Friday, June 30, 2006
The story is going national. Little Green Footballs has posted a reference to this story.
According to Jessica's blog- Mark Green will appear on Fox News on Tuesday to discuss Barrett and the Weekly Standard is mulling around.
Fit and Unfit to Print
What are the obligations of the press in wartime?
Friday, June 30, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT
"Not everything is fit to print. There is to be regard for at least probable factual accuracy, for danger to innocent lives, for human decencies, and even, if cautiously, for nonpartisan considerations of the national interest."
So wrote the great legal scholar, Alexander Bickel, about the duties of the press in his 1975 collection of essays "The Morality of Consent." We like to re-read Bickel to get our Constitutional bearings, and he's been especially useful since the New York Times decided last week to expose a major weapon in the U.S. arsenal against terror financing.
President Bush, among others, has since assailed the press for revealing the program, and the Times has responded by wrapping itself in the First Amendment, the public's right to know and even The Wall Street Journal. We published a story on the same subject on the same day, and the Times has since claimed us as its ideological wingman. So allow us to explain what actually happened, putting this episode within the larger context of a newspaper's obligations during wartime.
We should make clear that the News and Editorial sections of the Journal are separate, with different editors. The Journal story on Treasury's antiterror methods was a product of the News department, and these columns had no say in the decision to publish. We have reported the story ourselves, however, and the facts are that the Times's decision was notably different from the Journal's.
According to Tony Fratto, Treasury's Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, he first contacted the Times some two months ago. He had heard Times reporters were asking questions about the highly classified program involving Swift, an international banking consortium that has cooperated with the U.S. to follow the money making its way to the likes of al Qaeda or Hezbollah. Mr. Fratto went on to ask the Times not to publish such a story on grounds that it would damage this useful terror-tracking method.
Sometime later, Secretary John Snow invited Times Executive Editor Bill Keller to his Treasury office to deliver the same message. Later still, Mr. Fratto says, Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton, the leaders of the 9/11 Commission, made the same request of Mr. Keller. Democratic Congressman John Murtha and Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte also urged the newspaper not to publish the story.
The Times decided to publish anyway, letting Mr. Fratto know about its decision a week ago Wednesday. The Times agreed to delay publishing by a day to give Mr. Fratto a chance to bring the appropriate Treasury official home from overseas. Based on his own discussions with Times reporters and editors, Mr. Fratto says he believed "they had about 80% of the story, but they had about 30% of it wrong." So the Administration decided that, in the interest of telling a more complete and accurate story, they would declassify a series of talking points about the program. They discussed those with the Times the next day, June 22.
Around the same time, Treasury contacted Journal reporter Glenn Simpson to offer him the same declassified information. Mr. Simpson has been working the terror finance beat for some time, including asking questions about the operations of Swift, and it is a common practice in Washington for government officials to disclose a story that is going to become public anyway to more than one reporter. Our guess is that Treasury also felt Mr. Simpson would write a straighter story than the Times, which was pushing a violation-of-privacy angle; on our reading of the two June 23 stories, he did.
We recount all this because more than a few commentators have tried to link the Journal and Times at the hip. On the left, the motive is to help shield the Times from political criticism. On the right, the goal is to tar everyone in the "mainstream media." But anyone who understands how publishing decisions are made knows that different newspapers make up their minds differently.
Some argue that the Journal should have still declined to run the antiterror story. However, at no point did Treasury officials tell us not to publish the information. And while Journal editors knew the Times was about to publish the story, Treasury officials did not tell our editors they had urged the Times not to publish. What Journal editors did know is that they had senior government officials providing news they didn't mind seeing in print. If this was a "leak," it was entirely authorized.
Would the Journal have published the story had we discovered it as the Times did, and had the Administration asked us not to? Speaking for the editorial columns, our answer is probably not. Mr. Keller's argument that the terrorists surely knew about the Swift monitoring is his own leap of faith. The terror financiers might have known the U.S. could track money from the U.S., but they might not have known the U.S. could follow the money from, say, Saudi Arabia. The first thing an al Qaeda financier would have done when the story broke is check if his bank was part of Swift.
Just as dubious is the defense in a Times editorial this week that "The Swift story bears no resemblance to security breaches, like disclosure of troop locations, that would clearly compromise the immediate safety of specific individuals." In this asymmetric war against terrorists, intelligence and financial tracking are the equivalent of troop movements. They are America's main weapons.
The Times itself said as much in a typically hectoring September 24, 2001, editorial "Finances of Terror": "Much more is needed, including stricter regulations, the recruitment of specialized investigators and greater cooperation with foreign banking authorities." Isn't the latter precisely what the Swift operation is?
Whether the Journal News department would agree with us in this or other cases, we can't say. We do know, however, that Journal editors have withheld stories at the government's request in the past, notably during the Gulf War when they learned that a European company that had sold defense equipment to Iraq was secretly helping the Pentagon. Readers have to decide for themselves, based on our day-to-day work, whether they think Journal editors are making the correct publishing judgments.
Which brings us back to the New York Times. We suspect that the Times has tried to use the Journal as its political heatshield precisely because it knows our editors have more credibility on these matters.
As Alexander Bickel wrote, the relationship between government and the press in the free society is an inevitable and essential contest. The government needs a certain amount of secrecy to function, especially on national security, and the press in its watchdog role tries to discover what it can. The government can't expect total secrecy, Bickel writes, "but the game similarly calls on the press to consider the responsibilities that its position implies. Not everything is fit to print." The obligation of the press is to take the government seriously when it makes a request not to publish. Is the motive mainly political? How important are the national security concerns? And how do those concerns balance against the public's right to know?
The problem with the Times is that millions of Americans no longer believe that its editors would make those calculations in anything close to good faith. We certainly don't. On issue after issue, it has become clear that the Times believes the U.S. is not really at war, and in any case the Bush Administration lacks the legitimacy to wage it.
So, for example, it promulgates a double standard on "leaks," deploring them in the case of Valerie Plame and demanding a special counsel when the leaker was presumably someone in the White House and the journalist a conservative columnist. But then it hails as heroic and public-spirited the leak to the Times itself that revealed the National Security Agency's al Qaeda wiretaps.
Mr. Keller's open letter explaining his decision to expose the Treasury program all but admits that he did so because he doesn't agree with, or believe, the Bush Administration. "Since September 11, 2001, our government has launched broad and secret anti-terror monitoring programs without seeking authorizing legislation and without fully briefing the Congress," he writes, and "some officials who have been involved in these programs have spoken to the Times about their discomfort over the legality of the government's actions and over the adequacy of oversight." Since the Treasury story broke, as it happens, no one but Congressman Ed Markey and a few cranks have even objected to the program, much less claimed illegality.
