bombs were unloaded off the coast of Hawaii in deep water only five miles from shore.

Several mustard gas bombs fell into the Mississippi River near Braithwaite, La., in 1945 and have never been found.

A reported 124 leaking German mustard gas bombs were tossed in the Gulf of Mexico off Horn Island in Mississippi in 1946 from a barge that returned to port a few hours later. The island is part of Gulf Islands National Seashore, a popular vacation and fishing destination.

A 1947 dump site in the Aleutian Islands, part of Alaska, is only 12 miles from a harbor.

Dump sites moved north

By the 1950s, the Army shifted much of its chemical dump operations north to the Virginia-Maryland border and into deeper water.

In 1957 the Army dumped 48 tons of Lewisite off the coast of Virginia Beach in 12,600 feet of water.

Three more dump zones were created more than 100 miles off the coastline between Chincoteague, Va., and Assateague, Md., tourist spots known for their unsullied beaches and populations of wild horses.

Dumped there in roughly 2,000 feet of water were at least 77,000 mustard-filled mortar shells, 5,000 white phosphorous munitions, 1,500 one-ton canisters of Lewisite and 800 55-gallon barrels of military radioactive waste.

It could not be determined what kind of radioactive waste was dumped. But there is one indication it could be highly dangerous nuclear waste with a half-life of thousands of years.

National Archive records of the Army's secretive chemical weapons escort unit, reviewed by the Daily Press, show numerous shipments in the 1950s between a laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn., other Army bases with chemical weapons slated for sea disposal, and the Yuma Testing Station in Arizona.

Oak Ridge was where thermonuclear weapons were being developed at the time. Yuma was a military test ground for weapons in development. Records show a shipment on March 7, 1953, was of 35,000 pounds of unidentified ''classified materials.'' The Army apparently stopped dumping radioactive waste in the late 1960s, the records show, when chemical weapons disposal operations again headed north in the Atlantic.

Dumping off Jersey coast

Two ships full of the most potent of all nerve gases, known as VX, were scuttled in 6,000 feet of water many miles off Atlantic City as part of Operation CHASE.

CHASE was Pentagon shorthand for Cut Holes And Sink 'Em.

The nerve gas was in rockets that were encased in concrete before the ships were scuttled.

The Army desperately wanted to get rid of these particular weapons. They also contained jet fuel to propel the rockets. The fuel had a tendency to ''auto-ignite,'' or spontaneously explode.

The ships — the SS Corporal Eric G. Gibson and SS Mormactern — remain a potential danger. Although the rockets were encased in concrete, scientists don't know how quickly concrete breaks down from water pressure at such depths.

A third ship that was scuttled nearby is no longer a hazard: It blew up on its way to the ocean floor on Aug. 7, 1968.

That ship, the SS Richardson, was filled with conventional, high-explosive weapons and 3,500 one-ton containers of mustard agent mixed with water. It was on its way to the bottom in 7,800 feet of water when a chain-reaction explosion went off, presumably caused by water pressure on one of the weapons that set off the rest.

''This is really quite disturbing,'' said U.S. Rep. Robert Andrews, D-N.J., who has been fighting Army plans to dump chemically neutralized nerve gas in the Delaware River. ''I did not know of any of this. It's a very serious problem that state officials haven't been told.''

Not on any maps

Boaters, divers, fishermen and commercial seafood trawlers have no way to steer clear of the dump sites.

That's because the Army has put only one of its 26 known chemical weapons dumps on nautical charts, according to records kept by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

The federal agency in charge of undersea cable-laying operations, as well as gas and oil ventures, has only a vague idea of where chemical weapons were thrown into the ocean, said spokesman Gary Strasburg.

That agency, Minerals Management Service, knows only what the Army has revealed to the agency: that chemical weapons were dumped at sea and that some are somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico and at a location somewhere off the coast of South Carolina, agency records show.

The impact of dumping operations has never been studied. Few scientists knew it was done, so studies of the decline in sea life over the years has never focused on the possibility of leaking chemical weapons.

Commercial fishing operations, as well as scallop and clam trawlers, have been forced to go farther and farther from shore over the last 25 years because sea life has thinned for unknown reasons. Some scallopers now dredge in up to 400 feet of water, which is more than 100 miles from the shore in some East Coast locations.

