Oct 302010

PDF of Ruling

The Libertarian party, the last group continuing the pursuit of prospective relief from rigged elections in the Arizona courts won a major legal victory last Thursday. The Court of Appeals reversed Judge Charles Harrington’s dismissal and remanded the case for further proceedings.

The Democratic party backed out of this RTA court case when Judge Charles Harrington denied those who were seeking prospective relief in the courts to improve election integrity. The rationale provided by the Democratic party to abandon the case was concern of the costs for litigation. Election integrity activists believe that the Goddard political machine wanted as little attention possible over his handling of the RTA investigation.

Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard demonstrated how the executive branch failed to provide adequate remedy when he investigated the 2006 RTA election. Goddard refused to perform elementary auditing procedures including a check of the ballots’ figures against the poll tapes from that same election. After a year of litigation, the public learned that thirty percent of the poll tapes were missing.

In Arizona, election challenges can only take place within the first five days after the election is held. Five days proves to be an impossible time frame given the complexities involved with obtaining and examining electronic data and relevant records. Barring a change in statutory law, the legislative branch fails to provide sufficient remedy in an extremely suspicious election.

For the citizens of Arizona, the courts were the last hope in providing some measure to ensure that future elections are not rigged. Unfortunately, Judge Harrington threw this case out by accepting the county’s argument that criminal activity cannot be discovered in a civil case trial. Despite the absurdity of this argument, the Democratic Party dropped out of the case after Harrington’s decision. However, the Libertarian party was on board from the beginning and elected to continue pursing the matter in appeal.

Below is a clip that set the tone in the previous trial with Judge Harrington admonishing Bill Risner, the attorney for the Democratic party, for suggesting to the court that it “can’t just wash it’s hands of this matter”. This, of course, took place just before Judge Harrington washed his hands of the matter and let it go to appeal.

Oct 292010

Monday 23 August 2010

by: Denis G. Campbell, t r u t h o u t | News Analysis

Photo: athrasher

Why did Arizona’s two main gubernatorial candidates, Gov. Jan Brewer, former secretary of state/head of elections, who contracted for highly criticized and easily-hacked Diebold and Sequoia ballot scanning systems, and Attorney General (AG) Terry Goddard, with his three-year “criminal investigation” into a 2006 Pima County (Tucson) local election allegedly hacked, according to a whistleblower, do everything in their power for years to stifle polling accountability while expensively fighting enforcement of Arizona’s election laws?

“The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.” – Joseph Stalin

Arizona voters head Tuesday 24 August to primary polling places. They will mark paper ballots that will be optically scanned by Diebold and Sequoia vote scan machines. And there is absolutely no guarantee their vote will ever be tabulated.

Six plaintiffs recently filed a lawsuit in Maricopa County (Phoenix) alleging recently relaxed ballot handling rules ensure a lax chain of control over ballot papers in direct violation of Arizona law. Coupled with unapproved software installed on multiple election department computers, and it creates what the citizen watchdog group AUDIT AZ calls an “interlock.” “This makes manipulation of vote counting easy and thus leaves elections vulnerable to undetectable fraud.”

Arizona public officials confidently claim their system is completely safe from hackers. Yet, Maricopa County is the USA’s fourth-largest elections department handling 56-58 percent of all Arizona votes cast. Its polling places rely on 22, sole-purpose laptop computers and their phone line modems to transmit final polling data from the Sequoia machines to election headquarters over phone lines and the Internet.

If CIA and Defense Department sites are hacked thousands of times daily, what, besides desert bravado or blind arrogance, gives anyone any indication their vote is safely counted?

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As AUDIT AZ co-founder John Brakey told us, “Lax handling of ballots and decisions relieving poll-workers of audit responsibility mean, regardless of the wishes of individual voters, the entire system can be manipulated and outcomes determined on central tabulation computers with expert hackers who are then able to completely cover their tracks.”

And before you take Governor Brewer’s or AG Goddard’s (neither of whom would answer questions posed over three years by this reporter) tack of ignoring the message and instead attacking the messenger, dismissing all charges as baseless conspiracy theory … ask yourself why Arizona’s elected and unelected leaders (who all took a forced, unpaid, furlough day Friday to save money) have spent more than $1 million tax dollars hiring high-profile law firms to fight citizen-filed lawsuits from multi-partisan groups seeking ballot handling reforms?

