Vets for Freedom Says Thousands Of Donors — We Count Five

In a recent story about Vets for Freedom’s new campaign in support of Republican Presidential candidate John McCain, the Virginia-Pilot quoted VFFs Chairman Pete Hegseth on donor disclosure.

Vets for Freedom’s efforts are being fueled by donations from thousands of people nationwide, Hegseth said. He said the group will not release donors’ names nor the size of their donations. The group is registered under a section of federal tax law that allows it to advertise and organize on behalf of particular policies while maintaining the confidentiality of its donors.
Donations to political campaigns or political action committees, by contrast, generally must be reported and are limited by law.

Thousands of donations? We looked up Vets for Freedom’s reporting records and found a total of five (5) donors and $2,050 total donations in the most recent period they reported. This reporting is for their “527” committee, which is legally allowed to ” influence the nomination, election, appointment or defeat of candidates for public office” but is not allowed to coordinate with any candidate’s campaign. However, their 501c4 charity arm, the part of the group that does not have to report its donors, can not legally do any of those things.
So what’s the takeaway? On one hand, we have a 527 group with a total of $2,050 in donations, not enough to pay for Mark Penn’s coffee break, and on the other we have a charity that legally can not be involved in direct political action? What’s happening?
Well if you have “thousands” of mystery donors unreported but supporting John McCain’s campaign and suddenly, a small fringe front group with just 5 real donors has over $1.5 million dollars to run a television campaign and there are plans for a major push this fall.
We’re betting this is nothing more than a conduit for one or two very large donations intended to get around election law to the benefit of candidate McCain.
The Washington Post‘s blog The Trail tried to pin Hegseth down on why this “non-election” group is advertising with McCain’s message in swing states important to McCain, and only just before an election with McCain as a candidate.
From the story,

Hegseth said his group is not operating on behalf of McCain and notes that federal law prohibits the organization from coordinating the ad with the campaign. The states were chosen, he said, not because they are crucial swing states for McCain, but because the heightened interest in the election in those states will give it a larger audience.

What Hegseth didn’t mention is that VFF’s ads were bought immediately after the McCain Campaign stopped advertising.
What Hegseth didn’t mention is that VFF is supporting candidates across the country, but surprise, none of the Iraq War or Vietnam veterans who are running like Jon Powers or Charlie Brown.
What Hegseth didn’t mention is that there are real veterans groups with real veterans signing real petitions and supporting a candidate, only those real veterans, are supporting Barack Obama.
The only thing Hegseth could do was concede that the message in the ad is almost identical to McCain’s on the stump — the surge worked; let’s continue the war until we win. He said McCain has been the “strongest advocate” for the veterans of the two wars.
Which is about as believable as McCain’s claim that real veterans groups support him.

More War

Congress passes new Iraq war funds,

The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved $161.8 billion in new funds to continue fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the next year, without timetables for withdrawing combat troops.
. . . The Senate’s 92-6 vote to pass the war-funding bill marked a victory for Bush, who has vigorously opposed any move by Congress to impose timetables for ending the Iraq war, now in its sixth year.
. . .The new money for combat in Iraq and Afghanistan puts the war tab since late 2001 at more than $800 billion, with most of that money going to Iraq.

It made me think of this:

Governor Howard Dean, M.D., Address to California State Democratic Convention, Sacramento, California, March 15, 2003
What I want to know, what I want to know, is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting the President’s unilateral intervention in Iraq? [cheers].
What I want to know, is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting tax cuts which have bankrupted this country and given us the largest deficit in the history of the United States? [cheers].
[. . .] What I want to know is why the Democrats in Congress aren’t standing up for us joining every other industrialized country on the face of the Earth in having health insurance for every man, woman and child in America? [cheers, chants "Dean"].
[. . .] As Paul Wellstone said . . . I’m Howard Dean, and I’m here to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. [cheers].

Finally – But For The Wrong Reasons

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Bush has FINALLY decided to go after Osama Bin Laden. But, of course, for all the wrong reasons. He has finally ordered the military to engage in an all-out effort to get Bin Laden, including raids in Pakistan. But he is doing it so his own legacy looks a little better, not to protect America.
If Bush and the Republicans had wanted to protect America he would have gone after Bin Laden from the start instead of retargeting most of the military on Iraq.
Actually, if he had wanted to protect America he would have listened to the Clinton people who were trying to get the incoming Bush administration interested in fighting al Queda. Instead they completely ignored the threat and let 9/11 happen.
See Get Osama Bin Laden before I leave office, orders George W Bush,

President George W Bush has enlisted British special forces in a final attempt to capture Osama Bin Laden before he leaves the White House.
Defence and intelligence sources in Washington and London confirmed that a renewed hunt was on for the leader of the September 11 attacks. “If he [Bush] can say he has killed Saddam Hussein and captured Bin Laden, he can claim to have left the world a safer place,” said a US intelligence source.
. . . One US intelligence source compared the “growing number of clandestine reconnaissance missions” inside Pakistan with those conducted in Laos and Cambodia at the height of the Vietnam war.

