The Blogiston Post

Politics, money, and war.

Sunday, March 30

names please

All of this talk of the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee (DPBAC or DPB) and you'd probably like to know who the heck they are. Good question. It changes regularly.

As of yesterday, these were the names available thru on line sources. Unfortunately, the DPB doesn't maintain a website. Too bad. They could let us know what they're up to. But since they are an independent committee who advise the Secretary of Defense, they are under no obligations to US citizens to reveal who they are. They do issue announcements thru standard government services providing dates of meetings. These are, however, closed to the public.

First, a little information and clarification.

The Defense Policy Board should not be confused with a number of other groups with similar sounding names or functions.

The National Security Council (NSC) is chaired by the President. Condoleezza Rice is the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. Also known as the National Security Advisor. Sounds official, is official.

The National Security Agency (NSA) handles coded spy messages, making and breaking code. NSA serves the Defense Department but most of its employees are mathematicians. Sounds official, is official. (added 7-25-2003)

President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) is chaired by Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft. All members are Presidential appointments. A hush hush group. You won't see any of them on tv except under rare circumstances. They're busy. Sounds official, is official.

National Security Advisory Council (NSAC) is a think tank run thru the Center for Security Policy (CSP) Think pundits. Think Frank J. Gaffney, President of CSP. Think James Woolsey and Sen. Jon Kyl honorary chairs. Sounds official, but its not.

Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is a think tank. Peter G. Peterson is the chairman of the board. CFR writes white papers. One of their most recent is Iraq: The Day After Sounds official, its not, but its very influential.

And that brings us to the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee. The DPB advises the Secretary of Defense, in this case Donald Rumsfeld. Think back up singers. They are an independent group outside of government control. Their positions on the DPB are unpaid. I'm sure they make up for that with consulting fees for some of the time some of them spend on tv. They can openly shoot their mouths off to sway American opinion. Sounds official, its not, but its very influential in telling Rumsfeld exactly what he expects to hear.

Oh. And by the way. The DPB is privy to classified information. Now you know why it looks inappropriate for DPB members to have connections with corporations in a position to profit from contracts in post war Iraq reconstruction. An entirely new form of insider trading. Kinda like shoving someone in a shopping mall so you can chase the ambulance for the lawsuit. Capitalism at its finest.

Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee

1. Kenneth Adelman
2. Richard V. Allen
3. Martin Anderson
4. Gary S. Becker
5. Barry M. Blechman
6. Harold Brown
7. Eliot Cohen
8. Devon Cross
9. Gen. (Ret.) Ronald R. Fogleman
10. Thomas S. Foley
11. Tillie Fowler
12. Newt Gingrich
13. Gerald Hillman
14. Gen. (Ret.) Charles A. Horner
15. Fred C. Ikle
16. Adm. (Ret.) David Jeremiah

17. Henry A. Kissinger
18. Adm. (Ret.) William Owens
19. Richard Perle
20. J. Danforth Quayle
21. Henry S. Rowen
22. James R. Schlesinger
23. Gen. (Ret.) Jack Sheehan
24. George P. Shultz
25. Kiron K. Skinner
26. Walter B. Slocombe
27. Hal Sonnenfeldt
28. Ruth Wedgwood
29. Chris Williams
30. Pete Wilson
31. James Woolsey
There is no chair at this time.


Oh dear. They just keep coming out of the woodwork. No. Not bugs, unless you count the recent infestation threatening the UN Security Council.

I was thinking of the members of the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee. No sooner had Mr. Perle stepped down as the chair, than it was discovered Bechtel was in the running for rebuilding post war Iraq. Bechtel is where fellow Defense Policy Board member George P. Shultz sits on the board.

Now it seems there is another member of the Defense Policy Board who is also with Bechtel, Gen. (Ret.) Jack Sheehan. One of the world's largest construction firms, Bechtel built and manages the Weapons of Mass Destruction Training Program in Nevada. I thought the point of going into Iraq was to get rid of those but I digress. Wouldn't it be easier on all of us if they just disclosed their affiliations? But then again that would ruin the fun of reading the paper.

