Thursday, January 05, 2006


Abramoffukkah continues to haunt politicians in Washington. Yesterday, the Bush administration announced that they were donating the $6,000 in checks received from the former lobbyist to charity. Scott McClellan, Bush mouth piece, said this:
On Wednesday, McClellan called Abramoff’s actions “outrageous” and reiterated to reporters that Bush was not friends with the lobbyist and does not recall ever meeting him—though he said it was possible that Bush met Abramoff at a fund-raising function or at a White House holiday party. (According to McClellan, Abramoff was a guest at three White House Chanukah receptions.) When asked about Abramoff’s contacts with other White House officials, McClellan said, “I don’t keep track of staff.”
Yet, from the same article:
During the 2004 campaign, Abramoff was a top fund-raiser for the Bush re-election effort, raising more than $100,000 for the campaign. While exact figures on how much he raised for the campaign aren’t known, Abramoff told The New York Times in July 2003—months before active fund-raising began—that he had already raised $120,000 for the Bush-Cheney campaign. “And I haven’t even started making phone calls,” the lobbyist told the Times.

...Yet Abramoff’s ties to the administration extended well beyond campaign checks. In 2001, Bush tapped the lobbyist as a member of his Presidential Transition Team, advising the administration on policy and hiring at the Interior Department, which oversees Native American issues. Abramoff’s former top aide, Susan Ralston, currently serves as the top aide to Karl Rove, one of the president’s closest political advisers.
I know Presidential campaigns are expensive and lots of people give money, however if someone helped raise $120,000+ and were appointed to my staff, I'd sure remember meeting that person. Democrats are not cleansed of this scandal either, but it's going to hit Republicans far worse.

The Guardian today has an excerpt from James Risen's forthcoming book. The NY Times reporter was the one who exposed the NSA spy scandal involving American citizens. In the excerpt today he claims that the CIA bungled (surprised?) a transfer of nuclear plans to Iran. In a plan that, according to Risen, began under the Clinton Administration and was carried out under the Bush administration, a CIA operative was to give or sell to the Iranians plans for building a trigger to a nuclear device. The CIA provided plans were flawed. The idea being that they were to set back the Iranian program for years as they tried to devise the nature of the flaw. However, the operative used, a former Russian scientist, spotted the flaw and told the Iranians that a flaw existed.
In Vienna, however, the Russian unsealed the envelope with the nuclear blueprints and included a personal letter of his own to the Iranians. No matter what the CIA told him, he was going to hedge his bets. There was obviously something wrong with the blueprints - so he decided to mention that fact to the Iranians in his letter. They would certainly find flaws for themselves, and if he didn't tell them first, they would never want to deal with him again.
It gets better...or worse. Of course, the Iranians already had plans from Pakistan, so they may have spotted the flaw anyhow. In a tangent, the story also outlines how, in 2004, a CIA agent accidentilly transferred information to an agent in Iran containing the names of all of the CIA spies in that country. It turns out, the Iranian recipient of this information was a double agent. The entire network was destroyed.
As the CIA later learned, the Iranian who received the download was a double agent. The agent quickly turned the data over to Iranian security officials, and it enabled them to "roll up" the CIA's network throughout Iran. CIA sources say that several of the Iranian agents were arrested and jailed, while the fates of some of the others is still unknown.

This espionage disaster, of course, was not reported. It left the CIA virtually blind in Iran, unable to provide any significant intelligence on one of the most critical issues facing the US - whether Tehran was about to go nuclear.

In fact, just as President Bush and his aides were making the case in 2004 and 2005 that Iran was moving rapidly to develop nuclear weapons, the American intelligence community found itself unable to provide the evidence to back up the administration's public arguments. On the heels of the CIA's failure to provide accurate pre-war intelligence on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, the agency was once again clueless in the Middle East. In the spring of 2005, in the wake of the CIA's Iranian disaster, Porter Goss, its new director, told President Bush in a White House briefing that the CIA really didn't know how close Iran was to becoming a nuclear power.

If you'll pardon the pun, this is pretty explosive stuff, if true. The problem I have with this is that Risen worked for the NY Times. The NY Times, of course, was a paper involved with passing Bush administration propaganda along to the public in it's publicity campaign to begin a war in Iraq. NY Times reporters did not properly follow up the stories which have since been debunked. It is well known that some members of the administration would like to make Iran their next target. So, have these stories that Risen is telling been properly confirmed or are they just more administration rumors? Even if they are true, do they really change what our foreign policy position with Iran should be? It is accepted among many that Iran has been looking towards building a nuclear weapon for years. Why should the policy change now?

The Washington Times reports today that a former NSA whistleblower wants to testify before Congress on illegal surveillance programs carried out by the NSA and the Defense Intelligence Agency.
"I intend to report to Congress probable unlawful and unconstitutional acts conducted while I was an intelligence officer with the National Security Agency and with the Defense Intelligence Agency," Mr. Tice stated in the Dec. 16 letters, copies of which were obtained by The Washington Times.

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