Aliens Cause Global Warming

January 28, 2004 at 11:45 pm
Contributed by:

This is the only nonfiction I have ever read by Michael Crichton. This is the Caltech Michelin Lecture he gave on January 17, 2003.

Aliens Cause Global Warming

I think there are some very important points made in this lecture. Although I think the thrust of his argument is more about the integrity of science itself, I think its worth considering what negative impact on environmentalism in general might be. I think bad science threatens the credibility of environmentalism.

I have to say I am really suspiscious of what’s happening in this country with our industry. More and more of our manufacturing is going over seas and beaucracies like EPA seem to have complicated things unnecessarily. In a way it seems like there is a kind of de-industrialisation going on. There must be a better way. There must be better, cleaner, energy technology out there waiting to be disovered but we hear nothing about any such attempts to find it. We just hear yada yada yada about Global Warming. This just doesn’t seem right to me.

And apparently, $87 billion could have been used to buy enough windmills to provide the USA with 1/4 of its energy. That’s technology that we already have. Hmmm.

Cheers,

Colin

Google fun: \"Unelectable\"

January 28, 2004 at 9:35 pm
Contributed by:

Type the word “unelectable” in the search box at Google

Robert Redford\’s NRDC plea to oppose the energy bill

January 28, 2004 at 1:30 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

Republicans are reviving the Energy Bill we successfully fought off at the end of last year. Here is Robert Redford’s plea on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council/BioGems to ask you to contact your senators and ask them to oppose the bill once again.

I believe that fighting this energy bill is one of the most important things a citizen can do to help America right now. Please make yourselves heard.

–C—— Forwarded Message From: Robert Redford Date: Thu, 22 Jan 2004 18:42:53 -0500 (EST) Subject: Message from Robert Redford


Dear NRDC BioGems Defender,


Over the next few weeks, President Bush and his congressional allies will try once again to ram their disastrous energy bill through the U.S. Senate. They fell only two votes short in November and they’ve vowed to make passage of the bill their top priority now that Congress has returned from recess.


This bill may be the worst piece of legislation you and I will see in our lifetimes. It would pick your pocket, despoil your natural heritage, endanger your family’s health and smother your hope for a more secure energy future. We ignore this bill at our own peril.


Let me tell you our simple plan for thwarting this shameless attack on our environment and pocketbooks. If millions of Americans each took one minute to protest this bill, it would cause every senator who is tempted to vote for it to think twice about doing so.


You can make this happen within the next few hours by doing two things:


First, go to BioGems Take Action and send your two senators an email or fax, telling them to vote against this pro-polluter energy bill. Then, forward my email to at least four of your friends, family members or colleagues.


I am emailing this message to 500,000 BioGems Defenders and other NRDC activists. If each one forwards this message to just four more people, we will generate a national tidal wave of opposition before this day is over.


And that won’t be a moment too soon. This disgraceful bill would pick our pockets to hand out billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to the oil, coal and nuclear industries. That’s their long-awaited reward for making big-time contributions to the Bush-Cheney campaign. They profit while the rest of us pay the price — in tax dollars and environmental degradation.


This bill gives the energy giants a free pass to drill their way through our last wild places, burn more dirty coal, build a new generation of risky nuclear power plants and dramatically increase air pollution that would sicken the vulnerable — especially children and seniors — for decades to come.


It would establish oil and gas development as the dominant use of our federal public lands, open national parks to the construction of electricity transmission lines, exempt polluters from core provisions of our clean air and water laws and waive liability for the producers of the toxic gasoline additive MTBE — even though it has contaminated at least 1,500 public water supplies in all 50 American states.


You’d be hard-pressed to come up with a more backward-looking, wasteful and self-defeating energy “plan” than this one. At a time when the federal deficit is soaring and we’re going to war in the Persian Gulf oilfields, the White House wants to stick us with the tab for prolonging our destructive dependence on fossil fuels, foreign oil and dangerous nuclear technology.


This is not a national energy policy. This is corporate welfare, pure and simple. Estimates of the bill’s corporate tax breaks range from $23 billion to well over $100 billion with loan guarantees included. No surprise there. Big energy companies cooked up this raid on the federal treasury during hundreds of secret meetings with Vice President Cheney’s energy task force and their allies on Capitol Hill.


It’s one thing to gouge taxpayers. But to claim this rip-off is in the national interest, as the White House would have us believe, is a slap in the face to every working American.


Poll after poll shows that the vast majority of voters — of both parties — understand that we simply must reduce our out-of-control appetite for fossil fuels if we ever are to secure energy independence. That means turning American rooftops into the Persian Gulf of solar energy. It means producing cars that get 40 miles per gallon. It means constructing efficient buildings that use half the energy of the average American office without sacrificing comfort.


Making this transformation to a super-efficient, low-pollution economy would save consumers upwards of a trillion dollars, spare our last wild places from destruction, improve our health, slow global warming and reduce our dependence on undemocratic regimes overseas. It’s a no-brainer to anyone living outside the White House.


But unless millions of Americans speak out right now, the enactment of the president’s energy bill will doom us to an apocalyptic future of blighted wilderness, poisonous air pollution, devastating climate change and endless wars over fossil fuels.


Please make your voice heard. Go to BioGems Take Action and tell your senators to obey the will of the American people, *not* the dictates of giant energy corporations! Call on Congress to create a sustainable and affordable energy path.


And please be sure to forward this message to at least four other people. Believe me, millions of Americans are just waiting for a simple way to stop this madness and lend their support to a sane and hopeful energy future.


Sincerely yours,


Robert Redford Board of Trustees Natural Resources Defense Council


. . .


BioGems: Saving Endangered Wild Places A project of the Natural Resources Defense Council

Richard Perle on Jon Stewart\’s Daily Show

January 28, 2004 at 10:47 am
Contributed by:

Folks,

I hope you caught Jon Stewart’s Daily Show tonight. That show is still the best political commentary on television, I swear. You could watch an hour of any other political talk show and never get the direct questions and straight answers that you’ll get in a five minute guest segment on Stewart’s show.

In tonight’s show, Stewart questioned Perle directly about the missing WMD; the hyped intelligence; our intimidation of other countries; the way that the Administration’s stated policies applied more to the Saudis and Syria than it did Iraq; and more.

If you didn’t see it tonight, catch the replay tomorrow night on Comedy Central at 7pm.

–C

Doing Business With The Enemy

January 28, 2004 at 3:30 am
Contributed by:

So this is an interesting article mostly by virtue of the fact that it is on CBS, albeit part of their 60 minutes section:

Doing Business With The Enemy

Here’s an excerpt:



(CBS) Did it ever occur to you that when President Bush says, “Money is the lifeblood of terrorist operations,” he’s talking about your money — and every other American’s money?

