Janet's Conner

This Blog tell the Truth and will never not tell the Truth. Impeach Bush

Friday, May 12, 2006

A NEW REPORT SAYS THE PENTAGON'S FINANCES ARE IN DISARRAY............


Article By: Drew Brown
Knight Ridder Newspapers
May 11, 2006

Washington---the Defense department's accounting practices are in such dissaray that defense officials can't track how much equipment the military owns, where it all is or exactly how they spend defense dollars every year, according to report Thursday by a nongovernmental group.

The report by Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities called the Pentagon's financial-management practices "an embarrassment" that wouldn't pass muster in the private sector.

"Today, if the Defense Department was a private business it would be involved in a major scandal," said Kwai Chan, a former top official with the Government Accountability Office and the report's author.

A Defense Department spokesman said officials hadn't had time to examine the report. "It would be inappropriate for me to comment on something that we have not had time to adequately analyze," Lt. Col. Brian Maka said.

The nonpartisan group, made up of more than 600 current and retired business executives from U.S. companies, thinks that federal spending priorities are undermining national security. The group wants Congress to shift money from the defense budget to spend more on schools, health care, energy independence, deficit reduction and other programs.

Financial waste at the Pentagon lends credibility to defense analysts who argue that billions of dollars are wasted every year on weapons "that are irrelevant to fighting terrorists and the Iraq war," Chan said.

The United States plans to spend $441B on defense this year, excluding war costs, which are expected to top $120B in 2006. That's an increase of about 48% since 2001, Chan said. U.S. defense spending this year will reach its highest level since the Korean War.

The Bush administration says the money is needed to fight the war on terrorism, but some analysts estimate that more than $60B in fiscal year 2007 will be spent on weapons originally designed to fight the Soviet Union, including the F-22 stealth fighter, the Virginia-class submarine, the V-22 Osprey and ballistic-missile defenses. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

Nearly all the information in Chan's report came from government documents. A report this year from the White House's Office of Management and Budget found that 20 out of 23 defense programs that auditors looked at---including shipbuilding, missile defense, depot maintenance, housing, health, air, land and ship operations---didn't use strong financial-management practices.

In reports to Congress in recent years, the GAO found:

* 94% of Army National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers experienced pay problems in 2004.

* $100M that could be collected annually from defense contractors who underpaid federal taxes. The federal government had collected less than 1% of that---less than $700,000.

* $1.2B in Army supplies shipped to Iraq that couldn't be accounted for. As a result, military units ended up short on "tires, tank tracks, helicopter spare parts, radio batteries and other basic items."

* $35B worth of excess supplies and equipment, plus an inability to track the movement of supplies.

* $100M in airline tickets that were never used.

Since 1990, Congress has required government agencies to apply the same "financial discipline" as private companies, but the Pentagon hasn't yet balanced its books under acceptable accounting standards.

Much of the problem stems from the sheer size of the Defense Department and the extent of its activities. There are more than 1.2 million people in uniform. More than 20,000 people work at the Pentagon alone.

Lawrence J. Korb, who was a Pentagon official in the Reagan administration, said Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has said he could save $20B a year alone by overhauling the Pentagon's procurement and business practices.

"And I'm saying to myself, OK, why doesn't he do it," said Korb, who's now a defense analyst at the Center for American Progress, a Washington public-policy research group.

The Defense Department's Office of the Inspector General has pronounced the department "un-auditable," Chan said. Officials have told Congress that the Pentagon is trying to streamline more than 250 accounting systems it used a decade ago into several dozen.





AT RISK VETS NOT GETTING FOLLOW-UP MENTAL HEALTH EVALUATION, SAYS GAO

Source: Office of Lane Evans
Ranking Member of Veteran's Affairs Committee
May 11, 2006

Washington, DC---"Screening servicemembers for PTSD is absolutely the right thing to do, but if we have no confidence that those who need further mental health evaluation will actually receive it, then what purpose is it serving?" asks Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME). "The process, as it is now applied, is failing our service personnel."

