Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

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KERIK, GIULIANI & BUSH -- LONGTIME PARTNERS IN CRIME, by Charles Carreon

04/29/07

On Why Both Giuliani and Bush Loved Bernard Kerik So Much

The Post-911 Star Couple


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As the obviousness of the WTC attack being an inside job dawns on many people, they are trying to figure out the membership of the 911 Cabal. I figure we might as well start right there at Ground Zero. Let's ask a few questions:

Who attempted to cast himself as a heroic Police Commissioner, even though everything went wrong on his watch, from the moment the planes hit the Trade Center Towers?

Who failed to secure any evidence or procure a single prosecution for the largest single mass homicide in US history?

Who built a secret hideaway where he could boff New York City police employees in a boudoir overlooking Ground Zero?

Who lied about having organized crime redecorate that love-nest for free?

Who stood ready to take the office of the head of Homeland Security?

Who went off to found a partnership with former Mayor Giuliani, to provide "security consulting?"

Who profited from the sale of TASER stock after flogging the product to police chiefs all over the country?

Bernard Kerik did all these things. And he did all of it working in close association with Republican Presidential Candidate Rudolph Giuliani.

Giuliani's Partner and Loyal Bushie

Recently, I discovered a little detail about Kerik's charmed life as a Republican Sleazoid -- aka, a "Bushie," according to Kyle Sampson, a guy who should know. I was reading about how the "Coalition Provisional Authority" in Iraq had turned into a summer camp for politically-correct Republicans, incapable of doing anything useful for Iraq, beyond promulgating inane, impractical policies. There, in the midst of the danger and privilege of the Green Zone, I spotted Kerik's bombastic profile, helping Bush inflate the Big Lie that we were rebuilding Iraq. So important was Kerik's work that on October 4, 2003, Bush told the nation in his morning radio address, that Iraqi police are "instructed by professionals like New York City's outstanding former police chief, Bernard Kerik." Talk about giving Iraq access to our nation's best people -- but what could he teach the Iraqis about graft and corruption that they didn't already know? Then again, maybe Bush didn't want to take any chances.

Painting Baghdad Red

Undoubtedly, Kerik reminisces fondly about the good old days in Baghdad. What did Kerik actually do in Iraq? At that time, Kerik was a partner at Giuliani-Kerik, LLC, that was collecting money from the Pentagon as a "security consultant. It turns out he spent his days sleeping, and his nights prowling around doing "raids" with "security forces" all night in Baghdad. Closely associated with organized crime in New York, Kerik decided to try his hand at hardassing organized crime in Baghdad, and formed a paramilitary unit for that purpose. Apparently, the crime scene wasn't all that promising, possibly because there's so much chaos in Baghdad even criminals can't get organized, because after a 90-day stint of kibitzing with other gun-toting tough guys, he blew the hell right out of town. Kerik's announcement was delivered completely without prior notice, at a meeting of local police chiefs in Baghdad's Convention Center. Explaining his behavior, Kerik said, "I did my own thing." One year later, Bush nominated Kerik to be Secretary of Homeland Security.

Flying Too Close To the Sun

Giuliani and Kerik -- what a star couple they were! How happy their association for so many years, until Bush, excited about the prospects for getting a genuine criminal to be the nation's top law enforcement officer, proposed a ménage a trois. Poor Kerik, who had the misfortune to catch the monarch's admiring gaze, drawing the dreaded Media Eye to focus on him, inciting reporters to dig until they found damning shit. Then the worm Giuliani had kept under wraps in the Big Rotten Apple crawled out and smiled. It was that darned old Italian Mafia, up to its corrupting ways again, and Kerik, who'd risen from being Giuliani's driver to having a ringside seat at 911, came plummeting down from the skies, another fat Icarus who flew too close to the sun. Surprisingly, it was one of those scandals that somehow passed most people by, as if they couldn't understand why having a criminal as the nation's head of security would be a bad idea. Then again, you can't blame people who watch TV too much. When Kerik said he was withdrawing his candidacy for the job because he'd failed to pay taxes on his immigrant nanny, there were actually news outlets that gave this story a full run, without sniggering. Soon thereafter, Giuliani kicked Kerik out of their security company, Giuliani & Kerik, LLC. Bush never said a bad word about Kerik, and didn't even try to explain how with all the spying on American citizens, his people couldn't even vet a resume for a Cabinet-level position. The "Decider" just turned away from the spectacle and let shit roll downhill.

The Henhouse Is Secure In Enemy Hands

It is often said of the Republicans that they are loyal. Being loyal to other gangsters is not a virtue. When we rate Bush and Giuliani, we must remember that they jointly endorsed Kerik as a candidate for Head of Homeland Security, and both overlooked Kerik's mob connections even as they sought to elevate him to the position of the nation's Top Cop. Giuliani had a hard time convincing a New York prosecutor that he really didn't know about Kerik's cozy friendships with the Gambino Crime Family. Why? For the same reason that they put foxes in charges of the henhouse everywhere -- to do PR and eat fried chicken!

Heroes of The Big Lie

Kerik is an aggressive bullshitter, the type of guy Bush and Giuliani rely on to get things done. Or rather, to get nothing done, when it comes to investigating 911, or rebuilding Iraq. If you think Kerik failed to do his job through incompetence, you misunderstand him, and Giuliani, and Bush. You would make a poor Republican. Kerik was a good Bushie because he remembered he was working for Bush at all times. It was his job to prop up fairy stories, to feed the public a flow of comforting tough-guy attitude. Regarding 911, he did a hero act that distracted people from pursuing any real investigation. Regarding Baghdad policing, he supplied phony evidence that security was getting a jumpstart in Iraq.

Let's Give This Man A Comeback!

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Kerik performed well, like Mike Chertoff, who ended up running Homeland Security and let New Orleans drown first and rot later, another Giuliani protege who received a warm welcome at the White House. Remember, Chertoff will still be there when Bush walks out, either due to impeachment or under his own power, ready for employment under the next President. Do you want four more years of Big Lies, patronage appointments, corruption and waste? You'll get them from Giuliani. And just imagine if Kerik, a loyal Bushie who has been unfairly convicted of crimes by the People of New York, scores a pardon from Bush. (Don't tell me Bernie won't ask!) Then Giuliani, put into office by a third Republican-rigged election, can bring Kerik back in from the cold, like Bush did to Admiral Poindexter, making him head of "Total Information Awareness." That would be comforting for fascists from Saudi Arabia to North Carolina, and might spark a boom in love-nest construction worldwide.

http://www.ragingblog.com


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Rudy Says Bye, Bye Bernie

Kerik, Amidst Investigation, Resigns From Giuliani Partners

NEW YORK, Dec. 22, 2004

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Former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik, right, gestures while he speaks with reporters as former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani looks on in this Nov. 7, 2003 file photo. (AP Photo)

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Rudy Giuliani, with President Bush at the Republican convention in New York, has apologized to the president for the scandal involving his close associate Bernard Kerik. (AP)

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Kerik, left, speaks after President Bush nominated him for Homeland Security Secretary. (AP)

(CBS/AP) Bernard Kerik and Rudy Giuliani have parted ways, at least in business. Kerik resigned late Wednesday afternoon from Giuliani Partners, the former mayor's local consulting firm. Giuliani says he accepted the resignation reluctantly.

Kerik, the former police commissioner of New York City and one-time Bush Cabinet nominee said at a news conference that he had apologized to Giuliani for being a distraction because of his messy withdrawal as a candidate to head the Department of Homeland Security.

Kerik had been CEO of Giuliani-Kerik LLC, an affiliate of Giuliani Partners LLC. In a statement Wednesday, Giuliani said Giuliani-Kerik would be renamed Giuliani Security & Safety.

Kerik said he told Giuliani his resignation would be effective immediately. He said he would seek other unspecified business opportunities, and did not take questions from reporters.

President Bush tapped Kerik, 49, earlier this month as his nominee for homeland security secretary, but Kerik abruptly withdrew his name Dec. 10 after revealing that he had not paid all required taxes for a family nanny-housekeeper and that the woman may have been in the country illegally.

He has been hit with other allegations as well, including that he had connections with people suspected of doing business with the mob and that he had simultaneous extramarital affairs with two women.

Kerik's nomination became a political embarrassment for Giuliani, a rising star in the GOP who had recommended his friend and business partner to Mr. Bush.

After leaving the police department in 2002, Kerik joined Giuliani Partners, becoming a security consultant and then signing on to help launch the Iraqi police force.

Giuliani Partners has advised business and government agencies on security, leadership and other issues. The consulting firm advised Trinidad in its battle against a rise in kidnappings and murders and was paid $4.3 million by Mexico City officials for advice on reducing crime there.

©MMIV, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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Ties to GOP Trumped Know-How Among Staff Sent to Rebuild Iraq

Early U.S. Missteps in the Green Zone

By Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 17, 2006; A01

Adapted from "Imperial Life in the Emerald City," by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, copyright Knopf 2006

After the fall of Saddam Hussein's government in April 2003, the opportunity to participate in the U.S.-led effort to reconstruct Iraq attracted all manner of Americans -- restless professionals, Arabic-speaking academics, development specialists and war-zone adventurers. But before they could go to Baghdad, they had to get past Jim O'Beirne's office in the Pentagon.

To pass muster with O'Beirne, a political appointee who screens prospective political appointees for Defense Department posts, applicants didn't need to be experts in the Middle East or in post-conflict reconstruction. What seemed most important was loyalty to the Bush administration.

O'Beirne's staff posed blunt questions to some candidates about domestic politics: Did you vote for George W. Bush in 2000? Do you support the way the president is fighting the war on terror? Two people who sought jobs with the U.S. occupation authority said they were even asked their views on Roe v. Wade.

Many of those chosen by O'Beirne's office to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq's government from April 2003 to June 2004, lacked vital skills and experience. A 24-year-old who had never worked in finance -- but had applied for a White House job -- was sent to reopen Baghdad's stock exchange. The daughter of a prominent neoconservative commentator and a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children were tapped to manage Iraq's $13 billion budget, even though they didn't have a background in accounting.

The decision to send the loyal and the willing instead of the best and the brightest is now regarded by many people involved in the 3 1/2 -year effort to stabilize and rebuild Iraq as one of the Bush administration's gravest errors. Many of those selected because of their political fidelity spent their time trying to impose a conservative agenda on the postwar occupation, which sidetracked more important reconstruction efforts and squandered goodwill among the Iraqi people, according to many people who participated in the reconstruction effort.

The CPA had the power to enact laws, print currency, collect taxes, deploy police and spend Iraq's oil revenue. It had more than 1,500 employees in Baghdad at its height, working under America's viceroy in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, but never released a public roster of its entire staff.

Interviews with scores of former CPA personnel over the past two years depict an organization that was dominated -- and ultimately hobbled -- by administration ideologues.

"We didn't tap -- and it should have started from the White House on down -- just didn't tap the right people to do this job," said Frederick Smith, who served as the deputy director of the CPA's Washington office. "It was a tough, tough job. Instead we got people who went out there because of their political leanings."

Endowed with $18 billion in U.S. reconstruction funds and a comparatively quiescent environment in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. invasion, the CPA was the U.S. government's first and best hope to resuscitate Iraq -- to establish order, promote rebuilding and assemble a viable government, all of which, experts believe, would have constricted the insurgency and mitigated the chances of civil war. Many of the basic tasks Americans struggle to accomplish today in Iraq -- training the army, vetting the police, increasing electricity generation -- could have been performed far more effectively in 2003 by the CPA.

But many CPA staff members were more interested in other things: in instituting a flat tax, in selling off government assets, in ending food rations and otherwise fashioning a new nation that looked a lot like the United States. Many of them spent their days cloistered in the Green Zone, a walled-off enclave in central Baghdad with towering palms, posh villas, well-stocked bars and resort-size swimming pools.

By the time Bremer departed in June 2004, Iraq was in a precarious state. The Iraqi army, which had been dissolved and refashioned by the CPA, was one-third the size he had pledged it would be. Seventy percent of police officers had not been screened or trained. Electricity generation was far below what Bremer had promised to achieve. And Iraq's interim government had been selected not by elections but by Americans. Divisive issues were to be resolved later on, increasing the chances that tension over those matters would fuel civil strife.

To recruit the people he wanted, O'Beirne sought résumés from the offices of Republican congressmen, conservative think tanks and GOP activists. He discarded applications from those his staff deemed ideologically suspect, even if the applicants possessed Arabic language skills or postwar rebuilding experience.

Smith said O'Beirne once pointed to a young man's résumé and pronounced him "an ideal candidate." His chief qualification was that he had worked for the Republican Party in Florida during the presidential election recount in 2000.

O'Beirne, a former Army officer who is married to prominent conservative commentator Kate O'Beirne, did not respond to requests for comment.

He and his staff used an obscure provision in federal law to hire many CPA staffers as temporary political appointees, which exempted the interviewers from employment regulations that prohibit questions about personal political beliefs.

There were a few Democrats who wound up getting jobs with the CPA, but almost all of them were active-duty soldiers or State Department Foreign Service officers. Because they were career government employees, not temporary hires, O'Beirne's office could not query them directly about their political leanings.

One former CPA employee who had an office near O'Beirne's wrote an e-mail to a friend describing the recruitment process: "I watched résumés of immensely talented individuals who had sought out CPA to help the country thrown in the trash because their adherence to 'the President's vision for Iraq' (a frequently heard phrase at CPA) was 'uncertain.' I saw senior civil servants from agencies like Treasury, Energy . . . and Commerce denied advisory positions in Baghdad that were instead handed to prominent RNC (Republican National Committee) contributors."

As more and more of O'Beirne's hires arrived in the Green Zone, the CPA's headquarters in Hussein's marble-walled former Republican Palace felt like a campaign war room. Bumper stickers and mouse pads praising President Bush were standard desk decorations. In addition to military uniforms and "Operation Iraqi Freedom" garb, "Bush-Cheney 2004" T-shirts were among the most common pieces of clothing.

"I'm not here for the Iraqis," one staffer noted to a reporter over lunch. "I'm here for George Bush."

When Gordon Robison, who worked in the Strategic Communications office, opened a care package from his mother to find a book by Paul Krugman, a liberal New York Times columnist, people around him stared. "It was like I had just unwrapped a radioactive brick," he recalled.

