Janet's Conner

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

Thursday, July 13, 2006

VA INSPECTOR GENERAL BLISTERS DEPARTMENT'S LAX SECURITY




Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General George Opfer issued a take-no-prisoners report late Tuesday about VA security policies and procedures, casting wide blame for the handling of the theft of personal information on more than 26 million veterans in May.

The report recommends the disciplinary action against a range of VA officials who "acted with indifference and little sense of urgency," and calls for a stronger, more concise policy on protecting personal information, better training of employees and more background checks on those with access to personal date.

***This means absolutely nothing. Nicholson should resign and so should many other officials in the VA. That's what it's going to take to make the veterans feel like something has been done to protect their personal info. So far the Bush administration has proven to us they can't take care of national security. That is all that this administration has done on the past five years. Don't forget that we got hit on their watch on 9/11!

Opfer's report says the data stolen from the Maryland home of a VA employee should never have left the building. The longtime employee had been working on a personal project at home on his own time with some records. The information was not loaded on a government laptop, but on a personal storage devise.

***So we have been lied to again by Nicholson! What is Nicholson trying to cover-up? What kind of personal project was this guy doing and for whom?

The employee's supervisors claim they did not know of the project and would not have allowed him to take home the data if they knew. The stolen data was recovered June 28, and the FBI is trying to determine if it had been copied. The report says federal and county police continue to investigate the burglary, but expect no charges to be filed against the employee.

***This was the property of the government of the United States and he shouldn't have taken it out of that building. He should be sitting in jail now until the whole truth is found out!

Rep. Lane Evans of Illinois, ranking Democrat on the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, said the report shows the scope of the problems.

"There was a series of failures in this tragic event," he said, including vague or nonexistent policies on access, transport and use of data with personal identifiers; five years of warnings about possible problems; and "utterly dysfunctional leadership, a total communications breakdown and an alarming lack of urgency."

"When the employee from whom the data is stolen reports it to VA managers and law enforcement within an hour, yet higher-ups, in a disastrous sequence of bungles and indifference, take one week to elevate it seven floors in the same building and another week to walk it a few steps over to the secretary---not to mention an additional six days to inform Congress and the public---then it becomes clear there was and is within VA a bigger crisis than even the theft of such a massive amouint of data," Evans said in a statement.

***It shouldn't come as an surprise to you that this is how the rest of the country is being run under the Bush Administration! That's why we are in such turmoil and are hated across the world! I don't care what the news tells you!

Bob Wallace, executive director of the Washington office for the VFW, called the situation "pathetic."

***Some of these people shouldn't be quick to call someone else pathetic, although they are, when they claim to care about veterans when they are out there doing commercials for the Republicans. The very people that are taking everything away from the veterans.

"It is umbelievable," he said. "They are not serving the veterans right and they are not serving the secretary right. We had a crime here, whether it was 10,000 or 26 million people, and it should have been taken seriously."

***BUT THAT'S THE PROBLEM WITH THIS ADMINISTRATION AND THEIR REPUBLICAN PUPPETS! THEY DON'T CARE ABOUT AND CAN'T HANDLE NATIONAL SECURITY!!!!!!! THEY ONLY CARE ABOUT WHAT YOU CAN "SEE." IF THEY WERE SO GREAT ON NATIONAL SECURITY, WOULD SO MANY INCIDENTS HAVE BEEN STOPPED IF TERRORISTS THOUGHT THAT THE REPUBLICANS WERE DOING SUCH A GREAT JOB ON PROTECTING US? OR BETTER YET, IS THE TRUTH REALLY THAT THE REPUBLICANS ARE PLAYING UP ON OUR FEARS AND MAKING THESE THINGS HAPPEN? With this administration, I'd go for the latter of the two! BUT ONE THING IS FOR SURE, THE REPUBLICANS ARE NOT STRONG ON NATIONAL SECURITY!

Wallace a former national commander of the 2.4 million-member group, said he is concerned about why VA staff would not immediately notify the VA secretary of the problem.

***If he believes that the secretary didn't already know about this, then he's just as crazy as the Republicans!

"He should have known immediately abd veterans should have been notified immediately," Wallace said. "It has been a case study in how to handle a crisis."

***That's wht I'm trying to tell you, THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION CAN'T HANDLE A CRISIS! THEY SUCK AT PROTECTING US! BUT AS YOU SEE, THEY KNOW HOW TO PROTECT THEMSELVES!

Without a guarantee that the records have not been copied, Wallace said he still believes the VA needs to provide credit monitoring for the military personnel and veterans whose records were stolen.

***The Bush administration said that they will do that, but they are taking the money away from housing development for our troops. It's like they are blaming our veterans for this. They may as well be if they are going to take funds away from them to pay for this monitoring!

Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN), the House Veterans' Affairs Committee chairman, said he expects the VA Secretary R. James Nicholson to "take prompt and appropriate administrative action concerning individuals involved in this serious breach of data" and promises Congress will be watching.

***It happened in May. Nothing has been done about it yet. Buyer is just as big of an idiot as Nicholson is! You can't believe a word he says, especially on his campaign trail!!!!!

LANE EVANS' RESPONSE TO VA IG REPORT ON ISSUES RELATED TO THE LOSS OF VA INFO INVOLVING THE IDENTITIES OF MILLIONS OF VETERANS




There was a series of failures in this tragic event: ambiguous or non-existent policy governing access, transporting and use of data with personal identities; departmental indifference of five years of warnings from its own Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office regarding its information technology deficiencies; and, in my view, the most egregious---utterly dysfunctional leadership, a total communications breakdown and an alarming lack of urgency within the department in reporting a serious-by-all-measures data breach up the line.

When the employee from which the data is stolen reports it to VA managers and law enforcement within an hour, yet higher-ups, in a disastrous sequence of bungles and indifference take one week to elevate it seven floors in the same building and another week to walk it a few steps over to the Secretary---not to mention an additional six days to inform Congress and the public---then it becomes clear there was and is within VA a bigger crisis than even the theft of such a massive amount of data.

The Secretary testified before our Committee that he is "mad as hell" about the data breach. He should be. His actions in light of these IG findings will tell us of those words were deeply felt or simply meant to engender sympathy under intense pressure. His next steps must include a serious and detailed review of why his managers and advisors botched it and failed to report the matter to him. He must also follow up with bold and decisive administrative action. His failure to do so would compund his agency's gross failures in this matter. I am pleased to see that the Secretary has indicated to the IG his intentions to convene four seperate administrative investigations in this regard.


***THE REPUBLICANS CAN'T EVEN PROTECT INFORMATION ABOUT US! WHAT MAKES ANY OF YOU THINK THAT THEY CAN PROTECT US FROM ANOTHER ATTACK. 9/11 WAS ON THEIR WATCH! YOU PEOPLE BETTER WAKE UP.

NICHOLSON CAN "SAY" ALL THAT HE WANTS, BUT I STILL HAVEN'T SEEN ANYTHING THAT HE HAS "DONE" ABOUT THIS ACTION! HE SHOULD RESIGN!


Source of Information: Office of Lane Evans
Ranking Democratic Member
House Committee on Veterans' Affairs
July 11, 2006

CHENEY'S HALLIBURTON PARADIGM FOR FRAUD

The evidence that the Office of the Vice President was directly involved in arranging government contracts with his former company, Halliburton, is now undeniable: A new report issued by Rep. Henry Waxman (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee, "Dollars, Not Sense: Government Contracting Under the Bush Administration," documents that Halliburton, the company run by Dick Cheney before he appointed himself Vice President, is, in fact, the paradigm for the wholesale privatizing, by government contract, of entire chunks of what are properly the activities of the U.S. government itself.

Just daus before Waxman's report was released in June, Judicial Watch released e-mails from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, that it had acquired through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, showing that the oil reconstruction contract (known as RIO, for Restore Iraqi Oil) that Halliburton was awarded just before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, was coordinated with the Office of the Vice President, contrary to assertions of Cheney himself, as well as numerous other Bush Administration and Pentagon officials.

***I told you that this administration is a bunch of liars! They are forever denying everything, but it always comes out that they lied! These are "moral" people? I don't think so................!

Reinforcing the case against Cheney, was an April 2003 episode of the CBS-TV program "60 Minutes," in which the chief counsel of the Army Corps of Engineers attempted to deflect repeated questions about the role of Cheney in awarding the RIO contract to Halliburton.

According to the Waxman report, Federal contracting grew from $203B a year in 2000 to $377.5B in 2005, an increase of 86%. "Under President Bush," the report says, "the federal government is now spending nearly 40 cents of every discretionary dollar on contracts with private companies, a record level." Nearly half the growth in discretionary spending during this period was accounted for by the growth contracting. The Pentagon, not surprisingly, accounted for most of this growth: $133.5B spent on contracts in 2000, rose to $270B in 2005. The top five contractors in 2005 accounted for $80B, or 21% of all Federal procurement spending, with Lockheed Martin at the top of the heap, at $25B.

The fastest growing contractor, however, is Dick Cheney's Halliburton, which raked in $763M in 2000, to nearly $6B in 2005, an increase of an astounding 672% over the five years. Abuse of the contracting process also climbed, with an even faster rate of growth of non-competitive contracts, which grew 115%, from $67.5B in 2000 to $145B in 2005.

