Archive for July 6th, 2006

As we all know by now, Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) announced on the Senate floor that he had evidence that Iraq did indeed have weapons of mass destruction. Quite a shocker, wasn’t it? (At least in right-wing circles.) If true, that means that the Bush administration was right all along, won’t it? And it’ll show up those pesky Democrats, too, who have the gall to be leading the race for the Senator’s own seat in Congress!

We here at 4&20 blackbirds have managed to acquire a copy of a still-classified document that Senator Santorum received from a certain high-ranking Iraqi government official that first alerted the Congressman about the presence of WMD stockpiles in Iraq, and, yes, it was a hard call, but we thought it best to print the letter despite national security concerns, so that the American public could see for itself the validity of Senator Santorum’s find.

See for yourself:

REQUEST FOR URGENT BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP

FIRST, I MUST SOLICIT YOUR STRICTEST CONFIDENCE IN THIS TRANSACTION. THIS IS BY VIRTUE OF ITS NATURE AS BEING UTTERLY CONFIDENTIAL AND ‘TOP SECRET’.

WE ARE TOP OFFICIAL OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CONTRACT REVIEW PANEL WHO ARE EXPORTATING OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION PRESENTLY IN IRAQ. IN ORDER TO COMMENCE THIS BUSINESS WE SOLICIT YOUR ASSISTANCE TO ENABLE US TRANSFER INTO YOUR ACCOUNT THE SAID REVENUE FOR THE WEAPONS, SARIN GAS, NUCLEAR WARHEADS, ETC.

DURING THE LAST MILITARY REGIME HERE IN IRAQ, THE GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS PURCHASED VARIOUS POISON GAS, BIOLOGICAL AND NUCLEAR MATERIAL. THE PRESENT CIVILIAN GOVERNMENT SET UP A CONTRACT REVIEW PANEL AND WE HAVE IDENTIFIED A LOT OF STOCKPILES OF WEAPONS THE GOVERNMENT WISHES TO TRANSFER.

HOWEVER, BY VIRTUE OF OUR POSITION AS CIVIL SERVANTS AND MEMBERS OF THIS PANEL, WE CANNOT SELL THE WEAPONS IN OUR NAMES. I HAVE THEREFORE, BEEN DELEGATED AS A MATTER OF TRUST BY MY COLLEAGUES OF THE PANEL TO LOOK FOR AN OVERSEAS PARTNER INTO WHOSE ACCOUNT WE WOULD TRANSFER VAST SUMS (PRESENTLY US$21,320,000.00 [TWENTY ONE MILLION, THREE HUNDRED AND TWENTY THOUSAND U.S DOLLARS]) . HENCE WE ARE WRITING YOU THIS LETTER. WE HAVE AGREED TO SHARE THE MONEY THUS; 1. 20% FOR THE ACCOUNT OWNER 2. 70% FOR US (THE OFFICIALS) 3. 10% TO BE USED IN SETTLING TAXATION AND ALL LOCAL AND FOREIGN EXPENSES. IT IS FROM THE 70% THAT WE WISH TO COMMENCE THE IMPORTATION BUSINESS.

PLEASE,NOTE THAT THIS TRANSACTION IS 100% SAFE AND WE HOPE TO COMMENCE THE TRANSFER LATEST SEVEN (7) BANKING DAYS FROM THE DATE OF THE RECEIPT OF THE FOLLOWING INFORMATIOM BY TEL/FAX; [XXX-X-XXXXXXX], YOUR COMPANY’S SIGNED, AND STAMPED LETTERHEAD PAPER THE ABOVE INFORMATION WILL ENABLE US WRITE LETTERS OF CLAIM AND JOB DESCRIPTION RESPECTIVELY. THIS WAY WE WILL USE YOUR COMPANY’S NAME TO APPLY FOR PAYMENT AND RE-AWARD THE CONTRACT IN YOUR COMPANY’S NAME.

WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO DOING THIS BUSINESS WITH YOU AND SOLICIT YOUR CONFIDENTIALITY IN THIS TRANSATION. PLEASE ACKNOWLEDGE THE RECEIPT OF THIS LETTER USING THE ABOVE TEL/FAX NUMBERS. I WILL SEND YOU DETAILED INFORMATION OF THIS PENDING PROJECT WHEN I HAVE HEARD FROM YOU.

YOURS FAITHFULLY,

DR xxx xxxxxx xxxx

My contact claims that Senator Santorum is in almost daily contact with the author of his email and working with him, setting up bank accounts and slush funds for this brave Iraqi lover of freedom.

Go, Man-on-Dog– er, Rick!

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Did anyone else see Tammy Sloulin’s piece in today’s Helena Independent Record? It’s heartbreaking. It’s terrifying. It’s an explanation why she quit teaching and joined the Army:

My husband and I are both teachers and we have three children. Our salaries are not sufficient to keep up with the cost of living. Without medical and dental insurance for our family and/or higher pay, we are not able to supply our children with the quality of care we feel they should have….Besides low pay, I am also concerned about my own future and the future of my family when it comes to education. I fully intend to go back to school to improve my skills and to receive my master’s degree. Unfortunately, there is very little monetary incentive (in my current district) for receiving a master’s and the expense of more education in Montana is very high.

I have wanted to be a teacher since I was in third grade.

