2007 - %3, June

Informed Dissent: Get Informed, Get Involved

| Fri Jun. 1, 2007 4:47 PM PDT

Last week was the first annual Whistleblower Week in Washington and it gave whistleblowers and their advocates a chance to convene. In the May/June issue Daniel Schulman wrote about the Office of Special Counsel and its antagonistic attitude towards whistleblowers, the very people the agency is supposed to protect. To find out more about current whistleblower legislation, supporting, or becoming a whistleblower check out the most recent edition of the "Informed Dissent" newsletter.


Go here to sign up to receive Informed Dissent every two weeks. Get informed, get involved.

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Kos-Heads Love them Some Gore

| Fri Jun. 1, 2007 4:21 PM PDT

The wonky white guys over at the Daily Kos go coo-coo for Al Gore! A poll measuring readers' interest in a Gore presidential bid comes back with 50 percent saying either "I would abandon my current favorite, go strong for Gore" or "I don't have a current favorite, I've been waiting for Gore this whole time." The next most popular answer, with 13 percent, is "I would stay with my current favorite, but consider Gore."

Hard to say if these political junkies are representative, but if I were Gore, I'd be dusting off the Weight Watchers literature. Just sayin'.

Strange Science: Viagra-Fed Oysters

| Fri Jun. 1, 2007 3:50 PM PDT

An Australian oyster farmer is growing his mollusks in Viagra-laced waters. The Sydney Daily Telegraph reports that George May began dosing his oysters with the anti-impotence drug in a bid to sell them to overseas customers, calling them the ultimate aphrodisiac. May hopes to tap into what he calls a AU$300 million Asian market… Call me silly but couldn't you just, like, take a pill & then eat an oyster without polluting an entire water supply? --JULIA WHITTY

TB, the New Katrina

| Fri Jun. 1, 2007 3:45 PM PDT

Lawmakers are beginning to ask the obvious question: Why was a man identified as having a strongly drug-resistant form of tuberculosis allowed to fly on an international commercial flight and cross the border into the United States even after his passport had been flagged? Concerns about drug-resistant TB have been circulating for years, and you'd think we might have learned our lesson about allowing flagged travelers into the United States after 9/11. If that's not bad enough, the infected man, Andrew Speaker, has told the press that the Centers for Disease Control stonewalled his requests to provide him with non-commercial transportation from Europe to the Denver hospital that, they had informed him, was the only place that could to handle the virulent strain of TB. That treatment came despite the fact that his wife's father works at the CDC. The U.S. government is going to have to get its act together, because drug resistant illnesses are on the rise and who knows what new viruses climate change will unleash.

Illinois Review Outs Doris from "Shrek"

| Fri Jun. 1, 2007 1:24 PM PDT

mojo-photo-doris.JPGProving once again that right-wing nutjobs totally freakin' rule, conservative "crossroads" The Illinois Review has "outed" Doris the Ugly Stepsister from the current edition of the Shrek movies as – gasp! – a man. Just because the character was voiced by Larry King! More imporantly, inclusion of said "transvestite" (although I'm going to come right out and say it sure looks like she's had some, uh, upper work done, at least) in the film is an attempt to, yes, foist the gay agenda on our children:

Whatever Happened to Jingles in Political Ads?

| Fri Jun. 1, 2007 11:36 AM PDT

Here are a couple old timey campaign spots to remind you of when politics was simpler. Or if politics wasn't simpler, political messaging certainly was. The message of the first? "I like Ike." Literally, that's it -- over and over and over. The message of the second? "Kennedy Kennedy Kennedy." Good times.

This one's from the Eisenhower campaign in 1952:

This one is from the Kennedy campaign in 1960:

But just so you don't think attack ads are a new invention, here's one where the Kennedy campaign gets nasty, using Ike's words against his own VP, Richard Nixon.

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Today's Chutzpah Award Goes To... Scooter Libby

| Fri Jun. 1, 2007 11:15 AM PDT
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From Scooter Libby's lawyers' response [PDF] to federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's sentencing memo, in which he reasserted that Valerie Plame Wilson was indeed an undercover CIA agent:

First, the government claims that its "investigators were given access to Ms. Wilson's classified file."....This is tantamount to asking the Court and Mr. Libby to take the government's word on Ms. Wilson's status, based on secret evidence, without affording Mr. Libby an opportunity to rebut it. Such a request offends traditional notions of fairness and due process.

Where to begin on this one? The irony of a former aide to Dick "You Can't Handle the Truth" Cheney questioning the government's word—its classified word, no less? (However, the government in this case is the CIA, which neocons know is a bunch of untrustworthy wusses.) But what really stands out here is that the legal protection that Libby is claiming, the right to see and confront secret evidence, is the very right the White House—the Office of the Vice President in particular—has spent five years denying to Guantanamo detainees. But wait—I thought we can't take the intelligence community at its word, especially when a man's freedom is on the line. Makes your head hurt, don't it? (Extra bonus points: Libby's law firm also represents Gitmo detainees.)

Oops - Forget You Ever Saw Pix of the Baghdad Embassy

| Fri Jun. 1, 2007 10:16 AM PDT
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A couple of days ago, we posted an image of the beach volleyball court inside the monster U.S. embassy complex under construction in Baghdad. The rendering came from the site of the architecture firm that designed it. But now it's pulled the images under pressure from the State Department, which claimed they were a security risk. Despite the warning, a spokesman for the architecture firm gave the bad guys even more ideas by revealing that "Google Earth could give you a better snapshot of what the site looks like on the ground." So I think it's still safe to show you this image of a Marine guard and a tiny pixelated diplomat.

Meanwhile, the embassy project has other problems—such as using coerced labor to get the job done. As Iraqslogger reports, American managers have complained that the builder, First Kuwaiti General Trading and Contracting, has mistreated the thousands of South Asian, Filipino, and other foreign laborers brought in to construct the complex. Some of the allegations:

[C]onstruction crews lived in crowded quarters; ate sub-standard food; and had little medical care. When drinking water was scarce in the blistering heat, coolers were filled on the banks of the Tigris, a river rife with waterborne disease, sewage and sometimes floating bodies, they said. Others questioned why First Kuwaiti held the passports of workers. Was it to keep them from escaping? Some laborers had turned up "missing" with little investigation. Another American said laborers told him they were been misled in their job location. When recruited, they were unaware they were heading for war-torn Iraq.

As one American supervisor explained, "Every US labor law was broken.... I've never seen a project more fucked up."