Just about everyone with a 401(k) pension plan or mutual fund has money invested in companies that are doing business in so-called rogue states.

In other words, there are U.S. companies that are helping drive the economies of countries like Iran, Syria and Libya that have sponsored terrorists.


Now this is the same CBS that won’t run the MoveOn advertisement. Hmmm.

Interesting to note that this sort of issue is turning the heads of firemen and policemen, finally, as they realise that their own pension funds are supporting so called “rogue states”.

Its also worth noting that part of Halliburton’s scam is to build the stuff twice. They build it once, the USA bombs it, and then they win contracts to rebuild it all. That’s exactly what happened in Iraq.

Are we feeling really dumb yet?

Cheers,

Colin

What\’s Wrong with the Hydrogen Economy?

January 27, 2004 at 1:00 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,


President Bush’s administration has made much of its long-term plan to convert us to a hydrogen economy. They assert that this will be our salvation from global warming and foreign oil and gas dependency. Unfortunately, none of those things are true, and a hydrogen economy will do nothing for us when oil and gas become too expensive to serve our current purposes.

As Michael Ruppert and others have long pointed out, the hydrogen economy is a myth. A lie, a pipe dream, a pacifier. It will never work. In fact, as the second of the below articles puts it, “The hydrogen economy as postulated by North American governments, the mainstream media and the existing energy industry is at best hyperbole and wishful thinking, and more likely, a cynical hoax being perpetrated on the residents of planet Earth.”

At best, hydrogen is only a storage mechansim (akin to a battery). It is not a fuel. You always have to put energy in to get hydrogen out.

The simple, physical facts, are that it will be impractical, for many different reasons, and that the net energy input would be greater than the net energy output. Not to mention that it will be even more environmentally damaging.

Here’s a nugget excerpted from Ruppert’s article below:


“Much thought has been given to harnessing sunlight through photovoltaic cells and using the resulting energy to split water in order to derive hydrogen. The energy required to produce 1 billion kWh (kilowatt hours) of hydrogen is 1.3 billion kWh of electricity.38 Even with recent advances in photovoltaic technology, the solar cell arrays would be enormous, and would have to be placed in areas with adequate sunlight.


[…]


The basic problem of hydrogen fuel cells is that the second law of thermodynamics dictates that we will always have to expend more energy deriving the hydrogen than we will receive from the usage of that hydrogen. The common misconception is that hydrogen fuel cells are an alternative energy source when they are not.”


And yet, as I pointed out in a previous comment, it’s clear to see why the energy industry likes the hydrogen solution. It’s still a consumptive economy that revolves around vast flows of fuelstock where they can retain control of the energy supply stream, use much of their existing infrastructure, and require a big, globally deployed military with a budget that pays them. If we were a country of highly distributed, locally generated power, most of that would be unnecessary.

Consider this excerpt from the House hearings on the President’s National Energy Policy: Hydrogen and Nuclear Energy R&D Legislation:



“The energy for extracting hydrogen could come from existing, traditional fuels, or it could be derived from renewable energy sources, such as solar, nuclear, and fossil, to achieve the cleanest possible energy cycle. Hydrogen can be converted into useful energy forms efficiently and without detrimental environmental effects.”

I don’t think I would describe nuclear and fossil fuel as “renewable energy sources,” but onward.
Clearly, the administration’s policy will depend heavily on existing energy supplies. And while converting hydrogen is a fairly clean process, getting hydrogen in the first place, under this strategy, will be about as dirty as it ever was.

This is not to say that all fuel cell solutions are bad, because in the right applications, they can certainly be part of a future with cleaner air and less of a global warming problem. Fuel cells do have a number of real advantages to current technology. Given ideal circumstances–and abundant supplies of natural gas and widely deployed renewable energy generation–rosy visions of a hydrogen based future, like that of the Rocky Mountain Institute (an organization whose work I generally respect), are attractive. But if those supplies aren’t abundant, it’s just not a solution. And it would seem that, in fact, supplies are going to be progressively pinched.

Here are some articles that discuss the myth of the hydrogen economy, and explore the realities of our energy infrastructure, along with possible solutions.

If I achieve nothing more with this blog than helping US energy policy get real, I will be happy.

Read on.

–CWhy Hydrogen is No Solution – Scientific Answers to Marketing Hype, Deception and Wishful Thinking – by Michael C. Ruppert

The Hydrogen Economy – An Idea Whose Time Hasn’t Come … Again – from Econogics


The PARTY’S OVER – Oil, War and the fate of Industrial Societies
By Richard Heinberg

Is Hydrogen Sustainable?

By Oliver Sylvester-Bradley

A critical review of the sustainability of a hydrogen economy

Michael Moore – The General vs. the Deserter

January 27, 2004 at 9:00 am
Contributed by:

Folks,

Michael Moore’s endorsement of Wesley Clark, and his labeling of Dubya as a “deserter,” has generated another Moorean firestorm. Read his response here.

Is Dubya a deserter? Scroll to the bottom of this to comment on it!

–CCLICK HERE TO CONTINUE TO MICHAELMOORE.COM

Tuesday, January 27th, 2004
You Say Deserter, I Say More Dessert… by Michael Moore

Friends,

I would like to apologize for referring to George W. Bush as a “deserter.” What I meant to say is that George W. Bush is a deserter, an election thief, a drunk driver, a WMD liar and a functional illiterate. And he poops his pants. In fact, he “shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.”

Actually, what I meant to say up in New Hampshire last week was that “We’re going to have Bush for dessert come November!” I’m always mixing up “dessert” and “desert” — I’m sure many of you have that problem.

Well, well, well. As George W. would say, “It’s time to smoke ‘em out of their hole!” Thanks to my “humorous” introduction of Wesley Clark 10 days ago in New Hampshire — and the lughead way the no-sense-of-humor media has covered it — there were 15 million hits this weekend on my website. Everyone who visited the site got to read the truth about Bush not showing up for National Guard duty.

The weird thing about all this is that during my routine I never went into any details about Bush skipping out while in the Guard (it’s not like it’s the biggest issue on my mind or facing America these days!) I was just attempting my best impersonation of that announcer guy for the World Wrestling Federation, asking the cheering crowd if they would like to see a smackdown (“debate”) which I called “The Generaaal Versus The Deserterrrr!!” (You can watch it here — hardly anyone in the media has shown this clip because viewers would suddenly see the context of my comments.)

