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Monday, May 28, 2007

A sad Memorial Day

Monday was a sad day for several reasons. One for paying tribute to all our soldiers who have died, most recently in an ill-begotten war in Iraq.
But there was another reason -- the news that Cindy Sheehan has decided to call it quits from the Democratic Party after they gave in to President Bush and continued to fund this stupid war.
This was foreshadowed on Saturday, when Sheehan posted this on the Daily Kos:

Dear Democratic Congress
by CindySheehan
Sat May 26, 2007 at 07:03:16 AM PDT

May 26, 2007
Dublin, Ireland

Dear Democratic Congress,

Hello, my name is Cindy Sheehan and my son Casey Sheehan was killed on April 04, 2004 in Sadr City , Baghdad , Iraq . He was killed when the Republicans still were in control of Congress. Naively, I set off on my tireless campaign calling on Congress to rescind George’s authority to wage his war of terror while asking him "for what noble cause" did Casey and thousands of other have to die. Now, with Democrats in control of Congress, I have lost my optimistic naiveté and have become cynically pessimistic as I see you all caving into as one Daily Kos poster called: "Mr. 28%"

There is absolutely no sane or defensible reason for you to hand Bloody King George more money to condemn more of our brave, tired, and damaged soldiers and the people of Iraq to more death and carnage. You think giving him more money is politically expedient, but it is a moral abomination and every second the occupation of Iraq endures, you all have more blood on your hands.

Ms. Pelosi, Speaker of the House, said after George signed the new weak as a newborn baby funding authorization bill: "Now, I think the president’s policy will begin to unravel." Begin to unravel? How many more of our children will have to be killed and how much more of Iraq will have to be demolished before you all think enough unraveling has occurred? How many more crimes will BushCo be allowed to commit while their poll numbers are crumbling before you all gain the political "courage" to hold them accountable. If Iraq hasn’t unraveled in Ms. Pelosi’s mind, what will it take? With almost 700,000 Iraqis dead and four million refugees (which the US refuses to admit) how could it get worse? Well, it is getting worse and it can get much worse thanks to your complicity.

Being cynically pessimistic, it seems to me that this new vote to extend the war until the end of September, (and let’s face it, on October 1st, you will give him more money after some more theatrics, which you think are fooling the anti-war faction of your party) will feed right into the presidential primary season and you believe that if you just hang on until then, the Democrats will be able to re-take the White House. Didn’t you see how "well" that worked for John Kerry in 2004 when he played the politics of careful fence sitting and pandering? The American electorate are getting disgusted with weaklings who blow where the wind takes them while frittering away our precious lifeblood and borrowing money from our new owners, the Chinese.

I knew having a Democratic Congress would make no difference in grassroots action. That’s why we went to DC when you all were sworn in to tell you that we wanted the troops back from Iraq and BushCo held accountable while you pushed for ethics reform which is quite a hoot...don’t’ you think? We all know that it is affordable for you all to play this game of political mayhem because you have no children in harm’s way...let me tell you what it is like:

You watch your reluctant soldier march off to a war that neither you nor he agrees with. Once your soldier leaves the country all you can do is worry. You lie awake at night staring at the moon wondering if today will be the day that you get that dreaded knock on your door. You can’t concentrate, you can’t eat, and your entire life becomes consumed with apprehension while you are waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Then, when your worst fears are realized, you begin a life of constant pain, regret, and longing. Everyday is hard, but then you come up on "special" days...like upcoming Memorial Day. Memorial Day holds double pain for me because, not only are we supposed to honor our fallen troops, but Casey was born on Memorial Day in 1979. It used to be a day of celebration for us and now it is a day of despair. Our needlessly killed soldiers of this war and the past conflict in Vietnam have all left an unnecessary trail of sorrow and deep holes of absence that will never be filled.

So, Democratic Congress, with the current daily death toll of 3.72 troops per day, you have condemned 473 more to these early graves. 473 more lives wasted for your political greed: Thousands of broken hearts because of your cowardice and avarice. How can you even go to sleep at night or look at yourselves in a mirror? How do you put behind you the screaming mothers on both sides of the conflict? How does the agony you have created escape you? It will never escape me...I can’t run far enough or hide well enough to get away from it.

