May 11, 2005


Tom Ridge, Bush's former Homeland Security czar, let the cat out of the bag -- he opposed many of the heightened terrorism alerts, but was over-ruled by the Bushies, USA Today reports today. It's clear what this means (as if we didn't know it already): the Bush White House ratcheted up the terrorism warnings -- on evidence Ridge considered incredibly flimsy --  to create a climate of fear in preparation for Bush's 2004 re-election campaign.

Says USA Today: "More often than not we were the least inclined to raise it," Ridge told reporters. "Sometimes we disagreed with the intelligence assessment. Sometimes we thought even if the intelligence was good, you don't necessarily put the country on (alert). ... There were times when some people were really aggressive about raising it, and we said, 'For that?' "

"The level is raised if a majority on the President's Homeland Security Advisory Council favors it and President Bush concurs. Among those on the council with Ridge were Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI chief Robert Mueller, CIA director George Tenet, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell. Ridge and Ashcroft publicly clashed over how to communicate threat information to the public. But Ridge has never before discussed internal dissention over the threat level."

The last time the alert level was raised was in December 2003 -- just before the official opening of the presidential campaign season. Karl Rove and the Bushies didn't want to get caught doing it during the campaign -- and, in any case, their ads and the carefully scripted Republican convention (which, you'll remember, was centered around 9/11) were meant to capitalize on the phony scares already proclaimed the previous year. That much should be obvious to any sentient political observer.

Phony alerts based on scanty intelligence now joins phony Weapons of Mass Destruction on the roster of the Bush administration's political Big Lies. And Tom Ridge gets points for telling the truth at last -- too bad he didn't tell the public at the time.

THE SECRET TAPES THAT HAVE THE CLINTONS SCARED: The New Orleans Times-Picayune has obtained one of the secret tapes of conversations involving David Rosen, the top fundraiser for the Clintons who's now on trial in Los Angeles for campaign finance fraud. The paper reported Saturday: "A partial transcript of the Sept. 4, 2002, tape obtained by The Times-Picayune captures a conversation rife with gossip about the seamy side of political life, including the sex, drugs and prostitutes enjoyed by big-name Democratic stalwarts."

Equally worriesome for the Clintons, however, the paper reports on taped conversations indicatingcollusion by the Clinton legal team with the indicted Rosen. The government alleges that a wealthy contributor, Internet entrepreneur and three-time convicted felon Peter Paul, paid more than $1.1 million to produce a Hillary fundraiser in L.A., costs which should have been reported as in-kind contributions. Instead, the government says, Rosen underreported Paul's donations so Hillary Clinton's campaign could claim that more of the evening's proceeds were "hard" money, the kind that can be used on direct campaign expenses such as advertisements and election day efforts. Paul, who partnered with the creator of comic book superhero Spider-Man to create the Internet entertainment company Stan Lee Media, alleges in his civil case that he gave close to $2 million to Hillary Clinton's Senate campaign based on a promise that President Clinton would join the company when he left office. Now Paul has a civil suit against Rosen -- and both Clintons.

The tape that has the Clintons really worried shows Rosen saying: "The former White House wanted to hire, or argue the case in a certain way. And I did it for them. Like, I bit the bullet and went in as a guinea pig, and argued their argument for me. Instead of frettin' and runnin' and coverin' my ass, I was a good soldier. . . . So far it's worked out, but I coulda done it a lot different."

What Rosen was saying in this excerpt is that he committed perjury for the Clintons at the behest of their lawyers. Because Rosen was being taped by a New Orleans Democratic fundraiser, Ray Reggie -- Teddy Kennedy's brother-in-law -- for the FBI, there may be more incriminating tapes. If all this comes out in Rosen's trial, it could well put a major dent in Hillary's presidential aspirations -- and quite possibly lead to disbarment charges against the Clinton's legal team. No wonder the right-wing press is paying such close attention to the Rosen trial. But so should Democrats -- one should never underestimate the sleaze the Clinton duo is capable of. Remember, Hillary has always been a money-grubber -- remember how she deducted from their pre-presidential tax returns the price of Clinton's used underwear, given as a charitable contribution to the Good Will?

IRANIAN ELECTION BLOG: The always-intelligent web 'zine OpenDemocracy.net is launching an Iranian election blog. Called Iran Scan, it will be written by Iranians -- bloggers, journalists, activists -- led by Hossein Derakhshan, the legendary blogger "Hoder," (available in both English and Persian) whose blog gets 7000 hits a day from Iranians in Iran despite its being censored by the Islamic government. The Iran election blog officially debuts tomorrow -- but you can get a preview by clicking here.

"SENATE DEMOCRATS UNANIMOUSLY BACK FASCISTIC I.D. CARD," reports today's Undernews, the must-read daily press review from the indispensable Sam Smith. Sam has a compendium of excerpts from articles on the I.D. card -- with links -- and you can (and should) get a gander by clicking here.

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