Michaud, ranking Democrat on the House Veteran's Affairs Subcommittee on Health, was commenting on a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study released today that found nearly 8 out of 10 servicemembers returning from Iraq and Afghanastan identified to be at risk of developing Post-traumatic Stress Disorder are not being referred by the Department of Defense (DoD) for follow-up mental health evaluations.

The GAO found that 178,664 OEF/OIF servicemembers who were deployed from October 1, 2001, through September 30, 2004, and who have since been discharged or released from active duty completed DoD's post-deployment screening questionnaire. Of those servicemembers, 9,145 responded positively to at least three of the four PTSD screening questions, which would be considered by mental health experts to place them at-risk for developing PTSD. GAO found that only 22% of the servicemembers who were at-risk for PTSD were referred by DoD providers for further mental health or combat stress reaction evaluation.

"When 78% of the servicemembers who are at risk of developing PTSD do not get a referral for further evaluation, then it's clear the asessment system is not working." Early assessment can prevent tragedy. Untreated PTSD can lead to substance abuse, severe depression and even suicide," said Michaud, adding, "We cannot afford to wait any longer to address this issue. This Congress needs to press both DoD and the Department of Veterans Affairs to do a better job when it comes to helping veterans with PTSD and other mental health issues. I intend to introduce legislation to ensure this process is more accountable."
DEMOCRATS FIGHT FOR MILITARY FAMILIES..................................................

Source: Office of the House Democratic Leader
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi
May 11, 2006

Today, the House is considering H.R. 5122, FY 2007 DOD Authorization. The bill authorizes $462.9B for the Department of Defense and an additional $50B in emergency budget authority to support operational costs, personnel expenses and the procurement of equipment for military opearations in Iraq and Afghanstan.

Democrats are fighting for our soldiers and our military families. Democrats will be voting NO on the previous question on the rule (a procedural move) in order to allow consideration of the Skelton amendment to reduce pharmacy co-pays for military families.

The Skelton amendment would reject President Bush's increase in pharmacy co-pays for military families. Currently, military families who purchase their drugs through a retail pharmacy have a co-pay of $3 for generic drugs and $9 for brand-name drugs. However, the bill would raise those co-pays to $6 for generic drugs and $16 for brand-name drugs, as proposed in President Bush's budget. The Skelton amendment would reduce these co-pays back to the level in current law.

Last night, the Rules Committee blocked Ranking Member Skelton's prescription drug co-pay amendment to DOD. (*It was blocked by Rep. S. Buyer (R-IN) Therefore, House Democratic Members will be taking PROTEST votes throughout the day due to the Republican Rules Committee ruling.

DEMOCRATS ARE FIGHTING FOR MILITARY FAMILIES

Key Points:

* Republicans refused to make in order the Skelton amendment, which would "reject" President Bush's increase in pharmacy co-pays for military families that is included in the bill.

* The increase in pharmacy co-pays in the bill would place hardship on many military families.

* During a time of war, we should "not" be increasing the burdens placed on military families.

PART-TIME CONGRESSMAN MARK GREEN MISSES VOTES ON VETERANS ISSUES

Story By: DPW
May 11, 2006


Chooses Fundraiser Over Helping Combat Veterans in Retirement, Protecting the Funerals of Soldiers Lost

MADISON---Mark Green says he is going to be a part-time Congressman. He's been true to his word.

Earlier this week, Green chose to hold a high-dollar fundraiser at a country club in Green Bay over voting in Washington on two important pieces of veterans' legislation.

One would increase the retirement benefits of combat veterans. [Source: HRes803, Vote #128, 5/9/06]

The other would stop protestors from interfering with the funerals of those soldiers lost fighting for our freedom. [Source: HR 5037, Vote #129, 5/9/06]

"When Mark Green told us he was going to be a part-time Congressman, he assured us that he wouldn't miss anything important," said Michael Murphy, Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and a former Marine. "Either he wasn't telling the truth, or he just doesn't think helping veterans and their families is as important as raising campaign cash. Either way, Mark Green is out of step with mainstream Wisconsin values."

