January 17th, 2007

Chris Keeley

Unless the leases are changed, administration officials expect the mistake to cost billions of dolla

Oil Lease Chief Knew of Error, Report Asserts

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 — A top Interior Department official was told nearly three years ago about a legal blunder that allowed drilling companies to avoid billions of dollars in payments for oil and gas pumped from publicly owned waters, a report by the department’s chief independent investigator has found.

The report, which was sent lawmakers on Tuesday, suggested that Interior officials could have fixed the mistake far more easily if they had taken action when they first recognized it. Oil and gas prices were far lower than they are today.

The report contradicts statements by the official, Johnnie M. Burton, the director of the department’s Minerals Management Service, who told a House hearing last September that she first learned about the royalties problem in January 2006.

Confronted by e-mail messages from subordinates from early 2004, the report said, Ms. Burton conceded that she probably had been told earlier, but “did not remember putting a great deal of thought into the matter.”

Investigators calculated that the government could have collected an additional $865 million in the last three years alone if officials had told companies drilling in the Gulf of Mexico that they owed all the royalties required on oil and coal extracted from federal waters.

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Chris Keeley

It was Mr. Libby who helped assemble a dossier on Saddam Hussein and unconventional weapons and ties

It was Mr. Libby who helped assemble a dossier on Saddam Hussein and unconventional weapons and ties to Al Qaeda for Secretary of State Colin L. Powell’s speech to the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003, fighting to keep in the speech evidence that Mr. Powell found questionable. It was Mr. Libby, at Mr. Cheney’s direction, who repeatedly spoke to reporters to rebut Joseph C. Wilson IV after Mr. Wilson, a former ambassador, publicly accused the White House of distorting intelligence

As Trial Begins, Cheney’s Ex-Aide Is Still a Puzzle

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 — Paradox seems to define I. Lewis Libby Jr., who remains a bit mysterious even to close colleagues. He is the White House policy enforcer who also wrote a literary novel; a buttoned-down Washington lawyer who likes knocking back tequila shots in cowboy bars and hurtling down mountains on skis and bikes; and a 56-year-old intellectual known to all by his childhood nickname, Scooter.

But now comes the most baffling paradox of all, as Mr. Libby, former chief of staff and alter ego to Vice President Dick Cheney, began his trial in federal court here on Tuesday on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. By all accounts a first-rate legal mind and a hypercautious aide whose discretion frustrated reporters, he is charged with repeatedly lying to a grand jury and to the F.B.I. about his leaks to the news media in the battle over Iraq war intelligence.

“I don’t often use the word ‘incomprehensible,’ but this is incomprehensible to me,” said Dennis Ross, the veteran Middle East troubleshooter who is now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “He’s a lawyer who’s as professional and competent as anyone I know. He’s a friend, and when he says he’s innocent, I believe him. I just can’t account for this case.”

Among Mr. Libby’s friends and former colleagues, the case brought by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor, is considered not only unjust, but also a terrible irony.

“He’s going to be the poster boy for the criminalization of politics, and he’s not even political,” said Mary Matalin, Mr. Cheney’s former political adviser.

Critics of the Bush administration say nothing was more political than the administration’s use of defective intelligence to take the country to war, in which Mr. Libby was deeply involved. At a time of deep public distress over events in Iraq, the trial will inevitably carry symbolic weight beyond the legal question of whether Mr. Libby lied.

He was “Cheney’s Cheney,” in Ms. Matalin’s words, “an absolutely salient translator” of the ideas of the man considered perhaps the most powerful vice president in history. Mr. Libby had a role in virtually every national security initiative of the administration’s first five years.

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Chris Keeley

A London Times Article on US/UK Middle East Plans

 The article below is NOT without factual error -- primarily the
statement that Sa'udi Arabia is "largely" Shi'i.  The generally accepted
figure for the size of the Shi'i minority in the Kingdom is around 15%.

 Nevertheless, the irrationality of the current US administration
toward the Middle East is such that the article is worth reading.

Ed
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*

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An unholy alliance threatening catastrophe
Anatole Kaletsky
Our correspondent on a concerted attempt to confront Iran and Shia Islam
<http://images.thetimes.co.uk/images/trans.gif>
  *

  Most people think that the bungled invasion of Iraq, climaxing last
week with the bungled execution-assassination of Saddam Hussein, will go
down in history as the ultimate symbol of the Bush Administration’s
hubris and incompetence. They should think again. With the dawning of a
new year, the Bush-Blair partnership is working on an even more
horrendous foreign policy disaster.

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Chris Keeley

It's Hot Time In California (Stencil, Decemeber, 2006, Buenos Aires, Argentina). From Stencilboard.

It's Hot Time In California (Stencil, Decemeber, 2006, Buenos Aires, Argentina). From Stencilboard. "...Stencils are sprayed pictures in public areas, which are produced by using stencils. The site is exclusively dedicated to Stencil-Graffities, which are in general referred to as Stencils or Pochoirs. Besides presenting these graphics, the site supports the setting up of a Community, which discusses the works on display and features new examples of stencils by uploading photographs."

http://www.stencilboard.at/index.php

Chris Keeley

CIA Leak Probe: Inside The Grand Jury

http://news.nationaljournal.com/articles/0112nj1.htm

Read Murray's latest article, "The CIA Leak Probe: Inside The Grand Jury"

CIA Leak Probe: Inside The Grand Jury

By Murray Waas, National Journal
© National Journal Group Inc.
Friday, Jan. 12, 2007

Late in the morning of July 12, 2003, Vice President Dick Cheney stood atop a pier at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia awaiting the commissioning of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, a ship 20 stories high that took eight years to construct. More than 15,000 people stood under clear skies to watch the pomp and ceremony. As she christened the carrier by breaking a bottle of champagne over its bow, Nancy Reagan told the crowd: "I only have one line. Man the ship and bring her alive."