The bottom-dwelling cod population in the Northern Atlantic has been decimated.

Another cause of deaths?

Hundreds of bottlenose dolphins mysteriously washed up on Virginia and New Jersey shores in 1987. They died with massive, never-explained skin blisters that resembled mustard gas burns on humans.

Federal marine scientists ultimately attributed the unprecedented number of dolphin deaths to a combination of morbillivirus related to distemper in dogs and potent vibrio bacteria from industrial pollutants.

That combination has killed other marine mammals over the years. But none of them has ever been found with their skin partially peeling off.

One marine mammal specialist who suspects leaking chemical weapons killed the dolphins met with Army officials and was told dumping had been done but was assured the weapons were unloaded in water too deep to harm the coastal-living creatures.

''You'd see the photos and you'd say, 'Man, this animal was burned by something,' '' said Bob Schoelkopf, director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, N.J. He said ''it is a very good possibility'' leaking chemical weapons killed the dolphins.

''It'd be nice to see the Army go down there and investigate, but nobody wants to open that book, it seems,'' Schoelkopf said. ''You'd think they'd want to go look at those sites and say once and for all this isn't a problem. The amazing thing is they are not being monitored.''

The Army also wondered if its chemical weapons were responsible for the dolphin deaths and was preparing to investigate some dump zones. The project was scrapped when the deaths were attributed to the virus and bacteria, said the Army's Brankowitz.

Little or no monitoring

Over the decades, the Army has conducted environmental tests on only four of its dump sites, and none since 1975.

Some of the last tests the Army conducted were on the nerve gas-filled ships off the coast of New Jersey, and they found no evidence the weapons had leaked, Brankowitz said.

He said that leads the Army to presume the pressure on the weapons as they sank to the bottom crushed the shells and squirted their deadly contents onto the seabed, where they long ago broke down into their non-

lethal chemical components.

That may be wishful thinking, according to some scientists.

Shells filled with chemical weapons are more likely to slowly leak over time than to be crushed while sinking, said Peter Brewer, a marine scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California.

Regardless, he said, he considers the dangers of leaking chemical weapons in deep-water sites to be low.

He noted that the only Army chemical weapons dump site on nautical charts — the wreck of the SS William Ralston, which was scuttled 117 miles off the coast of San Francisco in the 1950s — has not been found to be leaking, although he said scientists have monitored it only ''from a distance.''

Not far from that wreck, scientists have determined that drums of radioactive waste dumped by industry in the 1950s have so corroded they now are paper-thin with holes in some of them, said Richard Charter, a California environmentalist with Environmental Defense.

He said he fears recent congressional approval of offshore gas and oil exploration off the East and West coasts permitted through last year's lifting of a 22-year-old moratorium could release the chemical agents from their containers.

''It certainly is within the realm of possibility,'' he said. ''This is an invasive activity.''

Seismic exploration is conducted by setting off massive air guns on the ocean surface and measuring the blasts when they bounce off the ocean floor. Such exploration, and drilling operations, have been conducted for decades in the Gulf of Mexico without releasing chemical warfare agents dumped by the Army in that body of water.

Leaking shells

Overseas, scientists who monitor chemical weapons dump sites off the coasts of other countries have identified an unmistakable problem in the Skagerrak Straits, a narrow but deep body of water that separates Norway and Denmark.

In 2002, Norwegian scientists sent a deep-diving, remote-operated vehicle to investigate four ships full of captured German chemical weapons. The U.S. and British military scuttled them after World War II in roughly 2,000 feet of water.

The Norwegians discovered the sunken ships remain intact. Some of the shells had leaked. Others were slowly corroding. That revealed a problem that could last hundreds of years, the scientists concluded.

Soil sediment showed high levels of arsenic, a component of some of the chemical weapons. Arsenic is bioaccumulative. This means bottom-feeding shellfish are likely to be contaminated and pass arsenic up the food chain to accumulate in humans who eat them, the scientists discovered.

Also worrisome: Nets from fishing trawlers were found tangled on some of the weapons-filled wrecks.

''It might be possible to get chemical ammunition in the nets, which could then be brought up to the surface and poison fishermen,'' the scientists wrote in a report on the expedition. ''It is also a possibility that fishing equipment could damage the wrecks and expose the chemical ammunition to the water, increasing the release of the agents to the environment.''