When the press heard me use that word “deserter,” though, the bells and whistles went off, for this was one of those stories they knew they had ignored — and now it was rearing its ugly, truthful head on a very public stage. Without a single other word from me other than the d-word, they immediately got so defensive that it looked to many viewers like they—the press—maybe had something to hide. After all, when I called Bush a deserter, how did they know I wasn’t referring to how he has deserted the 43 million Americans who have no health coverage? Why didn’t they assume I was talking about how Bush is a deserter because he has deserted the working people of this country (who have lost 3 million jobs since he’s taken office)? Why wasn’t it obvious to them that I was pointing out how Bush had deserted our constitution and Bill of Rights as he tries to limit freedom of speech and privacy rights for law-abiding citizens?

Instead, they have created the brouhaha over Bush’s military record, often without telling their audience what the exact charges are. It seems all they want to do is to get Clark or me — or you — to shut up. “We have never investigated this and so we want you to apologize for bringing it up!” Ha ha ha.

Well, I’m glad they have gone nuts over it. Because here we have a Commander in Chief –who just took off while in uniform to go work for some Republican friend of his dad’s — now sending our kids over to Iraq to die while billions are promised to Halliburton and the oil companies. Twenty percent of them are National Guard and Reserves (and that number is expected to double during the year). They have been kept in Iraq much longer than promised, and they have not been given the proper protection. They are sitting ducks.

What if any of them chose to do what Bush did back in the early 70s — just not show up? I’ve seen Republican defenders of Bush this week say, “Yeah, but he made up the time later.” So, can today’s National Guardsmen do the same thing — just say, when called up to go to Iraq, “Um, I’m not going to show up, I’ll make up the time later!”? Can you imagine what would happen? Of course, none of them are the son of a Congressman, like young Lt. Bush was back in 1972.

Today, MoveOn.org has put together its response to this issue, and I would love to reprint it here. It lays out all the facts about Bush and the remaining unanswered questions about where he went for many, many months:

Here are what appear to be the known facts, laid out recently in considerable detail and documentation by retired pilot and Air National Guard First Lt. Robert A. Rogers, and in a 2003 book, “The Lies of George W. Bush,” by David Corn.

1. George W. Bush graduated from Yale in 1968 when the war in Vietnam was at its most deadly and the military draft was in effect. Like many of his social class and age, he sought to enter the National Guard, which made Vietnam service unlikely, and fulfill his military obligation. Competition for slots was intense; there was a long waiting list. Bush took the Air Force officer and pilot qualification tests on Jan. 17, 1968, and scored the lowest allowed passing grade on the pilot aptitude portion.

2. He, nevertheless, was sworn in on May 27, 1968, for a six-year commitment. After a few weeks of basic training, Bush received an appointment as a second lieutenant – a rank usually reserved for those completing four years of ROTC or 18 months active duty service. Bush then went to flight school and trained on the F-102 interceptor fighter jet. Fighter pilots were in great demand in Vietnam at the time, but Bush wound up serving as a “weekend warrior” in Houston, where his father’s congressional district was centered.

A Houston Chronicle story published in 1994, quoted in Corn’s book, has Bush saying: “I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment. Nor was I willing to go to Canada. So I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes.”

3. Sometime after May 1971, young Lt. Bush stopped participating regularly in Guard activities. According to Texas Air National Guard records, he had fewer than the required flight duty days and was short of the minimum service owed the Guard. Records indicate that Bush never flew after May 1972, despite his expensive training and even though he still owed the National Guard two more years.

4. On May 24, 1972, Bush asked to be transferred to an inactive reserve unit in Alabama, where he also would be working on a Republican senate candidate’s campaign. The request was denied. For months, Bush apparently put in no time at all in Guard service. In August 1972, Bush was grounded — suspended from flying duties — for failing to submit to an annual physical exam. (Why wouldn’t he take this exam from a doctor?)

5. During his 2000 presidential campaign, Bush’s staff said he recalled doing duty in Alabama and then returning to Houston for still more duty. But the commander of the Montgomery, AL, unit where Bush said he served told the Boston Globe that he had no recollection of Bush – son of a congressman – ever reporting, nor are there records, as there should be, supporting Bush’s claim. Asked at a press conference in Alabama on June 23, 2000 what duties he had performed as a Guardsman in that state, Bush said he could not recall, “but I was there.”

6. In May, June and July, 1973, Bush suddenly started participating in Guard activities back in Houston again – pulling 36 days at Ellington Air Base in that short period. On Oct. 1, 1973, eight months short of his six-year service obligation and scheduled discharge, Bush apparently was discharged with honors from the Texas Air National Guard (eight months short of his six-year commitment). He then went to Harvard Business School.

Documents supporting these reports, released under Freedom of Information Act requests, appear along with Rogers’ article on the web at http://democrats.com/display.cfm?id=154.

In the absence of full disclosure by the President or his supporters, only the President and perhaps a few family or other close associates know the whole truth. And they’re not talking.

Bush was apparently absent without official leave from his assigned military service for as little as seven months (New York Times) or as much as 17 months (Boston Globe) during a time when 500,000 American troops were fighting the Vietnam War. The Army defines a “deserter” — also known as a DFR, for “dropped from rolls” – as one who is AWOL 31 days or more: www-ari.army.mil/pdf/s51.pdf.

Well, there you have it. Someone got some special treatment. And now that special someone believes he has the right to conduct a war — using other not-so-special people’s lives.

My friends, I always call it like I see it. I don’t pussyfoot around. Sometimes the truth is hard to take. The media conglomerates are too afraid to take this on. I understand. But I’m not. That’s my job. And I’ll continue to do it.

And when I’m wrong, like the thing about Bush pooping his pants, I’ll say so.

Yours,

Michael Moore
mmflint@aol.com
www.michaelmoore.com

CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE TO MICHAELMOORE.COM

Former Sec. Defense McNamara on Vietnam and Iraq

January 27, 2004 at 2:05 am
Contributed by:

Folks,

This is a great article, based on an interview with the former U.S. Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara. ‘It’s just wrong what we’re doing’ he says of the war in Iraq, and discusses the 11 lessons he learned from the Vietnam war, which he now says was a big mistake. They’re eerily appropriate to the war in Iraq as well.


In an exclusive interview, repentant Vietnam War architect Robert McNamara breaks his silence on Iraq: The United States, he says, is making the same mistakes all over again


By DOUG SAUNDERS

Saturday, January 24, 2004 – Page F3

‘It’s just wrong what we’re doing’


In an exclusive interview, repentant Vietnam War architect Robert McNamara breaks his silence on Iraq: The United States, he says, is making the same mistakes all over again


By DOUG SAUNDERS
Saturday, January 24, 2004 – Page F3


And for some other interesting reflections on this subject, you might want to check out Barlow’s blog.

Sobering thoughts.

