NEWS OF THE WEEK THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA FORGOT TO REPORT
By Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Brendan DeMelle
Bush Regrets Legacy as “Guy Really Anxious for War”
President Bush told the UK newspaper The Times in an exclusive interview that he regrets his reputation as a “guy really anxious for war” in Iraq. Recognizing the bitter divisions both at home and abroad caused by the war, Bush suggested, “in retrospect I could have used a different tone, a different rhetoric.” Phrases such as “bring them on” or “dead or alive,” Bush said, “indicated to people that I was, you know, not a man of peace.”
McClatchy Investigation Confirms Routine Torture At U.S. bases in Afghanistan
An eight-month investigation by McClatchy Newspapers confirmed the mistreatment and systematic torture of detainees in Afghanistan, starting in 2001 and lasting at least 20 months. Sixty-eight percent of former detainees interviewed by McClatchy say they were assaulted in Afghanistan, far surpassing the number of detainees with similar stories from Guantanamo Bay. Prison guards interviewed by McClatchy say they were deployed to run Afghan detention centers with inadequate training, a poor understanding of the rules of conduct, and an absence of supervision. “Everybody hit their boiling point,” according to one interviewee who described how he and fellow guards routinely beat detainees. Asked why they would abuse prisoners, one guard said “retribution for September 11, 2001,” indicating that many guards believed the detainees were terrorists, even though the vast majority of the detainees had little or no connection to al Qaeda.
“Whether they got in trouble or not, everybody struck a detainee at some point,” said Brian Cammack, an Army Reservist sentenced to three months in military confinement and a dishonorable discharge for hitting a detainee. Spc. Jeremy Callaway, another Army Reservist who admitted to striking numerous detainees in Afghanistan, told military investigators that he was ordered to “mentally and physically break the detainees.” He testified that, “I guess you can call it torture.”
Bush Administration Enables Oil Companies to Harass Already Threatened Polar Bears
The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recently issued rules allowing seven big oil companies to harass and potentially harm polar bears in the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea. The new regulations shield the seven companies, which include Shell Oil and ConocoPhillips, from any liability for harming polar bears while exploring for oil and gas in the Chukchi Sea. The FWS argues that exploration in the midst of polar bear habitat would have a “negligible effect on the bears’ population,” a claim at odds with the Interior Department’s decision less than a month ago to list polar bears as a threatened species because of habitat loss due to global warming. Industrial activity is known to disrupt polar bears’ search for food and their efforts to raise cubs in dens protected from human disturbance.
Right Wing Talk Host Michael Reagan Calls for Murder of Anti War Activists
On June 13, talk radio host Michael Reagan, the adopted son of former president Ronald Reagan and occasional guest anchor on Fox News, called for the murder of anti-war activists who, according to Reagan, are sending letters to U.S. soldiers arguing that the U.S. government had a role in 9/11.
Reagan told his nationally-syndicated radio audience:
“Take em out and shoot em. . . . You take em out, they are traitors to this country, and shoot them. . . . Anybody who would do that doesn’t deserve to live. You shoot them. You call them traitors, that’s what they are. And you shoot em dead. I’ll pay for the bullets.”
Newt Gingrich Claims Supreme Court Decision Will ‘cost us a city’
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich echoed the extreme right wing rhetoric of Justice Antonin Scalia on Face the Nation June 15th, claiming that the Supreme Court’s recent decision restoring the habeas corpus rights of Guantanamo detainees would “cost us a city.” Justice Scalia wrote in his dissenting opinion that the Court’s decision “will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed.” Gingrich told the Face the Nation audience that “the debate ought to be about whether you’re prepared to lose an American city on behalf of five lawyers — it was a five to four decision… [and debate] whether or not you’re prepared to allow any random, nutcake district judge who has no knowledge of national security to set the rules for terrorists.”
Bush Impeachment Articles Presented to Congress by Dennis Kucinich
Ohio Democrat and former presidential candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich presented thirty-five articles of impeachment against President George W. Bush to Congress last week.
Many of the articles deal with the Iraq war, including the first: “Article 1 – Creating a secret propaganda campaign to manufacture a false case for war against Iraq.”
