Saturday, March 6, 2010

Hamas Helper, Ethically Challenged, Mahmoud Denies 9/11

David Sirota
Dana Milbank
Matthew Yglesias

I always worry when I make some kind of prediction that I have embarrassed myself, such as when I thought who was behind the murder of the Hamas official in a Dubai hotel room. Today I see that the police chief of Dubai, a most clever and honorable man, agrees with me. Thank you for reading my blog: "Admitting that he could not know for certain which faction the two Palestinians extradited from Jordan over the killing belonged, Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Tamim told Al Jazeera television yesterday: “I believe that someone from Hamas helped the assassins with the operation.

“I understand that Hamas might be upset to hear me say that, but it’s my personal opinion and it’s clear to me that someone from Hamas helped.

“Hamas and Fatah are exchanging accusations over who the two Palestinians belong to. We don’t know. Even if one of them said that he belonged to a particular group, we cannot be sure they are not lying.”

Gen Tamim admitted that his officers had only realised al Mabhouh’s role in Hamas when the dead man’s family contacted them. He said they had not previously known the Hamas commander was in Dubai."

Two of the assassins have been said to have flown to the US although the State Department is denying that they ever entered the country. They have not offered up any proof one way or the other, so the people could have entered with US complicity and we are lying, our computer skills still aren't up to snuff and we missed them, or can't find them, or they bought tickets for the US and flew somewhere else. The FBI is said to be helping the investigation of Payoneer, the company that issued 13 credit cards that the assassins used to buy plane tickets and pay for their rooms. The results will probably not be made public, especially if it is a front for either the CIA or Mossad, or just caters to spies all over the world like Assassins-R-US, your friendly one stop shop for all things clandestine...
"Scientists in Britain have developed a new camera that can identify a terrorist by the shape of their nose. Yeah, it's all part of the new technology called 'racism.'" –Jimmy Fallon

New York Democratic Representative Eric Massa will resign his seat on Monday. He is under investigation for sexual harassment of a male staffer. I'm sure that more scandals will unfold in the near future. I guess he can double-date with the California Republican family values guy who got arrested for a DUI after coming out of a gay bar with some strange man that he was taking home. Or maybe they can join Larry Craig, David Visser, John Ensign, and Mark Sanford in creating an Old Wive's Club... The problem with Congressmen getting caught at having affairs isn't all about sex, though we are a Puritanical nation, but the hypocrisy, lying, and predatory nature of their actions. Power corrupts, abuse of power tends to cause them to abuse others.
"Representative Charles Rangel, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has temporarily surrendered his post pending an ethics investigation. They've been investigating him for three months now. And so far, they have not found a single trace of ethics." –Jay Leno

And if its not about sex then its about money. Most people want to get elected to Congress for the power, prestige, and the money. In a few cases where the publicity and public opinion becomes overwhelming and the ethics committee has to take action, for the most part they will slap your hand and exonerate you. Yesterday, the bi-partisan committee composed of five Democrats and five Republicans cleared seven members of the House: "... all on the defense appropriations subcommittee, of allegations that they had improperly given tens of millions of dollars in earmarks to political contributors.

Although investigators found indications that at least two of the members had at least implicitly rewarded donors with earmarks, the committee said that the appearance of a financial reward for donors does not amount to an ethical breach in itself.

“Simply because a member sponsors an earmark for an entity that also happens to be a campaign contributor does not, on these two facts alone, support a claim that a member’s actions are being influenced by campaign contributions,” the committee, which is made up of five Democrats and five Republicans, concluded in its report."
“In essence, unless you’re caught on the phone with a lobbyist saying ‘Contribute or else you don’t get an earmark,’ then you’re fine,” he said. “ That’s the clear message here.” - Jeff Flake, D Ariz
You are a Congressperson. An entity in your jurisdiction has a project that they would like some federal funding. It could be anything from a college sports complex to bio-research in the private sector, let your imagination go wild. The entity contracts with a lobbyist and pays them lots and lots of money to ensure that you get the federal funds. The lobbyist goes to the Congressperson and makes a deal, usually in the form of an earmark, which is a rider inserted into whatever bill that is set to pass that day, and in return the lobbyist gives your campaign a generous donation, and keeps most of the money for himself. He can't give you the money directly because that is a bribe and is illegal.

Not all earmarks, which are outside the normal budgeting and review process, are given for donations. The linking of an earmark to a campaign donation is seen as an abuse of the process until this recent ruling by the ethics committee which legitimizes the abuse by saying that it isn't really any kind of punishable offense. And we trust these people to make our laws... And those laws do not have a sunset clause... It may not be bribery but it does constitute prostitution...

This is one more example that is pissing people off, creating distrust in government. Although  both John McCain and Barack Obama campaigned on cleaning up the sleaze of earmarks, Obama so far has taken a baby step, making folks cynical that he is serious about his campaign pledges. We'll see after this healthcare boondoggle is over, if he suddenly gets a conscience... and God knows where McCain has gone, after all of his backtracking and repudiating all of his former beliefs in order to get re-elected.
"Gay marriage now legal in Washington, D.C. How about that? So, if you're a congressman, in bed with a lobbyist, if you like it, you better put a ring on it." –Jay Leno

This just freshly translated, from that ever-lovable, wacky leader of Iran. Once again embarrassing all intelligent Iranians, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proclaimed yesterday: "In remarks reported by IRNA, an official Iranian news agency, and translated by Reuters, Mr. Ahmadinejad said, “The September 11 incident was a big fabrication as a pretext for the campaign against terrorism and a prelude for staging an invasion against Afghanistan.” Mr. Ahmadinejad also reportedly described the attacks in New York as a “complicated intelligence scenario and act.” Conspiracy theorists in the Middle East have suggested that the attacks were not the work of Al Qaeda, but carried out by Israeli or American intelligence operatives."

While I love conspiracy theories, and there are many questions about 9/11 that have been unanswered, ignored, and swept under the rug, most of it comes from the US intelligence agencies not releasing all of the investigative information they have. The official report does little to answer them too, again, creating distrust in our government. In fact, the lies given to us by the Bush administration, despite the shallow protestations in Karl Rove's new book, coupled with the frustrations, pain, and death caused by the two wars is what created the atmosphere that birthed the tea parties...

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