In the meantime, Defense Policy Board member Mr. Kenneth Adelman is eating his words. Appropriately so since he said a war in Iraq would be a cakewalk. Perhaps he'd like some ice cream to go with that.

And these are just some of the people advising Donald Rumsfeld who in turn is advising President George W. Bush. Based on their overall ability to judge conflict of interest, I'm not surprised their ability to judge conflict in general is misguided at best. Inept at worst. Greedy for sure.

Saturday, March 29

the news at 11:09 pm

Late Friday night, while you were sleeping and when all of the important news usually sneaks out from the dark back alleys of Washington DC, it was announced in a New York Times article that Bechtel is a top contender in bidding for construction projects in post war Iraq. Just hours earlier, Newsweek hinted Halliburton had pulled out of the bidding process because Cheney is their former CEO. Phew. Wouldn't want a conflict of interest tainting reconstruction of a post war Iraq.

Oops. There's a new problem.

Former Secretary of State George P. Shultz is on the board of directors at Bechtel. Oops again. There's a second problem. George P. Shultz is also on the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee.

That's the same committee Richard Perle just relinquished the chairmanship of earlier this week. Perle had a bit of a problem with potential conflict of interest because he's in the middle of advising Global Crossing on potential defense contracts. (Don't worry, Perle's still on the DPBAC. He's just not the chair anymore.)

But, oops thrice! There's a third problem. George P. Shultz is also on the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq with Richard Perle and James Woolsey. The Committee for the Liberation of Iraq advises Condoleeza Rice on Iraq policy. James Woolsey, coincidentally, is also on the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee. Makes you wonder which of the companies Woolsey is affiliated with are currently participating in the bidding process for reconstruction in post war Iraq.

Maybe we'll find out next Friday night.

Friday, March 28

Dear Tom,

I enjoy reading your dispatch. You had recommended I should read Tom Barry to understand the inner connections of this administration. It was a great recommendation. I have learned alot in the last few months. None of it pleasing but better informed than ignorant.

I'm hoping you have read about the new Carnegie report: Origins of Regime Change in Iraq

There has been some speculation on recent discussion lists that the energy meetings of Vice President Dick Cheney were actually being used to discuss post-war reconstruction of Iraq's energy industry.

This premise makes alot of sense when you consider Cheney wouldn't turn over his notes or agenda That and Cheney commissioned a report "Strategic Energy Policy Challenges For The 21ST Century" from the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy of Rice University and the Council on Foreign Relations(CFR). Meetings were held thru December, January, and February 2000–01. Convenient timing.

Cheney was also a member of the Committee to Preserve American Security and Sovereignty (COMPASS) which published a letter to President Clinton that advocated the rejection of the Kyoto Treaty. Signed by Cheney and 11 others, they made their views well known and shared them publicly.

and (which I know you know already......)

Dick Cheney was a founding member of the Project for the New American Century in 1997. In advance of the quadrennial review, PNAC published a report Rebuilding America's Defenses on which the current National Security Strategy is based.

It starts to make alot of sense that Cheney's energy meetings were about alot more than energy policy and wether or not conservation would play a role. For once, his refusal to turn over the notes makes perfect sense if he was hiding an invasion of Iraq.

I'm enclosing excerpts from the Baker report. I'm hoping you might find some use for it. If Cheney's meetings were about post-war Iraq reconstruction and the oil industry, we have been more seriously lied to than any of us could have thought.

Best wishes,

PS I think you will recognise some of the language and themes used below.

Strategic Energy Policy Challenges For The 21ST Century

Excerpt from Section I (e) under Recommendations is as follows:

Review policies toward Iraq with the aim to lowering anti-Americanism in the Middle East and elsewhere, and set the groundwork to eventually ease Iraqi oil-field investment restrictions. Iraq remains a destabilizing influence to U.S. allies in the Middle East, as well as to regional and global order, and to the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle East. Saddam Hussein has also demonstrated a willingness to threaten to use the oil weapon and to use his own export program to manipulate oil markets. This would display his personal power, enhance his image as a "Pan Arab" leader supporting the Palestinians against Israel, and pressure others for a lifting of economic sanctions against his regime.

