"Who Let bin Ladens leave U.S.?" In the days after Sept. 11, all U.S. commercial air traffic was grounded -- except for the six chartered flights that carried Saudi Arabian citizens, including members of Osama bin Laden's family, back across the pond. From the May 18 edition of The Hill ("The newspaper for and about the U.S. Congress"), read Alexander Bolton's report about Sept. 11 commission members (Democratic members, anyway) and others wondering why the White House still refuses to answer questions about who authorized those flights. Certainly the Bush family's long ties with the Saudi ruling class couldn't have anything to do with it. www.thehill.com/news/051804/binladen.aspx
"Contract Killers." Remember the "contractors" so viciously killed by anti-occupation Iraqis back in March? Well, they weren't slapping up drywall. They were security personnel -- mercenaries, if you please -- and they represented the growing number of privately contracted hands who do Uncle Sam's work overseas. According to Nicholas von Hoffman in Harper's Magazine (June), one in 10 soldiers on the American side in Iraq is a hired gun, just one example of the ways the American war machine has become increasingly and now utterly dependent on private businesses basically accountable to no one. And the rationale for privatizing -- saving money -- hasn't even panned out.
"The Jesus Landing Pad." The group claiming to be "the Christian Voice in the Nation's Capital" has the ear of the White House, writes Rich Perlstein in The Village Voice (May 18). A confidential memo obtained by the Voice reveals that high-level Bush staffers including the National Security Council's Elliot Abrams have met with members of the Christian Zionist group Apostolic Congress to address their concerns that Bush policy in the Middle East align closely with Biblical prophecy, lest Christ fail to return to Earth. Recent Bush policy reversals suggest the administration might be paying heed. www.villagevoice.com/issues/0420/perlstein.php
"Unlimited Toxic Waste Dumps Allowed on Public Lands." The National Mining Association pressed members of Congress, members of Congress pressured Interior Secretary Gale Norton, and now Interior has a new rule, negotiated behind closed doors: no more curbs on toxic hard-rock-mining waste, reversing a 1997 government opinion. Plus, all cleanup liability is now charged to the taxpayers. The Progress Report, a clearinghouse for government-watchdog info, digs in. www.progress.org/2003/corpw34.htm