Sunday, May 30, 2004

Know Bush Fact #26

Based on the belief that the truth shall set you free:

I apologize up front for the length of this story. It started with a simple "thanks. . . to the efforts of former Secretary of State James Baker . . . ," said by Bush last week, Monday, May 25, 2004, during his televised speech at the U.S. Army War College.

But why, out of the blue, was he thanking former Secretary of State James Baker?

He continued, ". . .many of Iraq's largest creditors have pledged to forgive or substantially reduce Iraqi debt incurred by the former regime."

Perhaps true. However, in fact, there are many other "efforts of former Secretary of State James Baker" for which Bush might offering thanks, going back many years.

It was James Baker's law firm, Baker & Botts, that wrote the contract for Bush to purchase the Texas Rangers baseball team, paying it off with the funds from his suddenly dumped shares in Harken Oil in 1990.

In 1991, that same lawyer from Baker & Botts, James Doty, was the new General Counsel for the SEC, along with his colleague from Baker & Botts, Richard Breeden, as the President Bush-appointed SEC Chairman, when George W. Bush’s insider trading at Harken Oil was investigated and dropped.

James Baker was also the man Bush called in November 2000, when Florida’s vote came into question, to lead the battle to take the White House. Baker started the spin immediately, declaring that the votes "have not only been counted, they’ve been counted twice" (blatantly untrue), attacking Gore for his "endless challenges to the results" (the recount was required by Florida law), and finally pushing it to the Supreme Court, where he knew there were five Republican appointees who had to answer to no one. Certainly, Bush owes a lifetime of thanks for that.

Baker's enduring value has been as the Senior Counsel for Washington’s Carlyle Group. The Carlyle Group was formed by former ranking Republicans in the early 90's as an investment group which took advantage of the end of the Cold War to buy up defense and intelligence businesses cheaply.

Thanks to James Baker, Bush I was immediately hired by The Carlyle Group after his 1992 re-election defeat to be guest speaker at events where big-time investors knew the value of access to the ex-President and all his contacts, inside both U.S. and foreign governments. Bush I then could take his sizeable "speaking fee" and invest it back into Carlyle subsidiaries for his own personal investment as well. Later, when Bush I’s son took power in Washington, it made access to Bush I, and therefore II, even more advantageous for all involved with Carlyle.

In 2001, The Carlyle Group showed $12 billion in holdings. With multiple contracts in Iraq, The Carlyle Group's holdings have grown exponentially, as has Bush I’s stock portfolio in Carlyle. Bush II stands to inherit untold millions/billions from his father now, especially since he made certain the inheritance tax was completely abolished soon after occupying the White House. Thank you, James Baker.

Coincidentally, on September 11, 2001, while the hijacked planes slammed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the Carlyle Group was hosting an exclusive conference in Washington, D.C. Among the guests of honor was a valued investor named Shafig bin Laden, brother to Osama. He soon became one of the 140 powerful Saudis that Prince Bandar arranged to have flown out of the country immediately, despite a nation-wide ban on flights, without even being questioned by the FBI or CIA.

Currently, Baker's law firm, Baker & Botts, is defending Saudi Arabia against the trillion dollar lawsuit filed by the families of 9/11 victims. The families’ suit has forced open accounts that reveal the Saudi government’s role in funneling millions of dollars to Islamic charities that are widely suspected of covertly financing Al Qaeda and other international terrorist groups.

Which brings us back to Bush thanking Baker before the whole world last Monday night – because of his efforts "many of Iraq's largest creditors have pledged to forgive or substantially reduce Iraqi debt incurred by the former regime." Sounds good. But...

The U.S. has no right under international law to handle Iraq’s debts. So in December 2003, when Bush announced that Baker would negotiating the restructure of these debts with its foreign investors (while Colin Powell happened to be in the hospital in surgery), it was said to be "at the request of the Iraqi Governing Council," thus allowing Baker to do his business without answering to Congress or revealing who was paying him.