Finance Background Not Required

Twenty-four-year-old Jay Hallen was restless. He had graduated from Yale two years earlier, and he didn't much like his job at a commercial real-estate firm. His passion was the Middle East, and although he had never been there, he was intrigued enough to take Arabic classes and read histories of the region in his spare time.

He had mixed feelings about the war in Iraq, but he viewed the American occupation as a ripe opportunity. In the summer of 2003, he sent an e-mail to Reuben Jeffrey III, whom he had met when applying for a White House job a year earlier. Hallen had a simple query for Jeffrey, who was working as an adviser to Bremer: Might there be any job openings in Baghdad?

"Be careful what you wish for," Jeffrey wrote in response. Then he forwarded Hallen's resume to O'Beirne's office.

Three weeks later, Hallen got a call from the Pentagon. The CPA wanted him in Baghdad. Pronto. Could he be ready in three to four weeks?

The day he arrived in Baghdad, he met with Thomas C. Foley, the CPA official in charge of privatizing state-owned enterprises. (Foley, a major Republican Party donor, went to Harvard Business School with President Bush.) Hallen was shocked to learn that Foley wanted him to take charge of reopening the stock exchange.

"Are you sure?" Hallen said to Foley. "I don't have a finance background."

It's fine, Foley replied. He told Hallen that he was to be the project manager. He would rely on other people to get things done. He would be "the main point of contact."

Before the war, Baghdad's stock exchange looked nothing like its counterparts elsewhere in the world. There were no computers, electronic displays or men in colorful coats scurrying around on the trading floor. Trades were scrawled on pieces of paper and noted on large blackboards. If you wanted to buy or sell, you came to the exchange yourself and shouted your order to one of the traders. There was no air-conditioning. It was loud and boisterous. But it worked. Private firms raised hundreds of thousands of dollars by selling stock, and ordinary people learned about free enterprise.

The exchange was gutted by looters after the war. The first wave of American economic reconstruction specialists from the Treasury Department ignored it. They had bigger issues to worry about: paying salaries, reopening the banks, stabilizing the currency. But the brokers wanted to get back to work and investors wanted their money, so the CPA made the reopening a priority.

Quickly absorbing the CPA's ambition during the optimistic days before the insurgency flared, Hallen decided that he didn't just want to reopen the exchange, he wanted to make it the best, most modern stock market in the Arab world. He wanted to promulgate a new securities law that would make the exchange independent of the Finance Ministry, with its own bylaws and board of directors. He wanted to set up a securities and exchange commission to oversee the market. He wanted brokers to be licensed and listed companies to provide financial disclosures. He wanted to install a computerized trading and settlement system.

Iraqis cringed at Hallen's plan. Their top priority was reopening the exchange, not setting up computers or enacting a new securities law. "People are broke and bewildered," broker Talib Tabatabai told Hallen. "Why do you want to create enemies? Let us open the way we were."

Tabatabai, who held a doctorate in political science from Florida State University, believed Hallen's plan was unrealistic. "It was something so fancy, so great, that it couldn't be accomplished," he said.

But Hallen was convinced that major changes had to be enacted. "Their laws and regulations were completely out of step with the modern world," he said. "There was just no transparency in anything. It was more of a place for Saddam and his friends to buy up private companies that they otherwise didn't have a stake in."

Opening the stock exchange without legal and structural changes, Hallen maintained, "would have been irresponsible and short-sighted."

To help rewrite the securities law, train brokers and purchase the necessary computers, Hallen recruited a team of American volunteers. In the spring of 2004, Bremer approved the new law and simultaneously appointed the nine Iraqis selected by Hallen to become the exchange's board of governors.

The exchange's board selected Tabatabai as its chairman. The new securities law that Hallen had nursed into life gave the board control over the exchange's operations, but it didn't say a thing about the role of the CPA adviser. Hallen assumed that he'd have a part in decision-making until the handover of sovereignty. Tabatabai and the board, however, saw themselves in charge.

Tabatabai and the other governors decided to open the market as soon as possible. They didn't want to wait several more months for the computerized trading system to be up and running. They ordered dozens of dry-erase boards to be installed on the trading floor. They used such boards to keep track of buying and selling prices before the war, and that's how they'd do it again.

The exchange opened two days after Hallen's tour in Iraq ended. Brokers barked orders to floor traders, who used their trusty white boards. Transactions were recorded not with computers but with small chits written in ink. CPA staffers stayed away, afraid that their presence would make the stock market a target for insurgents.

When Tabatabai was asked what would have happened if Hallen hadn't been assigned to reopen the exchange, he smiled. "We would have opened months earlier. He had grand ideas, but those ideas did not materialize," Tabatabai said of Hallen. "Those CPA people reminded me of Lawrence of Arabia."

'Loyalist' Replaces Public Health Expert

The hiring of Bremer's most senior advisers was settled upon at the highest levels of the White House and the Pentagon. Some, like Foley, were personally recruited by Bush. Others got their jobs because an influential Republican made a call on behalf of a friend or trusted colleague.

That's what happened with James K. Haveman Jr., who was selected to oversee the rehabilitation of Iraq's health care system.

Haveman, a 60-year-old social worker, was largely unknown among international health experts, but he had connections. He had been the community health director for the former Republican governor of Michigan, John Engler, who recommended him to Paul D. Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense.

Haveman was well-traveled, but most of his overseas trips were in his capacity as a director of International Aid, a faith-based relief organization that provided health care while promoting Christianity in the developing world. Before his stint in government, Haveman ran a large Christian adoption agency in Michigan that urged pregnant women not to have abortions.

Haveman replaced Frederick M. Burkle Jr., a physician with a master's degree in public health and postgraduate degrees from Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth and the University of California at Berkeley. Burkle taught at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, where he specialized in disaster-response issues, and he was a deputy assistant administrator at the U.S. Agency for International Development, which sent him to Baghdad immediately after the war.

He had worked in Kosovo and Somalia and in northern Iraq after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. A USAID colleague called him the "single most talented and experienced post-conflict health specialist working for the United States government."

But a week after Baghdad's liberation, Burkle was informed he was being replaced. A senior official at USAID sent Burkle an e-mail saying the White House wanted a "loyalist" in the job. Burkle had a wall of degrees, but he didn't have a picture with the president.

Haveman arrived in Iraq with his own priorities. He liked to talk about the number of hospitals that had reopened since the war and the pay raises that had been given to doctors instead of the still-decrepit conditions inside the hospitals or the fact that many physicians were leaving for safer, better paying jobs outside Iraq. He approached problems the way a health care administrator in America would: He focused on preventive measures to reduce the need for hospital treatment.

He urged the Health Ministry to mount an anti-smoking campaign, and he assigned an American from the CPA team -- who turned out to be a closet smoker himself -- to lead the public education effort. Several members of Haveman's staff noted wryly that Iraqis faced far greater dangers in their daily lives than tobacco. The CPA's limited resources, they argued, would be better used raising awareness about how to prevent childhood diarrhea and other fatal maladies.

Haveman didn't like the idea that medical care in Iraq was free. He figured Iraqis should pay a small fee every time they saw a doctor. He also decided to allocate almost all of the Health Ministry's $793 million share of U.S. reconstruction funds to renovating maternity hospitals and building new community medical clinics. His intention, he said, was "to shift the mind-set of the Iraqis that you don't get health care unless you go to a hospital."

But his decision meant there were no reconstruction funds set aside to rehabilitate the emergency rooms and operating theaters at Iraqi hospitals, even though injuries from insurgent attacks were the country's single largest public health challenge.

Haveman also wanted to apply American medicine to other parts of the Health Ministry. Instead of trying to restructure the dysfunctional state-owned firm that imported and distributed drugs and medical supplies to hospitals, he decided to try to sell it to a private company.

To prepare it for a sale, he wanted to attempt something he had done in Michigan. When he was the state's director of community health, he sought to slash the huge amount of money Michigan spent on prescription drugs for the poor by limiting the medications doctors could prescribe for Medicaid patients. Unless they received an exemption, physicians could only prescribe drugs that were on an approved list, known as a formulary.

Haveman figured the same strategy could bring down the cost of medicine in Iraq. The country had 4,500 items on its drug formulary. Haveman deemed it too large. If private firms were going to bid for the job of supplying drugs to government hospitals, they needed a smaller, more manageable list. A new formulary would also outline new requirements about where approved drugs could be manufactured, forcing Iraq to stop buying medicines from Syria, Iran and Russia, and start buying from the United States.

He asked the people who had drawn up the formulary in Michigan whether they wanted to come to Baghdad. They declined. So he beseeched the Pentagon for help. His request made its way to the Defense Department's Pharmacoeconomic Center in San Antonio.

A few weeks later, three formulary experts were on their way to Iraq.

The group was led by Theodore Briski, a balding, middle-aged pharmacist who held the rank of lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy. Haveman's order, as Briski remembered it, was: "Build us a formulary in two weeks and then go home." By his second day in Iraq, Briski came to three conclusions. First, the existing formulary "really wasn't that bad." Second, his mission was really about "redesigning the entire Iraqi pharmaceutical procurement and delivery system, and that was a complete change of scope -- on a grand scale." Third, Haveman and his advisers "really didn't know what they were doing."

Haveman "viewed Iraq as Michigan after a huge attack," said George Guszcza, an Army captain who worked on the CPA's health team. "Somehow if you went into the ghettos and projects of Michigan and just extended it out for the entire state -- that's what he was coming to save."

Haveman's critics, including more than a dozen people who worked for him in Baghdad, contend that rewriting the formulary was a distraction. Instead, they said, the CPA should have focused on restructuring, but not privatizing, the drug-delivery system and on ordering more emergency shipments of medicine to address shortages of essential medicines. The first emergency procurement did not occur until early 2004, after the Americans had been in Iraq for more than eight months.

Haveman insisted that revising the formulary was a crucial first step in improving the distribution of medicines. "It was unwieldy to order 4,500 different drugs, and to test and distribute them," he said.

When Haveman left Iraq, Baghdad's hospitals were as decrepit as the day the Americans arrived. At Yarmouk Hospital, the city's largest, rooms lacked the most basic equipment to monitor a patient's blood pressure and heart rate, operating theaters were without modern surgical tools and sterile implements, and the pharmacy's shelves were bare.

Nationwide, the Health Ministry reported that 40 percent of the 900 drugs it deemed essential were out of stock in hospitals. Of the 32 medicines used in public clinics for the management of chronic diseases, 26 were unavailable.

The new health minister, Aladin Alwan, beseeched the United Nations for help, and he asked neighboring nations to share what they could. He sought to increase production at a state-run manufacturing plant in the city of Samarra. And he put the creation of a new formulary on hold. To him, it was a fool's errand.

"We didn't need a new formulary. We needed drugs," he said. "But the Americans did not understand that."

A 9/11 Hero's Public Relations Blitz

In May 2003, a team of law enforcement experts from the Justice Department concluded that more than 6,600 foreign advisers were needed to help rehabilitate Iraq's police forces.

The White House dispatched just one: Bernie Kerik.

Bernard Kerik had more star power than Bremer and everyone else in the CPA combined. Soldiers stopped him in the halls of the Republican Palace to ask for his autograph or, if they had a camera, a picture. Reporters were more interested in interviewing him than they were the viceroy.

Kerik had been New York City's police commissioner when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. His courage (he shouted evacuation orders from a block away as the south tower collapsed), his stamina (he worked around the clock and catnapped in his office for weeks), and his charisma (he was a master of the television interview) turned him into a national hero. When White House officials were casting about for a prominent individual to take charge of Iraq's Interior Ministry and assume the challenge of rebuilding the Iraqi police, Kerik's name came up. Bush pronounced it an excellent idea.

Kerik had worked in the Middle East before, as the security director for a government hospital in Saudi Arabia, but he was expelled from the country amid a government investigation into his surveillance of the medical staff. He lacked postwar policing experience, but the White House viewed that as an asset.

Veteran Middle East hands were regarded as insufficiently committed to the goal of democratizing the region. Post-conflict experts, many of whom worked for the State Department, the United Nations or nongovernmental organizations, were deemed too liberal. Men such as Kerik -- committed Republicans with an accomplished career in business or government -- were ideal. They were loyal, and they shared the Bush administration's goal of rebuilding Iraq in an American image. With Kerik, there were bonuses: The media loved him, and the American public trusted him.

Robert Gifford, a State Department expert in international law enforcement, was one of the first CPA staff members to meet Kerik when he arrived in Baghdad. Gifford was the senior adviser to the Interior Ministry, which oversaw the police. Kerik was to take over Gifford's job.

"I understand you are going to be the man, and we are here to support you," Gifford told Kerik.

"I'm here to bring more media attention to the good work on police because the situation is probably not as bad as people think it is," Kerik replied.

As they entered the Interior Ministry office in the palace, Gifford offered to brief Kerik. "It was during that period I realized he wasn't with me," Gifford recalled. "He didn't listen to anything. He hadn't read anything except his e-mails. I don't think he read a single one of our proposals."

Kerik wasn't a details guy. He was content to let Gifford figure out how to train Iraqi officers to work in a democratic society. Kerik would take care of briefing the viceroy and the media. And he'd be going out for a few missions himself.

Kerik's first order of business, less than a week after he arrived, was to give a slew of interviews saying the situation was improving. He told the Associated Press that security in Baghdad "is not as bad as I thought. Are bad things going on? Yes. But is it out of control? No. Is it getting better? Yes." He went on NBC's "Today" show to pronounce the situation "better than I expected." To Time magazine, he said that "people are starting to feel more confident. They're coming back out. Markets and shops that I saw closed one week ago have opened."

When it came to his own safety, Kerik took no chances. He hired a team of South African bodyguards, and he packed a 9mm handgun under his safari vest.

The first months after liberation were a critical period for Iraq's police. Officers needed to be called back to work and screened for Baath Party connections. They'd have to learn about due process, how to interrogate without torture, how to walk the beat. They required new weapons. New chiefs had to be selected. Tens of thousands more officers would have to be hired to put the genie of anarchy back in the bottle.

Kerik held only two staff meetings while in Iraq, one when he arrived and the other when he was being shadowed by a New York Times reporter, according to Gerald Burke, a former Massachusetts State Police commander who participated in the initial Justice Department assessment mission. Despite his White House connections, Kerik did not secure funding for the desperately needed police advisers. With no help on the way, the task of organizing and training Iraqi officers fell to U.S. military police soldiers, many of whom had no experience in civilian law enforcement.