–C

Listen to Mike Ruppert online tonight 9pm PST

January 26, 2004 at 4:40 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

If you’re anywhere near a Web browser tonight at 9pm PST (or about 6 hours from the time stamp of this message; there are still time problems in the system!), I strongly suggest that you tune in to this online broadcast of Mike Ruppert, publisher of the From the Wilderness list and chief Peak Oil bell-ringer. Guaranteed to be good material.



1/27/04


Listen to Mike Ruppert online tonight on Arizona ‘s largest talk radio station
– FTW Publisher and Editor Mike Ruppert will be the featured guest tonight at 9 PM (Pacific Time) with Aurora Ellington on Phoenix’s 50,000 Watt KFNX. Topics will be 9/11, Peak Oil and Gas, and the 2004 election. KFNX is one of the Southwest’s most influential radio stations and there will be lots of new, breaking stories to discuss.


The broadcast may be heard online by going to 1100KFNX and scrolling down to the lower left hand portion of the home page where it says “Listen Live On Air”. It requires a quick and easy download of some software (less than one minute with DSL, about three minutes with dial-up). We checked it out last night and the sound quality was excellent.


HEAR THIS IMPORTANT BROADCAST FROM ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD VIA THE INTERNET. THINGS ARE MOVING FASTER THAN YOU THINK.

Big Oil and Gas Spending Millions to Get rid of Kyoto Agreement

January 24, 2004 at 8:35 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

Here’s a fascinating look inside the energy industry. This is an excerpt of a transcript of the Bill Moyers NOW show from January 23, 2004. It reveals the behind the scenes maneuvers that the energy industry is doing to try to influence policy.

Here are a couple of choice quotes:

“…what industry is really afraid of is losing profits and that it has a coordinated plan to prevent the treaty’s passage.”

“America’s policy on global warming is being set by a limited set of energy companies. Mainly ones whose approach to global warming is to deny, and delay, and debunk.”



SENATOR JAMES INHOFE [July 28, 2003]: With all the hysteria,
all the fear, all the phony science, could it be that manmade global warming is
the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people? I believe it is.


BASKIN: Not surprisingly, Inhofe’s number one industry source of
campaign contributions is the oil and gas business.”

Read it and weep. And rethink whether you want your country run by a president and a cabinet who are (almost) all former energy industry execs, while global warming is undisputed by neutral scientific minds, and global supplies of oil and gas are shrinking.

–C




BRANCACCIO: One of the
items on the agenda tomorrow at that conservative conference is a discussion
entitled: “Globaloney and Global Warming.” “Globaloney.” That’s a good one.


Big energy companies are working to debunk the science of global
warming, despite what is now a consensus within the mainstream scientific
community that greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide are changing our climate.


According to a new computer analysis by a team of international
scientists, in 50 years, a quarter of the world’s plants and animals could be
pushed to extinction. But for big American energy companies, it all comes down
to dollars and cents. They say caps on carbon dioxide emissions will have a
devastating impact on their bottom line and the rest of the economy.


Their lobbyists were front and center last month in Milan, Italy at an
International Conference on Global Warming. Senior Washington correspondent
Roberta Baskin and producer Bryan Myers have our report.




BASKIN: It wouldn’t be Milan without a fashion show.


But this isn’t the House of Versace. It’s a United Nations conference on
global warming — this one just last month. And a party is a good way to keep the
delegates happy.

But don’t be misled. What’s going on in Milan is of
vital importance to the world.

Mainstream scientists point to rapid
melting of polar ice caps as one of many signs that greenhouse gases are causing
an unnatural and potentially dangerous warming of the earth’s atmosphere. As a
result, they predict, temperatures will rise more rapidly in the next hundred
years than in the past ten thousand.

Extremes in weather like severe
droughts and flash floods are expected to become more common and more intense.
Radical weather patterns could threaten our food supply and water systems. What
should be done about global warming is at the core of the climate change debate.
The focus has been on “greenhouse gases” created by burning oil and coal.


Six years ago, world leaders signed the Kyoto Protocol, agreeing in
principle to limit production of greenhouse gases. Most of the world’s nations
support the treaty…and sent representatives to Milan to move forward on the
agreement.

But guess who else turned up at the global warming
conference? Swarms of energy industry executives and lobbyists, with a very
different agenda. There is a concerted effort by the industry to derail adoption
of the Kyoto Protocol… a well-heeled, well-organized lobbying effort bent on
stopping it from ever becoming a reality.

Meet Dale Heydlauff, senior
vice president of American Electric Power, the largest electric company in
America. His reasons for opposing Kyoto are economic.

BASKIN:
Most of the world supports the Kyoto Protocol. The energy industry is opposed to
it. Why?

HEYDLAUFF: Primarily because of the fact that the energy
industry is predominantly fossil fuels. And there will be significant economic
impacts to American industry in particular.

BASKIN: Heydlauff
says the Kyoto treaty would be costly to American consumers, by making energy
more expensive. And, he argues that the treaty’s language discriminates against
America and other developed countries.

HEYDLAUFF: Because the
Kyoto Protocol only imposes legally binding obligations on the 38 industrial
nations of the world and exempts the 132 plus developing countries.


BASKIN: Annie Petsonk has been following the global warming
debate for the mainstream environmental organization, Environmental Sefense. She
says what industry is really afraid of is losing profits and that it has a
coordinated plan to prevent the treaty’s passage.

PETSONK:
America’s policy on global warming is being set by a limited set of energy
companies. Mainly ones whose approach to global warming is to deny, and delay,
and debunk.

BASKIN: Petsonk, an attorney, helped develop climate
policy for two presidents who supported limits on greenhouse gasses: Bill
Clinton and the first George Bush. Now she’s here trying to convince delegates
to ratify Kyoto.

She’s up against some powerful opponents.


PETSONK: If you’re a large oil company and you’re concerned that
a treaty on climate change, to limit greenhouse pollution might encourage
consumers to drive more efficient cars, use more efficient light bulbs, maybe
use a little less electricity you’d have an incentive to spend a fair amount of
money trying to stop that treaty.

BASKIN: Oil companies won’t
reveal just how much they are spending, but it runs into tens of millions of
dollars.

Representatives of the oil, coal, and electric industries are
all in Milan to spread their gospel. But there’s one person here who’s credited
with doing more to advance industry’s agenda than any other. His name is Don
Pearlman, and he’s been called “the high priest of the carbon club.”


Pearlman heads an organization with a name that makes it seem a neutral
party — The Climate Council. The group won’t say who funds it. Critics say it’s
a secretive front group for the energy industry. We tried to talk with Pearlman
about The Climate Council, but he would only say that it’s “a coalition of U.S.
energy companies.” Pearlman’s a fixture at these annual meetings, ostensibly as
an observer. But in Washington, he’s a registered lobbyist and acts like one
here. He’s constantly working the floor.

