No other government job has this unfair offset of benefits. Any widow from a government job, receives both benefits. It is ONLY the military widow who has this unfair offset and it is called the WIDOWS TAX.
Explanation of DIC & SBP
More stories here: http://www.therealmartha.com/SoldiersWidows/index.htm
Reprint from MOAA.org Legislative update
Military Widows Take On Uncle Sam
Next Wednesday, January 30, a group of military widows will get their day in federal court, pressing their case that a December 2004 law change should have awarded them full payment of military SBP annuities in addition to the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) they receive from the VA because military service caused their husbands' deaths.
At the time, the House Veterans Affairs Committee believed its language would not only restore DIC benefits to previously eligible survivors who remarried after age 57, but would also end the deduction of DIC from SBP annuities.Subsequent government legal review indicated the 2004 law didn't, in fact, make the latter change, but the difference of opinion hasn't entirely gone away.
And now three widows are taking the government to court.When the case was filed in September, the Department of Defense responded with a motion to dismiss the case. The widows' lawyers filed a rebuttal, and now there will be a hearing before the US Court of Federal Claims, 717 Madison Street, NW in Washington, DC so the judge can make a decision on the DoD motion to dismiss.
The oral arguments in the case will be open to the public at 9:30 am. A specific court room won't be assigned until the morning of the 30th.Past efforts to sue the government in this way have rarely been fruitful, but one never knows how the courts might rule when legislative language is murky. MOAA would like nothing better than to see a favorable court ruling in this case and end the unfair offset experienced by SBP/DIC widows.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
No other government job has this unfair offset of benefits. Any widow from a government job, receives both benefits. It is ONLY the military widow who has this unfair offset and it is called the WIDOWS TAX.
Friday, January 25, 2008
US Attorney Biskupic again boy he doesn't quit
Prosecute U.S. Atty Biskupic under Federal Criminal Code?
The conduct of Stephen Biskupic, United State Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin (2002 - present) has generated two prominent reactions.
As arguably the most controversial U.S. Atty in Wisconsin history, Biskupic has drawn both praise and angry denunciation for his prosecutions of:
- The proven-innocent Georgia Thompson, (see also Biskupic tried to 'squeeze' Georgia Thompson)
- Several overturned “voter fraud” cases, (see also Voter-Fraud Complaints by GOP Drove Dismissals)
- Wisconsin Navy veteran Keith Roberts (see also U.S. Attorneys Scandal–Milwaukee)
The praise for Biskupic is exemplified by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Mike Nichols (Biskupic is antithesis of a politician, May 11, 2007) who applauds the prosecution of the innocent and apolitical state worker Georgia Thompson, writing:
“Granted, the prosecution of Thompson, the purchasing official in the Doyle Administration, was a bust. Being a political creature like Thompson, it turns out, is not a crime."
But you have to admire a prosecutor who starts from the premise that it might be.”
Admiration of prosecutors destroying the lives of innocents is far from universal.
Of Biskupic, one reader e-mailed:
I am even angrier! In addition to prosecuting and imprisoning an innocent woman, I see he also prosecuted a veteran for trying to get the benefits he is entitled to. So the government can take the services of people who volunteer for military services and then discard them like cannon fodder, subject them to a politically inspired show trial in the manner of Stalin's Russia and Hitler's Germany, frame them up and imprison them. And what about all those indictments for voter fraud? How many are innocent citizens imprisoned for exercising their right to vote.
And since the Bush Administration was trying to suppress the minority vote, how many were minorities, framed up and imprisoned for voting as if they lived in a southern county presided over by some ignorant, red neck, cracker sheriff?
Biskupic is hardly alone in his using the U.S. Attorney’s office for political prosecutions and retaliation against perceived domestic enemies. The abuse of the Bush Department of Justice to settle political scores and further rightwing ideology is pervasive across the nation.
Many Americans have been asking the questions: Is this legal? Can’t we prosecute the prosecutors who have corrupted the judicial process and ruined the lives of innocents?
Scott Horton, a human rights attorney and columnist for Harper’s, has a column today suggestive of a possible anwser to these questions.
In his A Political Prosecution Goes Under the Microscope, Horton writes:
As the countdown begins to the end of the Bush Administration, abuse of the criminal justice system is finally coming into focus.
Within the Justice Department itself, the Office of Professional Responsibility and the Inspector General are conducting a joint investigation into the case of the “Gonzales Eight,” namely the firing of eight U.S. attorneys on December 7, 2006. Preliminary inquiries by Congress produced the resignation in disgrace of most of the senior leadership of the Justice Department, including Attorney General Gonzales. Now (we) hear that Alberto Gonzales has 'lawyered up' — for good reason. The internal probe will, I am told, demonstrate a stunning pattern of management of political prosecutions out of the White House. Karl Rove himself figures at the center of the process. And George W. Bush will put in more than a couple of key appearances in the process before this drama has been played out. …
What’s at stake in this case? Robert H. Jackson reminded us in his speech “The Federal Prosecutor” that our society can never tolerate a situation in which prosecutors investigate individuals rather than crimes. When this occurs, the basic principles of our criminal justice system are subverted and the nation is put on the path toward tyranny. The damage is compounded when a prosecutor uses his vast powers, held under a public trust, to attack his political enemies. But all signs point to this being the case in Michigan, like in others cases in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Wisconsin. …
At this point it is plain that the Justice Department is not guided by policies and principles in its posture, but by an earnest resolve to keep hidden the dark truths that an entire nation now suspects and which will come to the front burner as soon as the results of the Department’s own investigation into the misconduct of Attorney General Gonzales become public. It’s time to shine a bright and sanitizing light down the crevice of these prosecutions and let the truth be known.
Horton recommends that a remedy in the U.S. Code for the situation inflicted on the nation by the DoJ be examined for possible future prosecution by a non-Bush U.S. Department of Justice.
“Now as it turns out, using the office of U.S. attorney to wage a political vendetta is a crime under sections 1505 and 1512 of the (federal) Criminal Code,” writes Horton.
Horton refers to TITLE 18, PART I, CHAPTER 73, § 1505 and TITLE 18, PART I, CHAPTER 73, § 1512 of the U.S. Code in discussing the political prosecution of a prominent Democrat by DoJ Republicans.
One hopes that the federal Code would be deemed applicable in the United States v. Keith A. Roberts (07-1546) case in which, as Wisconsin Public Radio reports, Keith Roberts, a Wisconsin Navy veteran, became a political target,
related to (his) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) diagnosed as occurring because he witnessed and tried to prevent his friend from being crushed to death by a C-54 airplane while stationed at a Naval air base in Naples, Italy 1969, and unrelated assault by the Navy Shore Patrol—granted and then denied, has not yet been decided by the CAVC (U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims).
But the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) after being accused of fraud in 2003 by Roberts ignored the CAVC process and investigated and asked that Roberts be prosecuted for fraud by the US Attorney’s
Section 1505 reads in part: “…Whoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication influences, obstructs, or impedes or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede the due and proper administration of the law under which any pending proceeding is being had before any department or agency of the United States. ...”
