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Monday, February 25, 2008

Clinton's response to the day's Drudge

The Clinton campaign puts out a response from Maggie Williams, which doesn't respond to the question of whether a staffer was circulating the photo of Obama in Somali garb, but takes issue with the Obama campaign's embrace of the issue:


If Barack Obama's campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed. Hillary Clinton has worn the traditional clothing of countries she has visited and had those photos published widely.

This is nothing more than an obvious and transparent attempt to distract from the serious issues confronting our country today and to attempt to create the very divisions they claim to decry.

We will not be distracted.

Original here

Debunking Congressman Kingston's HBO Attacks on Obama

Friday night, Congressman Jack Kingston appeared on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher. In the course of his appearance, he made a series of false statements about Obama. Bill Maher and the guests on the show did little to counter Kingston's claims, which was disappointing, particularly since they are easily debunkable, as the videos below demonstrate.

Kingston Myth: Michelle Obama hasn't explained what she meant by her 'proud of America' statement

"Here’s a woman who is Harvard educated, Yale – married to a U.S. Senator; she’s done real well. And now she’s proud of her country? She’s proud of it because they’re voting for him? That’s just, I think, a careless statement to say. But, you know, she could have jumped up and said, 'You know what? That’s not what I meant to say, and I’m sorry people are twisting it, and this is politics.' But she hasn’t said anything . . . the thing that she did not do, and still has not done now for three days, is to explain what she meant. And it would have been that simple, just to say, 'You know what? This is a great country, and I’m just proud that people really are getting involved in this election.' That would have been the end of it." -Jack Kingston

In fact, she has done just that. Here's a video of Michelle Obama (from February 20th) explaining the statement:

(Oh, and incidentally, she went to Princeton, not Yale.)

Kingston Myth: Obama won't say the Pledge of Allegiance

"When you combine that with the fact that the guy [Obama] would not say the Pledge of Allegiance . . . the famous picture of him standing while Bill Richardson and Hillary Clinton have their hand over their heart, saluting the flag during the Pledge, and Obama has his hands deliberately down, that is disturbing to Americans." -Jack Kingston

Here's the real story: As it turns out, they weren't saying the Pledge of Allegiance at the time, they were listening to (an awful rendition) of the Star Spangled Banner. Here's the video (note, Obama even sings along!):

According to the director of communications for the Maryland Historical Society, modern custom does not require a hand over the heart when listening to the Star-Spangled Banner (as compared to the Pledge of Allegiance). And yes, Senator Obama says the pledge of allegiance. He even voted to require the pledge to be recited in schools. Anyway, here's a clip of him reciting the Pledge:

Kingston Myth: "[Senator Obama] apparently still wants to bomb Pakistan, which makes no sense at all."

This claim (repeated by McCain) has been debunked by a variety of mainstream media sources. (The Huffington Post has a nice summary of sources.) Long story short, Obama never said anything about "bombing" Pakistan, or anything close to it. Here's a video of his position on Pakistan:

Kingston Myth: Obama lacks bipartisan credentials

"But, what I’m saying, you have a guy [McCaine] who has honest-to-goodness, bipartisan credentials. There are absolutely none from Hillary or Obama, none whatsoever. . . And I’ve served with both of them. I can tell you, I’ve never seen them reach over across the aisle to do something. But, there are many Democrats and many Republicans who routinely do things together." -Jack Kingston

I hate to use the Clinton expression "Karl Rove playbook," but this myth really did seem to originate from an editorial by Karl Rove in which he argues that "Mr. Obama hasn't worked across party lines since coming to town." In fact, Obama has worked closely with Republican Senators Bond, Coburn, Hagel, Lugar, and others. My Direct Democracy has a nice summary of bipartison legislation he's worked on, like the Lugar-Obama Bill (dealing with WMDs) and the Coburn-Obama Bill (improved tracking of federal spending).