Thus Bush facilitated Baker’s pre-empting the complete debt write-off the World Bank’s International Bank for Reconstruction and Development was seriously considering.

It’s worth knowing whose money Baker made sure will still have to be at least partially paid back. Most of the debt belongs to his clients, the Saudis, in the $100 billion range.

Much of this goes back as far as the 1980s, when both the United States and the Saudis covertly built up Saddam Hussein, giving him technology, biological weapons and training in his war against Iran, back when James Baker was President Reagan’s Treasury Secretary and Chairman of the President’s Economic Policy Council, and Bush I’s Secretary of State.
And so we come full circle.

Thank you, James Baker.

To verify/research, start your Google search with "Bush +Baker". You might want to get a cup of coffee first.

- May 30, 2004

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Know Bush Fact #25

Based on the belief that the truth shall set you free:

On April 24, 2003, while promoting his tax plan, Bush stopped in Canton, Ohio at the Timken Company, a Fortune 500 company, with 2003 sales of $3.8 billion, to speak before the workers at its steel ball-bearing manufacturing plant:

"The greatest strength of the American economy is found right here, right in this room, found in the pride and skill of the American work force. . . Here at Timken, last year, productivity rose 10 percent. Which means that America can compete with any nation in the world because we got the finest workers in the world."

On May 17, 2004, century-old Timken Company announced it was closing the doors to three of its ball-bearing plants in Canton, laying off 1,300 employees.

Timken President James W. Griffith tried to blame the closure on the United Steel Workers of America, but union President Stan Jasionowski said the USWA and Timken were not in any kind of contract negotiations. The union was blindsided by Timken's decision.

Timken’s ball-bearing production will be moved. It is timely that two new Timken NSK ball-bearing plants in China began production in January, and the Randleman, North Carolina plant failed to unionize in February.

W.R. "Tim" Timken, Chairman of the Board of Timken Company, whose decision it was to close the plants, earned more than $2.6 million last year, and stands to receive $59,000 in new tax breaks from Bush this year.

By contrast, 89% of Ohio residents will receive less than $100 by 2006 from the latest Bush tax cuts.

Last summer, Timken co-hosted a fundraiser for Bush's campaign which raised $600,000, and earned Timken "Ranger" status in Bush’s multi-level marketing donation pyramid structure.

W.R. Timken was signed in as the Bush-appointed Chairman of the Board of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation on April 22, 2003 (2 days before Bush’s speech at his plant), and is also a long-time Director of Diebold, Inc., manufacturer of the highly controversial electronic voting machines.

A final note: In December 2003, Mr. Timken hosted a $2,000-per-person fundraiser, where he spoke before featured guest Vice President Dick Cheney and an audience of Ohio's wealthiest business and civic leaders. Timken denounced liberal philanthropist Peter Lewis’s multi-million dollar pledge to partially match donations to’s voter fund campaign as an "attempt to buy democracy."

Meanwhile, the Gannett News Service reported that the Cincinnati, Ohio zip code 45243 ranks second only to New York City's 10021 as the most lucrative fundraising neighborhood for Bush, surpassing wealthy communities in Houston, Dallas and even Beverly Hills.

To verify/research, Google: "Bush +Timken."

Friday, May 14, 2004

Know Bush Fact #24

Based on the belief that the truth shall set you free:

On June 26, 2001 the State Department issued a worldwide caution to Americans traveling or living abroad.

The National Security Agency’s ECHELON electronic spy network gave warning that Mideast terrorists were planning to hijack commercial aircraft to use as weapons to attack important symbols of American culture.

That same month, the Bush Administration initiated the VISA EXPRESS service for expediting visa applications through out Saudi Arabia.