A future prosecution would have to make the case that the U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs (VA) and U.S. Atty Biskupic corruptly obstructed the VA's proceeding of the Roberts' appeal for VA disability benefits.
That should not be exceedingly difficult as there exists at least a prima facie case that this is precisely what did happen to the Wisconsin Navy veteran, Roberts. See Top VA Officials Plotted to Indict Vet in Violation of Federal VA Rules.
The Georgia Thompson and “voter fraud” cases present more clear cases of political corruption.
Let's hope that for the sake of justice that all of these cases are examined thoroughly by the DoJ's Office of Professional Responsibility, the DoJ Inspector General, and the appropriate congressional committees (now being stonewalled) overseeing the judiciary.
Wisconsin citizens deserve and justice demands full confidence in the impartial, politics-free United States Attorney's offices.
Research Project Needed
One cannot realistically expect results from the Bush DoJ, but a public-interest organization, or a pro bono research project flushing out and constructing a hypothetical criminal case under sections 1505 and 1512 begun by a law firm or law school students offers the hope in the restoration of the travesty of justice that today's U.S. Dept of Justice has become.
Prosecutorial Immunity, as Erwin Chemerinsky writes, is not absolute. See also Johns, Margaret Z in Reconsidering Absolute Prosecutorial Immunity.
Please click on the link at the top to go to his web site so you can see and read all of the links related to this story thanks Mike
PTSD is a MF
Soldier was 'victim' of health system
Email Print Normal font Large font January 23, 2008 - 6:42PM
Special forces captain Andrew Paljakka, who killed himself within months of returning from a tour of Afghanistan, was a victim of a fragmented defence force health system, a military inquiry has been told.
Eight months after returning to Australia, the 27-year-old soldier was found hanging in a Kings Cross hotel room, with a post-mortem examination revealing alcohol and cocaine in his system.
Capt Paljakka had been admitted to hospital in Sydney numerous times for treatment after returning from Afghanistan in June 2006.
He had lost 13kg and was suffering post-traumatic stress disorder which he attributed to killing a man in Afghanistan, and after witnessing the rape of a young boy.
The inquiry was told the soldier suffered chronic depression, alcohol dependency and abuse, suspected illicit drug use, had separated from his wife, was facing financial trouble, had his car stolen and was facing discharge from the defence force in the period leading up to his death.
In a statement, one friend recalled being asked by Capt Paljakka to get a gun and shoot him and there were reports of two other failed suicide attempts.
The soldier was admitted several times to Sydney's Balmoral Naval Hospital and during his last stay at the facility was referred to St John of God Hospital at North Ryde for a specialist post-traumatic stress disorder treatment program.
However, records detailing his medical history were not provided to the civilian St John of God facility, the inquiry was told.
Giving evidence at Sydney's Randwick Army Barracks on Wednesday, Australian Defence Force director of mental health, Group Captain Leonard Lambeth, said he was "shocked" the information had not been passed on.
"The passing on of that material would make it easier for St John of God (Hospital) to make decisions," Group Capt Lambeth said.
Psychiatric specialist Alexander MacFarlane told the inquiry that problems in the case had arisen from systemic mismanagement.
"One of the difficulties I think the Australian Defence Force faces ... is the health facilities are somewhat fragmented," Professor MacFarlane said.
"ADF doesn't have the necessary assets to provide the care he really required and this means there are a series of potential holes into which the passage of information falls."
Outside the inquiry, Arvi Paljakka said his son "wasn't the same man at all" after returning from Afghanistan.
He accused the army of a deliberate cover-up in its treatment of his son. He had demanded that the inquiry be opened to the public after eight days of closed hearings in November.
"It's very clear he wasn't treated properly," Mr Paljakka told reporters.
The inquiry also was told a former army captain and key witness into Capt Paljakka's actions in Afghanistan was now serving time in a NSW prison, awaiting sentence for stealing and possessing 10 rocket launchers.
A statement from the former officer, Shane Della Vedova, was among those submitted to the inquiry.
Della Vedova, a 30-year ADF veteran, pleaded guilty to stealing the rocket launchers after being ordered to destroy them.
Counsel assisting the inquiry, Squadron Leader James Gibson, said Della Vedova was well-placed to comment on Capt Paljakka's movements in Afghanistan after he "went from his base in a helicopter to an undisclosed location".
"During that (time Capt Paljakka) observed a body wrapped in a sheet," Sqd Ldr Gibson said.
"(Della Vedova) is in a prime position to be able to comment on what happened during these couple of days when Capt Paljakka left his base."
The inquiry president, former West Australian magistrate Frank Cullen, said it would be "difficult" to have Della Vedova attend the inquiry from Sydney's Long Bay Jail.
The hearing continues.
Disabled vets make good employees
STRATEGIES FOR EMPLOYING PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES --
Department of Labor says employees with disabilities
perform better on the job and have a lower turnover
rate than those without disabilities.
Story here... http://www.scrippsnews.com/node/29966
STRATEGIES FOR EMPLOYING PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
By Allan Appel
Employees with disabilities perform better on the job and have a lower turnover rate than those without disabilities. That’s the assessment of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, which also rates such employees as consistently meeting or exceeding business performance standards.
Here are some measures for employers to include candidates with disabilities in their overall employment objectives.
In designing any plan for recruiting employees, disability should be ranked equally with other diversity factors, such as gender and race. The disability community is composed of all economic and social strata of our population. It is also our largest minority group with some estimates of its size totaling 57 million people.
Businesses can create working relationships with disability-related organizations to promote inclusion policies in their employment schemes. Employment and career centers at colleges and universities can be enlisted as partners in that effort.
Recruitment should also extend to postings of a business’ openings at job fairs and Web sites. Such announcements should also be included in publications catering to the disability community.
Programs targeting youth with disabilities can also be established as part of a plan to expand summer internships and mentoring efforts.
There are also a number of resources available to assist employers to connect with qualified candidates with disabilities.
The Office of Disability Employment Policy participates in two free programs in this effort. The Employer Assistance and Recruiting Network (EARN) and Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) can be reached at (866) EARN-NOW (327-6669) (V/TTY) and (202) 693-7880 (V) (202) 693-7881 (TTY), respectively.
The Department of Veterans Affairs sponsors a Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Service. Here, workers are pre-screened to tailor specific job requirements. Contact any local VA office for details of this service.
State vocational rehabilitation agencies can also be included in an effort to employ people with disabilities. Each state also provides work evaluations and assessments to determine how assistive technology and other accommodations may be applied in the workplace.
Additional resources can also be found in Disability Employment 101, a publication jointly sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. To obtain a copy, call (877) 433-7827 (V) or (877) 576-7734 (TTY).
Allan Appel writes a biweekly column about disabilities. He can be reached c/o Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers, 1939 S. Federal Highway, P.O. Box 9009, Stuart, FL 34994, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vet helps street vets find a new way
Nine years ago, Tomas Casados’ life was in utter disarray. A Vietnam-era veteran who had stumbled into alcoholism and a life of crime, he was cooling his heels in the Twin Towers jail in downtown LA when he met a man named Greg Cain.
