The State of America

America Part 2

Corporate mergers is capitolism gone bad when competition is reduced and the rich get richer while the poor get poorer!

The gap between the rich and poor is steadly increasing!

Oil companies, mega-mergers, and biggest profits ever for any corporation on record with biggest prices ever for consumers!

It was former Vice President George Bush, Sr. in President Reagan's administration that helped cancel alternative energy programs in the 1980s.

The Bush's lust for oil mainly for their personal gain.

Free America from dependence on foreign oil resources. America can become energy independent by converting from gasoline to alternative fuels that are safer and cleaner. To quickly begin American energy independence, legislation has to be introduced now that would mandate all new gasoline-powered vehicles be "Flex Fuel" compliant within three years.

Getting away from oil that fuels terrorism and war with lower cost alternative-energy would start a new American renaissance!

Flex fuel vehicles can run on either gasoline or fuels such as methanol and ethanol.
An Energy Revolution By Robert Zubrin Bad idea because it means less mileage range per tank. Even worse, it will drive up the price of food and cost of vehicles. A no win situation and bigger lose to your wallet! It could increase methane pollution! The problem with alcohol is it burns fast and would take a much bigger tank! The World of Electric, Hybrid & Fuel Cell Vehicles International Association for Hydrogen Energy
The American Hydrogen Association

Hydrogen's Dirty Secret by Barry C. Lynn
Hydrogen Economy Might Impact Earth's Stratosphere American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology

Mandatory Draft Coming Soon?

This bill is to draft ages 18 to 42!
Universal National Service Act of 2006
Sponsor: Rep Rangel, Charles B. [D-NY-15] (introduced 2/14/2006)

These bills will require two years of military or other national service for all men and women ages 18-26, with no educational deferments possible. Senate Bill House Bill [did not pass the House]

President Bush's two daughters recently graduated from college. They are not going to join the military and go to Iraq. Not even a question about it from the mainstream news media!

Remember Those Who Gave Their All So That We Could Be A Free Nation! Military Casualty Information Those killed supporting Operation Enduring Freedom Those killed supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans of Foreign Wars of United States American Legion

In 1991, the United States and its Persian Gulf War allies blasted Iraq vehicles with armor-piercing shells made of depleted uranium. It was the first time such weapons had been used in warfare. Nearly 12 years after the use of the super-tough weapons, the battlefield remains a radioactive toxic wasteland. National Gulf War Resource Center Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation American Gulfwar Veterans Association Gulf War Syndrome Serving the Gulf War Veteran Community Veterans Against The Iraq War

Reports by the US Senate's Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, which oversees American exports policy, reveal that under the former administrations of Ronald Reagan and George Bush, Sr. the US sold materials including anthrax, VX nerve gas, fever germs and botulism to Iraq right up until March 1992, as well as germs similar to tuberculosis and pneumonia. Other bacteria sold included brucella melitensis, which damages major organs, and clostridium perfringens, which causes gas gangrene. Classified US Defense Department documents show that Britain sold Iraq the drug pralidoxine, an antidote to nerve gas, in March 1992, after the end of the Gulf war. Pralidoxine can be reverse engineered to create nerve gas.

The Senate committee's reports on 'US Chemical and Biological Warfare-Related Dual-Use Exports to Iraq', undertaken in 1992 in the wake of the Gulf war, give the date and destination of all US exports. The reports show, for example, that on May 2, 1986, two batches of bacillus anthracis (the micro-organism that causes anthrax) were shipped to the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education, along with two batches of the bacterium clostridium botulinum, the agent that causes deadly botulism poisoning.

One batch each of salmonella and E coli were shipped to the Iraqi State Company for Drug Industries on August 31, 1987. Other shipments went from the US to the Iraq Atomic Energy Commission on July 11, 1988; the Department of Biology at the University of Basrah in November 1989; the Department of Microbiology at Baghdad University in June 1985; the Ministry of Health in April 1985 and Officers' City, a military complex in Baghdad, in March and April 1986.

The shipments to Iraq went on even after Saddam Hussein ordered the gassing of the Kurdish town of Halabja, in which at least 5000 men, women and children died. The atrocity, which shocked the world, took place in March 1988, but a month later the components and materials of weapons of mass destruction were continuing to arrive in Baghdad from the US.