"He was the wrong guy at the wrong time," Burke said later. "Bernie didn't have the skills. What we needed was a chief executive-level person. . . . Bernie came in with a street-cop mentality."

Kerik authorized the formation of a hundred-man Iraqi police paramilitary unit to pursue criminal syndicates that had formed since the war, and he often joined the group on nighttime raids, departing the Green Zone at midnight and returning at dawn, in time to attend Bremer's senior staff meeting, where he would crack a few jokes, describe the night's adventures and read off the latest crime statistics prepared by an aide. The unit did bust a few kidnapping gangs and car-theft rings, generating a stream of positive news stories that Kerik basked in and Bremer applauded. But the all-nighters meant Kerik wasn't around to supervise the Interior Ministry during the day. He was sleeping.

Several members of the CPA's Interior Ministry team wanted to blow the whistle on Kerik, but they concluded any complaints would be brushed off. "Bremer's staff thought he was the silver bullet," a member of the Justice Department assessment mission said. "Nobody wanted to question the [man who was] police chief during 9/11."

Kerik contended that he did his best in what was, ultimately, an untenable situation. He said he wasn't given sufficient funding to hire foreign police advisers or establish large-scale training programs.

Three months after he arrived, Kerik attended a meeting of local police chiefs in Baghdad's Convention Center. When it was his turn to address the group, he stood and bid everyone farewell. Although he had informed Bremer of his decision a few days earlier, Kerik hadn't told most of the people who worked for him. He flew out of Iraq a few hours later.

"I was in my own world," he said later. "I did my own thing."

© 2006 The Washington Post Company


________________________________________


President Nominates Bernard Kerik as Secretary of Homeland Security

by http://www.Whitehouse.gov

The Roosevelt Room

9:54 A.M. EST

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President George W. Bush announces his nomination of Bernard B. Kerik, the New York police commissioner during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, as the new Department of Homeland Security Secretary in the Roosevelt Room Friday, Dec. 3, 2004. White House photo by Tina Hager

Image
President George W. Bush announces his nomination of Bernard B. Kerik, the New York police commissioner during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, as the new Department of Homeland Security Secretary in the Roosevelt Room Friday, Dec. 3, 2004. White House photo by Tina Hager

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. I'm proud to announce my nomination of Commissioner Bernard Kerik as the Secretary of Homeland Security.

Bernie Kerik is one of the most accomplished and effective leaders of law enforcement in America. In his career, he has served as an enlisted military police officer in Korea, a jail warden in New Jersey, a beat cop in Manhattan, New York City corrections commissioner, and as New York's 40th police commissioner -- an office once held by Teddy Roosevelt. In every position, he has demonstrated a deep commitment to justice, a heart for the innocent, and a record of great success.

I'm grateful he's agreed to bring his lifetime of security experience and skill to one of the most important positions in the federal government. Bernie is a dedicated, innovative reformer who insists on getting results. As the head of New York City jails, he cut inmate violence by more than 90 percent. As Mayor Rudy Giuliani's police commissioner, he had great success in reducing crime in New York City. His broad, practical, hands-on experience makes Bernie superbly qualified to lead the Department of Homeland Security.

When confirmed by the Senate, Bernie Kerik will build on the historic accomplishments of Secretary Tom Ridge. As the Department's first leader, Tom oversaw the large reorganization -- the largest reorganization of the government in nearly a half-century. He met urgent challenges with patience and purpose, and because of his service our country is safer.

Tom also carried out his duties with skill and honesty and decency. He's been my friend for more than 20 years. He is one of the great public servants of our generation. Tom Ridge has our nation's gratitude, he's got my gratitude, and I wish he and Michele all the best.

My nominee to succeed Secretary Ridge has the background and the passion that are needed to protect our citizens. As police commissioner on September the 11th, 2001, Bernie Kerik arrived at the World Trade Center minutes after the first plane hit. He was there when the Twin Towers collapsed. He knew the faces of the rescuers who rushed toward danger. He attended the funeral of the officers who didn't come back. Bernie Kerik understands the duties that came to America on September the 11th. The resolve he felt that morning will guide him every day on his job. And every first responder defending our homeland will have a faithful ally in Bernie Kerik.

As he prepares for new responsibility, Bernie Kerik has the love and support of his family: his wife, Hala; his children, Joseph, Celine and Angelina and Lisa. He will always be inspired by his father and hero, Donald Kerik, Sr., and his caring step-mother, Clara. Bernard Kerik has devoted his life to protecting his fellow citizens, and his example has led many others to take up that calling. He loves his country. He has gained the trust and admiration of millions. I call on the Senate to promptly confirm his nomination as the Secretary of Homeland Security.

Thank you for serving, Bernie, and congratulations.

MR. KERIK: Mr. President, thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, sir.

MR. KERIK: Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. President. I am deeply honored and humbled by the opportunity to serve you and this great country. You have been a strong, effective and inspirational leader in the war for freedom and against terror. Should I receive the consent of the Senate, I will devote every power I possess toward fulfilling the vital mission you have set before me and the Department of Homeland Security.

I will be particularly honored, if confirmed, to accept the torch passed from Secretary Tom Ridge, a decorated veteran, faithful public servant, and courageous trail blazer who stood at the helm of the largest reorganization of our federal government in 50 years. Our nation is truly safer because of Secretary Ridge and his tireless efforts.

To all the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security and to their partners in the federal, state, and the local government -- especially the police officers, the firefighters, the emergency medical technicians, and all other first responders -- it is your skill, sacrifice and dedication that has made the lives of all Americans more secure. You have my respect, my admiration, and I look forward to the opportunity to join with you in protecting the nation we all love.

Mr. President, I understand, as you do, the tremendous challenge that faces America in securing our nation and its citizens from the threat of terrorism. And I know what is at stake. On September 11, 2001, I witnessed firsthand the very worst of humanity, and its very best. I saw hatred claim the lives of 2,400 innocent people, and I saw the bravest men and women I will ever know rescue more than 20,000 others. There isn't a day that has passed since the morning of September 11th that I haven't thought of the sacrifices of those heroes and the losses we all suffered. I promise you, Mr. President, that both the memory of those courageous souls and the horrors I saw inflicted upon our proud nation will serve as permanent reminders of the awesome responsibility you place in my charge. I pledge to work tirelessly to honor them, and your trust in me.

I would like to thank and recognize those whose love, support and sacrifice have brought me to this day -- most particularly my wife, Hala; my children, Celine, Angelina, Joseph and Lisa; and my friend and mentor Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. I would also like to express my gratitude to the dedicated men and women of the New York City Police and Correction Departments and the many other law enforcement agencies with whom it was my honor and privilege to serve. It is you and our great country that made it possible for a young boy raised on the modest streets of Patterson, New Jersey, whose dream was to become a cop, to stand today at the side of the President of the United States and accept this extraordinary nomination.

Mr. President, thank you again for this tremendous opportunity and your confidence in me.

THE PRESIDENT: Good job. Thank you, sir.

MR. KERIK: Thank you, thank you.

END 10:01 A.M. EST
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PART 2 OF 2 (KERIK, GIULIANI & BUSH)

Why Did Bernard Kerik Really Bow Out?

Bernard Kerik may have a nanny problem. But is that the only reason he’s bowed out of the Homeland Security job?

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President Bush announces Kerik’s nomination

By Mark Hosenball
Newsweek

Updated: 11:59 p.m. PT Dec 18, 2004

Dec. 11 - It’s hard to know what was the last straw. Ever since President Bush announced on Dec. 3 that Bernard Kerik was his choice to replace Tom Ridge as Secretary of Homeland Security, official circles in Washington and New York have been buzzing with stories about Kerik’s potential liabilities. A hard-charging former New York City police commissioner, Kerik made many enemies and seemed to be dogged by minor scandals. He was a rags-to-riches story whose climb may have been a little too precipitous; in any case, his tangled personal life caught up with him.

On Friday night, Kerik abruptly informed the White House that he was withdrawing from the nominating process, citing potential problems with the immigration and tax status of a former nanny. “I am convinced that, for personal reasons, moving forward would not be in the best interests of your administration, the Department of Homeland Security or the American people,” Kerik said in a letter to President Bush.

But there may have been other issues at play. Kerik, who recently made millions in the private sector, once filed for personal bankruptcy as a New York cop. And just five years ago he was in financial trouble over a condominium he owned in New Jersey. More serious trouble than anyone realized: NEWSWEEK has discovered that a New Jersey judge in 1998 had issued an arrest warrant as part of a convoluted series of lawsuits relating to unpaid bills on his condo. The magazine faxed documents, including the arrest warrant, over to the White House around 6:00 p.m. Friday, asking for comment. Neither Kerik nor the White House had any immediate response. At 8:30 p.m., Kerik had submitted his letter to the president.

Sources close to Kerik and the White House insist the arrest warrant was not the reason Kerik withdrew. The immediate cause was the nanny problem, the sources say, the same issue that took down Bill Clinton’s nomination of Zoe Baird to be Attorney General in 1993. Kerik explained to the White House that while he was preparing documents for his Senate confirmation hearings, he uncovered information “that now leads me,” he wrote, “to question the immigration status” of someone he had been employing as a housekeeper and nanny. For a period of time, Kerik reported, “required tax payments and related filings had not been made.” According to a Kerik associate, having this kind of nanny problem would have been untenable for the head of the Homeland Security department, which oversees the government's immigration agencies.

The lawsuit relating to Kerik’s apartment stems from his failure to pay maintenance fees. A court found that Kerik owed about $5,000 on the unit. When Kerik failed to comply with a subpoena related to the unpaid bill, a judge on Aug. 24, 1998 issued a warrant for Kerik’s arrest. It is unclear whether the warrant was ever served or withdrawn. Court computer records indicate that the lawsuit remains open, but there was some confusion on Friday over the location of the full record.

Kerik was also coming under close scrutiny for his windfall profit from stock options in Taser International, a company that makes high-voltage stun guns. He netted more than $6 million on the options, without ever having invested any of his own money. Kerik joined the Taser board after leaving his police commissioner’s job in 2002 . New York City was a purchaser of the stun guns, as was the Department of Homeland Security. Kerik sold the stock in early November, shortly before an Amnesty International report charged that there had been more than 70 Taser-related deaths since 2001.

Kerik's biggest booster for the job was former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani. Last night, an aide to Guiliani told NEWSWEEK that Kerik had made "the proper judgment" to withdraw.

With Kathryn Williams[/quote]


________________________________________

Ex-NYPD Commissioner Admits Guilt

Bernard Kerik Pleads Guilty To Accepting $165,000 Worth Of Gifts

NEW YORK, June 30, 2006

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Former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik pleaded guilty on June 30, 2006, to charges that he accepted tens of thousands of dollars in gifts. (AP Photo)

"The last year and a half has been a tremendous burden. But today it's over. Now I can get on with my business." Bernard Kerik


(AP) A year and a half after his Homeland Security nomination sank over ethics questions, former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik pleaded guilty Friday to charges of accepting tens of thousands of dollars in gifts while he was a top city official.

Kerik was convicted on a pair of misdemeanors in a deal that spared him any jail time. He instead was ordered to pay $221,000 in fines at the 10-minute hearing.

Kerik acknowledged accepting $165,000 worth of renovations on his Bronx apartment from a company attempting to do business with the city — a New Jersey construction firm with alleged links to the mob. He also admitted failing to report a loan as required by city law.

The plea bargain allows Kerik to continue his new career as a security consultant in the Middle East.

Prosecutors had considered bringing felony bribery charges against him based on allegations that in exchange for the renovations he helped the company, Interstate Industrial Corp., seek business with the city.

In entering his plea, Kerik admitted speaking with city officials about Interstate but never acknowledged a link between the renovations and his support of the company. Outside court, Kerik showed no sign of remorse and offered no apology.

"The last year and a half has been a tremendous burden," Kerik said. "But today it's over. Now I can get on with my business."

Through his attorney, Kerik had previously denied any wrongdoing, saying that he paid every bill he received for the job — about $30,000 — and that he never intervened for Interstate.

The home, bought in 1999 for $170,000, sold in 2002 for $460,000 after real estate advertisements described it as a "gem" adorned with marble and granite.

Kerik first drew national attention while leading the Police Department's response to the Sept. 11 terror attacks. By late 2004, President Bush wanted him for homeland security chief, but he withdrew after acknowledging he had not paid all taxes for a family nanny-housekeeper and that the woman may have been in the country illegally.

More problems surfaced last year when the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement filed court papers seeking to revoke Interstate Industrial's license to work on casinos in Atlantic City. The papers cited testimony by mob turncoats that owners Frank and Peter DiTommaso were associates of the Gambino organized crime family.

The civil complaint also detailed Kerik's cozy relationship with an Interstate official. In 1999, he sent a series of e-mails to the official that "indicated his lack of sufficient funds to both purchase and renovate his new Bronx apartment" and "indicated he would provide information to Frank DiTommaso regarding New York City contracts," the papers said.

In recent months, a grand jury has heard conflicting testimony from the DiTommaso brothers — who denied paying for the renovations — and from a contractor who said they picked up most of the tab. Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a close friend of Kerik and his one-time boss, also testified.

Giuliani said Friday that the guilty pleas do not diminish Kerik's accomplishments.

"This should be evaluated in light of his service to the United States of America and the City of New York," Giuliani said in a statement.

©MMVI, The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



________________________________________


People-Picking Problems For Rudy?

American Prospect: Kerik, Chertoff Could Hurt Rudy Giuliani In 2008

February 15, 2006

by Greg Sargent.

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Rudy Giuliani was the voice of reason and calm after the 9/11 terror attacks. (AP)

"It's not an overstatement to say that Giuliani wants audiences to see him as nothing less than the primary living, breathing embodiment of the city's — and the country's — ability to rally after the Twin Towers disaster."


What do Bernard Kerik and Michael Chertoff have in common?

Both have proven to be disastrous choices to head the Department of Homeland Security. But that's not the only thing they share. Both were enthusiastically championed for this all-important post by Rudolph Giuliani.