By the end of September, we will be about 80 troops short of another bloody milestone: 4000, and MoveOn.org will hold nationwide candlelight vigils and you all will be busy passing legislation that will snuff the lights out of thousands more human beings.

Congratulations Congress, you have bought yourself a few more months of an illegal and immoral bloodbath. And you know you mean to continue it indefinitely so "other presidents" can solve the horrid problem BushCo forced our world into.

It used to be George Bush’s war. You could have ended it honorably. Now it is yours and you all will descend into calumnious history with BushCo.

The Camp Casey Peace Institute is calling all citizens who are as disgusted as we are with you all to join us in Philadelphia on July 4th to try and figure a way out of this "two" party system that is bought and paid for by the war machine which has a stranglehold on every aspect of our lives. As for myself, I am leaving the Democratic Party. You have completely failed those who put you in power to change the direction our country is heading. We did not elect you to help sink our ship of state but to guide it to safe harbor.

We do not condone our government’s violent meddling in sovereign countries and we condemn the continued murderous occupation of Iraq .

We gave you a chance, you betrayed us.

Sincerely,
Cindy Sheehan
Founder and President of
Gold Star Families for Peace.

Founder and Director of
The Camp Casey Peace Institute

Eternally grieving mother of Casey Sheehan


Then Monday another Daily Kos post, calling it quits.

Here's the Daily Kos post in full:
"Good Riddance Attention Whore"
by CindySheehan
Mon May 28, 2007 at 09:57:01 AM PDT

I have endured a lot of smear and hatred since Casey was killed and especially since I became the so-called "Face" of the American anti-war movement. Especially since I renounced any tie I have remaining with the Democratic Party, I have been further trashed on such "liberal blogs" as the Democratic Underground. Being called an "attention whore" and being told "good riddance" are some of the more milder rebukes.

I have come to some heartbreaking conclusions this Memorial Day Morning. These are not spur of the moment reflections, but things I have been meditating on for about a year now. The conclusions that I have slowly and very reluctantly come to are very heartbreaking to me.

The first conclusion is that I was the darling of the so-called left as long as I limited my protests to George Bush and the Republican Party. Of course, I was slandered and libeled by the right as a "tool" of the Democratic Party. This label was to marginalize me and my message. How could a woman have an original thought, or be working outside of our "two-party" system?

However, when I started to hold the Democratic Party to the same standards that I held the Republican Party, support for my cause started to erode and the "left" started labeling me with the same slurs that the right used. I guess no one paid attention to me when I said that the issue of peace and people dying for no reason is not a matter of "right or left", but "right and wrong."

I am deemed a radical because I believe that partisan politics should be left to the wayside when hundreds of thousands of people are dying for a war based on lies that is supported by Democrats and Republican alike. It amazes me that people who are sharp on the issues and can zero in like a laser beam on lies, misrepresentations, and political expediency when it comes to one party refuse to recognize it in their own party. Blind party loyalty is dangerous whatever side it occurs on. People of the world look on us Americans as jokes because we allow our political leaders so much murderous latitude and if we don’t find alternatives to this corrupt "two" party system our Representative Republic will die and be replaced with what we are rapidly descending into with nary a check or balance: a fascist corporate wasteland. I am demonized because I don’t see party affiliation or nationality when I look at a person, I see that person’s heart. If someone looks, dresses, acts, talks and votes like a Republican, then why do they deserve support just because he/she calls him/herself a Democrat?

I have also reached the conclusion that if I am doing what I am doing because I am an "attention whore" then I really need to be committed. I have invested everything I have into trying to bring peace with justice to a country that wants neither. If an individual wants both, then normally he/she is not willing to do more than walk in a protest march or sit behind his/her computer criticizing others. I have spent every available cent I got from the money a "grateful" country gave me when they killed my son and every penny that I have received in speaking or book fees since then. I have sacrificed a 29 year marriage and have traveled for extended periods of time away from Casey’s brother and sisters and my health has suffered and my hospital bills from last summer (when I almost died) are in collection because I have used all my energy trying to stop this country from slaughtering innocent human beings. I have been called every despicable name that small minds can think of and have had my life threatened many times.

