April 17, 2012
A British peer has allegedly announced a £10-million bounty for Barack Obama and George W. Bush, prompting his suspension from the UK’s Labour party. Lord Ahmed denies this, saying his comments about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were misunderstood.
It all began with the announcement from Washington of a $10-million bounty for information that would lead to the capture and conviction of Hafiz Saeed, suspected of taking part in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
“If the US can announce a reward of $10 million for the captor of Hafiz Saeed, I can announce a bounty of £10 million on President Obama and his predecessor George Bush,” Ahmed was quoted by Pakistani newspaper the Express Tribune as saying. The paper also said Lord Ahmed was prepared to arrange the bounty at any cost, even if that meant selling all his personal assets, including his house.
Lord Ahmed allegedly made the comments at a reception in his honor in Haripur, Pakistan.
The Labour party, of which Lord Ahmed is a member, responded swiftly by suspending his membership and starting an investigation into the matter.
“If these comments are accurate we utterly condemn these remarks which are totally unacceptable,” a party spokesperson told the BBC.
Lord Ahmed denies the claims he set up a bounty.
February 21, 2012
By Madison Ruppert
“Didn’t Obama run on a platform of change? Apparently not.” –KTRN
So much for change. The Obama administration is continuing their efforts to go back on every single campaign promise, and beyond all odds make themselves look even worse than the administration of George W. Bush.
Personally, I didn’t think such a thing was possible, but with the extrajudicial killing of Americans, refusal to explain why they think they can engage in such activities (multiple times, no less), the passing the radically un-American National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA), and so much more, Obama is doing a great job at proving me wrong.
Now to continue this trend, Barack Obama has instructed the Justice Department to defend the warrantless wiretapping policy first introduced under George W. Bush.
In response, just last week the Department of Justice filed papers with the Supreme Court seeking to overturn a decision from an appeals court which allowed a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to continue.
This suit challenged the constitutionality of a law passed in 2008 which gave the American government what had previously been an unprecedented amount of power to snoop on American citizens without any semblance of probable cause.
January 31, 2012
The Washington Post
By: Lori Montgomery
The federal budget deficit will top $1 trillion for a fourth straight year, congressional budget analysts said Tuesday, but is likely to be the smallest since the Great Recession began taking a toll on the budget in 2009.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected that the gap between government spending and tax collections would continue to fall, dropping sharply in 2013 and through the decade if policymakers follow through with major changes in both tax policy and government spending now on the books.
The $1.1 trillion deficit is the smallest deficit figure — both in nominal terms and as a percentage of the economy — since the Great Recession.
The CBO said that allowing the George W. Bush tax cuts to expire on schedule in January and making deep cuts to the Pentagon and other agency budgets would shrink future deficits and begin to tame the national debt.
Still, the nation would pay an economic price for such austerity measures, the CBO said. Raising taxes and cutting government spending would slow economic growth and increase unemployment. The CBO projected that the jobless rate would hit 8.9 percent by the end of this year and rise to 9.2 percent by the end of 2013.
CBO director Douglas Elmendorf said the changes would make “a very large difference” in what the government takes in and what it spends in the next fiscal year, which would amount to nearly $400 billion in 2013 alone. “So the amount of higher revenue and lower spending that would occur under current law is really quite sharp,” Elmendorf said. “We think that will be pushing down the economy as other factors are starting to push the economy up.”
If policymakers instead choose to short-circuit those changes, the nation’s financial health could suffer, the CBO said. Extending the Bush tax cuts would reduce revenues by $5.4 trillion over the next decade. Extending other temporary tax policies, such as the tax break for corporate research and development, would add another $1 trillion to deficits, as would a decision to forego the agency spending cuts agreed to during the battle over the debt-limit last summer.
January 11, 2012
By Anthony Gucciardi
Biotech giant Monsanto has been genetically modifying the world’s food supply and subsequently breeding environmental devastation for years, but leaked documents now reveal that Monsanto has also deeply infiltrated the United States government. With leaked reports revealing how U.S. diplomats are actually working for Monsanto to push their agenda along with other key government officials, Monsanto’s grasp on international politics has never been clearer.
Amazingly, the information reveals that the massive corporation is also intensely involved in the passing and regulations concerning the very GM ingredients they are responsible for. In fact, the information released by WikiLeaks reveals just how much power Monsanto has thanks to key positions within the United States government and elsewhere. Not only was it exposed that the U.S. is threatening nations who oppose Monsanto with military-style trade wars, but that many U.S. diplomats actually work directly for Monsanto.