Perhaps Mr. Keller has been listening to his boss, Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., who in a recent commencement address apologized to the graduates because his generation "had seen the horrors and futility of war and smelled the stench of corruption in government.
"Our children, we vowed, would never know that. So, well, sorry. It wasn't supposed to be this way," the publisher continued. "You weren't supposed to be graduating into an America fighting a misbegotten war in a foreign land. You weren't supposed to be graduating into a world where we are still fighting for fundamental human rights," and so on. Forgive us if we conclude that a newspaper led by someone who speaks this way to college seniors has as a major goal not winning the war on terror but obstructing it.
In all of this, Mr. Sulzberger and the Times are reminiscent of a publisher from an earlier era, Colonel Robert McCormick of the Chicago Tribune. In the 1930s and into World War II, the Tribune was implacable in its opposition to FDR and his conduct of the war. During the war itself, his newspaper also exposed secrets, including one story after the victory at Midway in 1942 that essentially disclosed that the U.S. had broken Japanese codes. The government considered, but decided against, prosecuting McCormick's paper under the Espionage Act of 1917.
That was a wise decision, and not only because it would have drawn more attention to the Tribune "scoop." Once a government starts indicting reporters for publishing stories, there will be no drawing any lines against such prosecutions, and we will be well down the road to an Official Secrets Act that will let government dictate coverage.
The current political clamor is nonetheless a warning to the press about the path the Times is walking. Already, its partisan demand for a special counsel in the Plame case has led to a reporter going to jail and to defeats in court over protecting sources. Now the politicians are talking about Espionage Act prosecutions. All of which is cause for the rest of us in the media to recognize, heeding Alexander Bickel, that sometimes all the news is not fit to print.
Senator Russ Feingold and the Line Item Veto
Barrett, who started a national group on 9/11 conspiracy theories, doesn't believe the terrorists caused the World Trade Center attacks. He thinks the government used a controlled demolition to do it (with Dick Cheney the likely mastermind) and he thinks that Mohammad Atta was probably a government pawn and patsy. He thinks that al-Qaida as we know it is a myth fabricated by the government (or at the very least a US government front group and he calls it al-CIA-duh to underscore his point). He also believes that many of the 9/11 hijackers are alive and that the 9/11 terrorist attacks have nothing to do with Islam. He compares those who believe the terrorists caused 9/11 to the "good Germans" who bought into Nazi ideology and says we're a bunch of stupid racists for believing the "Big Lie" that the terrorists, not the government, caused 9/11. He thinks the war on Terror and 9/11 are both "Orwellian hoaxes." He refuses to say that bin Laden is evil.
In a presumably tongue in cheek letter to the Secret Service after he says a fellow 9/11 conspiracy theorist had weapons confiscated by them after predicting Bush would be shot for treason, Barrett predicts that a majority of Americans will soon eagerly anticipate Bush's execution for the mass murder of Americans on 9/11 (read the whole letter at the end of this posting). It also discusses Bush being gassed, hung, and electrocuted.
I repeat. This guy is teaching Introduction to Islam at UW-Madison this fall.
I cannot believe we are letting whacko's like this guy teach in one of our universities. Ward Churchill has nothing on this guy- Kevin Barrett.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
The House majority leader yesterday refused to budge from demanding a strong border-security bill and would not embrace Senate talk of broad legislation that would trigger a guest-worker program and other immigration changes once the borders are secure.
Mr. Bush met yesterday with Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana Republican, who has proposed his own broad immigration plan that includes a guest-worker program for current illegal aliens and future foreign workers, but only after the Department of Homeland Security certifies that the borders are secure. The Pence plan would not preclude allowing illegal aliens to obtain citizenship eventually, but Mr. Pence said the aliens must be required to go home and apply at privately run "Ellis Island centers" in order to come back as part of a legal worker program.
It is great to see House Republicans standing on their principles over their politics. They need to continue to do this.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
I agree with those students and music teachers. As one young student said-
“Music isn’t just notes on a page,” Bullen Middle School student Talia Nepper told the board members. “It’s our passion.”
Many children, climb out of bed in the morning, excited to go to school- because of music. If music is what drives these kids to learn and study- it is the responsibility of the community to encourage this learning. Kenosha's best and brightest musicians have had some of their private lessons with their music teachers, cut out of the budget.
This did not have to happen. Each and every one of these kids have paid the price for the selfishness and arrogance of the teacher's union. The teachers could have canned the expensive WEAC insurance and saved themselves and the school district at least $6.7 million a year. Instead the teachers arrogantly voted against their own students and against their own community, to protect the WEAC insurance program.
The extra $6.7 million would have saved the music programs that are being cut. It would have saved the 35+ jobs that are being cut.
They could have saved all of these programs, if they had just used their heads, instead of tripping along following with what WEAC was telling them to do. Shame on the teachers.
The board tried to avoid such cuts by pushing employees to opt for a cheaper health insurance option. Some employees did, but the district’s largest group of employees, its teachers, stuck with the more expensive plan.
Had the teachers chosen to change insurance, according to Bill Johnston, Unified finance director, no cuts to any staff would be necessary.
I got a question- where were all of the English and Math teachers last night? Where was WEAC? Why are they not out there fighting for the school's music programs?
I would venture a guess that most of the music teachers were aware that the music program would suffer a big hit, if the new insurance proposal failed. Perhaps most of the music teachers did vote for the new insurance, but they are greatly outnumbered. The new insurance proposal failed to overcome the pressure that WEAC was putting on the teachers.
Clearly, none of the core educational programs, like english and math, were going to be cut. So where were the rest of the teachers who voted for the WEAC insurance at last night?
The community, the Kenosha News and community leaders begged and pleaded with the teachers to vote for the new insurance program.
Now, as was predicted, Kenosha kid's are the ones to suffer.
Last year, there were 55 announcements of new manufacturing plants in Illinois; there were 72 in Michigan, 35 in Minnesota, and 34 in Iowa.
In Wisconsin, there was a grand total of five.
I knew things were bad, I did not realize they were this bad.
Key backers of the Senate immigration bill said yesterday they are willing to consider a compromise that would delay the guest-worker program and "amnesty" portions until the borders have been secured.
The proposal was floated by Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter in an interview Monday with editors and reporters at The Washington Times.