The most devastating conclusion that I reached this morning, however, was that Casey did indeed die for nothing. His precious lifeblood drained out in a country far away from his family who loves him, killed by his own country which is beholden to and run by a war machine that even controls what we think. I have tried every since he died to make his sacrifice meaningful. Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives. It is so painful to me to know that I bought into this system for so many years and Casey paid the price for that allegiance. I failed my boy and that hurts the most.

I have also tried to work within a peace movement that often puts personal egos above peace and human life. This group won’t work with that group; he won’t attend an event if she is going to be there; and why does Cindy Sheehan get all the attention anyway? It is hard to work for peace when the very movement that is named after it has so many divisions.

Our brave young men and women in Iraq have been abandoned there indefinitely by their cowardly leaders who move them around like pawns on a chessboard of destruction and the people of Iraq have been doomed to death and fates worse than death by people worried more about elections than people. However, in five, ten, or fifteen years, our troops will come limping home in another abject defeat and ten or twenty years from then, our children’s children will be seeing their loved ones die for no reason, because their grandparents also bought into this corrupt system. George Bush will never be impeached because if the Democrats dig too deeply, they may unearth a few skeletons in their own graves and the system will perpetuate itself in perpetuity.

I am going to take whatever I have left and go home. I am going to go home and be a mother to my surviving children and try to regain some of what I have lost. I will try to maintain and nurture some very positive relationships that I have found in the journey that I was forced into when Casey died and try to repair some of the ones that have fallen apart since I began this single-minded crusade to try and change a paradigm that is now, I am afraid, carved in immovable, unbendable and rigidly mendacious marble.

Camp Casey has served its purpose. It’s for sale. Anyone want to buy five beautiful acres in Crawford , Texas ? I will consider any reasonable offer. I hear George Bush will be moving out soon, too...which makes the property even more valuable.

This is my resignation letter as the "face" of the American anti-war movement. This is not my "Checkers" moment, because I will never give up trying to help people in the world who are harmed by the empire of the good old US of A, but I am finished working in, or outside of this system. This system forcefully resists being helped and eats up the people who try to help it. I am getting out before it totally consumes me or anymore people that I love and the rest of my resources.

Good-bye America ...you are not the country that I love and I finally realized no matter how much I sacrifice, I can’t make you be that country unless you want it.

It’s up to you now.


I always admired Cindy Sheehan's bravery. She reminded me so much of the '60s war protesters. They didn't get any respect from Americans, either. The "Love It Or Leave It" philosophy seems to have returned, sadly.

But beyond that, her words made me feel guilty. I've been against the Iraq War from the beginning, but I limited my oppositions to a few emails. While Cindy Sheehan was traveling around the country speaking out, I did basically nothing more than an occasional email.

It was with that feeling that I emailed her early Monday evening. I told her of my sadness and guilt feelings, said I hoped she wouldn't stop speaking out and told her I'd asked God's blessings for her and her family.

To my surprise, not more than an hour or so later, she answered back. Here's what she said:

thank you
it saddens me too...but,
to everything there is a season
love & peace
cindy


Love and peace to you, too, Cindy. Better yet, may peace come to all of us.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Arnold has better fish to fry than Paris Hilton

Pack up for jail, Paris. Arnold doesn't want to save you. Here's an interesting quote from reporter Carla Marinucci's political blog on the San Francisco Chronicle website:

Asked Thursday if he'd consider a pardon, Schwarenegger said, "I've never gotten a request but I have many more important things to think about."

Feinstein responds to conflict of interest charges

When the initial San Jose Metro story first appeared in March accusing Sen. Dianne Feinstein of conflict of interest charges, we wrote her a letter asking for an explanation. Here is the lengthy reply we received today. (Note: Please credit A Capitol Idea (or two) http://capitolideaortwo.blogspot.com if used elsewhere.) :



Dear ----- ----:

Thank you for your letter concerning my work as member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. I appreciate your interest in this matter and welcome the opportunity to respond.



I am deeply disturbed by the profound mischaracterization of my work on this Subcommittee in recent articles that were published online and in an independent weekly newspaper in San Jose. These articles are riddled with errors, inaccuracies, and distortions, and I have enclosed a point-by-point rebuttal for your review.



But first, I would like to briefly address some of the most blatant distortions in the articles in question:



First, I did not resign from the Military Construction Subcommittee. I had the opportunity to become the Chairman of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee-a position that places me in a better position to serve California-and I took it. This was part of regular shifting of committee assignments that occurs at the beginning of every Congress. Seven other Appropriations Committee members made similar changes.