Bill Risner, Democratic Party attorney for Pima County, is no stranger to election procedure battles. In 41-years of practice, he says the central problem of the current computerized systems is they are easy to cheat. “When the fact of ‘easy to cheat’ is combined with the ‘impossibility of challenge’ and ‘nobody is looking,’ the seriousness of the present vulnerability of our election system is obvious,” he says.

Brad Roach, unsuccessful Republican candidate for Pima County attorney and lead counsel on the voter case said, “John Brakey and I are as politically opposite as you can find and would not likely agree on anything, but we agree on this.” He describes Brakey as being as passionate as any death penalty opponent crusader he’s ever met. “John’s devoted years to this and we should thank him. While we disagree on most things political, he’s absolutely right, your vote is the most important thing any citizen has,” said Roach.

Roach further said he cannot fathom why elected leaders don’t understand that “when you fight, fight, fight everything, you make things worse and it serves no utility.” He continued, “If you have nothing to hide, why not just be open on something this important?”

He is suing the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and others requesting “Mandamus” and Injunctive Relief. The Mandamus action is unique in that it demands the court order public officials to follow existing Arizona election laws.

Plaintiffs want to ensure the entire ballot chain of custody is secure and Arizona’s mandated audit trail is returned to full compliance, no matter how inconvenient or time consuming, to ensure integrity in the voting process.

The case was recently assigned its second judge. In a Friday telephone hearing, Judge Oberbillig, County Defense Attorney Colleen Conner and Roach all agreed nothing could be done in time for the primary election on Tuesday.

However, the Mandamus action falls outside of cumbersome civil trial rules and the judge said there was time to move forward with an expedited jury trial and emergency orders issued from the bench before the November general election.

Said Roach, “How patriotically ironic is it that on a question as important as insuring everyone’s individual vote is counted, a jury of one’s peers will decide the merits of this case?”

But what, if anything, can stop the arrogance of Arizona’s elected and unelected leaders?

When Governor Brewer was secretary of state, she wrote the rules for voting machines across the state, however, when questioned repeatedly about them, claimed she had no authority to change the rules or order new ones.

The bar in Arizona for any recount is already higher than in almost every other states, with a minuscule one-tenth of 1 percent margin and inside five days the standards to trigger a recount. Miss either milestone and no recount can ever be granted.

Indeed, during a 2004 primary election between two Republicans decided by just four votes, officials were ready to begin a hand recount of all paper ballots, at their own expense, to ensure accuracy. Secretary Brewer called the local supervisor of elections and informed them they were “breaking state law and ordered them to stop.” The only way to count ballots under Arizona law was to rerun them through the same machine that had already spit out this data. Jan Brewer explained on video she stopped the recount because “an angel was on her shoulder and guided her in the right direction.”

In the second machine run, 496 extra ballots magically appeared inside one machine’s “count” that were not part of the first ballot. Maricopa Elections Supervisor Karen Osborne under deposition stated, “an 18 percent error rate in machine tabulations was within their acceptable margin of error.” What citizen would volunteer their ballot to be one of the nearly one in five miscounted in that “acceptable margin of error”?

Across Arizona, there is a pattern of refusal to cooperate with voter groups. Elected officials refuse to return phone calls asking for comment, ignore or obfuscate Freedom of Information Act requests for information and, later, even ignore judge’s orders. And there seems to be zero consequences for state workers. To date, no one has been fired, reprimanded or reassigned for incompetence for any of these bungled elections.

Even when brought into court, the rank incompetence causes judges to throw their hands up in disgust, resulting in convoluted rulings. Two years ago, Bill Risner won all of the legal argument, but lost his case when Maricopa County Judge Edward O. Burke agreed County Elections Director, Karen Osborne, did not follow election law, ensure ballot integrity and provide an unbroken custody chain.

However, he ruled against the plaintiffs saying, “in a county the size of Maricopa, perfect compliance with the statutory electoral scheme, while desirable, is not possible due to time, space, the practicalities of the electoral process and the number of persons involved” in denying their injunction for a hand recount.

