I can say nothing that won’t make my brain explode. Via.
I had forgotten he was coming back yesterday, but I won’t miss today. Via.
Chris Hayes has been all over the West, Texas explosion and the egregious lack of oversight. The last safety “inspection of the West fertilizer plant happened in– 1985.”
Two Bush administration officials, Christine Todd Whitman, who was head of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Tom Ridge, who was head of Homeland Security, came up with a plan to deal with the vulnerability. Whitman believed the EPA was already empowered to expand her agency’s oversight of chemical plants under a section of the Clean Air Act, and she and Ridge worked out a deal to do so.
That is until the son-in-law of former vice president dick Cheney walked into the room, a guy by the name of Phillip Perry, who was at the time the general counsel of the White House Office of Management and Budget. And he made it clear the Bush administration was not going to support granting regulatory authority over chemical security to the EPA.
Basically, the Bush administration, from above, pulled support for that bill because the chemical industry did not want to be regulated by the EPA.
Fast forward a few years to 2007, and Phil Perry, again dick Cheney’s son-in-law, is now over at the Department of Homeland Security as the department’s general counsel.
And what he manages to do in an uncontroversial bill, an appropriations rider, is slip in industry friendly language into the bill that moves the task of regulating chemical plants from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Department of Homeland Security. But– DHS is given none of the tools it would need to actually do that.
So let’s recap. The Bush administration’s own cabinet secretaries come up with plan to regulate these chemical plants. It is stymied by Phil Perry once. The Bush administration sides with the chemical industry when it’s brought before the Congress and then basically in a back room maneuver, Perry does the chemical agency’s bidding by moving the oversight of this from the EPA, which the chemical industry hates, to DHS, which the chemical industry thinks they can more easily manipulate.
Now, go ahead to six years. The West Fertilizer Company is storing more than 1300 times the amount of ammonium nitrate that would normally trigger safety oversight by DHS.
It does appear now not only did DHS literally have no idea that the West Fertilizer Company was storing ammonium nitrate, but according to Congresswoman Betty Thompson, a democrat from Mississippi, DHS did not know the plant existed until it blew up.
Now, here’s what makes this incredible. In 2006, when a bill was introduced in the Senate to make chemical plants safer, a bill that was blocked by Republicans, the young Senator who introduced that bill was this man:
Please, just go read the entire article at The Guardian. It’s substantive, it’s a little long, but it’s a must-read.There’s video there, too. Two of the videos are only seconds long:
On the 10th anniversary of the Iraq invasion, the allegations of American links to the units that eventually accelerated Iraq’s descent into civil war cast the US occupation in a new and even more controversial light. The investigation was sparked over a year ago by millions of classified US military documents dumped onto the internet and their mysterious references to US soldiers ordered to ignore torture. Private Bradley Manning, 25, is facing a 20-year sentence, accused of leaking military secrets.
Steele’s contribution was pivotal. He was the covert US figure behind the intelligence gathering of the new commando units. [...]
Steele’s career hit an unexpected buffer when he was embroiled in the Iran-Contra affair. … While the congressional inquiry that followed put an end to Steele’s military ambitions, it did win him the admiration of then congressman Dick Cheney who sat on the committee and admired Steele’s efforts fighting leftists in both Nicaragua and El Salvador. [...]
But it was the actions of the commandos inside the detention centres that raises the most troubling questions for their American masters. Desperate for information, the commandos set up a network of secret detention centres where insurgents could be brought and information extracted from them.
The commandos used the most brutal methods to make detainees talk. … [T]hey knew exactly what was going on and were even supplying the commandos with lists of people they wanted brought in. [...]
“We were having lunch. Col Steele, Col Coffman, and the door opened and Captain Jabr was there torturing a prisoner. He [the victim] was hanging upside down and Steele got up and just closed the door, he didn’t say anything – it was just normal for him.“
David Petraeus’s name pops up a lot in the piece, too.
Will someone explain to me why there have been no prosecutions of Bush administration participants in these crimes? The details in the Guardian article are horrifying.