Cain was an outreach worker for the Veterans Administration (VA), and was making one of his regular visits to the county jail in search of former soldiers who wanted to turn their lives around.
Despite Casados’ years of alcohol abuse, negative attitude toward authority and the fact he had already been to prison three times, he was struck by what Cain said.
It took another year for Casados to show up at the VA’s sprawling 388-acre hospital complex in West Los Angeles, but once he took the first step of joining a 90-day detox and rehab program, he never looked back.
In the past seven years, Casados has kicked his habit, come out of homelessness and has become an outreach worker for homeless veterans. He considers it a full-circle turnaround and fair repayment to the programs that saved his life.
“I go to jails and we give vets up there hope. We say we’ve been in the same place you have and we have the resources to help,” says Casados with a mix of humility and pride. “By the grace of God I’m a government employee and worked my way up from being a volunteer to conducting outreach and now being a team leader for four other outreach workers helping vets across Southern California. I turned my addiction of getting loaded into an addiction to helping people.”
Trouble by numbers
Casados is just one of thousands of veterans who have been helped by the VA’s homeless programs in the Greater Los Angeles area since its specialized services were launched in the late 1980s. Before that, homeless vets were part of a one-size-fits-all approach that had severe limitations. One was homeless vets were using already scarce inpatient beds for shelter and had few housing options once their medically necessary stays were completed. Thus, many were subjected to a never-ending revolving door of help and despair.
The VA’s own reports show that in 2006 America had nearly 200,000 homeless veterans living on the streets. And approximately 11 percent of those — 21,424 to be exact — lived here in the Greater Los Angeles area. Crime is also a problem. The New York Times has reported that more than 121 veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have committed murders since coming home.
According to the VA’s 2006 report, 97 percent of homeless vets are men, but the number of homeless veteran women and their families has been increasing. Nearly 32 percent of homeless vets have been on the streets for one year or longer, and
51 percent of them served in the US Armed Forces after the Vietnam era — showing vets’ struggles have continued beyond that moment in history.
The report goes on to show that mental health and substance abuse problems are at the forefront of veteran homelessness. Nearly half of homeless vets indicated having a substance abuse problem and 37 percent had serious psychiatric disorders, ranging from psychosis to the notorious post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); 21 percent had the misfortune of suffering from both problems. Beyond that, 46 percent reported at least one serious medical problem.
Other challenges for homeless veterans include the fact that only 10 percent are currently married, revealing a lack of core support networks, and another 21 percent don’t have a job due to having a disability or being retired. According to Bruce Daniels, director of the Comprehensive Homeless Center at the Westside VA facility, it’s that loss of a support system that causes veterans’ other problems to spiral out of control.
“Most people know they have family to help them in a crisis. That is, unless you get into drugs and alcohol and burned bridges so badly they won’t come back to you, and it’s those situations that we deal with,” says Daniels. “But the VA alone can’t meet all the needs, so we partner with all sorts of community agencies, including the Salvation Army, the US Veterans Institute, Weingart Center Association and in Pasadena with Union Station and Passageways.”
And yet, many veterans are apparently unaware of the resources available to them. According to a CBS News report last fall, in 2005 more than 6,000 US veterans of all wars committed suicide — a rate of more than 120 suicides each week, a figure that more than doubles the civilian suicide rate.
More than 100,000 vets are pursuing treatment for mental health, more than 52,000 of those for PTSD alone. Among these, Daniels and others note that the veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are facing dark problems more rapidly than soldiers in prior conflicts. Yet Daniels is also quick to point out that the problems facing returning soldiers have occurred throughout much of American history.
“This is not a new problem, for even after the Civil War some veterans had nowhere to live. This very VA property started from that, because we started as the National Soldiers Home in the late 1800s,” explains Daniels. “There was a big boom in the number of homeless vets we assisted after World War II, and 5,000 lived right here on the grounds in the years after that conflict. Then drugs and alcohol entered the picture in the aftermath of the Korean and Vietnam wars, and that led to a breakdown on a bigger scale.
“But even with all these challenges, if a veteran walks in that door and works with us, their homelessness is over.”
A growing crisis
Iraq and Afghanistan vets are facing greater post-combat problems, even as their actual death tolls are extremely low in comparison to prior wars. More soldiers are surviving combat due to the greatly improved quality of their protective gear, meaning that instead of dying they are experiencing protracted problems with their physical and mental health.
According to James Maddox, president of Pasadena’s chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America, such troubles are only likely to escalate in the years and decades to come.
“No one knows how many more veterans will be revealed to have PTSD and other mental health problems from Iraq and Afghanistan, because of the strength of the explosions from IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) there,” says Maddox, who works from a small crowded office on Raymond Avenue in Old Pasadena when he’s not assisting with veterans issues at conferences nationwide.
Then, pointing toward St. Andrew Catholic Church about three blocks away, he made a disturbing comparison to the level of suffering our troops are subjected to on the Iraqi and Afghan battlefields.
“If an IED went off at St. Andrew’s, it would be felt right here where we are so strongly that our brains would be affected as if they had undergone a sonogram,” says Maddox. “And these bombs go off all the time around these soldiers and literally shake their brains. There’s almost no way that they’re not being affected by it, but it may take years to really show up as mental impairment.”
In the face of all these challenges, the staff of the Greater Los Angeles VA’s homeless outreach programs believes that they are making a difference. Casados notes that the program employs 20 people in its veteran outreach teams — a significant increase from its start in 1987 as a three-person program. Among the current staff is a three-woman team reaching out to female veterans, while other parts of the team are dispersed in a strategic fashion.
“At the LA city jail we have three outreach workers plus a social worker, and every person who comes in is asked if they served in the US military,” says Casados. “Every single day, the sheriffs get a list of those who have, and they send us a list of those. We go in, meet them, work with the courts to find jail alternatives unless their cases are truly severe crimes, and help them find rehab. They also have a special veterans’ dorm at the jail.”
Other Greater Los Angeles Area VA teams travel to such far-flung locales as Pomona, San Bernardino, Ontario and San Luis Obispo in their quest to assist veterans on the streets, and some members are currently involved in LA’s Project 50 program by helping to identify and assist the 50 most chronic occupants of the city’s Skid Row.
Coming home, again
So what happens to the veterans who agree to come in from the cold and seek a fresh start?
Casados joined the homeless outreach project’s director, Michelle Wildy, in showing a reporter through the step-by-step process involved.
Wildy transferred to her VA post in 2005 after a long career with the Department of Defense in Washington, DC, where
she was a deputy director of
a National Security Agency clinic and spent 45 days assisting at the Pentagon after it was attacked on Sept. 11.
“First, anyone who wants to be considered for assistance must undergo an immediate eligibility check to make sure they were truly members in good standing with the armed forces,” says Wildy. “They’re not eligible unless they have a good conduct discharge, but we can find out their status with just a three-minute check.”
“And we’ve got special cell phones that put us immediately in touch with people who can check their status even by phone, in case we meet homeless people on the streets who don’t trust us enough initially to come into the office,” adds Casados.
