Thursday, May 05, 2011







Between the US counter-terrorism adviser, John Brennan, not telling the truth about this bin Laden death and the UN human rights head demanding from the US details of the bin Laden death, the official story is being changed.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay wants "precise facts surrounding his killing" made public to ensure it adhered to international law.

"The White House suggested that pictures of bin Laden’s body were too 'gruesome' to be made public due to risk of them being 'inflammatory," reported Gordon Rayner and Toby Harnden in Washington for the Telegraph.

"The about-turn left the US open to accusations of a cover-up."

Human rights workers expressed their belief that the Bin Laden death announcement was cover-up propaganda, more of the same 911 cover-up that the nation has faced almost ten years.


The White House on Wednesday declined to shed more light on the special forces operation that killed Osama bin Laden, a day after it was forced to correct explosive details of the undercover raid.

Adjustments to the story, which began to be told late on Sunday, have seen the narrative embroidered with corrections and new details and left a sheaf of unanswered questions.

On Wednesday, however, the White House and the Pentagon called a halt to the disclosures, saying operational techniques that might be used in future raids needed to be protected.

"We have gotten to the point where we cannot cross lines," said White House spokesman Jay Carney. "We've gone to the limit of our ability to do that and still maintain some of the things we need to maintain and be kept secret."

Factual errors concerning some of the most explosive details of the raid related by top officials on Monday had to be publicly fixed.



We're starting with the US Congress because a hearing took place and it does matter. It especially matters because it's part of a move to gut health care for active duty military and retirees. It especially matters because I looked around and couldn't believe the lack of press interest (based on attendance of the hearing).
Today the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel met to figure out how to slash health coverage. That is what they were doing. If veterans had any real pull in Congres, they'd demand Senator Jim Webb be pulled from committee assignments -- especially after his temper tantrum over the VA's efforts to provide benefits for the victims of Agent Orange.
The subcommittee heard from DoD witnesses Clifford Stnaley, Robert Hale, Dennis McCarthy and Jonathan Woodson. Unlike the House, it heard from no representatives for active duty, retirees or veterans. That wasn't an error, Webb didn't forget to include them. They were intentionally shut out.
Webb chairs the Subcommittee. Senator Lindsey Graham is Ranking Member -- as disclosed many times before, I know Lindsey, I like Lindsey and I have no problem calling him out. We're going to ignore Webb's remarks because after his attack on Vietnam veterans (the Agent Orange issue), he didn't just ensure that he couldn't run for re-election (he can't and has already announced he won't), he gave up the right to be considered even remotely trust worthy. Ranking Member Graham joined the hearing late, noting he'd "just met with Gen [David] Petraeus wife [Holly Petraeus] who now is in charge of protecting our men and women in uniform from predatory lending practices." When he did join it, he delivered these opening remarks:
Ranking Member Lindsey Graham: On the health care front, this is really a difficult situation. You're talking about 16 and 1/2% of the DoD's budget by 2028 being health care cost -- and that's doubling in less than 20 years. I know -- [to Webb] Are you retired?
Subcommittee Chair Jim Webb: I am a retired Marine, yes.
Ranking Member Lindsey Graham: Okay, he's a retired Marine. I one day hope to be retired Air Force officer. And I guess what I'm going to say is that I understand what the administration is trying to do. We have to move this debate forward on sustainability. We haven't had a premium increase since 1989. Some of the fees to be increased proposed by the administration, I think, is something we should all consider. I respect the House. But eventually you're going to have to make some very draconian choices between health care and operational needs. And that's not where we want to find ourselves. So, Mr. Hill -- Secretary Hill, your idea of trying to get a better bang for our buck, looking at programs to make them more efficient, improving the quality of care while lowering costs is absolutely essential.
These are serious issues, these are real issues. Instead of functioning journalism in the US, we have a bunch of a partisan hacks. Chief among them David Weigel. Weigel -- who was let go by the Washington Post (forced out) -- landed at Slate. He didn't learn to be a better journalist there either. Instead of covering something of value or use like what Graham is attempting with the health care issue, Weigel only nows how to score partisan points -- he learned so very well from Journo-List. Today he's red faced over a mistake he made. Mistake?

