Media Refuses to Print Congress Members Op-Ed

Hijacked in its entirety from Stephen D's diaries at the Booman Tribune:
Three members of Congress, all Democrats, all members of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote an op-ed and submitted it to various major national newspapers, including The New York Times and The Washington Post. Everyone turned them down, despite the fact that the issue which their op-ed addresses is one currently before the Judiciary Committee and is of great interest to millions of Americans. Why? Perhaps it had something to do with the subject matter: Impeachment Hearings.

The authors of the op-ed are Robert Wexler (D-FL), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). Rather than give up on seeing their argument for proceeding with impeachment hearings meet the same fate as a tree falling in a forest when no one is there to witness its demise, they have decided to publish the op-ed online and seek netroots support in the form of a petition to Congress. Go to this link hosted by Rep. Wexler's website to sign their petition.

Now, in it's entirety, here is the op-ed The New York Times and The Washington Post, among others, didn't think worthy of publishing, thus depriving their readers of the opportunity to hear from the major Congressional proponents for impeachment hearings against Vice President Cheney:


By Representatives and Members of the Judiciary Committee:

Robert Wexler (D-FL), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)

On November 7, the House of Representatives voted to send a resolution of impeachment of Vice President Cheney to the Judiciary Committee. As Members of the House Judiciary Committee, we strongly believe these important hearings should begin.

The issues at hand are too serious to ignore, including credible allegations of abuse of power that if proven may well constitute high crimes and misdemeanors under our constitution. The charges against Vice President Cheney relate to his deceptive actions leading up to the Iraq war, the revelation of the identity of a covert agent for political retaliation, and the illegal wiretapping of American citizens.

Now that former White House press secretary Scott McClellan has indicated that the Vice President and his staff purposefully gave him false information about the outing of Valerie Plame Wilson as a covert agent to report to the American people, it is even more important for Congress to investigate what may have been an intentional obstruction of justice. Congress should call Mr. McClellan to testify about what he described as being asked to “unknowingly [pass] along false information.” In addition, recent revelations have shown that the Administration including Vice President Cheney may have again manipulated and exaggerated evidence about weapons of mass destruction -- this time about Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

Some of us were in Congress during the impeachment hearings of President Clinton. We spent a year and a half listening to testimony about President Clinton’s personal relations. This must not be the model for impeachment inquires. A Democratic Congress can show that it takes its constitutional authority seriously and hold a sober investigation, which will stand in stark contrast to the kangaroo court convened by Republicans for President Clinton. In fact, the worst legacy of the Clinton impeachment – where the GOP pursued trumped up and insignificant allegations - would be that it discourages future Congresses from examining credible and significant allegations of a constitutional nature when they arise.

The charges against Vice President Cheney are not personal. They go to the core of the actions of this Administration, and deserve consideration in a way the Clinton scandal never did. The American people understand this, and a majority support hearings according to a November 13 poll by the American Research Group. In fact, 70% of voters say that Vice President Cheney has abused his powers and 43% say that he should be removed from office right now. The American people understand the magnitude of what has been done and what is at stake if we fail to act. It is time for Congress to catch up.

Some people argue that the Judiciary Committee can not proceed with impeachment hearings because it would distract Congress from passing important legislative initiatives. We disagree. First, hearings need not tie up Congress for a year and shut down the nation. Second, hearings will not prevent Congress from completing its other business. These hearings involve the possible impeachment of the Vice President – not our commander in chief – and the resulting impact on the nation’s business and attention would be significantly less than the Clinton Presidential impeachment hearings. Also, despite the fact that President Bush has thwarted moderate Democratic policies that are supported by a vast majority of Americans -- including children’s health care, stem cell research, and bringing our troops home from Iraq -- the Democratic Congress has already managed to deliver a minimum wage hike, an energy bill to address the climate crisis and bring us closer to energy independence, assistance for college tuition, and other legislative successes. We can continue to deliver on more of our agenda in the coming year while simultaneously fulfilling our constitutional duty by investigating and publicly revealing whether or not Vice President Cheney has committed high crimes and misdemeanors.