Kingston Myth: Obama didn't take a position on the Defense Appropriation Bill

"I’m going to say, the only senator two years ago to hold up the Defense Appropriation Bill, was John McCain, and it was on the treatment of prisoners. And Hillary Clinton and Obama were nowhere to be seen on that." -Jack Kingston

By now of course you know the pattern. Obama not only voted against it, he spoke against it on the senate floor (full transcript). Here's the video (and thanks for the find, Sam!):

Kingston Myth: Obama's name sounds funny

[sarcastically] "Obama is going to go around meeting everybody. And so the world will be a better place. 'Hi, I’m Barack Hussein Obama.'" -Jack Kingston

Okay, "myth" is the wrong word. Frankly, I like it when critics take the "he has a funny name" attack (like Dick Morris), a fallback position after criticizing Obama's patriotism. What was that famous quote from Samuel Johnson on patriotism? The last refuge of scoundrels? Congressman Kingston teaches us it's only the second-to-last.

Original here

GOP donors funding Nader

Bush supporters give independent's bid a financial lift

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader -- still not on the ballot in a single state -- has received a recent windfall of contributions from deep-pocketed Republicans with a history of big contributions to the party, an analysis of federal records show.

Nearly one in 10 of Nader's major donors -- those writing checks of $1, 000 or more -- have given in recent months to the Bush-Cheney campaign, the latest documents show. GOP fund-raisers also have "bundled" contributions -- gathering hefty donations for maximum effect to help Nader, who has criticized the practice in the past.

The donations from wealthy Republicans -- combined with increasingly vocal Democratic charges that they represent a stealth GOP effort to wound Democrat John Kerry -- prompted Nader's vice presidential running mate, Green Party member Peter Camejo, to suggest the consumer advocate reject the money that doesn't come from loyal Nader voters.

"If there has been a wave of these (donations), then that's something Ralph and I will have to talk about -- and about returning their money,'' he said Thursday in an interview with The Chronicle. "If you oppose the war, if you're against the Patriot Act, your money is welcome.

"But if your purpose is because you think this is going to have an electoral effect, we don't want that money. I take no money from people who disagree with us,'' Camejo said. "We're not interested in that.''

But Camejo's views differ with Nader's recent defense of the contributions.

"We have no indication that the Republicans are trying to maneuver support for us,'' he said at a recent press conference. "There are three or four major Republican donors who have contributed to my campaign. But that's because I worked with them on a number of issues. ... It's all very small, relatively small, contributions. And we like it that way.''

But the financial records show that $23,000 in checks of $1,000 or more have come from loyal Republicans. Among those who have given recently to Nader are Houston businessman Nijad Fares, who donated $200,000 to President Bush's 2000 inaugural committee; Richard J. Egan, the former ambassador to Ireland, and his wife, Pamela, who have raised more than $300,000 for Bush; Michigan developer Ghassan Saab, who has given $30,000 to the RNC since 2001; and frozen food magnate Jeno Paulucci, and his wife, Lois, who have donated $150, 000 to GOP causes since 2000 alone.

All have donated the maximum $2,000 to Nader's campaign since April, records show.

Asked about the money from GOP backers, Nader campaign spokesman Kevin Zeese countered that many of Kerry's donors also had given to Republicans, including Bush in the past.

"(Kerry) should renounce those donations and give them all back,'' he said. Pressed if Nader would do the same, Zeese said that wouldn't even be discussed "until (the parties) start to change the rules.''

With just under four months left to the election, Nader has yet to qualify for a single state ballot.

A statewide poll by the Survey and Policy Research Institute at San Jose State University released Wednesday indicates that if Nader qualifies as a presidential candidate on the California ballot, the former consumer advocate would steal support from the Democratic ticket almost exclusively.

"He would drain about 4 percent of Kerry's support, almost all of it from Democrats, while having a negligible impact on Bush's vote or his support among Republicans,'' according to Institute director Phil Trounstine.

