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One building that's been built on time and on budget in Iraq: America's fortress embassy

· Vatican-sized bomb-proof structure to cost £300m

· Builders in Green Zone already insurgent targets

Ed Pilkington in New York

Monday May 21, 2007

The Guardian

A portion of the new US embassy under construction is seen from across the Tigris river in Baghdad, Iraq. Photograph: AP

When the idea of building a new US embassy in Baghdad was first mooted by the American administration in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq, there seemed to be a grandiose logic to it.

The compound, by the side of the Tigris, would be a statement of President Bush's intent to expand democracy through the Middle East. Yesterday, however, the entire project was under fresh scrutiny as new details emerged of its cost and scale. Rising from the dust of the city's Green Zone it is destined, at $592m (£300m), to become the biggest and most expensive US embassy on earth when it opens in September.

It will cover 104 acres (42 hectares) of land, about the size of the Vatican. It will include 27 separate buildings and house about 615 people behind bomb-proof walls. Most of the embassy staff will live in simple, if not quite monastic, accommodation in one-bedroom apartments.

The US ambassador, however, will enjoy a little more elbow room in a high-security home on the compound reported to fill 16,000 square feet (1,500 sq metres). His deputy will have to make do with a more modest 9,500 sq ft.

They will have a pool, gym and communal living areas, and the embassy will have its own power and water supplies.

But commentators and Iraq experts believe the project was flawed from its inception, and have raised concerns it will become an enormous, heavily targeted white elephant that will be an even greater liability if and when the Americans scale back their presence in Iraq.

"What you have is a situation in which they are building an embassy without really thinking about what its functions are," Edward Peck, a former American diplomat in Iraq, told AP.

"What kind of embassy is it when everybody lives inside and it's blast-proof, and people are running around with helmets and crouching behind sandbags?"

Since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003 about 1,000 US diplomatic and military staff have been using one of his former palaces as a make-shift embassy, which several observers have criticised as giving the regrettable impression that the Americans merely replaced Saddam's authoritarian rule with their own.

Joost Hildermann, an Iraq analyst with the International Crisis Group, said of the new embassy: "This sends a really poor signal to Iraqis that the Americans are building such a huge compound in Baghdad. It does very little to assuage Iraqis who are angry that America is running the country, and not very well at that."

The need to make the compound secure is a top priority. The Green Zone - the fortified four square miles in which the Iraqi and American governments and other international officials operate - used to be relatively peaceful but in recent months has come under almost daily rocket and mortar fire. This month the US embassy ordered its people to wear flak jackets and helmets at all times when in the open after four foreign contractors were killed by a rocket landing beside the present embassy.

The multiple cranes surrounding the construction site of the new embassy have already attracted attacks from insurgents. Last week five contractors were wounded in a rocket assault.

Despite the peculiar pressures, the Bush administration says the embassy will open in September, and be fully staffed by the end of the year.

Already, however, there have been suggestions that the compound will not be large enough to house hundreds of diplomats and military personnel likely to remain in Iraq for some time. Scores of US officials are currently housed in trailers which are vulnerable to bombs landing on their roofs. According to a report by McClatchy News, staff members have complained about the dangers only to be told they must wait until the new embassy is ready to take them in.

Toby Dodge, an expert on Iraq at Queen Mary, University of London, has just come back from a month spent in Iraq, largely in the Green Zone. He thinks the Americans are unlikely to pull out of Iraq fully until the end of the next presidency at the earliest, and so the new embassy will serve its purpose for several years to come.

"A fortress-style embassy, with a huge staff, will remain in Baghdad until helicopters come to airlift the last man and woman from the roof," he said, adding his own advice to the architects of the building: "Include a large roof." There is one added irony - the embassy is one of the few major projects the administration has undertaken in Iraq that is on schedule and within budget.

Pentagon Making Preparations To Keep Tens Of Thousands Of Troops In Iraq For ‘Decades’

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Tens Of Thousands Of Troops In Iraq For ‘Decades’ In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee this month, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace uttered a “carefully worded” statement revealing that the Pentagon had no plans to fully withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq if legislation passes Congress mandating troop redeployment:

PACE: Sir, we have published no orders directing the planning for the overall withdrawal of forces. We do have ongoing replacements of forces, and we do change the size of the force over time so that that system is available to either plus-up or draw down, but we have published no orders saying come up with a complete plan for total drawdown.