So, where does the voter go to ensure the accuracy of their vote count? Well, one could try voting in the UK as an example. There, the hand vote count performed across 650 parliamentary constituencies during the recent general election was a model of efficiency and accuracy.

This reporter covered Wales’ Vale of Glamorgan constituency hand count. The result was declared final at 2:23 AM, with congratulations all around. It was completely transparent. All votes were counted across the nation in exactly the same way, with party observers and even candidates sitting directly across the table from and silently observing the counting teams throughout the night. Too, there was no artificial time pressure of reporting vote results on the 11:00 PM news. They were committed to getting it right.

The sanctity of one person, one vote, unites otherwise deeply divided and polarized Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Tea and every other party. So, why won’t a Republican governor and a Democratic AG, both seeking the state’s highest office, demand transparent accountability by state officials?

AG Goddard has led a “Keystone Cops” criminal investigation of the 2006 Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) election. Bill Risner sued Pima County, demanding a recount (and they are the party that WON!), trying to assure vote integrity as the result made no sense. How could a measure they supported suddenly win after losing so badly in every previous election?

When a whistleblower came forward saying the election result had been hacked, AUDIT AZ entered the fray. In the original UK Progressive article on this subject, they alleged and proved a Pima County election official had purchased an illegal scanner. Election Director Brad Nelson admitted in a deposition he wanted to test for himself whether ballot scanning machine memory cards could be hacked as demonstrated by Finnish scientist Harry Hursti in the HBO film “Hacking Democracy.”

And boy did they test. (The question remains … until they got it right?) Seventy plus machine memory cards were reported as “damaged.” Hacking enough voting machine memory cards to affect an outcome before an election is clearly difficult. The more ingenious way is, as alleged in Risner’s case documents, to break into the central tabulator using a simple and untraceable Microsoft Access table. This instantly changes results inside headquarters and leaves no trail.

And this was four years ago, imagine how sophisticated hackers have become since 2006 (placing a full PacMan game on one “sealed” machine being but one example.)

Risner asserts one can determine if the RTA ballot results were hacked by reviewing the polling summary tape totals included with the ballots from the poll site and comparing them with the actual paper ballots from each polling location. A furious legal battle, costing Pima County hundreds of thousands of dollars, ended when AG Goddard’s team swooped in and removed the ballots to an undisclosed location from a storage facility in Tucson. He then did his own recount without reconciling the poll tapes and declared the result final.

The problem? Almost one-third of the poll summary tapes, supposedly stored with the ballots, were reported “missing” at the time of his count. No one knows and the AG will not answer whether they were missing when he conducted his recount or before. Too, Pima County officials as “the customer,” were allowed unfettered access to the ballot storage facility despite being implicated in the criminal investigation. And the logs of who visited the facility have not been released by the AG.

The issue has been stonewalled because, according to a local attorney wishing to remain anonymous, “by implication, the AG’s office ends up looking either incompetent or complicit in a cover-up. With the election just 10-weeks away, the impact it could have on Goddard’s election chances to the only office he has coveted since childhood, would be devastating.”

Aside from immigration reform, economic loss issues around the “Paper’s Please” law and an increasingly radical right-wing agenda, any further light on her otherwise anonymous tenure as secretary of state would create more problems for Governor Brewer’s re-election campaign.

The irony is Democrat Goddard may end up hoisted on this petard and never know for certain his own ballot count fate since the rules change makes it easier for heavily Republican and lax-on-security Maricopa County officials to find results that favor Governor Brewer’s re-election bid.

No matter what happens, democracy could be the ultimate casualty. As I wrote after the ’08 general election for The Huffington Post, with the Maricopa recount case and result, was it possible Arizona’s John McCain actually lost his own red state when every other state touching Arizona voted FOR President Obama?

Connecting electoral dots, Phoenix (Maricopa 56-58 percent) and Tucson (Pima 18-22 percent) account for roughly 75 percent of votes cast in any Arizona election. Evidence also exists that Pima County election department staff frequently accessed the early “vote by mail” official count database. Imagine the impact of this “Zogby poll from hell” as John Brakey calls it. “Illegally passing along actual early vote totals to party insiders allows them to conduct a series of Robocall and other campaign activities that could sway voters based not on research or polls but on actual vote counts!”