PETSONK: I personally
saw an event a couple of years ago where Mr. Pearlman actually put written
instructions under the nose of an OPEC delegate who was actually snoozing. And
Mr. Pearlman went in and woke him up and said, “You’ve got to read this. It’s
time to read it now in a meeting.”

BASKIN: UN officials were
concerned enough over that episode that afterwards, they took action to prevent
it from happening again, instituting a policy to prevent lobbyists from
approaching delegates on the floor during negotiating sessions.


BASKIN: It’s like the unofficial Pearlman rule?


PETSONK: Yes, there are many people who actually speak of it as
the Pearlman rule.

BASKIN: Here’s Pearlman in deep conversation
with a member of the Saudi delegation. Pearlman spends a lot of his time with
OPEC countries, none of whom have ratified the treaty. Since the Kyoto Protocol
is all about fossil fuels, they’re key players here. Later, the Saudi delegate
told us he and Pearlman were simply “exchanging pleasantries.”


Considered an expert at manipulating the rules to stall the talks,
Pearlman seems to be everywhere at once.

PETSONK: Both today and
yesterday I talked to negotiators who told me that in the meetings they were in,
countries were trying to reach agreement on a subject and Saudi Arabia
consistently was objecting. In some instances, it was China that was
consistently objecting. And basically, if you want to see who the objectors are,
sort of look at who was Don Pearlman talking with today, and sure enough that
seems to be the country that’s leading the objections.

BASKIN:
Here’s another industry man in Milan. Ray Harry is an executive with the
Southern Company, America’s second largest electric utility. In recent years,
the company has emerged as one of the most influential industry voices in
Washington. During the last election cycle, no other electric utility spent more
on federal campaign contributions than Southern.

BASKIN: What’s
your title first with Southern?

HARRY: I’m Director of
Environmental Affairs.

BASKIN: Director of Environmental Affairs
for Southern. But your badge says that you’re with The Climate Council. So what
does that mean?

HARRY: Individuals companies cannot register for
these conferences. So you register under an organization.

BASKIN:
This practice of industry executives attending these conferences as members of
groups like The Climate Council is commonplace.

BASKIN: What
would you like to see the outcome of the meeting be?

HARRY: We
really don’t have a desire here. We’re just watching the scene…what the
discussions are and where parties are and what ultimately might come out as some
sort of agreement.

BASKIN: Maybe, but according to THE ATLANTA
JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, at one recent meeting the Southern Company, worked
hand-in-hand with Don Pearlman to help engineer the ouster of a high-ranking UN
official, a climate expert concerned about global warming. It’s worth noting
that Southern operates some of the dirtiest power plants in the United States,
cited some sixteen times in the last two years for Clean Air Act violations
alone.

Here’s Pearlman again in Milan. The woman on the left is a coal
industry representative. And the man in the middle? That’s Harlan Watson, the
chief U.S. negotiator at the convention, a snapshot of the cozy relationship
between industry and the U.S. government.

ExxonMobil suggested the White
House add Harlan Watson to the negotiating team. And it was Watson — as a
Republican congressional aide in the early ’90s — who urged the coal industry to
hire Pearlman as a lobbyist.

FLANNERY: I think the key
industry…

BASKIN: Like most of the industry, ExxonMobil has a man
in Milan, Brian Flannery.

BASKIN: Exxon has been one of the most
vocal opponents of having caps.

FLANNERY: Of having caps and
targets and timetables.

BASKIN: And why is that? Why are you so
opposed to it?

FLANNERY: We’re not convinced the science
justifies such a step at this time.

BASKIN: In fact, the industry
insists that the jury is still out on the science of global warming, even though
an overwhelming majority of America’s mainstream scientific community, including
the National Academy of Sciences, NASA, and the National Oceanographic and
Atmospheric Administration, substantiate the science that proves global warming
is occurring, accelerating, and a threat to the planet.


Environmentalists accuse the energy industry of fueling a stealth
campaign to confuse the public. They say even though mainstream scientists agree
about the dangers of global warming, energy companies funnel money to think
tanks and front groups who publish slick reports challenging the scientific
consensus.

One example: take a look at ExxonMobil’s Web site, showing
millions of dollars going to organizations who raise doubts about global
warming. The goal is to mold public opinion.

PETSONK: To some
extent, the mainstream press suffers from what others have called “the curse of
evenhandedness.” That is, if these scientists were to announce tomorrow that the
earth is flat, it would be published under the headline that says, “Shape of
Earth: Views Differ.”

BASKIN: This strategy was laid out six
years ago in this oil industry memo, prepared with the help of Exxon. It’s
called “A Global Climate Science Communications Action Plan.” It says, quote,
“Victory will be achieved when uncertainties in climate science become part of
the conventional wisdom.”

SMITH: Global warming, as it’s
generally presented, is a simplistic world. Evil modern man is burning up
energy, leaving destruction for the only planet we have. Mea culpa, mea culpa,
mea culpa, we must expiate for our evil ways.

BASKIN: Fred Smith
is president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank.
That oil industry memo about “achieving victory” specifically mentions the
Competitive Enterprise Institute as one of the groups that can be used to create
doubt about global warming. CEI is currently one of the most influential
Washington think tanks.

SMITH: Energy use, remember, is what
distinguishes us really from primitive societies. We have lights. We have air
conditioning. We have heat. We have mobility.

And, energy use in the
modern world means carbon based energy. Which means greenhouse gases and
whatever attendant risks that may be there. There are risks of using energy. But
there are risks of energy deprivation also. And they’re far more serious in our
view.

BASKIN: After campaign contributions and lobbying expenses,
corporate funding of groups like CEI has been called the “third river” of money
in American politics. That’s led to charges that CEI and others are middlemen,
simply putting out propaganda for big industry. In 2002 alone, ExxonMobil gave
CEI more than $400,000.

BASKIN: How does that influence what you
have to say on something like global warming?

SMITH: We were in
this issue well before any companies wanted to stick their necks out. And we’ll
be in it if they all retreat next year. We make good dance partners. We’re
wonderful dance partners. But we’re dancing, we’re not getting married. We are
independent. And we stand for things we believe in and we always have and always
will.

BASKIN: CEI’s endeavors have paid off for its “dance
partner.” So have years of effort by industry-funded lobbyists and front groups.
Lawmakers are using studies by industry-funded scientists to frame American
environmental policy. This group of U.S. Senators who’ve come to the UN
conference echo the industry line.

PETSONK: You know, the
Senators come here and they are absolutely determined that they do not believe
the overwhelming majority of scientists on global warming.