NPR investigated Pace’s statements and found one scenario being considered within the Pentagon would maintain a strong U.S. military presence in Iraq for several decades into the future. This so-called “lily pad” strategy entails keeping a “series of military installations around Iraq,” with tens of thousands of U.S. troops remaining in the country for as long as a few decades:

[W]hat it essentially envisions is a series of military installations around Iraq, maybe five or six of them, a total of maybe 30-40 thousand U.S. troops in Iraq for a long period of time, lasting, maybe a few decades. And the idea is that these bases will be somewhat hermetically sealed, that U.S. military forces won’t be leaving them, they won’t be conducting presence patrols and the patrols they conduct now. Ground convoys won’t be driving into them.

Airplanes will be essentially landing in to deliver supplies and these sort of lily pads will be in various strategic areas in Iraq … And that will enable the U.S. military to maintain a presence in the country, perhaps…for a few decades. The Pentagon’s goal with the lily pads is to preserve U.S. interests in Iraq for years to come “in the event that Congress or the administration pushes this [withdrawal plan] forward.” As NPR details, those interests are at least three-fold: 1) Training Iraq forces, 2) Preserving economic interests, as “Iraq obviously [sits] on the second largest reserve of oil in the world,” and 3) Providing a U.S. military “presence” to deter Iran and Turkey from “getting involved” after withdrawal.

While 60 percent of Americans are calling for a withdrawal of the U.S. from Iraq, the Pentagon is instead making preparations for an unending occupying presence.

Bush To Be Dictator In A Catastrophic Emergency

Lee Rogers

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The Bush administration has released a directive called the National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive. The directive released on May 9th, 2007 has gone almost unnoticed by the mainstream and alternative media. This is understandable considering the huge Ron Paul and immigration news but this story is equally as huge. In this directive, Bush declares that in the event of a “Catastrophic Emergency” the President will be entrusted with leading the activities to ensure constitutional government. The language in this directive would in effect make the President a dictator in the case of such an emergency.

The directive defines a “Catastrophic Emergency” as the following.

"Catastrophic Emergency" means any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions; So what does this mean? This is entirely subjective and doesn’t provide any real concrete definition of what such an emergency would entail. Assuming that it means a disaster on the scale of the 9/11 attacks or Katrina, there is no question that the United States at some point in time will experience an emergency on par with either of those events. When one of those events takes place, the President will be a dictator in charge of ensuring a working constitutional government.

The language written in the directive is disturbing because it doesn’t say that the President will work with the other branches of government equally to ensure a constitutional government is protected. It says clearly that there will be a cooperative effort among the three branches that will be coordinated by the President. If the President is coordinating these efforts it effectively puts him in charge of every branch. The language in the directive is entirely Orwellian in nature making it seem that it is a cooperative effort between all three branches but than it says that the President is in charge of the cooperative effort.

The directive defines Enduring Constitutional Government as the following.

"Enduring Constitutional Government," or "ECG," means a cooperative effort among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal Government, coordinated by the President, as a matter of comity with respect to the legislative and judicial branches and with proper respect for the constitutional separation of powers among the branches, to preserve the constitutional framework under which the Nation is governed and the capability of all three branches of government to execute constitutional responsibilities and provide for orderly succession, appropriate transition of leadership, and interoperability and support of the National Essential Functions during a catastrophic emergency;

Further on in the document it states the following.

The President shall lead the activities of the Federal Government for ensuring constitutional government.

This directive on its face is unconstitutional because each branch of government the executive, legislative and judicial are supposed to be equal in power. By putting the President in charge of coordinating such an effort to ensure constitutional government over all three branches is effectively making the President a dictator allowing him to tell all branches of government what to do.

Even worse is the fact that the directive states that the Secretary of Homeland Security will serve as the lead for coordinating overall continuity operations. We already know that the Homeland Security department is not really working to secure the homeland. Instead the Homeland Security department is really working to enslave the homeland just like the Home Office over in the United Kingdom has made that country an Orwellian hell of closed-circuit TV spy cameras. If such an emergency is declared, we can only guess what sort of surprises the Homeland Enslavement department will have for us.