Arizona is no stranger to election controversy. Paper or machines? Most would probably now vote paper every time. To quote AUDIT AZ’s motto: “Election Integrity is not about the Right or Left; it’s about right, wrong, greed and corruption.”

Oct 282010

Larry Flynt


DON’T BE FOOLED. The way the media plays the story, it was a wave of racist, anti-immigrant hysteria that moved Arizona Republicans to pass a sick little law requiring every person in the state to carry papers proving they are U.S. citizens. I don’t buy it. Anti-Hispanic hysteria has always been as much a part of Arizona as the Saguaro cactus and excessive air-conditioning. What’s new here is the politicians’ fear of a xenophobic “Teabag” uprising.

What moved GOP Governor Jan Brewer to sign the Soviet-style show-me-your-papers law is the exploding number of legal Hispanics, U.S. citizens one and all, who are daring to vote—and daring to vote Democratic by more than two to one. Unless this demographic locomotive is halted, Arizona Republicans know their party will soon be electoral toast. Or, if you like, tortillas.

In 2008, working for Rolling Stone with civil rights attorney Bobby Kennedy, our team flew to Arizona to investigate what smelled like an electoral pogrom against Chicano voters… directed by one Jan Brewer.

Brewer, then secretary of state, had organized a racially loaded purge of the voter rolls that would have made Katherine Harris blush. Beginning after the 2004 election, under Brewer’s command, no less than 100,000 voters, overwhelmingly Hispanics, were blocked from registering to vote. In 2005, the first year of the Great Brown-Out, one in three Phoenix residents found their registration applications rejected.

That statistic caught my attention. Voting or registering to vote if you’re not a citizen is a felony, a big-time, jail-time crime. And arresting such criminal voters is easy: After all, they give their names and addresses.

So I asked Brewer’s office, had she busted a single one of these thousands of allegedly illegal voters? Did she turn over even one name to the feds for prosecution? No, not one.

Which raises the question:Were these disenfranchised voters the criminal, noncitizens Brewer tagged them, or just not-quite-white voters given the José Crow treatment, entrapped in document-chase trickery?

The answer was provided by a New Mexico federal prosecutor who was sent on a crazy hunt all over the western mesas looking for these illegal voters. “We took over 100 complaints, we investigated for almost two years, and I didn’t find one prosecutable voter fraud case.”

This prosecutor, David Iglesias, is a prosecutor no more. When he refused to fabricate charges of illegal voting among immigrants, his firing was personally ordered by the President of the United States, George W. Bush, under orders from his boss, Karl Rove. Iglesias told me that Rove and the Republican chieftains were working nationwide to whip up anti-immigrant hysteria with public busts of illegal voters, even though there were none.

“They wanted some splashy preelection indictments,” Iglesias told me. The former prosecutor, himself a Republican, paid the price when he stood up to this vicious attack on citizenship.

But Secretary of State Brewer followed the Rove plan to a T. The weapon she used to slice the Arizona voter rolls was a 2004 law, known as Prop. 200, which required proof of citizenship to register. The Republicans’ latest legislative horror show, sanctioning cops to stop residents and prove citizenship, is just one more step in the party’s desperate plan to impede Mexican-Americans from marching to the ballot box.

(By the way, no one elected Brewer.Weirdly, Barack Obama placed her in office last year when, for reasons known only to the Devil and Rahm Emanuel, the President appointed Arizona’s Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano to his cabinet, which automatically moved Republican Brewer into the governor’s office.) State Senator Russell Pearce, the Republican sponsor of the latest ID law, gave away his real intent, blocking the vote, when he said, “There is a massive effort under way to register illegal aliens in this country.”

How many? Pearce’s PR flak told me 5 million. All Democrats too. Again, I asked Pearce’s office to give me their names and addresses from their phony registration forms. I’d happily make a citizen’s arrest of each one, on camera. Pearce didn’t have 5 million names. He didn’t have five. He didn’t have one.