"I think it's worth discussing," said Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican. "Many of us have said we could work on border enforcement and, at the same time, work on other aspects that would take more time."
By digging in their heels, Sensenbrenner and the House have actually moved the immigration debate forward.
On Monday, Mr. Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who will lead House and Senate negotiators in the conference committee, told The Times that border security should be the top priority in the final bill and that he is open to a compromise that would make the guest-worker program and path to citizenship for illegal aliens contingent on first ensuring a secure border and improved interior enforcement.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
But if the editors of the paper were to take a look at the U.S. Criminal Code, they would find that they have run afoul not of the Espionage Act but of another law entirely: Section 798 of Title 18, the so-called Comint statute.
Unambiguously taking within its reach the publication of the NSA terrorist surveillance story (though arguably not the Times's more recent terrorist banking story), Section 798 reads, in part:
Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates, furnishes, transmits, or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes, or uses in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States or for the benefit of any foreign government to the detriment of the United States any classified information . . . concerning the communication intelligence activities of the United States . . . shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both [emphasis added].
This law, passed by Congress in 1950 as it was considering ways to avert a second Pearl Harbor during the Cold War, has a history that is highly germane to the present conduct of the Times. According to the 1949 Senate report accompanying its passage, the publication in the early 1930s of a book offering a detailed account of U.S. successes in breaking Japanese diplomatic codes inflicted "irreparable harm" on our security.
Now I don't pretend to know the law or to have studied law, but it sure looks like the NY Times could be in trouble here.
Although state figures show teen pregnancy is down, the most recent numbers in Kenosha suggest it may be increasing locally, said Gary Brown, executive director of Kenosha Area Family and Aging Services Inc.
Brown also said Kenosha has a higher divorce rate than some of its neighbors. This situation may negatively affect local children, who often end up living at poverty levels or getting pregnant too soon.
Teen pregnacy and divorce are up in Kenosha- I wonder why?
Check out this scathing letter to the editor of the NY Times.
Here's a snippet-
The fact that your editors believe themselves to be qualified to assess how terrorists are moving money betrays a breathtaking arrogance and a deep misunderstanding of this program and how it works.
"I'm very reluctant ... to superimpose my judgment on the news media," he told a group of editors and reporters at The Washington Times in a meeting yesterday. "Before I'd do that, I'd want to know how the United States was damaged by what they were doing. I'd require some showing of damage before I'd consider it."
What kind of evidence of damage is Specter waiting for? Another terrorist attack in the US? Would that be enough evidence of damage for Specter?
Of course, Arlen Specter has no problem judging the President on the NSA wiretapping, but Spector has issues with judging the NY Times over the leaking of classified information. Now Specter is busy writing a law that supports NSA wiretapping.
Perhaps Specter needs to put the safety of the American people first, and judge the President and the NY Times based on that priority first. Perhaps Specter should ask himself whether it is the President or the NY Times that has put the safety of Americans first?
Who's side is Arlen Specter on?
Monday, June 26, 2006
"The fact that a newspaper disclosed it makes it harder to win this war on terror," Bush said, leaning forward and jabbing his finger during a brief question-and-answer session with reporters in the Roosevelt Room.
The VP is mad too-
"Some in the press, in particular The New York Times, have made the job of defending against further terrorist attacks more difficult by insisting on publishing detailed information about vital national security programs," Vice President Dick Cheney said in a speech at a political fundraising luncheon in Grand Island, Neb.
"The New York Times has now twice — two separate occasions — disclosed programs; both times they had been asked not to publish those stories by senior administration officials," Cheney said. "They went ahead anyway. The leaks to The New York Times and the publishing of those leaks is very damaging."
It's time to turn this over to AG Gonzales and see if this was illegal. The NY Times knew this was a "classified" document and printed it anyway.
See the CNN video here. See the AP video here.
Check it out-
Lawsuit: Doyle aide steered contract to political affiliate
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Just like in years past, the elections of 2006 are of vital importance. This year we vote for a governor for our state. Just like in 2002, Jim Doyle is asking for our support.
As this next election season began to rev up, I thought I would go back and take a look at the promises made to us by Governor Jim Doyle and see how he has faired in keeping the promises that he made.
On Inaugural day,
From Jim Doyle's inaugural speech, Jim Doyle (highlighted in blue) promised to:
1. from here on out, state government will move forward by bringing people together, not by dividing them. That means we'll approach problem-solving not as Republicans and Democrats, not as business and labor, but as citizens of one state, headed - together - towards one future. (Never have we ever seen the conservatives and the liberals so divided. Governor Doyle's veto pen has highlighted those differences. When the time comes to over-ride a veto- the Democrats stay loyal to Doyle, the Republicans stay loyal to each other.)
Outcome: this promise was broken to Wisconsinites
2. Making sure our kids go to even better schools and universities. (Just this past week a study was released on the graduation rate in Milwaukee Schools.
Outcome: this promise was broken to Wisconsinites
3. Helping create good, high paying jobs that let people enjoy a good life. (Let's see, just in
Outcome: this promise was broken to Wisconsinites
4. Not raising taxes on the hardworking people of
Outcome: this promise was broken to Wisconsinites
5. Helping usher in new high tech and information-age businesses. (Within the last week,
Outcome: this promise was broken to Wisconsinites
6. Keeping our citizens safe on their streets and in their neighborhoods. (Everyone has heard about the 28 shooting in
Outcome: this promise was broken to Wisconsinites
Outcome: this promise was broken to Wisconsinites
8. Listening carefully for the quiet voices - our seniors, those in desperate need of health care, our fellow citizens held back by poverty. (Since Doyle has become governor, we have become #1.
Outcome: this promise was broken to Wisconsinites
9. From here on out, restoring
Outcome: this promise was broken to Wisconsinites
Judging by Governor Jim Doyle's own promises; his leadership in the state of
The question that Wisconsinites have to ask themselves is whether or not we should give Jim Doyle four more years as the governor of this state or should we try and head in a new direction?
Spivak and Bice
Finally, a Doyle campaign contributor is admitting their role is the "pay to play" game. Only this time, a $55 million contract was on the line and the winning bidders donated $51,000 to Jim Doyle's campaign.
KBS executive, Patrick Babe admits that campaign contributions get a company a seat at Doyle's table-
Another KBS exec, Patrick Babe, said it's common practice for contractors to get into the political giving game.
"You've got to remember that the biggest builder in the state is the state, whether you're a road builder or a building builder," Babe said.
