Al-Qaeda to McCain: Iran is our common foe

Al-Qaeda's number two leader snubs Republican Senator John McCain for claiming that Iran is working with the terrorist organization.

During a new online Q&A session, Ayman al-Zawahiri said al-Qaeda wants to see the destruction of Iran - a Shia nation battling the terrorists.

"We hope that war 'saps' both Washington and Tehran," he said.

"The dispute between America and Iran is a genuine struggle, and the possibility of the US striking Iran is real," al-Zawahiri said.

"Whichever country that emerges victorious will find itself in an intensified and fierce battle [with al-Qaeda]," he continued.

Al-Zawahiri was referring to recent remarks by the presumptive Republican nominee, Senator John McCain, who has claimed that Iranian operatives are 'taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back' to Iraq.

Although McCain's campaign has attempted to whitewash the senator's remarks as a mishap, pundits have questioned McCain's awareness of current world affairs.


Constitutional Lawyer: Bush 'ordered war crimes'

By Nick Juliano

This week's revelation of another secret Bush administration memo that seemed to eliminate any boundaries on the treatment of detainees added to the already substantial evidence that US military and intelligence interrogators have abused and perhaps even tortured prisoners rounded up during the "war on terror."

Former Justice Department lawyer John Yoo wrote in 2003 that Bush's seemingly supreme authority in wartime trumped federal laws "prohibiting assault, maiming and other crimes," as the Washington Post reported. For constitutional lawyer Jonathan Turley, the latest memo should be more than enough reason for Congress to begin some serious investigations, but hesitance to really dig into Bush-authorized "war crimes" have precluded them from doing so, he says.

"It is really amazing because Congress -- including the Democrats -- have avoided any type of investigation into torture because they do not want to deal with the fact that the president ordered war crimes," Turley told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann Thursday night. "But evidence keeps on coming out.... What you get from this is this was a premeditated and carefully orchestrated torture program. Not torture, but a torture program."

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Ritter: U.S. War With Iran in the Offing

Press TV
Friday, April 4, 2008

Former Chief Inspector of the UN Commission on Iraq Scott Ritter has claimed that there is an 80 percent chance of a US war with Iran.

Ritter made the remarks at Middlebury College as part of a series of talks facilitated by the Vermont Peace and Justice Center, The Rutland Herald said on Wednesday.

Ritter further noted that the pattern of preparations for such a conflict has been steadily developing and involves Congress as well as the Bush-Cheney administration.

According to Ritter, a war with Iran would speed up the ongoing decline of US standing in the world, and afterward Russia and China would be ready to take advantage of the resulting power vacuum.

Ahead of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the ex-inspector had said that there were no weapons of mass destruction to justify an attack on the country.


81% in Poll Say Nation Is Headed on Wrong Track

By David Leonhardt and Marjorie Connelly / NY Times

Americans are more dissatisfied with the country’s direction than at any time since the New York Times/CBS News poll began asking about the subject in the early 1990s, according to the latest poll.

In the poll, 81 percent of respondents said they believed “things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track,” up from 69 percent a year ago and 35 percent in early 2002.

Although the public mood has been darkening since the early days of the war in Iraq, it has taken a new turn for the worse in the last few months, as the economy has seemed to slip into recession. There is now nearly a national consensus that the country faces significant problems.

A majority of nearly every demographic and political group — Democrats and Republicans, men and women, residents of cities and rural areas, college graduates and those who finished only high school — say the United States is headed in the wrong direction. Seventy-eight percent of respondents said the country was worse off than five years ago; just 4 percent said it was better off.

The dissatisfaction is especially striking because public opinion usually hits its low point only in the months and years after an economic downturn, not at the beginning of one.

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Murtha: Bush Jeopardized U.S. Defense

Congressman John Murtha says President George W. Bush's 'preventive strike' on Iraq has jeopardized the US defense 'for a long time'.

"A preventive strike is something you say to yourself, there may be some cases for doing it," the Vietnam vet told the Huffington Post.

"We are never going to do another preventive strike because of what Bush did. He has hurt our defense for a long time, maybe for history," congressman Murtha continued.

The Vietnam vet, who is one of the fiercest war critics in Congress, said the Bush administration has created an environment in which diplomacy is anathema.

Murtha added that telling the truth in the Bush era gets one in trouble, suggesting that Navy Admiral William Fallon was forced to resign over his position on the prospects of war against Iran.