The Senate report also makes clear that: 'The United States provided the government of Iraq with 'dual use' licensed materials which assisted in the development of Iraqi chemical, biological and missile-system programs.'

This assistance, according to the report, included 'chemical warfare-agent precursors, chemical warfare-agent production facility plans and technical drawings, chemical warfare filling equipment, biological warfare-related materials, missile fabrication equipment and missile system guidance equipment'.

During the Reagan and Bush administrations in the 1980s, the United States supported Iraq's war effort against Iran.
How The US Armed Saddam With Chemical Weapons By Norm Dixon
U.S._support_for_Iraq in the 1980s
Government Officials Profited from Illegal Arming of Iraq by Tom Flocco
Rumsfeld Backed Saddam Even After Chem Attacks By Andrew Buncombe
The two faces of Rumsfeld by Randeep Ramesh

Vaccine Formally Linked To Gulf War Syndrome

Pentagon Still Hiding Data From BioChem Test On US Sailors By Robert Gehrke

A vanished dream By John Brand Soldiers for The Truth Foundation The Military records of George Walker Bush,13918,1146191,00.html George's war Bush's National Guard files 'thrown out'
FedEx Pilot Bob Mintz, backed up by a Carolina colleague, recalls no Dubya at Dannelly AFB in 1972.
Bush Service Still Unclear By Dan Froomkin


The School of the Americas (SOA), in 2001 renamed the “Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation,” is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers, located at Fort Benning, Georgia. The SOA trains Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics. School of Americas Watch
The SOA is frequently dubbed the “School of Assassins.” Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been tortured, raped, assassinated, disappeared, massacred, and forced into refugee by those trained at the School of Assassins says this website.

Bush's Secret 2003 Thanksgiving

Stars and Stripes, the Pentagon-authorized newspaper of the U.S. military, is blowing the whistle on President Bush's Thanksgiving visit to Baghdad, saying the cheering soldiers who met him were pre-screened and others showing up for a turkey dinner were turned away.

The newspaper, quoting two officials with the Army's 1st Armored Division in an article last week, reported that "for security reasons, only those preselected got into the facility during Bush's visit. . . . The soldiers who dined while the president visited were selected by their chain of command, and were notified a short time before the visit."

The paper also published a letter to the editor from Sgt. Loren Russell, who wrote of the heroism of his soldiers and then added: "[I]magine their dismay when they walked 15 minutes to the Bob Hope Dining Facility, only to find that they were turned away from their evening meal because they were in the wrong unit. . . . They understand that President Bush ate there and that upgraded security was required. But why were only certain units turned away?"

Russell added that his soldiers "chose to complain amongst themselves and eat MREs, even after the chow hall was reopened for 'usual business' at 9 p.m. As a leader myself, I'd guess that other measures could have been taken to allow for proper security and still let the soldiers have their meal."

Since Bush made that secret trip to Iraq the secret flight itself continues to cause turbulence.

The controversy began when the White House said Air Force One was spotted by a British Airways plane but the president's pilots told the dubious British Airways pilots by radio that they were flying a Gulfstream V. The White House later said there was no British Airways plane involved and the conversation took place between British air traffic control and another plane while Air Force One was "off the western coast of England."

As it happens, Air Force One was flying across the North Sea, off the eastern coast of England, when it was spotted by the mystery plane, a German charter jet.

Of more concern, air traffic controllers in Britain are seething over the flight, in which the president's 747, falsely identified as a Gulfstream, traveled through British airspace. Prospect, the controllers union in the United Kingdom, says the flight broke international regulations, posed a potential safety threat and exposed a weakness in the air defense system that could be exploited by terrorists.

"The overriding concern is if the president's men who did this can dupe air traffic control, what's to stop a highly organized terrorist group from duping air traffic control?" asked David Luxton, Prospect's national secretary. Luxton said the flight was in "breach" of regulations against filing false flight plans set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, which he said should apply to a military aircraft using civilian airspace.

Luxton said that by identifying itself as a Gulfstream V instead of the much larger 747, Air Force One could have put itself and other airplanes in danger. The Gulfstream can climb faster and maneuver more nimbly than a 747, which means controllers could have assumed the president's plane was capable of a collision-avoiding maneuver that it couldn't actually do. And the "wake vortex" of a 747, much larger than a Gulfstream's, could jeopardize smaller planes that were told by unsuspecting controllers to follow in the mislabeled plane's wake.

