“The U.S. House of Representatives will forge ahead with a vote on blocking an Arab-owned company from managing U.S. ports, to ensure the firm sheds its U.S. holdings as promised, a leadership spokesman said on Friday.”
President Bush’s domestic policy advisor, Claude A. Allen, has resigned to spend more time with his family, the White House said.
The Target Loss Prevention Manger contacted Montgomery County Police and through the police investigation it was learned that Allen had been receiving refunds in an amount exceeding $5,000 during last year. Some of the fraudulent returns were made at Target stores and some at Hecht’s stores. He would buy items, take them out to his car, and return to the store with the receipt. He would select the same items he had just purchased, and then return them for a refund. Allen is known to have conducted approximately 25 of these types of refunds, having the money credited to his credit cards.
Throughout 2005 he obtained refunds for items ranging from clothing, a Bose theater system, stereo equipment, and photo printer to items valued only at $2.50.
If we can’t trust the White House to tell us the truth about a simple personnel matter, how can we trust anything they tell us about more substantive issues.
UPDATE: Allen had the highest salary of any employee in the White House, tied with Karl Rove, Andrew Card, and Stephen Hadley, among others. He was earning $161,000 a year.
UPDATE II: Atrios debunks one early right-wing talking point that Allen was some unknown staffer. In fact, he was the top domestic policy adviser and a former Bush Federal Circuit Court nominee. The Washington Post labeled him the embodiment of “conservative values.”
UPDATE III: Read more
Last December, NBC News obtained a 400-page compilation of reports from the Pentagon that revealed the Defense Department was conducting secret surveillance of peaceful war protesters.
Yesterday, in a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) pressed Rumsfeld about the Pentagon’s so-called TALON surveillance program which had conducted the snooping. Maintained by the Counterintelligence Field Agency (CIFA), the TALON database (short for Threat and Local Observation Notice) is a system that was devised in May 2003 by Paul Wolfowitz to collect “raw information” about “suspicious incidents.”
After nearly three months, three pointed letters, and one high-profile hearing, Leahy finally got the answers he was looking for. In a letter addressed to Leahy from Robert Rogalski, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Counterintelligence and Security, the Pentagon admits to improperly collecting information on innocent parties:
Remember this the next time the administration argues for more spying power and says “Just Trust Us.”
“You know, in a sane world, every country would unite against Iran and blow it off the face of the earth. That would be the sane thing to do.”
Percent of Americans who believe the country is on the wrong track.
The Denver Post reports that Interior Secretary Gale Norton will announce her resignation today. The paper notes:
Norton’s tenure was also marked by repeated ethical controversies. Norton cleared her top deputy, former lobbyist J. Steven Griles, after her inspector general said his conduct showed that the department’s ethics system was “a train wreck waiting to happen.” Griles is now under investigation for allegations that he did the bidding of convicted Indian casino lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Norton is still supporting him.
Recall, Norton received $50,000 from Jack Abramoff, and Abramoff also funneled more than $500,000 to one of Norton’s former political aides, Italia Federici, to gain access to her department.
Here’s a photo to remember her by (note Abramoff on the far right):
UPDATE: A copy of Norton’s resignation letter is available here.
Colorado State Rep. Jim Welker (R) blasted an email to his colleagues containing “an essay written by someone else that accused ‘welfare-pampered blacks’ of waiting for the government to save them from Hurricane Katrina.” A excerpt from that essay, written by the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson:
President Bush is not to blame for the rampant immorality of blacks. Had New Orleans’ black community taken action, most would have been out of harm’s way. But most were too lazy, immoral and trifling to do anything productive for themselves.
Welker forwarded the essay “without comment.” Here is his defense:
“Some of my best friends are of different skin color, like Ed Jones,” said Welker, referring to Sen. Jones, a Colorado Springs Republican who is black.
According to Jones, “he and Welker are friends, but not best friends.”
Vice President Dick Cheney, in a speech this week to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee:
Over the past four years, other free nations have risen in the broader Middle East. … Across that region, the political dialogue has been transformed — and politicians, scholars, students, and men and women from every walk of life are talking about freedom, equal rights, and accountable institutions of government. One leader in Lebanon said: “When I saw the Iraqi people voting, it was the start of a new Arab world…The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it.”
The “leader in Lebanon” whose analysis Cheney apparently trusts is Walid Jumblatt, a racist anti-Semite who has celebrated the deaths of U.S. soldiers and referred to Condoleezza Rice as “oil-colored.” A few of Jumblatt’s low lights:
– “We are all happy when U.S. soldiers are killed [in Iraq] week in and week out. The killing of U.S. soldiers in Iraq is legitimate and obligatory.” [Link]
– “The oil axis is present in most of the U.S. administration, beginning with its president, vice-president and top advisers, including (Condoleezza) Rice, who is oil-colored, while the axis of Jews is present with Paul Wolfowitz, the leading hawk who is inciting (America) to occupy and destroy Iraq.” [Link]
– “In November 2003, the United States revoked Jumblatt’s diplomatic visa for wishing out loud that Wolfowitz had been killed in a Baghdad rocket attack.” [Link]
So why did Cheney quote Jumblatt? Maybe because they’re the only two who believe that reform in Lebanon was inspired by the Iraq war: “‘I’ve never heard it from anybody except Walid Jumblatt,’ laughs Jamil Mroue, editor-in-chief of Beirut’s Daily Star newspaper.”
ABC News reports that beginning in “early 2002, al Qaeda quickly switched to hiding its online operations within more legitimate bulletin boards and Internet sites offering free upload services or connecting through such popular social network sites as Orkut and MySpace.”