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Saturday, July 16, 2005

New details emerge in airplane theft case

The two teens who went on a airplane joyride with drunk pilot, Philippe Patricio, had alot to say to the police and the Danbury News Times obtained a copy of the police report. What's interesting (if not alarming) in the report is how Patricio and the two teens easily entered a locked airport, broke into an airplane, took off from the airport and flew around Fairfield and Westchester County without any apparent problem.

Their story only verifies what people have been complaining to city officials for years about, that the security at the Danbury Airport is a unacceptable (actually it's a complete joke) and needs to be improved.

From the Danbury News Times
"We got in Philippe's car and he drove to Danbury Airport," Mentch told police, according to the affidavit. "To get in we jumped the fence on the left side (of) the sliding gate."

[...]

"We then walked to the Cessna and did a pre-flight check," Mentch said. "Philippe stuck his fingers in the gas tank to check how much fuel there was. He said there was enough fuel.

"He opened the door of the airplane without a key. We got in, Philippe, Tom and I, and Philippe started the plane. He checked the lights. They all worked fine and he flew off."

Patricio, a trained mechanic, allegedly took the plane from Arrow Aviation, a flight school based at the airport. According to the affidavit, Arrow owner Joan Sherwood told police Patricio had flown a few times with Arrow instructors, but "he is not what I would call a regular customer or student with my flight school."

She told police she had both sets of keys to the Cessna, but because the planes are so old, it is easy to use a key from a different plane to start the engine.


Distrubing.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Friday night open thread

Okay, I won't be posting that much this weekend. I'm currently working on more site improvments (I hope you like what you've seen so far).

If you know of any political local access that you think might interest me or if your a host of a show, please drop a line in the comments section or feel free to email me.

I can't wait to watch the season premiere of Battlestar Galatica tonight! It's one of the best sci-fi shows I've seen in some time (yes, I'm a sort of a sci-fi geek at heart).

Till my next post, the comments are open, have at it!

626 million a year and I can't find out how it being spent?

That's what the Deaprtment of Social Services is saying to the taxpayers. They give 626 million dollars to health care maintenance organizations but you or I are not allowed to know how that money is bring spent.

If this sounds unfair, you're not the only one. From today's Hartford Courant
The dispute began when a group of New Haven clinics noticed that their patients were having trouble getting appointments with private cardiologists and gastroenterologists to treat heart or digestive problems.

Clinic operators suspected that the HMOs were paying such low rates for their patients covered by Medicaid that private doctors would not accept them.

The clinic operators, led by Kari Hartwig, an assistant clinical professor in the Yale School of Public Health, asked the state Department of Social Services to disclose the rates its contractor HMOs pay specialists for treating Medicaid patients.

The state refused. The Department of Social Services administers the Medicaid program and contracts with four HMOs to provide care for 311,000 children and their parents covered by the state-paid Husky health insurance, which is part of Medicaid.

"The Department of Social Services is responsible for ensuring the health of the population as a government function," Hartwig said. "They should be able to give us the information."

[...]

Social service officials claimed that the Medicaid HMO rate information is not kept on file at the department offices, and thus not subject to release under the state's Freedom of Information Act.

"The records that they are seeking, we don't have," said David Dearborn, a spokesman for the Department of Social Services. "If we did have them, they would become public information."

The dispute has landed at the state Freedom of Information Commission, which has been asked to decide if the HMOs are performing a government function or are simply private contractors supplying a service to the state.

Blumenthal, a frequent critic of government privatization and an advocate for open government and better access to health care, said in his July 7 letter to Rell that "compelling arguments" can be made for releasing the information. "The DSS position appears to be directly contrary to your stated intention to `cast the brightest spotlight possible' on the state's procurement of goods and services."


The claim from DSS that they don't have the records therefore they don't have to release it doesn't stand up to the smell test. Hopefully, this situation goes to court because something doesn't seem right and when you have that much money being spent, you should know how it is being spent. As taxpayer's it's YOUR money

Josh Marshall nails the Rove story


This is why I love Talking Points Memo.

Josh Marshall debunks all the garbage the RNC is peddling over the Karl Rove CIA leak and explains why Rove (and other administration officals) should be removed from office. I'm placing his entire post here because I want everyone to see this.

There's a point that's probably worth raising with our scofflaw Republican friends. All of their arguments now amount to excuses, like those of a small child caught stealing cookies: Joe Wilson's a liar. Plame's covert status wasn't protected well by the CIA. It was just a short phone call. Rove really wanted to speak about welfare reform. Wilson said Cheney sent him to Africa. Plame sent Wilson to Africa. Rove leaked Plame's identity in the interests of good journalism. Wilson went on too many TV shows. On and on and on.

The salient point is not that each of these claims is false. The point is that they're irrelevant. It's the mid-life version of 'He hit me first!' or 'He called me a name!' or other such foolery.

No presidential advisor should ever disclose the identity of a covert agent at the CIA. That doesn't require elaboration. If it's done knowingly, it's a felony. Joe Wilson could be the biggest hack in the world. Plame could have cooked the whole trip idea up to damage the president -- as some GOP loopsters are now claiming -- and it wouldn't matter.

Rove (and, though we're not supposed to say it yet, several of his colleagues) did something obviously wrong and reckless. And they probably broke several laws by the time it was all done.

Pretty much every Republican in Washington today works for Karl Rove. So they can't deal with that fact. But fact it is.