The horde of 5 million voters who swam the Rio Grande just to vote for Obama was calculated on a Republican Web site extrapolating from the number of Mexicans in a border town who refused jury service because they were not citizens. Not one, in fact, had registered to vote; they had registered to drive. They had obtained licenses as required by the law. The illegal voters, “wetback” welfare moms and alien job thieves are just GOP Web site wet dreams, but their mythic PR power helps the party’s electoral hacks chop away at voter rolls and civil rights with little more than a whimper from the Democrats.

Indeed, one reason, I discovered, that some Democrats are silent is that they are in on the game themselves. In New Mexico, Democratic Party bosses tossed away ballots of Pueblo Indians to cut native influence in party primaries.

But what’s wrong with requiring folks to prove they’re American if they want to vote and live in America? The answer: Because the vast majority of perfectly legal voters and residents who lack ID sufficient for Ms. Brewer and Mr. Pearce are citizens of color, citizens of poverty.

According to a study by University of Washington professor Matt Barreto, minority citizens are half as likely as whites to have government ID. The numbers are dreadfully worse when income is factored in.

Just outside Phoenix, without Brewer’s or Pearce’s help, I did locate one of these evil un-American voters—that is, someone who could not prove her citizenship: 100-year-old Shirley Preiss. Her U.S. birth certificate was nowhere to be found, as it never existed.

In Phoenix, I stopped in at the Maricopa County Jail, where Sheriff Joe Arpaio houses the captives of his campaign to stop illegal immigration. Arpaio, who under the new Arizona law will be empowered to choose his targets for citizenship testing, is already facing federal indictment for his racially charged and legally suspect methods.

I admit, I was a little nervous, passing through the iron doors. A big sign reads: “NOTICE: ILLEGAL ALIENS ARE PROHIBITED FROM VISITING ANYONE IN THIS JAIL.” I mean, Grandma Palast snuck into the USA via Windsor, Canada. We Palasts are as illegal as they come, but Arpaio’s sophisticated deportee- sniffer didn’t stop this white boy from entering his sanctum.

But that’s the point, isn’t it? Not to stop noncitizens from entering Arizona—after all, who else would care for the country club lawn?—but to harass folks of the wrong color: Democratic blue.

Greg Palast, whom the Chicago Tribune has called “the most important investigative reporter of our time,” has covered the illegal disenfranchisement of voters for Rolling Stone (with Robert F. Kennedy Jr.), Harper’s, The Nation and TruthOut.org (which first published the preceding article). Palast, whose investigative reports can be seen on BBC Television’s Newsnight, is a Nation Institute/Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow and the author of Armed Madhouse and the New York Times best-seller The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. For more, visit GregPalast.com.

Oct 282010


Last year, two men showed up in Benson, Ariz., a small desert town 60 miles from the Mexico border, offering a deal.

Glenn Nichols, the Benson city manager, remembers the pitch.

“The gentleman that’s the main thrust of this thing has a huge turquoise ring on his finger,” Nichols said. “He’s a great big huge guy and I equated him to a car salesman.”

What he was selling was a prison for women and children who were illegal immigrants.

“They talk [about] how positive this was going to be for the community,” Nichols said, “the amount of money that we would realize from each prisoner on a daily rate.”

But Nichols wasn’t buying. He asked them how would they possibly keep a prison full for years — decades even — with illegal immigrants?

“They talked like they didn’t have any doubt they could fill it,” Nichols said.

That’s because prison companies like this one had a plan — a new business model to lock up illegal immigrants. And the plan became Arizona’s immigration law.

Full Story

Oct 282010

SIGAR News Room

An audit released today by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), Arnold Fields, shows that despite the extensive use of contractors for reconstruction work in Afghanistan, the Departments of Defense (DOD) and State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are unable to readily report on how much money they spend on contracting for reconstruction activities in Afghanistan. The report shows that nearly $18 billion was obligated from FY ‘-07 through FY ‘-09 by DOD, State, and USAID to nearly 7,000 contractors. This audit is unprecedented in its scope by identifying where Afghanistan reconstruction money is being spent and which contractors are spending it.

“This audit is crucial because if we don’t even know who we’re giving money to, it is nearly impossible to conduct system wide oversight,” said Special IG Fields.