While the Army may not have known better at the time, it is obligated to at least assess the danger the dump sites pose today, said Lenny Siegel, executive director of the Center for Public Environmental Oversight, who has specialized in chemical weapons issues.

''If no one does a study looking for three-legged fish, how do they know it's not a problem?'' he asked. ''My guess is the risks are remote in most cases, but I think you have to at least evaluate the risk. They have to take continuing responsibility.

''They need to see if there is an impact on the food chain. If there is, you have to warn people. If so, they have to do something with them.''

MONDAY: After World War II, the Army secretly dumped its overseas chemical weapons stockpiles off the shores of more than a dozen other countries. One scientist calls them a ''disaster looming.''

John Bull is a reporter for the Daily Press of Newport News, Va., a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

Copyright © 2005, The Morning Call

Judy Miller: Just Libby's MOCKINGBIRD?

(17) Steve Kangas, The Origins of the Overclass (1998)

The wealthy have always used many methods to accumulate wealth, but it was not until the mid-1970s that these methods coalesced into a superbly organized, cohesive and efficient machine. After 1975, it became greater than the sum of its parts, a smooth flowing organization of advocacy groups, lobbyists, think tanks, conservative foundations, and PR firms that hurtled the richest 1 percent into the stratosphere.

The origins of this machine, interestingly enough, can be traced back to the CIA. This is not to say the machine is a formal CIA operation, complete with code name and signed documents. (Although such evidence may yet surface - and previously unthinkable domestic operations such as MK-ULTRA, CHAOS and MOCKINGBIRD show this to be a distinct possibility.) But what we do know already indicts the CIA strongly enough. Its principle creators were Irving Kristol, Paul Weyrich, William Simon, Richard Mellon Scaife, Frank Shakespeare, William F. Buckley, Jr., the Rockefeller family, and more. Almost all the machine's creators had CIA backgrounds.

During the 1970s, these men would take the propaganda and operational techniques they had learned in the Cold War and apply them to the Class War. Therefore it is no surprise that the American version of the machine bears an uncanny resemblance to the foreign versions designed to fight communism. The CIA's expert and comprehensive organization of the business class would succeed beyond their wildest dreams. In 1975, the richest 1 percent owned 22 percent of America’s wealth. By 1992, they would nearly double that, to 42 percent - the highest level of inequality in the 20th century.

How did this alliance start? The CIA has always recruited the nation’s elite: millionaire businessmen, Wall Street brokers, members of the national news media, and Ivy League scholars. During World War II, General "Wild Bill" Donovan became chief of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of the CIA. Donovan recruited so exclusively from the nation’s rich and powerful that members eventually came to joke that "OSS" stood for "Oh, so social!"

Another early elite was Allen Dulles, who served as Director of the CIA from 1953 to 1961. Dulles was a senior partner at the Wall Street firm of Sullivan%2

Tim Wise: Framing The Poor....the Myth of Black Violence

Framing the Poor


During the flooding of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, many a voice praised the media for its supposedly aggressive coverage. The fact that Anderson Cooper cried on camera, or that Geraldo evinced outrage (imagine that), or that even Fox's Shepard Smith waxed indignant at the suffering in the streets, was taken as evidence of some newfound courage on the part of the press.

Standing up to FEMA's Mike Brown, and making him appear every bit as incompetent as he was -- a task about as difficult as making Paris Hilton look underfed -- inspired plaudits for any number of network anchors and reporters in the field. So too, Cooper's upbraiding of an utterly hapless Mary Landrieu, she of the U.S. Senate, just to show that both parties were fair game in this brave new world of independent media, no longer willing to be led around by the neck on a leash, as it had been with, say, Iraq, for starters.

But just as surely as the media went after those in positions of power, and sought to expose them as witless in all respects, it was even more adept at framing (pun very much intended) low-income black folks in the streets of New Orleans as a collection of deviant criminals. In other words, the more things changed, the more they ultimately stayed the same, with the press presenting images of the desperate and left behind that reinforce negative and racist stereotypes, to the utter exclusion of accuracy and fair-mindedness.

Case in point, the constant repetition of the same five or six video loops of so-called looters. The fact that most of these were taking water, food and medicine didn't seem to matter to camerapersons or, ultimately, a viewing public quick to condemn what they saw. That the relative paucity of such video suggests theft wasn't particularly representative of the crowds on Canal Street -- after all, if looting had been that common, there would have been more than the same half-dozen clips to present -- also mattered not it appears.