Murphy said it's no surprise that Green had once again disregarded his responsibilities as a member of Congress to further his own political agenda. For years, Green has served as a rubberstamp for the failed policies of President Bush and Republicans in Washington instead of standing up for Wisconsin families.

This is also not the first time Green has neglected his job as a Congressman in order to shake down campaign donors. In December, Green skipped out on a House floor session---missing three roll call votes---so he could raise money at fundraisers in Appleton and Janesville and talk up his bid for Governor with the UW-Madison College Republicans.
LEGION VOWS FIGHT IN COMMISSION ATTEMPT RELEASE.......................

From: The American Legion
Public Relations Division
May 10, 2006

LEGION VOWS FIGHT IN COMMISSION ATTEMPT TO TAP SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS FOR VETERANS' DISABILITIES

INDIANAPOLIS (May 10, 2006)---The board of directors of the nation's largest veterans organizations today unanimously authorized its national commander to take all "appropriate actions, with other organizations or singly, up to and including authorizing litigation, "to ensure that the Veterans Disability Benefit Commission does NOT attempt to erode veterans disability benefits by offsetting them with the Social Security disability system.

Members of the National Executive Committee of The American Legion passed a resolution giving National Commander Thomas L. Bock full authority to work with the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and other organizations to block a blatant attempt by the commission that could propose termination of veterans' disability benefits when a veteran obtains a job despite a militarily incurred disability.

"Disability benefits are and should remain totally seperate and subject to seperate rules because Social Security benefits are the result of insurance premiums which constitute part of the Social Security tax and veterans benefits are earned for taking up the burdens of the nation," Bock said. "Veterans subjected themselves to the mental and physical hazards, as well as the economic and family detriments, which are unique to military service."

The Veterans Disability Benefits Commission is considering whether Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) should or should not be included in its analysis of benefits provided under current federal laws to compensate veterans and their survivors for disability or death attributable to military service.

"Making veterans' benefits subject to the rules and laws pertaining to the Social Security system or similar rules allowing the end of benefits because the veteran has found a job, offsetting veterans benefits with Social Security Disability payments or turning veterans benefits into a transitional assistance program is flat-out wrong," Bock said. "The American Legion will work with DAV and any other organization with a common goal, jointly or seperately as appropriate, to accomplish The American Legion's traditional goal of preserving, protecting and enhancing veterans benefits and preventing the erosion or destruction of these hard-earned benefits."
INSIDE CHENEY'S BUNKER.....................................................................................


Article By: Allen L. Roland
OpEdNews.com

Dick Cheney and his staff have infected the Presidency with their deceptions, lies, strong arm tactics and neocon agenda.

"They terrorize other government officials, and they're so secretive that their names aren't even revealed to a harmless federal directory. And they've helped ruin the country. Meet Dick Cheney's staff:" American Prospect

Without a doubt, the most dangerous and most powerful man in the world is not George Bush~It's Dick Cheney and his staff who have infected the Presidency with their deceptions, lies, strong arm tactics and neocon agenda.

Here is a long but riveting must read article by Robert Dreyfuss who explores the inner workings of Cheney's Bunker and reveals that the war party lead by Dick Cheney remains in ascendancy.

Excerpt: "Like disciplines Bolsheviks slicing through a fractious opposition, Cheney's team operates with a single-minded, ideological focus on the exercise of American military power, a belief in the untrammeled power of the presidency, and a fierce penchant for secrecy...Today Wurmser, Hannah, Liz Cheney, and her father are pushing hard for confrontations with both Iran and Syria. Liz Cheney, who exercises enormous power inside the State Department, has secured millions of dollars to support opposition elements in both countries, and she has met with Syria's version of Ahmad Chalabi, a discredited businessman from Virginia named "Farid al-Ghadry." Hannah sat in the meeting with Ghadry, which was arranged through Meyrav Wurmser, a friend of the would-be Syrian leader...Hannah and Wurmser's boss, the vice president, talks freely about the need for a military showdown with Iran to destroy its alleged nuclear program."