The chairman of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee said, "Admiral Fallon made a mistake," by expressing his concerns on Iraq and "trying to make changes in Iraq that need to be done. He was trying to get the troops out."


Senate Drops Aid for Bankrupt Homeowners

Republicans and business-friendly Democrats on Thursday scuttled a plan to give people threatened with losing their homes more leverage in winning favorable loan terms from their lenders in bankruptcy courts.

The Senate killed the bankruptcy plan by a 58-36 vote on the first full day of debate on a bill designed to boost the slumping housing market.

The Democratic-backed bankruptcy law changes, opposed by banks and their GOP allies and a handful of Democrats, would have given judges the power to cut interest rates and principal on troubled mortgages to help desperate borrowers trapped in subprime mortgages keep their homes.

The idea was to give borrowers duped into abusive mortgages leverage in getting their loan terms adjusted. Such power, said the plan's chief proponent, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., would have helped "more people than all of the provisions combined" in the rest the bill.

But Republicans and 10 Democrats, along with Connecticut independent Joe Lieberman, voted to scuttle the bankruptcy provision. Opponents argued that, despite modifications by Durbin, the proposal would hurt more than it would have helped by leading mortgage lenders to ratchet up interest rates and thereby put another drag on the soft housing market.

The defeat of the bankruptcy plan highlighted a weakness that many people find with the bill - that it showers generous tax breaks on money-losing businesses like home builders but does little to help people facing foreclosure.

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Secret Memo Fails to Address Reasonable Doubt or Burden of Proof

By Alicia Hope /

Any competent lawyer could easily defeat the government's case in front of 12 jurors. The fact that these detainees were threatened in military tribunals with the death penalty, while not being shown the evidence against them, is suspicious(at the very least)!! It is really an indication and evidence that the government knows that it has no case! Oh, I forgot to mention that some detainees were tortured and forced to confess to involvement in the 9/11 attacks. Would those type of confessions hold up in front of a jury of twelve? I think not!

When anyone is making a bold claim, it is not someone else's responsibility to disprove the claim, it is the responsibility of the person who is making the bold claim to prove it. In this case, that would be the U.S. government and they can't prove Al-Qaeda carried out the attacks on 9-11-2001. In fact, if the defense were to bring to the hypothetical court room some experts on physics and architecture(i.e. Stephen Jones and Richard Gage), the government's whole case would fall apart because there would now be reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors that the defendants or Al Qaeda had anything to do with the collapse of the WTC buildings!

In fact, the clear and convincing evidence would point to an inside job! And 9/11 Truth is not old news! It's quite relevant!

ACLU Lawyers need to get these cases in front of a jury! With more than half the country doubting the official 9/11 story, many detainees would be less likely to end up as fall guys for the crimes of the real evil-doers!

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Carlyle Group's Plan to Takeover the Banking System!

So what's Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's call for changes in regulation of the financial markets all about? A clue may have been revealed today by Randal Quarles, former Under Secretary of the Treasury who led the Treasury Department's effort in the coordination of the President's Working Group on Financial Markets and is a current Managing Director at Carlyle Group.

Quarles spoke at a luncheon meeting of the Washington DC-based National Economists Club. His topic: "Restructuring Financial Regulation". Quarles told the luncheon group that he chose the topic in January. Hmmm. Didn't Treasury Paulson just make the proposal to restructure the financial regulatory agencies last week? How did Quarles pick this topic back in January? Short-answer, Quarles is a major insider and his comments should be monitored to get a sense for what insiders are thinking.

In his talk, Quarles said that estimates go into the hundreds of billions in terms of capital that will be required by the financial industry because of losses sustained as a result of the current crisis. He said there will be more financial institutions that will go under in coming months.

He said that public markets will not supply the necessary funds because they don't have the capabilities to study in detail the risks and potential rewards of the complex financials of financial institutions. He said private equity firms have the capabilities to do so and to supply the necessary funds. (N.B. Carlyle Group is a private equity firm).

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'Pig Book' Tallies $17.2 Billion in Pork

A government-watchdog group says the Democrat-led Congress last year broke a promise to slash pork spending and doled out $17.2 billion for pet projects, including $296 million in earmarks by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton — the top spender of the three presidential contenders.

"There was hope that the number and cost of earmarks would be cut in half. By any measure, that has not occurred," said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), which yesterday released its annual "Pig Book" tally of pork spending.

