The “shadowy networks” behind the recent massive immigration rallies revealed.
Today the LA Times reveals that Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL) dispensed political favors to Tom DeLay’s allies in return for political contributions.
In late 2003, Weldon earmarked $1.55 million in a federal appropriations bill for the Labor Department to fund a program for small businesses. The money was then awarded to the Florida Institute of Technology, who not coincidentally hired a company called Map Roi. Florida Tech’s Apr. 2004 press release read, “U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon was instrumental in bringing Map Roi to Florida Tech.”
Weldon’s earmark was a political favor for DeLay’s former aide, Ed Buckham. His lobbying firm, the Alexander Strategy Group represented Map Roi and held 500,000 shares of Map Roi stock.
What the LA Times article leaves out is how closely Buckham and Christopher Stahl, Map Roi’s CEO, were working to influence Weldon:
All of these donations came shortly before or after Weldon earmarked the $1.55 million for Map Roi. Also not surprisingly, Buckham and the Alexander Strategy Group first acquired Map Roi as a client with the help of Jack Abramoff.
CNN is reporting that a fifth retired general is calling for Rumsfeld’s resignation.
“I really believe that we need a new secretary of defense because Secretary Rumsfeld carries way too much baggage with him. … Specifically, I feel he has micromanaged the generals who are leading our forces there,” said retired Maj. Gen. Charles Swannack, former commander of the 82nd Airborne Division.
Actually, this may be the sixth general. Generals Newbold, Eaton, Zinni, and Batiste have gained prominent attention in calling for Rumsfeld’s resignation. But another less-noticed general, Ret. Army Gen. John Riggs, told the Washington Post recently:
[Riggs] believes that his peer group is “a pretty closemouthed bunch” but that, even so, his sense is “everyone pretty much thinks Rumsfeld and the bunch around him should be cleared out.”
Given the inability of Bush to do what needs to be done, it’s time to revisit one of “Rumsfeld’s Rules” pertaining to presidential staff:
Be able to resign. It will improve your value to the President and do wonders for your performance.
The debate over the estate tax has started to kick into high gear. In an effort to boost their dwindling political fortunes, Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and his allies may force a vote on the estate tax next month in the hope they can return to an issue that played to their strengths with the public.
Groups on the right are already mobilizing, but some new polling seriously calls into question conservatives’ conventional wisdom that regular Americans can’t wait for the government to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to shield the wealth of a fraction of our wealthiest estates.
What do the new numbers show?
- A stunning shift against repeal since Katrina: Unlike older polling showing the public would only turn against repeal after they learned about its ramifications, the new polling shows that just 23% of the public supports repeal based on what they already know.
- Estate tax repeal is America’s LOWEST priority on tax issues. When asked what tax reforms Congress should consider, shielding the very wealthiest estates is most often ranked “not a priority” by every group””men, women, independents, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike.
- When forced to choose between estate tax repeal and basically ANY issue, the public always opposes repeal: Deficit reduction, veterans care, a better Medicare drug benefit, education, rainy day savings, all beat repeal by a two (and sometimes three) to one margin.
Why is support for repeal so weak? One reason: almost no one actually pays the tax. The new poll drew heavily from states whose Senators were key votes on the issue, like Ohio and Maine. In these two states, 99.9% of estates wouldn’t pay even a penny in taxes under reasonable reform, and only one in every one thousand families would stand to gain from repeal.
– Josh Lynn
Yesterday, Scott McClellan was asked when senior administration officials became aware of a Pentagon report which found that trailers in Iraq “had nothing to do with biological weapons.” McClellan said he was “looking into it.”
He was asked again today — and still didn’t have an answer. To dodge the question, McClellan changed the subject. He talked about how the Defense Department processes information. But that is not the issue. The issue is when top administration officials became aware of the Pentagon field report. Today’s transcript:
QUESTION: When did the administration become aware of the Pentagon report that talks about mobile trailers?
MCCLELLAN: The only update I have on that matter is what the Pentagon said yesterday.
The Pentagon put out a statement and talked about how that was a preliminary report from a DIA — would mean Defense Intelligence Agency — sponsored technical exploitation team. And that information was sent to the DIA. And then they said that the CIA-DIA joint white paper that was released publicly on May 28th reflected the position of the intelligence community at the time, and that the findings that you’re bringing up were vetted with other intelligence analysts during the summer of 2003.
So that’s a statement from the Pentagon, and that’s the only update I have at this point.