An even better case in point, the repetition of unfounded rumors -- later proven false -- to the effect that Children's Hospital had been raided by drug addicts looking for a fix; or that gang rapes were occurring in the Superdome or Convention Center, or that babies were being molested and then having their throats slit, only to be stuffed like trash in abandoned freezers and garbage cans. False, false and false; and for none of these stories had there ever been a first hand witness who had actually seen any of the supposed carnage taking place.

Or consider the reports of thugs shooting on first aid helicopters: fact is, there are no first hand witnesses who claim they saw anyone shoot at the helicopters, as if hoping to bring them down or harm relief workers. Rather, those who were actually there, and saw the gunfire in question, report that it was intended to get the attention of the helicopters, which seemed to be repeatedly passing people by, looking at the catastrophic conditions, but refusing to land and save people in most instances. Perhaps those in the air didn't see those on the ground? Or perhaps they didn't understand the magnitude of the suffering below them? Either way, the gunfire was a desperate attempt to get people to take things seriously and do their jobs: perhaps not the best way to get attention, but hardly the act of mindless, violent thugs aiming indiscriminately at everyone in sight, as reports made it seem.

Yet the media, feeling no need to find witnesses or to verify claims of black deviance (because, after all, what's not to believe?) simply went along. The result? Rescue efforts were delayed because rescue workers had been scared for their lives by a press that led them to think New Orleans was a war zone; the Governor and Mayor actually told law enforcement to stop saving lives and start arresting and shooting lawbreakers on sight; and the public, which rarely needs reasons to think the worst of poor black people, found its stereotypes confirmed. Not only whites, it should be pointed out, but black folks too, like Mayor Nagin and his crony police chief Eddie Compass, both of whom apparently think so little of their own people that they too assumed the stories were true, in spite of no evidence, and repeated the charges on national TV.

Within just a few days, urban legends began zipping around the Internet, in the form of e-mails recounting utterly fabricated events, but all of them -- however false -- fit perfectly within the narrative developed by the media during the catastrophe.

First there was the one about the crack dealer who refused to be evacuated to a hospital because he wouldn't be able to sell his wares there; then there was the one about the thugs (black and poor of course) who destroyed a rest area on the Louisiana/Texas border, during a stop on the way to Houston, even urinating on the walls to show their disregard for civilized norms of behavior; then there was the one from the guy claiming to have volunteered at the Astrodome to feed and help evacuees, all to be shocked by how ungrateful they were--supposedly demanding beer, liquor, cigarettes and four-star restaurant meals. That hundreds of others refuted these nonsensical claims, and noted how unbelievably gracious the evacuees had been did nothing to damper the enthusiasm with which the lies were circulated.

And in each case, the authors of these fantasies made sure to throw in something about how racist the blacks were (calling white aid workers "crackers" and "honkies" of course), and ending with the admonition that those displaced by Katrina deserved no respect or assistance, seeing as how they were a bunch of spoiled brats who should be left to their own devices. In other words, no need to be compassionate, no need to contribute to relief funds, and certainly no need to challenge one's already negative views towards the kinds of people left behind in the flood. They had, ultimately, gotten what they deserved.

Though the mainstream media hadn't created these phony and vicious stories (and indeed, one has to wonder what kind of evil mind and heart would have done so), it is certainly true that they created the conditions that made such tripe believable to a lot of people. Had the media focused less on looters and supposed gang raping murderers, and more on the efforts by thousands to help one another in the midst of hellish conditions -- stories that are only trickling out in the corporate press, but which those who lived through them have been trying to get told via their own accounts from the flood zone -- it would have been impossible for such vile trash as this to have gained traction. But once the climate had been created and the frame set -- one that said, these are bad people, who do bad things -- it took no effort at all for racists to concoct lies and peddle those to a willing and gullible public that never seems to challenge stories of black perfidy, so easily do they fit within their pre-existing racist biases in the first place.