Luxton said "It's important air traffic control have an accurate picture of what's up there in the sky they're controlling," he said.

The White House has declined to elaborate further on the flight plan and other security measures of that top secret trip.


Bush Exploits Photo of Dead Bodies, Despite Ban

911 Families Disgusted By Bush Campaign Ads By Mark Egan
Some 9/11 Relatives Angered by Bush Ads By Liz Sidoti


Greenspan Testimony Highlights Bush Plan for Deliberate Federal Bankruptcy By Michael Meurer

Bush's Plan to Loot Social Security By Norman D. Livergood


Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner has published an analysis which suggests that the White House and Pentagon made up or distorted more than 50 news stories related to the war in Iraq.

Richard Perle, a chief proponent of 2003's U.S. invasion of Iraq, called for the chiefs of the Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency to step down because of their faulty conclusions that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

"George Tenet has been at the CIA long enough to assume responsibility for its performance," Perle told reporters, referring to the director of the agency. "There's a record of failure and it should be addressed in some serious way."

"The CIA has an almost perfect record of getting it wrong in relation to the (Persian) Gulf going back to the Shah of Iran," Perle said. He called for "a shakeup" in the U.S. intelligence establishment.

"I think, of course, heads should roll," he said. "When you discover that you have an organization that doesn't get it right time after time, you change the organization, including the people.

"I'd start with the head head," Perle said when asked which heads should roll at the CIA. Perle said the DIA " is in at least as bad shape as CIA (and) needs new management."

Navy Vice-Adm. Lowell Jacoby has headed the agency since July, 2002.

David Kay, former head of the U.S. weapons-hunting team in Iraq, has concluded it was highly unlikely that Saddam possessed stockpiles of such weapons.

"It turns out we were all wrong, probably, in my judgment, and that is most disturbing," Kay said last month.

Perle, the former chairman of — and current member of — the Defense Policy Board, a senior level advisory panel to Rumsfeld, was an advocate for overthrowing Saddam, asserting in the months leading up to the war that the Iraqi dictator's weapons stockpiles posed a grave threat to the United States.

Tenet was first appointed by president Bill Clinton and confirmed by the Senate in 1997 and then moved over to the Bush administration after the 2000 election. His agency has been criticized for the Iraqi weapons episode and for failing to detect the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist strikes.


RICHARD PERLE, the former US Assistant Defence Secretary and Hollinger International board member, is under investigation for allegedly failing to disclose bonuses worth about $3 million (1.6 million) which he received for running an investment scheme, The Times has learnt.

Mr Perle, a vocal supporter of President Bush, was awarded the money as a reward for investing Hollinger shareholder funds in a series of separate businesses. Mr Perle also held a stake in some of those businesses. While the scheme put Hollinger International shareholders’ money at risk, it was never disclosed to them.


The White House is declining to make public the financial histories of the commissioners President Bush appointed to investigate U.S. intelligence failures.

Administration officials say the arrangement has helped to attract the best-qualified people, but critics say the White House's refusal to disclose financial information raises questions about potential conflicts of interest that could cloud the commission's work.

Citing an exemption to federal ethics regulations, the White House says the financial-disclosure statements filed by the commission's nine members will remain confidential because they are not being paid for their work.

"The president was looking for highly qualified, well-respected individuals to serve on a temporary basis, and he thought that this was the best way to set up the commission," said Erin Healy, a White House spokeswoman.

Experts said the White House's refusal to make public the commission's business links may fuel questions about its independence and taint its investigation into one of the Bush administration's biggest potential political vulnerabilities: the quality of intelligence used to justify the Iraq war.

In addition to issues of financial disclosure, some critics of the Bush administration have charged that political interests could influence its findings.

Laurence Silberman, a conservative judge who is one of the commission's two co-chairmen, has drawn criticism because of his judicial record and close ties to the Bush administration. Several other commissioners also have financial links to groups in the Middle East and the defense industry that could become involved in the inquiry.

"This is a critical commission, and if the White House is going to withhold basic information about its members that should be made public, that's a shame," said Bill Allison, a spokesman for the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit that tracks government ethics issues.

One high-level commission that does make public the financial interests of its members is the panel created by Congress and the White House in late 2002 to investigate the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But it, too, has been dogged by charges of conflicts of interest.