The cost to the taxpayers for this windfall, which benefits a relatively small segment of the private sector, has been enormous as well. The report identifies 118 contracts, collectively worth $745.5B, issued over the five-year period, that have experienced significant surcharges, wasteful spending, or mismanagement. The report identifies three major contracting "binges" since 2001: Iraq reconstruction, homeland security, and Hurricane Katrina. "Each initiative has been characterized by extensive waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in contract spending," the report says.


USE OF NON-COMPETITIVE CONTRACT ZOOMS

The growth in the use of non-competitive contracts is just one indicator of mismanagement of contracts under the Bush Administration, but it is a major indicator of the paradign. Federal acquisition law provides for exemptions from competitive sourcing requirements under certain circumstances, such as emergency, or of there is only one source for the required service. Under the Bush Administration, however, the growth of such contracts has been faster than the overall growth of contracts, rising from 33% of Federal contract dollars in 2000, to 38% in 2005.

According to the report, Hurricane Katrina provides a case study of how the exemptions have been stretched to the breaking point. In the immediate aftermath of the storm, it made sense to award contracts non-competitively in order to meet urgent needs. In the month after Katrina, 51% of contract dollars awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency were awarded non-competitively. One would expect that that percentage would decline after that; however, in October of 2005, that percentage zoomed up to 93%, and was still at 57% in December.

So far, prosecutions of those involved in this corruption have resulted in 13 convictions, guilty pleas, or indictments of various government officials, and employees of Halliburton. The most famous case, so far, is that of former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif,) who pleaded guilty last November, to accepting $2.4M in bribes from two military contractors. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, Stuart Bowen, reports that there are 70 corruption investigations underway in Iraq, 23 of which involve allegations of contract fraud, overcharging, product substitution, or false claims. Another 50 cases have been brought by whistleblowers under the False Claims Act, alleging fraud by contractors operating in Iraq. One of those cases has resulted in a conviction, but the Department of Justice is blocking the remaining cases from going forward by delaying the decision whether or not to participate in these cases. Hurricane Katrina has opened up an even bigger can of worms, with a reported 785 cases of criminal activity, including procurement fraud and abuse, currently under investigation.


CHENEY AND HALLIBURTON'S IRAQ OIL CONTRACT

In 2004, Judicial Watch had uncovered a March 5, 2003 e-mail from an Army Corps of Engineers official in Kuwait reporting that then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and Undersecretary for Policy Doug Feith has approved execution of Halliburton's RIO contract; that Feith has approved it contingent on informing the White House, and that, "We anticipate no issue, since action has been coordinated with VP's office." E-mails in the latest release suggest that Corps of Engineers officials lied about the involvement of Cheney's office after the contract became public.

On April 22, 2003, CBS's "60 Minutes" taped an interview with Robert Anderson, chief counsel of the Army Corps of Engineers, in which he was askd repeatedly about the role of Cheney in the awarding of the RIO contract to Halliburton. Carol Sanders, who was the chief of public affairs at Corps headquarters, reported in an e-mail the next day to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, that Anderson "asked that we get a note to the Office of the Vice President that during the 60 Minutes interviews, he was asked several times about the connection to the Vice President and he kept reiterating that the decision was made clear by career civil servants." The assistant secretary (whose name is redacted in the documents) replied that he had forwarded Sanders' message to Dana Perino, a White House official who then forwarded it to Jennifer Millerwise, Cheney's press secretary.

The Waxman report, in fact, documents numerous cases in which decisions by career contracting officials were overridden by political appointees. In the case of the RIO contract, a Defense Department official in Feith's office by the name of Michael Mobbs (who also was associated with policy on the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba), decided in November of 2002, that Halliburton should be awarded a task order---a decision made after consulting with Cheney's then-chief-of-staff Lewis Libby. That task order gave Halliburton the inside track on getting the RIO contract when that was awarded in February 2003. A career attorney with the Army Material Command objected to the task order because it was outside the scope of the logistics contract. Mobbs overruled the attorney, but the Government Accountability Office later found that the lawyer's position was correct and that the work "should have been awarded using competitive procedures."

Nor was the Army lawyer the only official steamrollered on the way to giving Halliburton the RIO contract. Bunnatine Greenhouse, the chief contracting official at the Army Corps of Engineers also objected numerous times, because of the contract's five-year duration, the magnitude of changes Hallburton proposed to the contract, and her observation that the line between Halliburton and government officials had "become so blurred that a perception of a conflict of interest existed." Greenhouse was not only overruled, she was removed from her position and reassigned to a lower-level position with no contracting responsibilities.


Source of Information: Executive Intelligence Review
By: Carl Osgood
July 2006

TOYING WITH TERROR ALERTS?




In the Bush era, the timing and quality of "arrests" and "warnings" have a suspicious ring.