"If you don't contribute, you're not included," he continued. "It doesn't hurt to contribute if you believe in any cause."
This is why we call it "pay to play". If you pay your money to Jim Doyle, you get a chance to play the game and win a multi-million dollar contract.
This is the gist of this new "pay to play" story-
1. A 55 million dollar contract was on the line to restore a building near the UW-Milwaukee into student housing, classrooms, condominiums and retail space.
2. At the front of the line, a company called Prism was said to be favored for the work.
3. Another company called JP Cullen and Sons threatened a lawsuit because they said Prism was given an unfair advantage during the bidding process.
4. Cullen then donated $1500 to Doyle's re-election campaign and "magically" they got the attention they wanted.
5. Marc Marotta- who stated just this past week to state legislators, that he was NEVER involved in the procurement process after the bidding started, stepped into the middle of this bidding process.
6. Based on Marc Marotta's suggestion the chancellor of the school thought the entire process should be started over again.
7. The Building Commission- chaired by Governor Jim Doyle, voted unanimously to throw out all the work that already been done and start the entire bidding process over again. At the time, Marc Marotta was one of the attorney's representing the Building Commission.
8. As luck would have it, neither Prism or Cullen won the new contract. A completely different team won the bid- Weas Development, KBS Construction and Hammel, Green & Abrahamson.
9. The original company thought to have the upper hand in the bidding process has now filed a law suit against the state. After hearing Marc Marotta's testimony this past week, company execs at Prism were infuriated. They know that Marotta was involved in the bidding process and the reason they did not get the contract they desired. They have emails to prove it.
Weas Development, KBS Construction and Hammel, Green & Abrahamson- $51,000
Once again- "magically" the team donating the most money to Jim Doyle won another state contract.
It is going to be real hard for Jim Doyle and Marc Marotta to claim they had no involvement whatsoever in this contract. After all, Doyle and Marotta were part of the Building Commission.
Jim Doyle and Marc Marotta's headaches are just beginning. This was a huge contract worth $55 million.
I wonder how many more of these lawsuits will be filed over the next few weeks and months. How many companies have be pushed out of the bidding process because they did not give to Doyle's campaign?
The lesson for all contractors to learn here is that if you do not donate to Doyle's campaign, you will not get any state contracts.
It's called "Pay to Play", and if contractors don't pay, they don't get to play! That is until next January when we get oust Jim Doyle and Mark Green is the new governor.
The Clinton administration left many stones unturnd.
BY LOUIS J. FREEH
Sunday, June 25, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT
Ten years ago today, acting under direct orders from senior Iranian government leaders, the Saudi Hezbollah detonated a 25,000-pound TNT bomb that killed 19 U.S. airmen in their dormitory at Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The blast wave destroyed Building 131 and grievously wounded hundreds of additional Air Force personnel. It also killed an unknown number of Saudi civilians in a nearby park.
The 19 Americans murdered were members of the 4,404th Wing, who were risking their lives to enforce the no-fly zone over southern Iraq. This was a U.N.-mandated mission after the 1991 Gulf War to stop Saddam Hussein from killing his Shiite people. The Khobar victims, along with the courageous families and friends who mourn them this weekend in Washington, deserve our respect and honor. More importantly, they must be remembered, because American justice has still been denied.
Although a federal grand jury handed up indictments in June 2001--days before I left as FBI director and a week before some of the charges against 14 of the terrorists would have lapsed because of the statute of limitations--two of the primary leaders of the attack, Ahmed Ibrahim al-Mughassil and Abdel Hussein Mohamed al-Nasser, are living comfortably in Iran with about as much to fear from America as Osama bin Laden had prior to Sept. 11 (to wit, U.S. marshals showing up to serve warrants for their arrests).
The aftermath of the Khobar bombing is just one example of how successive U.S. governments have mishandled Iran. On June 25, 1996, President Clinton declared that "no stone would be left unturned" to find the bombers and bring them to "justice." Within hours, teams of FBI agents, and forensic and technical personnel, were en route to Khobar. The president told the Saudis and the 19 victims' families that I was responsible for the case. This assignment became very personal and solemn for me, as it meant that I was the one who dealt directly with the victims' survivors. These disciplined military families asked only one thing of me and their country: "Please find out who did this to our sons, husbands, brothers and fathers and bring them to justice."
It soon became clear that Mr. Clinton and his national security adviser, Sandy Berger, had no interest in confronting the fact that Iran had blown up the towers. This is astounding, considering that the Saudi Security Service had arrested six of the bombers after the attack. As FBI agents sifted through the remains of Building 131 in 115-degree heat, the bombers admitted they had been trained by the Iranian external security service (IRGC) in Lebanon's Beka Valley and received their passports at the Iranian Embassy in Damascus, Syria, along with $250,000 cash for the operation from IRGC Gen. Ahmad Sharifi.
We later learned that senior members of the Iranian government, including Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Intelligence and Security and the Spiritual Leader's office had selected Khobar as their target and commissioned the Saudi Hezbollah to carry out the operation. The Saudi police told us that FBI agents had to interview the bombers in custody in order to make our case. To make this happen, however, the U.S. president would need to make a personal request to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah.
So for 30 months, I wrote and rewrote the same set of simple talking points for the president, Mr. Berger, and others to press the FBI's request to go inside a Saudi prison and interview the Khobar bombers. And for 30 months nothing happened. The Saudis reported back to us that the president and Mr. Berger would either fail to raise the matter with the crown prince or raise it without making any request. On one such occasion, our commander in chief instead hit up Prince Abdullah for a contribution to his library. Mr. Berger never once, in the course of the five-year investigation which coincided with his tenure, even asked how the investigation was going.
In their only bungled attempt to support the FBI, a letter from the president intended for Iran's President Mohammad Khatami, asking for "help" on the Khobar case, was sent to the Omanis, who had direct access to Mr. Khatami. This was done without advising either the FBI or the Saudis who were exposed in the letter as providing help to the Americans. We only found out about the letter because it was misdelivered to the spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who then publicly denounced the U.S. This was an embarrassment for the Saudis who had been fully cooperating with the FBI by providing direct evidence of Iranian involvement. Both Saudi Prince Bandar and Interior Minister Prince Nayef, who had put themselves and their government at great risk to help the FBI, were now undermined by America's president.
The Clinton administration was set on "improving" relations with what it mistakenly perceived to be a moderate Iranian president. But it also wanted to accrue the political mileage of proclaiming to the world, and to the 19 survivor families, that America was aggressively pursuing the bombers. When I would tell Mr. Berger that we could close the investigation if it compromised the president's foreign policy, the answer was always: "Leave no stone unturned."