The ability to check backgrounds quickly and thoroughly is vital for other reasons. Often a family will contact the office to see if they can find a loved one who has gone missing.
“We take the information and a suggestion of where the person was last at and then we hit the streets to track them down,” says Casados. “We’ve found several guys in that way.”
The ability to conduct such sweeping checks is key to winning the trust of veterans in need, as the Greater Los Angeles VA workers strive to bring in eligible participants in within 24 hours for their first shot at rehab as well as a chance to clean up and receive clean clothes.
Then the staff’s two nurses take medical histories and check for problems such as high blood pressure and sugar diabetes before suggesting rehab programs if needed or either back-to-work programs or creative work therapy. The choice of in-depth programs depends on whether they’re deemed in need of simple help, like receiving housing vouchers, or complex help where a lot more help is needed.
“In creative work therapy, guys learn how to go back to work through learning schedules and responsibility on projects at the hospital first,” says Wildy. “We then work with employers in the community to get veterans into a work setting, and then case managing them for the first few months on the job to make sure they can keep up with the work.”
The overall programs available to the veterans in homeless outreach can last up to two years, although participants are case managed up to five years to ensure that they’re maintaining positive progress in their lives. They are coached through the issues of daily life, such as how to manage a checking account.
“Ultimately, turning these lives around and helping them abandon lives on the street comes down to caring for four main areas: access to care and treatment, access to income from benefits and job training, stable housing that guarantees you have your own pillow in your own bed under the same roof each night, and building a support system for those who don’t have it,” says Daniels. “It’s a big challenge, but someone has to do it and we’re here making it happen.”
Thursday, January 24, 2008
True Cost of War ACLU forces DOD to release wounded/sick tallies
72,000 American casualties: toll of war on terrorIAN BRUCE, Defence Correspondent January 25 2008
CommentThe US has suffered more than 72,000 battlefield casualties since the start of the war on terror in 2001, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.
The query by the campaigning Veterans for Common Sense organisation shows that 4372 American soldiers have died and another 67,671 have been wounded in action, injured in accidents or succumbed to illness in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The veterans' group had to force the US Defence Department to release the figures by persuading judges to uphold their FoI rights.
advertisementA second request to the Veterans' Administration, the government-funded body responsible for taking care of ex-servicemen and women, showed 263,909 soldiers with experience of the two 21st-century wars have so far received treatment for everything from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the aftermath of amputated limbs.
It also showed 52,375 veterans had been diagnosed with PTSD and 34,138 have received approval for disability claims for the psychological disorder. As of October 31 last year, 1.6 million Americans have been deployed overseas since 2001.
Harvard University estimates the cost of caring for Iraq and Afghan veterans over the next 40 years will amount to between £125bn and £350bn, depending on the long-term effects of trauma.
More than 240,000 of those deployed have received some form of counselling at veterans' centres.
British military losses in the two conflicts are 261 dead and more than 600 wounded in action. Another 3000 have been hospitalised as a result of road accidents or disease.
In central Afghanistan yesterday, nine Afghan policemen, including a district police chief, were killed in an anti-Taliban operation by US-led coalition troops, officials said. Several insurgents also died.
Also yesterday, a Nato soldier was killed and two others wounded when an explosion struck their patrol in the south of the country. The nationalities of the soldiers and the exact location of the blast were not given.
your tax dollars at work as Pentagon spies on Americans
The Pentagon office that claims to monitor terrorist threats to U.S. military bases in North America -- but is known to have spied on at least 186 peaceful anti-war protests in the U.S. -- has just awarded a $30 million contract to a company whose senior management includes the former Defense Department (DOD) official who set up that office.
The former DOD official is Dr. Stephen Cambone, a trusted protégé of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Since his resignation as DOD's Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence following Rumsfeld's departure in November 2006, Cambone has been vice president for strategy of a company known as QinetiQ (pronounced "kinetic") North America, a major British-owned defense and intelligence contractor based in McLean, Virginia.
Two months after QinetiQ hired Cambone to expand its North American operations, that company' s Mission Solutions Group signed a five-year, $30 million contract to provide a range of unspecified "security services" to the Pentagon's Counter-Intelligence Field Activity office, known as CIFA. While at the Pentagon, Cambone was responsible for supervising CIFA and was deeply involved in the Pentagon's most controversial intelligence programs at a time when DOD was making concerted efforts to marginalize the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) by setting up its own parallel intelligence apparatus.
Formerly known as Analex, QinetiQ's new contract expands work that Analex was providing to CIFA since 2003. CIFA manages a database of what it regards as "suspicious incidents" in the U.S. The database includes intelligence, law enforcement, counterintelligence, and security reports, as well as raw non-validated information from DOD's "Threat and Local Observation Notice" (TALON) reporting system of unfiltered information.
In 2006, The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a Freedom of Information request to inspect TALON's documentation. It received and reviewed hundreds of TALON documents, among which was a 2006 memo listing 186 reports involving "anti-military protests or demonstrations in the U.S., several peaceful protesters identified as potential threats to the military, and 2,821 TALON reports relating to "U.S. person information" and "anti-military protests or demonstrations in the U.S." These reports were entered into a DOD anti-terrorist threat database.
Pentagon documents released by the ACLU show that the DOD monitored the activities of a wide range of peace groups, including Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, Code Pink, the American Friends Service Committee, the War Resisters League, and United for Peace and Justice.
The organization said the Pentagon's misuse of the TALON database is just one example of increased government surveillance of innocent Americans.
"It cannot be an accident or coincidence that nearly 200 anti-war protests ended up in a Pentagon threat database," said Ann Beeson, the ACLU's Associate Legal Director. "This unchecked surveillance is part of a broad pattern of the Bush administration using 'national security' as an excuse to run roughshod over the privacy and free speech rights of Americans."
And Mary Shaw of Amnesty International USA, told IPS, "This is a prime example of how the U.S. government has created a broad definition of "domestic terrorism" that overreaches, and can have a chilling effect on our rights to free expression, free association, and privacy. Even in times of crisis, it is important to preserve our constitutional rights. As Benjamin Franklin said, 'He who gives up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserves neither liberty nor safety'."
Telephone calls to QinetiQ's offices seeking comment for this article were not returned.
TALON was created after the U.S. Congress in 2002 approved a proposal backed by Rumsfeld and Vice President Richard Cheney to create a new undersecretary slot at the Pentagon specifically for intelligence. Cambone was given the job. Under the law, Cambone exercised the Secretary of Defense's "authority, direction and control" over all DOD intelligence, counterintelligence and security policy, plans and programs.
The mission of Rumsfeld and Cambone was to give the Pentagon greater authority in the area of human intelligence, traditionally the preserve of the CIA. Cambone's deputy was Army Lieutenant General William G. "Jerry" Boykin, then a deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence. Boykin was later reprimanded by the Army for "inappropriate" comments made in a series of speeches given in evangelical churches while in his military uniform, in which he described the war on terrorism as a Christian battle against evil.