BASKIN: They’re saying it is psuedoscience.

PETSONK:
That’s right, that’s right. And what they listen to is exclusively the quote
unquote “scientists” who are funded by leading companies in the fossil fuel
industry.

BASKIN: The Senate delegation is lead by republican
James Inhofe of Oklahoma. Senator Inhofe once compared the Environmental
Protection Agency to a “Gestapo bureaucracy.” And as chairman of the Senate
Environment and Public Works committee, he’s one of the most powerful players in
the global warming debate. Inhofe came to Milan with a blunt message for the
world — the U.S. will never limit the use of oil and coal. It’s a view he also
made clear in a speech to the Senate last year.

SENATOR JAMES INHOFE
[July 28, 2003]:
With all the hysteria, all the fear, all the phony science,
could it be that manmade global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on
the American people? I believe it is.

BASKIN: Not surprisingly,
Inhofe’s number one industry source of campaign contributions is the oil and gas
business.

BASKIN: You have been probably the most outspoken
critic, skeptic, of global warming, in fact, saying that you believe that global
warming is a hoax. Do you believe that?

SENATOR INHOFE: No, no. I
think the science and the way it came about, it really approaches that level.


BASKIN: But it’s not just Senators like Inhofe who have embraced
industry’s position on global warming. The White House is on board, too.


It wasn’t always that way. In 2000, candidate George Bush supported
restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions.

GEORGE W. BUSH [September
29, 2000]:
We will require all power plants to meet clean air standards in
order to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury, and carbon
dioxide within a reasonable period of time.

BASKIN: Then, about a
month into his presidency, Bush got this memo, warning “a moment of truth is
arriving” on the regulation of greenhouse gases. It was written by Haley
Barbour, who was working as a lobbyist for the giant utility, Southern Company.
He’d also been chairman of Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign advisory committee.
Two weeks after Barbour’s memo, the industry got its wish: the President
announced the U.S. would not support Kyoto.

PRESIDENT BUSH [June 11,
2001]:
Climate change, with its potential to impact every corner of the
world, is an issue that must be addressed by the world. The Kyoto Protocol was
fatally flawed in fundamental ways.

BASKIN: But not every
Republican has signed on to the industry position. In Milan we spoke with
moderate Republicans Jim Greenwood of Pennsylvania and Christopher Shays of
Connecticut.

BASKIN: Are you concerned about the world’s
perception of America as not being very serious about doing something about
global warming?

REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS (R-CT): I’m concerned
about the world’s perception. I’m also concerned about the United States doing
something in real terms. I don’t think we’re going to have a world to live in if
we continue our neglectful ways.

REP. JIM GREENWOOD (R-PA): The
administration and many of the conservative members of Congress believe that
because we still have unanswered questions, that that is an argument for moving
more slowly. We think that because there’s much we don’t know, the stakes being
extraordinarily high, the prudent thing to do is to act more expeditiously.


BASKIN: But these moderate Republicans and their allies are being
outgunned. And last month, Russia joined the U.S. in officially opposing Kyoto.
Now the treaty appears to be dead. Some fear that industry is, indeed, close to
achieving its “victory,” and that protecting the environment will no longer be
in fashion…

BRANCACCIO: President Bush made no mention of global
warming — or anything else about the environment, for that matter — in his State
of the Union address.

And don’t look to any of the Democratic
presidential frontrunners to breathe life back into the Kyoto Protocol as it
stands.

Howard Dean says he would renegotiate the treaty because it
exempts developing nations. Wesley Clark and John Edwards say we need to rethink
it. And John Kerry, the winner of this week’s contest in Iowa, says he would not
sign the treaty at all because it’s already too late for the U.S. to meet the
binding targets set back in 1997.




Hawken, Paul – Natural Capitalism

January 24, 2004 at 10:45 am
Contributed by: Chris


Natural Capitalism – Paul Hawken and Amory and Hunter Lovins
Creating the next industrial revolution

Called “One giant leap for sustainability,” this book is “both a calls to arms and a revelation. The authors not only show how today’s industrialists and economists can change to work in harmony with the environment, they reveal how many of them already are doing so—and improving profitability in the process….This is radical stuff.” – Christian Science Monitor

Highly recommended!

Palast, Greg – The Best Democracy Money Can Buy

January 24, 2004 at 10:37 am
Contributed by: Chris


The Best Democracy Money Can Buy – Greg Palast
The Truth About Corporate Cons, Globalization, and High-Finance Fraudsters


Greg Palast is the investigative journalist who brought us the truth about:


– The 2000 Florida election scandal


– Enron


– How Bush killed the FBI’s investigation of the financing of terrorist organizations by Saudi Arabia


Painstakingly researched, this is solid journalism, and a shocking look at our political reality.

Franken, Al – Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

January 24, 2004 at 10:33 am
Contributed by: Chris


Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them – A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right

The inimitable Al Franken takes the Right to task for its lies, especially the hard right media characters of Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and of course, Rush Limbaugh. At turns shocking, amusing, and always factual, fair, and balanced.

Baer, Robert – Sleeping with the Devil

January 24, 2004 at 10:30 am
Contributed by: Chris

Sleeping with the Devil – Robert Baer

How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude

An insider’s view of the Saudis and the Middle East as a whole from a former CIA operative, focused mainly on the oil economy and politics of Saudi Arabia. The facts it presents about the connections between the bin Ladens, Saudi princes, and the Bush family are alone worth the price.

Krugman, Paul – The Great Unraveling

January 24, 2004 at 10:23 am
Contributed by: Chris



The Great Unraveling – Paul Krugman

A collection of Paul Krugman’s columns from the New York Times, with new commentary for the book. Krugman is one of the best there is. Highly recommended!

Howard Dean \"Yeagh!\" remix

January 24, 2004 at 9:14 am
Contributed by:

Folks,


I honestly feel badly for Howard Dean. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Rather than just sucking it up after his third place finish in the Iowa caucuses, and focusing on New Hampshire, he had to appear before his supporters and…make a screaming ass of himself. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!


It took mere hours for his little spectacle to grow legs. The pundits thrashed him for it immediately, and then the turntable jockeys got into the act. Here’s an article about that, with links to some of the “Yeagh!” remixes:


http://www.msnbc.msn.com/Default.aspx?id=4021146&p1=0


Could Dean have put the final nail in his own coffin? Come next week, we’ll find out.