Allen L. Roland

***Okay everybody reading this: You have to remember this guy's name! FARID AL-GHADRY. He's another Chalabi. A "DISCREDITED" businessman. We went to war in Iraq because of Chalabi's lies. Don't allow us to go to war against Iran because of this guy. CHENEY IS ON A "PERPETUAL WAR FOOTING" and it seems like he is using his family. Doesn't he care about anybody?........ Oh, and by the way, I know that there are a lot of Cheney operatives out there (and some of you even get paid) and you might complain about this article being put out onto the Internet, but I'm not the originator of this article. I always show where my articles are from. So if you have any complaining to do, tell it to someone else. And don't forget, "it's not all about just "your" feelings, because there are just as many people out there who "want to know" things like this.


VICE SQUAD

By: Robert Dreyfuss

Bad heart, errant shotgun, and Halliburton stock options in tow, Dick Cheney has ruled the White House roost for the past five years, amassing enough power to give rise to the joke that George W. Bush is "a heartbeat away from the presidency."

Yet, despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of words have been written on Cheney's role in the Bush administration, most of what's been written fails to explain how the vice president wields his extraordinary authority.

Notoriously opaque, the Office of the Vice President (OVP) is very difficult for journalists to penetrate. But a *Prospect* investigation shows that the key to Cheney's influence lies with the corps of hard-line acolytes he assembled in 2001. They serve not only as his eyes and ears, monitoring a federal bureaucracy that resists many of Cheney's pet initiatives, but sometimes serve as his fists, too, when the man from Wyoming feels that the passive-aggressive bureaucrats need bullying.

Like disciplined Bolsheviks slicing through a fractious opposition, Cheney's team operates with a single-minded, ideological focus on the excercise of American military power, a belief in the untrammeled power of the presidency, and a fierce penchant for secrecy.

Since 2001, reporters and columnists have tended to refer to Cheney's office obliquely, if at all. Rather than explicitely discuss the neoconservative cabal that has assumed control of important parts of U.S. policy since Spetember 11, they couple references to "the civilians at the Pentagon" with "officials in the vice president's office" when referring to the administration hard-liners.

But rarely do the mainstream media provide much detail to explain who those people are, what they've done, and how they operate.

At the high-water mark of the neoconservative power, when coalition forces invaded Iraq in March 2003, the vice president's office was the command center for a web of like-minded officials in the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies, often described by former officials as "Dick Cheney's spies."

Now, thanks to a misguided war and a bungled occupation, along with a string of foreign-policy failures that have alienated U.S. allies and triggered a wave of anti-American feeling around the globe, the numbers and influence of those Cheneyites outside the office have receded. No longer quite so demanding, the office seems more like a bunker for neoconservatives and their fellow travelers in the administration.

Yet of only because of Dick Cheney's Rasputin-like hold over the president, his office remains a formidable power indeed.

Still, for the first time, nervous Republicans are raising serious questions about Cheney. With his public approval plummeting to previously unknown depths for a major U.S. politician---by late February he had fallen to just 18%---he has lost all but the most reflexive of knee-jerk conservatives.

With the vice president increasingly seen as a liability, there is a quiet murmur among GOP insiders about dumping him. The Moonie-linked *Insight* magazine, wired into right-wing Republicans, last month reported that moves are afoot to "retire" Cheney in 2007.

Writing in the *Wall Street Journal*, former Bush Senior speechwriter Peggy Noonan gave full voice to the dump-Cheney idea. "I suspect what they're thinking about and not saying is, "If Dick Cheney weren't vice president, who'd be a good vice president?" she wrote. "And one night over drinks at a barbeque in McLean one top guy will turn to another top guy and say, ...'wouldn't you like to replace Cheney?"

More often than not, from policy toward China and North Korea to the invasion of Iraq to pressure for regime change in Syria, and on issues from detentions to torture to spying by the National Security Agency, the muscle of the vice president's office has prevailed.