In 2007 it was requested that specific nations inside the European Union be punished for not supporting the expansion of Monsanto’s GMO crops. The request for such measures to be taken was made by Craig Stapleton, the United States ambassador to France and partner to George W. Bush. Despite mounting evidence linking Monsanto’s GM corn to organ damage and environmental devastation, the ambassador plainly calls for ‘target retaliation’ against those not supporting the GM crop. In the leaked documents, Stapleton states:
“Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility, but that also focuses in part on the worst culprits. The list should be measured rather than vicious and must be sustainable over the long term, since we should not expect an early victory. Moving to retaliation will make clear that the current path has real costs to EU interests and could help strengthen European pro-biotech voices.”
The undying support of key players within the U.S. towards Monsanto is undeniably made clear not only in this release, but in the legislative decisions taken by organizations such as the FDA and USDA. Legislative decisions such as allowing Monsanto’s synthetic hormone Posilac (rBGH) to be injected into U.S. cows despite being banned in 27 countries. How did Monsanto pull this off?
December 12, 2011
By Steve Watson
“If anyone is nuts, it’s Ari Fleischer. Let’s not forget how Bush hardly reacted when they told him the news that the tower had been hit. He just sat there in from those kids in the elementary school. You would think the commander in chief would have excused himself immediately. Nope – he was just waiting to be told what to do next. Ron Paul is right.” –KTRN
Ari Fleischer, the former White House Press Secretary under George W. Bush, responded to comments made about the Bush administration’s response to 9/11 by GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul by tweeting “The man is nuts.”
During a speech in Iowa Thursday, Congressman Paul told the thousands in attendance that the terrorist attacks in 2001 were used by the Bush administration to launch preemptive wars and pursue an interventionist foreign policy.
“Think of what happened after 9/11, the minute before there was any assessment, there was glee in the administration because now we can invade Iraq, and so the war drums beat,” Paul said. “That’s exactly what they’re doing now with Iran.”
While Fleischer contends that Ron Paul is insane for making such a suggestion, he has apparently forgotten that it was George W. Bush himself who, in the days after 9/11, gloated to his budget director, Mitch Daniels, “Lucky me–I hit the trifecta!”
While the nation reacted with shock and horror at the devastation and destruction, then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld began issuing rapid orders to his aides to look for evidence of Iraqi involvement in the attacks, just hours after they took place.
Notes taken by Stephen Cambone, then a senior policy official under Rumsfeld were released under FOIA request in 2006, showing that the Defense Secretary was intent on hitting Iraq in retaliation.
October 27, 2011
By SUSANNA KIM
The income of the richest 1 percent in the U.S. soared 275 percent from 1979 to 2007, but the bottom 20 percent grew by just 18 percent, new government data shows.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a study this week that compared real after-tax household income between 1979 and 2007, which were both after recessions and had similar overall economic activity.
While the income of the richest 1 percent nearly tripled, increases were smaller down the economic ladder. After the 1 percent, income for the next highest 20 percent grew by 65 percent, much faster than it did for the remaining 80 percent of the population but still lagging well behind the top percentile.
The changes illustrate how the better off have captured the bulk of income gains over the past three decades. The top quintile has seen its share of income rise while the other four quintiles have suffered declines in their shares, according to John Bowler, director of country risk service with the Economist Intelligence Unit.
The report states that without the growth of the top percentile, income inequality still would have increased, “but not by nearly as much.” The study was prepared at the request of Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.
The CBO said the reasons for the rapid growth at the top are “not well understood,” though some possibilities include technical innovations that have changed the labor market for superstars, “such as actors, athletes, and musicians,” changes in executive compensation, and increasing scale of financial-sector activities.
Technology creates opportunities for highly skilled workers while making some routine tasks redundant, said Bowler. The role of globalization, he added, is “controversial.”
“Even some policymakers who would traditionally be in the free trade camp are now questioning the benefits of globalization to the middle and lower-income U.S. households, even if they have benefited from cheaper imported manufactured goods,” he said.
Matthew Dowd, ABC News political analyst and former strategist for President George W. Bush, said while Americans have accepted income disparities in the country, they are becoming more frustrated at the perception that their economic opportunities, or that of their children, are diminishing.
“They don’t feel any ability to move up. They feel stuck and don’t feel there’s a lottery ticket to take them to a higher class,” Dowd said.
What makes the frustration worse is that Americans feel the wealthy, especially in business, receive preferential treatment by the government.
