Entries Tagged as 'Terrorism'
March 10th, 2012 · Accountability, Homeland Security, National Security, News Alert, War on Terrorism
February 7th, 2012 · Congress, Corruption, Deception, Economy, Ethics, Federal Spending, Government, Government Control, Greed, Non-Transparency, Tax Dollars, Taxes, Terrorism, Terrorism from Within
By David S. Fallis, Scott Higham and Kimberly Kindy, Published: February 6
A U.S. senator from Alabama directed more than $100 million in federal earmarks to renovate downtown Tuscaloosa near his own commercial office building. A congressman from Georgia secured $6.3 million in taxpayer funds to replenish the beach about 900 feet from his island vacation cottage. A representative from Michigan earmarked $486,000 to add a bike lane to a bridge within walking distance of her home.
Thirty-three members of Congress have directed more than $300 million in earmarks and other spending provisions to dozens of public projects that are next to or within about two miles of the lawmakers’ own property, according to a Washington Post investigation.
In recent weeks, lawmakers have acknowledged the public’s growing concern that they appeared to be using their positions to enrich themselves. In response, the Senate last week passed legislation that would require lawmakers to disclose mortgages for their residences. The bill, known as the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (Stock) Act, would also require lawmakers and executive branch officials to disclose securities trades of more than $1,000 every 30 days. At the same time, the Senate defeated an amendment, 59-40, that would have permanently outlawed earmarks.
The House is scheduled to vote on the Stock Act on Thursday.
Earmarks have long been controversial, with the focus on spending that unduly favors campaign donors or constituents. The Post’s review is the first systematic effort to examine the alignment of earmarks with lawmakers’ private interests.
Earmarks are a fraction of the federal budget, and the numbers uncovered by The Post are relatively small in the scheme of the overall Congress, but the behavior by lawmakers from both parties points to a larger issue at a time when confidence in Capitol Hill is at an all-time low.
The congressional financial disclosure system obscures certain relationships. Lawmakers are not required to disclose the addresses of their personal residences or the employment of their children and parents. The lawmakers are also allowed to put properties in holding companies without disclosing the properties’ locations. Current versions of the Stock Act would not change that. To provide a fuller portrait of congressional connections, The Post compared the financial disclosure forms with the public record to track spending on projects near legislators’ properties or on programs employing their relatives.
In interviews, lawmakers said their earmarks were needs brought to them by the city and state officials they represent to help pay for safer roads, nicer neighborhoods or improved local economies. They characterized questions about the nearby locations of their own holdings as irrelevant, insisting there is no conflict. Any potential personal benefit — financial or otherwise — is nonexistent, minimal or secondary to the needs of the public, they said.
December 10th, 2011 · Accountability, Congress, Deception, Dissention, Ethics, Federal Spending, Government, Non-Transparency, Obama Exposed, Obama Nominees, Obama's Scheme, Politics, Terrorism from Within
Reference: Issues concerning past Obama Nominees
By David Nakamura and Ylan Q. Mui, Published: December 8
An agitated President Obama accused congressional Republicans on Thursday of not standing up for ordinary Americans after the Senate derailed his nominee to head a new federal consumer protection agency.
At a brief news conference, the president charged that his Republican adversaries were not acting “on the level” after they blocked, by filibuster, his appointment of former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“This makes no sense,” Obama declared. “Consumers across the country understand part of the reason we got into the financial mess we did is because regulators are not doing their jobs.”
Two days after signaling that he would make economic inequality a central pillar of his reelection effort, Obama seized the opportunity Thursday to restate his argument that Republicans were not acting in the interest of middle-class Americans.
December 8th, 2011 · Accountability, Corruption, Deception, Ethics, Government Control, Healthcare, Money Matters, Non-Transparency, Obama Exposed, Obama Nominees, Obama's Scheme, Politics, Selling Out the US, Supreme Court, Tax Dollars, Terrorism from Within, Treason
By Jerry Markon, Published: December 8
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. clashed with congressional Republicans on Thursday, defending the Justice Department in the face of criticism of its “Fast and Furious” gun-trafficking sting and its refusal to turn over documents on the health-care law adopted last year.
Under exhaustive questioning from the House Judiciary Committee, Holder reiterated that his department would not provide Congress with more information about Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan’s health-care-related role when she was President Obama’s solicitor general. Republicans are seeking internal e-mails and other documents, arguing that Kagan might have to recuse herself from the court’s decision on the health-care law if she was involved in the legislation.
Attorney General Eric Holder says it’s inexcusable for the bureau to use a controversial tactic known as “gun-walking” in its effort to identify and prosecute major arms trafficking networks along the Southwest border. (Dec.
