Monday, October 29, 2007

On Alabama Governor Bob Riley's Protests- to much?

Excerpt from Scott Horton's "No Comment" piece in Harpers;
But the real show-stopper in the Riley-Blackledge story is the suggestion that Artur Davis claimed “the governor of Alabama went to Washington, met with the Justice Department, convinced them to put the resources into a conspiracy…” Davis, of course, neither said nor insinuated any such thing at any point during the hearing. So what leads Riley to say this? I have a theory. It’s because Riley knows that he did travel to Washington and pursue using the Justice Department as a cat’s paw to secure his own hold on the Montgomery statehouse. In fact, the entire play surrounding the Siegelman prosecution is unmistakably tied to Alabama electoral politics, and to Riley’s concerns about his grip on power. LINK TO FULL STORY

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Democracy In Grave Peril (FROM LOCUST FORK JOURNAL)

From Alabama's Glynn Wilson at "Locust Fork Journal"
excerpt: Today I want to talk a little bit about another author, a famous columnist named Walter Lippmann, especially to debunk a label that has been pinned on me of late by a local used car salesman. As you will see from this essay, I am no "elitist."

I hope the bad students down at the Big Mule Press are listening, but I do not have much hope since they are passing off another piece of manufactured GOP propaganda as news even today, with no documentary evidence and a key source who, of course, could not be reached for comment. You know who I am talking about. I refuse to link to their bullshit.

But to prove that I am a truly independent scholar ruled by no political party or ideology, I am also going to publicly quibble with a couple of liberal writers who I otherwise respect. That is still allowed under the First Amendment, I presume. LINK TO FULL TEXT

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

More Questions on Judge Fuller and the Siegelman Case

How cozy was the relationship between the Prosecution and the Presiding Judge in the trial of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman? Harper's Scott Horton received an affidavit filed by an Missouri Judge that may provide more clues to this puzzling, disturbing and still unfolding case.
LINK TO "No Comment" at Harpers

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Forgotten War On Terror- The Tragedy of Somalia

Footage/insight/reporting that rarely finds its way onto our television screens
CHANNEL 4 NEWS (LONDON) Nima Elbagir's graphic report from Somalia.
From Channel 4-So why isn't the international community doing more? Maybe it's because footage like this rarely makes it's way onto our screens. The journalists of Somalia have themselves become a target.On August 11, Mahed Ahmed Elmi was shot outside his office at Horn Afrik television station. As his funeral procession pulled away, a bomb exploded under a car killing his friend, the station's co-founder Ali Shamarke.The lawlessness is easily explained. The government forces, because of their Ethiopian troop support, face a coalition of both Islamist and nationalist insurgents. The Ethiopians rarely patrol the city and when they do they lose not only their lives but their boots and anything else the insurgents can use.That leaves the African Union forces as the most visible presence on the streets.

Black clergy, activists, join forces to stop AIDS (FROM EDGE)

by Cody Lyon
EDGE New York City Contributor

More than 100 black ministers, health officials and politicians gathered at the Time Warner Center in New York on Oct. 8 - 9 to discuss ways to address the AIDS epidemic among people of color. The National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, the National Medical Association, the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services and the Congressional Black Caucus participated in the National Conclave on HIV/AIDS Black Clergy...We are in crisis mode," Bishop T.D. Jakes said. "Our focus right now is saving lives. We can save souls later."

Still, critics charge the Church was slow to respond:
Gil L. Robertson, author of "Not in My Family: AIDS in the African American Community," praised Butts and others who have shown support for their LGBT congregants with AIDS. But he delivered a scathing indictment of the black church’s overall response to the epidemic.

"African American leaders were absolutely negligent in not stepping into the frontlines in trying to solve this problem," Robertson said.


Friday, October 12, 2007

On Blackwater

Elizabeth Palmer's scathing report on Blackwater...from CBS NEWS
link to video


FROM "The New York Times"
Ex-Commander Says Iraq Effort Is ‘a Nightmare’
Published: October 13, 2007
Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez is the most senior war commander of a string of retired officers who have harshly criticized the conduct of the Iraq war. LINK TO FULL TEXT AT NYT

Editorial from Anniston (AL) Star Re: Sielgelman Case

One More Layer of Smoke-This new revelation alone ought to stir Congress to examine this case; it’s unacceptable to let stand the allegations against Pryor and Sessions. Give them a chance to either clear their names or prepare for a trial by jury. LINK TO "STAR" Text

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Further Links To Karl Rove in Bama Case-from TIME MAGAZINE

Adam Zagorin at Time Magazine's follow up in the Siegelman Case appear to show Rove Fingerprints. LINK TO FULL TEXT

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


via TIME-The case of Don Siegelman, the Democratic former Governor of Alabama who was convicted last year on corruption charges, has become a flash point in the debate over the politicization of the Bush Administration's Justice Department. Forty-four former state attorneys general — Republicans and Democrats — have cited "irregularities" in the investigation and prosecution, saying they "call into question the basic fairness that is the linchpin of our system of justice." LINK TO FULL TEXT

In the guise of reporting on the Simpson interview with the House Judiciary Committee, the
B’ham News reporters in fact launch a major sustained assault on the credibility of Jill Simpson.