As it happens, Giuliani was largely responsible for putting each man on the political map and helping launch their careers. Kerik was once Giuliani's driver. Giuliani subsequently made him his city corrections chief and, eventually, his top cop. Kerik's 2004 nomination as Homeland Security chief was aggressively pushed by Giuliani, which helped persuade Bush to take a flyer on nominating him. We all remember how well that turned out. Kerik's nomination promptly imploded after a host of ethical and financial problems surfaced, and Giuliani subsequently had to apologize to the president.

Chertoff, too, owes a great deal to Giuliani. When the former mayor was U.S. Attorney in the 1980s, he hired Chertoff as a prosecutor and mentored him. Chertoff sent a bunch of wise guys to the slammer, effectively launching his career, and last year, Giuliani was gung-ho about the choice of Chertoff for head of Homeland Security.

Now Republicans in the House are about to launch a searing report about Katrina that demonstrates that the choice of Chertoff has been nothing short of disastrous. As yesterday's Times puts it, Chertoff "drew some of the most scathing criticism in the report" for failing to anticipate the damage the storm would do and failing to determine rapidly that the storm had breached a major levee.

Is Giuliani to blame for Chertoff? Not really. After the Kerik fiasco, Giuliani understandably didn't appear to play a role in the selection of Chertoff. Still, Giuliani wholeheartedly endorsed Chertoff. As he told the Houston Chronicle at the time: "Having already assumed a great deal of responsibility in the investigations of al Qaeda, Michael Chertoff has made clear his commitment to keeping America safe. He'll be a superb Department of Homeland Security secretary."

The fact that Giuliani championed both these men for this job should tell us something about his judgment. His presidential campaign, assuming he runs, will rest largely on the same rationale that transformed him into a national figure to begin with: He led New York in the aftermath of September 11. If you think Bush's reliance on Sept. 11 is a tad over-the-top, wait until you see Giuliani in action. He's given many, many speeches since leaving office, and in them, he likes to urge his audiences to remember Sept. 11. What Giuliani really means by this, of course, is that audiences shouldn't forget his performance in the aftermath of that day. It's not an overstatement to say that Giuliani wants audiences to see him as nothing less than the primary living, breathing embodiment of the city's — and the country's — ability to rally after the Twin Towers disaster.

Now, however, thanks to the implosion of Kerik and the immense failure of Chertoff, these audiences may end up remembering something else about Giuliani. It's clear that the mere fact that Rudy happened to be mayor that day — and his undeniably admirable performance after the attack — has not translated into an ability to recognize in people the qualities needed to carry out the job of protecting the homeland from all manner of catastrophes, man-made and otherwise. Being able to pick the right person for a job as important as this one is, of course, a rather crucial trait in a president. Giuliani's 2008 primary foes will likely do all they can to make sure that audiences don't forget this.

There's a larger point here. Both Bush and Rudy chose Kerik, and now Chertoff, largely because of one reason: They appeared to see the nature of the terrorist threat in exactly the same light as Bush did. Kerik was police commissioner on 9-11, and supposedly bonded with Bush atop the smoking rubble; Chertoff, as assistant attorney general, was widely criticized for helping implement the Bush administration's policy of rounding up hundreds of Arab and South Asian men without charges for months after the disaster.

In both cases, that narrow way of evaluating a potential head of Homeland Security led Bush, and Rudy, to overlook the enormous flaws these two men possessed — in Kerik's case, his many ethical problems, and in Chertoff's case, his well-known lack of managerial experience. Clearly, then, a willingness to see the terrorist threat as a dire one is hardly by itself a guarantor of success in a Homeland Security chief or, for that matter, in a president. If Republicans — and the rest of us — keep that in mind in 2008, that could bode ill for a man who's all but certain to try to sell himself as presidential material largely on the basis of his actions in the aftermath of that terrible day.

Greg Sargent, a contributing editor at New York magazine, writes bi-weekly for The American Prospect Online. He can be reached at greg_sargent@newyorkmag.com.



________________________________________


Former NYPD Chief Kerik Pleads Guilty to Accepting Gifts in Bribery Probe

Friday, June 30, 2006

Associated Press

More than 18 months after his Homeland Security nomination sank over ethics questions, former police commissioner Bernard Kerik pleaded guilty Friday to accepting tens of thousands of dollars in gifts while he was a top city official.

Kerik pleaded guilty to a pair of misdemeanors in state Supreme Court in the Bronx in a deal that spared him any jail time. Kerik was instead ordered to pay a total of $221,000 in fines at the 10-minute hearing.

Kerik acknowledged accepting $165,000 worth of renovations on his Bronx apartment from a company attempting to do business with the city — a New Jersey construction firm with alleged links to the mob. And he admitted failing to report a loan as required by city law.

The plea bargain allows Kerik to continue his new career as a security consultant in the Middle East.

Prosecutors had considered bringing felony bribery charges against Kerik based on allegations that in exchange for the renovations he helped the company, Interstate Industrial Corp., seek business with the city.

Through his attorney, Kerik had previously denied any wrongdoing, saying that he paid every bill he received for the job — about $30,000 — and that he never intervened for Interstate. The home, bought in 1999 for $170,000, sold in 2002 for $460,000 after real estate advertisements described it as a "gem" adorned with marble and granite.

Kerik first drew national attention while leading the New York Police Department's response to the Sept. 11 terror attacks. By late 2004, President Bush wanted him for homeland security chief, but he withdrew after acknowledging he had not paid all taxes for a family nanny-housekeeper and that the woman may have been in the country illegally.

More problems surfaced last year when the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement filed court papers seeking to revoke Interstate Industrial's license to work on casinos in Atlantic City. The papers cited testimony by mob turncoats that owners Frank and Peter DiTommaso were associates of the Gambino organized crime family.

The civil complaint also detailed Kerik's cozy relationship with an Interstate official. In 1999, he sent a series of e-mails to the official that "indicated his lack of sufficient funds to both purchase and renovate his new Bronx apartment" and "indicated he would provide information to Frank DiTommaso regarding New York City contracts," the papers said.

In recent months, a grand jury in the Bronx has heard conflicting testimony from the DiTommaso brothers — who denied paying for the renovations — and from a contractor who said they picked up most of the tab. Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a close friend of Kerik, also testified.




________________________________________


Pentagon plans cyber-surveillance system

Anti-terror tool would expand access to data

Robert O'Harrow Jr., Washington Post

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

A new Pentagon research office has started designing a global computer surveillance system to give U.S. counter-terrorism officials access to government and commercial databases around the world.

The Information Awareness Office, run by former national security adviser John Poindexter, aims to develop new technologies to sift through "ultra-large" data warehouses and networked computers in search of threatening patterns among everyday transactions, such as credit card purchases and travel reservations, according to interviews and documents.

Authorities already have access to a wealth of information about individual terrorists, but they typically have to obtain court approval in the United States or make laborious diplomatic and intelligence efforts overseas.

The system proposed by Poindexter and funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) at about $200 million a year, would be able to sweep up and analyze data in a much more systematic way. It would provide a more detailed look at data than the super-secret National Security Agency now has, the former Navy admiral said.

"How are we going to find terrorists and pre-empt them, except by following their trail?" asked Poindexter, who brought the idea to the Pentagon after the Sept. 11 attacks and now is beginning to award contracts to high-technology vendors.

"The problem is much more complex, I believe, than we've faced before," he said. "It's how do we harness with technology the street smarts of people on the ground, on a global scale."

Though formidable foreign policy and privacy hurdles remain before any prototype becomes operational, the initiative shows how far the government has come in its willingness to use information technology and expanded surveillance authorities in the war on terrorism.

Poindexter said it would take years to realize his vision, but the office has already begun providing some technology to government agencies. For example, Poindexter recently agreed to help the FBI build its data warehousing system. He's also spoken to the Transportation Security Administration about aiding its development of a large-scale passenger profiling system.

In his first interview since he started the "information awareness" program, Poindexter, who figured prominently in the Iran-Contra scandal more than a decade ago, said the systems under development would, among other things, help analysts search randomly for indications of travel to risky areas, suspicious e-mails, odd fund transfers and improbable medical activity, such as the treatments of anthrax sores. Much of the data would be collected through computer "appliances" -- some mixture of hardware and software -- that would, with permission of governments and businesses, enable intelligence agencies to routinely extract information.

Some specialists question whether the technology Poindexter envisions is even feasible, given the immense amount of data it would handle. Others question whether it is diplomatically possible, given the sensitivities about privacy around the world. But many agree, if implemented as planned, it probably would be the largest data surveillance system ever built.

EXPERT VOICES DOUBTS

Paul Werbos, a computing and artificial-intelligence specialist at the National Science Foundation, doubted whether such "appliances" could be calibrated to adequately filter out details about innocent people that should not be in the hands of the government. "By definition, they're going to send highly sensitive, private personal data," he said. "How many innocent people are going to get falsely pinged? How many terrorists are going to slip through?"

Former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart, a member of the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century, said there was no question about the need to use data more effectively. But he criticized the scope of Poindexter's program, calling it "total overkill of intelligence" and a potentially "huge waste of money."

'ORWELLIAN CONCEPT'

"There's an Orwellian concept if I've ever heard one," Hart said when told about the program.

Poindexter said any operational system would include safeguards to govern the collection of information. He said rules built into the software would identify users, create an audit trail and govern the information that is available. But he added that his mission was to develop the technology, not the policy. It would be up to Congress and policymakers to debate the issue and establish the limits that would make the system politically acceptable.

"We can develop the best technology in the world, and unless there is public acceptance and understanding of the necessity, it will never be implemented," he said. "We're just as concerned as the next person with protecting privacy."

POINDEXTER'S COMEBACK

Getting the Defense Department job is something of a comeback for Poindexter. A former national security adviser under President Ronald Reagan, he was convicted in 1990 of five felony counts of lying to Congress, destroying official documents and obstructing congressional inquiries into the Iran-contra affair, which involved the secret sale of arms to Iran in the mid- 1980s and diversion of profits to help the contra rebels in Nicaragua.



________________________________________


The Long Run -- In Matters Big and Small, Crossing Giuliani Had Price

January 22, 2008

By MICHAEL POWELL and RUSS BUETTNER, New York Times

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Mark Green, left, the former public advocate, with Rudolph Giuliani in December 2000. The two men often clashed, and in 1999, Mr. Giuliani attempted to rewrite the City Charter to prevent Mr. Green from succeeding him as mayor.

Rudolph W. Giuliani likens himself to a boxer who never takes a punch without swinging back. As mayor, he made the vengeful roundhouse an instrument of government, clipping anyone who crossed him.

In August 1997, James Schillaci, a rough-hewn chauffeur from the Bronx, dialed Mayor Giuliani’s radio program on WABC-AM to complain about a red-light sting run by the police near the Bronx Zoo. When the call yielded no results, Mr. Schillaci turned to The Daily News, which then ran a photo of the red light and this front page headline: “GOTCHA!”

That morning, police officers appeared on Mr. Schillaci’s doorstep. What are you going to do, Mr. Schillaci asked, arrest me? He was joking, but the officers were not.

They slapped on handcuffs and took him to court on a 13-year-old traffic warrant. A judge threw out the charge. A police spokeswoman later read Mr. Schillaci’s decades-old criminal rap sheet to a reporter for The Daily News, a move of questionable legality because the state restricts how such information is released. She said, falsely, that he had been convicted of sodomy.

Then Mr. Giuliani took up the cudgel.

“Mr. Schillaci was posing as an altruistic whistle-blower,” the mayor told reporters at the time. “Maybe he’s dishonest enough to lie about police officers.”

Mr. Schillaci suffered an emotional breakdown, was briefly hospitalized and later received a $290,000 legal settlement from the city. “It really damaged me,” said Mr. Schillaci, now 60, massaging his face with thick hands. “I thought I was doing something good for once, my civic duty and all. Then he steps on me.”

Mr. Giuliani was a pugilist in a city of political brawlers. But far more than his predecessors, historians and politicians say, his toughness edged toward ruthlessnessand became a defining aspect of his mayoralty. One result: New York City spent at least $7 million in settling civil rights lawsuits and paying retaliatory damages during the Giuliani years.

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Members of Housing Works, a nonprofit group that had challenged Mr. Giuliani’s AIDS policies, marching near City Hall in 1998. The police placed snipers atop City Hall during the march and monitored it by helicopter.

After AIDS activists with Housing Works loudly challenged the mayor, city officials sabotaged the group’s application for a federal housing grant. A caseworker who spoke of missteps in the death of a child was fired. After unidentified city workers complained of pressure to hand contracts to Giuliani-favored organizations, investigators examined not the charges but the identity of the leakers.

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MARILYN GELBER The former Giuliani official says people were “marked for destruction.”

“There were constant loyalty tests: ‘Will you shoot your brother?’ ” said Marilyn Gelber, who served as environmental commissioner under Mr. Giuliani. “People were marked for destruction for disloyal jokes.”

Image
EDWARD I. KOCH His ceremonial portrait was removed from the Blue Room at City Hall.

Mr. Giuliani paid careful attention to the art of political payback. When former Mayors Edward I. Koch and David N. Dinkins spoke publicly of Mr. Giuliani’s foibles, mayoral aides removed their official portraits from the ceremonial Blue Room at City Hall. Mr. Koch, who wrote a book titled “Giuliani: Nasty Man,” shrugs.

“David Dinkins and I are lucky that Rudy didn’t cast our portraits onto a bonfire along with the First Amendment, which he enjoyed violating daily,” Mr. Koch said in a recent interview.

Mr. Giuliani retails his stories of childhood toughness, in standing up to bullies who mocked his love of opera and bridled at his Yankee loyalties. Years after leaving Manhattan College, he held a grudge against a man who beat him in a class election. He urged his commissioners to walk out of City Council hearings when questions turned hostile. But in his 2002 book “Leadership,” he said his instructions owed nothing to his temper.

“It wasn’t my sensitivities I was worried about, but the tone of civility I strived to establish throughout the city,” he wrote. Mr. Giuliani declined requests to be interviewed for this article.

His admirers, not least former Deputy Mayor Randy M. Mastro, said it was unfair to characterize the mayor as vengeful, particularly given the “Herculean task” he faced when he entered office in 1994. Mr. Giuliani’s admirers claimed that the depredations of crack, AIDS, homicide and recession had brought the city to its knees, and that he faced a sclerotic liberal establishment. He wielded intimidation as his mace and wrested cost-savings and savings from powerful unions and politicians.