“They watch Wall Street, government bailouts and feel like the rich play by different rules,” he said. “They think, ‘Here I am, trying to make payments on my house with my own small business, trying to make ends meet, but if I need help, no one will help me.’”
On Wednesday, Douglas Elmendorf, CBO director, also revealed in prepared remarks to the congressional super-committee that the government spent about $200 billion, or 15 percent of total discretionary spending, on federal workers’ salaries and benefits in the fiscal year that ended in September, the Washington Post reported.
Dowd said that frustration with increasing inequality has led to growing movements on the “right and left,” such as the Occupy Wall Street protests.
“Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street both come from the same place: anger at a small group of people who are operating by a different set of rules,” he said. “Americans always say they don’t like the income gap, but they didn’t mind the gap. But they just don’t like that they don’t have any ability to rise.”
Bowler said he agreed that, traditionally, Americans have not envied the material success of others, as growing rich or at least becoming better off is part of the American dream.
September 26th, 2011
The Huffington Post
By: Dan Froomkin
With just over three months until the last U.S. troops are currently due to leave Iraq, the Department of Defense is engaged in a mad dash to give away things that cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars to buy and build.
The giveaways include enormous, elaborate military bases and vast amounts of military equipment that will be turned over to the Iraqis, mostly just to save the expense of bringing it home.
“It’s all sunk costs,” said retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, who oversaw the training of Iraqi soldiers from 2003 to 2004. “It’s money that we spent and we’re not going to recoup.”
There were 505 U.S. military bases and outposts in Iraq at the height of operations, said Col. Barry Johnson, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Iraq. Only 39 are still in U.S. hands — but that includes each of the largest bases, meaning the most significant handovers are yet to come.
Those bases didn’t come cheap. Construction costs exceeded $2.4 billion, according to an analysis of Pentagon annual reports by the Congressional Research Service. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers alone was responsible for $1.9 billion in base construction contracts between 2004 and 2010, a spokesman told HuffPost.
Rather than strip those bases clean and ship everything home, Defense Department officials tell The Huffington Post that over 2.4 million pieces of equipment worth a total of at least $250 million — everything from tanks and trucks to office furniture and latrines — have been given away to the Iraqi government in the past year, with the pace of transfers expected to increase dramatically in the coming months.
THE U.S. BASES
The most colossal relics of the U.S. invasion of Iraq will be the outsize military bases the Bush administration began erecting not long after the invasion, under the never explicitly stated assumption that Iraq would become the long-term staging area for U.S. forces in the region.
As a recent Congressional Research Service report noted, the Department of Defense “built up a far more extensive infrastructure than anticipated to support troops and equipment in and around Iraq and Afghanistan.”
The biggest push came in 2005, with over $1.2 billion in base-building contracts signed in that fiscal year alone, according to CRS.
“How did we come to be wasting that much money?” asked Heather Hurlburt, executive director of the progressive National Security Network. The answer, she said, is that dissenting voices weren’t heeded when Bush administration officials were pushing their hugely overambitious agenda.
“The problem that is often cited in the run-up to the war continued afterward,” she said. “The political and media elite weren’t paying attention.”
It wasn’t until late in Bush’s second term that “cooler heads prevailed,” Hurlburt said, and it became apparent that there was no political will in either country for the U.S. to keep permanent bases in Iraq, and therefore no need to spend so much to build them.
But by then, the plans had already been set in motion. As Stars and Stripes reported last year, major construction continued even after November 2008, when then-President George W. Bush and Iraqi officials signed a security agreement calling for all U.S. troops to leave Iraq by the end of 2011.
Most of the $2.4 billion was spent building about a dozen huge outposts that, in addition to containing air strips and massive fortifications also have all the comforts of home. The Al-Asad Airfield in Anbar province, for example, covers 25 square miles — about the size of Boulder, Colo. — and is known as “Camp Cupcake” due to its amenities.
The 15-square-mile Joint Base Balad, as Whitney Terrell wrote earlier this year for Slate, is “home to three football-field-sized chow halls, a 25-meter swimming pool, a high dive, a football field, a softball field, two full-service gyms, a squash court, a movie theater, and the U.S. military’s largest airfield in Iraq.”
Despite the media’s elegiac obituaries for these major bases — like the prematurely named “Camp Victory”, with its palace, its lake, and its giant, killer carp — the fact is that not one major base has yet been evacuated.
And it’s not clear just what the Iraqis will do with some of those bases, once they get them.