Holding hearings would put the evidence on the table, and the evidence – not politics – should determine the outcome. Even if the hearings do not lead to removal from office, putting these grievous abuses on the record is important for the sake of history. For an Administration that has consistently skirted the constitution and asserted that it is above the law, it is imperative for Congress to make clear that we do not accept this dangerous precedent. Our Founding Fathers provided Congress the power of impeachment for just this reason, and we must now at least consider using it.

Here is the video Rep. Wexler posted at his website and on YouTube regarding impeachment:

[update] As of 10:43 AM today (Sunday) Wexler has amassed more than the 50,000 signatures he was looking for:

Go on over and add your name, if you haven't already?


What will 32 Million buy you in Iraq?

Absolutely nothing:
The U.S. military paid a Florida company nearly $32 million to build barracks and offices for Iraqi army units even though nothing was ever built, Pentagon investigators reported.

The project had to be abandoned because the Iraqi Defense Ministry couldn't obtain rights to the land where the headquarters were to be built, according to a report released this month by the Defense Department's Office of Inspector General. Contracting records show the buildings would have housed one brigade and three battalions of the Iraqi military in Ramadi, a hotbed of the Sunni Muslim insurgency and capital of Anbar province.

Still, the Air Force agency overseeing the project paid contractor Ellis Environmental Group $31.9 million of the $34.2 million obligated for the project, the report said.

How many kids could have been added to SCHIP with that kind of money?

And does John Ellis Bush (JEB) have any ties to the contractor in question?

Anyway... That company has done a lot of business with the military over the years:
Companies with federal contracts located in this zip code (NEWBERRY, FL):

* ELLIS ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP, LC (414 SW 140TH TERRACE; small business): $122,166,659 in 581 contracts from 1999 to 2006

Contracts for Maintenance, Repair or Alteration of Real Property -- Family Housing Facilities, Maintenance, Repair or Alteration of Real Property -- Other Administrative Facilities and Service Buildings, Maintenance, Repair or Alteration of Real Property -- Maintenance Buildings, Maintenance, Repair or Alteration of Real Property -- Office Buildings, and more by Army, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - civil program financing only, Air Force, Navy, and others Signed by year: 2000: $9,835,797; 2001: $13,662,347; 2002: $19,509,481; 2003: $15,617,861; 2004: $33,553,061; 2005: $28,096,520; 2006: $1,298,719.

Biggest contracts:
$6,000,000 with Army for Maintenance, Repair or Alteration of Real Property -- Family Housing Facilities. Signed on 2004-11-06. Completion date: 2005-04-29.
$6,000,000 with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - civil program financing only for Maintenance, Repair or Alteration of Real Property -- Family Housing Facilities. Signed on 2004-11-06. Completion date: 2005-04-29. $3,613,450 with Air Force for Maintenance, Repair or Alteration of Real Property -- Other Administrative Facilities and Service Buildings. Taking place in AL. Signed on 2005-09-27. Completion date: 2007-05-10. $3,500,000 with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - civil program financing only for Maintenance, Repair or Alteration of Real Property -- Family Housing Facilities. Signed on 2004-10-20. Completion date: 2005-04-29.

For a company with all of that money from these contracts it is mighty odd that their web site is a blank now...

But the wayback machine gives us some info on the real Billions in contracts:

APRIL 13, 2006
Ellis Environmental Group, LC (EEG) based in Jonesville, Florida announced today they have been awarded a new Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract called HERC (Heavy Engineering Repair and Construction). This is a worldwide contract with the Air Force Center for Environmental Excellence (AFCEE). The contract was awarded to 20 firms, and can be worth up to $15 billion over an 8 year ordering period. This contract is the largest won by EEG and eclipses the $4 billion contract awarded to the firm by the United States Air Force two years ago. The company plans to administer the contract from its corporate headquarters in Jonesville. “This contract will most certainly create more jobs for our community” stated Dena D. Marriott, EEG’s public relations manager and human resources director. The company was founded in 1995 and is owned by Rusi B. Charna, Jeffrey P. Bleke (formerly with Environmental Science and Engineering), and James E. Bleke. For further information, EEG can be contacted at 352.332.3888.
Rusi B. Charna, CEO
Jeffrey P. Bleke, President
James E. Bleke, Executive Vice President
Dena D. Marriott, Company Spokesperson

As for who really owns the company?