Democrats are worried about Nader's influence because they believe as a Green Party candidate in 2000, he pulled votes that would have gone to Democratic Vice President Al Gore in key states, thus helping Bush win the election.

Chris Lehane, a Democratic strategist who was a spokesman for Gore's 2000 presidential campaign, said the check-writing was not "a merely serendipitous confluence of events,'' adding that "folks supporting Bush because they want fewer environmental protections and less corporate regulations don't have a lot in common with the Ralph Nader agenda. The only thing they have in common with Nader is they want to take votes from Kerry.''

But Christine Iverson, spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, calls such charges ridiculous, adding: "It's unfortunate that Democrats seem determined to disenfranchise voters who want an opportunity to cast votes for Ralph Nader.''

Still, other Republicans acknowledge that many in the party have mentioned that a donation to Nader may boost Bush, particularly in states where the vote is expected to be close.

"Republicans have no problem with it, if the goal is to keep President Bush in office,'' said Hoover Institution research fellow Bill Whalen, a veteran GOP strategist. "It's not pretty. But putting a guy (in the White House) you don't like is not pretty either.''

Whalen said the Republican National Committee or the Bush-Cheney campaign can't technically condone such donations, but "you absolutely want your activists to get out there and help Ralph run'' because of the effects he had on the 2000 election.

"Do the math,'' Whalen said.

Nader, who has decried the influence of corporations in the political arena, also has received more than $20,000 in "bundled'' contributions since March from GOP fund-raisers, according to the Federal Elections Commission documents that tally donations through May 31.

Bundling is the practice of gathering contributions together for maximum influence.

Records show Nader raised just more than $1 million for his presidential effort through May 31. Most of the money came from small, individual donors.

But Zeese said the Republican donors were "people whom Ralph knows from previous work.''

He downplayed the bundled donations, such as $18,850 in checks collected and submitted to Nader in May by Peter Tanous, president of Washington D.C.- based Lynx Investment Advisories.

"That was a house party,'' Zeese said of the donations collected by Tanous.

Tanous, who also made a personal $2,000 donation to Nader in May, was traveling and unavailable for comment Thursday, but his wife, Ann, said that her husband raised money for Nader because "he's a good friend.''

"My husband's a die-hard Republican who's supporting (Nader) so that there are other voices, other than the ones we're hearing in this election,'' particularly on issues that include Middle East politics, she said.

She declined to say whether her husband, who also donated $4,000 to the Republican National Committee and $2,000 to the Bush-Cheney campaign this year, would vote for Nader.

Tanous, records show, has also donated in the past to some Democrats, including $500 last year to House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco.

Whalen says that Nader is playing games when he suggests that his donors are merely acting in friendship and that his message will resonate with GOP faithful.

"What's at the heart and soul of the Nader campaign? That corporations are evil and that we need to get out of Iraq,'' Whalen said.

Nader's Republican supporters


Total contributions of $1,000 or more to Nader as of May 31


Contributions from those who have also given to Republican causes, including the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign.

Among Ralph Nader's top Republican donors:

-- Billionaire corporate executive John Egan of Massachusetts, who has raised at least$200,000 for the president's re-election campaign, donated $2,000 to Nader.

-- Nijad Fares, a Houston businessman, who donated $200,000 to the Bush inaugural committee and who donated $2,000 each to the Nader effort and the Bush campaign this year.

-- David Reed, president of Washington-based Foundation Petroleum Inc., who donated$1,000 to Nader and $2,000 to the Bush-Cheney campaign.

-- Jack and Laura Dangermond, both executives in Redlands-based Environmental SystemsResearch Institute, who each donated $2,000 to Nader's campaign and the Bush- Cheneycampaign and $25,000 to the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee.

Original here

McCain Breaks Law...That He Wrote

Tomorrow morning the Democratic National Committee will file a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission against John McCain. Why? In the words of DNC Chair Howard Dean:

We want John McCain to obey the law with his own name on it.

