Saturday, February 17, 2007

What type of tasks/activities should the Poly Squad focus on and why? Also include your thought on what should be done with gathering items to send.

This is the Kenosha Tremper website for the Recovery Project:

I believe that the Poly Squad should engage in task and/or activities that promote political awareness in this area, of events throughout the nation, not only events in our community, such as reminding our community of the disastrous hardships that many New Orleans residents are dragged through every day. The squad should help present both sides of issues, debating them fully, suggesting what should be done and taking action on issues, if a consensus is reached on what type of action should be taken. Poly Squad should get involved in issues affecting our community and other communities throughout the nation. It is so easy for people to feel very strongly about issues that affect them everyday, they are able to form a potent connection to the politics of the community and they sometimes forget issues affecting the state, region, nation, or different states, regions, or even nations. Reaching for these goals would also help our younger generation to get involved early in life, become more informed on political issues and help shape the future leaders of our community, state, region, or nation.As for the squad’s first undertaking, of gathering items for southern Louisiana residents, I feel that we may have some added success in gathering items for the gulf coast resident if we effectively play up the connections from the past, at this time of the year, with Fat Tuesday and Mardi gras. These festivities may help many people to recall seeing or hearing about past parties in New Orleans, and what a dynamic, lively, and vivacious city New Orleans was, and also recall the pictures of people sitting on the roofs of their houses, waiting for a boat to come past and rescue them. These recent memories of huge amounts of water taking over and engulfing everything, may strike a sentimental cord and contribute to the community’s generosity, in giving the everyday goods that are needed in the gulf coast region.
--Megan B.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Opinion: Do you think the U.S. Senate should debate 0, 1, 2, or 3 of the resolutions about Iraq?

With all significant wars or approaches to war, elected leaders have gotten on record as to their beliefs. I remember teaching in U.S. History about how over months of debate every member of Congress gave their speech and got on record about the Compromise of 1850. With the importance of this miltary action to the lives of Americans, I think every elected official should say his or her opinion about it in what should be the most deliberative body on earth.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Analysis: Will VP Cheney's power and/or status be diminished by the Scooter Libby trial?

By David IgnatiusFriday, February 2, 2007; Page A15
Why was the White House so nervous in the summer of 2003 about the CIA's reporting on alleged Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Niger to build a nuclear bomb? That's the big question that runs through the many little details that have emerged in the perjury trial of Vice President Cheney's former top aide, Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

The trial record suggests a simple answer: The White House was worried that the CIA would reveal that it had been pressured in 2002 and early 2003 to support administration claims about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and that in the Niger case, the CIA had tried hard to resist this pressure. The machinations of Cheney, Libby and others were an attempt to weave an alternative narrative that blamed the CIA.The truth began to emerge on July 11, 2003, when CIA Director George Tenet issued a public statement disclosing that the agency had tried to warn the White House off the Niger allegations. In that sense, the Libby trial is about a cover-up that failed.

What helped start the whole brouhaha was a 2003 op-ed article by former ambassador Joseph Wilson, disclosing that his fact-finding trip to Niger the previous year had yielded no evidence of Iraqi uranium purchases. His piece opened with a devastating question: "Did the Bush administration manipulate intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs to justify an invasion of Iraq?" A frantic White House tried to rebut Wilson's criticism by leaking the fact that his wife, Valerie Plame, worked at the CIA and had suggested sending him to Niger -- as if the CIA connection somehow contaminated Wilson's allegations and made the White House less culpable.

To understand the Libby case, it's important to look at the documentary evidence, which has been usefully compiled by

The record begins with a Feb. 13, 2002, memo from a CIA briefer who had been "tasked" by Cheney on the uranium issue: "The VP was shown an assessment (he thought from DIA) that Iraq is purchasing uranium from Africa. He would like our assessment of that transaction and its implications for Iraq's nuclear program." The CIA briefer responded the next day with a comment that should have aroused skepticism on whether Iraq needed to buy any more uranium: Iraq already had 550 tons of "yellowcake" ore -- 200 tons of it from Niger. But the CIA, eager to please, asked Wilson a few days later to go to Niger to investigate the claim.

A glimpse of the pressure coming from the vice president's office emerges from a memo from CIA briefer Craig R. Schmall, after he was interviewed in January 2004 by FBI agents investigating the leak of Plame's covert identity: "I mentioned also to the agents that Libby was in charge within the administration (or at least the White House side) for producing papers arguing the case for Iraqi WMD and ties between Iraq and al Qaeda, which explains Libby's and the Vice President's interest in the Iraq/Niger/Uranium case."

CIA and State Department documents show that analysts at both agencies became increasingly skeptical about the Niger allegation and tried to warn the White House. A memo from Schmall to Eric Edelman, then Cheney's national security adviser, recalled: "CIA on several occasions has cautioned . . . that available information on this issue was fragmentary and unconfirmed." A memo from Carl W. Ford Jr., then head of the State Department's intelligence bureau, noted that his analysts had found the Niger claims "highly dubious."

The Niger issue wasn't included in Secretary of State Colin Powell's famous U.N. speech on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, according to Ford, "due to CIA concerns raised during the coordination regarding the veracity of the information on the alleged Iraq-Niger agreement." But despite CIA warnings, Bush referred to uranium purchases from Africa in his January 2003 State of the Union address, attributing it to British sources.

So we begin to understand why the White House was worried about the CIA in the summer of 2003: It feared the agency would breach the wall of silence about the claims regarding weapons of mass destruction. Robert Grenier, a CIA official who was the agency's Iraq mission manager, told colleagues that he remembered "a series of insistent phone calls" that month from Libby, who wanted the CIA to tell reporters that "other community elements such as State and DOD" had encouraged Wilson's Niger trip, not just Cheney.

The bottom line? Grenier was asked in court last week to explain the White House's 2003 machinations. Here's what he said: "I think they were trying to avoid blame for not providing [the truth] about whether or not Iraq had attempted to buy uranium." Let me say it again: This trial is about a cover-up that failed.