Which brings us to the other big lie told about the poor in New Orleans: one that has yet to be addressed in the media, despite how easily it can be disproved by a mere five minutes worth of research. It is one repeated daily for the past eight weeks by conservative talk show hosts and columnists, and one to which I am exposed many times a day in my email inbox, thanks to the efforts of right wing louts without the seeming desire to do their homework. Namely, it is the argument that the reason 130,000 poor black folks were unable to escape the flooding was because they had grown dependent on the government to save them, thanks to the "welfare state," and that was why they lacked the money and cars to get out before disaster struck.

In other words, liberal social policy had rendered the black poor unable or unwilling to work, content to collect a government check, and thus, had made them incapable of saving themselves. This lie -- and it is just that, not an exaggeration or simplification or overstatement, but a flat-out falsehood -- has been parroted by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Shawn Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Charles Murray (of "Bell Curve" fame), not to mention such viciously self-loathing black conservatives as Star Parker, John McWhorter and the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, all despite the lack of evidence to sustain it, and the amazing amount of evidence, both contemporary and historical, to refute it.

But of course the media, having long ago decided not to challenge the mainstream public's view of folks on welfare -- and indeed to collaborate with the framing of such persons by politicians of both major parties -- has done nothing to set the record straight, suggesting either that they are incredibly inept at research, or just as incredibly craven in their attitudes towards the poorest of this nation's citizens.

But the facts, however unsettling they may be for conservative mythmakers, are clear.

To begin with, as of 2004, according to the Census Bureau, there were only 4600 households in all of New Orleans receiving cash welfare from the nation's principal aid program, TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, formerly Aid to Families With Dependent Children, or AFDC). That is not a misprint: 4600 out of a total of 130,000 households in the black community alone. Which means that even if every welfare receiving household in Orleans Parish had been black (which was not in fact the case), this would have represented only a little more than four percent of black households in the city.

According to the same Census data, the average household size in a welfare receiving family in New Orleans is the same as the citywide average for non-recipients: roughly 3.5 persons. So the number of individuals receiving welfare in New Orleans, by the time of Katrina would have been about 16,000.

Thus, even if we assume that all of the 130,000 persons left behind were poor, and that no persons receiving welfare managed to escape before the flooding with friends or family, this would mean that at most, perhaps twelve percent of the persons left behind (and whose faces we may have been seeing on national TV) would have been welfare recipients at all, let alone persons who had been rendered dependent on such benefits for long periods of time.

And speaking of dependence, or the notion that the city's welfare recipients had grown content to sit back and collect government checks instead of doing for self, this hardly seems likely when you consider that the average annual income received from TANF, for those small numbers actually getting any such benefits at all, was only a little more than $2,800 per year, in New Orleans prior to the catastrophe.

Indeed, such paltry amounts explain why most of the poor in New Orleans, far from being happy to receive so-called handouts, work whenever they can find steady employment, which admittedly, is not often the case.

For example, in the ninety-eight percent black and forty percent poor Lower Ninth Ward, one of the hardest hit communities (and one about which many negative things were said in terms of so-called welfare dependence), seventy-one percent of families prior to the flooding reported income from paid employment, while only eight percent received income from cash welfare. In other words, folks in this community were almost nine times more likely to earn their pay than to receive government benefits. Forty percent of workers from the community worked full-time, and the average commute time for Ninth Ward workers was over 45 minutes each day, suggesting that the work ethic was quite common to the folks who lived there, irrespective of commonly held and utterly false stereotypes.

Even food stamps -- a program with much more lenient terms and where even the near poor can often qualify for minimal benefits -- were only received by eleven percent of New Orleans households as of last year: hardly indicative of a general mindset of welfare entitlement. As for public housing, far from being the location of residence for most poor blacks in New Orleans -- let alone those in the streets in the wake of Katrina -- fewer than 20,000 people lived in such units at the time of the flooding: this representing no more than five percent of black New Orleanians. In the Lower Ninth Ward, for example, few lived in public housing and nearly six in ten families owned their own homes.

Even in the city's poorest communities, like the Iberville or Lafitte housing developments, or parts of Central City, at least a third, and often a majority of households report income from paid employment. What's more, tenants in the B.W. Cooper development have been managing their own housing for years, teaching job and leadership skills to the persons who live there.

Likewise, in the mid-90s, several public housing developments participated in a national Jobs Program, funded by the Annie B. Casey Foundation: a successful effort that matched low-income black residents with businesses looking for employees. In the former St. Thomas development -- the first public housing "project" funded by the federal government under the Roosevelt Administration -- residents had started their own coffee shop and bookstore, and had created innovative teen pregnancy prevention and safe sex initiatives.