This afternoon Dean and officials at the DNC held a conference call in which they spelled out why they will file a complaint with the FEC against McCain. The background is that in December and January, McCain was broke and had to tap in to a massive amount of lobbyist money to keep his campaign afloat. Doing so put him in danger of exceeding the spending limits attached to participation in the federal matching funds program, in which an eligible candidate can receive monies voluntarily contributed by taxpayers to match low-donor campaign contributions in exchange for abiding by spending limits.

Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani had opted out of the federal matching funds program. John Edwards and several other candidate had opted in, but since there was insufficient money in the fund, they had to secure a loan against the money they were certified to receive.

McCain publicly declared that he would accept the matching funds (and therefore abide by the spending limits). But since he was broke, he had to go to a bank and secure a loan under dubious conditions. Since he appears to have secured the loan by using his eligibility to accept the federal matching funds, it seems fairly clear that he is committed to the federal matching funds system.

The DNC's complaint will allege the following. Fist, that McCain used his status as a candidate operating under the federal matching fund program to gain access on state ballots without having to spend any money to submit signatures. From the DNC's press release:

The McCain campaign has incorrectly stated that McCain is doing what Dean did when he withdrew from public financing in his presidential bid, but they have the facts wrong. Dean did not use the promise of matching funds as collateral for a loan. Dean withdrew before the FEC determined eligibility for funds, unlike McCain. And he spent millions of dollars to get his name on the ballot after withdrawing, unlike McCain, who had free ballot access in many states because he pledged to accept matching funds.

That is a material gain from pledging to accept the matching funds. Another material gain from pledging to accept the matching funds is the ability to use his eligibility as collateral, which he did to secure his loan.

Finally, by receiving these material benefits from his pledge to enter the matching funds system, he is bound to abide by the spending limits. The matching funds program requires one to spend no more than approximately $57 million dollars for the entire campaign up until he officially becomes the nominee in September. Through January, he had already spent over $46 million.

If you follow the implications, since he entered the federal matching funds program, John McCain is now essentially at the spending limit, and is legally prohibited from spending any more money until September. To spend more money would be to break federal law.

That law, by the way, is sometimes named after its Senate sponsors: McCain-Feingold.

Original here

Clinton in 2002: NAFTA a “Fundamental Idea” that “Changed America”

(Hat tip on this game-changing moment to David Sirota via Huffington Post.)

The direct mail flyer that accused Senator Clinton of having supported the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was at the center of yesterday’s “shame on you” moment in Cincinnati.

Senator Clinton vociferously accused that it is false to say she supported the trade agreement that President Bill Clinton and an army of corporate lobbyists steered to passage in 1993 and signed into law.

In the stroke of a pen, NAFTA put the padlocks on the doors of countless American factories, while at the same time its agricultural provisions drove literally millions of Mexican farmers off their lands. The US factories moved to Mexico, and displaced Mexican farmers trekked to newly built sweatshops to make the products that workers in Ohio and other parts of the US used to make for union wages, but now the Mexican workers receive a minimum wage of six dollars a day: and that’s for a brutal 10, 12 or 14-hour workday.

But those 36,000 decent-paying manufacturing jobs in Ohio - and more in other states - that moved to Mexico didn’t provide jobs enough for the other millions of people that were now economic refugees - much like the Oklahoma dust bowl emigrees of American lore - and so many of them crossed the border into the United States, to work the farms and construction and in the homes and gardens of the comfortable… for substandard wages. And being “illegal” meant that they could not form unions of their own or bargain for better wages or working conditions.

As Ohio and Texas get ready to vote on March 4, we are close to the moment of truth, when it becomes clear to all that NAFTA is the single-most life-changing event for people of both states in decades: It created greater unemployment in both states and, especially in Texas, a greatly expanded “illegal” immigrant underclass persecuted by the very powers that take advantage of the economic exile that NAFTA caused them.