Second, I have worked to avoid any possible conflict of interest. I and my staff have consulted with the Senate Ethics Committee. And the Ethics Committee has indicated that I could consider, debate, and vote on appropriations bills, whether in the subcommittee, committee or full Senate.



It is also important to emphasize that there are two separate and distinct processes in place: the congressional appropriations process and the Department of Defense contract award process.



As Chairman and Ranking Member of the Military Appropriations Construction Subcommittee, I voted on large appropriations bills, which fund family housing, facilities construction on bases around the world, environmental remediation of closed military bases, as well as other projects.



Projects in the Senate Military Construction bill must be identified for funding in either the President's Budget Request or in the Department of Defense's Future Years Defense Plan (FYDP).



And, construction projects must be independently authorized (in the Defense Authorization Act) through the Senate and House Armed Services Committees. Construction projects not authorized by the Defense Authorization Act and signed into law by the President are not funded by the Department of Defense.



It should be made clear that these bills do not include contracts, but rather lump-sum appropriations, and it is not until after they are signed into law, that the separate Defense Department contract award process begins.



Let me be clear: the Defense Department has sole responsibility for awarding military construction contracts. And I have never sought to influence which entities were awarded military construction contracts. Neither I nor my staff ever wrote, spoke to, or sought to influence in any way Defense Department officials in charge of determining which entities were awarded any military construction contract.



In sum, there was no conflict.



I have been in public life for more than 30 years and have always adhered to the highest ethical standards. I hope this letter, and the attached Fact/Fiction document, sets the record straight.



Again, thank you for writing. If you have any further questions or comments, please visit my website at http://feinstein.senate.gov, or contact my office in Washington, D.C. at (202) 224-3841. Best regards.





Inaccuracies in Metro Silicon Valley stories, "Senator Feinstein's Iraq Conflict" (January 2007) and "Feinstein Resigns" (March 2007)





FICTION: The article claims Senator Feinstein resigned from the Senate Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee.

"FEINSTEIN RESIGNS Senator exits MILCON following Metro expose, vet-care scandal" (Headline in Metro Silicon Valley, March 21-27 issue)



FACT: Senator Feinstein did not resign from the Senate Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee.

It is nonsense to state that Senator Feinstein resigned from the Senate Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee. The fact is, at the beginning of the 110th Congress, Senator Feinstein had the opportunity to change subcommittees based on seniority. The Senate Appropriations Committee announced subcommittee assignments in a January 10 press release ("Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Rosters Set," http://appropriations.senate.gov). The first Metro story appeared two weeks later.



Background: This year, with the departure of Senator Harry Reid from the Appropriations Committee, the opportunity became available for Senator Feinstein to move up, to Chairman of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee. Such changes are common at the beginning of every new Congress; seven other Committee members made similar changes. The Interior Appropriations Subcommittee is responsible for funding the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Park Service and the Environmental Protection Agency. This was a better subcommittee assignment for California, so Senator Feinstein took the opportunity to become its Chairman.

_______________________



FICTION: The article suggests that Senator Feinstein played a role in directing money toward specific defense contractors.

"As a member of the Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee, Sen. Feinstein voted for appropriations worth billions to her husband's firms." (Headline in Metro Silicon Valley, Jan. 24-30, 2007 issue)



FACT: Senator Feinstein played no role in awarding contracts.

Congress plays no role in determining which entities are awarded these contracts. And neither Senator Feinstein nor her staff played any role in determining which entities received contracts.



Each year, the Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee has this task before it: Reconcile the President's Budget Request with the amount of funding that the full Appropriations Committee has allocated to this subcommittee. After this legislative process Congress votes for the appropriations bill - typically approved by overwhelming margins - and it becomes law with the President's signature. Every project in the Senate bill - from family housing, to National Guard and Reserve facilities, to facilities on active-duty bases worldwide - is identified for funding in the President's Budget Request or in the Defense Department's planning document, known as the Future Years Defense Plan. Construction projects must be independently authorized, in the Defense Authorization Act, by the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, and signed into law. Senator Feinstein does not sit on the Senate Armed Services Committee.