And nothing was done amiss? If Rove et al. didn't do anything wrong, why have they spent two years lying about what they did? No law was broken? Then what is Fitzgerald looking at? Why is a grand jury investigating Rove? A prosecutor like Fitzgerald, a Republican appointee, wouldn't be throwing journalists in jail unless he thought he was investigating a serious crime.

What's their answer to that? They have none. Rove runs the Washington Republican party, owns it. So it's anything but hold him accountable.
Josh, you're the man!

Race for the 2nd district is underway

This is going to be a closely watched race as Democrats are looking to pick up seats in the House and they see the 2nd and 4th district as possible pickups. Rob Simmons better take Democrat Joseph Courtney (pictured) seriously especially if he loses the base in Groton as he only beat Courtney by a surprising 8 percent (I think someone shold tell Simmons to stop with the Gitmo rice comments and get to work).

From The Norwich Bulletin:

If money is any indication, the race for the second-congressional district is well under way.

Second Congressional District challenger, Democrat Joseph Courtney reported raising $160,000 in campaign contributions in the second quarter of the year, bringing his total fund raising effort to more than $220,000 as of June 30 -- setting a new fund raising record for a challenger.

Despite Courtney's success in the first six months of the campaign, he still lags behind incumbent U.S Rep. Rob Simmons, a Republican, in the fund raising race. Simmons is reporting raising a total of $640,000 for the same six-month period.

[...]

"My campaign is light years ahead of any past Second District challenger, Democrat or Republican."

Simmons previously held that record. In his 2000 campaign against former 20-year incumbent Congressman Sam Gejdenson, Simmons raised more than $1 million -- the first challenger ever to reach that point.

Courtney, however, is already outpacing that mark with his $220,000. Simmons had raised just less than $70,000 for the same period when he was the challenger.
immons said he was particularly pleased with the labor support he has received this year, noting that more than $46,500 in campaign contributions from two dozen labor unions.

Courtney touted that 95 percent of his contributions came from individuals, 94-percent of them from Connecticut residents.

"The outpouring of support in the form of volunteers and individual contributions is simply amazing," Courtney said.
Both of these guys are taking in a great amount of cash so early in the campaign so I think it's fair to say that all of the campaigns in Connecticut are going to be fun to watch.

CT lawmakers upset with Dept. of Homeland Security's lack of vision


For the Department of Homeland Security to be focusing on airline security over other forms of transporation is just insane and is just another example of the incompetence of this administration. If the bombings in Madrid and in London should tell anyone with half of an brain, it's that it's easier and cheaper to bomb a train (or bus) than it is to bomb or hijack an airplane. Think about it, how many people ride the trains everyday compared to planes (here's a clue, over 100,000 people ride the Metro-North trains to and from New York City EVERYDAY). I can't ever recall having my bags checked before I got on the Metro and I'm sure a terrorist who is planning to attack New York is thinking the same thing.

Thank goodness we have some people in Congress and expressing outrage over this matter and are taking action (rather than expressing their pleasure over the rice at Gitmo).

From the Connectiocut Post
Top Connecticut Democrats were angered and frustrated by statements Thursday by the head of the Department of Homeland Security that cities and states are pretty much on their own when it comes to safeguarding trains, buses and subways from terrorists.
A week after bombers on London's subway and bus systems killed more than 50 people, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said that the federal government is focusing on airline security.

"The truth of the matter is a fully loaded airplane with jet fuel, a commercial airliner, has the capacity to kill 3,000 people. A bomb in a subway car may kill 30 people," Chertoff said. "When you start to think about your priorities, you're going to think about making sure you don't have a catastrophic thing first."


Ah, excuse me? Maybe you haven't been watching how these terrorists work but I'm fairly sure if a terrorist wanted to bomb a bunch of Metro-North trains that travel to New York City during the morning rush hour, they would kill MORE than 30 people (again over 100,000 people ride the trains to and from New York everyday).
The comments drew an angry response from Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., when Chertoff appeared before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Thursday.
"This has alarmed a lot of us who have mass transit running through our states," Lieberman told Chertoff. "This has to be, at least in part, a national responsibility."
Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., expressed frustration Thursday with the lack of resources being directed to protect against terrorist attacks like those carried out in London.

"Either we are at war or not at war. Our nation and allies are under siege," he said.

I couldn't agree more with these guys but honestly, after almost four years after 9-11, talk is cheap and the people of Connecticut deserve more attention. The government hasn't done anything to protect our trains after 9-11. Security for mass transit is a joke and a shame and just taking a look at the funding shows the story.

The Senate is debating a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security in the next fiscal year. As proposed, it would set aside $100 million for mass-transit security — $50 million less than the current year's allocation. The final figure, however, could change as amendments are offered.

State and local officials are grappling with how to pay for upgrades to protect commuters and other mass-transit riders in their communities. Technology to protect mass-transit systems in the nation's 30 largest metropolitan areas could cost an estimated $6 billion, according to industry representatives.
100 million dollars for the mass transit and that NATIONWIDE. We're spending billions on airplanes but only a fraction on mass transit. This is an outrage and an insult to the people that spends hundreds of dollars riding the trains to and from work every month and voters should hold people in state and federal government accountable.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Well, it didn't take long for DeStefano to start throwing the mud


Wow, that was pretty quick!

Seems like New Haven Mayor John DeStefano didn't waste much time in attacking Gov Rell. DeStefano mailed 2,000 DVDs last week to donors which has a video linking Gov. Rell to the John Rowland scandal. With Rell's approval rating at a high rate, DeStefano knows that the sooner he can establish a link between Gov. Rell and the disgraceful Rowland, the better his chances are in winning the Democratic nomination and possibly the election. Gov. Rell should expect more of the same from all the other challengers as the campaign season slowly moves into high gear (oh yes, this election cycle will start early and you can bet it will get ugly).