Congress stuffed 11,610 projects into fiscal 2008 spending bills, the second-highest total ever and more than triple the number of projects in fiscal 2007. The $17.2 billion spent reflected a 30 percent increase over the previous year's $13.2 billion expenditure, according to the "Pig Book."

The projects include $1.9 million for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service, named for Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat, who requested the earmark; $460,752 for hops research related to beer making; $188,000 for the Lobster Institute in Maine; and $148,950 for the Montana Sheep Institute.

The top three "porkers" identified in the "Pig Book" all were Republican members of the Senate Appropriations Committee: ranking member Thad Cochran of Mississippi with $892 million, Ted Stevens of Alaska with $469 million and Richard C. Shelby of Alabama with $465 million.

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Mexican Mayor Faces Trafficking Charges in N.Y.

The newly elected mayor of a Mexican city in the country's southwestern part of the state of Puebla was returned to New York yesterday to face charges of trafficking multikilogram quantities of cocaine into the United States.

Ruben Gil, 41, who was elected in November, is charged with participating in a "far-reaching narcotics trafficking conspiracy" that involved the transportation and delivery of cocaine to co-conspirators in the New York metropolitan area in 2006 and 2007.

"This arrest exemplifies the commitment of global law enforcement to identify and arrest those individuals responsible for trafficking cocaine into New York," said Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge John P. Gilbride, who heads the agency's New York office.

Mr. Gil was arrested in California on March 23 as he tried to fly into Los Angeles. His name was on a watch list because of his suspected drug-trafficking activity.

According to an indictment returned in December in U.S. District Court in Manhattan and statements made during a bail hearing in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Mr. Gil and co-defendant Martin N. Garcia arranged for the delivery of 11 kilograms of cocaine to New York in November and more than 22 kilograms of cocaine to New York in June 2006.

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DHS Bullying States on Real ID

By Lyndsey Layton / Washington Post

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee criticized the Department of Homeland Security yesterday for pressuring reluctant states to adopt new federally approved driver's licenses, with one accusing Secretary Michael Chertoff of "bullying" the states into compliance under a threat of blocking citizens' travel.

"We ought to engage in a fairer, more productive negotiated rule-making with the states," the committee's chairman, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), told Chertoff. "Maybe people want to have a national ID card in their state. In my state, they don't."

Leahy spoke at a hearing that touched on a range of homeland security issues, from the border fence to the backlog in the naturalization process. But, several times, the conversation between the secretary and the senators circled back to the initiative for a uniform driver's license, known as the Real ID program.

Conceived as a security measure after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, it is meant to strengthen the authenticity of driver's licenses and make it tougher to use them as fraudulent proof of identity. Many states have bristled, saying it poses privacy concerns and creates a financial burden. DHS has estimated the cost at $3.9 billion.

"Bullying the states is not the answer, nor is threatening their citizens' rights to travel," Leahy told Chertoff. "From Maine to Montana, states have said no."

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Data Breaches Hit 8.3 Million Records in First Quarter

At least 8.3 million personal and financial records of consumers were potentially compromised by data breaches at businesses, universities and government agencies in the first quarter of 2008, according to statistics released yesterday.

The Identity Theft Resource Center in San Diego said it tracked public reports of 167 data breaches in the first three months of this year. The center recorded 448 incidents in 2007.

Roughly 4.2 million of the breached records were the result of digital intrusions at the Hannaford supermarket chain, disclosed last month.

Overall, businesses were responsible for about 36 percent of the breaches, followed by schools and universities (25 percent), government and military (18 percent), medical/health care (14 percent), and banking and financial institutions (7 percent).

Only about 13 percent of the breaches were the result of hacker break-ins.

Most of the data breaches in the first quarter appear to have resulted from lost or stolen laptops, hard drives or thumb drives. Insider access and the inadvertent posting of sensitive data to a Web site or through e-mail were also frequently cited reasons for breaches, according to the report.

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What the Classroom Didn't Teach Me About the American Empire

With an occupying army waging war in Iraq and Afghanistan, with military bases and corporate bullying in every part of the world, there is hardly a question any more of the existence of an American Empire. Indeed, the once fervent denials have turned into a boastful, unashamed embrace of the idea.

However the very idea that the United States was an empire did not occur to me until after I finished my work as a bombardier with the Eighth Air Force in the Second World War, and came home.

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