The United States should conduct an immediate policy review toward Iraq, including military, energy, economic, and political/diplomatic assessments. The United States should then develop an integrated strategy with key allies in Europe and Asia and with key countries in the Middle East to restate the goals with respect to Iraqi policy and to restore a cohesive coalition of key allies. Goals should be designed in a realistic fashion, and they should be clearly and consistently stated and defended to revive U.S. credibility on this issue. Actions and policies to promote these goals should endeavor to enhance the well-being of the Iraqi people. Sanctions that are not effective should be phased out and replaced with highly focused and enforced sanctions that target the regime’s ability to maintain and acquire weapons of mass destruction. A new plan of action should be developed to use diplomatic and other means to support U.N. Security Council efforts to build a strong arms-control regime to stem the flow of arms and controlled substances into Iraq. Policy should rebuild coalition cooperation on this issue, while emphasizing the common interest in security. This issue of arms sales to Iraq should be brought near the top of the agenda for dialogue with China and Russia.

Some of the Task Force members who contributed to this report are:

KENNETH LAY former Chairman and CEO of Enron Corporation.

JOHN A. MANZONI is Regional President for British Petroleum in the eastern United States.

STEVEN L. MILLER is Chairman of the board of directors, President, and CEO of Shell Oil Company.

EDWARD L. MORSE is currently Executive Advisor at Hess Energy Trading Co.

DAVID O'REILLY has been named Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer for Chevron/Texaco.

JEFFERSON B. SEABRIGHT is Vice President of Policy Planning for Texaco Inc

ENZO VISCUSI is Group Senior Vice President and Representative for the Americas of Eni, the Italian-based integrated energy company, where he also serves as Chairman of Agip Petroleum Co. Inc

CHUCK WATSON is the Chairman and chief executive officer of Houston Dynegy Inc.

Thursday, March 27

peace and the poet

on the seashore
tonight moonlit
not bright
as bodies come
washing ashore
dead before alive
not a single soul
this war of lies
and freedom
no more


Wednesday, March 26

up, up, down, up

So what are gas prices like in your neck of the woods? Regular gas at my local station was a bit down from its high of 2.59 last Tuesday to 2.33 a gallon today. I filled up the tank. These days it's probably best to read the latest news before making a trip to the pump.

How did we get here? It seems as if our world has only two wells: oil and power. The power to control the oil as well as the power the oil actually creates.Its amazing how much wasted energy there is behind those three words: oil and power. Shouldn't we be conservative with both our oil and our power?

Oil for power is more than just fuel for my little pick up truck's engine. If the war in Iraq has nothing to do with oil, then why are the gas prices fluctuating so much? Some say that's just a symptom of war. But all of our recent wars have certainly been about power. And power and its control are oil driven. Would we fight the same wars for control over energy from the sun?

The deeper down I go into the wells of oil and power, the more I wonder and worry, where will the next war be? And when will water be next?

Tuesday, March 25

666 days to go

Anyone else weirded out that today there are 666 days left in this administration? Freaky since it coincides nicely with a war in Iraq. Iraq is located in the Cradle of Civilization thought to be the origin of the Garden of Eden. Shock and Awe also has another meaning and unfortunately, its religious. President Bush is a born again Christian since he swore off drinking for Christ. The symbolism may not have been lost on hawkish advisors or Bush Jr. Certainly those fervently praying for the end times must be pleased. Jesus is just around the corner ready to take them up in the rapture. I'm just not so certain that Jesus had it in mind to kill people to expedite the process for his return. I was always under the impression he died on the cross for us sinners. I don't think he wants us sinning even more than we already have--for him. But what do I know? I'm not a theologian or a bible scholar. I'm just a news junkie.

Aries: You can feel a wave of exuberance wash over you, and although it may feel refreshing, it also feels out of place. You know that you should be more serious about everything now, as these are serious times. But there is an irrepressible feeling building within you that it’s all going to work out for the best. Let events take their own course.

Happy Birthday Mummy.

Monday, March 24

Storm Clouds

The sky is really dark and ominous looking today. At a different time, I would have said rain. But today, I think the clouds are reflecting the thoughts and feelings of Americans.