“The notion that the city needed broad-based change frightened a lot of entrenched groups,” said Fred Siegel, a historian and author of “The Prince of the City: Giuliani, New York and the Genius of American Life.” “He didn’t want to be politic with them.”

He cowed many into silence. Silence ensured the flow of city money.

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ANDY HUMM The gay activist says he muzzled himself to keep financing for AIDS programs.

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Giuliani in Drag

Andy Humm, a gay activist, worked for the Hetrick-Martin Institute, which pushed condom giveaways in public schools. When Mr. Giuliani supported a parental opt-out, the institute’s director counseled silence to avoid losing city funds. “He said, ‘We’re going to say it’s not good, but we’re not going to mention him,’ ” Mr. Humm said.

“We were muzzled, and it was a disgrace.”

Picking His Fights

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James Schillaci, top, was arrested after he sought media attention about a police sting in the Bronx. He eventually called The Daily News, which put his complaint on the front page. “The mayor tarred me up,” he says.

Mr. Giuliani says he prefers to brawl with imposing opponents. His father, he wrote in “Leadership,” would “always emphasize: never pick on someone smaller than you. Never be a bully.”

As mayor, he picked fights with a notable lack of discrimination, challenging the city and state comptrollers, a few corporations and the odd council member. But the mayor’s fist also fell on the less powerful. In mid-May 1994, newspapers revealed that Mr. Giuliani’s youth commissioner, the Rev. John E. Brandon, suffered tax problems; more troubling revelations seemed in the offing.

At 7 p.m. on May 17, Mr. Giuliani’s press secretary dialed reporters and served up a hotter story: A former youth commissioner under Mr. Dinkins, Richard L. Murphy, had ladled millions of dollars to supporters of the former mayor. And someone had destroyed Department of Youth Services records and hard drives and stolen computers in an apparent effort to obscure what had happened to that money.

“My immediate goal is to get rid of the stealing, to get rid of the corruption,” Mr. Giuliani told The Daily News.

None of it was true. In 1995, the Department of Investigation found no politically motivated contracts and no theft by senior officials. But Mr. Murphy’s professional life was wrecked.

“I was soiled merchandise — the taint just lingers,” Mr. Murphy said in a recent interview.

Not long after, a major foundation recruited Mr. Murphy to work on the West Coast. The group wanted him to replicate his much-honored concept of opening schools at night as community centers. A senior Giuliani official called the foundation — a move a former mayoral official confirmed on the condition of anonymity for fear of embarrassing the organization — and the prospective job disappeared.

“He goes to people and makes them complicit in his revenge,” Mr. Murphy said.

This theme repeats. Two private employers in New York City, neither of which wanted to be identified because they feared retaliation should Mr. Giuliani be elected president, said the mayor’s office exerted pressure not to hire former Dinkins officials. When Mr. Giuliani battled schools Chancellor Ramon C. Cortines, he demanded that Mr. Cortines prove his loyalty by firing the press spokesman, John Beckman.

Mr. Beckman’s offense? He had worked in the Dinkins administration. “I found it,” Mr. Beckman said in an interview, “a really unfortunate example of how to govern.”

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JOEL BERGER Ran afoul of Mr. Giuliani after representing victims of police brutality.

Joel Berger worked as a senior litigator in the city corporation counsel’s office until 1996. Afterward, he represented victims of police brutality and taught a class at the New York University School of Law, and his students served apprenticeships with the corporation counsel.

In late August 1997, Mr. Berger wrote a column in The New York Times criticizing Mr. Giuliani’s record on police brutality. A week later, a city official called the director of the N.Y.U. law school’s clinical programs and demanded that Mr. Berger be removed from the course. Otherwise, the official said, we will suspend the corporation counsel apprenticeship, according to Mr. Berger and an N.Y.U. official.

“It was ridiculously petty,” Mr. Berger said.

N.Y.U. declined to replace Mr. Berger and instead suspended the class after that semester.

‘Culture of Retaliation’

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RAYMOND HORTON President of the Citizens Budget Commission, which the mayor denounced.

The Citizens Budget Commission has driven mayors of various ideological stripes to distraction since it was founded in 1932. The business-backed group bird-dogs the city’s fiscal management with an unsparing eye. But its analysts are fonts of creative thinking, and Mr. Giuliani asked Raymond Horton, the group’s president, to serve on his transition committee in 1993.

That comity was long gone by the autumn of 1997, when Mr. Giuliani faced re-election. Ruth Messinger, the mayor’s Democratic opponent, cited the commission’s work, and the mayor denounced the group, which had issued critical reports on welfare reform, police inefficiency and the city budget.

So far, so typical for mayors and their relationship with the commission. Mr. Koch once banned his officials from attending the group’s annual retreat. Another time, he attended and gave a speech excoriating the commission.

But one of Mr. Giuliani’s deputy mayors, Joseph Lhota, took an unprecedented step. He called major securities firms that underwrite city bonds and discouraged them from buying seats at the commission’s annual fund-raising dinner. Because Mr. Lhota played a key role in selecting the investment firms that underwrote the bonds, his calls raised an ethical tempest.

Apologizing struck Mr. Giuliani as silly.

“We are sending exactly the right message,” he said. “Their reports are pretty useless; they are a dilettante organization.”

Still, that dinner was a rousing success. “All mayors have thin skins, but Rudy has the thinnest skin of all,” Mr. Horton said.

Mr. Giuliani’s war with the nonprofit group Housing Works was more operatic. Housing Works runs nationally respected programs for the homeless, the mentally ill and people who are infected with H.I.V. But it weds that service to a 1960s straight-from-the-rice-paddies guerrilla ethos.

The group’s members marched on City Hall, staged sit-ins, and delighted in singling out city officials for opprobrium. Mr. Giuliani, who considered doing away with the Division of AIDS Services, became their favorite mayor in effigy.

Mr. Giuliani responded in kind. His police commanders stationed snipers atop City Hall and sent helicopters whirling overhead when 100 or so unarmed Housing Works protesters marched nearby in 1998. A year earlier, his officials systematically killed $6 million worth of contracts with the group, saying it had mismanaged funds.

Housing Works sued the city and discovered that officials had rescored a federal evaluation form to ensure that the group lost a grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Martin Oesterreich, the city’s homeless commissioner, denied wrongdoing but acknowledged that his job might have been forfeited if Housing Works had obtained that contract.

“That possibility could have happened,” Mr. Oesterreich told a federal judge.

The mayor’s fingerprints could not be found on every decision. But his enemies were widely known.

“The culture of retaliation was really quite remarkable,” said Matthew D. Brinckerhoff, the lawyer who represented Housing Works. “Up and down the food chain, everyone knew what this guy demanded.”

The Charter Fight

The mayor’s wartime style of governance reached an exhaustion point in the late 1990s. His poll numbers dipped, and the courts routinely ruled against the city, upholding the New York Civil Liberties Union in 23 of its 27 free-speech challenges during Mr. Giuliani’s mayoralty. After he left office, the city agreed to pay $327,000 to a black police officer who was fired because he had testified before the City Council about police brutality toward blacks. The city also agreed to rescind the firing of the caseworker who talked about a child’s death.

In 1999, Mr. Giuliani explored a run for the United States Senate. If he won that seat, he would leave the mayor’s office a year early. The City Charter dictated that Mark Green, the public advocate, would succeed him.

That prospect was intolerable to Mr. Giuliani. Few politicians crawled under the mayor’s skin as skillfully as Mr. Green. “Idiotic” and “inane” were some of the kinder words that Mr. Giuliani sent winging toward the public advocate, who delighted in verbally tweaking the mayor.

So Mr. Giuliani announced in June 1999 that a Charter Revision Commission, stocked with his loyalists, would explore changing the line of mayoral succession. Mr. Giuliani told The New York Times Magazine that he might not have initiated the charter review campaign if Mr. Green were not the public advocate. Three former mayors declared themselves appalled; Mr. Koch fired the loudest cannonade. “You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Mr. Mayor,” he said during a news conference.

Frederick A. O. Schwarz Jr., chairman of a Charter Revision Commission a decade earlier, wrote a letter to Mr. Giuliani warning that “targeting a particular person” would “smack of personal politics and predilections.

“All this is not worthy of you, or our city,” Mr. Schwarz wrote.

Mr. Mastro, who had left the administration, agreed to serve as the commission chairman. He eventually announced that a proposal requiring a special election within 60 days of a mayor’s early departure would not take effect until 2002, after both Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Green had left office. A civic group estimated that the commission spent more than a million dollars of taxpayer money on commercials before a citywide referendum on the proposal that was held in November 1999.

Voters defeated the measure, 76 percent to 24 percent. (In 2002, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg advocated a similar charter revision that passed with little controversy.)

Mr. Green had warned the mayor that rejection loomed.

“It was simple,” Mr. Green said. “It was the mayor vindictively going after an institutional critic for doing his job.”

None of this left the mayor chastened. In March 2000, an undercover officer killed Patrick Dorismond, a security guard, during a fight when the police mistook him for a drug dealer. The outcry infuriated the mayor, who released Mr. Dorismond’s juvenile record, a document that legally was supposed to remain sealed.

The victim, Mr. Giuliani opined, was no “altar boy.” Actually, he was. (Mr. Giuliani later expressed regret without precisely apologizing.)

James Schillaci, the Bronx whistle-blower, recalled reading those comments and shuddering at the memory. “The mayor tarred me up; you know what that feels like?” he said. “I still have nightmares.”
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Tue Oct 08, 2013 1:57 am

HUNTER S. THOMPSON'S WORK-IN-PROCESS: "THE SILK ROAD", by Charles Carreon

07/14/07

History will remember Hunter S. Thompson as the man who, in a single blast of supercharged acceleration, blew the doors off the literary establishment, rendered the definitive portrait of Vegas, and defined the outer limits of derangement in his novelistic tour de force “Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas.”

I remember HST most particularly for introducing the concept of “bad craziness.” It was a force I'd known existed, and had even brushed up against, but Hunter had named it, and when I read the words, it was like our eyes met, and we both knew what he was talking about. Bad crazy. Hunter showed us blood-drinking lizards dining on each other in a Vegas lounge, his Samoan lawyer thrashing in the paroxysms of something between death and orgasm, and many other examples of bad craziness. It's like candy laced with heroin. Bad crazy. Loved by his fans for the breakneck pace of his diction, his ability to pen one single-sentence paragraph after another, and string them together into narratives that were brilliant and breathtaking, Hunter operated a solitary outpost of humanity in the jungle of suburbo-corporate America. We miss him, and I so wish I could have said RIP Bush Gang before I had to say RIP HST, so he could have been here to see the crashing and burning of this regime that he so despised. I will drink to its demise for you, Hunter, and for my son Josh, two warriors who didn't get to see the end of the battle.

The piece posted below is from an uncompleted novel Hunter titled “The Silk Road.” and introduces us to the main character, Gene Skinner, “a professional adventurer who worked in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot for a CIA-owned property called Air America and who now lives with his beautiful half-Cuban fiancee in a trailer park on Marathon Key ... which is nine worlds away from Long Island in every way except that it sits upon the edge of the sea and fits Skinner's idea of The American Dream in the same way that West Egg fit Gatsby's.” I like playing with character names and one thing I'll say is a name like “Gene Skinner” sounds tailor-made for somebody good at getting into people's pants. Enjoy the read — this piece is a gut-buster.

Hunter S. Thompson's Work-In-Process: "The Silk Road"
FISHHEAD BOYS
By Hunter S. Thompson
From The Silk Road: Fast Boats on The Ocean At Night

We were calling a cab in the Key West airport when I saw these two Fishhead boys grab my bags off the carousel. The skinny one was halfway to the parking lot with the big red, white, and blue seabag full of diving gear before I realized what was happening ...

No, I thought. No, this can't be true. Not right here in front of my eyes, in the blue-lit glare of the breezeway in this friendly little airport, with palm trees all around and Mother Ocean rolling up on the beach just a few hundred yards to the south.

It must be a setup, I thought; some nark in the pay of the White House that evil bastard Hamilton has been trying to bust me ever since I set him on fire in Orlando ... and this was, after all, another election year.

In the good old days I might have thought it was Gordon Liddy, just running one of his capers. But Gordon doesn't work for the White House anymore, and Hamilton has other problems -- like trying to reelect what Dick Goodwin calls “the only truly Republican president since Herbert Hoover” on the Democratic ticket.

So, for the White House and even the DEA ... and on a “need to be busted” basis, I figured my name was not even on the list for 1980. I was not even covering the campaign.

***

I still had the phone in my hand when I saw the fat one. He came shuffling out of the darkness, where he'd obviously been standing lookout for his buddy; he glanced around to see that nobody was watching, then reached down and picked up my triple-locked leather satchel.

Whoops, I thought, let's have a word with these boys. They were locals — punks, maybe nineteen or twenty years old, and they did it so casually that I knew they had been here before. Semipro luggage thieves, the lowest and cruelest kind of scum. I felt the phone pulling out of the wall as I suddenly moved toward the action.

Cut the thumbs off these vultures, I thought. Carve on them.

Then I remembered that my bone knife was in the red, white, and blue diving bag. All I had for leverage was this baby blue telephone receiver that I'd just ripped off the wall by the Travelers' Aid counter. It was trailing about six feet of coiled blue rubber wire as I ran.

"Goddamn you rotten bastards I'll kill you goddamn brainless --"

This savage screaming confused me for a moment. Then I realized it was me. Was I moving faster than my own sounds?

Maybe not. But pure rage is a serious fuel, and now I was moving at least like Dick Butkus on speed toward this poor doomed screwhead who had already staggered and fallen to one knee under the weight of my leather satchel. I was still about 100 feet away when he heard my screams and saw me coming. I knew I had the angle on him, even before he staggered ... he was out in the open now and his face was stupid with terror.

“Eat shit and die!”

It was a thundering brutal scream, and for a moment I thought it was me again, still moving faster than sound ....

But this time the scream was really behind me. It was Skinner: He'd been raving, drooling drunk all the way from Aruba, but the sudden screech of battle had jerked him awake from his stupor and now he was right behind me, screaming as he ran. I pointed left toward the parking lot, at the skinny geek with my diving bag. I smelled the whiskey pumping up from Skinner's lungs as he passed me and angled left to where I'd pointed.