From the Hartford Courant:
New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, the leading fund-raiser in the Democratic race to unseat Rell next year, mailed 2,000 campaign DVDs to potential donors last week, linking Rell to the corruption that plagued former Gov. John G. Rowland's administration.

"John Rowland may be in jail, but the same old leadership with the same old policies are still in charge," a voice says as a black-and-white image of Rowland and his inmate number fades slowly into a picture of Rell.
Ouch, that's harsh. I gotta get a copy of that video. If anyone has the DVD, please email me.
Republicans called DeStefano's campaign comparison unfair, but conceded they expect more of the same if Rell decides to run.

A Quinnipiac University poll in April showed Rell with an 80 percent approval rating, the higest ever in the poll for a statewide leader. If Rell's poll numbers remain high, political analysts say the move could backfire.

"DeStefano doesn't run much risk in backlash right now because these are people who want to see a tough campaign and who are prepared to think the worst of Republicans," said Howard L. Reiter, a political scientist at the University of Connecticut. "Whether they could sustain that attack in a general election? I think it's risky."
Hey, the stakes are high and you gotta take risks if you challenging someone with a popularity rating of 80 percent. Not that I'm endorsing anyone, but I can see DeStefano's logic and it makes sound sense. In any case, bewen the 2nd, 4th, 5th districts and the run for governor this campaign season is going to be fun to watch.

McClellan takes a pounding for a third day

You know, at times I almost feel bad for this guy (then I laugh out loud and snap out of it). McClellan and this administration were lying for the last three years about Karl Rove's role in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame so Scotty should stand there and take his beating like a man.

From Editor and Publisher:

In a third day of fencing with reporters at the daily briefing, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan continued to stonewall on questions surrounding Karl Rove and the Plame case, but admitted. “It may not look like it, but there's a little flesh that's been taken out of me the past few days.”

Asked what he thought of a Washington Times editorial page this morning that compared White House correspondents to sharks, McClellan simply replied: “I have a picture up in my office that everybody can look at.”

Otherwise, he stuck to his guns in defending the right of the White House to remain silent on this “ongoing investigation.”

Here are the relevant parts of the official transcript:

[...]

Q Scott, you know what, to make a general observation here, in a previous administration, if a press secretary had given the sort of answers you've just given in referring to the fact that everybody who works here enjoys the confidence of the President, Republicans would have hammered them as having a kind of legalistic and sleazy defense. I mean, the reality is that you're parsing words, and you've been doing it for a few days now. So does the President think Karl Rove did something wrong, or doesn't he?

McCLELLAN: No, David, I'm not at all. I told you and the President told you earlier today that we don't want to prejudge the outcome of an ongoing investigation. And I think we've been round and round on this for two days now.

Q Even if it wasn't a crime? You know, there are those who believe that even if Karl Rove was trying to debunk bogus information, as Ken Mehlman suggested yesterday -- perhaps speaking on behalf of the White House -- that when you're dealing with a covert operative, that a senior official of the government should be darn well sure that that person is not undercover, is not covert, before speaking about them in any way, shape, or form. Does the President agree with that or not?

McCLELLAN: Again, we've been round and round on this for a couple of days now. I don't have anything to add to what I've said the previous two days.

Q That's a different question, and it's not round and round --

McCLELLAN: You heard from the President earlier.

Q It has nothing to do with the investigation, Scott, and you know it.

McCLELLAN: You heard from the President earlier today, and the President said he's not --

Q That's a dodge to my question. It has nothing to do with the investigation. Is it appropriate for a senior official to speak about a covert agent in any way, shape, or form without first finding out whether that person is working as a covert officer.

McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, you're wrong. This is all relating to questions about an ongoing investigation, and I've been through this.

Q If I wanted to ask you about an ongoing investigation, I would ask you about the statute, and I'm not doing that.

McCLELLAN: I think we've exhausted discussion on this the last couple of days.

Q You haven't even scratched the surface.

Q It hasn't started.
Like I said, I almost feel bad for the guy (okay, I'm laughing again). I'd only wish they were asking the President or Rove these questions directly.

More bad news for Rove and the Bush administration

From the Washington Post:

A number of legal experts, some of whom are involved in the case, said evidence that has emerged publicly suggests Rove or other administration officials face potential legal threats on at least three fronts.

The first is the unmasking of CIA official Valerie Plame, the original focus of special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald's probe. But legal sources say there are indications the prosecutor is looking at two other areas related to the administration's handling of his investigation. One possible legal vulnerability is perjury, if officials did not testify truthfully to a federal grand jury, and another is obstructing justice, if they tried to coordinate cover stories to obscure facts.

Legal experts said the evidence that has emerged in recent days -- including confirmation that Rove and Cooper spoke about Plame's role at the CIA as a way of knocking down a damaging story about the administration's Iraq policy -- does not by itself necessarily indicate a crime was committed. Even so, White House officials acknowledged privately that they are concerned that the investigation will lead to an indictment of someone in the administration later this year.

Just put the braclets on him already.

Will there be a lawsuit over the state spending cap?

Here's an interesting article from the New York Newsday:

A new state law that sets aside $26 million to preserve farmland, open space and encourage affordable housing is triggering the first major debate in a decade over Connecticut's constitutional cap on spending.

And Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who signed the bill into law earlier this week, is encouraging a possible lawsuit over the issue.

"I strongly support the programs contained in this bill, and have for years. But the money it raises was not included in the state budget adopted by the General Assembly," Rell said. "So there are legitimate questions as to whether the funding mechanism violates the spirit, if not the letter, of our spending cap requirements."

The new law, which was debated for six hours in the House of Representatives during this year's regular legislative session, imposes a $30 surcharge on some land transactions. That money will be used to create a fund to shield farmland from development, protect open space, take care of historical landmarks and build affordable housing.

House Minority Leader Robert Ward, R-North Branford, has said the plan amounts to an extra tax and an excuse for the Democrat-controlled legislature to spend more than they are allowed to under the constitutional cap approved by 80 percent of Connecticut voters in 1992. To get around the cap, the legislation "disburses" money for the land preservation efforts rather than "appropriates" the cash.

"We felt it was a blatant attempt to get around the spending cap," said Patrick O'Neill, Ward's spokesman.
Those sneeky Democrats.
House Speaker James Amann, D-Milford, whose Democratic caucus voted overwhelmingly for the preservation bill, said Ward has the right to file a lawsuit if he wishes. Amann said his budget staff advised him that the legislation did not violate the cap.

But Amann, who was in office when the cap was first enacted, said it makes sense to take another look at the cap and how it is defined. For example, he and many Democrats believe it makes sense not to count federal funding the state receives as money spent under the cap.

"The time has come between Democrats and the Republican Party and the governor's office. We should go back and take a look at this spending cap," he said. "We need to do it on a bipartisan basis. It's going to be difficult, let's face facts."
Hmmm. If you think you didn't violate the law, why say that say we need to go and look at how the law is defined? Whatever the case, this is something that should be worked out between the General Assembly and not the courts.

Looks like Farrell is staring her campaign

This is not come to a surprise to anyone who heard her comments recently.

Westport First Selectman Diane Farrell has just filed papers with the Federal Election Commission so it seems like she ready for a rematch against Chris Shays for the 4th district seat. Farrell came very close to beating Shays in 2004 and with the public's disapproval of Congress, she has a real good chance in beating Shays in 2006.

From the New York Newsday

Westport First Selectman Diane Farrell took the first formal steps Wednesday to launch her second bid for Congress against Republican Rep. Christopher Shays.

Farrell, a Democrat who lost to Shays in 2004, filed papers with the Federal Election Commission that will allow her to begin raising money for her campaign.

[...]

Farrell, who got 48 percent of the vote last November, said Shays has done nothing to solve the problems that plague resident of the 4th District, including lack of affordable health care, bad foreign policy and "an education policy that leaves too many children behind."

"We need a congressman who's wedded to the people and families of this district _ not to an extreme leadership that is frighteningly out of touch with Connecticut," said Farrell.
Oh, this is going to be fun to watch.

Poll results

Okay, the results are in and here's the breakdown:

The question was "who will win the Democratic nomination for Governor" and here is what you said.


Thanks to all who voted. Please remember that this is not a scientific poll.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Is the CT coalition afraid of John Warner?

Whos' afraid of this guy. If you said the CT coalition, then you're correct.

If the moving of the subs from Norfolk to Groton will save the Navy 200 million dollars why won't the delegates from CT make that the highlight of their case? Because they are afraid of Senator John Warner? Come on guys, we're talking about the saving the submarine base and ten of thousands of jobs in Connecticut and if closing the base in Norfolk will save the Navy millions, then I'm sorry but I think the people of Groton could care less about Senator Warner's feelings.

From the Norwich Bulletin

During the hearing, coalition Chairman John Markowicz said there is a flaw in the Navy's original calculations, suggesting such a proposal would produce no cost savings. Coalition analyst Gabe Stern testified when reconsidered using more accurate data, moving Norfolk's subs to Groton would result in a $200 million savings to the Navy.

Skinner's questioning of the Norfolk scenario was seen by many as significant, suggesting the commission may be interested in exploring options other than closing the Groton facility. It is, however, a strategy Connecticut's congressional and state political staffs are not willing to pursue for fear Virginia Sen. John Warner, Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, might use his influence to work against Connecticut's interests.

"I'm not a politician," Markowicz said Monday. "Our position is, any flaws with any other scenario is something the commission can consider, and they ought to be able to investigate. We will respond to any questions they might ask us."

The Navy considered, but rejected, transferring Norfolk's subs to Groton as an alternative to closing Groton. Coalition members considered making that part of the state's presentation, but it was deleted because of "time constraints."

Disagreements over the state's strategy have slowly grown in recent weeks. The coalition, a group of volunteers who have been meeting for two years, has been excluded from many of the recent strategy sessions held by state and congressional staffers. For the first time in two years, members of the press were asked to leave the coalition meeting Monday.

Dauphinais asked for the closed-door session, which lasted more than 90 minutes, so members could discuss a "top-down strategy."

It was during that discussion that the decision to exclude any further references to Norfolk was made.

It's sad that the coaliton took the Norfolk proposal off the table and you can bet that this will come back to haunt them if the base in Groton is closed. Maybe Rob Simmons should stop commenting about the tasty rice he enjoyed eating at Guantanamo Bay and get back to saving the base.

CTCIC meeting wrap up

Seems like the protest yesterday at the CT Citizens for Immigration Control (CTCIC) was a success as the protestors outnumbered the CTCIC memebers by 2 to 1. Dan at The Guerilla Science Blog has a complete summary of the event (including pictures and video) on his other site nobodyisillegal.org.