Meanwhile, then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Mr. Clinton ordered the FBI to stop photographing and fingerprinting Iranian wrestlers and cultural delegations entering the U.S. because the Iranians were complaining about the identification procedure. Of course they were complaining. It made it more difficult for their intelligence agents and terrorist coordinators to infiltrate into America. I was overruled by an "angry" president and Mr. Berger who said the FBI was interfering with their rapprochement with Iran.
Finally, frustrated in my attempts to execute Mr. Clinton's "leave no stone unturned" order, I called former president George H.W. Bush. I had learned that he was about to meet Crown Prince Abdullah on another matter. After fully briefing Mr. Bush on the impasse and faxing him the talking points that I had now been working on for over two years, he personally asked the crown prince to allow FBI agents to interview the detained bombers.
After his Saturday meeting with now-King Abdullah, Mr. Bush called me to say that he made the request, and that the Saudis would be calling me. A few hours later, Prince Bandar, then the Saudi ambassador to Washington, asked me to come out to McLean, Va., on Monday to see Crown Prince Abdullah. When I met him with Wyche Fowler, our Saudi ambassador, and FBI counterterrorism chief Dale Watson, the crown prince was holding my talking points. He told me Mr. Bush had made the request for the FBI, which he granted, and told Prince Bandar to instruct Nayef to arrange for FBI agents to interview the prisoners.
Several weeks later, agents interviewed the co-conspirators. For the first time since the 1996 attack, we obtained direct evidence of Iran's complicity. What Mr. Clinton failed to do for three years was accomplished in minutes by his predecessor. This was the breakthrough we had been waiting for, and the attorney general and I immediately went to Mr. Berger with news of the Saudi prison interviews.
Upon being advised that our investigation now had proof that Iran blew up Khobar Towers, Mr. Berger's astounding response was: "Who knows about this?" His next, and wrong, comment was: "That's just hearsay." When I explained that under the Rules of Federal Evidence the detainees' comments were indeed more than "hearsay," for the first time ever he became interested--and alarmed--about the case. But this interest translated into nothing more than Washington "damage control" meetings held out of the fear that Congress, and ordinary Americans, would find out that Iran murdered our soldiers. After those meetings, neither the president, nor anyone else in the administration, was heard from again about Khobar.
Sadly, this fits into a larger pattern of U.S. governments sending the wrong message to Tehran. Almost 13 years before Iran committed its terrorist act of war against America at Khobar, it used its surrogates, the Lebanese Hezbollah, to murder 241 Marines in their Beirut barracks. The U.S. response to that 1983 outrage was to pull our military forces out of the region. Such timidity was not lost upon Tehran. As with Beirut, Tehran once again received loud and clear from the U.S. its consistent message that there would be no price to pay for its acts of war against America. As for the 19 dead warriors and their families, their commander in chief had deserted them, leaving only the FBI to carry on the fight.
The Khobar bombing case eventually led to indictments in 2001, thanks to the personal leadership of President George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice. But justice has been a long time coming. Only so much can be done, after all, with arrest warrants and judicial process. Bin Laden and his two separate pre-9/11 arrest warrants are a case in point.
Still, many stones remain unturned. It remains to be seen whether the Khobar case and its fugitives will make it onto the list of America's demands in "talks" with the Iranians. Or will we ultimately ignore justice and buy a separate peace with our enemy?Mr. Freeh was FBI director from 1993 through 2001.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Riots break out at the World Cup. It's only a game, people!
STUTTGART (Reuters) - Riot police detained around 200 England soccer supporters on Saturday after they clashed with German fans, throwing bottles and chairs and trading punches in a square in the center of Stuttgart.
Tens of thousands of English and German fans had gathered in the central area, many drinking throughout the day, to watch Germany's 2-0 second-round World Cup win over Sweden on big screen TVs.
England fans were in the city for Sunday's second-round match against Ecuador and trouble broke out shortly after the end of Saturday's German game.
Some 200 fans on both sides threw bottles and chairs before riot police moved into the area to separate them.
After an uneasy standoff, the two sets of fans again threw glass bottles at each other, prompting the riot police to drive the German fans out of the area.
They then moved in to detain the English supporters who were bundled into waiting vans and taken to the local police station in an operation that lasted for several hours.
"The cells will be very busy tonight," Stuttgart police spokesman Stefan Kielbach said.
"It's like a theater here, and if we don't arrest them there'll be trouble here all night." Continued...
Since it takes a password to access the Chicago Tribune online- I will post the editorial in it's entirety.
No deadline, no retreat
Published June 23, 2006
Have you ever been in a fight? No, a real fight, with blood and pain and fear. Many of us weren't built for that moment. But when it arrives, invited by our choice or our vulnerability, its sidekick is a terrible realization: There are no easy outs. One of us will prevail, one of us will surrender.
That's a weak analogy to the 3-year-old war in Iraq; no face-off between two individuals carries the immense stakes of what's happening right now, half a world away. But in both cases, blood and pain and fright do play leading roles. So it is that an anguished debate about a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq filled the U.S. Senate this week. It was a debate laced with misgivings and resolve, politics and pride, frustration and patriotism. It was also a debate in which, as has happened before, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) best synthesized the choice that weary and anxious Americans now face: "The options on the table have been there from the beginning: Withdraw and fail, or commit and succeed."
Crisp speechifying, yes. But there lie dragons. Committing to win in Iraq means embracing gains like the elimination of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi--and it means more butchery like the beheading of two American servicemen. It means embracing the courage of Iraqi citizens now struggling for their freedom--and it means the uneasiness of American citizens aghast at the barbarity of it all. It means embracing the truth that there are no easy outs. One side in this war will prevail, one side in this war will surrender.
The debate in our Senate, like the debate in our kitchens and our streets, embodies the vigor of our democracy. It must, though, perplex the extremists.
This month alone, those extremists have seen al-Zarqawi's still, ashen face on their TV screens. They have seen us recoil in horror at the two beheadings. And now, in the space of a few days, the extremists have seen this nation's elected representatives vote four times not to withdraw our troops from Iraq--or, euphemistically, not to "redeploy" them.
Withdrawal has been a rising theme in our public discourse for several months. Why, the extremists must wonder, won't the U.S. just pack up and leave them alone?