As I was out and about on the 101, a car came up beside me, the driver rolled down his window and winked. Can't say that happens very often or ever to be honest. It wasn't until I had parked my little pickup that I realized the driver was probably commenting on my bumper sticker: war is not the answer. I got two more honks on my way home. Peace needs more bumper stickers out there.

Had a discussion with someone who supports the war. After the pros and cons, and as I was ready to leave I said peace love and everything else good. "He's the conservative and I'm the liberal." said a colleague. "Even conservatives don't like war." says I. At which the conservative admitted, "No one likes war." "Then may it end quickly."

Aljazeera is now available in English for all who are interested in an Arabic perspective. According to its banner, its a temporary site so the link may change in the future.

Food for thought and JP.

Sunday, March 23

War and anti-war

War news is everywhere today. Its hard to keep up and sort thru the fact and the fiction of what's going on in Iraq. Yesterday, Steve and I went to the Stop the War march and rally in Hollywood. The march was smaller than the one in the pouring rain just a week ago. What struck me was the attitutde. This one was very loud and energetic. It almost felt like a victory parade with the number of banners and flags flying. American included. I was expecting a somber and depressed, almost vanquished feeling, among marchers. Quite the opposite.

imho, this is the beginning of taking back the country for We the People. While large corporations may own the media and influence the un-questionning, the country belongs to We, the People as in all of the people.

Some great op-eds came out yesterday. Wow. The American media is writing again instead of kissing up and censoring itself. The Washington Post even redeemed itself with a column by Michael Kinsley. Common Dreams is probably the best place to go for a quick overview if you don't have time to jump around the net.

Everyone is talking about who is going to benefit from this disaster I like to call How Not to Conduct Foreign Relations. Very few in the administration are talking about who is going to pay the bill. Can you imagine launching a war without a budget? And who is going to pay for all of that reconstruction?

btw: much of the policy for this administration is developed and proposed by think tanks As outside advisors, there are no ethics or conflict of interest parameters that prevent them from sitting on the board of a major defense or security corporation while advising the government. One should always keep this in mind. The pundit you see on television, may in fact be a think tanker attempting to sway public opinion in favor of their own institutional policy.

Friday, March 21

Where did you read that?

Steve is always asking me where I read something.'s an abbreviated list of some of the sites I look at for news. It also helps I'm on several discussion lists and members share links to good articles and op eds. There is tons of news out there. When all else fails, google. Because of the war and the fact I don't speak Arabic, I've been visiting online Arabic news sites thru the translation portal Tarjim/Ajeeb. Its a month long subscription $ which is too bad since I'm really enjoying it. I have until April 19th. One of the downsides though is it gives you a word limit. I wrote more about this below. And about the news in general: always double check who is being quoted or sourced in an article. More often than not, there's a back story. Its especially true these days in American main stream media. I'll write more about this at a later date.

General Foreign News:

Missionary News Service (misna) of the Southern Hemisphere is news from remote areas. This is a favorite of mine.
Guide to newspapers all over the world. Good to have if you need to find a paper in the Azores. (There were 500 demonstrators at the airport to greet Bush for the recent Azores summit. Did you know? You do now.)
Translations online: In addition to English, I read Italian, French and I'm learning Spanish. But when I'm not sure, I visit the babelfish
Media Reports of the BBC is news before its news!!
France's leading paper is LeMonde Love those French! Give me french fries or give me Dorothy Sayers.
International Herald Tribune is a European daily for Americans living oversees.

Israel and Palestine:

Arons Israel Peace Blog looks at Israel, Peace and Palestine in the news. Its a great blog.
Electronic Intifada is news and diaries from Palestine.
Israel’s left leaning newspaper Ha'artez is available in English or Hebrew. It sometimes tips to the right. Amira Hass is a regular contributor so look for her editorials.


Where is Raed? A weblog written from Baghdad in English.
Electronic Iraq is the sister site to Electronic Intifada reporting from Baghdad in English.