A terrible precedent has been set, and nobody has been held legally responsible. Rachel Maddow sure tried to make waves, but it seems that moment came and went pretty quickly.
Back to Dick Cheney, who tried to promote Jim Steele to general back in 1991:
The leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee, questioning the truthfulness of his testimony, refused to act on the Army`s request to promote Steele to brigadier general in 1988.
Defense Secretary Dick Cheney`s office then delayed a second attempt to promote Steele for more than 1 1/2 years while Iran-contra special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh also scrutinized Steele`s actions, several sources said. [...]
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who opposed Steele`s promotion in 1988, said he plans to urge Sens. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and John Warner (R-Va.), the committee`s ranking minority member, to stop it again… “Serious questions about Col. Steele`s role in the (contra supply) operations and his association with Oliver North have yet to be answered,” Harkin said.
If all this isn’t getting your blood boiling, check out these two posts. One is by my dear friend Jason Leopold: EXCLUSIVE: Mystery Behind Guantanamo Prisoner’s Suicide Endures, Despite Release of Autopsy Report.
The other is by another pal, Jeff Kaye: “A growing feeling here that death is the road out of Guantanamo”, which starts out with this:
“What would you do if your brother or uncle was kidnapped, sold, and beaten in a prison for 11 years without charge?”
Here’s my own recent update on Fayiz Al-Kandari: After 11 years, still no justice for this Kuwaiti Gitmo prisoner. #FreeFayiz.
I also covered the hunger strike here: Gitmo “is forgotten and its condemned men will never get an opportunity to prove their innocence or be free.”
All my previous posts on this subject matter can be found here; That link includes one specific to only *Fayiz al-Kandari’s story here.
Lt. Col. Barry Wingard is a military attorney who represents Fayiz Al-Kandari in the Military Commission process and in no way represents the opinions of his home state. When not on active duty, Colonel Wingard is a public defender in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
If you’d like to see ways you can take action, go here and scroll down to the end of the article.
More of Fayiz’s story here, at Answers.com.
If you missed this exposé of how the Bush administration snookered this country into a fraudulent war on a sovereign country that never invaded us, then here’s your chance. Please take a look and share widely.
Sadly, the Obama administration and many Congress members want to “look forward, as opposed to looking backwards” instead of investigating and eventually prosecuting those who might have broken the law:
Here are a few excerpts from the text:
By the end of 2002, the U.S military is headed to the Gulf. Congress is on board, as are British Prime Minister Tony Blair and most of the mainstream media. The stage is set for war. [...]
We were moving along the path of getting a good inspection going that would probably come to fruition one way or the other, but once you start military forces flowing to the extent that we did for Iraq, it’s hard to pull them back.
As the inevitable moves closer, President Bush reargues the case and ups the ante with 16 infamous words in a state of the union address: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”
That would be yellowcake, again. But by referring to a six-month-old British white paper, the president does an end-run around a claim discredited by his own intelligence service.
It wasn’t a matter of lying about this or lying about that, but rather through the artistry of speech writers and case presenters, conveying an impression to the American people that certain things were true.
It’s a real sleight of hand. And I think it’s kind to call that disingenuous.
He walked into my office with a sheaf of papers in my hand and he threw them down on the desk and said that’s the script of my presentation at the United Nations. it came from the vice president’s office. It was junk. It was pure junk. I was in charge of putting it together. [...]
On February 5th, 2003, the moment of truth arrives. The 4,701st meeting of the Security Council is called to order.
The world witnesses Colin Powell deliver the ultimate argument for war against Iraq. [...]
As he is talking about this and showing vials of white powder and so forth, I turned to a woman next to me who had followed this whole case of Curveball much more closely than I, I said, “What the hell is going on?” And my colleague said, “I don’t know. I don’t know what is going on. What is this?”
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Lt. Col Barry Wingard is the lawyer for Gitmo detainee Fayiz Al-Kandari. For their ongoing story + related topics, please click on the link below:
Kuwaiti Citizen Detained at Guantanamo since 2002
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