Usually, that muscle is exercised covertly. Last February, for example, after Hamas won the Palestinian elections, King Abduallh of Jordan visited Washington to discuss the implications of the vote. With the support of some officials in the State Department, the young king suggested that Washington should bolster beleaguered President Mahmoud Abbas, the Fatah leader, to counter the new power of Hamas.

Then John Hannah intervened. A former official at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a pro-Zionist think tank founded by the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, Hannah is a neoconservative ideologue who, after the resignation of Irving Lewis "Scooter" Libby, moved up to become Vice President Dick Cheney's top adviser on national security.

Hannah moved instantly to undermine Abdullah's influence. Not only should the United States not deal with Hamas, but Abbas, Fatah, and the entire Palestinian Authority were no longer relevant, he argued, according to intelligence insiders. Speaking for the vice president's office, Hannah instead sought to align U.S. policy with the go-it-alone strategy of Israel's hard-liners, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his stricken patron and predecessor, Ariel Sharon.

Olmert soon stunned observers by declaring that Israel would unilaterally set final borders in the West Bank, annexing large swaths of occupied land, by the year 2010. His declaration precisely mirrored Hannah's argument that Israel should act alone.

Whether that viewpoint will prevail in the United States is unclear, but early indications are that the Bush administration is swinging in that direction. Hannah's intervention is typical how the OVP staff has engaged at all levels of the U.S. policy-making process to overcome opposition from professionals in the State Department, the intelligence community, and even the National Security Council (NSC) itself.

Richard Perle, who formerly served on the Defense Policy Board, insists that the power of those who share his worldview is exaggerated. "The myth of the power of the neoconservatives in the administration is exactly that," says Perle. "The president holds the views that he holds. And the people that you're talking about are much closer to the president's view than the people they are arguing against."

But officials who have opposed Cheney believe that President Bush has "views" only about basic principles, and that in making dozens of complex decisions he relies on pre-determined staff papers. Says one insider deeply involved in U.S. policy toward North Korea: "The president is given only the most basic notions about the Korea issue. They tell him, 'Above South Korea is a country called North Korea. It is an evil regime.'...So that translates into a presidential decision: Why enter into any agreement with an evil regime?"

Last fall, when U.S. envoy Christopher Hill was planning to visit North Korea to try to resolve the impasse over that country's nuclear weapons, Cheney's staff intervened to kill Hill's mission, according to sources involved in planning his trip. That the Office of the Vice President can kill a major initiative by the State Department and the NSC, on an issue of the highest priority, is stark testament to the sustained power of the vice president's office.

And despite Cheney's unpopularity---and the parallel decline of neoconservative influence---it remains a potent force.


Devoid of well-known names and faces, the OVP was nearly invisible to the public until last fall. That's when "Scooter" Libby was indicted for lying to federal investigators in the Valerie Plame case, focusing the media spotlight on the vice president's chief of staff and top national security adviser, who resigned immediately.

Aside from Libby, however, virtually none of Cheney's current aides has endured any scrutiny. Outside the Washington cognoscenti, it's a safe bet that not one in a hundred Americans could name a single Cheney aide.

Since 2001, the list has included David Addington, who replaced Libby; top national security advisers such as Eric Edelman and Victoria Nuland; radical-right Middle East specialists such as Hannah, William J. Luti, and David Wurmser; anti-China, geopolitical Asia hands like Stephen Yates and Samantha Ravich; an assortment of conservative apparatchiks and technocrats, often neoconservative-connected, including C.

Dean McGrath, Aaron Friedberg, Karen Knutson, and Carol Kuntz; lobbyists and domestic policy gurus, such as Nancy Dorn, Jonathan Burks, Nina Shokralil Rees, Cesar Conda, and Candida Wolf---and a host of communications directors, flacks, and spokespeople over the years, notably "Cheney's angels": Mary Matalin, Juleanna Glover Weiss, Jennifer Millerwise, Catherine Martin, and Lee Anne McBride.