On June 25, 2001, the day before the State Department’s warning, the US Embassy in Riyadh proudly announced:

"Now all Saudis and non-Saudi applicants may obtain visas at their own convenience by submitting their applications through any of ten designated travel/courier companies operating throughout the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. . . Applicants will no longer have to take time off from work, no longer have to wait in long lines under the hot sun and in crowded waiting rooms, and no longer be limited by any time constraints. Effective immediately, ALL APPLICANTS will be expected to use the US VISA EXPRESS service offered by any of the selected companies listed below."

To make this very clear, under this new rule instituted by the Bush Administration, both Saudis and non-Saudis could obtain U.S. visas without being photographed or having to apply in person just by going through one of ten designated travel agencies in The Kingdom.

Three of the Saudi hijackers in the September 11 attacks came into the U.S. on visas they obtained through the VISA EXPRESS program.

Still, the Visa Express program was not closed after September 11. In fact, in the first 30 days after 9/11, the U.S. Embassy at Jeddah, one of three offices in Saudi Arabia, issued 104 visas through the program, denying none.

It was not until Joel Mowbray, a journalist from The National Review, broke the story in June of 2002, pointing out that the Visa Express program was still in place, that the State Department found it necessary to make some changes.

Secretary of State Colin Powell asked Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs, Ambassador Mary Ryan, the longest-serving career diplomat at the department, "to retire," announcing this change on the same day when two committees in Congress would be voting on legislation to remove the State Department’s visa authority.

Two days later, after questioning spokesman Richard Boucher at a State Department press briefing, Joel Mowbray was detained for about 30 minutes, as security demanded he reveal his sources. Yet a year after 9/11, the State Department had still not interviewed the single Foreign Service Officer in the Jeddah consulate who issued 10 of the visas to the Saudi hijackers.

To research/verify, Google "Bush +Visa Express."
- May 14, 2004

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Know Bush Facts #23 A and #23B

Based on the belief that the truth shall set you free:

Know Bush Fact #23 A

Bush’s Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld received a letter from Amnesty International dated JANUARY 10, 2002 (with copies also sent to Secretary of State Colin Powell, FBI Director Robert Mueller, CIA Director George Tenet, and Commander in Chief General Tommy Franks), expressing concern over photographs showing Al-Qaeda suspects hooded while under guard by US troops, and pointing out that the United Nations Committee against Torture had condemned the hooding of suspects, and that such treatment is also covered by the Geneva Convention.

To research/verify, Google "Rumsfeld +hooding."

And #23 B

On September 11, 2001, Bush’s Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was not in Washington D.C. He was out of the country with Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Douglas Feith, and William Luti, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Plans and Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, and four other like-minded advisors. They were "busy on unrelated missions in Europe and the Middle East."

Upon their return, Donald Rumsfeld commissioned a team, headed by that same Douglas Feith and William Luti, to scan and sort already-analyzed documents from the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and other intelligence agencies to consider possible interpretations and angles of analysis that these agencies may have missed. Much of the information scanned had already been deemed "not credible" by the experienced intelligence agencies.

Eventually Rumsfeld’s team came to be named The Office of Special Plans.

Staffed by a tight group of like-minded neo-conservatives who advocated regime change in Iraq, the Office of Special Plans displaced the CIA and the Pentagon’s own Defense Intelligence Agency as Bush’s main source of intelligence regarding Iraq’s possible possession of weapons of mass destruction and connection with Al-Qaeda.

It was "the stovepipe" - a means of funneling upward directly to the White House and National Security Advisor selectively chosen intelligence to serve the ideological ends of the "neo-cons" in the Bush administration.

"They’d take a little bit of intelligence, cherry-pick it, make it sound much more exciting, usually by taking it out of context, often by juxtaposition of two pieces of information that don’t belong together,"
wrote retired Pentagon Middle East specialist, Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, who worked in the office of Undersecretary for Defense for Policy Douglas Feith.

She found the work of the Office of Special Plans to be "a subversion of constitutional limits on executive power and a co-option through deceit of a large segment of the Congress."
Which resulted in Congress giving Bush the authority to use military force against Iraq.