It was not quite an hour after sunset. We had come in on the last flight and then lingered for a while in the pilots' lounge, so now there was nobody else in that end of the airport. A magic moment in the tropics: just the four of us, like beasts gone into a frenzy, back to the fang and the claw ... and for just a few seconds the only other sound in that empty white corridor where we were closing with terrible speed and craziness on these two Fishhead boys was the high speed rubbery slap of Skinner's new Topsiders on the tile as we bore down on them ... wild shouts and the squeal of new rubber ....

***

A punk's nightmare: like getting sucked into the blades of a jet engine, for no good reason at all ...

Right. Just another late gig at the airport .... Just you and Bubba, like always; maybe two or three times a week: just hang around the baggage area until something worth stealing shows up late on the carousel ... and then, with perfect dumb style and timing, you seize the bags you've been watching and ...

YE FUCKING GODS! Two drunken screaming brutes, coming wild out of nowhere and moving with awesome speed ...

“Hey Bubba! What's all that screaming? I thought there was nobody --”

“O God, no! Run, Bubba, run!"

Killer Drunks! They jumped us like mad dogs. At first I saw only one of them. He had big brown eyes and no hair ... I was scared, man. I mean the way he was running and screaming just scared the shit out of me .... It was CRAZY.

Bubba never had a chance. These were serious Killer Drunks, man. I mean they were out of their fucking minds. The last thing I remember is when Bubba started to scream and then all of a sudden I didn't hear anything ... and that's when the other one hit me. It almost broke my back, and all I remember after that is pain all over my head and somebody yelling, ”Eat Shit and Die!“ They were serious, man. They were trying to kill us. They were crazy!

***

Well ... maybe so. But we were there to cover the Boat Race, not to act crazy.

And certainly not to kill Fishhead boys ... although Skinner was so crazed on whiskey that for a while I thought he really was going to kill that skinny bleeder he ran down out there in the parking lot.

"You screwhead bastard!" he was yelling. Then I heard the awful smack of bone against bone .... The sound drove me wild; somewhere in that madness I recall a flash of remorse, but it had to be very brief. My last coherent thought before we made physical contact with these people was, Why are we doing this?

There was not much time to think. All of a sudden the whole airport came alive with the sounds of violence. A pitiful cry drifted in from the palm-shrouded darkness of the parking lot as Skinner made his hit ... and then I crashed into the fat boy at top speed, leg-whipping him in the groin as we collided and then tumbled wildly across the tile floor and into the wall of the Avis booth.

I grabbed him by the hair and bit deeply into the flesh on the side of his neck. The sudden taste of hot blood caused me to bite him twice again before he went stiff and started making sounds like a chicken. I got a grip on his hair and dragged him out to the parking lot, where I heard Skinner still whipping on the other one.

"Let's tie these bastards to a tree and play hurricane," I said. He was still kicking the body of the unconscious thief -- but he heard what I said, and smiled.

So we lashed these two Fishhead boys to a palm tree with some yellow nylon cord from my diving bag; then we beat them with tree limbs for twenty or thirty minutes. Finally, when we were too exhausted to whip on them anymore, I wanted to cut off their thumbs with the bone knife, but Skinner said it would be wrong.

***

Later, in my penthouse suite at the Pier House, I felt vaguely unsatisfied.

"We don't need it," Skinner insisted. "The joke's over when you start mutilating people -- hacking off thumbs and weird shit like that. We're not in Damascus, Doc. Get a grip on yourself."

I shrugged. Why not? Why push it?

Skinner was drinking heavily now, but his mind seemed clear. "There could be a few questions when they find those boys tied up to that tree in the morning," he said.

"Never mind that," I told him. ”We have work to do in the morning; we have our own questions to ask."

He stared into his drink for a long moment. "Ah yes,” he said finally, “The Race.”

***

Indeed. We were there to cover the boat race -- big off-shore boomers like Cigarettes and Scarabs and Panteras, ninety miles an hour on the open sea. When I asked if I could ride in one of the race boats, the driver replied, “Sure you can -- but if you have any fillings in your teeth, you'll probably lose them.”

“What?”

“That’s right,” he said. “We kick ass. We never slow down.”

"Okay," I said. "I guess I'll ride with you."

The driver looked up at me from his seat in the cockpit of the boat. It was forty feet long and the whole rear end was two 300-horsepower Chrysler engines. "No you won't," he said after waiting a moment while Skinner took some pictures of his boat. "It's against the rules."

Skinner spit down into the cockpit. "Fuck you, man," he said. "We're riding on this boat. We're taking it to Cuba."

The driver seized a wrench handle and quickly stood up in the cockpit. "You conch bastard!" he snarled. "You spit on my boat!"

Skinner was wearing three Nikons around his neck, and I grabbed him by one of the straps. "Are you sick?" I said quietly. "Is this how you act when I finally get you a decent assignment?"
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Tue Oct 08, 2013 2:01 am

WHEN WE'RE TALKING ABOUT WAR, WE'RE TALKING ABOUT PEACE, by Charles Carreon

07/15/07

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Now that the Bush Gang is well on its way to fulfilling its ebola-like destiny of dissolving into a puddle of toxic sputum, it is important to look back at how the public was fooled again. We must start to learn how to debug our brains of infectious propaganda. On June 18, 2002, when the Delusional-in-Chief was just warming to his role as a war-president, he addressed a group of federal housing employees on the issue of war, which of course, hadn't started yet. Trying out the language he would ultimately din into the heads of the entire nation before this gathering of bureaucrats, Bush uses the poison-candy argument that our enemy hates us because we are virtuous. Quite strange really, since our declared policy was actually one of neocon paranoid amorality, which ultimately was used to justify first-strike action against Iraq. But I quibble. As Bush explained, we are virtuous because we are a free, racially diverse democracy -- and that is, ironically, "why they hate us." Since they hate us, we must "hunt them down" and kill them. Having demonized the enemy and justified his extinction, Bush waxes philosophical, and after invoking the innocent presence of a children's choir, a Hitleresque touch if ever there was one, he baldly declares, "when we're talking about war, we're talking about peace."

Let me first talk about how to make sure America is secure from a group of killers, people who hate -- you know what they hate? They hate the idea that somebody can go buy a home. They hate freedom; that's what they hate. They hate the fact that we worship freely. They don't like the thought of Christian, Jew and Muslim living side by side in peace. They don't like that at all. And therefore, they -- since they resent our freedoms, they feel like they should take out their resentment by destroying innocent lives. And this country will do everything we can possibly do to protect America. (Applause.)

And that's going to mean making sure our homeland is secure, and I appreciate the progress we're making on setting up a Department of Homeland Security. I know it's going to be hard for some in Congress to give up a little power here and there, but I think it's going to happen because people realize we're here to serve the American people, not here to serve a political party or turf in the United States Congress. (Applause.)

But the best way to secure the homeland is to hunt them down one by one. And I mean hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice, which is precisely what America will do. (Applause.)

I want to thank the choir for coming, the youngsters for being here. I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace. We want there to be peace. We want people to live in peace all around the world. I mean, our vision for peace extends beyond America. We believe in peace in South Asia. We believe in peace in the Middle East. We're going to be steadfast toward a vision that rejects terror and killing, and honors peace and hope.



________________________________________

President Reiterates Goal on Homeownership

THE WHITE HOUSE

http://www.whitehouse.gov

Remarks by the President on Homeownership
Department of Housing and Urban Development
Washington, D.C.

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As Secretary Mel Martinez listens, President George W. Bush discusses home ownership at the Department of Housing and Urban Development Tuesday, June 18. White House photo by Tina Hager. White House photo by Tina Hager

10:30 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you all very much for that kind welcome. I'm here for a couple of reasons. First, I want to thank you all for your service to the greatest nation on the face of the Earth. (Applause.) I'm here to celebrate National Homeownership Month, because I believe owning a home is an essential part of economic security. And I'm concerned about the security of America. (Applause.)

I had the pleasure on June the 12th of speaking to the last President who visited HUD. I wish number 41 a happy birthday. (Applause.) And I'm glad you've invited me here today, I really am. I first am really proud of Mel Martinez and Alphonso Jackson. I've known Mel for a while, I've known Alphonso for a long time. There was no question in my mind that these two fine Americans would do a great job in leading this important agency. (Applause.)

I want to thank all those who have assumed leadership roles, who have left your states and your friends to come and serve America. And that's important. Service to our country is an incredibly important part of being an American.

I want to thank all those who have worked here for a short time and long time, who will be here after we leave. I want to thank a man named Larry Thompson, who has worked here for -- where's Larry? (Applause.) Larry's been here for 30 years. And I want to -- appreciate your service, Larry, and thank you for setting such a fine example for many others inside this building who serve the country.

Let me first talk about how to make sure America is secure from a group of killers, people who hate -- you know what they hate? They hate the idea that somebody can go buy a home. They hate freedom; that's what they hate. They hate the fact that we worship freely. They don't like the thought of Christian, Jew and Muslim living side by side in peace. They don't like that at all. And therefore, they -- since they resent our freedoms, they feel like they should take out their resentment by destroying innocent lives. And this country will do everything we can possibly do to protect America. (Applause.)

And that's going to mean making sure our homeland is secure, and I appreciate the progress we're making on setting up a Department of Homeland Security. I know it's going to be hard for some in Congress to give up a little power here and there, but I think it's going to happen because people realize we're here to serve the American people, not here to serve a political party or turf in the United States Congress. (Applause.)

But the best way to secure the homeland is to hunt them down one by one. And I mean hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice, which is precisely what America will do. (Applause.)

I want to thank the choir for coming, the youngsters for being here. I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace. We want there to be peace. We want people to live in peace all around the world. I mean, our vision for peace extends beyond America. We believe in peace in South Asia. We believe in peace in the Middle East. We're going to be steadfast toward a vision that rejects terror and killing, and honors peace and hope.

I also want the young to know that this country, we don't conquer people, we liberate people -- because we hold true to our values of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The security of our homeland, the need to make sure that America is safe and secure while we chase peace is my number one priority for the country.

But I've got another priority, as well. I not only want America to be safer and stronger, I want America to be better. (Applause.) I want America to be a better place. I worry about our economy, because there are people who can't find work who want to work. In this town, people look at numbers all the time -- you know, such and such a number dropped, or this number increased. What I worry about are hearts and souls. That's what I worry about. And if somebody is trying to find work who can't find work, we need to continue to expand our job base. (Applause.)

We also have got to understand, in this land of plenty, there are pockets of hopelessness and despair. You know, I mentioned the word American Dream in Atlanta. I also recognize that some people aren't sure that dream extends to them. Some people don't even know what the dream means. And our job -- our jobs, our collective jobs, is to make sure that notion of the American Dream extends into every single neighborhood around this country. (Applause.)

I know this isn't the right department when I talk about education, but education, making sure every child is educated and no child is left behind, is part of making sure the American Dream extends to every single neighborhood in America. (Applause.) And we're making progress in a practical way when it comes to educating children, because, you know what, for the first time the federal government says, if you receive money, you need to let us know whether the children are learning to read and write and add and subtract. And if they are, we'll praise the teachers and praise the parents and praise the administrators. But if not, if our children can't read and write and add and subtract, instead of just hoping something changes, we're going to use the accountability system to insist upon change, so every child has a chance to realize the dream in America. (Applause.)

But I believe owning something is a part of the American Dream, as well. I believe when somebody owns their own home, they're realizing the American Dream. They can say it's my home, it's nobody else's home. (Applause.) And we saw that yesterday in Atlanta, when we went to the new homes of the new homeowners. And I saw with pride firsthand, the man say, welcome to my home. He didn't say, welcome to government's home; he didn't say, welcome to my neighbor's home; he said, welcome to my home. I own the home, and you're welcome to come in the home, and I appreciate it. (Applause.) He was a proud man. He was proud that he owns the property. And I was proud for him. And I want that pride to extend all throughout our country.

One of the things that we've got to do is to address problems straight on and deal with them in a way that helps us meet goals. And so I want to talk about a couple of goals and -- one goal and a problem.

The goal is, everybody who wants to own a home has got a shot at doing so. The problem is we have what we call a homeownership gap in America. Three-quarters of Anglos own their homes, and yet less than 50 percent of African Americans and Hispanics own homes. That ownership gap signals that something might be wrong in the land of plenty. And we need to do something about it.

We are here in Washington, D.C. to address problems. So I've set this goal for the country. We want 5.5 million more homeowners by 2010 -- million more minority homeowners by 2010. (Applause.) Five-and-a-half million families by 2010 will own a home. That is our goal. It is a realistic goal. But it's going to mean we're going to have to work hard to achieve the goal, all of us. And by all of us, I mean not only the federal government, but the private sector, as well.

And so I want to, one, encourage you to do everything you can to work in a realistic, smart way to get this done. I repeat, we're here for a reason. And part of the reason is to make this dream extend everywhere.

I'm going to do my part by setting the goal, by reminding people of the goal, by heralding the goal, and by calling people into action, both the federal level, state level, local level, and in the private sector. (Applause.)

And so what are the barriers that we can deal with here in Washington? Well, probably the single barrier to first-time homeownership is high down payments. People take a look at the down payment, they say that's too high, I'm not buying. They may have the desire to buy, but they don't have the wherewithal to handle the down payment. We can deal with that. And so I've asked Congress to fully fund an American Dream down payment fund which will help a low-income family to qualify to buy, to buy. (Applause.)

We believe when this fund is fully funded and properly administered, which it will be under the Bush administration, that over 40,000 families a year -- 40,000 families a year -- will be able to realize the dream we want them to be able to realize, and that's owning their own home. (Applause.)

The second barrier to ownership is the lack of affordable housing. There are neighborhoods in America where you just can't find a house that's affordable to purchase, and we need to deal with that problem. The best way to do so, I think, is to set up a single family affordable housing tax credit to the tune of $2.4 billion over the next five years to encourage affordable single family housing in inner-city America. (Applause.)

The third problem is the fact that the rules are too complex. People get discouraged by the fine print on the contracts. They take a look and say, well, I'm not so sure I want to sign this. There's too many words. (Laughter.) There's too many pitfalls. So one of the things that the Secretary is going to do is he's going to simplify the closing documents and all the documents that have to deal with homeownership.