The original chairman of the Sept. 11 commission, Henry Kissinger, stepped down because he said resolving potential conflicts of interest would have meant liquidating his consulting firm, while his vice chairman, former Sen. George Mitchell, stepped aside in part because of an unwillingness to sever ties with his law firm.

The commission's current executive director and a commissioner also have been interviewed by the intelligence commission about their knowledge of intelligence activities leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks, spurring charges of a conflict from some of the victims' survivors.

Bush administration officials and ethics specialists said that when politicians seek to appoint people with broad experience to serve on important commissions, charges of conflicts arise almost inevitably because those people usually have extensive contacts in business and global affairs as well.

"It's a problem that's endemic to Washington," said Stan Brand, a Washington, D.C., lawyer specializing in government ethics. "If this commission is really going to conduct a wide-ranging review of intelligence gathering, at some point its members are going to bump into individuals or entities of the kind that they've represented, and they're going to have to confront that by sealing themselves off from those clients."

Clearly the most scrutiny has fallen on Silberman, a senior part-time judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Conservatives hail him as a well-respected leader who has had a long career as a diplomat, law-enforcement official and jurist. But several liberal groups and Democratic lawmakers have attacked what they call his severe partisanship on and off the bench in episodes including the Iran-contra affair, the Whitewater investigation and accusations of sexual misconduct against former President Clinton.

Silberman acknowledged that he counts among his friends both Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. And he said, "I plead guilty to being something of a conservative," but added that this would not color his leadership of the commission.

As for the commission members' financial interests, Silberman said he was unaware that the White House planned to keep the information confidential, and he pledged to make his disclosure form available in the coming days.

The Bush administration continues to pay millions to the group that provided some questionable prewar intelligence on Iraq.

President Bush pardoned a former mayor of Plano, Texas, who pleaded guilty to bank fraud in 1996, the Justice Department announced Feb. 16, 2004.

David B. McCall Jr., who is battling cancer, served six months in prison for his role in fraudulent loans at the Plano Savings and Loan Association, which failed in the mid-1980s.

Officials in Plano, a Dallas suburb, earlier this month renamed a downtown plaza in McCall's honor for his service as mayor from 1956 to 1960.

McCall and four other men, including another former Plano mayor, were indicted in August 1995 on allegations they created a web of transactions designed to transfer troublesome loans from one institution to another.

Authorities said they wanted to hide difficulties from bank examiners and relieve borrowers of the need to repay the loans.

Remember the half-trillion dollar bailout that American taxpayers paid because of the Savings and Loan scandal after Reaganomics. It occurred during father Bush's administration in the early 1990s.
Where is Neil Bush the former director of the failed Silverado Savings?
Most recently, he was selling software to Florida schools governed by Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
Neil Bush Deals Detailed In Divorce Records
Bush Brother Tells Of Sex Adventures And Tangled Deals By Alec Russell
Bush kin strikes deal with Chinese firm
Bush's brother has US$400,000 contract with Chinese firm
Murky divorce details put Bush's brother in spotlight by Gary Younge
The Bush family saga
Consultant On Iraq Contracts Employed President's Brother By Stephen Fidler and Thomas Catan
Chinese mega-bucks for Bush brothers By Margie Burns
What a difference a vowel makes by Margie Burn
Neil Bush Divorce Produces Disclosures By Pam Easton

The government is still financing research to create powerful tools that could mine millions of public and private records for information about terrorists despite an uproar last year over fears it might ensnare innocent Americans.

Congress eliminated a Pentagon office developing the terrorist tracking technology because of the outcry over privacy implications. But some of those projects from retired Adm. John Poindexter's Total Information Awareness effort were transferred to U.S. intelligence offices, congressional, federal and research officials said.

In addition, Congress left undisturbed a separate but similar $64 million research program run by a little-known office called the Advanced Research and Development Activity (ARDA) that has used some of the same researchers as Poindexter's program.

"The whole congressional action looks like a shell game," said Steve Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, which tracks work by U.S. intelligence agencies. "There may be enough of a difference for them to claim TIA was terminated while for all practical purposes the identical work is continuing."

Poindexter's goal was to predict terrorist attacks by looking for telltale patterns of activity in passport applications, visas, work permits, driver's licenses, car rentals, airline ticket purchases and arrests, as well as credit transactions and education, medical and housing records.

But the research created a political uproar because such reviews of millions of transactions could put innocent Americans under suspicion. One of Poindexter's own researchers, David D. Jensen at the University of Massachusetts, has acknowledged that "high numbers of false positives can result."