Top 500 Diversity Owned Businesses in the U.S. -- 2001

Ellis Environmetnal Group, LC
Newberry, FL www.ellisenv.com
Subcontinent Asian American

Your guess is as good as mine...

Soldiers in 1-26 stage a ‘mutiny’

Via the Army Times, a platoon gets about as minimum a punishment as you can get for mutiny:
‘Not us. We’re not going.’
Soldiers in 2nd Platoon, Charlie 1-26 stage a ‘mutiny’ that pulls the unit apart.

For all his dark humor, the “Hero of Burger King,” as fellow soldiers teasingly called him, was deeply rattled by the carnage of the explosion at the fast-food court. At Apache, he expected trouble. But not at Burger King.

“That affected me,” he said. For the next few days, he said, he slept in the open-ended concrete bunkers positioned between the housing units.

It was just another bad day to add to many — and DeNardi’s platoon had already faced misery that seemed unbearable. When five soldiers with 2nd Platoon were trapped June 21 after a deep-buried roadside bomb flipped their Bradley upside-down, several men rushed to save the gunner, Spc. Daniel Agami, pinned beneath the 30-ton vehicle. But they could only watch — and listen to him scream — as he burned alive. The Bradley was far too heavy to lift, and the flames were too high to even get close. The four others died inside the vehicle. Second Platoon already had lost four of its 45 men since deploying to Adhamiya 11 months before. June 21 shattered them.

Though their commanders moved them from the combat outpost to safer quarters, members of 2nd Platoon would stage a revolt they viewed as a life-or-death act of defiance. With all they had done and all they had seen, they now were consumed with an anger that ate at the memory of the good men they were when they arrived in Iraq.


“A scheduled patrol is a direct order from me,” Strickland said.

“‘They’re not coming,’” Strickland said he was told. “So I called the platoon sergeant and talked to him. ‘Remind your guys: These are some of the things that could happen if they refuse to go out.’ I was irritated they were thumbing their noses. I was determined to get them down there.”

But, he said, he didn’t know the whole platoon, except for Ybay, had taken sleeping medications prescribed by mental health that day, according to Ybay.

Strickland didn’t know mental health leaders had talked to 2nd Platoon about “doing the right thing.”

He didn’t know 2nd Platoon had gathered for a meeting and determined they could no longer function professionally in Adhamiya — that several platoon members were afraid their anger could set loose a massacre.

“We said, ‘No.’ If you make us go there, we’re going to light up everything,” DeNardi said. “There’s a thousand platoons. Not us. We’re not going.”

They decided as a platoon that they were done, DeNardi and Cardenas said, as did several other members of 2nd Platoon. At mental health, guys had told the therapist, “I’m going to murder someone.” And the therapist said, “There comes a time when you have to stand up,” 2nd Platoon members remembered. For the sake of not going to jail, the platoon decided they had to be “unplugged.”

Ybay had gone to battalion to speak up for his guys and ask for more time. But when he came back, it was with orders to report to Old Mod.

Ybay said he tried to persuade his men to go out, but he could see they were not ready.

“It was like a scab that wouldn’t heal up,” Ybay said. “I couldn’t force them to go out. Listening to them in the mental health session, I could hear they’re not ready.”

At 2 a.m, Ybay said, he’d found his men sitting outside smoking cigarettes. They could not sleep. Some of them were taking as many as 10 sleeping pills and still could not rest. The images of their dead friends haunted them. The need for revenge ravaged them.

They are alive because they refused their orders. Other soldiers that pulled the patrol are dead. A First Sargent in another company says he can't take it anymore and blows his head off in front of some of his soldiers.

I hope your having fun shopping for your government sanctioned Christmas... With everything else going on in this country and around the world, that is what is really important, right?