Holder also was grilled over the Phoenix-based Fast and Furious operation, in which federal agents targeting drug cartels allowed guns to flow illegally onto U.S. streets and into Mexico. The operation led to a storm of criticism from Republicans, many of whom have urged Holder to resign.
The attorney general, who has resisted calls to step down, said the controversial Fast and Furious tactic known as “gun walking,’’ was “wholly unacceptable” and “must never happen again.” But he also condemned his accusers, saying the congressional investigation of the gun sting has been political and calling for cooperation in fighting firearms trafficking along the southwest border.
“Each of us have a duty to act, and to rise above partisan divisions and politically motivated ‘gotcha’ games,’’ Holder said. “The American people deserve better.’’
Tags: Stacking the Deck
November 25th, 2011 · Accountability, Deception, Democrats, Dissention, Economy, Ethics, Federal Spending, Government, Government Control, Greed, Money Lost, Money Matters, Non-Transparency, Obama Nominees, Obama's Scheme, Stimulus, Tax Dollars, Terrorism from Within
By Jon Kyl, Rob Portman, Pat Toomey, Jeb Hensarling, Fred Upton and Dave Camp, Published: November 25
We do not choose to add more to the blame game for failure of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction , but one Democratic talking point needs debunking: that the talks failed because of Republicans’ attachment to the Bush tax cuts.
The untold story of the negotiations is the significance of the Republican offer of fundamental tax reform. It is critical to understand the interplay between the proposal (dubbed the “Toomey plan”) and existing tax law.
First, a bit of history. The 2001 and 2003 changes to the tax code reduced marginal rates for all taxpayers as well as the rates for capital gains, dividends and the death tax. For technical reasons, all of these provisions expire at the end of next year — meaning that if Congress does not act, Americans will face the largest tax increase in our history.
This prospect has put a wet blanket over job creation and economic recovery. It would be the wrong medicine for our ailing economy. As President Obama has famously said, “You don’t raise taxes in a recession.” Partially to avoid this result, but also to try to meet the Democrats partway — given their absolute insistence on big, new tax increases — Republicans offered a proposal that would have both reformed the current code and produced significant new tax revenue.
November 21st, 2011 · Accountability, Congress, Economy, Federal Spending, Finance, Greed, Money Lost, Money Matters, Non-Transparency, Obama Nominees, Obama's Scheme, Politics, Stimulus, Tax Dollars, Terrorism from Within
A special congressional committee created to try to curb the national debt abandoned its work and conceded failure Monday, the latest setback in a long effort by Washington to overcome ideological differences and stem the rising tide of red ink.
In a joint statement issued hours before a midnight deadline, the Democratic and Republican leaders of the panel said that they were “deeply disappointed” by their inability to reach an agreement and that they hope for progress in the months ahead.
supercommittee conceded defeat Monday in its quest to conquer a government debt that stands at a staggering $15 trillion, unable to overcome deep and enduring political divisions over taxes and spending. (Nov. 21)
“Despite our inability to bridge the committee’s significant differences, we end this process united in our belief that the nation’s fiscal crisis must be addressed and that we cannot leave it for the next generation to solve,” said the statement from Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). “We remain hopeful that Congress can build on this committee’s work and can find a way to tackle this issue in a way that works for the American people and our economy.”
December 23rd, 2010 · Corruption, Deception, Democrats, Ethics, Federal Spending, Government Control, Greed, Selling Out the US, Terrorism from Within, Treason
A lame-duck session with unexpected victories
By Perry Bacon Jr. Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 22, 2010; 4:34 PM
When the lame-duck session of Congress started more than a month ago, President Obama looked defeated and deflated, publicly acknowledging the “shellacking” his party had taken in the November midterm elections.
Now, a six-week session that was expected to reflect a weakened president has turned into a surprising success. On Wednesday, Obama signed into law the repeal of the military’s ban on openly gay service members, and the Senate approved a new nuclear treaty with Russia that the president had declared a top priority.
Those accomplishments come after Obama successfully negotiated a free-trade agreement with South Korea, reached a deal with Republicans that extended unemployment benefits and prevented a tax hike for millions of Americans and signed a bill that will make school lunches healthier.
This blitz of bill signings completes a dramatic first two years for the nation’s first black president that included the enactment of arguably the most major liberal policies since the Johnson administration but also the Democrats’ biggest loss of House seats in 72 years.
After the election defeats and bitter battles over the health care and financial regulation legislation, the next two years were widely expected to be tied up by gridlock between the GOP-controlled House and the Democratic president. But the past month suggests the future could be different.
Obama and his team reinvented their political approach over the past several weeks to win key Republican votes, no longer relying mainly on the huge Democratic majorities in Congress that they won’t have in the new year.