Civil libertarians and human rights activists have drawn parallels between CIFA's collection and retention of data on peace groups and other activists and the domestic collection of data through such programs as COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence Program). COINTELPRO was a program of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) aimed at investigating and disrupting dissident political organizations within the U.S. Its targets were organizations that were at the time considered to have politically radical elements, ranging from groups such as The Weahtermen, who advocated the violent overthrow of the U.S. government to such non-violent civil rights activist organizations as Martin Luther King Jr.'s Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Such acitivites were later strictly regulated by laws such as the Privacy Act of 1974, which strengthened and specified a U.S. citizen's right to privacy as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
According to Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker magazine, Cambone was also involved in the Abu Ghraib prison torture scandal. Hersh claimed the interrogations at Abu Ghraib were part of a highly classified Special Access Program (SAP) code-named Copper Green, authorized by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and ultimately overseen by Cambone.
Originally a joint CIA-Pentagon program in Afghanistan that utilized highly trained Special Operations personnel, Copper Green eventually expanded to Iraq, Hersh reported, where Cambone decided to begin using non-Special Operations personnel -- including military intelligence officers and other military personnel -- to begin questioning prisoners whose status was outside the program's original brief. He wrote that the CIA objected and withdrew from the program, while Cambone apparently tasked Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, former Guantánamo Bay interrogations chief, with "Gitmo-izing" Iraq's prison system.
The bottom line: Rummie may be gone, but the Bush administration and its army of private contractors continues to be chockablock with his private armies and neocon sycophants. And most of the departed are re-entering, and earning a ton more money in the process.
If you were hoping that Bob Gates was going to change all that, get over it.
Veterans get more money for mileage
For three decades, the federal rate for reimbursing disabled veterans traveling to Veterans Administration hospitals for medical treatments was stuck at 11 cents per mile. That was shamefully tight-fisted.
Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and their families have endured prolonged tours of duty and significant hardships — physical, emotional and economic. Yet in many cases, the benefits they and veterans of other conflicts receive on their return home have been worse than inadequate. In some cases, they've been downright insulting.
The mileage rate was one example. Veterans disabled in the course of service to their country deserve gratitude for their sacrifice. Yet 11 cents a mile was hardly an expression of thanks; it barely rated as a mumble.
Connecticut's U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney has been a particularly strong advocate for increasing benefits on behalf of veterans. On Dec. 21, he wrote a letter to President Bush urging the release of $3.7 billion in emergency funds requested by Congress to boost benefits.
Last week, President Bush released those funds.
Among other things, the money will raise the mileage reimbursement rate for disabled veterans to 28.5 cents per mile. It also provides for the hiring of 1,800 employees to process veterans' claims, eventually reducing the logjam of 400,000 veterans who have been awaiting benefits. The funding will also go toward expanded mental-health care and improved treatment for traumatic brain injuries.
This funding is obviously critical to veterans who need care. But it also sends an important message to all veterans that their sacrifices are acknowledged and honored. For these men and women, even something as straightforward as a 17.5-cent boost in the mileage rate is no small change.
Senate Hearing on Veterans Disability Veterans Commission
Veterans groups push for reform of disabled veterans benefits
by Elizabeth Gibson
Jan 24, 2008
WASHINGTON -- Veterans groups Thursday added their support to recommendations calling for modernization of a system that determines what benefits disabled veterans receive relative to severity of their wounds.
Now, the vets said, they want to see some action and enforcement from the government on recommendations made by the Veterans Disability Benefits Commission.
“You’ve got the riffle, squeeze the trigger,” Todd Bowers, director of government affairs for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said at a hearing of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.
Representatives from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars and The American Legion said they like the ideas of updating the rankings that match benefits to disabilities.
They also want extra compensation beyond health care for the impact that wounds could have on quality of life of veterans.
But they expressed reservations about mandatory check-ups every two years for veterans already getting compensation.
“A lot of veterans would view these reviews as an attempt to take away their benefits,” said Gerald Manar, deputy director of the VFW’s national veterans service.
Researching for the commission, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommended case by case determinations of whether veterans need follow-up exams.
However, the benefits commission felt that required reevaluations for some types of disabilities, particularly mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, would ensure that those needing regular check-ups didn’t slip through the cracks, said retired Lt. Gen. James Scott.
Scott, chairman of the commission, said, “It seems to me if you don’t reevaluate, you won’t know how the treatment is doing.”
The commission also recommended basing benefits on a sliding scale to determine the degree to which different disabilities detract from a veteran’s quality of life. The veterans groups said this was a worthy idea but would require more research to find a way to measure how much an amputation versus post-traumatic stress disorder would affect quality of life.
Several of the commission’s recommendations stretch back to previous panels meeting more than 50 years ago. The Veterans Disabilities Benefits Commission report, released last October with 113 recommendations, should be sufficient to get started and set deadlines for action, leader of veterans groups said.
Thirty-five percent of disability ratings have not been updated since 1945, according to the Institute of Medicine.
“Despite the fact that the disability system was already outdated more than five decades ago there have been no fundamental reforms,” Sen. Richard Burr R-N.C. said at the hearing. “It is a failure of a highest magnitude if we don’t provide these heroes who have sacrificed so much for their country with the benefits and services they need and deserve.”
This is not a "veterans group" they were a Presidential Commission stacked with more Republican appointees than Democratic ones, the proposals were more in favor of veterans that I envisioned however the idea to reevaluate PTSD veterans who are 100% disabled every 2-3 years is a disaster waiting to happen, I don't know the correct action but to put veterans with mental illness thru the stress of having their benefits cut every few years is going to cause a lot of hospitilzations every few years, I hope the VA creates more bed space if they pass this, because they are going to need them in the lockdown wards.
I though my readers might find this useful for those not using the VA Medical system or for finding medical professionals for their family members
12 Tools to Do a Background Check On Your Doctor
Finding a good doctor can save you time, money, and aggravation- and in some cases, it may save your life. Still, many people spend less time researching their doctor than they do a simple household purchase. Use these valuable tips and tools to be a proactive patient and make sure that you and your family are getting the best medical care possible.
Find the best hospitals: The best doctors generally work for the best hospitals. Find a physician that is affiliated with the best hospital in your area. If you are not sure which hospital ranks highest in your region, visit The Leapfrog Group to find hospital quality rankings based on voluntary surveys. The organization’s data is based on quality, safety, and efficiency practices that may affect a patient’s overall level of care at that hospital. While The Leapfrog Group may provide a starting point in your search, it does not provide a list of providers associated with hospital. You will have to call that hospital’s referral line directly or ask if your insurance provider lists hospital affiliation in its provider directory.
Verify your doctor’s license and certification: For basic information on your doctor’s education, licensing, and board certification visit the American Medical Association or the American Board of Medical Specialties. These resources will tell you where the doctor went to school and if he or she is actually licensed to practice medicine. You can look up doctors by name or search for a list of doctors by zip code. The ABMS helps consumers find specialists who are board certified in their field or verify that their current specialist is indeed certified in the specialty. These resources provide only the most basic information about licensed physicians, but both sites include useful tips and information on being a smart patient and finding good doctors.