The directive itself recognizes that each branch is already responsible for directing their own continuity of government procedures. If that’s the case than why does the President need to coordinate these procedures for all of the branches? This is nothing more than a power grab that centralizes power and will make the President a dictator in the case of a so called “Catastrophic Emergency”.

It is insane that this directive claims that its purpose is to define procedures to protect a working constitutional government when the very language in the document destroys what a working constitutional government is supposed to be. A working constitutional government contains a separation of powers between three equally powerful branches and this directive states that the executive branch has the power to coordinate the activities of the other branches. This directive is a clear violation of constitutional separation of powers and there should be angry protests from our legislators about this anti-American garbage that came from the President.

Beyond Conspiracy: American Hegemony (ATS Newsletter Special)

link May 21, 2007

By ATS Member "IgnoranceIsntBlisss"

Imperialism itself is generally a 'normal' function of humans all throughout history. It's plain and obvious when a nation is a hegemonic empire, so therefore it's hardly a conspiracy. However, sometimes empires exist without anyone actually knowing about it, despite it being the most glaring and obvious truth of our hypothetical society. In that context, the very nature of the hegemonic state is by definition 'conspiratorial'.

Welcome to the United States, the home of over 300 million people.

Imperialism is our heritage as 'Americans'. The cloth our empire is torn from is the British Empire. It all started in the "13 Colonies". Colonialism was merely a new breed of hegemonic / imperialistic domination and exploitation on a global scale, so therefore the 13 Colonies were simply the 13 British imperial colonies.

The Rebellion of 1776 was against the king's British Empire. The residents of the 13 colonies grew tired of the repression and the "taxation without representation" that comes with being the subjects of an imperialist state. The insurrection was a success, but then the new nation became the same thing it had rebelled against one the one hand, but it was better for the people on the other. This would last for some time, but rather quickly, the consistent unraveling of that reality had begun.

In the meantime, the American Empire was expanding. It took on the "Manifest Doctrine", which was the commonly held belief that the American Empire had a divine purpose to expand "from sea to shining sea". Well it did, and then it kept on expanding out into the entire world. All of this was imperialism.

Today, over 200 year later, the American Empire is openly referred to as the "World's Only Remaining Superpower". This evolution to this phase began after WW2, when the American & Soviet Empire's were the 2 chief empires to remain standing strong and with total global domination as their primary objective. At this time the U.S. entered into a "permanent war economy" where it has remained and remains addicted to war because of it. Now, after the Soviet Empire collapsed, the U.S. Empire remains as the "only remaining superpower" that goes out 'policing the world' as it sees fit in accordance with it's (imperial) 'interests'.

Its subjects outside of its borders live like serfs and slaves. Its subjects within its borders are under the same tyranny that they had rebelled against in 1776, but very few of said 300 million have a clear concept of any of this total context. By the numbers, most within it's borders also live like serfs and slaves. The key to keeping it all going is 'educating' those (no matter how many) within its borders from noticing. They all must be trained to deny it no matter how obvious it is or how many perpetual wars follow one another or how many Americans or others in the world die because of it.

While many may be focused on this American Empire concept, there's a bigger story than even it, which is daunting because we're talking about the greatest imperial force the world has ever seen.

The big story, which has been hinted at, is how this entire charade goes on undetected. How could this most plain and essentially open 'secret' go undetected by most of those within it?

Picture a virus entering your entire bloodstream... yet only handfuls of your white blood cells actually noticed them at all. Viruses tend to actually attack the white blood cells that are supposed to resist them. Viruses are imperialist by their very nature. They use the cells within their shared system as a 'medium' to propagate more of themselves into the bloodstream, so they can parrot the m.o. to more cells. This parallels the way the controlling imperialist establishment in the United States uses the Media to propagate their imperialist propagada into the minds of unsuspecting people, who then parrot said propaganda to get more parrots. While this all may make it sound easy, it's quite the contrary.