Christian War on Chanukah

Eight men and two women are charged with assault, menacing and other mean 'n nasty things... In their unholy war on Chanukah, they may even have the charges upped to hate crimes:
The altercation erupted when Adler and his friends said "Happy Chanukah" to a group yelling "Merry Christmas" on the Brooklyn-bound train.

The 20-year-old Askari said he tried to fight off the 10 attackers, giving Adler a chance to summon police by pulling an emergency brake.


"That a random Muslim kid helped some Jewish kids, that's what's positive about New York," said Adler, 23, who suffered a broken nose and a lip wound.

Some Christians can be the most hateful and despicable people on the face of the earth. Well? At least the fake ones that dishonestly claim America should be some kind of theocratic/fascist bastion of hypocrisy, going against the true meanings of the documents drawn up by The Founding Fathers.

Walter Adler called Hassan Askari a hero for stepping up. I say that he is a true Patriot AND a hero. The New York Post has more on this:
Walter Adler was touched that Hassan Askari jumped to his aid while a group of thugs allegedly pummeled and taunted him and his three friends. So Adler has invited his new friend over to celebrate the Festival of Lights.

The two new pals - Adler, 23, with a broken nose and a fat lip, and Askari, 20, with two black eyes - broke bread together and laughed off the bruises the night after the fisticuffs.

"A random Muslim guy jumped in and helped a Jewish guy on Hanukkah - that's a miracle," said Adler, an honors student at Hunter College.

"He's basically a hero. Hassan jumped in to help us."

The New York Post also has some video up on this story.


Hate Crimes in Connecticut?

As Connecticut's left, and particularly ctbblogger at HatCityBlog, celebrates the downfall of one idiotic bigot known as the Big Turd, there is a possibility of hate crime charges being not too far off on the horizon against members of a group known as “K Nation” in Plainfield, Connecticut:
Phyllisha Williams of Moosup crys Wednesday, November 14, 2007 while recounting the alleged racial slurs and beating of her son, Nashawn Williams, a sophomore at Plainfield High School during a press conference at the Plainfield Police station. Behind her is Scot X. Esdaile, Connecticut State Comference of NAACP Branches president.
In a prepared statement, Plainfield Police Chief Robert J. Hoffman said his department is conducting the alleged assault investigation properly, and rejected any assertion the department acted unprofessionally.

"At no time has the victim's family, or anyone representing the victim, contacted the police department to complain of inadequate service," Hoffman wrote. "Had the department been made aware of Williams' concerns, the matter would have been investigated despite the lack of a written complaint."

Hoffman said the department is close to finishing final interviews associated with the alleged assault. In addition to assault, he said suspects could be charged with hate-related crimes.

It has been almost a month since that November 15th Norwich Bulletin report on the group of white men that allegedly beat up Nashawn Williams, a 10th grader, while he was waiting for his school bus. This followed on the heels of events where Williams had been taunted with racial slurs at school, of which the Superintendent at Nashawn's school confirmed in the report, and threats of violence to their family at their home.

Undercurrents has more on the situation and some things to do about this:
Connecticut legislators, Attorney General, Governor, State Police and on and on are SAYING NOTHING about the blatant racist attack against Nashawn Williams in Plainfield. The Plainfield police are simply dismissing the racist attack on Nashawn as a prank. Instead over the last week it has become glaringly clear that the victim and the family are becoming the targets of a Racist system of InJustice in Plainfield and Connecticut! I wonder if they were rich white folks in Plainfield if the deafening police and government silence would be the same? Don’t let Jena come to Plainfield! The System refuses to take a stand against Racism and so it is the PEOPLE’s VOICE THAT MUST BE HEARD. It is imperative that you add your voice and join us this Saturday, December 15th at the Plainfield Town Hall at 12:30 PM to stand behind Nashawn and his Family saying that we will not tolerate Racism in Connecticut.

Correction there, Chief Hoffman. If you have already said that there may be charges of hate crimes, then there are likely a few VIOLENT idiotic BIGOTS running around... And almost two months later they are still running around.