Eight-and-a-half years after its enactment on January 1, 1994 - in July of 2002, after all these harmful effects were crystal clear on both sides of the US-Mexico border, newly elected US Senator Hillary Clinton went to give a speech at an organization of which she has long been a champion: the Democratic Leadership Council, or DLC, the corporate arm of the Democratic party, and the intellectual authors of Bill Clinton’s 1992 candidacy for president.

Sirota has dug up the text of Senator Clinton’s speech, which says that NAFTA, among other legacies of the 1990s Clinton administration, “came out of some very fundamental ideas about what would work. The results speak for themselves. Those ideas were converted into policies programs that literally changed millions of lives and, I argue, changed America.”

Note the use of the word “I.” Not “we.” But “I.”

“I argue,” said Senator Clinton, in clearly personal terms, that NAFTA “would work. The results speak for themselves” and “literally changed millions of lives and… changed America.”

Yes it did, Senator, yes it did.

Is the debate still on for Tuesday night?

Update: MSNBC’s First Read (remember, this is the news organization hosting the debate) writes on Monday morning:

And speaking of Tuesday’s debate, we certainly know which topic might get all the attention: NAFTA. In previous debates, trade has been a back-burner issue. But with the upcoming contest in Ohio — a state devastated by manufacturing job losses — Obama is pointing to the Clintons for being responsible for the trade agreement, while Bill Clinton is blaming the Bush Administration for failing to uphold NAFTA’s worker and environmental protections. As we’ve noted before, nine times out of 10, a Democrat seen as pro-NAFTA in a Ohio primary would be the underdog — which is why Clinton is pushing back so hard on the characterization that she is someone pro-NAFTA. She’d like folks to see her as ambivalent. Of course, neither Dem is calling for cancelling the trade agreement.

Original here

Naomi Wolf Celebrated Author of "The End of America"

Robed Obama picture ignites row

US Democratic front-runners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have traded accusations over a photo of Mr Obama circulating on the internet.

The picture, sent to the Drudge Report website, shows Mr Obama wearing traditional African dress during a visit to Kenya in 2006.

The Obama camp said it was circulated by Mrs Clinton's staff as a smear. Mrs Clinton's team denied the accusation.

The row comes as the rivals campaign for two crucial primaries next week.

Analysts say Mrs Clinton needs to win the contests, in Texas and Ohio, to remain in the race to choose the Democratic candidate for November's presidential election.

With tempers fraying ahead of a crucial debate in Ohio on Tuesday, the former first lady highlighted Mr Obama's lack of foreign policy experience during a speech in Washington.

Reminding the George Washington University audience of her own international credentials, Mrs Clinton suggested her rival would need a "foreign policy instruction manual" to keep the country safe if elected.


The photograph published on Monday shows Mr Obama - whose father came from Kenya - wearing a white turban and a white robe presented to him by elders in the north-east of the country.

Dirty tricks or a fuss about nothing? Here in Team Obama they are taking it very seriously
BBC correspondent Justin Webb

The Drudge Report said the image had been circulated by "Clinton staffers".

Addressing the issue briefly in an interview with a Texas radio station, Mr Obama said: "I think the American people are saddened when they see these kind of politics."

Some Clinton aides have tried in the past to suggest to Democrats that the Illinois senator's background might be off-putting to mainstream voters.

A campaign volunteer was sacked last year after circulating an email suggesting, falsely, that Mr Obama was a Muslim.

But the BBC's Justin Webb in Ohio says the photograph - coming at this pivotal moment in the campaign - is being seen by the Obama team as particularly offensive.

Hillary Clinton, 23 February 2008
Mrs Clinton has stepped up her rhetoric in recent days

His campaign manager, David Plouffe, accused Mrs Clinton's aides of "the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering we've seen from either party in this election".

The accusation was dismissed by Mrs Clinton's campaign manager Maggie Williams.

"If Barack Obama's campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed," she said.