Disturbed by the privacy implications, Congress last fall closed Poindexter's office, part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and barred the agency from continuing nearly all his research. Poindexter quit government, claiming his work was misunderstood.

But the work didn't die.

In killing Poindexter's office, Congress agreed to continue paying to develop highly specialized software to gather foreign intelligence on terrorists.

In a classified section summarized publicly, Congress gave money to the "National Foreign Intelligence Program," without openly identifying which intelligence agency would do the work.

It said the product of the research could only be used overseas or against non-U.S. citizens in this country, not against Americans on U.S. soil.

Congressional officials declined to say which Poindexter programs were killed and which were transferred, but people with direct knowledge of contracts said that the surviving programs included some of 18 data-mining projects known as Evidence Extraction and Link Discovery in Poindexter's research.

Poindexter's office described that research as "technology not only for `connecting the dots' that enable the U.S. to predict and pre-empt attacks, but also for deciding which dots to connect." It was among the government's most controversial research programs.

Ted Senator, who managed that research for Poindexter, told government contractors that mining data to identify terrorists "is much harder than simply finding needles in a haystack."

"Our task is akin to finding dangerous groups of needles hidden in stacks of needle pieces," he said. "We must track all the needle pieces all of the time."

Among Senator's 18 projects, Jensen's work shows how flexible such powerful software can be. Jensen used two online databases, the Internet Movie Database and the Physics Preprint Archive, to develop tools that would predict whether a movie would gross more than $2 million its opening weekend and would identify authoritative physics authors.

Jensen said in an interview Poindexter's staff liked his research because the data involved "people, and organizations and events, ... like the data in counterterrorism."

At the University of Southern California, Professor Craig Knoblock said he developed software that automatically extracted information from travel Web sites and telephone books and tracked changes over time.

Privacy advocates feared that if such powerful tools were developed without limits from Congress, government agents could use them on any database.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who fought to restrict Poindexter's office, is trying to force the executive branch to tell Congress about all its data-mining projects. He recently pleaded with a Pentagon advisory panel to propose rules on reviewing data that Congress could turn into laws.

ARDA sponsors corporate and university research on information technology for U.S. intelligence agencies. It is developing computer software that can extract information from databases as well as text, voices, other audio, video, graphs, images, maps, equations and chemical formulas. It calls its effort "Novel Intelligence from Massive Data."

ARDA said it has not given researchers government or private data and obeys privacy laws.

The project is part of its effort "to help the nation avoid strategic surprise, ... events critical to national security, ... such as those of September 11, 2001," the office said.

Poindexter had envisioned software that could quickly analyze "multiple petabytes" of data. One petabyte would fill the Library of Congress' space for 18 million books more than 50 times. It could hold 40 pages of text for each of the more than 6.2 billion humans on Earth.

ARDA said its software would have to deal with "typically a petabyte or more" of data. It noted that some intelligence data sources "grow at the rate of four petabytes per month." Experts said those are probably files with satellite surveillance images and electronic eavesdropping results.

The Poindexter and ARDA projects are vastly more powerful than other data-mining projects, like the Department of Homeland Security's CAPPS II program to classify air travelers or the six-state, Matrix anti-crime system funded by the Justice Department. They use commercial data-mining technology that Poindexter's office said would "take decades" to build "the new databases we need to combat terrorism."

In September 2002, ARDA awarded $64 million in contracts over three and a half years. The contracts went to more than a dozen companies and university researchers, including at least six who also had worked on Poindexter's program.

Congress threw these researchers into turmoil. Doug Lenat, the president of Cycorp Corp. in Austin, Texas, won't discuss his work but said he had an "enormous seven-figure deficit in our budget" because Congress shut down Poindexter's office.

Like many critics, James Dempsey of the Center for Democracy and Technology sees a role for properly regulated data-mining in evaluating the vast, under-analyzed data the government already collects.

But expansions of data mining increase "the risk of an innocent person being in the wrong place at the wrong time, of having rented the wrong apartment ... or having a name similar to the name of some bad guy," he said.

Instead of Admitting Economic Truth, Bush Resorts to Statistical Manipulation

A bipartisan, all-star roster of Nobel Prize winners and former federal science officials accused the Bush administration Feb. 18, 2004 of politicizing science.