Other articles delve into GOP election fraud, such as Article 28, charging President Bush with “tampering with free and fair elections,” along with “corruption of the administration of justice.” Article 29 charges the Bush administration and the GOP with “conspiracy to violate the Civil Rights Act of 1965.”
Kucinich presented impeachment articles against Vice President Dick Cheney in April. Kucinich said at the time that “impeachment may well be the only remedy which remains to stop a war of aggression against Iran.”
Federal Judge Rules White House Can Keep Millions of Missing Emails Secret
A U.S. District Court judge ruled that the White House can keep secret its paper trail regarding millions of missing emails which could shed further light on the administration’s internal communications leading up to the war in Iraq. The judge ruled that the Office of Administration is shielded from Freedom of Information Act requests because it lacks “substantial independent authority” and its functions “are strictly administrative.” The office previously responded to FOIA requests ever since it was established in 1978, but the Bush White House reversed that policy last year when the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sued the White House over its records concerning the missing emails. The ruling closes another door on public attempts to learn why the White House is so closely guarding information about the missing emails.
Supreme Court Rejects ExxonMobil Efforts to Avoid Human Rights Lawsuit
ExxonMobil’s efforts to appeal a 2001 human rights lawsuit fell on deaf ears at the Supreme Court, which rejected the company’s arguments for dismissing the case. Human rights advocates brought the suit against Exxon on behalf of 11 Indonesian villagers who allege that Exxon hired Indonesian military members to harass and abuse them near one of the company’s natural gas facilities.
The justices are also expected to rule before the end of the month on whether ExxonMobil has to pay $2.5 billion in punitive damages for the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster. Exxon has waged a 14-year fight over its liabilities for the disaster since a jury in Alaska originally awarded $5 billion to Valdez fishermen and residents whose lives and businesses were devastated by the spill. An appeals court halved the award in 2006, and Exxon is asking the Supreme Court to dismiss the award entirely, claiming the company owes nothing beyond what it already spent cleaning up the spill. Justice Samuel Alito is recused from hearing both cases because he owns at least $100,0000 in ExxonMobil stock.
BBC Uncovers $23 Billion in Lost, Stolen and Unaccounted Iraq Funds
BBC journalists estimate the loss, theft or shoddy accounting of as much as $23 billion in U.S. spending in Iraq. Private contractors have collected massive profits throughout the Iraq war and rebuilding process, often winning no-bid contracts like the initial $7 billion give-away to Halliburton in the run-up to the invasion. Not a single U.S. contractor faces trial for fraud or mismanaged funds yet, primarily due to a gag order restricting discussion of the allegations that will likely remain in place until President Bush leaves office. Representative Henry Waxman, chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, predicts that the enrichment of contractors “may well turn out to be the largest war profiteering in history.” Waxman told the BBC that the “waste, fraud and abuse under these contracts is just so outrageous, it’s egregious.”
White House Hinders EPA Scientists’ Assessments of Toxic Chemicals
In a move that could threaten the health of millions of Americans, the White House instituted policy changes to delay EPA’s scientific assessments of toxic chemicals, making it harder for the public to comment and limiting independent scientific review. The changes affect the EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), which tracks the health risks of hundreds of toxic chemicals and is used by EPA offices to set protective health standards for drinking water, air pollution and toxic waste cleanups.
Dr. Linda Greer, director of NRDC’s public health program, testified last week before a House Science subcommittee that the new White House policy “invites the injection of non-scientific considerations into the IRIS assessments, and further, it shields from public scrutiny the input from other parts of the government with a potential financial or political interest in the outcome of a particular assessment.”
The changes introduce three new opportunities for OMB and other non-health agencies to intervene in EPA’s health assessments – all three shielded from public view. Previously the IRIS process provided draft assessments to the public, OMB and non-health agencies at the same time. The new process injects polluting agencies such as DOD and DOE into the assessment process at an earlier stage, and with no public disclosure, and forces EPA staff to address the interests of the non-health focused agencies whether they are consistent with public health policies or not. Then the draft is finally made available to the public for comment, but a final intervention point before the assessment can be finalized requires EPA staff to resolve any outstanding concerns OMB and polluting agencies might raise. Dr. Greer told the House science subcommittee that “this new process is designed precisely to give the polluting agencies more access and more influence to what has historically been an objective scientific evaluation process — and to add at least two or more years to the review of mission critical chemicals.”
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