Most people believe that we're given bad educations here in the U.S. This all depends on what your interpretation is of "bad" and "good". In the U.S., 1% of the population controls 34.3% percent of the distribution of wealth, with the next 9% controlling 36.9% of wealth, which leaves the "bottom" 90% of The People 28.7% to squabble over. And of those are the number we're aware of. Guess who's in control of the system? Does voting matter in a system like this? It doesn't matter to U.S. Empire, which maintains a consistant pattern regardless of whether it's a Democrat or Republican in office, even in modern times. That brings us back to the big story. How can all of these people not realize the obvious truth about their own reality?

We're trained our entire lives, through indoctrinating propaganda, to ignore and deny this core truth. This indoctrination comes through the Media and school and even by the people within this society "socializing" one another by parroting the indoctrination of hypocrisy and denial they had heard. It could be said that we're trained to be stupid, and it is possible to train people to 'think' stupid. The numbers show the society as a whole getting stupider, but is this the result of poor education? Again, it depends on who you're asking.

If you open any basic Western school / history book to 'civilization', you almost always see the past "Western" dominating empires as the only historical examples. Each "civilization" that we're generally presented with is an empire: Babylon, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and then last but not least European "Colonialism". In this view, it's no wonder that the period roughly between the fall of Rome and the beginnings of colonialism is considered to be the "Dark Ages". This sheds clear light on what is exactly meant by that "Western Civilization" term we always hear, but usually just assume the only difference in virtue is that of location on the globe.

That's just the foundation we're spoon fed every year as children in school. The process goes on from there. The rest basically goes without saying, similar to how this entire essay goes without saying when you're able to actually see these things which are right on the surface. The end result is a sociey filled with millions of unwitting parrots who help socialize the rest of the population with this hypocrisy and the related myths. When people have been indoctrinated like this they're entire lives, it becomes easy to persuade them with speculative propaganda to gain their compliance in this years new conflict. The subjects in this kind of environment are likely to forget each former conflict, just so long as you have it justified in their easily persuaded minds and you keep telling them they're 'free' to make them feel good about themselves. You can even make them feel good about themselves by convincing them that you're going there to 'bring freedom' to The People in the new land, but the truth of the matter depends on your view of 'freedom'.

You and I probably share a similar view of "freedom", but then there are the other "freedoms" that aren't often spoken of. One of them is the freedom to extend your freedom by taking freedom and power away from others. That is, the freedom to imperialistically dominate and exploit other peoples and regions. This can be observed here in the U.S. as corporations have virtually the same rights as U.S. citizens. They actually have more rights and power by leaps and bounds. These rights even extend to multi-national corporations who owe no true allegience to The People of the U.S. Even the ones from over here treat their overseas employees as literal slaves in labor camps, while cutting the throats of US Citizens. This is "Domestic Imperialism", but sociologists refer to it as "Social Stratification".

The effects of Global Stratification, that is American Imperialism (aka Globalization), were felt on September 11th, 2001. After some 50 years of dominating and exploitng the Middle Eastern region, along with most of the rest of the world, 'we' had some 'blowback' that couldn't be ignored. This was the big chance for the hundreds of millions of U.S. Citizens to notice the obvious truth about their great nation... however, propaganda was carefully crafted to prevent that from happening.

Just over 2 hours after the collapse of the North Tower, George W. Bush issued a press statement saying that "freedom itself was attacked". Virtually all statements by human beings are subject to interpretation, and this one is no exception. Regardless of how things truly transpired that day, Bush made that statement before he could even ascertain who preformed the attacks or why. The freedom he was talking about, and still does to this day, was the freedom to dominate and exploit the world and things are looking good for that kind of 'freedom', in case you haven't noticed.

We're also indoctrinated into other social group mindsets... for instance the 2 political parties. There are some differences, but when you scrape away the emotional and moral "wedge" issues, you're left with the same imperialist party. They become virtually indistinguishable when you note the fact that even Bill Clinton served the purposes of the domestic imperialists and even conducted imperialist military operations in the Bosnia / Kosovo region during his entire presidency. The reuslt of these indoctrinated mindsets is that everyone perceives political bias in the Media but overlooks the pro-military-imperialism bias that is the true operator. Even this is right on the surface as they don't show the soldiers playing with kids, but then they don't show the kids who are blown to pieces by U.S. bombs either. This keeps people irritated, but content. The real job is just selling the war in the first place.