[snip]

The Army will help me pay for more education, train me in foreign language skills and provide my family with excellent medical and dental benefits. My enlistment salary is thousands of dollars higher than a full time teaching contract and the Army rewards individuals who continue their personal education. In many ways it saddens me that I have to leave my profession in order to better myself for it. I look forward to the day when I can afford to be a teacher in Montana again.

Got that? A mother of three and an elementary school teacher joined the Army – not out of a sense of patriotic duty, not because she wants to defend home and country, not because she wants to go fight in Iraq – but because of dental insurance and money for school.

What’s wrong with this picture? Does anyone else feel Sloulin’s been coerced into joining up? Is this what the future of middle class American families going to be, either join the military or fall into poverty? And it’s health care costs that are behind Sloulin’s decision. She’s joining the Army – putting her life in danger – so that her children will have health care.

Look, I don’t think there’s a conspiracy between the government and insurance companies to raise health care costs so high to ensure that US citizens can’t take risks in their professional lives (like, say, working on art instead of computer software…or becoming professional revolutionaries, maybe), or to ensure that the ranks of its armies remain well-stocked, but I do think that’s the effect of diminishing value of paychecks and high health care costs.

People don’t necessarily want a steady corporate desk job and the money that comes along with it. People don’t necessarily want to join the Army. Some people want to write or teach or farm or stay at home raising their kids.

There’s a warning in this letter to the middle class. Our days are numbered. Unless we do something about it.

Links…

Campaigns Wikia started, a “…website aimed at being a central meeting ground for people on all sides of the political spectrum who think that it is time for politics to become more participatory, and more intelligent.”

The Jumbo fire is nearly out, though I suspect that it consumed a lot more than 200 acres.

Global warming = forest fires. Thanks, Republican Party!

Conrad Burns sure loves the Rocky Mountain Front…for snowmobiles!

The Bush administration has given up on promoting democracy in the Middle East. Um. So why are we in Iraq again?

Tasty tidbits from the Aspen Institute: “just about everything in the American approach to the war on Islamic terrorism has been ill-conceived,” and “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” Who said this? Why, former head of Britain’s MI6, Richard Dearlove, author of the infamous “Downing Street Memo.”

Kerry refused to endorse Lieberman and vows to support whoever wins Connecticut’s primary.

Is it really so difficult to cite sources you use in a book? Providing content ain’t always easy, but it can be done.

The “Statue of Liberation through Christ” is really quite freaky.

Speaking of freaky, check out Bollywood’s answer to Superman: Krrish

Someone sent me the .pdf of a nasty little letter a bunch of Congressmen penned to Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert. Dated June 27, 2006, it reads:

Dear Mr. Speaker:

We are writing to ask you to use your authority to rescind the congressional press credentials of the New York Times. This request does not come lightly, but in response to the Times’ decision to repeatedly publish information detrimental to our national security.

Most recently the Times revealed the existence of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program [“Bank Data Is Sifted by U.S. in Secret to Block Terror.” 06.23.06], an aggressive and classified effort to track terrorist networks through the use of international financial records. The Times published critical information regarding this program, instituted following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, despite numerous requests from the Bush Administration and Members of Congress not to go forward.

Each of us swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, which includes the power of a free press. We also believe that this power comes with great responsibility, especially in wartime when the lives of millions of Americans are at stake. We believe that this power was abused by the New York Times for the most cynical of reasons: to end American involvement in Iraq no matter the long term cost in lives and national security.

Times Editor Bill Keller called the decision to reveal the existence of the terrorist tracking program a “hard call,” but went ahead and made it anyway. We disagree. It was not a “hard call” – it was the wrong call the and Times should be penalized for it.

The letter is signed by a few dozen House Representatives, including Montana’s very own Denny Rehberg.

Where do I start with this vile scrap? Shall I remind you that the story apparently did not hurt national security, because the transaction monitoring was revealed as long ago as 2001, and by government agencies? Shall I remind you the story was printed because of the program’s disturbing lack of oversight?

The program, however, is a significant departure from typical practice in how the government acquires Americans’ financial records. Treasury officials did not seek individual court-approved warrants or subpoenas to examine specific transactions, instead relying on broad administrative subpoenas for millions of records from the cooperative, known as Swift.

That access to large amounts of confidential data was highly unusual, several officials said, and stirred concerns inside the administration about legal and privacy issues.

And how odd is it that the Congressional representatives remind us of their oath to defend the Constitution in the same breath that they advocate curtailing the press’ freedom as protected by the Constitution’s First Amendment? A free press is not a privilege — as these guttersnipes seem to think – it is a fundamental right. Again, if the Times broke the law, prosecute.

Do I need to remind Denny Rehberg what the duty of the press is? Or should I have the Gazette do it for me?

American journalists also have a duty to hold government accountable — not because government wants to share information, but because democracy demands an informed electorate.

Shall we never write, read or speak about what the government wants kept secret? Shall we trust the federal government to know what’s best? Sure, the press can make mistakes. Government can make mistakes. But democracy can’t survive in an information vacuum.

Government reporting isn’t a crime, it’s a patriotic duty.

I’m sure the Gazette will be interested to learn that Denny Rehberg wants to intimidate the press into silence. Is this a subtle message to Montana newspapers to stay the h*ll out of INSA? To his connections with Abramoff? If I were the editor of a Montana paper, I’d be p*ssed as h*ll that my Representative was playing politics with my bread-and-butter. This guy is an enemy of the media.




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