It is the latter, especially Cheney's press secretaries---he has run through seven of them---whose job is saying nothing, and saying it often.

His press people seem shocked that a reporter would even ask for an interview with the staff. The blanket answer is no---nobody is available.

Amazingly, the vice president's office flatly refuses to even disclose who works there, or what their titles are. "We just don't give out that kind of information," says Jennifer Mayfield, another of Cheney's "angels." She won't say who is on staff, ot what they do. No she insists. "It's just not something we talk about." The notoriously silent OVP staff rebuffs not just pesky reporters but even innocuous database researchers from companies like Carroll Publishing, which puts out the quarterly *Federal Directory.*

"They're tight-lipped about the kind of information they put out," says Albert Ruffin, senior editor at Carroll, who fumes that Cheney's office doesn't bother returning his calls when he's updating the limited information he manages to collect.

The OVPs enduring obsession with absolute secrecy first became obvious during the long court battle early in Bush's first term over the energy task force chaired by Cheney. Neither the coalition of watchdog and environmental groups that sued the OVP nor members of Congress and the Government Accountability Office discovered much about the workings of the task force.

Addington, then Cheney's general counsel, enforced the say-nothing policy ultimatly upheld by federal courts. "He engineered an extraordinary expansion of government power at the expense of accountability," says Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, the conservative gadfly group that sued Cheney. "We got a terse letter back from Addington saying essentially, 'Go jump in the lake.'"

Adington, 49, has spent almost exactly half of his life working for or working alongside Dick Cheney, from an impressionable youngster in his early 20s to the hard-nosed ideologue that he is today. They first met in the early 1980s, when Addington served as a counsel for the CIA, the Iran-Contra Committee, and then the House Intelligence Committee, when Cheney was a member of the committee.

When Cheney became secretary of defense, Addington was his special assistant and then the Defense Department's general counsel. When Cheney toyed with running for President in the 1990s, Addington ran his political action committee.

In the OVP, Addington has emerged as the single most militant advocate for the unfettered power of the presidency. "Early on, with the detainee issues, the torture issues, even before Abu Ghraib, people [would say] that David Addington is the source of all this stuff," says a senior national security lawyer in Washington.

"This stuff" includes the spectrum of controversial counterterrorism powers, from military tribunals for captured terror suspects, to justifying torture of prisoners, to detention of alleged terrorists without access to courts or counsel, to the legal rationale for ignoring the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in allowing the National Security Agency to spy on Americans.

"He believes that in time of war, there is total authority for the president to waive any rules to carry out his objectives," is how Congresswoman Jane Harman, the intelligence committee's ranking Democrat, described Addington to the *Washington Post.*

"Those views have extremely dangerous implications."

Addington is typical of the staffers brought on in 2001, when Cheney began assembling what was dubbed, even then, "a shadow NSC." Unlike previous administrations, including Bill Clinton's, Cheney's office was loaded for partisan bear from day one.

Leon Fuerth, who led Al Gore's office of national security affairs for eight years, says that their far smaller operation was led by nonpolitical or military staffers who weren't vetted for political loyalties or ideology.

"The people who worked for me were all seconded from federal agencies, every one of them. They were unifromed officers from all three branches, people from the Department of Commerce, from the CIA, but all of them were professionals and civil servants," says Fuerth. "I was the only politically appointed person. My deputy was at first an Air Force colonel, and after he retired, an Army colonel." He recalls that one appointee, settling into an office in Fuerth's shop, hung a portrait of Ronald Reagan.

There probably aren't any portraits of Bill Clinton or FDR on the walls of Cheney's OVP, which sprawls throughout the executive building across the street from the White House. Instead, the staff---hand-picked by Libby--- was drawn from the ranks of far-right think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute, the Hudson Institute, and WINEP, and from carefully screened Cheney Loyalists in law firms around town---all of whom hit the ground running.

*Okay people, this is going to be the end of Part I. I don't want to lose your attention because this story is very important. It's something that we all need to see. Watch out for Part II.