Iran Wins

OK I’m just back from Puerto Rico, and will be writing a lot more about labor and the SEIU. But tonite, through Atrios, this: Did Iranian agents dupe Pentagon officials?

Defense Department counterintelligence investigators suspected that Iranian exiles who provided dubious intelligence on Iraq and Iran to a small group of Pentagon officials might have “been used as agents of a foreign intelligence service … to reach into and influence the highest levels of the U.S. government,” a Senate Intelligence Committee report said Thursday.
A top aide to then-secretary of defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, however, shut down the 2003 investigation into the Pentagon officials’ activities after only a month, and the Defense Department’s top brass never followed up on the investigators’ recommendation for a more thorough investigation, the Senate report said.
The revelation raises questions about whether Iran may have used a small cabal of officials in the Pentagon and in Vice President Dick Cheney’s office to feed bogus intelligence on Iraq and Iran to senior policymakers in the Bush administration who were eager to oust the Iraqi dictator.
Iran, which was a mortal enemy of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and fought a bloody eight-year war with Iraq during his reign, has been the primary beneficiary of U.S. policy in Iraq, where Iranian-backed groups now run much of the government and the security forces.

A top aide shut down the investigation? How many other investigations of Republican wrongdoing have also been shut down?
Go read it, it is fascinating. The whole Bush crowd of dumb clucks, getting used by Iranian intelligence who understood just how to play them.

Mission Accomplished Day

Today is Mission Accomplished Day. Great Job, Bushie!
Mission-accomplished.jpg
I think maybe 70% of the public thinks Bush actually flew the plane and landed it on the carrier. (120% of FOX viewers, of course.)
Bush was a passenger. He didn’t fly the plane. He isn’t allowed to fly planes. Back in his National Guard days he had to stop flying when he refused to take a drug test, and then stopped showing up for duty entirely, even though there was a war going on.
Bush-FlightSuit.jpg

Pentagon Propaganda Story

Did Anyone see John Stauber of the Center for Media and Democracy on the Newhour yesterday? PBS was the first outlet to even mention the New York Times story about the government waging a huge propaganda campaign to sell the war to the public. All the networks, the Pentagon and everyone else involved refused to take part in the segment.

Here is an article by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton, Pentagon Propaganda: So Much Worse Than We Thought,

Thanks to the two-year investigation by the New York Times, we today know that Victoria Clarke, then the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, launched the Pentagon military analyst program in early 2002. These supposedly independent military analysts were in fact a coordinated team of pro-war propagandists, personally recruited by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and acting under Clarke’s tutelage and development.
[. . .] Since the 1920s there have been laws passed to stop the government from doing what Barstow has exposed. It is actually illegal in the United States for the government to propagandize its own citizens. As Barstow’s report demonstrates, these laws have been repeatedly violated, are not enforced and are clearly inadequate. The U.S. Congress therefore needs to investigate this and the rest of the Bush propaganda campaign that sold the war in Iraq. (Emphasis added)

Ari Melber: PBS Breaks Media Blackout of Pentagon Propaganda Bombshell – Media on The Huffington Post,J

ohn Stauber, coauthor of “Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush’s War on Iraq,” contended that the Pentagon’s “surrogate” program violated federal law against domestic propaganda and called for a congressional investigation. “This war could have never been sold if it were not for this sophisticated propaganda campaign,” he said.

Other news outlets are ignoring this huge story.

Why The War Goes On

Maybe the Iraq occupation continues because there’s so much money to be made.
Study finds lawmakers invested $165m in defense,

WASHINGTON – Members of Congress have as much as $196 million collectively invested in companies that do business with the Defense Department, earning millions since the onset of the Iraq war, according to a study by a nonpartisan research group.
. . . Several members earning money from these contractors have plum committee or leadership assignments, including Senator John F. Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, and the House minority whip Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri.

This is just members of Congress. What about others involved with keeing the war going? And I wonder how much money the Iraqi leadership is making off the war as well?

The Surge

The right’s big thing now is to claim that “the surge is working.”
OK, fine. It’s working. Does that mean the troops come how now?
If now, then what does “working” mean? Does “working” mean that the troops stay in Iraq? Was that the goal of the surge?
Why are they in Iraq, again? Oh yeah, to find the WMD, to get Saddam out of power, or whatever reasons they are giving this week…