I'm happy that there wasn't any huge press coverage of this meeting becasue that is exactly what the CTCIC wants, FREE PRESS. If you don't feed the fire, eventually, it will go out.

From today's Waterbury Republican-American

The 70 or so protesters waved flags -- of the United States, Mexico and a dozen others -- as they chanted and marched up and down Bunker Hill Road, next to the Watertown-Waterbury post of the American Legion.

Inside the post, about 35 people sat and listened as one of CCIC's founders, Paul Streitz, introduced speaker Michael Cutler. Cutler, a retired agent for the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, spoke about enforcing America's immigration laws and cracking down on employers who hire illegal immigrants -- undocumented immigrants, if you ask the people outside carrying signs that read "Nobody is Illegal."

CCIC was founded in April, and this was its fourth public meeting. At meetings in Danbury and West Hartford and at a demonstration outside Sen. Joseph Lieberman's office in Hartford, protesters have consistently shown up in greater numbers than supporters.

There's a reason protestors always outnumber supporters...it's because the supporters are nothing more than simple-minded, racists, small town bigiots who hate ALL immigrants (it's fair to say that they're not so fond of anyone who isn't white). One read of this quote by one of the CTCIC members pretty much sums up the attitude of this organization (although they claim that they have no problem with legall immigrants whenever they are quoted in the press. I guess Paul Streitz forgot to give this wacko the groups talking points before she talked to the press.
"It's a very revolting situation because here we have one of the greatest ... nations in the world and we'll be destroyed by these people," said Ross Upton of Thomaston. Upton, and a few others, said Mexican immigrants in Southern California and Southwestern states plan to "take back" that land for Mexico.
Jackass.

If Simmons says the prisoners are treated well, then it must be true

The detainees are treated well by Gitmo. Yeah, and Karl Rove didn't leak a CIA operative's name.

Rob Simmons just came back form a visit at Guantanamo Bay and based on his observation, he claims that the detainees are treated well.

Hmmm, this might seem like a silly question but if the prisoners were being abused, do you think they would show that to a Congressman?

From the Hartford Courant:
Detainees at Guantanamo Bay are treated well, the food is good and the medical care seems decent, Rep. Rob Simmons, R-2nd District, said Tuesday. He and nine other members of Congress took a half-day trip Monday to the Cuban military prison to see for themselves if harsh criticism leveled at the base was justified.

[...]

He said the military personnel he talked with at Guantanamo were "highly professional," and that the courtroom there and the room where detainees are questioned were air-conditioned.

"It did not fit the description I had heard about," Simmons said.

[...]

Simmons acknowledged that the visit was very brief and said he would be glad to return.
Well, before he visits lovely Gitmo again, maybe Simmons should read the report from FBI agents who spent move than a half a day there and ACTUALLY witnessed the abuse.

Detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were shackled to the floor in fetal positions for more than 24 hours at a time, left without food and water, and allowed to defecate on themselves, an FBI agent who said he witnessed such abuse reported in a memo to supervisors, according to documents released yesterday.

In memos over a two-year period that ended in August, FBI agents and officials also said that they witnessed the use of growling dogs at Guantanamo Bay to intimidate detainees -- contrary to previous statements by senior Defense Department officials -- and that one detainee was wrapped in an Israeli flag and bombarded with loud music in an apparent attempt to soften his resistance to interrogation.

In addition, several agents contended that military interrogators impersonated FBI agents, suggesting that the ruse was aimed in part at avoiding blame for any subsequent public allegations of abuse, according to memos between FBI officials.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Help welcome the CT Citizens for Immigration tonight


Dan Zarrella of nobodyisillegal.org needs youu help in welcoming the CT Citizens for Immigration Control (CTCIC) at their meeting at the American Legion in Oakville tongiht. I'm sure the CTCIC wingnuts would love to see you there. Word has it that at their so called protest at Senator Lieberman's office, the CTCIC were clearly outnumbered by immigrant supporters by a ratio of 4 to 1. I'm sure as these bunch of wackos are exposed for the racist bigots they REALLY are, that the level of protests will increase.

If you like directions to the American Legion in Oakville just click here.

Has anyone seen this person?


CT News Junkie has a good artile about a group of people who have been looking for her lately.

First, it was the state Elections Enforcement Commission complaints, filed against Congresswoman Nancy Johnson (R-5th) by the chairman of the Torrington Democratic Town Committee, Daniel Pulliam. He accused Johnson’s campaign of improperly sending her federal money to local party organizations.

Then, Pulliam criticized Johnson for skipping Connecticut’s presentation in front of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission last week in Boston.


[...]

“Nancy Johnson Is Missing,” read the signs held by protesters, referring to Johnson’s apparent refusal to attend various forums on Social Security privatization held in the district.

“She’s clearly missing, and that’s our message- where’s Nancy?” said Phil Sherwood, a CCAG staffer, adding that his group’s corps of summer interns hope to knock on 1,000 doors a night throughout Johnson’s district.

Johnson spokesman Brian Schubert did not return a call for comment.

Could it be that there might (just might) be an interesting campaign in the 5th district after all.

President refuses to answer questions about Rove this morning

I told you this was going to get good.

The White House is suddenly facing damaging evidence that it misled the public by insisting for two years that presidential adviser Karl Rove wasn't involved in leaking the identity of a female CIA officer.

President Bush, at an Oval Office photo opportunity Tuesday, was asked directly whether he would fire Rove -- in keeping with a pledge in June, 2004, to dismiss any leakers in the case. The president did not respond.