And Now, the Search for the Obama Death Photo

Slate Magazine (blog) - David Weigel - ‎3 hours ago‎
Lindsey Graham, R-SC, who had been conflicted about the quick sea burial of bin Laden because it wouldn't satisfy doubters, put out a statement today criticizing the photo decision. I respectfully disagree with President Obama's decision not to release ...
Slate's now changed the headline to "And Now, the Search for the bin Laden Death Photo" -- Weigel meant "Osama" -- but what he should really be embarrassed about is this bulls**t approach to 'reporting' wherein he looks for gotcha moments of insignificance instead of doing something of substance. He is paid to do a job he's never done.
Hardly anyone from the press showed for today's hearing and this is not a new issue. I believe we last covered it when the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee held their two hearing on the issue in March (see the March 15th and March 16th snapshots). You want to call out Lindsey Graham? By all means do, but how about for something important and not phrase and words? How about for efforts to gut the health care of active duty personnel. What's being proposed is outrageous. And in the House, members were more than willing to note their distress. One example.
US House Rep Chellie Pingree: I just want to say again, I understand how well you are all doing your job and the importance of all of you looking for cost efficiencies in what you do as we face a difficult time with the budget deficit and, uh, also where there's a lot of examination of the military budget and looking for places where we can cut. And maybe my first comment is more to my fellow Committee members then to all of you but I might see more places to cut the fat in the military budget than others of my colleagues but I am deeply concerned that we're going after medical care for both our active duty personnel and our retirees when I think there are other places to make more effective cuts. So I know you have to do your job and look for those cuts but almost everything that's before us today, either myself or one of my colleagues has mentioned a concern about, whether it's the changes to TRICARE, how we're going to deal with some of our Sole Community Hospitals I have two in my district, there are four in our state of only 1.2 million people, in a state where we have almost a fifth of our citizens are either active duty or retired military. So there's a very big dependance on this system in our state and I'm worried about that particular program. So for me, many of the efficiencies that you're talking about are going to reduce the level of medical care to people who have served us to whom we have made a huge promise. And there is going to be a -- I think -- a reduction in the services that they receive so I just -- I know you have to do your job but I don't like it and I don't think it's all necessarily good.
But Lindsey Graham and the outgoing Jim Webb have bi-partisan agreement to slash and burn active duty and retirees health care (Hale declared active duty was safe -- no, it's not as evidenced by the testimony of all the witnesses, their prepared statements and Stanley's admission -- in his prepared remarks, not delivered -- that they have proposals that they are not yet ready to make public but they had help with from the same crew Barack's appointed for the Cat Food Commission). And the sparesly attended hearing (by Subcomittee members) did not include anyone who was outraged by the efforts to slash health care. That's all the more reason that the press needs to be paying attention. And 50 years from now, what Lindsey Graham said about Osama bin Laden one day and what he said two or thee days later won't mean a damn thing. But if they gut the health care, it will still be effecting active duty and retirees. So how you about you grow the hell up, sit at the adult table and start doing some of the heavy lifting?
As we saw during the House hearings, DoD's Clifford Stanely's the (mis)leader on this issue. After the hearing, I grabbed a copy of his prepared statement thinking, before I picked it up, that I would read it through quickly. That notion fell apart the minute I picked it up. Stanley presented the Subcommittee with a prepared statement that is over 70 pages long.
For those unfamiliar with the workings of Congress, the prepared statements generally run five to six pages. For important issues -- such as when then-US Ambassador Ryan Crocker and then-top US commander in Iraq Gen David Petraeus repeately testified to Congress in April 2008 about Iraq -- they may run as long as 12 to 21 pages. But over 70 pages? Many witnesses who appear before Congress merely read their prepared remarks aloud. There's no reason to do so. By it being prepared and presented to Congress (long before the hearing), it becomes part of the Congressional record. So Stanely made part of the Congressional record today something that most people will never see or know about in this news cycle.