Projects not authorized by the Defense Authorization Act are not funded by the Defense Department.



The Military Construction Bill that the Senate acts upon involves lump-sum appropriations - not contracts. It is only after this process has run its course that contracts for individual projects are awarded by the Defense Department. This is totally separate from the legislative process.

_______________________



FICTION: The article claims Senator Feinstein had a conflict of interest.

"Feinstein was chairperson and ranking member of MILCON for six years, during which time she had a conflict of interest due to her husband Richard C. Blum's ownership of two major defense contractors, who were awarded billions of dollars for military construction projects approved by Feinstein." (Metro Silicon Valley, March 21-27 issue)



FACT: Senator Feinstein had no conflict of interest.

Senator Feinstein has sought to avoid potential conflicts in two ways: First, by seeking the advice of the Senate Ethics Committee - on her own initiative - about whether any conflicts existed, and by following that guidance.



The Ethics Committee indicated that, given the facts, Senator Feinstein could fully consider, debate, and vote on appropriations bills, whether in the subcommittee, the committee or the full Senate.



Second, Senator Feinstein always respected the difference between the congressional appropriations process and the separate Department of Defense contract award process.



Senator Feinstein never sought to influence which entities were awarded military construction contracts. Neither she nor her personal staff nor her committee staff ever wrote, spoke to, or influenced in any way Defense Department officials about which entities were awarded any military construction contract.

_______________________

FICTION: The article implies Senator Feinstein advocated for missile defense projects.
"Here are a few examples from the Congressional Record of questionable intersections between Feinstein's legislative duties and her financial interests: At a MILCON hearing in 2001, Feinstein interrogated defense officials about the details of constructing specific missile defense systems, which included upgrading the early warning radar system at Cobra Dane radar on Shemya Island, Alaska. In 2003, Perini reported that it had completed a contract to upgrade the Cobra Dane radar system. It has done similar work at Beale Air Force Base in California and in the United Kingdom. URS also bids on missile defense work." (Metro Silicon Valley, Jan. 24-30, 2007)

FACT: Senator Feinstein questioned deployment of National Missile Defense.

Senator Feinstein's record and activities make it clear that she had deep reservations about the Bush Administration's rush to deploy an untested and unproven missile defense system.



She raised these objections in hearings of the Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee, on the floor of the U.S. Senate, and introduced legislation to restrict - not increase - funding for missile defense systems. Senator Feinstein was concerned that the Bush Administration's plans to deploy National Missile Defense could destabilize U.S.-Russia relations and violate the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) between the two countries. Senator Feinstein's concerns are reflected in a speech, delivered on the floor of the U.S. Senate, on Oct. 18, 2001, when she introduced legislation (S.1565-107th Congress) to limit funding of missile testing, evaluation or deployment that would unilaterally abrogate or violate the ABM treaty.



In that speech, Senator Feinstein said: "I am also concerned that with what appears to be a rush toward construction at Fort Greely, AK, the administration has already made a decision on deployment, without having yet answered these bottom line questions."



The Bill Summary states that the Bill: "Expresses the sense of the Senate that: (1) the missile defense programs and activities of the United States should remain consistent with its obligations under the ABM Treaty; (2) the U.S. should consult with Russia and pursue modest modifications to address security considerations in, but not unilaterally abrogate or withdraw from, the Treaty; and (3) a national missile defense system should not be deployed until it is has been tested using realistic parameters and is operationally effective and suitable for use in combat. Limits the obligation or expenditure of funds accordingly. Requires that the Secretary of Defense certify that such a system is operationally effective before the President decides to deploy a missile defense system or to notify Russia of the U.S. intention to withdraw from the ABM treaty. Directs the President to submit annual reports to Congress on: (1) the threat posed to the United States and its allies by the use of a weapon of mass destruction by a foreign state or transnational group; (2) the cost of the national missile defense system; and (3) whether the allocation of funds for such system will impair priority defense programs."



Earlier that year, Senator Feinstein raised her concerns over the Fort Greely project in a letter, dated July 20, 2001, to then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. It concluded with: "The planned project at Fort Greely does not appear to be for the same purpose as that for which the funds were authorized and appropriated last year, namely for initial deployment of a National Missile Defense system. If it is for a different purpose, namely for a Missile Defense System Testbed, as per the notification letter, then the funds were not authorized or appropriated for the purpose you are proposing. I look forward to your prompt attention to this matter."