Why Some Democrats Refuse to Investigate for Impeachment - Part Deux

Just a rehash on the torture enabling situation. The other day I posted one of the main reasons why Dems continue to refuse to investigate and act on Impeachment:

Because some of the investigations would inevitably lead right back to some of their own members having been complicit in criminal actions:
It seems as if the "four" congressional leaders Harman refers to as knowing about the tapes were the chairs and ranking members of the intelligence committees: Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Rep. Porter Goss (R-FL), and Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA). Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) took Goss' spot as chairman of the House intelligence committee that year when Goss became CIA director. Hoekstra told the AP that he didn't know a thing about either the tapes or their destruction. I'm calling Harman to ask her for her letter to the CIA about the tapes, and will bring it to you if and when I have it.

But the bottom line here is that at least some Congressional leaders knew something about the tapes and something about their destruction, and didn't say anything about either. Harman's silence is especially stunning: she co-chaired a joint Congressional inquiry into the 9/11 attacks in 2002 that didn't receive that very pertinent information. Why did she remain quiet about potentially criminal behavior? Marty Lederman has some thoughts here:
Jay Rockefeller is constantly learning of legally dubious (at best) CIA intelligence activities, and then saying nothing about them publicly until they are leaked to the press, at which point he expresses outrage and incredulity -- but reveals nothing. Really, isn't it about time the Democrats select an effective Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, one who will treat this scandal with the seriousness it deserves, and who will shed much-needed light on the CIA program of torture, cruel treatment and obstruction of evidence? ...

Jane Harman also knew of the intention to destroy the tapes, and she at least "urged" the CIA in writing not to do it. (Where were her colleagues?) But when she found out the CIA had destroyed the tapes, where was Harman's press conference? Where were the congressional hearings?

You are either with bush OR you are against him. If you enable the bush administration to cover up their crimes, you become part of the criminal conspiracy.
Glen Greenwald offers some further observations into this reality:
I continue to be amazed and disturbed by the number of people willing to defend the actions of Rockefeller and his comrades by claiming that these poor, victimized Congressional members just have no ability to do anything when they learn about outright lawbreaking by the administration. As I asked yesterday, why would they even bother to attend briefings if they believed that they were "powerless" to act even upon learning of serious illegalities? Here is the central purpose of the Select Committee on Intelligence -- the primary reason it exists, as stated by the resolution which created the Committee:
It is further the purpose of this resolution to provide vigilant legislative oversight over the intelligence activities of the United States to assure that such activities are in conformity with the Constitution and laws of the United States.
The Intelligence Committees were created as a response to the discovery in the 1970s of illegal conduct by the CIA and other intelligence agencies. The core function is to monitor what the intelligence community does and to "assure that such activities" are legal. It is a complete travesty for the senior Democrats on those Committees (and their apologists) to claim that they are powerless to act when learning of lawbreaking. Anyone who thinks that way should not be on the Committee. The idea that they can't do anything once learning of lawbreaking is the very opposite of the Committee's core purpose. But, of course, they were not and are not powerless to act. They simply chose not to act.

In addition to the other mechanisms for action identified here and elsewhere thus far that are available to Senators who learn of patently illegal behavior in a classified setting, key members of the Intelligence Committee could also refuse to cooperate in the enactment of legislation, block nominees, and otherwise thwart the administration's needs until there is some resolution. Such Senators could hold closed door hearings or announce publicly that they have learned of serious lawbreaking by the CIA (without specifying what the lawbreaking is) and demand that the administration agree to a classified setting to resolve those concerns (such as appointing a special counsel with security clearances or empowering a court able to investigate and adjudicate highly classified matters).

But they did none of that. They did the opposite: they continued to cooperate meekly with the administration, pass all of their demanded legislation, and keep quiet. Even for those who say that it's terribly unfair to expect our political leaders to subject themselves to any risk whatsoever in order to put a stop to such gross abuses, they could have acted in ways far short of some sort of melodramatic civil disobedience which would have risked imprisonment (i.e, they would not have had to go as far as actual leaders and patriots who did take risks in order to expose serious governmental wrongdoing).