Congress mandated the SIGAR office with the unique ability to look across U.S. government agencies at reconstruction money spent in Afghanistan. Because the U.S. has been investing in Afghanistan reconstruction since 2002, SIGAR auditors tried to analyze the scale and scope of contracting prior to FY ’07, but much of the data available from the agencies prior to 2007 was too poor to be analyzed.

SIGAR identified about 7,000 contractors and other entities, including for-profit and non-profit organizations and multilateral organizations involved in reconstruction activities in Afghanistan. Among the largest was $691 million to an Afghan construction firm to build military facilities and $1.8 billion to a U.S.-based firm to provide police training for Afghanistan’s National Police forces. Nearly $800 million was provided to multilateral organizations, like the United Nations or the World Bank, or transferred to other federal agencies.

“With this report we can more effectively prioritize future contract audits and more quickly identify contracts at risk of fraud, waste and abuse,” said Special IG Fields. “It certainly helps to reduce the stove pipes and lend more transparency to U.S. departments and agencies so that they may learn more about what their own organizations are doing and what other departments and agencies are contracting for in support of reconstruction,” said IG Fields.

The audit shows that navigating the confusing labyrinth of government contracting is difficult, at best. Within the Defense Department alone, there are four contracting organizations managing DOD funded reconstruction contracts. The audit found that not only do those four DOD contracting organizations not coordinate and share information with one another, there is minimal sharing of information across government agencies.

SIGAR has previously recommended that DOD, State, and USAID consider the creation of a centralized management information system that is integrated across all agencies and command. However, according to the audit, there is still no central U.S. government database to track reconstruction projects from the various U.S. agencies and departments, let alone, the international community.

SIGAR is the first organization to provide this “snapshot” of the reconstruction contracting environment in Afghanistan. Other offices of Inspectors General at the various U.S. departments are not able to provide this view of the entire contracting landscape, as they are not charged with looking across U.S. government agencies.

“Prior to this audit report there was no comprehensive study on contractors and the money the U.S. is spending through contractors on Afghan reconstruction,” said IG Fields. “The concluding observations in this audit are crucial to helping U.S. departments and agencies and SIGAR continue to conduct aggressive, system wide oversight,” he said.

Oct 282010


QUESTION: Who paid for the pipeline?

The U.S. Geological Survey says a revised estimate for the amount of conventional, undiscovered oil in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska is a fraction of a previous estimate.

The group estimates about 896 million barrels of such oil are in the reserve, about 90 percent less than a 2002 estimate of 10.6 billion barrels.

The new estimate is mainly due to the incorporation of new data from recent exploration drilling revealing gas occurrence rather than oil in much of the area, the geological survey said.

“These new findings underscore the challenge of predicting whether oil or gas will be found in frontier areas,” USGS Director Dr. Marcia McNutt said in a statement. “It is important to re-evaluate the petroleum potential of an area as new data becomes available.”

The organization also estimates 8 trillion cubic feet less gas than a 2002 estimate of 61 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, conventional, non-associated gas — meaning gas found in discrete accumulations with little to no crude oil in the reservoir.

“Recent activity in the NPRA, including 3-D seismic surveys, federal lease sales administered by the Bureau of Land Management and drilling of more than 30 exploration wells in the area provides geological information that is more indicative of gas than oil,” the geological survey said.

The petroleum reserve in Alaska has been the focus of significant oil exploration during the past decade, stimulated by the mid-1990s discovery of the largest onshore oil discovery in the U.S. during the past 25 years, the organization said.

Oct 262010

Mail Online

Tony Blair is to be recalled by the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War to answer new questions about ‘gaps’ in the evidence he gave earlier this year.

The former Prime Minister is likely to be asked to clarify the political build-up to the 2003 American-led invasion.

He is also expected to further explain the legality of Britain’s participation in the controversial war.

Sir John Chilcot will write to Mr Blair next month to ask him to attend a public hearing in early 2011, reported The Times.

During his six-hour testimony earlier this year, Mr Blair mounted a vigorous defence of the invasion and insisted he had no regrets over removing Saddam Hussein.

He denied he took the country to war on the basis of a ‘lie’ over the dictator’s supposed weapons of mass destruction.