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Chris Keeley

the Pentagon and CIA were secretly examining the financial assets and transactions of thousands of A

both agencies were using powers granted to them by the PATRIOT Act to secretly examine the financial assets and transactions of perhaps thousands of American citizens without court approval

Wrongly-Accused Ex-Gitmo Chaplain and Spy Target James Yee Speaks out on Newly-Revealed Pentagon Surveillance

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/01/17/1540232

The New York Times recently revealed that the Pentagon and CIA were secretly examining the financial assets and transactions of thousands of American citizens without court approval by issuing national security letters. We speak to the Center for National Security Studies’ Lisa Graves and one of the program’s most prominent targets: James Yee, the former Muslim Guantanamo Bay chaplain wrongly accused of espionage. [includes rush transcript]

 


Besides wiretapping your phone and going through your mail, the Pentagon and CIA can also demand access to your bank transactions and credit reports at any time, all in the name of “national security.” The New York Times reported on Sunday that both agencies were using powers granted to them by the PATRIOT Act to secretly examine the financial assets and transactions of perhaps thousands of American citizens without court approval. The Pentagon and CIA obtain the private banking records by issuing “national security letters” to request banks, credit card companies and other financial institutions to voluntarily hand over information. The program has been taking place even though the military and the CIA are barred from conducting traditional domestic law enforcement work. Vice President Dick Cheney has defended the program. He was asked about it on Fox News Sunday by host Chris Wallace.

 

  • Vice President Dick Cheney.

The American Civil Liberties Union said it had “serious concerns” about the program and the chair of the of the House Intelligence Committee, Silvestre Reyes, said his panel would investigate how the Pentagon was using its authority.

One of the most prominent targets of the program was James Yee – the former Muslim chaplain at Guantanamo Bay. The military obtained Yee’s private financial records after he was falsely accused of espionage. Yee spent 76 days in solitary confinement and was subject to abusive treatment. In 2004, the government dropped all charges against him.

 

  • James Yee. A Muslim Chaplain, was posted in Guantanamo Bay, in 2002, but less than a year after serving there, he was accused of espionage by the military and faced charges so severe, that he was threatened with the death penalty. Yee was locked away in a Navy prison in Charleston, South Carolina, spent 76 days in solitary confinement and was subject to abusive treatment. In 2004, the government dropped all charges against him and in October 2005, James Yee wrote a book about his experience called, “For God and Country: Faith and Patriotism Under Fire.”

 

  • Lisa Graves. Deputy Director of the Center for National Security Studies.

AMY GOODMAN: Vice President Dick

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Chris Keeley

the trial of Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff has begun. Lewis “Scooter” Libby fac

He is accused of lying to investigators and a grand jury during the investigation of the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. 

As CIA Leak Trial Begins, Inside the Case Against Ex-Cheney Chief of Staff Lewis “Scooter” Libby

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/01/17/1541219

Jury selection for the trial of Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff has begun. Lewis “Scooter” Libby faces five counts of lying to federal investigators, perjury, and obstruction of justice. He is accused of lying to investigators and a grand jury during the investigation of the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. We speak with veteran investigative journalist Murray Waas. [includes rush transcript]

 


Jury selection for the trial of Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff has begun. Lewis “Scooter” Libby faces five counts of lying to federal investigators, perjury, and obstruction of justice. He is accused of lying to investigators and a grand jury during the investigation of the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

Plame is the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson who openly accused the Bush administration of manipulating and distorting pre-war intelligence on Iraq. He is also accused of attempting to conceal his role, and possibly that of others, in leaking to the media that Wilson’s wife was a CIA officer. Libby’s defense team is expected to call his former boss – Vice President Cheney – to testify as a witness.

On Sunday Chris Wallace of Fox News questioned Cheney about the case.

 

  • Vice President Dick Cheney, questioned by Chris Wallace of Fox News.
Murray Waas joins me now on the line from Washington, DC. He is a veteran investigative journalist who writes for the National Journal and he has broken a number of stories on the saga of the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

 

  • Murray Waas, veteran investigative journalist who writes for the National Journal and a number of other publications. He maintains a blog at WhateverAlready.blogspot.com.

Read Murray's latest article, "The CIA Leak Probe: Inside The Grand Jury"

AMY GOODMAN: On Sunday, Chris Wallace of FOX News questioned Vice President Dick Cheney about the case.

    CHRIS WALLACE: Your former chief of staff, Scooter Libby, goes on trial this coming week on charges of obstruction of justice and perjury. As I mentioned to Mrs. Cheney, when she was here a few weeks ago, I happened to notice that you invited Mr. Libby to your Christmas party, which you also invited me to. Given his legal troubles, why?

    VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: Why what?

    CHRIS WALLACE: Why invite him to your party?

    VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: He's a friend. He's a good man. He is one of the finest individuals I’ve ever known. And I did invite him to the Christmas party.

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