When St. Thomas was torn down a few years ago, residents were told there would be mixed-use economic development in its place, and although they mourned for the loss of their neighborhood, many looked forward to participating actively in the economic lifeblood of the community. Then the city reneged on its promises and offered the land to Wal-Mart, which then placed a superstore on the property--the very store whose gun supply was looted during the flooding (an ironic turn of events if ever there was one). Poor folks wanted economic opportunity and jobs; the city's elite (black and white alike) gave them a gun supply shop.

Bottom line: the stereotype of poor blacks in New Orleans (and elsewhere) as lazy and dependent on government is false. In Louisiana, it should be noted that only a very small share of those receiving TANF benefits, and AFDC before that, are able-bodied adults. Indeed, even prior to welfare reform, only eleven percent of those receiving AFDC in the state were able-bodied adults who did no work: the rest were vulnerable children, the elderly, the disabled, or adults who were already working (mostly part-time), but earned too little to come off assistance.

It should also be noted that even when persons do receive so-called welfare, there is still a predicate to doing so: one that is rarely explored, but is simply assumed to be personal incompetence, bad choice-making, laziness or other personal pathologies. So, for example, we are to believe that for those who live in public housing, it was their own lack of initiative or willingness to take personal responsibility for their lives that rendered them so vulnerable to the likes of Hurricane Katrina and the collapse of the city's levees.

Yet what this commonly-repeated claim ignores is what came before folks ended up in public housing, in overcrowded communities, with concentrated levels of extreme poverty; and what came before had nothing to do with the welfare state, or liberal social policy more generally. Rather, what happened was the deliberate and calculated destruction of the inner-city in the name of economic "development" (which benefited only the elite) and to meet the needs of middle-class and above whites.

So, for example, consider the Treme (pronounced truh-may): the oldest free black neighborhood in the United States, home to Congo Square and Louis Armstrong Park. Located on the outer edge of the French Quarter and Central Business District, the Treme is more than ninety percent black and over half of its residents are poor, when you include those in the Iberville and Lafitte housing developments. Though it had long been a lower-income community, with the attendant issues that often emerge in such spaces, the Treme had also been, for the most part, functional. It was the site of dozens of successful black-owned businesses, and hundreds of stable middle-class families, where few lived in the so-called projects. The same was true for the 7th Ward: the base of the city's old-line Creole community.

But beginning in the early 1960s, the city of New Orleans, as with every major city in the United States, began taking federal funds to extend interstate highways through their urban centers, which meant the heart of those places black communities. In New Orleans, plans to extend the interstate through the French Quarter met with stiff opposition from affluent (and mostly white) historic preservationists and business owners. Once their political clout was deployed so as to block construction through the main tourist artery, planners opted to take the I-10 through the Treme and 7th Ward, whose lower income and black residents lacked the power to stop their property from being destroyed in the name of progress.

It was a story repeated throughout the U.S. during this time: by the mid-1960s, interstate construction in urban areas was destroying roughly 37,000 residences annually; this, in addition to the 40,000 more that were being torn down each year in the name of "urban renewal," which translated into the building of shopping malls, office parks and parking lots. By 1969, nearly 70,000 homes, mostly occupied by blacks and Latinos, were being destroyed for the interstate program alone, in virtually every medium and large city in the country.

Although some had argued for financial assistance to help relocate the low-income families displaced by this process, rarely did such help materialize. Indeed, less than ten percent of those displaced by urban renewal had new single-resident occupancy housing to go to afterward: instead, they had to double up with relatives in small, crowded apartments, or move into public housing projects, which became something akin to concentration camps for the poorest and most vulnerable citizens of the nation.

These policies, known euphemistically as "slum clearance" by those who implemented and supported them, actuallycreated slums, in places where previously had been low-income, but largely working class and stable communities. In New Orleans, this also extended to the Central Business District, including the very land where the now infamous Superdome sits.