"When scientific knowledge has been found to be in conflict with its political goals, the administration has often manipulated the process through which science enters into its decisions," charges a document signed by 60 scientists in an unprecedented joint effort by the leaders of the nation's science establishment.

They are calling for an independent congressional investigation of federal science-advisory policies.

Signers include 20 Nobel Prize winners and 19 recipients of the National Medal of Science, awarded by the president for outstanding contributions in the field. Nobel winners include former National Institutes of Health chief Harold Varmus to pioneering chemist Richard Smalley. Medal winners include H-bomb designer Richard Garwin and Harvard physicist Norman Ramsey, both advisers to Republican administrations.

"These are very distinguished scientists with years of public service," says science policy expert Al Teich of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

A separate, 46-page report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, a group that has been critical of administration defense policies, accompanied the statement. It details what the union says were politically influenced science findings in the areas of health, environment, agriculture and national security, among others.

White House Office of Science and Technology Policy chief John Marburger dismissed the criticism as a "conspiracy report" of "disconnected issues that rubbed somebody the wrong way." He said the administration must better explain its processes to scientists.

Researchers have been especially angry about administration moves to "peer review" federal regulations, excluding academic scientists while encouraging participation by scientists representing the regulated industry.

The report lists the following as objectionable practices, echoing past complaints from former government researchers:

• The removal of highly qualified scientists from lead-poisoning, environment, health and drug-abuse panels and their replacement with industry representatives.

• Forbidding EPA, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, and Interior Department scientists from speaking publicly.

• Revisions to the Endangered Species Act that limit scientists from commenting on the protection of habitats.

• The disbanding of advisory panels on nuclear weapons and arms control.

• The dismissal of assessments by national lab experts on the likelihood that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Marburger declined to address the scientists' specific complaints. He said he does not plan to bring the report to Bush's attention but hopes to involve federal agencies in responding to it.


The Bush administration quietly shelved a proposal to ban a gasoline additive that contaminates drinking water in many communities, helping an industry that has donated more than $1 million to Republicans.

The Environmental Protection Agency's decision had its origin in the early days of President Bush's tenure when his administration decided not to move ahead with a Clinton-era regulatory effort to ban the clean-air additive MTBE.

The proposed regulation said the environmental harm of the additive leaching into ground water overshadowed its beneficial effects to the air.

The Bush administration decided to leave the issue to Congress, where it has bogged down over a proposal to shield the industry from some lawsuits. That initiative is being led by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas.

A draft of the proposed regulation that former President Clinton's EPA sent to the White House on its last full day in office in January 2001.

It said: "The use of MTBE as an additive in gasoline presents an unreasonable risk to the environment."

The EPA document went on to say that "low levels of MTBE can render drinking water supplies unpotable due to its offensive taste and odor," and the additive should be phased out over four years.

"Unlike other components of gasoline, MTBE dissolves and spreads readily in the ground water ... resists biodegradation and is more difficult and costly to remove."

People say MTBE-contaminated water tastes like turpentine.

In Santa Monica, Calif., the oil industry will pay hundreds of millions of dollars because the additive contaminated the city's water supply.

"We're the poster child for MTBE, and it could take decades to clean this up," said Joseph Lawrence, the assistant city attorney.

In 2000, the MTBE industry's lobbying group told the Clinton administration that limiting MTBE's use by regulation "would inflict grave economic harm on member companies."

Three MTBE producers account for half the additive's daily output.

The three contributed $338,000 to George W. Bush's presidential campaign, the Republican Party and Republican congressional candidates in 1999 and 2000, twice what they gave Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Since then, the three producers have given just over $1 million to Republicans.

The producers are Texas-based Lyondell Chemical and Valero Energy and the Huntsman companies of Salt Lake City.

"This is a classic case of the Bush administration helping its campaign contributor friends at the expense of public health," said Frank O'Donnell, executive director of the Clean Air Trust, a Washington-based environmental group.

Huntsman spokesman Don Olsen, echoing comments by other MTBE producers, said, "We were not a huge campaign contributor and this has absolutely nothing to do with campaign donations. It has to do with good public policy."

The industry says it has become a victim in a Washington power struggle.

"Because of MTBE there has been a marked improvement in air quality and reduction in toxics in the air," Olsen said. "Because of leaking underground storage tanks in some relatively few instances, MTBE found its way into places it shouldn't be. But that has nothing to do with the product, which has done exactly what it was designed to do."