–C

Addendum

Here is a list of some Howard Dean remixes, cribbed from the above article and from Dean Goes Nuts:

Yeagh,” (http://homepage.mac.com/lileks/.Public/Yeagh.mp3 (James Lilek)

Jonathan Barlow’s clip (http://barlowfarms.com/howarddean.wav


Rapping It Up With Dean (Original Rap remix by Zach Freeman and Jonathan Stokes of Austin, TX)
We have the Power (Stand up for America) (Faulkner remix)
Keep Dean Alive (Tom Harkin mix) (Crystal Method Mix)
Hellraiser Remix (DJ Mary Jane’s ‘Howard Dean Goes Nuts’ edit)
Dean Throws It Up For America (Lil Jon and Howard Dean)
Introducing Howard Dean (by Brian Robinson)
WMDean (Bush Lies Mix) (by Orenzero)
Howard Dean: Reloaded (Video Remix) (by Dragonslayer)
Howard Dean Unchained (by Matt Burns)


IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER
Keep in mind that I did not create any of these tracks, and that none are in original form. I simply compiled them to provide a little comedy for all you nice people. If any of these tracks are owned by you and you do not want them here, then inform me and I will remove them immediately. If you created one of these files and do not want me to host them on my site, or if you just want me to include the proper credits, Email me and I will take care of it ASAP. I will immediately comply with any and all requests. This is all just for fun, and nothing more.

Halliburton Execs Fired Over Kuwaiti Kickbacks

January 24, 2004 at 2:23 am
Contributed by:

Folks,


Two Halliburton execs have been fired for accepting $6 million in kickbacks from a Kuwaiti company that was awarded contracts to supply U.S. troops in Iraq. Halliburton has made it clear that they won’t tolerate such activities. But I’m here to tell you that this is purely whitewashing. If you read Robert Baer’s Sleeping with the Devil, you will find out that this sort of practice–raising the price of something in order to skim off kickbacks for the provider–is utterly endemic to all sorts of commerce in the Middle East, especially as it relates to U.S. government contracts. His book is mainly about the Saudis, but the same dynamics apply in all Middle Eastern client-states of the US.

I’m sure that Halliburton hopes that by firing these employees, it will take the heat off of them. But I hope it doesn’t. The American taxpayer has enriched so many individuals for so long through these illegal schemes. It’s time we put an end to it.

Here’s an excerpt from Baer’s book that illustrates the point:

“Saudi money also seeped into the bureaucracy. Any Washington bureaucrat with a room-temperature IQ knows that if he stays on the right side of the kingdom, some way or anoyhter, he’ll be able to finagle a way to feed at the Saudi trough. A consulting contract with Aramco, a chair at American University, a job with Lockheed–it doesn’t matter. There’s hardly a living former assistant secretary of state for the Near East; CIA director; White House staffer; or member of Congress who hasn’t ended up on the Saudi payroll in one way or another, or so it sometimes seems. With this kind of money waiting out there, of course Washington’s bureaucrats don’t have the backbone to take on Saudi Arabia.”

I reckon they don’t have the backbone to take on Halliburton, either.

–C

Chomsky, Noam – Manufacturing Consent

January 24, 2004 at 1:42 am
Contributed by: Chris



Chomsky, Noam – Manufacturing Consent
The Political Economy of the Mass Media

This is the ever-brilliant Noam Chomsky’s seminal work on how the mass media are manipulated to serve the agenda of political and economic elites. Crucial reading.

Ex-Arms Hunter Kay Says No WMD Stockpiles in Iraq

January 23, 2004 at 3:09 pm
Contributed by:


http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=578&u=/nm/20040123/ts_nm/iraq_usa_weapons_dc_3


Ex-Arms Hunter Kay Says No WMD
Stockpiles in Iraq

By Tabassum Zakaria


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – David Kay stepped down as
leader of the U.S. hunt for banned weapons in Iraq (news
web sites) on
Friday and said he did not believe the country had any large stockpiles of
chemical or biological weapons.


In a direct challenge to the Bush administration,
which says its invasion of Iraq was justified by the presence of illicit arms,
Kay told Reuters in a telephone interview he had concluded there were no Iraqi
stockpiles to be found.



“I don’t think they existed,” Kay said. “What
everyone was talking about is stockpiles produced after the end of the last
(1991) Gulf War (news
web sites),
and I don’t think there was a large-scale production program in the nineties,”
he said.


The CIA (news
web sites)
announced earlier that former U.N. weapons inspector Charles Duelfer, who has
previously expressed doubts that unconventional weapons would be found, would
succeed Kay as Washington’s chief arms hunter.


Kay said he believes most of what was going to be
found in the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has been found and
that the hunt would become more difficult once America returned control of the
country to the Iraqis.


The United States went to war against Baghdad last
year citing a threat from Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. To date, no banned
arms have been found.


In his annual State of the Union on Tuesday,
President Bush (news
web sites)
insisted that former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein (news
web sites)
had actively pursued dangerous programs right up to the start of the U.S. attack
in March.


Citing a report to Congress in October, Bush said Kay
had found “dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities and
significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations
(news
web sites).”


“Had we failed to act,” Bush said, “the dictator’s
weapons of mass destruction programs would continue to this day.”


JURY STILL OUT


And on Wednesday, Vice President Dick Cheney
(news
web sites)
said the United States had not given up on finding unconventional weapons in
Iraq. “The jury is still out,” he said in a radio interview.


Kay said he left the post due to a “complex set of
issues. It related in part to a reduction in the resource and a change in focus
of ISG,” he said referring to the Iraq Survey Group, which is in charge of the
weapons hunt.


ISG analysts were diverted from hunting for weapons
of mass destruction to helping in the fight against the insurgency, Kay said.


“When I had started out I had made it a condition
that ISG be exclusively focused on WMD, that’s no longer so,” he said.


“We’re not going to find much after June. Once the
Iraqis take complete control of the government it is just almost impossible to
operate in the way that we operate,” Kay said.


“I think we have found probably 85 percent of what
we’re going to find,” he said. “I think the best evidence is that they did not
resume large-scale production and that’s what we’re really talking about.”


Kay said he was going back to the private sector.


In a statement announcing Kay’s departure, CIA
Director George Tenet praised Kay for his “extraordinary service under dangerous
and difficult circumstances.”

Duelfer, 51, a former deputy executive chairman of
the U.N. Special Commission that was responsible for dismantling Iraq’s weapons
of mass destruction, had previously expressed doubts that unconventional weapons
would be found.

“I think that Mr. Kay and his team have looked very
hard. I think the reason that they haven’t found them is they’re probably not
there,” Duelfer told NBC television earlier this month.

But in a statement included in the CIA announcement,
Duelfer, who will be based in Iraq and as CIA special adviser to direct the WMD
search, said he was keeping an open mind.

“I’m approaching it with an open mind and am
absolutely committed to following the evidence wherever it takes us,” he said.