"Hillary Clinton has worn the traditional clothing of countries she has visited and had those photos published widely."

Negative campaigns

In Monday's speech, the New York senator characterised Mr Obama as a rash and inconsistent politician with the same sort of inexperience that President George W Bush had when first elected.

He has essentially called her divisive, he has called her untruthful, he has questioned her credibility
Howard Wolfson
Clinton communications chief

The US had already suffered the "tragic result" of electing a president ill-versed in geopolitical affairs, she told supporters in Washington DC.

Meanwhile, the New York senator's communications chief Howard Wolfson was also on the offensive, speaking out against what he called Mr Obama's "entirely negative" campaign.

"He has run against her as the status quo, he has essentially called her divisive, he has called her untruthful, he has questioned her credibility," said Mr Wolfson.

"He has said she will do or say anything to get elected. Now, if that's not negative, I don't know what negative is."

Commentators suggest Mrs Clinton needs strong victories in both Ohio and Texas to keep her White House campaign alive.

But several polls suggest she is trailing Mr Obama.

The Illinois senator is leading in Texas for the first time, according to a CNN poll, with 50%, compared to 46% for Mrs Clinton.

Mr Obama has won 11 consecutive primaries and caucuses in recent weeks, and is now seen as the Democratic front-runner.

Original here

Parts of "60 Minutes" Broadcast Blocked in Alabama

Update at bottom

If you do not yet know who Don Siegelman is or what has happened in this country, then let me ask you to please read the following articles and visit the following websites, before I tell you what the latest developments are:


The Permanent Republican Majority Part I

The Permanent Republican Majority Part II

The Permanent Republican Majority Part III

Harper's Excellent Coverage via Scott Horton HERE

My blog, at-largely, HERE

And this evening's 60 Minutes broadcast HERE

Also, Don Siegelman support site

Soviet America

Now, let me tell you what has been going on. As 60 Minutes was putting its show together, the White House put pressure on CBS -- the parent company -- to kill the show. Over the last few days, as word got out that the 60 Minutes show would air tonight, Karl Rove's associates began planting defamatory stories about journalists working on this story (see example here) and attacking the whistle-blower who came forward, Dana Jill Simpson. If you recall, Ms. Simpson testified, under oath, to Congress about Karl Rove's involvement in politicizing the DOJ. What you may not know, however, is that her house mysteriously caught fire and she was run off the road in the weeks leading up to her testimony.

What you may also not know is that Governor Siegelman's house was broken into twice during his trial as was his attorney's office.

Yesterday, the attacks on Simpson and journalists increased with a series of emails from the Alabama GOP. See Here.

Tonight was something truly unseen in US history. During the 60 Minutes broadcast and ONLY during the Don Siegelman portion -- the screen went black for Huntsville residents and Mobile residents. There are other reports of other locations, but I have not yet confirmed those. In Florida, a series of strange ads were running about the FISA bill and how Democrats are not tough on terrorism, apparently during the 60 Minutes hour and also right before 60 Minutes, but not after (still trying to confirm when the ads stopped running).

In other words, in the United States of America, a man is imprisoned for being a Democrat. When reporters attempt to get this story out, they are threatened and smeared. When all else fails, the public is not allowed to see the news. This is not acceptable and I -- as a US citizen -- demand that Congress investigate this series of blackouts immediately. Any company involved in this must have their FCC license pulled too. Karl Rove may be gone from office, but he clearly is not gone from power. So long as his buddy, George W. Bush, continues to occupy the White House -- what used to be a symbol of how a nation could both be governed and be free -- we will continue toward abuse after imperial, no Soviet, abuse against us. That too is unacceptable.

Contact Congress now, non-stop, and demand a full investigation into what caused this selective blackout. You can find your member's contact information here. If no investigation happens ... If no one in Congress responds, then you will know finally and fully the ugly truth: we are no longer a democracy . And if we are no longer a democracy, then presidential election can fix the problem, because something that no longer exists cannot be fixed. Sadly, at that point, the only path left to us is the one I most abhor.