Said Valero Energy spokeswoman Mary Rose Brown: "It would have been impossible to fulfill the requirements of the Clean Air Act without MTBE."

A daily Washington newsletter disclosed the existence of the draft rule shortly after Bush's inauguration; outside the industry, few people noticed.

At the direction of White House chief of staff Andrew Card and Mitch Daniels, then the White House's budget director, all government agencies withdrew their pre-Inauguration Day draft regulations.

The EPA withdrew agency rules, including the MTBE one, in mid-February 2001, White House budget office spokesman Chad Kolton said.

In subsequent months, agencies rewrote many Clinton-era regulatory proposals and went public with them. The proposed MTBE regulation, however, never surfaced.

"As legislation looked more promising in 2002 and 2003, we focused our energies on supporting language in the Senate's energy bill," Jeffrey Holmstead, the EPA's assistant administrator for air quality, said in a statement.

"We have not ruled out the possibility of seeking a solution" by regulation, Holmstead said.

The EPA favors a phaseout of MTBE through legislation. But the legislation has stalled and it no longer calls for a ban in four years.

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, issued a statement calling the MTBE matter a case of the Bush administration "yet again putting special interests over America's interest." He pledged to "take on the big oil and gas companies and fight for clean water and a clean environment."

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said, "If the White House had not rejected this regulation, MTBE would be virtually eliminated by now and our groundwater would be protected." Waxman is the ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee.

On their own, 17 states banned the additive and dozens of communities are suing the oil industry.

"Nobody's talking about the trial lawyers campaign contributions to their supporters in Congress and its the trial lawyers who are the force behind these unjustified lawsuits," said Brown of Valero Energy.

To regulate MTBE, the EPA would have to use the Toxic Substances Control Act, which the agency considers cumbersome and unwieldy.

MTBE industry representative Scott Segal said, "It took EPA a decade to develop enough data to justify issuing a regulation for asbestos" under the law. "Even then, the courts still blocked it."

Bob Perciasepe, an EPA official during the Clinton administration, said a regulatory approach would have provided "a pressure point" to pass legislation.

Georgetown University law professor Lisa Heinzerling said regulating MTBE would be difficult, but "if we can't use the Toxic Substances Control Act to regulate MTBE, which has contaminated water supplies all over the country, then what can you use it for?"

Facts about the gasoline additive MTBE:

MTBE, or methyl tertiary butyl ether, is a petroleum-based oxygenate that has been used in gasoline since the 1970s to increase octane and reduce smog-causing emissions. Since 1990 it has been used widely in states with air quality problems to satisfy a federal requirement.

While credited for cutting air pollution, MTBE was found in the late 1990s to contaminate drinking water supplies when gasoline is spilled or leaks into surface or groundwater. Highly soluble, it moves faster and farther in water than other toxic gasoline components, and is harder to contain.

MTBE can make water undrinkable because of an unpleasant, turpentine-like smell and taste at even low concentrations. MTBE is considered by the Environmental Protection Agency as a potential carcinogen, having been found to cause cancer in laboratory mice at high concentrations.


The Bush administration is relaxing rules that say hospitals have to examine and treat people who require emergency medical care, regardless of their ability to pay. Under the new rule, which takes effect on Nov. 10, 2003, patients might find it more difficult to obtain certain types of emergency care at some hospitals or clinics that hospitals own and operate. The new rule makes clear that hospitals need not have specialists "on call" around the clock. The new rule limits the scope of a law from 1986 that defines hospital obligations. It expands the situations in which hospitals are exempt from the federal requirements.

The Bush administration has ended a 25-year-old ban on the sale of land polluted with PCBs. The ban was intended to prevent hundreds of polluted sites from being redeveloped in ways that spread the toxin or raise public health risks. The policy change opens a door for sales of property fouled with one of the most widespread pollutants of the post-World War II era. EPA officials and other experts estimate that more than 1,000 pieces of land nationwide are contaminated. PCBs are present at about 500 of the 1,598 pollution sites listed by the EPA as national cleanup priorities under its Superfund restoration program. The new interpretation was developed under EPA general counsel Robert Fabricant, who issued the Aug. 14, 2003, memo informing EPA staff.
Dirty Secrets By Osha Gray Davidson

Canada To Turn Over Citizen Tax Data To US By Tom Godfrey
Bucking The Dollar - Canada Being Bought Out, Sold Out By David L Gordon

The search of a journalist's home by RCMP officers seeking evidence in the Maher Arar case "smacks of a police-state mentality," said an outraged executive of CanWest Global Communication Corp.