December 23rd, 2010 · Iraq, Selling Out the US, War on Terrorism
By Liz Sly Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, December 22, 2010; 12:56 AM
BAGHDAD – When a series of giant billboards depicting the face of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki mysteriously appeared on a central Baghdad square several weeks ago, the response from Maliki’s office was swift and decisive. Police were dispatched to remove the posters, which echoed the displays that had been ubiquitous under Saddam Hussein.
If Iraq’s prime minister indeed has dictatorial tendencies, as his detractors allege, they do not include self-promotion of the Hussein variety. Maliki’s aides say the prime minister was furious, and they suspect the billboards may have been raised to discredit him at a critical moment in the negotiations for a new government – to fuel perceptions that he is another Iraqi strongman in the making.
Whether he is such a strongman is among the critical questions that loom over Iraq’s young and still-fragile democracy as Maliki embarked Tuesday on his second term as prime minister.
“He has the potential to be a dictator,” said Faleh Jabar, an Iraqi scholar who heads the Beirut-based Iraq Institute for Strategic Studies. “It’s my biggest fear, because that would destroy our democracy.”
The pugnacious, square-jawed Maliki has been credited with steering Iraq out of the chaos of sectarian war earlier in the decade. Now he is destined to lead Iraq beyond the scheduled departure of U.S. forces at the end of next year, into an era in which the U.S. role in Iraq will inevitably wane, along with the ability to shape the country’s political direction toward the democracy that formed a central justification for the war.
That Maliki has an authoritarian streak has been amply demonstrated over the past 4 1/2 years, critics say. Maliki, originally selected in 2006 as a compromise candidate assumed to be weak and malleable, has proved to be a tough and ruthless political operator who cannily subverted parliament to cement his authority over many of the new democracy’s fledgling institutions.
In his role as commander in chief of the armed forces, he replaced divisional army commanders with his appointees, brought provincial command centers under his control and moved to dominate the intelligence agencies.
The widely feared Baghdad Brigade, which answers directly to Maliki’s office, has frequently been used to move against his political opponents. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have accused him of operating secret prisons in which Sunni suspects have been tortured.
December 23rd, 2010 · Accountability, Homeland Security, National Security, War on Terrorism, WikiLeaks
By Greg Miller Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 22, 2010; 12:24 AM
Officially, the panel is called the WikiLeaks Task Force. But at CIA headquarters, it’s mainly known by its all-too-apt acronym: W.T.F.
The irreverence is perhaps understandable for an agency that has been relatively unscathed by WikiLeaks. Only a handful of CIA files have surfaced on the WikiLeaks Web site, and records from other agencies posted online reveal remarkably little about CIA employees or operations.
Even so, CIA officials said the agency is conducting an extensive inventory of the classified information, which is routinely distributed on a dozen or more networks that connect agency employees around the world.
And the task force is focused on the immediate impact of the most recently released files. One issue is whether the agency’s ability to recruit informants could be damaged by declining confidence in the U.S. government’s ability to keep secrets.
“The director asked the task force to examine whether the latest release of WikiLeaks documents might affect the agency’s foreign relationships or operations,” CIA spokesman George Little said. The panel is being led by the CIA’s Counterintelligence Center but has more than two dozen members from departments across the agency.
To some agency veterans, WikiLeaks has vindicated the CIA’s long-standing aversion to sharing secrets with other government agencies, a posture that came under sharp criticism after it was identified as a factor that contributed to the nation’s failure to prevent the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
December 23rd, 2010 · Accountability, Defense, Homeland Security, National Security, War on Terrorism
By Peter Finn and Anne E. Kornblut Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, December 21, 2010; 7:30 PM
The Obama administration is preparing an executive order that would formalize indefinite detention without trial for some detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but allow those detainees and their lawyers to challenge the basis for continued incarceration, U.S. officials said.
The administration has long signaled that the use of prolonged detention, preferably at a facility in the United States, was one element of its plan to close Guantanamo. An interagency task force found that 48 of the 174 detainees remaining at the facility would have to be held in what the administration calls prolonged detention.
“We have a plan to close Guantanamo, and this detainee review process is one element,” said an administration official who discussed the order on the condition of anonymity because it has yet to reach the president.
However, almost every part of the administration’s plan to close Guantanamo is on hold, and it could be crippled this week if Congress bans the transfer of detainees to the United States for trial and sets up steep hurdles to the repatriation or resettlement in third countries of other detainees.
Officials worked intensively on the executive order over the past several weeks, but a senior White House official said it had been in the works for more than a year. If Congress blocks the administration’s ability to put detainees on trial or transfer them out of Guantanamo, the official said, the executive order could still be implemented.