One U.S. officer whose unit turned over a military outpost in a Baghdad neighborhood to the Iraqi Army in 2009 told the Washington Post that Iraqi soldiers looted it within hours of the U.S. departure. “When we returned to the outpost the next morning, most of the beds had already been taken, wood walls and framing had been pulled and several air-conditioning units had been removed from the walls, leaving gaping holes,” the officer told the Post. Weeks later, he added, the power generator the Americans had left behind was barely working.
One Iraqi entrepreneur indicated to NPR last year that there’s a thriving black market in U.S. items. “The Americans turn over every base to the Iraqi army and police — and they are all thieves,” he said.
SO MUCH EQUIPMENT
Much of the U.S.’s most lethal and valuable military equipment is being shipped out of Iraq, in one of the military’s biggest logistical efforts in history. Johnson, the spokesman for U.S. forces in Iraq, said that 1.5 million items have been removed in the past 12 months, with about 800,000 to go. “It’s an enormous task, but we have no major concerns on our ability to meet the necessary timelines.” Johnson wrote in an email to HuffPost.
But whenever a big army moves out, there’s always a lot left behind — what Stephen Biddle, a defense expert at the Council on Foreign Relations likens to an “iron mountain.”
The Pentagon can legally transfer four different categories of equipment to the Iraqi government: “excess personal property,” such as generators and mattresses, air conditioners and latrines; excess defense articles; sales from stock, including spare parts and ammunition; and non-excess military items deemed particularly useful for the Iraqi security forces.
Various Department of Defense officials provided not entirely consistent data on exactly how much has been given away thus far in each category. But the man in charge, Maj. Gen. Thomas Richardson, the chief logistics officer in Iraq, told reporters last month that U.S. forces had given away equipment with a fair market value of $247 million between Sept. 1, 2010, and August of this year — on top of items worth $157 million that had been transferred before the withdrawal officially started.
The lion’s share of donated items falls into the category of excess, non-military property. Major Kimbia Rey, a spokesperson for the U.S. forces in Iraq, told The Huffington Post this week that more than 2.4 million such items have been transferred to the government of Iraq since last September.
Richardson explained that much of that category consists of what they call “FOB in a box.” When the Iraqis take over a Forward Operating Base, he said, they also get the things that go with it, such as containerized housing units, water and fuel tanks, air conditioning units, generators, refrigerators, porta-johns, beds and mattresses, office equipment, fences, dining facilities and so on.
According to Lt. Col Melinda F. Morgan, a Pentagon spokeswoman, some 12,490 excess defense items worth $70.5 million have been turned over to the Iraqis, with 7,000 more, worth about $40 million, to go. That category includes such things as older versions of weapons, vehicles, and body armor.
Finally, U.S. forces have also given the Iraqis 1,251 non-excess military items worth $47.7 million, Morgan said. That category includes such items as up-armored Humvees and 50-caliber machine guns, Richardson said.
All of the dollar figures are for what the military calls “fair market value”; the purchase price of those items could, of course, have been much higher.
And Morgan noted that the “heaviest volume of future property transfers” is expected to occur between September and December of this year, although the “quantity and value” of what is still to come has not yet been determined.
Indeed, a Government Accountability Office report issued earlier this month raised concerns that military officials will suddenly find a lot of equipment they didn’t expect — right at the last minute, just when everybody’s leaving.
After one of the largest base transitions to date, the GAO reported, “officials said that they were surprised at the amount of unaccounted-for equipment that was left over at the end of the transition process.” Senior military officials told the GAO they were particularly worried that unexpected or abandoned contractor equipment — including expensive and much-in-demand materiel-handling equipment, like forklifts and pallet trucks — would suddenly show up “likely at the last minute.”
Some equipment has simply piled up in Iraq since combat operations began in 2003 and may not be properly logged, the GAO warned, pointing out, for example, that “units sometimes turn in such equipment without paperwork and have even removed identifying markings such as serial numbers to avoid retribution.”
And while leaving the equipment in Iraq, especially if it’s worn out or particularly bulky, is much cheaper and more expedient than shipping it home, there’s no getting around the enormous expense of purchasing it in the first place — and that some of it is precisely the kind of equipment that was in such desperately short supply when state National Guards tried to respond to domestic natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina in 2005, or the Greensburg, Kansas, tornado in 2007.