Gordon Fisher, the company's president of news and information, said the rare move by the Mounties was an act "one might equate with the former Soviet Union rather than a Canadian democracy."

Ten RCMP officers with a search warrant arrived at 8 a.m. Jan. 21 (2004) at the home of Ottawa Citizen reporter Juliet O'Neill. The Citizen is owned by CanWest.

The warrants were authorized by a judge and allowed the Mounties to scour O'Neill's home for notebooks, documents, computer files, agendas and virtually any other information considered relevant.

Police searched for more than five hours as reporters gathered outside. The officers ignored questions as they left with a box of evidence.

Police were seeking the source of an alleged information leak stemming from a Nov. 8 story O'Neill wrote on Arar, an Ottawa telecommunications engineer who became entangled in the war against terrorism.

Arar, a Canadian citizen who hails from Syria, was deported to the country of his birth by U.S. authorities after being stopped in New York in 2002.

O'Neill's article cited "a security source" and a leaked document offering minute details of what Arar allegedly told Syrian military intelligence officials during his incarceration.

Following his release last fall, Arar said he was tortured for months by Syrian authorities who pressed him about any links to the al-Qaida terrorist network.

O'Neill reported that Arar told the Syrians he attended an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan in 1993.

Arar later insisted he only made a bogus confession under torture, and denied any involvement in terrorism. He has also called for a full public inquiry into what role Canadian police and intelligence officials might have played in his deportation. The federal government has so far rejected those calls.

Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan said earlier this month the Mounties would try to determine the names of sources who leaked information about the Arar case to the media. A spokeswoman for her office declined to comment.

Prime Minister Paul Martin said last month that he has seen no evidence of official wrongdoing in the Arar case, but has pledged to get to the bottom of the matter.

A spokeswoman for Martin flatly denied any suggestion that the Prime Minister's Office encouraged the RCMP search.

"This is really an operations matter for the RCMP," said Melanie Gruer. "We had no prior knowledge of this at all."

It is believed the RCMP initiated the probe of supposed leaks about Arar.

In recent years the Mounties have conducted several investigations into how classified documents - including government records about proposed changes to youth justice laws and an environmental initiative - ended up in the hands of media.

The search and the prospect that veteran journalist O'Neill may be charged under the federal Security of Information Act are disturbing signs of police intimidation, her bosses said.

"It is clear to us that the actions of today are meant to divert us from our attempts to inform the public of any role played by the RCMP, CSIS (the Canadian Security Intelligence Service) or the federal government in this matter," said Fisher of CanWest.

"We will not be deterred."

O'Neill, looking drained, emerged from her house with criminal defence lawyer Wendy Montgomery, who held up a copy of the search warrant for a crowd of photographers and reporters.

Another warrant was executed at O'Neill's office in the newspaper's city hall bureau.

The search warrants, approved by a judge, allowed police to seize any evidence considered relevant.

Police were conducting a probe into a possible breach of the Security of Information Act in relation to "alleged leaks of information regarding Mr. Arar," said Sgt. Gilles Deziel, an RCMP spokesman.

Ottawa Citizen editor-in-chief Scott Anderson said the RCMP searches were conducted in relation to Section 4 of the security act. It contains broad prohibitions against distribution or unauthorized possession of sensitive government materials.

The newspaper has asked the Crown to have anything taken from O'Neill's house sealed at the Ontario court "so that we can pursue action against this search warrant if necessary," Anderson said.

A conviction under the security law carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

The law, based largely on the former Official Secrets Act, was passed following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

Barry Wright, a law professor at Carleton University, says the Security of Information Act goes too far. "This is a chilling effect on freedom of the press and the public's right to know."

Federal watchdog bodies that keep an eye on the RCMP and CSIS are conducting separate inquiries into any role the respective agencies may have played in the Arar case.

PEN Canada, which campaigns for freedom of the press and expression worldwide, also condemned the raid.

"The ability of a reporter to protect his or her sources is at the core of a free and democratic society," said PEN spokesman Chris Waddell.

The organization demanded that all of the seized material be immediately returned and that the authorities apologize to O'Neill.


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Page revised March 25, 2006