At the end of his session one member of the audience shouted: ‘What, no regrets? Come on’ while others heckled ‘You are a liar’, ‘And a murderer’.

Sir John has previously explained that as his team pores through thousands of secret government documents relating to the Iraq invasion, should they find ‘conflicts or gaps within the evidence’ then they will recall witnesses.

Liam Fox, the current Defence Secretary, asked Sir John to recall Gordon Brown to the inquiry earlier this year after he was forced into an humiliating admission that he had slashed defence spending while British troops were at war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The then-PM told MPs he had been wrong to tell the inquiry that defence spending under Labour was ‘rising in real terms every year’.

In January, an unrepentant Mr Blair was heckled and jeered by families of Britain’s war dead as he declared he had ‘not a regret’ about invading Iraq.

He made it clear he would do the same again and warned world leaders they may soon have to take similar decisions over Iran.

Despite the deaths of up to 700,000 Iraqis and 179 British troops, Mr Blair said he felt ‘responsibility but not a regret’ at the end of his six hours of evidence. There was no hint of remorse.

Saddam had been a ‘monster’ and it had been right to remove him even to prevent the ‘possibility’ that he could acquire weapons of mass destruction, Mr Blair said.

He warned that Iran’s nuclear weapons programme now poses an even greater threat.

Oct 252010

American Free Press

A SERIES OF MAINSTREAM MEDIA reports have revealed how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently mobilized its army of lobbyists to fight Senate legislation that would bring once-outsourced jobs back home to the U.S.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit 501(c)(6) that purportedly works to promote businesses and jobs in America. Today, however, the organization is increasingly coming under fire for backing multinational corporations and the outsourcing of American jobs to third world countries. The bill in question was the Creating American Jobs and End Offshoring Act (S. 3816), sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

According to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), one of the bill’s cosponsors, the measure would put an end to the assistance Washington has been giving Big Business to move American jobs overseas.

Among other things, it gives companies a two-year payroll tax break when they hire new employees to perform services in the United States that had previously been done abroad.

It also eliminates the tax break—a corporate subsidy—that companies get for closing down factories and moving them abroad. Says Sanders: “The bill prohibits a firm from taking any deduction, loss or credit for amounts paid in connection with reducing or ending the operation of a trade or business in the U.S. and starting or expanding a similar trade or business overseas.”

Finally, the bill closes down a federal tax subsidy that has been rewarding U.S. companies that move their factories to foreign lands. “Under current law,” says Sanders, “U.S. companies can defer paying U.S. tax on income earned by their foreign subsidiaries until that income is brought back to the United States.”

This is known as “deferral” and puts American companies at a distinct disadvantage because they are responsible for taxes no matter whether they sell their wares or not. At a time when unemployment is at a record high, the bill should have been a no-brainer for legislators when it came up for a vote. But only eight senators sponsored it—all Democrats except for Sanders, a Vermont independent.

But even worse, neither Democrats nor Republicans could get the 60 votes necessary to pass a cloture bill to get it to the floor for a vote.

That’s because the Chamber of Commerce, which donates heavily to Republicans and Democrats, came down hard against it. This should not come as a surprise, considering it has been revealed that the Chamber of Commerce has been receiving significant funding from companies in foreign countries. According to the left-wing populist organization, Think Progress, the chamber has been accepting millions of dollars tax-free from companies in China, India, Bahrain, Egypt and Russia, among other countries, and then funneling that money into U.S. political campaigns in violation of federal election law. In return, the chamber has become a vocal proponent of globalism, which includes sending U.S. jobs abroad and hiring cheap labor.

In a letter to Congress, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Bruce Josten displayed his complete incompetence, his disdain for American workers and his utter lack of patriotism by claiming that bringing much needed jobs back to the United States would not really help the U.S. economy.

“Replacing a job that is based in another country with a domestic job does not stimulate economic growth or enhance the competitiveness of American worldwide companies,” Josten scribbled. So what does Josten suggest Congress do to help Main Street America and boost the economy? He says Congress should make permanent the tax breaks for the two-percent of the American population that earns more than $250,000 a year.

The insanity of Josten’s claims is revealed in the fact that consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the U.S. economy. In plain English, that means, if there are no jobs for working-class Americans, there is no more United States.