For the second day, White House press secretary Scott McClellan refused to answer questions about Rove.

Rove told Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper that the woman "apparently works" for the CIA and that she had authorized her husband's trip to Africa to assess allegations that Iraq was trying to obtain yellowcake uranium for nuclear weapons, according to a July 11, 2003, e-mail by Cooper obtained by Newsweek magazine.

The e-mail is now in the hands of federal prosecutors who are hunting down the leakers inside the Bush administration who revealed the name of Valerie Plame to the news media.

The revelation about Rove prompted Democratic calls for President Bush to follow through on his promise to fire leakers of Plame's identity, and triggered 61 questions during two press briefings Monday by McClellan.


The President promised to fire anyone in his administration involved in the Plame affair. Would you consider the President's backtracking on his word a "flip-flop" now? This administration clearly misled the American people because if this information would of came out during the campaign, Kerry and the democrats would of had a field day. Rove pushed this matter back till after the elections and now it's finally coming to haunt him and this administration. If this was a democratic administraion, Congress would be having hearings on this matter already.

Whether Rove named Plame by name to Matthew Cooper or said Wilson's wife is in the CIA doesn't make a difference (a.k.a. Clinton saying "it depends on what the definition of "is" is). The real question people (and reporters) should be asking is who told Rove that Plame was a CIA agent. An adviser (even someone like Rove) wouldn't have access to that type of sensitive information. Someone whould of had to tell Rove that Joe Wilson's wife was a CIA operative and whoever it was had national security clearance. The only reason the federal prosecutor is still allowed to presue this case must be becasue he is after the person who gave "outed" Plame, and I don't think it was Rove.

When it comes to who gave Rove the CIA information, it seems like Rove's lawyer isn't answering that question either.

One of the e-mails was a note from Cooper to his boss in which he said he had spoken to Rove, who described the wife of former U.S. Ambassador and Bush administration critic Joe Wilson as someone who "apparently works" at the CIA, Newsweek magazine reported.

It said "Wilson's wife" -- not CIA Director George Tenet or Vice President Dick Cheney -- authorized a trip by Wilson to Africa. The purpose was to check out reports that Iraq had tried to obtain yellowcake uranium for use in nuclear weapons.

Rove's conversation with Cooper took place five days after Plame's husband suggested in a New York Times op-ed piece that the Bush administration had manipulated intelligence on weapons of mass destruction to justify the invasion of Iraq. Wilson's trip to Africa provided the basis for his criticism.

Robert Luskin, Rove's lawyer, said his client did not disclose Plame's name. Luskin declined to say how Rove found out that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA and refused to say how Rove came across the information that it was Wilson's wife who authorized his trip to Africa.

CT Citizens for Immigration Control are at it again


These guys are just too much. The people who brought you the silly Minuteman Project have now branched off to smaller organizations one being the CT Citizens for Immigration Control. This silly (and I'm being nice in calling them that) group was formed in responce to the so-called illegal immigration situation in Danbury.

Now the masterminds in the organization thought it would be a great idea to track the license plates of contrators who pick up day laborers and hand the information over to the police.

From the Danbury News Times
"The purpose is twofold. First, the contractors who pick up these illegal aliens are breaking the law by employing them, as you know," said Elise Marciano, president of the group's Danbury chapter. "Number two, we want to identify them because they are underbidding other contractors who refuse to hire illegal aliens."
Okay, I'll throw an easxy one out there. Hey guys, HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT ALL DAY LABORERS ARE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS! I'll answer it for them, they don't and it's not their point. Their real point is just to stir the pot and draw attention to their cause. There is no way the police is going to go after a contracter because he picked up a day laborer when they can't PROVE that the person is illegal and the group knows this.

She wasn't sure how many times members of the group have been in Kennedy Park collecting information. She said she expects to learn more later this month, when the group meets again in Danbury.

However, a man who opposes the group but attended the last meeting nonetheless, said the group was supposed to be out in full force starting July 5 and continue until July 17.

Meanwhile, anonymous flyers sympathetic to day laborers, written in Spanish, appeared last week.

"A group of vigilantes (against immigrants) in Danbury plans to sabotage the contractors who hire illegal immigrants in Kennedy Park," the flyer read.
I'll post more on this group and their silly tactics later but I can tell you that their problem isn't just illegal immigrants but immigrants in general. Don't get caught up in the word "illegal" because it's just an easy way to discriminate against a some people. If they were all legal, there would still be day laborers taking jobs away from local roofers, painters, and landscapers because the day laborers can do it cheaper, faster, and in some cases, better than your local guy. There would still be local contractor pissed off because they you outbidded by contractors who hire day laborers so one has to wonder what is the point in their crusade.

Ridgefield trying to use the eniment domain card?

Well, that's what their trying to do but unlike New London, their will be no displaced families by the seizing of the aprox. 150+ acres of land south of Bennett's Pond. To but it as simple as possible (and if you live in the Danbury/Ridgefield area, you already know) this is just another chapter in the story of the people of Ridgefield not liking the idea of the delevoper, Eureka V, building starter homes because according to them, it will drive the property value down. You see, most homes in the area go for around 500,000 and up and placing affordable housing in that area (if you consider affordable 300,000 to 400,000) will not only being the property value down, but (and this is the real reason) bring in a type a crowd that Ridgefield doesn't want and they have fought tooth and nail for years to stop the developer from building affordable housing.