We are now being told that it was a technical issue with CBS in New York:

We apologize that you missed the first segment of 60 Minutes tonight featuring "The Prosecution of Don Siegelman."

It was a techincal(sic) problem with CBS out of New York. We are working with them right now to see if we can re-broadcast the segment.

Please be patient with us during this time. We are doing our best to correct the problem.

Excuse me? Are they trying to tell us that a glitch in New York ONLY happened in Alabama -- which is the topic of the 60 Minutes broadcast -- and ONLY during the Don Siegelman segment? Are you kidding me? We have selective prosecution and now we have selective news delivery?

Update II:

I have written an article at Raw Story about this now. I am hoping that other news outlets give this issue adequate attention. Harper's and Raw Story should not be the only news outlets carrying this story.

Original here

8 Nuclear Weapons the U.S. has Lost?!


By mental_floss contributor Erik Sass

During the Cold War the United States military misplaced at least eight nuclear weapons permanently. These are the stories of what the Department of Defense calls “broken arrows” -

America’s stray nukes, with a combined explosive force 2,200 times the Hiroshima bomb.

If you don’t have enough to make you lose sleep at night, read on.

STRAY #1: Into the Pacific

February 13, 1950. An American B-36 bomber en route from Alaska to Texas during a training exercise lost power in three engines and began losing altitude. To lighten the aircraft the crew jettisoned its cargo, a 30-kiloton Mark 4 (Fat Man) nuclear bomb, into the Pacific Ocean. The conventional explosives detonated on impact, producing a flash and a shockwave. The bomb’s uranium components were lost and never recovered. According to the USAF, the plutonium core wasn’t present.

STRAY #2&3: Into Thin Air

March 10, 1956. A B-47 carrying two nuclear weapon cores from MacDill Air Force Base in Florida to an overseas airbase disappeared during a scheduled air-to-air refueling over the Mediterranean Sea. After becoming lost in a thick cloud bank at 14,500 feet, the plane was never heard from again and its wreckage, including the nuclear cores, was never found. Although the weapon type remains undisclosed, Mark 15 thermonuclear bombs (commonly carried by B-47s) would have had a combined yield of 3.4 megatons.

STRAYS #4&5: Somewhere in a North Carolina Swamp

blast.jpgJanuary 24, 1961. A B-52 carrying two 24-megaton nuclear bombs crashed while taking off from an airbase in Goldsboro, North Carolina. One of the weapons sank in swampy farmland, and its uranium core was never found despite intensive search efforts to a depth of 50 feet. To ensure no one else could recover the weapon, the USAF bought a permanent easement requiring government permission to dig on the land.

STRAY #6: The Incident in Japan

December 5, 1965. An A-4E Skyhawk attack aircraft carrying a 1-megaton thermonuclear weapon (hydrogen bomb) rolled off the deck of the U.S.S. Ticonderoga and fell into the Pacific Ocean. The plane and weapon sank in 16,000 feet of water and were never found. 15 years later the U.S. Navy finally admitted that the accident had taken place, claiming it happened 500 miles from land the in relative safety of the high seas. This turned out to be not true; it actually happened about 80 miles off Japan’s Ryuku island chain, as the aircraft carrier was sailing to Yokosuka, Japan after a bombing mission over Vietnam.

These revelations caused a political uproar in Japan, which prohibits the United States from bringing nuclear weapons into its territory.

STRAYS #7&8: 250 kilotons of explosive power

Spring, 1968. While returning to home base in Norfolk, Virginia, the U.S.S. Scorpion, a nuclear attack submarine, mysteriously sank about 400 miles to the southwest of the Azores islands. In addition to the tragic loss of all 99 crewmembers, the Scorpion was carrying two unspecified nuclear weapons – either anti-submarine missiles or torpedoes that were tipped with nuclear warheads. These could yield up to 250 kilotons explosive power (depending which kind of weapon was used).