________________________



FICTION: The article implies that Senator Feinstein was a proponent of the Army's chemical demilitarization program.

"In the 2002 MILCON hearings, Feinstein questioned an official about details of the U.S. Army's chemical demilitarization program. URS is extensively involved in performing chemical demilitarization work at key disposal sites in the United States." (Metro Silicon Valley, Jan. 24-30, 2007 issue)



FACT: In reality, Senator Feinstein was raising questions about the program.



Senator Feinstein was actually expressing doubts about the efficacy of the Army's Chemical Demilitarization program, in light of a negative report from the Office of Management and Budget. She said, "That evaluation doesn't give me a lot of confidence that the budget request is justified or that it will be well spent."

________________________





FICTION: The article implies that Senator Feinstein acted to direct a contract to a specific company.

"At that same hearing, Feinstein asked about the possibility of increasing funding for anti-terrorism-force protection at Army bases. The following year, on March 4, 2003, Feinstein asked why the antiterrorism-force protection funds she had advocated for the year before had not yet been spent. On April 21, 2003, URS announced the award of a $600 million contract to provide, among other services, anti-terrorism-force protection for U.S. Army installations." (Metro Silicon Valley, Jan. 24-30, 2007 issue)



FACT: In reality, Senator Feinstein was concerned that the program was not being run effectively.

At the 2002 hearing, Senator Feinstein submitted written questions, on the Fiscal Year 2003 Budget, to determine whether the National Guard and Army Reserve were receiving sufficient force protection funding, compared to the active-duty Army.



Senator Feinstein: "General Helmly and General Squier. I see no specific requests in the budgets of the reserve components addressing increased force protection requirements. However, understanding that this amount could be in the billions of dollars, the Army Guard has made an initial cut as to the amount that could be executed in the next fiscal year. I assume USAR (U.S. Army Reserve) has a similar estimate. Would you please provide your estimated requirement for the Committee?" (Senate Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee, March 5, 2002)



In addition, at a 2003 hearing, Senator Feinstein submitted a written question on the Fiscal Year 2004 Budget. The question was a follow-up to her 2002 question, and raised concerns that the National Guard and Army Reserve were not receiving sufficient force-protection funding.



Senator Feinstein: "It is my understanding that funding previously approved by the Committee for Antiterrorism/Force Protection (ATFP) is not finding its way to the reserve components. Could you provide the Committee with your funding plan for ATFP?" (Senate Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee, March 4, 2003)

________________________



FICTION: The article asserts that Senator Feinstein participated in approving "task orders" that benefited Perini and URS.

Beginning in 2003, both Perini and URS were awarded a series of open-ended contracts for military construction work around the world, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. Under Feinstein's leadership, MILCON regularly approved specific project "task orders" that were issued to Perini and URS under these contracts." (Metro Silicon Valley, Jan. 24-20, 2007 issue)



FACT: The Senate Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee does not receive, review or approve "task orders."

According to Federal Acquisition Regulations, task orders are "orders for services placed against an established contract, or with Government sources." These orders are placed by the Defense Department. The Senate Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee plays no role in approving task orders. Senator Feinstein played no role in approving task orders.



________________________



FICTION: The article implies that Senator Feinstein was advocating for a C-17 beddown facility at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.

"At a March 30, 2004, MILCON hearing, Feinstein grilled Maj. Gen. Dean Fox about whether or not the Pentagon intended to prioritize funding the construction of "beddown" maintenance facilities for its new airlifter, the C-17 Globemaster. After being reassured by Fox that these funds would soon be flowing, Feinstein said, "Good, that's what I really wanted to hear. Thank you very much. Appreciate it very much, General." Two years later, URS announced a $42 million award to build a beddown maintenance facility for the C-17 at Hickam Air Base in Hawaii as part of a multibillion dollar contract with the Air Force. Under Feinstein's leadership, MILCON approved the Hickam project." (Metro Silicon Valley, Jan. 24-30, 2007)



FACT: In reality, Senator Feinstein was asking about C-17 facilities at Travis Air Force Base and March Air Reserve Base, both in California.