From the Danbury News Times
The developer, Eureka V, wants to build 510 townhouses and apartments on the 154-acre parcel. The proposal would require a zone change because the property is now zoned for commercial development.

Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi sent a letter to Eureka V in 2001 offering to buy the land for $2.7 million. He also wrote that if necessary the town would take the property through eminent domain.

Eureka V went to federal court asking for an injunction against an eminent domain move and alleged Ridgefield is violating the federal fair housing law by attempting to prevent Eureka from building houses for people with school-age children.

Since then, Eureka has filed a request for a zone change for the property. That request will be heard in a public hearing before the Planning and Zoning Commission on July 12.

Taking the land through eniment domain will allow Ridgefield to turn the land (which is currently zoned commercial property) into office space.

Marconi said he is confident the town will end up with the property and be able to go ahead with plans to build 600,000 square feet of corporate office space.

"It is now clear that if Ridgefield is victorious in federal court, which we feel we will be, then we can proceed with an eminent domain taking of the property," Marconi said. Selectmen will meet with the town's lawyer in the next two weeks to discuss the case.

Wonder how this saves Bennett's Pond which was Ridgefield resasoning for fighting Eureka back in 2000? This fight is far from over (well, it's been going on for at least 6 years) and it probably will never end. Why would anyone want to live in a place where they are not wanted in the first place is beyond my understanding.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Sorry about the slow posting today

There's so much happeneing in CT today that I would love to psot more but I'm very limited because my laptop is down today. I'll be back later this evening with news from Ridgefield (if you a fan of the Connecticut Local Politics blog, you already know what I'm talking about) and the ongoing silliness regarding the CT Citizens
for Immigration Control and their so-called crusade against illegal immigrants in the Danbury area (you won't believe what they're trying to do now. I can't make this stuff up). I'll be debunking most of their silly claims later tonight so check back.

The poll is just about complete and I'll be closing it up and show the results tonight. A new question will be posted tomorrow.

Forum is open at all. Anything happening in CT I need to know about? Drop me a line and I'll look into it ASAP! I'm also looking for any local politics broadcasted on public access. If there any shows in your area that I shold be aware of, drop me an email or post it to the forum. I will have video links up on the site as soon as I move to a bigger server.

WH Press Secretary Scott McClellan takes a beating today


I haven't seen a grilling of a White House Secretary like this since the days of IRAN-CONTRA. This Karl Rove story has FINALLY got legs and the mainstream media is going after the White House.
I'll try and get the video from C-SPAN (or at least provide a link) but until then, I'll let the transcript from today's briefing tell the story.

The following is a excerpts of a rush transcript of the White House press briefing Monday...

QUESTION: Scott, can I ask you this: Did Karl Rove commit a crime?

MCCLELLAN: Again, David, this is a question relating to a ongoing investigation, and you have my response related to the investigation. And I don't think you should read anything into it other than: We're going to continue not to comment on it while it's ongoing.

QUESTION: Do you stand by your statement from the fall of 2003, when you were asked specifically about Karl and Elliot Abrams and Scooter Libby, and you said, "I've gone to each of those gentlemen, and they have told me they are not involved in this"?

QUESTION: Do you stand by that statement?

MCCLELLAN: And if you will recall, I said that, as part of helping the investigators move forward on the investigation, we're not going to get into commenting on it. That was something I stated back near that time as well.

QUESTION: Scott, this is ridiculous. The notion that you're going to stand before us, after having commented with that level of detail, and tell people watching this that somehow you've decided not to talk.

You've got a public record out there. Do you stand by your remarks from that podium or not?

MCCLELLAN: I'm well aware, like you, of what was previously said. And I will be glad to talk about it at the appropriate time. The appropriate time is when the investigation...

QUESTION: (inaudible) when it's appropriate and when it's inappropriate?

MCCLELLAN: If you'll let me finish.

QUESTION: No, you're not finishing. You're not saying anything.

You stood at that podium and said that Karl Rove was not involved. And now we find out that he spoke about Joseph Wilson's wife. So don't you owe the American public a fuller explanation. Was he involved or was he not? Because contrary to what you told the American people, he did indeed talk about his wife, didn't he?

MCCLELLAN: There will be a time to talk about this, but now is not the time to talk about it.

QUESTION: Do you think people will accept that, what you're saying today?

MCCLELLAN: Again, I've responded to the question.

QUESTION: You're in a bad spot here, Scott...

(LAUGHTER)

... because after the investigation began -- after the criminal investigation was under way -- you said, October 10th, 2003, "I spoke with those individuals, Rove, Abrams and Libby. As I pointed out, those individuals assured me they were not involved in this," from that podium. That's after the criminal investigation began.

Now that Rove has essentially been caught red-handed peddling this information, all of a sudden you have respect for the sanctity of the criminal investigation.

MCCLELLAN: No, that's not a correct characterization. And I think you are well aware of that.

We know each other very well. And it was after that period that the investigators had requested that we not get into commenting on an ongoing criminal investigation.

And we want to be helpful so that they can get to the bottom of this. Because no one wants to get to the bottom of it more than the president of the United States.

I am well aware of what was said previously. I remember well what was said previously. And at some point I look forward to talking about it. But until the investigation is complete, I'm just not going to do that.

QUESTION: So you're now saying that after you cleared Rove and the others from that podium, then the prosecutors asked you not to speak anymore and since then you haven't.

MCCLELLAN: Again, you're continuing to ask questions relating to an ongoing criminal investigation and I'm just not going to respond to them. QUESTION: When did they ask you to stop commenting on it, Scott? Can you pin down a date?