Contact your state medical board: Your state medical board provides a list of every doctor licensed to practice medicine in your state. These web sites vary from state to state, but you can very often find a doctor’s education, hospital affiliation, and any recent history of malpractice or disciplinary action. Your state government website is a good starting place for this search, and most states have a toll-free number you can call to receive this information by phone.
Visit the Federation of State Medical Boards: The FSMB aggregates data from state medical boards and other agencies on disciplinary action taken against physicians and physician assistants throughout the U.S. You can sign up for one of two services that both charge a small fee. The Board Action Database Search investigates whether any disciplinary action has been taken against a physician and saves you the time and energy of searching on state medical boards yourself. The Disciplinary Alert Service continuously monitors your physician and alerts you via e-mail if he or she is disciplined or loses accreditation, letting you rest easy in knowing that FSMB will do the legwork for you.
Talk to a doctor you already know and trust: If you are looking for a specialist, ask your general physician if he or she can recommend a doctor in that field. In doctor's offices, receptionists will often keep a list of recommended specialists on file for patients. Or, if you are moving to a different city, ask your current doctor if he or she can recommend a friend or colleague in the city to which you are moving. Query any friends who are doctors or who work in the medical field if they know doctors that they regard highly. A quick conversation with a knowledgeable friend or trusted doctor can save you the time, money, and headache involved in obtaining a competent doctor.
Ask friends and family: Word of mouth from someone who knows you personally can be the most accurate and reliable method of conducting a background check. If your friend has been seeing the same doctor for fifteen years, you may want to trust his or her judgment. Be sure to ask friends and members of your family specific questions about the doctor’s demeanor, punctuality, and thoroughness. Sometimes patients keep seeing the same doctor just out of habit, so you want to make sure that you are getting a valuable recommendation.
Visit Ratemds.com: This user-driven site allows consumers to read what other patients have said about doctors in your area. Patients give doctors a score of 1-5 based on being punctual, helpful, and knowledgeable as well as a smiley or angry face to represent their overall patient experience. A small written review provides a more detailed and personal perspective than can be found in other resources. However, you are essentially taking advice from a stranger, and this website is still growing to include more and more physicians, so it may not have any reviews on the specific doctor you are looking for.
Check out Healthgrades.com: Save the time and hassle of doing your own research, and pay Healthgrades to do it for you. Simply type in your physician’s basic information and you can receive a full report detailing your doctor’s education, training, and any disciplinary action take against him or her in the last five years. While the most comprehensive physician reports cost $29.95, much of the other valuable information on the site, such as hospital ratings, is free of charge.
Access MDNationwide.org: This site also provides a variety of paid services all geared towards helping consumers find the best medical care in their area. This for-profit service charges $19.95 for a comprehensive background check on a doctor or and a smaller fee to browse a list of doctors top-rated by other doctors. Patients can narrow down providers recommended for over 1800 diseases and medical conditions. All specialists in the MDNationwide database are certified the ABMS, so consumers won’t have to verify that information themselves.
Use the Consumer's Checkbook Guide to Top Doctors: This service pools data from surveys given to 26,000 physicians around the country. Consumer's Checkbook asked physicians to name the specialists they would most trust to take care of a loved one. The Top Doctors database contains the names of 20,000+ doctors who were named most often. Print and online access to this book costs $24.95 for two years, and the database indicates how many times the doctor was recommended by other physicians as well as their contact information. This guide provides a reliable directory of doctors who are well-respected and known in their profession, but it does not reflect input from actual patients.
Learn more about the National Committee of Quality Assurance: NCQA is a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to measuring and reporting on healthcare in the U.S. It has developed a free Physician Recognition Directory that helps individuals find doctors who have demonstrate that they meet certain levels of care. It is the only website of its kind that uses a standard methodology and actual patient health data to compare and rate a physician’s effectiveness. The Physician Recognition Directory specializes in care for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, but you can also find report cards on the best health plans and physician practice groups in the country.
Pay attention to dates: When researching your doctor’s credentials, pay attention to dates. If you doctor was licensed less than five years ago, you may want to want to look for someone more experienced or seek a second opinion for a more serious ailment. On the other hand, if your doctor has been practicing medicine for some time, you may want to verify that your doctor stills meets accreditation standards so you know that you are getting the best and most up-to-date treatment available.
With the mounting costs and obstacles to receiving quality, affordable healthcare, it is more important than ever to be proactive in finding the best doctors you can. Use several of these tools to cross-reference sources and obtain the most accurate and current information about your doctors. The more information you can obtain about your doctors' background and professional conduct, the more likely you will find the right doctor for your needs.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Brentwood News - November 2007:
We Honor Our Veterans by Honoring the Deed to Their National Home
Thank you for your “Home of the Brave” interview. Unfortunately, some of the responses by Sue Young, Executive Director of Veterans Park Conservancy (VPC) and Jim Folsom, Director of the Huntington Botanical Gardens regarding their proposed park at the Los Angeles National Veterans Home were disingenuous and contemptuous.
On March 3, 1888, landowners Arcadia Bandini Stearns de Baker and Senator John Percival Jones unselfishly bequeathed and faithfully entrusted nearly 800 acres to the United States Government to permanently maintain a National Home for the exclusive benefit of America's Military Veterans. And for nearly a century, every generation loyally enforced and honorably upheld the guiding principles and patriotic spirit of the Deed until recent years, when business and special interest “land grabbing” became an assumed entitlement at the expense of our Veterans.
A Modern-Day Trojan Horse
VPC's proposed “veterans park” is sheer deception as their website specifically declares that the 16-acre parcel will be for the “creation of the first new community park to be built in West Los Angeles in over 50 years. It further states: “What we have in mind is a scaled-down version of a grand community park in the tradition of New York's Central Park. Most importantly, it will attract all segments of our West Los Angeles community: Veterans and civilians, children and adults, featuring numerous activities for everyone.”
Make no mistake; VPC's so-called “shrine in honor of our veterans” is nothing more than a modern-day Trojan Horse designed to subvert the Deed so they can invade, conquer and build a massive public park on the Veterans' sacred land. VPC confirms their plans for an all-encompassing community park by declaring that the 16-acre parcel will “Demonstrate the positive community impact of reclamation of open space for public use, setting a precedent for discussion about the remaining federal property.”
In an attempt to deflect the truth about their Trojan Horse scheme, Ms. Young portrays VPC as a hero riding on the proverbial white horse to save Veterans property from commercial development: “We wanted to make certain that the property could not be sold to the highest bidder.” What she conveniently fails to mention is that in the process of “getting approvals at the highest levels” of government, VPC orchestrated a brazen behind-the-scenes, no-bid, rent-free agreement for a public community park, all under the guise of “honoring our veterans.”
History Repeating Itself
VPC's recent backroom wheeling and dealing in Washington D.C. represents the greatest land heist since the Indians were given $24 worth of beads and trinkets for Manhattan. At least they were given “something” for their land. To the contrary, the expropriation of this hallowed land was acquired “rent free” at the painful expense of America's Military Veterans who will receive absolutely nothing except an onrush of public invasion onto their once exclusive and quiet haven for rest and rehabilitation.