- - -
The House and Senate have weighed and rejected the consequences of a premature withdrawal from Iraq. Just as they have weighed and accepted the benefits that a U.S. victory would bring. We as a people decided a national election based largely on those considerations in 2004; we will have another in 2006, and another in 2008.
Our troops, by being in Iraq, have backstopped the creation of a functioning democracy in what was a dictator's playpen. They have trained the Iraqi security forces that are now absorbing more of the burden for establishing stability there.
Those developments--a self-sustaining government, a sufficient indigenous security force--have always been the two necessary precursors for an American drawdown in Iraq. They still are. The question is whether we appreciate the Iraqi people's tremendous if unfinished progress toward those goals. Congressional votes against withdrawal-by-timetable suggest that, despite the carnage, that message is coming through. By stark majorities, our representatives have said they do not want all that has occurred in Iraq to be for naught.
A few weeks ago, national security specialist Frederick W. Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute wrote an influential essay that's still knocking around policy circles in Washington. He argued that abandoning Iraq--telling the Iraqis to sink or swim--is "tantamount to telling them to drown."
Some days, that message may be tempting. But Kagan argued that it ignores a perspective we don't often read: "[H]undreds of thousands of Iraqis have volunteered for the most dangerous duty in their land, fighting insurgents with inadequate training and equipment. ... Iraqi government officials have persevered despite improved explosive devices, mortar and rocket attacks, kidnappings and assassination attempts.
"It is difficult to see how it might be necessary to `incentivize' people fighting bravely in the face of greater danger to themselves and their families than Americans have faced since the Civil War."
- - -
So how do Americans feel about this costly U.S. commitment?
Many feel exhausted, impatient, dispirited. We like linear plots with happy endings. Nobody signed up for a war this long.
What matters most right now, though, is not how we feel, but how our enemies feel.
Do they feel that they're losing, that they have neither won over the Iraqi people nor forced us to retreat?
Or do they feel that ghastly killings of American troops (and innocent Iraqis) are having their intended effect? Do they feel that if they hold out, they can recreate the Husseinesque slaughterhouse they yearn for--and exterminate Iraqis who cooperated with the invaders?
We can, of course, leave whenever we wish. To do so would betray the Iraqi officials and citizens who trust us to shepherd them to safety. It would tell every terror group, every future enemy, how to defeat America next. And, at a time when rogue states such as North Korea and Iran need us internationally weak rather than strong, it would signal that in future crises our saber will rattle feebly, like a death rasp in the night.
The American men and women who are fighting this war do so with one eye over their shoulders. We have argued for three years whether the timetable for bringing them home should be set by politicians in Washington or by their success in the field. Once again, through our legislators, we have voted decisively for the latter.
So let us keep thinking about how we feel. But let us also think about how our enemies feel.
They, too, know that there are no easy outs. One of us will prevail, one of us will surrender.
Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune
Friday, June 23, 2006
Check it out-
Executive Order: Protecting the Property Rights of the American People
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and to strengthen the rights of the American people against the taking of their private property, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. It is the policy of the United States to protect the rights of Americans to their private property, including by limiting the taking of private property by the Federal Government to situations in which the taking is for public use, with just compensation, and for the purpose of benefiting the general public and not merely for the purpose of advancing the economic interest of private parties to be given ownership or use of the property taken.
Sec. 2. Implementation. (a) The Attorney General shall:
(i) issue instructions to the heads of departments and agencies to implement the policy set forth in section 1 of this order; and
(ii) monitor takings by departments and agencies for compliance with the policy set forth in section 1 of this order.
(b) Heads of departments and agencies shall, to the extent permitted by law:
(i) comply with instructions issued under subsection (a)(i); and
(ii) provide to the Attorney General such information as the Attorney General determines necessary to carry out subsection (a)(ii).
Sec. 3. Specific Exclusions. Nothing in this order shall be construed to prohibit a taking of private property by the Federal Government, that otherwise complies with applicable law, for the purpose of:
(a) public ownership or exclusive use of the property by the public, such as for a public medical facility, roadway, park, forest, governmental office building, or military reservation;
(b) projects designated for public, common carrier, public transportation, or public utility use, including those for which a fee is assessed, that serve the general public and are subject to regulation by a governmental entity;
c) conveying the property to a nongovernmental entity, such as a telecommunications or transportation common carrier, that makes the property available for use by the general public as of right;
(d) preventing or mitigating a harmful use of land that constitutes a threat to public health, safety, or the environment;
(e) acquiring abandoned property;
(f) quieting title to real property;
(g) acquiring ownership or use by a public utility;
(h) facilitating the disposal or exchange of Federal property; or
(i) meeting military, law enforcement, public safety, public transportation, or public health emergencies.
Sec. 4. General Provisions.
(a) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(b) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) authority granted by law to a department or agency or the head thereof; or
(ii) functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budget, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(c) This order shall be implemented in a manner consistent with Executive Order 12630 of March 15, 1988.
(d) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity against the United States, its departments, agencies, entities, officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
GEORGE W. BUSH
THE WHITE HOUSE,
June 23, 2006.
Day 6- Sensenbrenner: First, secure the border
You need not leave Wisconsin to find a key polarizing voice on immigration reform in Congress.
U.S. Rep James Sensenbrenner, a Menominee Falls Republican, is the leading sponsor of a House-backed package that seeks to seal off the border with Mexico and give teeth to lax employer sanctions that have allowed a steady stream of cheap labor to stream into U.S. businesses.
"What we need to do as a country and as a Congress is first to secure the border and enforce the employer sanctions that have been on the books for 20 years," Sensenbrenner said in a recent exclusive interview.
Sensenbrenner says it's a sensible first step to the illegal immigration question, while detractors - including President Bush - are pushing for more comprehensive legislation that would create a so-called guest worker program. That would allow for the legal importation of foreign labor as well as possible citizenship opportunities for these individuals.
Along with his supporters, Sensenbrenner argues that rolling a guest worker program into a border control bill would undermine the employer sanctions part of the equation. He calls phrases such as "path to citizenship" sugar-coated buzzwords that mask the term "amnesty" - a solution he strongly opposes.
Sensenbrenner points to the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 as a prime case in his argument against such programs.
That legislation, enacted under President Reagan, more or less granted amnesty to roughly 2.7 million illegal immigrants while establishing the current employer penalties, which are universally viewed as being too loose and often simply not enforced.
Under the current sanctions, employers who are caught employing undocumented workers are fined $100 per employee. Sensenbrenner's legislation increases that fine to $2,500 per individual and adds criminal penalties against employers of illegal workers.