On page 19 of his prepared remarks, he begins noting the need to 'review' an alternative (in past testimony, "alternative" translates as "cut" when used by Stanley) "to the current Imminent Danger/Hostile Fire Pay structure." Equally disturbing is that while Hale spoke of the need to consider what the future role of the National Guard and Reserve should be (with regards to overseas deployments), Stanley, on page 26, informs, "Future planning envisions an era of persistent conflict where some type of RC [Reserve Component] activation authority will be required to augment the AC [Active Component] to maximize effectiveness efficiency of the Total Force." According to Stanley's written statement quoted -- and what follows in his prepared remarks -- that decision's been made and the US government "envisions an era of persistent conflict" requiring the US military to be deployed repeatedly. Might that not be something the American people should be consulted on? On page 38, he finally begins addressing the health care issues. We'll go into some of that tomorrow or Friday. We don't have space or time today.
So let's leave his prepared statement and note his reaction to Webb's asking who is in charge of contractors.
Subcommittee Chair Jim Webb: So who hires, fires and pays?
Clifford Stanley: It would be the commanders --
Subcommittee Chair Jim Webb: How many -- how many contractors are we paying
Clifford Stanley: [Snickering] I only laugh because we are much pilloried for lack of full accounting of contractors. We're getting better.
Oh, yeah, that's funny. (That was sarcasm.) He wants to slash the health care for active duty and retirees but he thinks it's funny that his department still can't provide an accounting of contractors. "We're getting better" doesn't cut it. He did allow that there were 300,000 contractors ["contractors funded by Operation and Maintenance account"] they're doing a pretty good job of accounting for; however, "there are others working on other accounts but we haven't got a full count yet." Apparently, there's no real rush. Stanley noted that this full count was "something Congress directed us to do years ago and we're working on it." Maybe a full count would allow for cost overruns to be caught? And maybe if that happened you wouldn't need to gut the health care of active duty forces. And maybe DoD needs to sit down their future witnesses and tell them snickering about your inability to do your job in public doesn't instill trust in your department.
Subcommittee Chair Jim Webb: We hear widely varying numbers of how many contractors are being paid each year by DoD, by whom and how much. Do you know how much of the DoD budget goes into independent contractors?
Clifford Stanely: You know, Mr. Chairman, if you want to look at [. . .] about 40% of our money pays for all of our employees -- that's military and civilian. The rest goes to contractors in some way. That would include all the weapon costs. But most of that is contracted out eventually to private companies. But many people when they think of contractors are thinking more of what you alluded to -- KBR contractors in Afghanistan that are performing those services. That would be more for those funded by Operations and Maintenance, that 300,000. [Laughing] Am I helping? Apparently not.
He was so tickled by it all. 60%, using his figures of DoD money goes out to contractors -- in one form or another -- but the 'cost saving' Stanley wants to focus on will mean attacking the 40% of the budget that goes to active duty. DoD's Woodson wanted the Subcommittee to know that a benefit of hiring contractors was that you didn't have to pay them health benefits in "perpetuity."
Transitioning from Congress to Iraq . . . US House Rep Ron Paul has formed an exploratory committee to consider a 2012 run for the GOP presidential nomination. Yesterday on the first hour of The Diane Rehm Show (NPR), Diane asked him why and he stated he was encouraged to "By thousands and thousands of people who are just really writing to me and talking to me, the many websites, the contiuation of what happened in the last go-around [his 2008 run]. I was rather shocked to find out what kind of reception I got, especially on the universities. And I've continued to speak at the university. The crowds get bigger, more enthusiastic. They don't like the war. They don't like the Patriot Act. They like personal liberties. They like to be left alone. They don't wan the government to be taking care of them from cradle to grave. And they're enthusiastic." Jordan Fabian (The Hill) reports, "Rep. Ron Paul (Texas), a possible Republican candidate for president, said Tuesday that the U.S. should brings its troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan now that Osama bin Laden has been killed." Others in his political party do not necessarily feel the same. Take the Speaker. Yesterday's snapshot noted:

The Speaker of the US House of Representatives doesn't appear to wonder. AP reports that Speaker John Boehner has declared that the US should keep a small (undefined number) of US troops on the ground in Iraq past 2011. Reuters quotes him stating, "I think a small, residual force should remain."

Carl Hulse (New York Times) reports, "Mr. Boehner said he had no recommendation on the size of the contingent that might remain or how long the troops should stay, but the military has been exploring the idea of a force of about 10,000, people briefed on the plan said. At the end of April, there were 47,000 American troops in Iraq."

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