In conclusion, we're 'educated' (indoctrinated) our entire lives by our elite masters... to be unable to properly interpret basic truths about American Imperialism. The aftermath of hundreds of millions of people being unable to intepret this truth equates it to being beyond conspiracy. Despite this mass movement of countless individuals all serving their own interests in dominating all others (which is both domestic and global in scope), it operates along almost unknown by those who have the only chance in stopping it.

  1. Related Links:
  2. www.acq.osd.mil
  3. www.lewrockwell.com
  4. en.wikipedia.org
  5. www.democracynow.org

Response to White House Myth/Fact on Immigration Bill

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The White House released a "Myth/Fact" document about the immigration bill last week. But instead of setting the record straight, it perpetuated more myths. What follows are 10 myths the White House is telling us about the amnesty agreement.

1. MYTH: This is not amnesty.

• FACT: This is amnesty. Title VI of this bill is amnesty, plain and simple. According to an op-ed by former Attorney General Ed Meese that appeared in the New York Times last year discussing the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, “the difference is that President Reagan called this what it was: amnesty. Indeed, look up the term ‘amnesty’ in Black’s Law Dictionary, and you’ll find it says, ‘the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act provided amnesty for undocumented aliens already in the country.’” It was amnesty then, and it’s amnesty now.

• FACT: The proposal forces illegal aliens to acknowledge that they broke the law, pay a $1,000 fee, and undergo a criminal background check to obtain a Z visa granting temporary worker status. The acknowledgment, fee and background check does not mitigate the fact that this is forgiveness for illegal aliens breaking numerous immigration laws. The bill waives numerous provisions of current law that would require deportation.

Read the other nine myths ...

2. MYTH: This proposal does not repeat the mistakes of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act.

• FACT: This proposal is substantially similar to the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act and does repeat the mistakes of the 1986 law. The 1986 law failed, despite the fact that, according to Meese’s op-ed, it provided amnesty for 3 million immigrants for the price of “border security and enforcement of immigration laws” being “greatly strengthened.”

• FACT: The 1986 law also allowed “most illegal immigrants who could establish that they had resided in America continuously for five years would be granted temporary resident status, which could be upgraded to permanent residency after 18 moths and, after another five years, to citizenship.” The current compromise allows a Z-visa holder to adjust to Lawful Permanent Resident status after satisfying a points system, files the application for adjustment in the applicant’s home country and pays a fee of $4,000. A Z-visa holder has the discretion to choose to stay indefinitely in the United States if the Z-visa holder chooses not pursue a “pathway to citizenship.” Meese stated in his op-ed about the 1986 law that “this pathway to citizenship was not automatic. Indeed, the legislation stipulated several conditions: immigrants had to pay application fees, learn to speak English, understand American civics, pass a medical exam and register for military selective service. Those with convictions for a felony or three misdemeanors were ineligible. Sound familiar?” Yes, it does.

3. MYTH: The government will crack down on the hiring of illegal workers.

• FACT: The government will not crack down on the hiring of illegal workers. The government will be granting amnesty to illegal workers under the new Z-visa category. Thus, it will have fewer illegal workers to punish. There will be a handful of illegal workers that will not qualify for the new program that allows amnesty for illegal aliens in the country by Jan. 1, 2007. Therefore, by granting amnesty, there will be no pool of illegal workers to punish and/or deport.

• FACT: A Z-visa holder merely has to provide two documents to prove eligibility. First, “sworn affidavits from nonrelatives” that the illegal alien qualifies, plus one other non-secure document. (Source: page 271 of the draft bill.) This is a huge loophole in the verification provision of who is present in the country illegally after Jan. 1, 2007.

• FACT: Another loophole contains a waiver for humanitarian reasons. The deportation requirements of current law can be waived for “humanitarian circumstances.” (Source: page 1 of the draft bill.) This is yet another loophole that will prevent a crackdown on the hiring of illegal workers.