It is essential that we make it easier for people to buy a home, not harder. And in order to do so, we've got to educate folks. Some of us take homeownership for granted, but there are people -- obviously, the home purchase is a significant, significant decision by our fellow Americans. We've got people who have newly arrived to our country, don't know the customs. We've got people in certain neighborhoods that just aren't really sure what it means to buy a home. And it seems like to us that it makes sense to have a outreach program, an education program that explains the whys and wherefores of buying a house, to make it easier for people to not only understand the legal implications and ramifications, but to make it easier to understand how to get a good loan.

There's some people out there that can fall prey to unscrupulous lenders, and we have an obligation to educate and to use our resource base to help people understand how to purchase a home and what -- where the good opportunities might exist for home purchasing.

Finally, we want to make sure the Section 8 homeownership program is fully implemented. This is a program that provides vouchers for first-time home buyers which they can use for down payments and/or mortgage payments. (Applause.)

So this is an ambitious start here at the federal level. And, again, I repeat, you all need to help us every way you can. But the private sector needs to help, too. They need to help, too. Of course, it's in their interest. If you're a realtor, it's in your interest that somebody be interested in buying a home. If you're a homebuilder, it's in your interest that somebody be interested in buying a home.

And so, therefore, I've called -- yesterday, I called upon the private sector to help us and help the home buyers. We need more capital in the private markets for first-time, low-income buyers. And I'm proud to report that Fannie Mae has heard the call and, as I understand, it's about $440 billion over a period of time. They've used their influence to create that much capital available for the type of home buyer we're talking about here. It's in their charter; it now needs to be implemented. Freddie Mac is interested in helping. I appreciate both of those agencies providing the underpinnings of good capital.

There's a lot of faith-based programs that want to be involved with educating people about how to buy a home. And we're going to have an active outreach from HUD. (Applause.)

And so this ambitious goal is going to be met. I believe it will be, just so long as we keep focused, and remember that security at home is -- economic security at home is just an important part of -- as homeland security. And owning a home is part of that economic security. It's also a part of making sure that this country fulfills its great hope and vision.

See, I tell people -- and I believe this -- that out of the evil done to America will come some incredible good. (Applause.) You know, they thought they were attacking a country so weak and so feeble that we might file a lawsuit or two, and that's all we'd do. (Laughter.) That's what they thought. We're showing them the different face of America. We're showing them that we're plenty tough. When it comes to taking somebody trying to take away our freedoms, we're tough, and we're going to remain tough and steadfast. (Applause.)

But I also want people to see the deep compassion of America, as well. I want the world to see the other side of our character, which is the soft side, the decent side, the loving side. I want people to know that when we talk about dreams, we mean big dreams. And when we talk about a free society, we want a society in which every citizen has the chance to advance, not just a few.

And part of the cornerstone of America is the ability for somebody, regardless of where they're from, regardless of where they were born, to say, this is my home; I own this home, it is my piece of property, it is my part of the American experience. It is essential that we stay focused on the goal, and work hard to achieve that goal. And when it's all said and done, we can look back and say, because of my work, because of our collective work, America is a better place. Out of evil came incredible good.

Thank you all for coming by.

END 10:49 A.M. EDT
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Tue Oct 08, 2013 2:04 am

The Mariel Boat-Lift, by Charles Carreon

07/15/07

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The Mariel Boat-lift was perhaps Fidel Castro's cleverest exploit in the service of the revolution. Taking Uncle Sam up on his offer to allow some Cubans to leave for Miami, he simultaneously emptied the Mariel mental asylum for the criminally insane of its burgeoning masses, leaving it to our generous nation to attend to their welfare. Hunter Thompson recorded the stateside consequences of Fidel's strategic end-run of our immigration policy in a paragraph that showcases Hunter's fanatical dedication to the economical use of periods, which after all, only stop the action:

Hunter S. Thompson wrote:

The raw elements of the story are (in no special order): sex, violence, greed, treachery, big money, fast boats, blue water, Cuba, CIA politics, Fidel Castro's sense of humor, one murder, several rapes, heavy gambling, massive drug smuggling, naked women, mean dogs, total breakdown of law and order, huge public cash transactions, the Iran Hostage Crisis, overloaded boats catching fire and sinking at night in the Gulf Stream, the nervous breakdown of a U.S. Coast Guard commander, fast cars running roadblocks on Highway AIA, savage brawls in Key West bars, Boog Powell, sunken treasure, wild runs on the ocean at night, personality disintegration, desperate wagering on NBA playoff (TV) games and 1980 presidential primaries, a grim and violent look at American politics in the eighties, dangerously tangled love affairs, warm nights and full moons, one hurricane, stolen credit cards, false passports, deep-cover CIA agents, the U.S. Marines, a jailbreak in Key West at the peak of the refugee invasion, political corruption in South Florida, the emergence of Miami as the Hong Kong of the Western World, Colombian coke dealers, crooked shrimp-fishermen, scuba diving with shotguns (powerheads, mounted on spears) ... and all the other aspects of high crime, bad craziness, and human degradation that emerged from that strange and shameful episode in our history.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Tue Oct 08, 2013 2:19 am

KARL ROVE RETURNS TO OZ, by Charles Carreon

08/15/07

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An Untimely Exit

Well tune up the exit chorus, Karl Rove is leaving the White House, having cleansed it of every last piece of the damning evidence that once littered the place. The fixer has done his job, and now, the media is parroting, Karl Rove is going to spend more time with “his family.” Rove's cover story is that he is withdrawing from active politics. He will be spending time tending apple trees. You are thinking, like I am, this seems a very different type of Karl Rove than the one we know — who is not know for taking a back seat in anything involving his sphere of concern.

Flying Ahead of The Storm

Then there is the small matter of the subpoena from Congress over the US Attorney-gate scandal. The storm has arrived on his doorstep. He can barely be said to be leaving ahead of it, and some might say it's suspicious, his withdrawing from the President’s side just as the all-but toothless Congress masses its courage for a pitiful attempt to gum Bush to death. A cowardly charge, Karl would admit, by cowardly people, but a charge nonetheless. Rove is sure he will prevail, but the rest of us would not be too surprised to discover that Rove had just begun the last political battle of his life.

A Strategic Retreat

Rove wants all his time to strategize and plan. He will assert maximum control over his records, and will be better able to resist disclosing evidence of White House involvement in the now widely-condemned plot to purge US Attorneys from their positions in preparation for rigging the vote in various states. US Attorneys were fired who refused to pursue phoney “voter fraud” cases — a code-word for suppressing the vote among minority and lower-income voters by threatening prosecution. Republicans have used this tactic to discourage minority voting for years, being great fans of anything that keeps ordinary people from participating in the political life of the nation where they live and pay taxes.

Return to Oz

Karl has been successful in part because he tries not to lie when he might get caught. Remember he remained upright where Scooter Libby fell - he knows where to draw the line. So maybe he was being secretly candid when he announced his destination, and meant he was going to spend time with “The Family.” It’s a fine old Family he’s part of, the kind that is run by deep thinkers like him, who need time to think and strategize, especially when their strength is on the wane. So now it’s back behind the curtain with him, where he can pull the levers of power in secret. It’s another fine day in the Land of Oz.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Tue Oct 08, 2013 2:22 am

REID PROMISES BUSH: "WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS, STAYS IN VEGAS!", by Charles Carreon

by Charles Carreon

02/02/08

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Hello, Americans. Are you worried about the way our country’s being run lately? Do you get the feeling that corporate interests control everything, and the little person has no say? Are you afraid that both parties have sold out to the lobbyists? Are you sure that the noise about Britney hides something worse than a failing economy, a failed war, and a collapsing infrastructure?

If so, I think it’s time for us to discuss the Protect America Act. This Protect America Act is the largest legislative cowflop I have ever seen, and if the secret jockeying around its enactment and re-enactment are any indication, it is a central part of The Bush Amnesty Package.

The Protect America Act, enacted on August 1, 2007, was born with one of the shortest lifespans ever set on federal law – it was good for only six months, and thus was set to expire on February 1st, three days ago. This Protect America Act is so important to the president that on January 25th he said he’d use his veto to kill it if the Congress renewed it for a mere thirty days. He wants it made permanent, so America will be permanently protected. But just six days later, the Great Decider decided differently, and sat down in Las Vegas to sign a fifteen-day extension of the Act that Congress had quietly slipped through both the House and the Senate without telling any of their constituents.

Now let’s discuss what the Protect America Act is, and why I think it’s really the Bush Amnesty Bill. Most average people haven't paid too much attention to the NSA, that's the National Security Agency — the same NSA that Oliver North used as a cover for dealing cocaine and weapons on behalf of the Nicaraguan fascists we called “contras.” They don't think much about it, because it acts in secret. Sometimes, apparently even before September 11, 2001, the NSA secretly went to AT&T and Verizon and a bunch of other telecommunications companies, the “telcos,” as they're known, and got them to agree to let the NSA tap the telephones and read the email of American citizens. Some evidence has been revealed by an AT&T whistleblower, who says AT&T shared 100% of its customer information and communications with the NSA. That, in case you don't know it, violates the warrant requirement of the 4th Amendment, the one that keeps our “persons, houses, papers and effects” safe from warrantless searches.

There's a special court that the Bush NSA could have asked to issue those warrants. It's called the “FISA court,” that stands for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and it always issues warrants for wiretaps when requested. FISA proceedings are secret, and have been used to bug the phones of mobsters and narcotrafficers very effectively for years. Not good enough for the Bush NSA. They don't want to respect any law. They just went to AT&T and Verizon and said, “Who's your Daddy?” And the telcos just gave it up for poppa. This is what we call the “domestic spying scandal.”

There's about 50 lawsuits pending against AT&T, Verizon, and other telcos for selling out their customers in this way. I, personally, have already called AT&T and asked for my money back for all the time they let the NSA invade my privacy. I told the AT&T lady that, if I'd checked into a hotel and discovered my room had two-way mirrors, I'd certainly want a refund, and sue for invasion of privacy, too. Makes sense, doesn't it?

But the issue runs far deeper than the simple right to be free from having your privacy invaded, which can be personally humiliating. The point is that the government, especially, must not invade our privacy, because whenever it does, it has run off the rails, and is doing something the Founding Fathers never intended to permit, and erected the Fourth Amendment as a barrier against – the King’s ruthless methods of putting down supposed plots against “the Crown” by imprisoning people without charges, reading their letters, and interrogating their friends and family. The 4th Amendment is so precious to the American legal tradition that we let criminals, even murderers, out of jail because the evidence against them was seized without warrants. The current Supreme Court hasn’t changed that. In courts across America, every day judges let drug dealers walk without batting an eye when a narc makes a bust with evidence seized in violation of the dealer’s privacy.

Nevertheless, reading our emails and listening to our phone calls was such a priority for the Bush gang that they just blithely committed a federal felony. There is no reason to believe they’ve stopped reading our email, or that their focus is on bomb-wielding terrorists. They know their real enemies are votes, not bombs. Don’t forget what we learned in the Attorney-Gate scandal. While the NSA was illegally wiretapping Americans, Alberto Gonzales’ Department of Justice was filling the US Attorney ranks with loyalists who would help local vote-rigging by three methods: prosecuting Democratic candidates to slander them, challenging minority voters with identification requirements, and not prosecuting Republican vote-riggers. So how sure can you be that Republic dirty tricks operatives haven’t already used this information to undermine our electoral process?

The domestic spying scandal really is bad news for Bush, which is why he’s doing deals in Vegas. He and his spy-chiefs could end up answering charges for conducting illegal wiretaps, the sort of charges currently pending against Anthony Pellicano, the private investigator to the stars, who made illegal wiretaps one of his prime offerings. Of course, these prosecutions would be under Federal statute, 50 USC § 1809, the FISA section that provides for 5 years in jail if a government employee “intentionally engages in electronic surveillance ... except as authorized by statute.” While it's ”a defense to a prosecution under subsection (a) of this section that the defendant was a law enforcement or investigative officer engaged in the course of his official duties and the electronic surveillance was authorized by and conducted pursuant to a search warrant or court order of a court of competent jurisdiction,“ that wouldn't give Bushco much comfort, would it, since this is all about warrantless surveillance. But more than likely, as is ever the case, the Bush gangsters would probably go down for obstruction of justice and perjury for trying to cover it all up. These prosecutions could sweep in Alberto Gonzales, Harriet Myers, Dick Cheney, maybe even El Busho himself. Not a matter to be dealt with lightly.

You can hear Dick Cheney thinking — and he knows something about avoiding prosecution, having dodged a bullet with that Scooter Libby case, and letting Harry Whittington take the blame for getting in the way of his birdshot in that little hunting snafu down in Texas. This is not something you can trust the federal judiciary on. Even Justice Roberts, Thomas, and Alito might not save your ass, once you were out of office. They're on the bench for life, and have short memories. No, better go to our pet Congress, and get immunity for the telcos. That'll keep us safe, because if you can't sue the telcos, you're not going to ever be able to pry through NSA secrecy to find out whose ear was actually glued to the receiver while all Americans chatted on gaily, oblivious to the fact that Big Daddy Knows All.

When this was first discovered by the press in December 2005, Congress pretended to really care. But they got buffaloed by the White House into back-door approving the program by way of the Protect America Act, which really should've been called ”Protect The Administration Act.” Sponsored by Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, this injects weasel words into the clear language of FISA, allowing warrantless surveillance against anyone, get this — “reasonably believed to be located outside the United States.” That means that as long as the Protect America Act is in effect, FISA is gutted, because if one party to the conversation is “reasonably believed” to be outside the United States, the entire communication can be tapped without a warrant. With servers swapping emails all over the world, and IP addresses the only clue as to their real origin, a case could be made that any email might reasonably be, on one end, coming from outside the US. And does the fact that you receive spam from Nigeria open your whole inbox to surveillance? If so, and why not, then privacy is toast! For an extra dose of irony, consider the fact that Congressmen have communications with foreign-based people every day – communications that they have authorized the Bush NSA to read willy-nilly. Well, I guess that’s what happens when Congress doesn’t have time to read the legislation, or consider its effects.

Are the Democrats naïve? It hardly matters, for if so they were criminally negligent. The Republicans broke the law as it existed, but Congress violated the Constitution when it enacted the Protect America Act. These “representatives” may as well have spilled the blood of the Founders of this nation and spit on the Constitution. They have let the wolf of tyranny in the door and watched it eat the babe of liberty. I guess that’s why they only did it for six months. That salved their jaded consciences some.