–C

Smells like Watergate: GOP spied on Democrats

January 23, 2004 at 12:20 pm
Contributed by:

That pretty much says it all. Read on.

I want a bumper sticker that says “Subpoena Novak!”

–C


Published on Thursday, January 22, 2004 by the Boston Globe

Infiltration of Files Seen as Extensive


Senate Panel’s GOP Staff Pried on Democrats

by Charlie Savage


WASHINGTON — Republican staff members of the US Senate Judiciary Committee


infiltrated opposition computer files for a year, monitoring secret strategy


memos and periodically passing on copies to the media, Senate officials told


The Globe.

From the spring of 2002 until at least April 2003, members of the GOP


committee staff exploited a computer glitch that allowed them to access


restricted Democratic communications without a password. Trolling through


hundreds of memos, they were able to read talking points and accounts of


private meetings discussing which judicial nominees Democrats would fight —


and with what tactics.

The office of Senate Sergeant-at-Arms William Pickle has already launched an


investigation into how excerpts from 15 Democratic memos showed up in the


pages of the conservative-leaning newspapers and were posted to a website


last November.

With the help of forensic computer experts from General Dynamics and the US


Secret Service, his office has interviewed about 120 people to date and


seized more than half a dozen computers — including four Judiciary servers,


one server from the office of Senate majority leader Bill Frist of


Tennessee, and several desktop hard drives.

But the scope of both the intrusions and the likely disclosures is now known


to have been far more extensive than the November incident, staffers and


others familiar with the investigation say.

The revelation comes as the battle of judicial nominees is reaching a new


level of intensity. Last week, President Bush used his recess power to


appoint Judge Charles Pickering to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals,


bypassing a Democratic filibuster that blocked a vote on his nomination for


a year because of concerns over his civil rights record.

Democrats now claim their private memos formed the basis for a February 2003


column by conservative pundit Robert Novak that revealed plans pushed by


Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, to filibuster certain


judicial nominees. Novak is also at the center of an investigation into who


leaked the identity of a CIA agent whose husband contradicted a Bush


administration claim about Iraqi nuclear programs.

Citing “internal Senate sources,” Novak’s column described closed-door


Democratic meetings about how to handle nominees.

Its details and direct quotes from Democrats — characterizing former


nominee Miguel Estrada as a “stealth right-wing zealot” and describing the


GOP agenda as an “assembly line” for right-wing nominees — are contained in


talking points and meeting accounts from the Democratic files now known to


have been compromised.

Novak declined to confirm or deny whether his column was based on these


files.

“They’re welcome to think anything they want,” he said. “As has been


demonstrated, I don’t reveal my sources.”

As the extent to which Democratic communications were monitored came into


sharper focus, Republicans yesterday offered a new defense. They said that


in the summer of 2002, their computer technician informed his Democratic


counterpart of the glitch, but Democrats did nothing to fix the problem.

Other staffers, however, denied that the Democrats were told anything about


it before November 2003.

The emerging scope of the GOP surveillance of confidential Democratic files


represents a major escalation in partisan warfare over judicial


appointments. The bitter fight traces back to 1987, when Democrats torpedoed


Robert Bork’s nomination to the Supreme Court. In the 1990s, Republicans


blocked many of President Clinton’s nominees. Since President Bush took


office, those roles have been reversed.

Against that backdrop, both sides have something to gain and lose from the


investigation into the computer files. For Democrats, the scandal highlights


GOP dirty tricks that could result in ethics complaints to the Senate and


the Washington Bar — or even criminal charges under computer intrusion


laws.

“They had an obligation to tell each of the people whose files they were


intruding upon — assuming it was an accident — that that was going on so


those people could protect themselves,” said one Senate staffer. “To keep on


getting these files is just beyond the pale.”

But for Republicans, the scandal also keeps attention on the memo contents,


which demonstrate the influence of liberal interest groups in choosing which


nominees Democratic senators would filibuster. Other revelations from the


memos include Democrats’ race-based characterization of Estrada as


“especially dangerous, because . . . he is Latino,” which they feared would


make him difficult to block from a later promotion to the Supreme Court.

And, at the request of the NAACP, the Democrats delayed any hearings for the


Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals until after it heard a landmark affirmative


action case — though a memo noted that staffers “are a little concerned


about the propriety of scheduling hearings based on the resolution of a


particular case.”

After the contents of those memos were made public in The Wall Street


Journal editorial pages and The Washington Times, Judiciary Chairman Orrin


Hatch, Republican of Utah, made a preliminary inquiry and described himself


as “mortified that this improper, unethical and simply unacceptable breach


of confidential files may have occurred on my watch.”

Hatch also confirmed that “at least one current member of the Judiciary


Committee staff had improperly accessed at least some of the documents


referenced in media reports.” He did not name the staffer, who he said was


being placed on leave and who sources said has since resigned, although he


had apparently already announced plans to return to school later this year.

Officials familiar with the investigation identified that person as a


legislative staff assistant whose name was removed from a list of Judiciary


Committee staff in the most recent update of a Capitol Hill directory. The


staff member’s home number has been disconnected and he could not be reached


for comment.

Hatch also said that a “former member of the Judiciary staff may have been


involved.” Many news reports have subsequently identified that person as


Manuel Miranda, who formerly worked in the Judiciary Committee office and


now is the chief judicial nominee adviser in the Senate majority leader’s


office. His computer hard drive name was stamped on an e-mail from the


National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League that was posted


along with the Democratic Senate staff communications.

Reached at home, Miranda said he is on paternity leave; Frist’s office said


he is on leave “pending the results of the investigation” — he denied that


any of the handwritten comments on the memos were by his hand and said he


did not distribute the memos to the media. He also argued that the only


wrongdoing was on the part of the Democrats — both for the content of their


memos, and for their negligence in placing them where they could be seen.

“There appears to have been no hacking, no stealing, and no violation of any


Senate rule,” Miranda said. “Stealing assumes a property right and there is


no property right to a government document. . . . These documents are not


covered under the Senate disclosure rule because they are not official


business and, to the extent they were disclosed, they were disclosed


inadvertently by negligent [Democratic] staff.”

Whether the memos are ultimately deemed to be official business will be a


central issue in any criminal case that could result. Unauthorized access of


such material could be punishable by up to a year in prison — or, at the


least, sanction under a Senate non-disclosure rule.

The computer glitch dates to 2001, when Democrats took control of the Senate


after the defection from the GOP of Senator Jim Jeffords, Independent of


Vermont.

A technician hired by the new judiciary chairman, Patrick Leahy, Democrat of


Vermont, apparently made a mistake that allowed anyone to access newly


created accounts on a Judiciary Committee server shared by both parties —


even though the accounts were supposed to restrict access only to those with


the right password.

© Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company




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