Hurlburt’s concern is not so much that the U.S. is giving away the bases and the equipment, but that all these things that so much money was spent on aren’t necessarily going to do their new owners much good. “At least, you would like if we were leaving them there, they would be useful to Iraqis,” she said.
And it’s an awful lot of stuff. “I’m thinking about the size of what was wasted there, and thinking about how what we spent in Iraq was all borrowed,” she said. “In a crazy way, what we left in Iraq was our good credit rating.”
September 13th, 2011
The Raw Story
By: Stephen C. Webster
The president’s $447 billion plan for tax incentives and infrastructure spending to create new jobs would be paid for by adjusting the tax rates of wealthy Americans, such as hedge funds managers and corporate jet owners, laying the burden of continued economic recovery at the feet of those who’ve seen its only benefits over the last two years.
That’s according to Office of Budget Management Director Jack Lew, who told reporters at the White House briefing room on Monday that several of President Barack Obama’s previous budgetary proposals could be combined to pay for the plan.
The proposals would set tighter limits on individual deductions for single earners making over $200,000 a year and families with combined incomes over $250,000 a year, drawing their exempt income down from 35 percent to 28 percent.
It would also adjust how hedge fund managers’ incomes are taxed and eliminate tax deductions for corporate aircraft. Additionally, all subsidies for the oil and gas industries would be eliminated.
Director Lew said these adjustments would add up to $467 billion over the next decade, covering the jobs bill and wiping an additional $20 billion off the nation’s deficit.
The proposals are not new: President Obama has sought to make these changes in his past two budget requests, and in the Affordable Care Act. They have been repeatedly blocked by Republicans in Congress, who claim that raising tax rates on wealthy Americans would deter them from creating jobs.
However, in this case, President Obama’s proposals are largely made up of Republican ideas such as tax credits for small businesses that hire new workers. It remains unclear how Republicans will be able to use their ostensibly pro-jobs argument to resist their own proposals for creating jobs.
What is clear is that President Obama’s jobs proposals will face stiff Republican opposition in Congress thanks to the path the administration has chosen to secure funding, giving more rhetorical fire to those who say it is intended to support his reelection efforts as much as it is meant to boost the economy.
Still, it leaves the president in a politically strong position, as even the majority of Republican voters support raising the top-tier tax rates, which have been at historic lows since President George W. Bush’s first term.
Obama is also backed up by economic reality: As the president noted in his speech last week, corporate profits have indeed come “roaring back,” up 29 percent just from 2009-2010, yet hiring has not risen in tandem.
Recent polling shows an increased appetite for tax fairness among the American public, with a large majority agreeing that wealthy Americans should pay more to ensure the nation’s economic stability.
When the historic-low tax rates were extended for two more years in 2010 after a political battle that saw Republicans threaten to raise taxes on the poor and middle class, the president promised to make taxing the wealthy part of his reelection campaign.
While it does not directly touch upon the Bush tax cuts, the president’s jobs bill seems to be a clear step in this direction.
September 1st, 2011
The Associated Press
By: Richard Lardner
The U.S. has lost billions of dollars to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan and stands to repeat that in future wars without big changes in how the government awards and manages contracts for battlefield support and reconstruction projects, independent investigators said Wednesday.
The Wartime Contracting Commission urged Congress and the Obama administration to quickly put in place its recommendations to overhaul the contracting process and increase accountability. The commission even suggested that the joint House-Senate debt reduction committee take a close look at the proposals.
“What you’re asking for is more of the same,” said Dov Zakheim, a commission member and the Pentagon comptroller during President George W. Bush’s first term. “More waste. More fraud. More abuse.”
The bipartisan commission, created by Congress in 2008, estimated that at least $31 billion and as much as $60 billion has been lost in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade due to lax oversight of contractors, poor planning, inadequate competition and corruption. “I personally believe that the number is much, much closer to $60 billion,” Zakheim said.
Yet new legislation incorporating the changes could prove difficult with Republicans and Democrats divided over the best way to reduce the deficit.
Several of the proposals would require new spending, the commission acknowledged, and that would be a hard sell in an election year when reducing the size of government is a priority for many. Other proposals would cost little or simply require money to be shifted from one account to another, the panel said.
“If these recommendations are not implemented, there ought to be a Hall of Shame,” said Michael Thibault, co-chairman of the commission. “There’s an opportunity at hand.”
The commission’s 15 recommendations include creating an inspector general to monitor war zone contracting and operations, appointing a senior government official to improve planning and coordination among federal agencies, reducing the use of private security companies, and carefully monitoring contractor performance.