By: Jashua Micah Marshall
TIME.com
July 13, 2006

In these perilous days, we must be ready to think the unthinkable. No, I don't mean the possibility of a catastrophic terrorist attack. After 9/11, that's all too easy to imagine. No, I'm talking about a thought that even now seldom forces its way into respectable conversation: the quite reasonable suspicion that the Bush Administration orchestrates its terror alerts and arrest to goose the GOP's poll numbers.

Now, I'm a respectable columnist. I don't want to draw rolled eyes. But think about it.

The 18 months prior to the 2004 presidential election witnessed a barrage of those ridiculous color-coded terror alerts, quashed-plot headlines and breathless press conferences from Administration officials. Warnings of terror attacks over the Christmas 2003 holidays, warnings over summer terror ttacks at the 2004 political conventions, then a whole slew of warnings of terror attacks to disrupt the election itself. Even the timing of the alerts seemed to fall with old regularity right on the heels of major political events. One of Department of Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge's terror warnings came two days after John Kerry picked John Edwards as his running mate; another came three days after the end of the Democratic convention.

So it went right through the 2004 election. And then not long after the champagne corks stopped popping at Bush campaign headquarters, terror alerts seemed to go out of style. The color codes became yesterday's news. With the exception of one warning about mass-transit facilities in response to the London bombing on July 7, 2005, that was pretty much it until this summer. I live in lower Manhattan and my wife works in a building overlooking Ground Zero. So I want to know when something's really up and not worry that I'm getting bamboozled to amp the President's approval rating.

Can I prove any of this was politically motivated? Of course not. But that's the magic of the terror-alert song and dance. There's no way to know. All the key facts are veiled in secrecy, as they must be. So it's impossible to know from the outside whether it's on the level or not. But with another election looming, it seems we're about to get a bunch of new chances to wonder.

On June 23, cable-news channels went gonzo over a raid on a homegrown terror cell in Miami that foiled an alleged plot to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower. General Alberto Gonzalez held a press conference to announce the arrests. Even Vice President Dick Cheney weighed in and called the group a "very real threat." He did so at political fundraiser.

***Whenever Cheney comes out about anything, you practically know that it's a lie! Besides, it was Karl Rove who said that they were going to run their 2006 election on national security. The thing that this administration is the worst at. This administration puts up a good front, but let's face it, 9/11 happened on their watch!

But as often is the case in these announcements, it turned out to be a lot less than advertised, unless you were a writer for Saturday Night Live. When the FBI raided the abandoned warehouse where the group hung out in Miami's impoverished Liberty City neighborhood, they found no weapons, no money and no evidence of ties to any terrorist group anywhere. Indeed, these would-be jihadis were so early in their planning for jihad that they hadn't yet set aside time to become Muslim. The group, according to a follow-up report from Reuters, "mixes Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Freemasonry, Gnosticism and Taoism." Their covert methods included taking turns guarding the abandoned warehouse (which served as their clubhouse) wearing black uniforms, ski masks and combat boots in the hot Florida summer. Their leader, Narseal Batiste, roamed the streets in a bathrobe with a crooked wooden staff recruiting men to join his group. The oath of allegiance to al-Qaeda they allegedly made to an FBI informant seems as likely as not to have been prompted by the informants' offer of new pairs of boots for the gang. Shoes were apparently in short supply.

You don't need to be a Muslim or even that bright a bulb to create deadly mayhem. Richard Reid, the would-be shoe bomber, was a klutz, but one who might have downed an airliner en route to the U.S. in the days after 9/11. But the Miami warehouse cult that gave Cheney the willies seemed like they'd have trouble finding a Sears let alone blowing up the Sears Tower.

Two weeks later there was another report of a foiled plot, this one a far more serious-sounding scheme to blow up the Holland Tunnel, which connects New Jersey to Manhattan. Sensing their credibility might be running thin, FBI officials as well as members of media started referring to these plotters as the "real deal" plotters, presumably to distinguish them from whack jobs in Miami. These guys too, it turned out, hadn't done much more than talk in an Internet chat room about blowing something up. And their plan to flood downtown New York City with sea water from a demolished tunnel would have been complicated a bit by the fact that, unlike New Orleans, Manhattan is well above sea level.

The "tell" in this case was the date. The FBI got wind of this plot last summer and arrests were made back in April. So why did we hear about them on July 7, the anniversary of the London bombings? I believe the question answers itself. The story was leaked to pump up the anniversary of the London subway bombings on July 7, 2005, and remind people that if it could happen in London it could happen here. The dozens if not hundreds of law enforcement folks who worked on thwarting this embryonic plot were not part of some political scheme. BUT WHOEVER CHOSE JULY 7 TO LEAK THE STORY CLEARLY WAS.

WITH THE MID-TERM ELECTION LESS THAN FOUR MONTHS AWAY, FOR SOME PEOPLE, THAT'S A HELPFUL MESSAGE.