Arab and Muslim Affairs:

Afghanistan and Pakistan and other countires in the general vicinity (or not) Frontline Dispatch is guerilla news from 2 guys from Pasadena. Yup. They went to Tora Bora. They might pop up anywhere though.
Al-Jazeera is Arabic CNN. Here is the English language site entered thru Cursor that is free but not as good as Tarjim/Ajeeb $ Click on "Al-Jazeera's Web site in English" in the right hand column. Then enter on the translation page after the http:// and hit return. If it doesn't load or appear to be loading, close the new window. Go back to the Tarjim/Ajeeb translation page and hit return again. Back buttons rarely work. And if you visit often, different articles will load in English than earlier as well as different links will work. Why? No idea.
Tarjim/Ajeeb is an Arab English translation portal that also includes other news sites besides Al-Jazeera $ Please note: that even though it is based on a monthly fee, you also have a word limit. A typical visit to a news site will use approximately 5-6,000 words.

Alternative and editorial pages (What is alternative these days? So many are so popular, I don't know what to call them anymore):

Info Shop is a list of alternative news sites. It is a must-must-have list in pdf format.
News Insider is under reported news.
Indymedia is good for upcoming protests and speaker info - click on your city or go and visit another country. Self publishing and announce lists available and open (generally) to all.
Tbogg is a blog of commentary with links. How does he keep a sense of humor?
The Agonist is commentary with links. is self explanatory. If its anti-war in the news, its here.

Mainstream Alternative – bigger than a breadbox but not the NYTimes

Common Dreams posts editorials. Check out Ari & I by Russell Mokhiber for really dark comedy. Patriot Act II is not a musical.
Salon but for the good stuff you pay for Table Talk and exclusive articles and so worth it!! $$ But if you don't have the dinero, you can always lurk on TT and read the threads. White House is where I hang out.
Truth Out loved Paul Wellstone. A truly great great man.

Politics. Ok, strictly lib politics. I can give you the links to neo-con sites but I don't want to scare you. (jeepers freepers btw)

Foreign Policy in Focus is great stuff if you want to 'get' what its about. Be sure to check out articles by Tom Barry and Jim Lobe.
The Note is a must read for those interested in DC politics and comes with biting commentary too.
Failure is Impossible What is astroturf and why is it bad for newspapers? Find out here.
Democratic Underground and have a look at the discussion threads for gossip and breaking news.

Mainstream news that is a must or should read


New York Times is not as good as it used to be. Start reading the foreign press and you'll see what I mean.
The New Yorker
Washington Post has gone over to the dark side
Los Angeles Times
The Nation
MSN Slate Magazine is sometimes annoying but usually entertaining.

United Kingdom:

Guardian Unlimited why don't they make American papers this good anymore?
The Independent is great. Be sure to check out Robert Fisk. He really knows the Middle East and he's not pleased.
BBC news service - my home page.
Media Reports of the BBC is news before its news.
The London Times Can you believe they have etiquette pages?

Astrology and Politics
If you want to know what the stars are saying - these sites have hit the nail on the head too many times to ignore.

Star IQ runs a weekly market update too.
Political and Mundane Astrology is opinion and politics from an Astrologers Perspective
Starlight News is by Nancy Waterman.
Planet Waves is written by Eric Francis and is very cool. He also has a weekly newsletter for $ a small fee.
Online Astrology Charts just click on the simple birth charts. You can do events this way too. Did I mention that they are free?

I'm a newbie learning the techie stuff so everyone has to be patient.

Gore Vidal

Steve took me to see Gore Vidal at UCLA's Royce hall the other night. It was hosted by the host of Working Assets, Laura Flanders. Its always great to hear an impassioned speaker. Thought provoking would be an understatement (and make it sound like the review of a cheap political kiss and tell). There are alot of very un-answered questions today. Where is Osama is one, though that's not the question he raised. He simply asked, what do we know about 9-11? Frighteningly little. And it does seem crystal clear no one wants us to know or ask. Appointing Kissinger to head the investigation was a joke--one thankfully even he thought better of since he did step down. Asking questions. That might need to be a new amendment protected under the constitution. Vidal has a new book out, Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta. Did you know Gore Vidal is a WW2 vet?