Beginning in 1971, construction began on the facility, on which ground had previously existed yet another mostly black and largely low-income and working class neighborhood. But in a contest between the needs and lives of those New Orleanians on the one hand, and the mere wants of wealthy developers, concert promoters, the New Orleans Saints and Tulane University boosters on the other (the latter of which wanted to move their pathetic team's games there, away from the old and decrepit Sugar Bowl), which side can we guess, ultimately prevailed? And so the Dome was completed, in 1975, at a public cost of tens of millions of dollars, and the loss of yet another patch of homesteads for the city's black majority.

All of this "slum clearance," it should be noted, was done for the benefit of whites, and not only the rich developers. Indeed, the primary reason for the interstate highway program was to help facilitate daily movement from the cities where most people still worked, to the suburbs, where large numbers were beginning to live. But of course, it was only whites who could live there in most cases. Blacks were still subject to regular discrimination in housing (indeed, most types of housing bias weren't even illegal until 1968), and had been largely unable to take advantage of the government's FHA and VA home loans for the first 30 years of their existence, thanks to racially discriminatory lending criteria built into this government program.

So while nearly 40 percent of white mortgages were being written on the extremely favorable FHA and VA terms by the early 1960s, (making home ownership possible for some 15-20 million white families who wouldn't have otherwise been able to own their own place), virtually no blacks had access to this form of economic opportunity. To then tear down black neighborhoods so as to build highways that would help whites get to their new and growing communities (like Bill O'Reilly's boyhood Levittown), was an especially pernicious and racist combination of anti-black neglect and white racial preference.

Beyond housing issues, even regular "welfare" receipt is something predicated on history: specifically the history of low-wage employment and inadequate job opportunities, particularly in urban centers. One study from Harlem in the 1990s, found that for every job opening in the area, there were as many as fourteen people looking for work. Nationally, data has long suggested that there are between 7-10 people out of work at any given time, for every above-poverty wage job opening. In other words, there is not enough opportunity in the modern American economy, irrespective of the claims made by conservatives and believed by millions.

In fact, it has long been the official monetary policy of the United States, under the leadership of the Federal Reserve, to raise interest rates whenever unemployment drops "too low," and suddenly the nation is faced with having too many people working. The fear is that too many people working will tighten the labor market, thereby pushing up wages, and then causing a spike in prices, to the detriment of economic well being. By raising the cost of borrowing money, the Fed hopes to cool off business expansion (and thus any attendant and related hiring sprees), and thereby, hold inflation in check.

Putting aside the validity (or lack thereof) of this particular theory, the result of such thinking should be obvious, especially when it is regularly employed to maintain unemployment at around four percent by raising interest rates whenever joblessness drops below that level: namely, it means that millions of people will be out of work at any given time, not because they are lazy, and certainly not because government handouts appear so luxurious to them; but rather, because it is desired by the government and the nation's economic policymakers that they be out of work.

Indeed, since the official unemployment rate fails to count all who are jobless, such as those who have grown so discouraged by their prospects that they've simply stopped looking (or those who are near jobless, able to pull down only a few hours of work each week, but who are still considered fully employed for the sake of the data), administering monetary policy this way results in as many as 10-12 million people being out of work or seriously underemployed at any given time. They and their dependents will then be (surprise, surprise) poor, and require some type of assistance so as to survive. None of this is a reflection on the values of the poor themselves, though it speaks volumes about the values of the rich who have supported this kind of policy for decades.

But of course, in a media culture incapable of looking deeper than the next 30-second, 100-word soundbite, none of this matters. Indeed, most reporters, news anchors, or journalists of any stripe would be unlikely to even know any of this in the first place. All that matters is the here and now: no need for context, background, or history. And so they give us poor people, stealing from stores, carless, penniless and homeless: how they became poor and why they stayed that way doesn't matter, apparently. And by remaining silent on that issue, the mainstream press leaves venal ideologues to fill in the blanks, for an eager public all too willing to believe the worst about people who, for the most part, none of them have ever met.

Thus do we repeatedly plant the seeds for each new round of victim blaming, poor-folks bashing and racism, all the while thinking that just because Anderson Cooper cried on camera and Fox momentarily turned on Bush (but only for a nanosecond), the Earth's center of gravity moved.

In fact, just as with the aftermath of 9/11, and quite contrary to conventional wisdom, nothing at all has changed.

Tim Wise is the author of two new books: White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son (Soft Skull Press, 2005), and Affirmative Action: Racial Preference in Black and White (Routledge: 2005). He can be reached at:

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