The 16-acre parcel is arguably the most valuable on the West coast and is estimated to be worth more than a quarter-billion dollars, yet not one penny goes to the Veterans. Ironically, not since Benedict Arnold tried to surrender West Point to the British has there been such a selfish act for similar hallowed grounds. Tragically, this land has been finagled from the very men and women who have bravely defended America's freedom and democracy, and particularly deprives those who are disabled and need privacy and quietude during their convalescence.
Veterans will never forget VPC's degrading slur against the time-honored “Duty, Honor, Country” creed of West Point and the watchword for all who serve in the military when they irreverently engraved “Beauty, Honor, Country” in stone at the National Home.
Veterans also remember VPC's inability to finance their “majestic wrought iron fence” to beautify the entryway into Brentwood and subsequently hoodwinked the VA into donating $1 million of Veteran's seriously needed healthcare money in order to complete their pretentious project.
In your interview, Brentwood News asks: “What do you think of the veterans who claim this is just a big 'land grab.'“ Mr. Folsom responded: “What such people are saying is that our veterans don't deserve a kinder, gentler environment for healing.” What a slanderous remark against Veterans who responsibly disagree with this gratuitous public park. No, Mr. Folsom, it is you and your VPC cohorts who think Veterans are undeserving by shamelessly trying to turn this century-old Veterans' Home of historic serenity and reverence into a clamorous and raucous public community park.
Equally disturbing is his discriminatory reference to Veterans who morally oppose this land grab as “such people,” which underscores the condescending and pompous attitude that VPC displays whenever the Veterans-at-large disagree with their self-serving mission to beautify and serve Brentwood's “wants” at the expense of our fellow Veterans' “needs.”
Enforce the Deed
There's absolutely nothing in the Deed of 1888 that allows anyone to designate any land for a public park, open space, commercial use, or any other purpose whatsoever, other than for the direct benefit of America's Military Veterans. It's time to stop the manipulative and opportunistic land grabbing at the National Veterans Home and to start enforcing the Deed. That's the only way to truly honor our Veterans.
Robert L. Rosebrock and Francisco Juarez-- Co-Directors, “We the Veterans”
I don't know which of the two article either this one or the other one from
Novembers Letter from MS Barrie are telling the veterans the "truth" truth usually depends on which side you are looking from as a disabled veteran I want what most veterans want the best course of action for veterans today, tommorrow and into the future not for any group to make moeny off of a deeded gift from people who truly supported this nations veterans from the late 1800's as a disabled veteran I appreciate the land in West LA and the place it provides for this nations veterans to heal I hope this gets settled to the veterans benefit and not to monied interests
Sunday, January 20, 2008
A number of readers have asked for an easy-to-use guide for finding out how the presidential candidates have voted on veterans' issues.
Below you will find a list of the candidates as of 01-20-2008.
Then you will find how various veterans' organizations rated their voting record (if any) and information on the voting record (if any).
Those who have not held national office, or who have been out of national office for a long period of time, will not have a voting record listed.
Remember, this is a "what they did" not "what they say" look at the candidates.
For more information on the candidates' stances on veterans' issues, you can visit their campaign web sites.
All information comes from http://www.votesmart.org/
The presidential candidate page on VoteSmart is here...
Candidates are listed as they appear on VoteSmart.
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Current Office: U.S. Senate
2006 Senator Clinton supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 80 percent in 2006.
2006 In 2006 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave Senator Clinton a grade of A-.
2006 Senator Clinton sponsored or co-sponsored 41 percent of the legislation favored by the The Retired Enlisted Association in 2006.
2005 Senator Clinton supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 92 percent in 2005.
2004 Senator Clinton supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 100 percent in 2004.
2004 Senator Clinton supported the interests of the The Retired Enlisted Association 0 percent in 2004.
2003-2004 Senator Clinton supported the interests of the Vietnam Veterans of America 50 percent in 2003-2004.
2003 Senator Clinton supported the interests of the The American Legion 50 percent in 2003.
2001 Senator Clinton supported the interests of the Vietnam Veterans of America 92 percent in 2001.
Date Bill Title Vote
10/01/2007 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 NV
02/02/2006 Tax Rate Extension Amendment Y
11/17/2005 Additional Funding For Veterans Amendment Y
10/05/2005 Health Care for Veterans Amendment Y
John Reid Edwards
2003 Edwards supported the interests of the The American Legion 50 percent in 2003.
2001 Edwards supported the interests of the Vietnam Veterans of America 84 percent in 2001.
1999 Edwards supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 66 percent in 1999.
Maurice Robert 'Mike' Gravel
Dennis J. Kucinich
Current Office: U.S. House
2006 Representative Kucinich supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 100 percent in 2006.
2006 In 2006 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave Representative Kucinich a grade of C-.
2006 Representative Kucinich sponsored or co-sponsored 36 percent of the legislation favored by the The Retired Enlisted Association in 2006.
2005 Representative Kucinich supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 80 percent in 2005.
2004 Representative Kucinich supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 100 percent in 2004.
2004 Representative Kucinich supported the interests of the The Retired Enlisted Association 0 percent in 2004.
2003-2004 Representative Kucinich supported the interests of the Vietnam Veterans of America 50 percent in 2003-2004.
2003 Representative Kucinich supported the interests of the American Veterans 100 percent in 2003.
2003 Representative Kucinich supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 100 percent in 2003.
2003 Representative Kucinich supported the interests of the The American Legion 60 percent in 2003.
2001 Representative Kucinich supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 100 percent in 2001.
2001 Representative Kucinich supported the interests of the Vietnam Veterans of America 66 percent in 2001.
1999 Representative Kucinich supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 100 percent in 1999.
1997-1998 Representative Kucinich supported the interests of the Vietnam Veterans of America 50 percent in 1997-1998.
Date Bill Title Vote
12/12/2007 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 N
11/21/2003 Department of Veterans Affairs Improvement Act of 2003 NV
10/08/2003 Veterans Benefits Act of 2003 Y
09/21/1999 Veterans' Millennium Health Care Act N
Barack H. Obama
Current Office: U.S. Senate
2006 Senator Obama supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 80 percent in 2006.
2006 In 2006 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave Senator Obama a grade of B+.
2006 Senator Obama sponsored or co-sponsored 12 percent of the legislation favored by the The Retired Enlisted Association in 2006.
2005 Senator Obama supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 92 percent in 2005.
Date Bill Title Vote
10/01/2007 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 NV
02/02/2006 Tax Rate Extension Amendment Y
11/17/2005 Additional Funding For Veterans Amendment Y
10/05/2005 Health Care for Veterans Amendment Y
Rudolph W. Giuliani
Michael D. 'Mike' Huckabee
John Sidney McCain
Current Office: U.S. Senate
2006 Senator McCain supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 20 percent in 2006.
2006 In 2006 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave Senator McCain a grade of D.
2006 Senator McCain sponsored or co-sponsored 18 percent of the legislation favored by the The Retired Enlisted Association in 2006.