If in the summer and fall of 2003, Cheney and others had simply said that the purpose of labs was still being determined, there would be no problem. The problem is that they made unequivocal statements that the trailers were equipped to produce biological weapons when, in all likelihood, they knew experts had serious doubts.
The cockpit recording from United Flight 93 was released yesterday. David Corn: “All of us who work on Capitol Hill — in the Capitol or not — owe these passengers our profound gratitude. Having heard about the attacks in New York, they decided to take action. They probably realized that the lives were already lost, but they would go out fighting — to save others .”
In January, Rep. Jeb Bradley (R-NH) traveled to Iraq with five other members of Congress. Upon his return, he described his experiences there in an editorial for the Manchester Union Leader — “Despite Difficulties, We are Making Steady Progress in Iraq” — in which he repeated the conservative talking point that the media is too negative in its reporting on Iraq:
One common complaint, though, is that Americans at home get too little news about the progress being made. These troops are concerned that the terror campaign and the media’s predominant focus on suicide bombs and IED attacks will do precisely what the terrorists want: undermine our nation’s confidence and resolve.
Here’s what didn’t make it into his op-ed. From today’s Boston Globe:
Rep. Jeb Bradley, R- N.H., and several other congressmen had a close call during a visit to Iraq this winter.
Word is just coming out that the military plane carrying the group had to dodge a shoulder-fired missile as it flew from Baghdad to Kuwait City in January.
Bradley told the New Hampshire Union Leader that shortly after takeoff from Baghdad, “the crew started taking evasive measures. They started swerving and diving the plane and sent off flares that distracted the missile.”
The C-130 was carrying Bradley, five other congressmen and four military officials.
Bradley said he kept the incident quiet because he wanted any news from his visit to focus on the troops. “The story was about them, not us,” he said.
That’s exactly the point. The story is about the troops. But their real problem is not slanted media reports, it’s the extraordinary dangers they face every day.
“I think to further comment on it would be complete speculation, but I would say that a military strike against Iran, a military option, is not a viable, feasible, responsible option,” he added. …
“I believe a political settlement will be the answer. Not a military settlement. All these issues will require a political settlement,” Hagel said.
Stating that no good military options exist doesn’t mean the U.S. should take the military option off the table. What it means is that the U.S. needs to get off the sidelines and engage Iran directly, as Hagel has urged in the past:
Iran is a regional power; it has major influence in Iraq and throughout the Gulf region. Its support of terrorist organizations and the threat it poses to Israel is all the more reason that the U.S. must engage Iran. Any lasting solution to Iran’s nuclear weapons program will also require the United States’ direct discussions with Iran. The United States is capable of engaging Iran in direct dialogue without sacrificing any of its interests or objectives.
“No one knows more about the budget. And I’d like to see the administration show some support for DeLay.”
Yesterday the Washington Post revealed that a Pentagon field report transmitted to Washington on May 27, 2003 stated that trailers found in Iraq “had nothing to do with biological weapons.” Nevertheless, top administration officials continued to claim for months that the trailers were evidence that weapons of mass destruction had been found.
The key question is: when did senior administration officials become aware of the Pentagon field report? (Yesterday, Scott McClellan said he was “looking into it.”)
The answer appears to be no later than early June. On June 7-8 prominent reports appeared in U.S. and British papers about the analysis. If top administration officials were not aware of the Pentagon report prior to these stories, it seems certain they were afterwards.
From the New York Times, A1, 6/7/03:
American and British intelligence analysts with direct access to the evidence are disputing claims that the mysterious trailers found in Iraq were for making deadly germs. In interviews over the last week, they said the mobile units were more likely intended for other purposes and charged that the evaluation process had been damaged by a rush to judgment.
From the Guardian, 6/8/03:
The intelligence agency MI6, British defence officers and technical experts from the Porton Down microbiological research establishment have been ordered to conduct an urgent review of the mobile facilities, following US analysis which casts serious doubt on whether they really are germ labs.
The British review comes amid widespread doubts expressed by scientists on both sides of the Atlantic that the trucks could have been used to make biological weapons.
Nevertheless, Vice President Cheney continued to make definitive statements about the nature of the trailers. Appearing on Meet the Press on 9/14/03, three months after the news reports, Cheney said, “We’ve, since the war, found two of them. They’re in our possession today, mobile biological facilities that can be used to produce anthrax or smallpox or whatever else you wanted to use during the course of developing the capacity for an attack.”
(HT: Progressive Wolf)