MCCLELLAN: Back in that time period.

QUESTION: Well, then the president commented on it nine months later. So was he not following the White House plan?

MCCLELLAN: I appreciate your questions. You can keep asking them, but you have my response.

QUESTION: Well, we are going to keep asking them.

When did the president learn that Karl Rove had had a conversation with a news reporter about the involvement of Joseph Wilson's wife in the decision to send him to Africa?

MCCLELLAN: I've responded to the questions.

QUESTION: When did the president learn that Karl Rove had been...

MCCLELLAN: I've responded to your questions.

QUESTION: After the investigation is completed, will you then be consistent with your word and the president's word that anybody who was involved will be let go?

MCCLELLAN: Again, after the investigation is complete, I will be glad to talk about it at that point.

QUESTION: Can you walk us through why, given the fact that Rove's lawyer has spoken publicly about this, it is inconsistent with the investigation, that it compromises the investigation to talk about the involvement of Karl Rove, the deputy chief of staff, here?

MCCLELLAN: Well, those overseeing the investigation expressed a preference to us that we not get into commenting on the investigation while it's ongoing. And that was what they requested of the White House. And so I think in order to be helpful to that investigation, we are following their direction.

QUESTION: Scott, there's a difference between commenting on an investigation and taking an action...

MCCLELLAN: (inaudible)

QUESTION: Can I finish, please?

MCCLELLAN: I'll come back to you in a minute.

QUESTION: Scott, (inaudible) president spoke about war on terrorism and, also, according to India Globe report there is bombings in London and also bombings in India. And at both places, Al Qaida was involved.

According to the India Globe and press reports, Pakistani television said that Osama bin Laden is now alive and they had spoken with him. And his group is (inaudible) terrorism around the globe is concerned.

Well, now, the major bombings after 9/11 took place in London and (inaudible) fighting against terrorism is concerned.

Where do we stand now? Really, where do we go from London as far as terrorism is concerned? How far can we go after Osama bin Laden now to catch him, because he's still in Pakistan?

MCCLELLAN: What occurred in London is a grim reminder that we are at war on terrorism. We are waging a comprehensive war on terrorism.

You heard the president talk earlier today to the FBI personnel and others who were at Quantico. And the president talked about our global war on terrorism. He talked about our strategy for taking the fight to the enemy, staying on the offensive, and working to spread freedom and democracy to defeat the ideology of hatred that terrorists espouse.

And the president pointed back to the 20th century. He pointed out that in World War II, freedom prevailed over fascism and Nazism. And in the Cold War, freedom prevailed over communism.

MCCLELLAN: Freedom is a powerful force for defeating an ideology such as the one that the terrorists espouse. And that's why it's so important to continue working to advance freedom and democracy in the broader Middle East. And that's what we will continue to do.

And the president also talked about the great progress we've made at home to protect the home front.

The families and friends of those who lost their lives in London continue to be in our thoughts and prayers. We know what it's like to be attacked on our own soil.

And that's why the president made a decision that we were going to take the fight to the enemy to try to disrupt plots and prevent attacks from happening in the first place. And that's exactly what we are doing.

But we're also going to work with the free world to support the advance of freedom and democracy in a dangerous region of the world. For too long we ignored what was going on in the Middle East. We accepted and tolerated dictatorships in exchange for peace and stability, and we got neither.

As the president said, free nations are peaceful societies. And that's why it's so important that we continue to support the advance of freedom, because that's how you ultimately defeat the ideology of hatred and oppression that terrorists espouse.

QUESTION: Does the president continue to have confidence in Mr. Rove?

MCCLELLAN: Again, these are all questions coming up in the context of an ongoing criminal investigation. And you've heard my response on this.

QUESTION: So you're not going to respond as to whether or not the president has confidence in his deputy chief of staff?

MCCLELLAN: You're asking this question in the context of an ongoing investigation, and I would not read anything into it other then I'm simply going to comment on an ongoing investigation.

QUESTION: Has there been any change, or is there a plan for Mr. Rove's portfolio to be altered in any way?

MCCLELLAN: Again, you have my response to these questions.


Sweet!

Miscommunication or stubborness

What Danbury Mayor Boughton called "little miscommunication", Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi called something that almost required legal action. At issue is the ongoing drama surrounding the Danbury Airport.

Can't we all just get along?

From the Danbury News Times
Marconi said Wednesday he was frustrated in his attempts to communicate with Boughton regarding issues surrounding Danbury Municipal Airport.

He felt it might be necessary to bring in legal counsel to get Boughton to produce documents and answer questions about plans to install beacon lights and top trees along the runway path that aims directly toward the Ridegbury section of town.

"There was a little miscommunication about what Rudy was looking for," Boughton said Friday after a call from a reporter prompted him to call Marconi "Some of that information was hand-delivered to his office this afternoon."

Marconi said he grew frustrated when he tried to obtain a master plan for the airport when it was discovered the Ridgefield Library's copy was missing. When he tried to get a threshold study on the proposed placement of beacons, airport administrator Paul Estefan told him the study would cost $4.50 a copy.

"That's not the neighborly way to do things," Marconi said. "I would never respond that way to a request from Danbury for documents."

[...]

For years, Ridgefield residents have complained about noise from planes landing and taking off from the Danbury airport. With the city's plan to light that approach, neighbors are worried micro-jets will begin using the airport and use of the flight path over their homes will increase.


You would think that after the theft of a airplane last month that Mayor Boughton would work better with Ridgefield and not "communicate" once someone threatens legal action.