You may recall a little dust-up in Congress over the passage of this Benedict Arnold legislation, enough to get it enacted “temporarily,” good for only 180 days from the effective date of August 1, 2007. That meant it was due to lapse on February 1, 2008. Good enough that Cheney, and all the other Bush gang members, slept well through the holidays. And to avoid disturbing that sleep, it's all been hush-hush since then. You didn't exactly hear Rupert Murdoch breaking the news that the Protect America Act was about to expire. The Republicans certainly haven't gone to the electorate to plead their case for the extension of this rule. Sure, it's a little hard to understand the legalese, but for heavens sakes, The Protect America Act was about to expire! Terrorists around the world are licking their chops, ready to send emails stuffed with terrorist plans that no-one will even be able to read! Presumably terrorists are holding their breath, just waiting to see us drop our guard.

And yet, you didn’t hear a word. Although this law is so important that on January 25th Bush threatened to veto a thirty-day version, demanding a permanent extension, he didn’t even mention it once during his State of the Union Address four days later, on January 29th. I suspect that on the 25th, Bush was playing chicken with Reid, threatening to launch invective at the Democrats in his State of the Union address for refusing to make Protect America Act permanent. Bush apparently decided against that, because during the Address, he talked a lot about protecting America, without once referring to the Act itself.

It had been allowed to vanish from the public radar screen. To be honest, I hadn’t thought about when the Protect America Act was going to expire. The New York Times had done nothing to disturb my ignorance. February 1st was Friday. I was drinking coffee at Starbucks as usual, and there isn’t an article in The Times about this relatively important topic. But someone screwed up, because on page A12 of the New York Times, I stumbled over a statement in an article entitled “Senate Democrats' Stimulus Plan Hits Roadblock,” and it said, referring to Harry Reid, Democratic Senate Majority Whip:

Mr. Reid said late Thursday that he had reached agreement with Mr. McConnell on amendments related to the proposed permanent extension of the administration's terrorism surveillance program. Republican leaders had viewed the agreement as a condition for moving the stimulus bill to the floor.

That alarmed me. Every time Harry Reid makes a deal with the devil, I mean the White House, the people end up on the losing end. So I did what every red blooded American blogger can do, and called up Reid's office. They all said they didn't know about it, and had no response. I called Obama's office, following up a lead that he'd skipped a vote on the issue, and they admitted that he had, but also claimed he'd been present on Monday, January 28th, and voted against domestic spying. So I looked up what his vote was, and it wasn't against anything. It was FOR extending the authorization by another 30 days. All the Democratic Senators voted the same way. It seems as if the one thing the Democrats have no stomach for is fighting TODAY. Kick the can down the road until the issue is forgotten, and it can be compromised away without a fight.

Although she's the head traitor in the House, and not a Senator, I figured Nancy Pelosi would have the straight dope, but her people don't even answer the phone. I talked to staff in Clinton's office, Kennedy's office, Max Baucus' office, and many others. They all denied knowing what I was talking about. I called one of the good guys on the issue — Sen. Christopher Dodd, who keeps introducing legislation to kill the immunity deal, but his people knew nothing. Of course I couldn't learn anything from the bad guy, JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER of West Virginia, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who’s pushing hard for permanent adoption of Protect America, and immunity for telcos. Stop me there — a Rockefeller from West Virginia? I thought Rockefellers were New Yorkers. Well, obviously he's not the child of any coal miner's daughter. At any rate, he's the “Democrat” who's really behind all this. Some kinda Democrats they make down in West Virginia. Would somebody go out to West Virginia and yell down a coal mine — “Hey folks — the boss is tappin' yer phone!” But Harry Reid's from Nevada, where you learn to watch your back, so he's a little more careful when he sells out. That must be why none of the Senate press offices could even tell me that the Protect America Act had been extended by fifteen days the very day before. That, and the fact that the President happened to be in Las Vegas when he signed this legislation, which is kind of strange. Doesn’t he usually sign bills in the Oval Office?

Can it be the case that, while all the Washington Senatorial press offices basked in blissful ignorance, Bush just happened to be in Nevada, Harry Reid’s home state – to sign a 15-day extension of the Protect America Act, an extension half as long as one he’d declared unacceptable just a week prior? I mean, I know Harry Reid’s constituency is all based there, but what, did some showgirls hold the president hostage and make him sign? Even weirder, since when do we extend statutes suspending the constitutional requirement of a warrant for a period of two weeks? What the hell is going on here?

I’ll tell you what’s going on. This fifteen-day extension shows the President and his cronies are dealing very seriously on this issue. They know they could go to jail, and give the whole witch-hunt-for-terrorists business a bad name. Everything could unravel around this one. Meanwhile, the Democrats are helping to keep the fire damped down over this domestic spying thing, supposedly to come out of this Congressional session with a few extra bucks for groceries and rent for regular folks. Remember, everyone’s been quoting that Clinton-era saying, “It’s the economy, stupid.” So in a deal that some might call cynical, Reid is getting a few bucks for regular folks in exchange for cutting the Bush gang loose for their crimes against our constitution, our privacy, our dignity as Americans.

It is often said that justice delayed is justice denied. Certainly it’s the purpose of the Bush gang to deny Americans the justice that should be served on them, and delay is their method. Harry Reid is ready to give them all the delay they need. The deal he referred to having reached is contained in Senate Bill 2557, that Reid introduced on January 28th. It would extend the Protect America Act four months, until “July 1, 2009.” Hell of a lot better than 15 days. In fact, you could divide the dollars directed to poor people by the stimulus package by 120, the number of days by which Senate Bill 2557 will extend the Protect America Act, and determine just how much it cost the Republicans to buy each day of delay. But it will be worth every penny. Warrantless surveillance will remain the law of the land well into the summer, by which time the nation will be wrapped up in presidential campaign fever, and the last Bush holdouts will be deploying their parachutes. The Bush gang is betting that Congress will be less willing to confront the issue four months from now. Meanwhile, they will enjoy the power to violate our privacy in ways we don’t even understand.

The Democrats know what they’re doing, but as usual, they’ve got an outdated strategy. It was the economy, stupid, but it’s gone way beyond that. It’s about having government we can trust, from the Congress to the President to the Supreme Court. Right now, we have none of it. We have a president who lies, a Congress that runs in fear from the word “terror,” and a Supreme Court that worships government and reduces the individual to a pawn. Congress is afraid to reveal the depth of the traitorous conduct that they have let the Bush regime perpetrate. That’s why they enacted the Protect America Act in the first place – to give Bush the cover he needs to get out of office without being impeached, and to retire in safety, without being indicted.

The media disinformation campaign is going great. The gutting of the 4th Amendment has gone all but unnoticed. Good liberals like me think that the point is whether the telcos will get amnesty, overlooking the fact that the Protect America Act itself is the elephant in the room. I started out from that viewpoint when I began researching this report, and ended up deciding that the whole “amnesty for telcos” issue is a sidetrack. Sure, the telco lawsuits are the most likely avenue for an investigation that would lead to discovering who, in the Bush gang, put all this stuff in motion. But only idiots with media credentials really ask themselves, “who authorized this?” That’s like asking if Reagan authorized North to supply the Contras with weapons in defiance of a law making it strictly illegal to provide that assistance. Of course Reagan authorized it – that’s why North did it. And of course Bush authorized domestic spying – that’s why he’s willing to stretch his immunity deal out for fifteen days.

Realizing that the worms that would come out of this domestic spying garbage can, if it were opened, would be large enough to eat all of Washington DC, the two houses of Congress are as ready as two mutts in an alley to do the deed. Eventually, they’ll grant the telcos immunity from lawsuits, because that’s all the Republicans will need to keep the lid on the scandal. But are they so messed up that they might permanently adopt the Protect America Act? It’s one thing to let the Bush gang go free when they deserve to swing on the end of a rope. It’s quite another to burn the 4th Amendment right out of the Constitution for the rest of the life of our nation.

Here’s what I think – anytime somebody is bargaining in the area of fifteen days, they’re weak. And when Bush cuts his demands from vetoing a 30-day deal to signing a 15-day deal, there has got to be some invisible sweetener – an unspoken quid pro quo, something more than the mere four month extension bill that Reid is proposing. Something that, in essence, is granting Bush and his affiliated criminals amnesty for running America into the ground, ruining our economy, our national pride, our ability to stand together as Americans proud to be Americans. It all turns round this Protect America Act, I’m sure. Call Harry Reid now at 202-224-3502, and tell him you heard about the secret deals in Vegas. Tell him to ditch his amnesty plans for Bush, let the Protect America Act expire, and save our Constitution.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Tue Oct 08, 2013 9:41 pm

GOD THIS ELECTION HAS GOTTEN BORING, by Charles Carreon

03/04/08

Punks are by nature contrarian, so it stands to reason that I would be bored to the bone in the middle of an election season that is supposedly a standing-room only attraction. Can't help it. The Obamajama is making history, and is reputed to be hella charismatic, but I'm just not picking up on the magic. I must have a bit of the skepticism that infects the aged, who have been bilked out of their lunch money so many times it's become second nature to expect it. The more politicians say they have the best interests of all at heart, while promising to mightily smite our foes here and abroad, the more I can see the forked tongue darting between their lips.

The things that have poisoned politics are:

The requirement that politicians be pious

The requirement that politicians never offend anyone

The ban on criticising "the military"

The veneration of past "leaders," such as FDR, Truman, Reagan, etc.

Politicians are by nature foul mouthed, hot headed, and lustful. To require that they be pious corrupts them with a vice far more dangerous to a democracy -- hypocrisy.

Politicians should be exceptionally free to offend corporations, banks, military officers, and any damn one else who gets in the way of doing the business of the people. As voters, we need aggressive politicians, on our behalf, not namby pamby bootlickers and swine suckers.

The military is not a sacred institution, even though its members spill their own blood and that of others in pursuit of their mission. Badly-planned military missions that cause the loss of human life need to be criticised and aborted. The loss of military discipline that results in torture, abuse, and murder requires the strictest censure. Che Guevara was quickest to execute those purported "revolutionaries" who used battle as an excuse for gangsterism and brutality.

Past leaders are no more deserving of veneration than our current ones. Elevating these past representatives as great "leaders" leads to a cult of personality that the media can endlessly exploit in Hitleresque fashion. Screw leaders. We need REPRESENTATIVES.

Good night and please be punk.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Tue Oct 08, 2013 9:44 pm

WATERBOARD BERNANKE, by Charles Carreon

03/08/08

Well, the Decider has decided to keep all our options on the table, and I for one have no problem with it. Waterboarding is, by all accounts, nothing more than scary, and that could be said of roller coasters. Frankly, I'd confess to just about anything to avoid being put through a second trip on one of these seriously scary "thrill rides" that people call fun. The people who design those rides are sadists, and the people who pay to ride them are masochists. I say build a roller coaster in Gitmo and when they refuse to confess, just put 'em through the loop de loop one more time. You'll have them accusing their grandmothers of being infidels before another day goes by.

On the other hand, we have hard cases. Take Ben Bernanke for example. He just can't give it to us straight. He leaks out the bad news like a used-up adult diaper. No, we aren't in a recession -- the economy just has no points of strength. There is no core inflation, everything just costs more. The Federal Reserve Bank keeps dropping the rates to "fuel the economy," but most people's credit card rates are firmly stuck to the ceiling, while banks can't find anybody credit-worthy enough to deserve a loan. Student lenders are getting out of the business because they just can't depend on the government to send them hundreds of millions in un-needed subsidies any more.

I say sterner measures are required. Put Bernanke on the board, and I don't mean the board of directors. Strap him to a board, put a towel over his face and start pouring. He will merely experience a sensation like drowning, and will be none the worse for wear. Then we'll tilt him up, let him get a gasp of air and demand some straight answers: Where did all the money go? Is it in Iraq? Did giving away pallet-loads of hundred dollar bills in Baghdad have a negative effect on the economy? Could the daily cost of the war possibly be part of our economic bad news? Is the dollar going to plummet right down to the depths of hell?

You've got to admit these are important questions, to which we need the answers. Waterboarding has to be used in those situations where, if we don't get the answers, thousands of people will die. Well, I think we should use it when millions of people are about to go broke. Some of them, after all, will inevitably go postal and shoot their colleagues, fellow-students, and teachers. All because we couldn't get a straight story from Ben, and our Treasury officials were too squeamish to resort to lawful techniques that our Commander in Chief has preserved for their use. Maybe they're holding back because Bernanke hasn't been declared a terrorist or an enemy combatant, in which case, that's one more reason to broaden the definition of terrorism. 'Cause this economy has me scared sh*tless.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Tue Oct 08, 2013 9:46 pm

BEAR STEARNS BAILOUT NOT A GOOD SIGN, by Charles Carreon

03/15/08:

Okay, let's see here ... I woke up on Friday to complete a huge writing project, bleary from working too late the night before and reeling from the flu, and what do I hear? The Federal Reserve Bank is making a loan to Morgan Stanley so it can make a loan to Bear Stearns, and the Fed is taking as collateral -- you guessed it -- mortgage backed securities. The reason? Because Bear was plumb outta cash. As in -- all the billions are gone.

Now that's no problem for a Decider -- you just write another check! Which is what Ben Bernanke, Bush's master of financial prestidigitation, did. Now, no one was screaming from the high heavens that this was a bailout, and in fact the Decider himself was down at The Economic Club in New York City himself that very day, telling people we didn't want to get all excited and have a bailout, and there was one going on that very moment.

Maybe you're confused -- isn't the government supposed to bail out banks? Yes, banks that paid insurance into the Federal Deposit Insurance Fund -- they pay their insurance, and their deposits are covered. But Bear Stearns is not a bank, it's an investment bank (big difference), and it doesn't pay insurance premiums, and it had no claim upon the public purse that entitled it to be bailed out. It was kind of a huge favor that Bernanke was doing. But of course the Fed isn't supposed to do favors, it's supposed to carry out monetary policy.

So why did Bernanke authorize this outpouring of generosity? So Bear Stearns owners wouldn't go broke? So Bear executives wouldn't leap from their office windows? Well, that's not what he's saying. The reason is -- because otherwise we would have a financial meltdown in this country, and Bush would probably become about as popular as Mussolini after Italy lost the second world war. Which is not why Bush hired him.
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