Senator Feinstein never asked about facilities in Hawaii, and the transcript shows that the tone of the hearing was collegial. Senator Feinstein's questioning focused on the ability to receive C-17s at the California bases, which would improve their military value and decrease the likelihood the bases would be targeted in the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure process.



From the hearing transcript:

Senator Hutchison: "Mr. Gibbs, I read in your testimony the commitment and the military construction that you're asking for to support the F-22 and the C-17. And I just wanted to ask you -- and perhaps you can answer this for the record because it's somewhat parochial. But in looking at all of the places that there would be basing for the C-17, I would just like to ask you to look at a couple of places in Texas where there might be some savings in military construction: either Dyess where there is excess capacity, still ramp space, and -- of course for the B-1s, and Kelly where there is significant hangar space still available and it could take C-17s. If any of those would be able to save military construction in the other basing, I would appreciate your just looking at that."

Senator Feinstein: "You know they're going to California?"

Senator Hutchison: "Well, some are. (Laughter.) They're going to California, Alaska -"

Senator Feinstein: "I'm shocked at you, Madam Chairman."

Senator Hutchison: "California, Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, South Carolina and state of Washington. I'm not suggesting that we mess with California, but I'm just wondering -- (laughter) -- if with all of the bases that are in the works here, if there would be some savings? That's what I'm asking you to."



After a discussion of the Base Realignment and Closure process and family housing, Senator Feinstein asked questions about Travis and March.

Senator Feinstein: "Thanks very much, Madam Chairman. And thank you, gentlemen, for your service. I just want to assure that the beddown costs for the C-17 to C-5 transformation are in the FYDP (Future Years Defense Plan). Are they?"

Mr. Gibbs: "To the extent that we know them, yes, ma'am."

Senator Feinstein: "Okay. To the extent that you know them, right. So the commitment is to put in the FYDP. I recognize that in the '05 bill we have two facility projects, one at Travis for $15 million and two projects for 10 at March. So I think that California is going to be very happy about that, and we thank you for that."

Mr. Gibbs: "That's one of the earlier locations."

Senator Feinstein: "Pardon me?"

Mr. Gibbs: "That's one of the earlier locations."

Senator Feinstein: "Right, right."

Mr. Gibbs: ".from the list that the chairman read."

General Fox: "Senator Feinstein, if I can answer it? The way that we prioritize our military construction program - when we bring in a new weapons system like the C-17 to California, we will ensure that those requirements are funded upfront in our president's budget submission."

Senator Feinstein: "Good. That's what I really wanted to hear."

General Fox: "Yes, ma'am."

Senator Feinstein: "That you very much. I appreciate it very much, General."



________________________



FICTION: The article implies a link between the Senate Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee and the awarding of a specific contract.

"In mid-2005, MILCON approved a Pentagon proposal to fund "overhead coverage force protection" in Iraq that would reinforce the roofs of U.S. Army barracks to better withstand mortar rounds. On Oct. 13, 2005, Perini announced the award of a $185 million contract to provide overhead coverage force protection to the Army in Iraq." (Metro Silicon Valley, Jan. 24-30, 2007 issue)



FACT: The Senate Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee is not involved in determining which entities receive contracts.

The President sought the funding in a Supplemental Appropriations Request, and Defense Department contracting officials made decisions about individual contractors. Congress approved the appropriation - but played no role in selecting contractors. Senator Feinstein played no role in determining which companies were awarded specific contracts.



________________________



FICTION: The article implies Senator Feinstein was advocating for a construction project at Vandenberg.

"At a 2001 MILCON hearing, Feinstein, attending to a small item, told Maj. Gen. Earnest O. Robbins that she would appreciate receiving an engineering assessment on plans to build a missile transport bridge at Vandenberg Air Force Base. He said he would give it to her. She also asked for and received a list of unfunded construction projects, which prioritize military construction wish lists down to the level of thousand-dollar light fixtures. While there is no evidence to point to nefarious intent behind Feinstein's request for these details, it is worth noting that Perini and URS have open-ended contracts to perform military construction for the Air Force. The senator could have chosen to serve on a subcommittee where she had no potential conflict of interests at all." (Metro Silicon Valley, Jan. 24-30, 2007 issue)



FACT: Senator Feinstein was in fact questioning the need for the project.