Original here

White House backtracks on claims of lost intelligence

"We learned last night after sending [the original] letter that . . . new surveillances under existing directives issued pursuant to the Protect America Act will resume, at least for now," Mukasey and Director of National Intelligence J. Michael McConnell, above, said in the statement.

Hours after chiding Congress for not finishing a wiretapping bill and leaving the nation 'vulnerable to terrorist attack,' officials acknowledge all requested information is being received.

WASHINGTON -- A day after warning that potentially critical terrorism intelligence was being lost because Congress had not finished work on a controversial espionage law, the U.S. attorney general and the national intelligence director said Saturday that the government was receiving the information -- at least temporarily.

On Friday evening, Atty. Gen. Michael B. Mukasey and Director of National Intelligence J. Michael McConnell had said in an unusually blunt letter to Congress that the nation "is now more vulnerable to terrorist attack and other foreign threats" because lawmakers had not yet acted on the administration's proposal for the wiretapping law.
But within hours of sending that letter, administration officials told lawmakers on the House and Senate intelligence committees that they had prevailed upon all of the telecommunications companies to continue cooperating with the government's requests for information while negotiations with Congress continue.

A statement describing the change was released Saturday.

The episode appeared to be another round in the battle between the White House and congressional Democrats over provisions of the proposed new Protect America Act, which would replace one that has expired.

The bill would expand the government's eavesdropping authorities and protect telecommunications companies such as AT&T Inc. from lawsuits over their cooperation with the intelligence community.

"We learned last night after sending [the original] letter that . . . new surveillances under existing directives issued pursuant to the Protect America Act will resume, at least for now," Mukasey and McConnell said in the statement released Saturday.

"We appreciate the willingness of our private partners to cooperate despite the uncertainty.

"Unfortunately, the delay resulting from this discussion impaired our ability to cover foreign intelligence targets, which resulted in missed intelligence information," Mukasey and McConnell added.

Government officials declined to comment on how much intelligence data may have been lost or how serious it might have been.

One Democratic congressional official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter, expressed skepticism that any significant gap had existed, noting that existing rules permit continued monitoring of known terrorists and their associates.

The Senate and House have passed their own versions of the surveillance legislation. Only the Senate bill provides retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies, a feature that has provoked resistance among some House Democrats.

The companies have been sued by plaintiffs contending that their cooperation with the government after Sept. 11 was without the permission of the government's secret federal court and therefore illegal.

House Democrats say they want to reconcile differences in the bills rather than accept the Senate's version, as administration officials have been pressuring them to do.

Democrats also have argued that the law's expiration would not hobble surveillance of foreign-based terrorists or other enemies since recent orders issued to telephone companies under the law remain in effect for a year.

On Friday evening, administration officials told reporters in a conference call that at least one telecommunications company was refusing to provide information that could help track newly suspected terrorists.

But two hours later, administration officials notified congressional officials that the company had agreed to cooperate, according to the Democratic congressional official. As a result, all of the nation's telecommunications companies are now providing all of the intelligence requested by the administration, even without the new law.

"This is serious backpedaling by the DNI," the Democratic official said of McConnell. "He's been saying for the last week that the sky is falling, and the sky is not falling."

In his Saturday radio address, Bush called on Congress to quickly pass the wiretapping legislation when it returns Monday from a recess, saying telecommunications companies need the law to help the government monitor foreign terrorists and to protect them from class-action lawsuits.

"The House's refusal to act is undermining our ability to get cooperation from private companies, and that undermines our effort to protect us from terrorist attacks," Bush said in his second radio address in two weeks on the same issue.

The comments by Mukasey, McConnell and Bush were criticized by civil rights and privacy advocates, including Caroline Fredrickson, director of the Washington legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union.

"In an attempt to get sweeping powers to wiretap without warrants, Republicans are playing politics with domestic surveillance legislation," Fredrickson said.

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