"The (current) fines are so low on those who hire illegal immigrants that it's a part of the cost of doing business," Sensenbrenner said.
Labor depresses wages
The immigration issue is not new to Sensenbrenner.
A member of Congress since 1979 and a member of the committee that crafted IRCA, Sensenbrenner notes that he voted against the 1986 legislation on the grounds that it would not be successful. He still believes he was right.
Sensenbrenner's argument for cracking down on illegal immigration is fairly simple - undocumented workers tend to flock to labor intensive, relatively low-skill jobs. These are jobs that illegal immigrants have shown a willingness to perform at significantly lower wages than American citizens.
"Having the cheap illegal immigrant labor depresses the wages for the citizens and the legal immigrants," Sensenbrenner said, admitting that it is typically cheaper for employers to hire undocumented workers than citizens or legal immigrants with green card authorization.
Sensenbrenner said most of these workers do not have health insurance, thus shifting the cost of their health care to providers and insured patients.
"Americans end up paying higher health care premiums, higher school taxes and higher income taxes to pay social services," he said.
There is also a matter of security.
Sensenbrenner's bill would allocate funds to build fences along portions of the border and to put "more boots on the ground" in the form of local law enforcement, to protect the United States from crime as well as labor exploitation.
"More and more of the traffic across the border involves drug smuggling as well as economic migrants," he said, noting that so-called "coyotes" - those who smuggle immigrants across the border - often require their passengers to carry backpacks full of drugs, often methamphetamine.
Sensenbrenner's bill would also establish an online Social Security verification system that the congressman said would function in a similar manner to the credit card systems used by most retailers today. This, he said, would crack down on the use of false or fraudulent Social Security numbers by undocumented immigrants seeking jobs.
Meanwhile, Sensenbrenner said he opposes granting amnesty to undocumented immigrants because he believes doing so would amount to rewarding people who break the law.
To that end, Sensenbrenner said he is also against a penalty structure being discussed in the Senate, which he said would in essence allow undocumented immigrants to purchase U.S. citizenship for $2,000.
"American citizenship should not be for sale," he said.
Opposition to Sensenbrenner's legislation was one of the key rallying points for the estimated crowd of 70,000 people who marched for immigration rights in Milwaukee last month.
That exercise was one of a string of protests held April 24, when immigrant workers left their jobs and urged economic boycotts in an attempt to illustrate their economic contributions to U.S. society.
Sensenbrenner said he believes the rallies had the opposite effect, however.
"The demonstrations have really solidified the support for me," he said.
The day after one of his town hall meetings in Waukesha was interrupted by 300 booing demonstrators brandishing Mexican flags in March, Sensenbrenner said he could not travel anywhere in his district without hearing constituents say "stick to your guns."
"I listen to my constituents," Sensenbrenner said. "That's why I've been here for 27 and a half years."
This support from his largely white, suburban district was evident at a later town hall meeting May 21, where a group of 15 white faces gathered and largely congratulated Sensenbrenner for his immigration reform efforts.
At the meeting in Germantown - named, ironically, for its ethnic immigrant settlers - Marian Schweda of Wauwatosa urged Sensenbrenner to take his legislation even further than he would like, to make illegal immigrants subject to felony charges.
"It's kind of like they've made fools of the United States," Schweda told Sensenbrenner. "They've thumbed their noses at us."
Sensenbrenner's own view of the immigrants themselves is more tempered.
The best way to show compassion to them is to stop illegal immigration, he said.
"We're going to have to deal with this issue because if we don't deal with this issue we're going to put a permanent underclass in our society, and that's not good for any society."
Sensenbrenner admitted, however, that his plan has not made him popular in the areas from which most of the United States' undocumented immigrants originate.
"I think I am now the second best known American politician in Mexico," he told the group at the Germantown gathering. "I won't say what the favorable or unfavorable rating is, but I'm not running for office there."
Do you believe that Sensenbrenner is correct and that we need to deal with the security first and worry about the rest later?
Do you believe the protests actually hurt the cause for immigrants?
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Fox News reports:
Reading from a declassified portion of a report by the National Ground Intelligence Center, a Defense Department intelligence unit, Santorum said: "Since 2003, coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent. Despite many efforts to locate and destroy Iraq's pre-Gulf War chemical munitions, filled and unfilled pre-Gulf War chemical munitions are assessed to still exist."
"The purity of the agents inside the munitions depends on many factors, including the manufacturing process, potential additives and environmental storage conditions. While agents degrade over time, chemical warfare agents remain hazardous and potentially lethal," Santorum read from the document.
I am not worried about the 500 weapons munitions they have already found, I am now worried about the weapons they have not found. Where did they go and who has them?
As a result of this new information, under the aegis of his chairmanship, Hoekstra said he is going to ask for more reporting by the various intelligence agencies about weapons of mass destruction.
"We are working on the declassification of the report. We are going to do a thorough search of what additional reports exist in the intelligence community. And we are going to put additional pressure on the Department of Defense and the folks in Iraq to more fully pursue a complete investigation of what existed in Iraq before the war," Hoekstra said.
The bill passed the House 247-172.
The bill is waiting for approval from the Senate.
This bill will succeed in exposing wasteful government spending. Hopefully Congress will think twice before adding these pork-barrel projects to certain bills, for fear that this spending will be exposed to the American people. Perhaps the fear of embarrassment may be enough to get Congress to control spending.
Now- let's get it passed thru the Senate!
In the spring of 1973, Guadalupe Carillo walked her eldest son to a dusty bus stop in Cuidad Hidalgo, Michoacan, a city about the size of Kenosha located between Guadalajara and Mexico City.
He was 17 and about to embark on the most important journey of his young life, one that would take him away from his home’s dirt floors and toward the prospect of a better life.
But first Rogelio Perez said he had to overcome his fear of failure and wariness of those who could rob him as he illegally crossed from Mexico into the United States. He also was afraid he might not live to see his next birthday.
Perez wanted to help his family make ends meet and thus he became the first in his family to enter the United States illegally.
Perez is the second of 19 children, the son of a homemaker and a construction contractor. He had a friend who had relatives in Chicago, so he left Mexico with a little pocket money and $250 his family scraped up to pay the “coyotes” who would help him cross the border. He didn’t intend to stay any longer than he had to.
Before he boarded the bus, his mother handed her son the only physical item she believed could protect him — a St. Christopher’s medal. She would arm his soul with prayers to the Lord.
“My mom walked me to the bus and she was crying,” Perez said.