2005 Senator McCain supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 25 percent in 2005.
2004 Senator McCain supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 50 percent in 2004.
2004 Senator McCain supported the interests of the The Retired Enlisted Association 0 percent in 2004.
2003-2004 Senator McCain supported the interests of the Vietnam Veterans of America 100 percent in 2003-2004.
2003 Senator McCain supported the interests of the The American Legion 50 percent in 2003.
2001 Senator McCain supported the interests of the Vietnam Veterans of America 46 percent in 2001.
1999 Senator McCain supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 66 percent in 1999.
1997-1998 Senator McCain supported the interests of the Vietnam Veterans of America 0 percent in 1997-1998.
1989-1990 On the votes that the Vietnam Veterans of America considered to be the most important in 1989-1990 , Senator McCain voted their preferred position 50 percent of the time.
Date Bill Title Vote
10/01/2007 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 NV
02/02/2006 Tax Rate Extension Amendment N
11/17/2005 Additional Funding For Veterans Amendment N
10/05/2005 Health Care for Veterans Amendment N
Ronald Ernest 'Ron' Paul
Current Office: U.S. House
2006 Representative Paul supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 100 percent in 2006.
2006 In 2006 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave Representative Paul a grade of F.
2006 Representative Paul sponsored or co-sponsored 57 percent of the legislation favored by the The Retired Enlisted Association in 2006.
2005 Representative Paul supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 40 percent in 2005.
2004 Representative Paul supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 100 percent in 2004.
2004 Representative Paul supported the interests of the The Retired Enlisted Association 0 percent in 2004.
2003-2004 Representative Paul supported the interests of the Vietnam Veterans of America 38 percent in 2003-2004.
2003 Representative Paul supported the interests of the American Veterans 50 percent in 2003.
2003 Representative Paul supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 50 percent in 2003.
2003 Representative Paul supported the interests of the The American Legion 60 percent in 2003.
2001 Representative Paul supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 100 percent in 2001.
2001 Representative Paul supported the interests of the Vietnam Veterans of America 77 percent in 2001.
1999 Representative Paul supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 100 percent in 1999.
1997-1998 Representative Paul supported the interests of the Vietnam Veterans of America 80 percent in 1997-1998.
Date Bill Title Vote
12/12/2007 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 NV
11/21/2003 Department of Veterans Affairs Improvement Act of 2003 Y
10/08/2003 Veterans Benefits Act of 2003 Y
09/21/1999 Veterans' Millennium Health Care Act NV
Willard Mitt Romney
Fred Dalton Thompson
2001 Thompson supported the interests of the Vietnam Veterans of America 76 percent in 2001.
1997-1998 Thompson supported the interests of the Vietnam Veterans of America 17 percent in 1997-1998.
posted by Larry Scott
Founder and Editor
VA Watchdog dot Org
Don't forget to read all of today's VA News Flashes (click here)
Click here to make VA Watchdog dot Org your homepage
When President Bush finished doing his sword dances and Arabian stallion inspections, when he finished making a speech in Abu Dhabi on the importance of freedom that fell flat, when he finished lounging in his fur-lined George of Arabia robe in the Saudi king’s tent, he came home.Sphere: Related Content
Or he came to what was left of home.
A Washington Post cartoon by Tom Toles summed it up best: “Great to be home,” W. enthuses on Air Force One, heading toward the East Coast. “Anything interesting happen while I was gone?” Hanging on the skyline of New York is a sign reading: “U.S.A. Now a Wholly Owned Subsidiary of Foreign Investors.”
Wherever he went, W. seemed dazzled by the can-do spirit of the J. Pierrepont Finches of the new Middle East. “It’s important for the president to hear thoughts, hopes, dreams, aspirations, concerns from folks that are out making a living,” he told Saudi entrepreneurs.
In Dubai, he commended young Arab leaders, saying, “The entrepreneurial spirit is strong.”
In Abu Dhabi, he marveled at the royal family’s plans to build a city based entirely upon renewable energy. “Amazing, isn’t it?” W. said.
You know you’re in trouble when your Middle East oil pump is greener than you are.
Even as W. played cheerleader for Arab business, the Arabs were cleaning our clocks — then buying them. Our addiction to oil has allowed our pushers in the Persian Gulf to go on a shopping spree to snap us up.
Hillary Clinton was right when she said it was “pathetic” that President Bush had to beg the Saudis to drop the price of oil.
One cascading rationale he offered for invading Iraq was the benign domino theory, that bringing democracy to Iraq would sway the autocrats in the region to be less repressive.
But when W. visited Saudi Arabia and Egypt last week, he did not have the whip hand. He could not demand anything of the autocrats in the way of more rights for women and dissidents, much less get the Saudis to help on oil production. He needs their help in corralling Iran, which has been puffed up by the occupation of Iraq.
So he was a supplicant in Saudi Arabia. The American economy is a supplicant, too.
Two decades ago, we fretted that Japan was taking over America when Sony bought Columbia Pictures and Mitsubishi bought a chunk of Rockefeller Center. But they overpaid for everything.
Now, because of Wall Street’s overreaching, our economy depends on foreign oil and foreign loans to stay afloat.
China and Arab countries have a staggering amount of treasury securities. And the oil-rich countries are sitting on so many petrodollars that they are looking beyond prestige hotels and fashion labels and taking advantage of the fire sale to buy eye-popping stakes in our major financial institutions.
Like the president, Citigroup and Merrill Lynch came with tin cups to Middle Eastern, Asian and American investors last week, for a combined total of nearly $19.1 billion, after the subprime mortgage debacle blew up their books.
Citigroup, which raised $7.5 billion from Abu Dhabi in November, raised another $12.5 billion, including from Singapore, Kuwait and Saudi Prince Walid bin Talal. Merrill Lynch gave $6.6 billion in preferred stock to Kuwait, South Korea, a Japanese bank and others.
(While the great sage Bob Rubin was advising Hillary Clinton on sound fiscal policy, he seemed to be asleep at the Citigroup switch.)
As Warren Buffett has said, we are giving ourselves a party to feed our appetite for oil and imported goods and paying for it by selling off the furniture, our most precious assets.
When the president got back Thursday night from a trip that made it clear he has no clout overseas, he had to rush the ailing economy into intensive care.
Next to the cool, strong euro, the dollar is a comparative runt in the world’s currencies. The weak dollar lets foreigners snap up real estate in Manhattan.
It is striking that the Bush scion, who has tried so hard to do the opposite of his father, also ends up facing the prospect of a recession in his final year in office.
Maybe if the president had spent the trillion he squandered on his Iraq odyssey on energy research, we might have broken the oil addiction.
Now it’s a race between Iraq, stupid, or the economy, stupid, to see which one will usher out W.
The country is engaged in a fit of nativism and Lou Dobbsism, obsessing about the millions of Mexicans who might be sneaking across the border when billions in foreign money are pouring into Citigroup. You figure out what might be a bigger problem.
The national boundaries that really matter are the financial ones: Who’s going to own the American economy?