Massachusetts Rep. John Tierney, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform national security subcommittee, said Wednesday that the commission’s findings are “alarming.” Tierney said he plans to introduce legislation next week to create the inspector general’s post.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., chairwoman of the Senate’s contracting oversight subcommittee, said she plans to prepare legislation based upon the commission’s recommendations.
The commission’s report said contracting waste in Afghanistan and Iraq could grow as U.S. support for reconstruction projects and programs wanes. That would leave the countries to bear the long-term costs of sustaining the schools, medical clinics, barracks, roads and power plants already built with American money.
Overall, the commission said spending on contracts and grants to support U.S. operations is expected to exceed $206 billion by the end of the 2011 budget year. Based on its investigation, the commission said contracting waste in Afghanistan ranged from 10 percent to 20 percent of the $206 billion total. Fraud during the same period ran between 5 percent and 9 percent of the total, the report said. Fraud includes bribery, kickbacks, bid rigging and defective products, according to the commission.
“It is disgusting to think that nearly a third of the billions and billions we spent on contracting was wasted or used for fraud,” McCaskill said.
Styled after the Truman Committee, which examined World War II spending six decades ago, the commission had broad authority to examine military support contracts, reconstruction projects and private security companies. But the law creating the commission set this September as the end of its work, even as contractors continue their heavy support of U.S. operations in the war zones.
Security, transportation, food preparation and delivery, and much more are now handled by the private sector. At the same time, the officials responsible for monitoring contractor performance have been overwhelmed by increasing reliance on private companies.
“We are far more reliant on contractors than we ever were,” said commission member Charles Tiefer, a professor of government contracting at the University of Baltimore Law School. “We always bought munitions from them. But we didn’t used to buy much in the way of services from them.”
The commission cited numerous examples of waste, including a $360 million U.S.-financed agricultural development program in Afghanistan. The effort began as a $60 million project in 2009 to distribute vouchers for wheat seed and fertilizer in drought-stricken areas of northern Afghanistan. The program expanded into the south and east. Soon the U.S. was spending a $1 million a day on the program, creating an environment ripe for waste and abuse, the commission said.
“Paying villagers for what they used to do voluntarily destroyed local initiatives and diverted project goods into Pakistan for resale,” the commission said.
The Afghan insurgency’s second largest funding source after the illegal drug trade is the diversion of money from U.S.-backed construction projects and transportation contracts, according to the commission. But the report does not say how much money has been funneled to the insurgency. The money typically is lost when insurgents and warlords threaten Afghan subcontractors with violence unless they pay for protection, according to the report.
The Associated Press reported this month that U.S. military authorities in Kabul believe $360 million has ended up in the hands of the Taliban, criminals and power brokers with ties to both.
The military said only a small percentage of the $360 million has been garnered by the Taliban and insurgent groups. Most of the money was lost to profiteering, bribery and extortion by criminals and power brokers.
March 21st, 2011
The Wall Street Journal
By: Amy Schatz
Michael Powell, the former top U.S. telecommunications regulator, will become the cable industry’s top lobbyist.
Mr. Powell is joining the cable industry’s trade association from Providence Equity Partners, where he was a senior advisor, and Broadband for America, an industry group which pressed for less regulation on Internet lines. He was chairman of the Federal Communications Commission until January 2005.
In a statement, Mr. Powell said he was excited to “help lead companies committed not only to their businesses, but to improving U.S. competitiveness and supporting invaluable programs in important areas such as education.”
He replaces former National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Kyle McSlarrow, who said last week that he’ll be joining Comcast Corp.
Mr. Powell, a Republican, joined the FCC in 1997 under President Bill Clinton and was later elevated to chairman by President George W. Bush in 2001. Earlier in his career, Mr. Powell served as a policy advisor at the Defense Department and served as an armored cavalry officer in the U.S. Army before sustaining a serious injury which left him hospitalized for a year. He is the son of former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
His tenure at the FCC was rocky, as the FCC struggled to update the nation’s media ownership rules, considered controversial broadcast indecency complaints – most notably the 2004 Janet Jackson Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction – and tried to deregulate phone and Internet lines.
Mr. Powell was among the first regulators to call for basic consumer protection rules on Internet lines, which he dubbed “the four freedoms.” Those principles later formed the foundation for controversial “net neutrality” rules on Internet lines passed in late December by the FCC. Those rules would bar Internet providers from deliberately blocking or slowing legal websites or services and would require them to offer more information about their services to subscribers.