Perez knew the journey would be risky. The stories of corrupt police officers robbing people stood out in his mind. There were stories of young men who were badly beaten and of young women who were raped.
“It was sad because you left your life, your culture and you go hoping you could perhaps find a good place to stay,” he said.
Perez, now 49, sat in his restaurant, Lupita’s, one cloudy day in April just days before tax deadline, paying bills and working on his taxes. It was almost exactly 32 years ago that he had first left Mexico.
“We were poor. (We had) one room, a little kitchen, dirt floor — we slept on the floor,” he said. “We had paper bags that lined the floor and a blanket to put over us at night when we went to sleep.”
While his friend decided not to take the trip across the border, Perez said he met another man who was trying to find construction work in the U.S.
“My main goal was to find a construction work job for the family and to continue my education — go to college. My goal eventually was also to put some money together and go back to Mexico to do this,” he said.
Perez said that when the group of people on his bus arrived in Tijuana, he was found a “coyote” immediately.
“We did it (crossed the border) on the first try and we only had to walk an hour or two. We jumped a fence and kept on walking and we found the car that was waiting for us,” he said. “They picked us up in a pickup truck in San Ysidro.”
There were six men in his group and the truck driver took them to Stockton, Calif., where Perez found himself picking pears in a family orchard. He and three others stayed in the guesthouse. The owners were friendly people who didn’t ask any questions about immigration status.
“I was part of the family all of the time,” he said. “The guy spoke a little Spanish and he showed me a lot of how to do my job.”
In the beginning Perez said he didn’t have the right clothing to cover himself while he picked the lush fruit in the heat of the valley.
“I still have them,” he said rolling up his sleeves to show the now faded scars where the branches scraped his skin. “The first night I cried when I took a shower.”
Three months later, a man he befriended invited him to work in the peach and nectarine orchards of Fresno. The peach fuzz would irritate his nose because the workers were given no masks.
At this orchard he slept with two dozen others in barracks-style arrangement. The workers woke up at 4 a.m., took showers and ate breakfast. The men and some women were bused out to the fields.
At $2.50 an hour paid daily in cash, he eventually saved $500 in six months, enough to repay his father for the coyote’s advance, to purchase a mattress for his mom and for extra construction materials to lay a proper floor and build a kitchen.
Perez would cross the U.S.-Mexico border four more times, three times successfully. On one attempt, la migra, or the U.S. Border Patrol agents, caught him. After another crossing, Perez was able to find a job, again picking fruit and acquiring a new habit — drinking. For nearly a year he had almost no contact with his family and failed to send home money.
“They thought I was dead … I was drinking and I was gordo (fat),” he said.
On his 18th birthday he decided he didn’t like the life he was living and actually turned himself over to border patrol agents who deported him.
But he had unfinished business and he and a close friend, Jaime, were again to cross. Days before they were to cross into Tijuana and meet up with his friend’s relatives in Chicago, Jaime was shot and killed at a party in Mexico.
Perez went anyway with Jaime’s brother. Danger continued to follow him into the Tijuana mountains.
“This time we were running from the cholos (robbers). We got together with the coyote and we were running. The bullets were whizzing by my ears,” he said. “After I escaped, I said that this was the very last time I cross the border. That is when I made a commitment to stop doing crazy things, get established in a place and create a better life.”
In the winter of 1978, 21-year-old Rogelio Perez moved to Chicago to start a new life, and saw snow for the first time.
His first priority was to break free of the drinking habit he acquired two years earlier.
“I needed to find a smaller city and pursue my goals,” he said.
Several weeks later, he caught up with a friend from Mexico who happened to be living in Kenosha. During that time he stayed with his friend and found a job at Martin Band instruments, polishing brass instruments for the next five years.
Perez said while the task was mundane, he looked for ways to challenge himself to be the best at what he did. At one point, he’d asked about the record for polishing brass instruments in a single day.
“There was trombones and 42 was the record and so I polished 60 in a day. When I saw I broke a record I went to my boss for a raise. Of course his answer was no,” he said. “And I was not a citizen yet.”
A year later, Perez found acceptance at St. James Parish where the Latin American Center was once located and Mass, as well as many social activities, was conducted in Spanish.
There, he befriended Teresa, a young woman to whom he has now been married 25 years.
For three months they knew each other before they started dating, yet he never formally asked Teresa to be his girlfriend.
“She felt comfortable, safe with me. And I went to church. I wanted to change my life. I wanted to learn a new way of living and I was fighting it,” Perez said. “People there were giving me the opportunity to be close to them and to be a leader of the youth group.”
Perez eventually gained the trust of others, becoming a leader in his new-found community.
Perez was worried that Teresa might not accept his proposal to marry her because he was an illegal immigrant — at this point he had not told her of his status. Teresa and her family had emigrated legally from Mexico and were permanent residents.
When he finally told her, she was surprised because he didn’t handle himself as though he were “illegal,” according to Perez. By that time, he had taken in American culture and knew some English.
“That was a big relief she accepted me the way I was. She got all the family together and we talked to them and expressed our intentions. They were really happy to see that I had good intentions,” he said.
But the day of his wedding, he was anything but sober. The night before he had gotten drunk with his brother.
“I kept drinking because I needed something. I went to church and I was a little late and she was wondering whether I would even show up,” he said.
Earlier the couple had argued about a loan they had secured for a honeymoon, which Perez insisted should be in Mexico.
Teresa, however, feared that because he was still undocumented, she would lose her new husband to immigration authorities. They ended up saving the money for a house and went to Wisconsin Dells.
After their wedding, Teresa became a U.S. citizen and then requested permission for her husband to become a legal resident. Within six months, he had.
“Even though I wasn’t so crazy about getting papers, it was an excellent feeling,” he said. “Now I could just go back and forth without a problem.”
Although he had cleared one hurdle, Perez had literally yet to wean himself from the bottle. And that would take many baby steps — 12 of them.
Perez had heard about Alcoholics Anonymous, but wasn’t ready to come clean. At the first few meetings he would talk about how his father had a drinking problem, but wouldn’t admit to his own until he was called out.
“The only way I was going to help my father was for me to stop drinking,” he said.
This is a wonderful success story, but today's question-
Do the ends justifies the means? Is it okay for a person to enter this country illegally, if they have big dreams and have the best of intentions?
“The law is the law and I’m responsible for what I did — you don’t have to come and tell me I broke the law (to come here)… But to many of us, we can also think positively and create beautiful things for our families, communities and our environment. It’s my heart they want. Not my legal status,” said Perez.