To research/verify, Google "Rumsfeld +Office of Special Plans".

- May 9, 2004

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Know Bush Fact #22

Based on the belief that the truth shall set you free:

"The corporations don’t have to lobby the government anymore. They are the government."
- Jim Hightower, former Texas Agriculture Commissioner.

For example:

Bush’s Chief Strategist, Karl Rove, was a lobbyist for Phillip Morris from 1991 to 1996.

Andrew Card, Bush’s White House Chief of Staff, was chief lobbyist for General Motors and head of American Automobile Manufacturers Association.

Thomas A. Scully, President of the Federation of American Hospital Group, lobbying for 1700 for-profit hospitals, became Bush’s Chief Administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, until he resigned in December 2003, just after Bush’s Medicare Bill was forced through Congress.

Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. was Bush's Office of Management and Budget Director until recently. Prior to that he was a lobbyist for Eli Lilly Pharmaceutical for 13 years.

James Connaughton, Bush’s Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality, previously lobbied on behalf of ASARCO Inc., Atlantic Richfield, Aluminum Co. of America, Chemical Manufacturers Association, and General Electric (focusing especially on Superfund toxic sites).

J. Steven Griles, Bush’s Deputy Interior Secretary, is known as one of the energy industry’s most powerful lobbyists. He was a lobbyist for United Company (a coal, oil, and gas development firm), and was also the former Vice President of National Environmental Strategies, representing the National Mining Association and Occidental Petroleum.

Rebecca W. Watson, long-time lobbyist and attorney for the extractive industries, was named Bush's Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management in the Department of the Interior.

William G. Myers, III served as lobbyist for the National Mining Association, the Public Lands Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, then became Bush’s Chief Solicitor for the Interior Department. This year Bush nominated him for a seat on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the appellate court that hears cases from Alaska and the American West, where environmental law concerning 485 million acres of public lands is decided.

Bush made Nicholas Calio his Legislative Affairs Director. Calio spent the 90s lobbying for Anheuser-Busch, the Boeing Corp., AT&T, Atlantic Richfield Company, BP Amoco, and Tenneco Automotive, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of automobile exhaust systems. Calio’s top deputy at the White House, Kirsten Ardleigh Chadwick, was also a registered lobbyist for Tenneco.

Monsanto, manufacturer of such food additives as the controversial bovine growth hormone, BST, used to have to lobby the Secretary of Agriculture. Then Monsanto executive Ann Venamin became Bush’s Secretary of Agriculture through April 2003.

Linda J. Fisher was Bush’s Deputy Director of the Environmental Protection Agency until she resigned in June 2003, just one day before her boss, Christie Todd Whitman, did the same. Previously, Ms. Fisher was Monsanto’s Vice President for Government and Public Affairs, lobbying on behalf of Monsanto’s interests on agriculture, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, environment, finance and trade issues, and managing the company’s political action committee and political contribution funds.

A former top lobbyist for private banks engaged in student lending, William D. Hansen, was Bush’s Deputy Secretary at the Education Department until July 2003.

Bush picked Texan James C. Oberwetter, of Hunt Consolidated Inc. and the American Petroleum Institute, an oil industry lobby group, to be U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

And last but not least...

In December, 2001, Bush named Marc Racicot, a lobbyist whose clients included Enron Corp, railroad giant Burlington Northern Santa Fe and the Recording Industry Association of America, to be Chairman of the Republican National Committee. In June 2003, Bush chose Mr. Racicot to be the Chairman of the Bush-Cheney Re-Election Campaign.

Bush replaced Racicot as Chairman of the Republican National Committee with Ed Gillespie, whose lobbying firm raked in $27.4 million from 2000 through 2002 working for a list of clients that includes Microsoft, Tyson Foods, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Viacom. Before its collapse, Enron paid Gillespie’s firm $700,000 to lobby against the "re-regulation" of Western electricity markets.

To verify/research, Google "Bush +lobbyist."
- May 1, 2004