The Defense Department was planning to retire the Peacekeeper missile. Senator Feinstein questioned the need for projects -- at Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, and at Vandenberg -- in light of the retirement of these missiles. She specifically asked about the missile transport bridge at Vandenberg.

Senator Feinstein: "Thank you very much, Mr. Dishner. I understand you are the only one who is making a statement. I have two specific questions before I get to my usual remediation questions, one on the Peacekeeper missile base closure and the implications, and the other on Global Hawk. Let me begin with Peacekeeper. The Defense Department is seeking permission from Congress to scrap its inventory of Peacekeeper missiles. Those are stationed at Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming. And my question is, what impact would the retirement of these missiles have on the future? The reason I ask this is because the President's 2002 budget includes two MILCON projects for Warren: $10.2 million for a fitness center and $2.7 million for a medical clinic alteration. So, my question, should those projects go forward in view of the retirement of the Peacekeeper?"

Mr. Dishner: "Yes, I think the answer is positive, but General Robbins?"

FITNESS CENTER

General Robbins: "The fitness center is the only one I can address because the medical MILCON is separate apportion issue now. The fitness center projects are sized based on the number of enlisted personnel at a given installation."

Senator Feinstein: "And what will that number be when Peacekeeper is retired?"

General Robbins: "And they are in a range. The number I was given, that if in fact they were to eliminate the Peacekeeper or retire it, over time it will reduce the enlisted population at F.E. Warren by around 600 people, could impact by about 600. If we take that number out of the baseline that is already stationed at F.E. Warren, the size of the fitness center remains the same as the one we got in the program. So, the fitness center would stay the same."

Senator Feinstein: "And how many people are stationed at Warren?"

General Robbins: "Let me get the number, ma'am. Let's see. Right now there are almost 3200."

Senator Feinstein: "Minus 600."

General Robbins: "Minus 600 will take it down to about 2600."

Senator Feinstein: "And you need the $10.2 million for a fitness center?"

General Robbins: "Yes."

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE

Senator Feinstein: "Pretty good fitness center. The budget also includes $11.8 million for Vandenberg to construct a missile transport bridge. According to the project description, the bridge is used for transporting Minuteman and Peacekeeper missile. Again, would a decision to retire the Peacekeeper have any impact on the need for this project?"

General Robbins: "That also would remain a requirement. That road is the only road between the north and south portions of the base. As you noted, it transports both the Peacekeeper and Minuteman missiles for test firing, and so the elimination of one of those systems would not matter."

Senator Feinstein: "Is this an improvement of the existing road?"

General Robbins: "It is replacement of an existing bridge."

Senator Feinstein: "So it's a new road."

General Robbins: "Bridge."

Senator Feinstein: "Bridge. I beg your pardon. As a replacement for an existing bridge?"

General Robbins: "That's correct."

Senator Feinstein: "And the existing bridge cannot be fixed?"

General Robbins: "Correct."

Senator Feinstein: "Why?"

General Robbins: "I'll have to get you the engineering assessment on it."

Senator Feinstein: "Would you please? I would appreciate that very much."

(Senate Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee, Aug. 1, 2001)





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Sincerely yours,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

Further information about my position on issues of concern to California and the Nation are available at my website http://feinstein.senate.gov. You can also receive electronic e-mail updates by subscribing to my e-mail list at http://feinstein.senate.gov/issue.html.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Go to jail, Paris Hilton. Go directly to jail

Soon-to-be jailbird Paris Hilton is trying to mount (no pun intended) a public relations campaign by petitioning Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to keep her rich little body from serving the 45-day sentence she was handed down.
All together now: Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!
All in favor? (Silence).
Opposed: Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
Though we somehow feel the teensiest bit sorry for her predicament, Paris Hilton has no one to blame but her stupid self for getting into this one. Of course, in the beginning, it wasn't her fault. She started out blaming her publicist, Elliot Mintz (whose past clients have included John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Talk about tough jobs.) First, she fired him, then quietly rehired him. Oh, maybe it wasn't totally his fault. Totally.
Her Free Paris website (find it yourself, I refuse to link to it) is even selling "stuff" through Cafepress.com to raise money for this campaign. Raise money?? Doesn't Paris Hilton have money?? She needs to raise a defense fund??
What a joke.
Go to jail, Paris. Go directly to jail. Do not pass Go.

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