4. MYTH: This proposal would not cut in half the amount of fence built by the Secure Fence Act of 2006.

• FACT: This proposal cuts in half the amount of fencing to be built as mandated by the Secure Fence Act of 2006. Only one half of the additional fencing authorize by the Secure Fence Act of 2006 must be built before the temporary worker program and Z visa could go into effect.

• FACT: The Secure Fence Act authorized the building of 700 miles of new fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. This bill provides that a trigger that the federal government has to have “installed at least 200 miles of vehicle barriers, 370 miles of fencing, and 70 ground-based radar and camera towers along the southern land border of the United States, and have deployed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and supporting systems.” (Source: page 1 of the draft bill.) This bill allows for less than half the amount of fencing mandated by the Secure Fence Act before the Z and Y visas are issued.

5. MYTH: The trigger period will not cause a rush to the border.

• FACT: Although to be eligible for a Z visa illegal aliens must prove they were in the country prior to Jan. 1, 2007, it is expected that it will not be difficult to produce fraudulent documentation to prove illegal continuous presence in the United States and employment offers or employment. This legislation creates the perverse incentive for illegal aliens to prove that they were illegally present and working in the United States as of Jan. 1, 2007. As previously stated, a Z-visa holder merely has to provide two documents. First, “sworn affidavits from nonrelatives” that the illegal alien qualifies, plus one other non-secure document. (Source: page 271 of the draft bill.) This is a huge loophole in the verification provision of who is present in the country illegally after Jan. 1, 2007.

• FACT: An exception of the “Grounds of Ineligibility” for Z-visa applicants states “nothing in this paragraph shall require the Secretary to commence removal proceedings against an alien.” Therefore, even if a Z-visa holder is deemed ineligible for Z-visa status, nothing requires the federal government to deport the ineligible illegal alien. (Source: page 261 of the draft bill.) This is yet another loophole in the bill.

6. MYTH: By providing an opportunity for citizenship to illegal immigrants already here, the bill will not exponentially increase extended-family chain migration. • FACT: The bill will dramatically accelerate family chain migration. The bill will dramatically accelerate family chain migration over the next six years. After that time, family chain migration by low-skill immigrants will allegedly be replaced by skill-based immigration. The promised change to skill-based immigration in the distant future is unlikely to ever occur.

• FACT: The bill contains a brand-new category of visas for family members. The bill contains a waiver for “family members in hardship cases.” Although this category is capped at the number of 5,000 per year, this is an exception that will allow limited chain migration. (Source: page 251 of draft bill.)

• FACT: Allows visitor visas for family members of the Y visa, temporary workers that would allow the spouses of Y-visa holders to come to the country and have children who will be U.S citizens entitled to welfare benefits, also known as “anchor babies.” (Source: page 254 of draft bill.)

• FACT: This bill does nothing to preclude illegal aliens coming across the border and having children that will be granted citizenship. The “anchor baby” problem is not addressed by this legislation. The Heritage Foundation has provided as study that asserts that a statutory change in law would be a constitutional means to disallow the common practice of automatically granting citizenship to the children of illegal aliens.

7. MYTH: The temporary worker program is good for American workers.

• FACT: Under the guest-worker program, guest workers will be able to bring spouses and children into the United States. Children of guest workers will be entitled to free education in public schools, with an average cost of $9,600 per child imposed on U.S. taxpayers. If the spouse of a guest worker has a child in the U.S. that child will become a U.S. citizen with a guaranteed lifetime entitlement to more than 60 different federal welfare programs.

• FACT: There will be two new programs for workers. The Z visa will be for illegal workers to adjust their status to legal workers and the Y visa for future temporary workers. A Y-visa program without the Z-visa program may help the U.S. economy, but taken together, the American worker may be harmed by a flood of new workers coming from illegal status and new future flow workers from foreign nations flooding the economy and depressing American wages.

8. MYTH: Illegal immigrants will not come onto the welfare rolls.

• FACT: Illegal immigrants will come onto the welfare rolls. Amnesty will give illegal immigrants entitlement to welfare benefits for most of their lives. Illegal aliens will become Z-visa holders. While they are in Z-visa status, amnesty recipients will have access the free medical care under the Medicaid program, but would not be eligible for other welfare programs. After five years in Lawful Permanent Resident status, the amnesty recipients will be eligible for nearly all 60 federal welfare programs including food stamps, public housing, and Temporary Assistance to Needy families, and will remain eligible for the rest of their lives.