A Rainsville lawyer who first suggested White House influence in the prosecution of former Gov. Don Siegelman told congressional lawyers last month that Siegelman dropped his 2002 election contest after Alabama Republicans promised to end the federal investigation of him.

EDITOR'S NOTE FROM WILSON-Any press reports that ignore this and focus on other parts of the testimony are at least misleading and at worst part of an orchestrated coverup to try and protect the political fortunes of Bob Riley and George Bush, and to potentially prevent the indictment of former White House Aide Karl Rove, who resigned in August as these charges first came to light. LINK TO FULL ARTICLE & TRANSCRIPT AT LFJ

Friday, October 05, 2007

U.S. Issues New Rules for Iraq Security Firms

By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN and JOHN M. BRODER ("New York Times") -10/5/07
The order by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice came a day after Congress voted to bring all U.S. contractors in the Iraq war zone under the jurisdiction of American criminal law.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

More Elite Than Our Military?


Why are United States taxpayers paying the private military and security firm Blackwater, $1,222 a day for the services of each of its single protective security specialist. By most estimates that amount is six times what it would cost for a U.S. soldier to perform the same duty.

Thanks to well publicized, reportedly reckless and deadly blunders, including the deaths of sixteen of its own staff, coupled with recent questioning on Capital Hill, at least some of the answers may arrive, eventually. But, as that process lumbers along, and as facts begin their slow ascent into the public forum, the people of the United States may notice their skin crawling with outrage.

That unfortunate and greater truth appears to indicate that a number of well connected private military contractors have gotten rich from our current national nightmare that is Iraq.

Not that Blackwater co-founder Erik Prince ever had anything to worry about when it came time to eat at night. The private school educated, Naval Academy graduate, former navy Seal is, after all, the son of the late Edgar Prince, who founded Prince Automotive, a company that was sold in 1995 for $1.4 billion. Erik Prince’s Mother now manages the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation which has dolled out tremendous amounts of money to socially conservative causes. In 2004, she was the top individual contributor to the Citizens for the Protection of Marriage, an anti-gay marriage group that campaigned to ban same sex marriage in Michigan.

Prince’s sister is the former Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Betsy DeVos. Betsy DeVos is married to Dick DeVos who is the son of the billionaire founder of Amway Corporation Richard DeVos. In 2006, Forbes Magazine estimated Richard DeVos to be the 73rd wealthiest person in the United States. Each of these Prince family connections have given generously to Republican candidates, including President George Bush. Erik Prince himself donated an estimated $200,000 to the Bush campaign.

While there may be a number of soldiers in Iraq who, as they say, “come from money” one wonders, if it’s the kind of money Erik Prince comes from and whether or not, money and connections have the ability to influence decisions on who gets the high paid mercenary license to kill contract.

More curious is the question of how Erik Prince’s company came upon its latest financial windfalls that saw the company, founded in 1997, go from $1 million before 2001, to over $1 billion in awarded government contracts today, several million dollars of which arrived through what are called, single source or no bid arrangements.

A June 24, 2006 “Virginian Pilot” of Hampton Roads, Va., report raised questions about pull and influence among the top brass at Blackwater. In addition to the Erik Prince and his family connections to the Republican Party, the company’s President, Gary Jackson, gave money to some high powered Republican decision makers that included Rep.Duncan Hunter, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and Rep. Jerry Lewis, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

In addition, the company’s vice chairman, Coffer Black was the former director of the CIA’s counterterrorism unit. In fact, Black was in charge back in 2001 when Al Queda struck on 9/11. He later worked at the State Department joining Blackwater in 2005.

Another Blackwater official, Joseph Schmitz joined Blackwater’s parent company, Prince Group, as its Chief Operating Officer and general counsel in 2005. Schmitz is a former inspector general at the Defense Department, who at the time of the “Pilot” report, faced a congressional hearing inquiry into whether or not he had quashed two investigations of senior Bush Administration officials. As a Defense Department inspector, he was in charge of looking at fraud and waste in the Pentagon.

To be sure, individuals, companies and political action groups can raise and give money to whomever they like. And, individuals can, and often do, work in the private sector after leaving government. After all, that’s part of the modern American way. But as it looks with this case, the greater question has become, who benefits, and who loses in the end. With Blackwater, it would appear there are a few losers including the members of our military who aren’t getting $1,222 a day, the taxpayers, who are paying the difference for a private firm to protect state department officials and the people of Iraq who are subject to the whims of an armed security firm that appears to be engaging in questionable, possibly poorly trained and dangerous behaviors.

Not only should congress break out the shovels and start digging for answers, it had better start defining and explaining the rules, better yet, the ethics of how money gets dolled out. Along the way, questions should be raised on who and how anyone does, and if anyone ever should, benefit from a war that is wrecking the lives of our “volunteer” military members. These are the men and women who earn a penance in financial compensation in comparison to the high paid sharpshooters at Blackwater. For America’s military, if this all adds up to the answer it appears to be heading for, is an insult to their service since it has the appearance of labeling the private mercenary services of Blackwater, as an elite alternative to the available skills offered by our nation’s official guardians of security.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

House Democrats Slam Blackwater (FromCBS NEWS)

In written testimony, Prince insisted that his guards opened fire only after being shot at, but he never got the chance to say that because it is now a criminal case, reports CBS News national security correspondent David Martin....Link to Full story and video