Federal No-Bid Contracts On Rise

  Federal No-Bid Contracts On Rise
    By Robert O’Harrow Jr.
    The Washington Post    Wednesday 22 August 2007

Use of favored firms a common shortcut.

    Under pressure from the White House and Congress to deliver a long-delayed plan last year, officials at the Department of Homeland Security’s counter-narcotics office took a shortcut that has become common at federal agencies: They hired help through a no-bid contract.

    And the firm they hired showed them how to do it.

    Scott Chronister, a senior official in the Office of Counternarcotics Enforcement, reached out to a former colleague at a private consulting firm for advice. The consultant suggested that Chronister’s office could avoid competition and get the work done quickly under an arrangement in which the firm “approached the government with a ‘unique and innovative concept,’ ” documents and interviews show.

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    A contract worth up to $579,000 was awarded to the consultant’s firm in September.

    Though small by government standards, the counter-narcotics contract illustrates the government’s steady move away from relying on competition to secure the best deals for products and services.

White House Manual Details How to Deal With Protesters

By Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 22, 2007; A02

Not that they’re worried or anything. But the White House evidently leaves little to chance when it comes to protests within eyesight of the president. As in, it doesn’t want any.

A White House manual that came to light recently gives presidential advance staffers extensive instructions in the art of “deterring potential protestors” from President Bush‘s public appearances around the country.

Among other things, any event must be open only to those with tickets tightly controlled by organizers. Those entering must be screened in case they are hiding secret signs. Any anti-Bush demonstrators who manage to get in anyway should be shouted down by “rally squads” stationed in strategic locations. And if that does not work, they should be thrown out.

But that does not mean the White House is against dissent — just so long as the president does not see it. In fact, the manual outlines a specific system for those who disagree with the president to voice their views. It directs the White House advance staff to ask local police “to designate a protest area where demonstrators can be placed, preferably not in the view of the event site or motorcade route.”

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Ray McGovern: Bush League War Drums Beating Louder on Iran

A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
by Ray McGovern

It is as though I’m back as an analyst at the CIA, trying to estimate the chances of an attack on Iran. The putative attacker, though, happens to be our own president.

It is precisely the kind of work we analysts used to do. And, while it is still a bit jarring to be turning our analytical tools on the U.S. leadership, it is by no means entirely new. For, of necessity, we Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) have been doing that for almost six years now — ever since 9/11, when “everything changed.”

Of necessity? Yes, because, with very few exceptions, American journalists put their jobs at grave risk if they expose things such as fraudulent wars.

The craft of CIA analysis was designed to be an all-source operation, meaning that we analysts were responsible — and held accountable — for assimilating information from all sources and coming to judgments on what it all meant. We used data of various kinds, from the most sophisticated technical collection platforms, to spies, to not the least — open media.Here I must reveal a trade secret and risk puncturing the mystique of intelligence analysis. Generally speaking, 80 percent of the information one needs to form judgments on key intelligence targets or issues is available in open media. It helps to have been trained — as my contemporaries and I had the good fortune to be trained — by past masters of the discipline of media analysis, which began in a structured way in targeting Japanese and German media in the 1940s. But, truth be told, anyone with a high school education can do it. It is not rocket science.

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Prelude to an Attack on Iran

Enlarge Photo

U.S. forces detain suspected Shi’ite militants near Seddah, in southern Iraq.

Yuri Kozyrev for TIME

Reports that the Bush Administration will put Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on the terrorism list can be read in one of two ways: it’s either more bluster or, ominously, a wind-up for a strike on Iran. Officials I talk to in Washington vote for a hit on the IRGC, maybe within the next six months. And they think that as long as we have bombers and missiles in the air, we will hit Iran’s nuclear facilities. An awe and shock campaign, lite, if you will. But frankly they’re guessing; after Iraq the White House trusts no one, especially the bureaucracy.

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Why Cheney Really Is That Bad

Posted on Aug 21, 2007
Cheney
AP Photo / Mark Humphrey

By Scott Ritter

Karl Rove, interchangeably known as “Boy Genius” or “Turd Blossom,” has left the White House.  The press conference announcing his decision to resign has been given front-page treatment by most major media outlets, but the fact of the matter is the buzz surrounding Rove’s departure is much ado about nothing, especially in terms of coming to grips with the remaining 16 months of the worst presidency in the history of the United States.

Rove is a domestic political marauder, the personification of a conservative movement which lacks a moral compass and has a complete disregard for facts.  The master of exploiting mainstream America’s predilection for news-as-entertainment, under which the likes of Rupert Murdoch can manufacture headlines out of thin air, Rove helped turn “fair and balanced” into a national joke which everyone laughs at but few actually comprehend.  Rove served as the maestro of a political-smear orchestra composed of such intellectually challenged muckrakers as Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, manipulating the NASCAR/professional wrestling crowd’s addiction to seedy gossip in an effort to maintain the all-important 51 percent majority needed to win elections.

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Subprime Loans = Primetime for Vampire Lenders

How “reputable” financial firms are using an arsenal of tricks to extract high payments from homeowners, drain their equity and steal their homes.


More stories by Jim Hightower

 One of the most dramatic stories from the New Testament is of the time that Jesus encountered money changers in the temple. Enraged by their usury and sacrilege, he went on a tear — overturning their tables, physically driving them out and chastising them for converting the temple into a “den of robbers.” The Bible doesn’t say where these bloodsucking lenders went, but now we know: They have re-emerged in recent years to set up their tables right here in America, working a dark alley of homeowner financing called the “subprime mortgage market.” The what? Don’t be deterred by the finance industry’s jargon (which is intended to numb your brain and keep regular folks from even trying to figure out what’s going on). At its core, this is a classically simple story of banker greed and outright sleaze. And the astonishing part is that nearly all of the rank injustice perpetrated by today’s money changers is considered legal and is practiced by supposedly reputable financial firms.

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