• FACT: After a Z-visa holder completes the “pathway to citizenship” they will be availed of the same access to welfare benefits as all American citizens. Children born to Z-card holders will be immediately eligible for welfare. After a few years, Z-card holders will be given Lawful Permanent Resident status. Given that 50% to 60% of amnesty recipients will be high school dropouts, welfare use will be quite high; the average amnesty recipient will probably receive about $4,000 per year in welfare benefits every year for the rest of his life.

9. MYTH: Government agencies will be able to share information to pursue immigration violators.

• FACT: This is both true and false. The government will have far fewer immigration violators, because the Z-visa grants amnesty to an estimated 12 million pool of illegal aliens who, a large percentage of which, are working in the United States. The government will not be allowed to pursue some visa holders, because once a Z applicant applies, there is a one-year time period that precludes deportation pursuant to the draft bill. The process starts when the Z-visa holder applies for a visa, then fills out paperwork. If a background check is not done by the end of the next day, the Z visa is automatically issued. Even if background check is not completed the applicant has a statutory right to get a Z visa.

• FACT: This bill grants the Secretary of Homeland Security the authority to issue a national ID card to citizens. This immigration bill states that the “Secretary in consultation with the Commissioner of Social Security may modify by Notice published in the Federal Register the documents that must be presented to the employer, the information that must be provided to EEVS (Employee Eligibility Verification System) by the employer, and the procedures that must be followed by employers with respect to any aspect of the EEVS if the Secretary in his discretion concludes that the modification is necessary to ensure that EEVS accurately and reliably determines the work authorization of employees while providing protection against fraud and identity theft.” (Source: page 105 of draft bill.) This grants the authority to the federal government the authority to force national ID cards on all American citizens.

10. MYTH: Senators are asked to vote Monday on a lengthy bill that they will have time to read.

• FACT: Senators will not have time to read and understand this bill before Monday's cloture vote. Working behind closed doors for months, a handful of Democrat and Republican staffers, along with a few senators and principals from the Administration, have been drafting a “comprehensive immigration reform package.” Until Saturday morning, May 19, 2007, the legislation was unavailable to any other senators or staff, let alone the media, policy analysts, or the general public. This legislation would be the most significant reform of immigration policy in 40 years, affecting not only our national security and homeland defense but the fiscal, economic, and social future of the United States for several generations. A document marked “DRAFT – FOR DISCUSSION PURPOSES ONLY,” is being relied upon by senators and staff as the final language to be debated beginning on Monday, May 21, with the expectation of a vote on final passage -- without congressional hearings, committee mark-up, fiscal analysis, expert testimony, or public comment -- before the Memorial Day recess. This is not a good way to deliberate over such an important piece of legislation and tosses aside years of the U.S. Senate tradition as being the most deliberative body in the world.

No More YouTube, MySpace for U.S. Troops

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Fresh from its battle against blogs, the U.S. military now appears to be going after video and social networking sites (at least those it doesn't control). Effective Monday, U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan will not be allowed access to websites like MySpace and YouTube using military networks, Stars and Stripes reports.

Although the ostensible reason is to conserve precious bandwidth, the articles notes: "Ironically, the Defense Department this year had just begun expanding its own use of YouTube to reach a younger, broader audience and show clips of U.S. troops in action." Officials appeared to claim the issue was bandwidth, not content:

“We’re not passing any judgment on these sites, we’re just saying you shouldn’t be accessing them at work,” said Julie Ziegenhorn, spokeswoman for U.S. Strategic Command. “This is a bandwidth and network management issue. We’ve got to have the networks open to do our mission. They have to be reliable, timely and secure.”

At the same time, however, a message sent to troops from U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. B.B. Bell also indicated that security issues were factored into the move: “This recreational traffic impacts our official DOD network and bandwidth availability, while posting a significant operational security challenge,” he wrote. Massive bandwidth-sucking PowerPoint briefings are naturally still allowed.

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