If someone wants to defend these Democrats' complicit behavior (on the craven ground that what they did was understandable because it was politically wise), then they should make that argument. But nobody should pretend that these Senators and Representatives were "helpless" and had no options for putting a stop to Bush's torture programs and other lawbreaking if they were actually interested in doing so.

Needless to say, if anyone tries to argue that it is politically wise to ignore these crimes... They are no better than the neoconservatives and their GOPeeons that committed the actual crimes.

If there are Democratic party members that feel they are unable to do their jobs according to the responsibilities defined by their positions of power and the oaths they took to uphold The Constitution, up to and including putting impeachment back on the table, then I suggest they find a new line of work. Or, perhaps, prepare for a long visit to a prison with the other criminals they have enabled.

Gang Rape Cover-Up by U.S., Halliburton/KBR?

Is this brutal violence the kind of example the US is setting in Iraq?
A Houston, Texas woman says she was gang-raped by Halliburton/KBR coworkers in Baghdad, and the company and the U.S. government are covering up the incident.

Jamie Leigh Jones, now 22, says that after she was raped by multiple men at a KBR camp in the Green Zone, the company put her under guard in a shipping container with a bed and warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she'd be out of a job.


Jones told ABCNews.com that an examination by Army doctors showed she had been raped "both vaginally and anally," but that the rape kit disappeared after it was handed over to KBR security officers.


Legal experts say Jones' alleged assailants will likely never face a judge and jury, due to an enormous loophole that has effectively left contractors in Iraq beyond the reach of United States law.

Hey... If she had been an Iraqi victim of something like this, likely, they would have just killed her and tossed in an alley somewhere afterwards instead of locking her up in a shipping container. Such are the ethics of contractors mercenaries in Iraq. And two years later we can clearly see how they remain unaccountable by the State Department and other government authorities under the criminal bush administration.

It isn't exactly like contractors mercenaries have a great track record in spreading bush's "Freedumb!"

And it is not like the military has been setting a great example for the contractors mercenaries, either:

As the anniversary of the Iraq invasion approaches, another milestone has quietly passed, leaving a window into the protracted and unimaginable human costs of this war in Iraq and here at home. A year ago, 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Al-Janabi was stalked, gang-raped, shot in the head and her corpse burned in her own home in Mahmoudiya, Iraq. Four U.S. soldiers and one former soldier are charged with the crimes.

The soldiers were so confident of their abilities to achieve their intended crimes that they rounded up the Al-Janabi family from their daily chores in broad daylight. Pfc. Stephen Green allegedly shot Abeer's parents and 5-year-old sister to death in the room next to where she was being raped by Sgt. Paul Cortez. His buddy, Pfc. James Barker held the struggling, crying teenager down while two other soldiers, Pfc. Jesse Spielman and Pfc. Bryan Howard, reportedly stood watch.

All this in the middle of the day under the hot afternoon sun, March 12, 2006.

Such are the unpleasantries of invasion, war and occupation. The medical journal Lancet estimated in 2004 that at least 100,000 Iraqi civilians had been killed, more than half of them women and children. Today, in the absence of accurate figures, that number likely has been far surpassed. To Americans, far from Iraq, these are presented as the sanitized statistics of collateral damage. But the Al-Janabi rape and murders were too well documented to ignore, just as the souvenir photos taken by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison forced Americans to see the torture being committed by their own troops.

[update] Just a minor clarification after re-reading this. I hope that no one took this in any way shape or form as belittling Jones’ situation: These guys that did this should have the book thrown at them if they are guilty. We will never know about that as long as they cover this up. But if Jones had been an Iraqi citizen? No doubt in my mind, she would be dead right now.

Right Wing Moonbat Heads Explode

In the comment threads after watching this:

"In addition to France, Canada, and the UK, Michael Moore also went to Norway. What he found, was unbelievable."

Who would've thought a little trip to Norway could have the therapeutic effect of exposing the hysterical hypocrisy of the GOP talking pointy exploding-heads?