Charity, double-talk and torture

Remember Freedom Watch. They aren’t the only right-wing charity using the troops, Study Faults Charities for Veterans -Some Nonprofits Shortchange Troops, Watchdog Group Says

Americans gave millions of dollars in the past year to veterans charities designed to help troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, but several of the groups spent relatively little money on the wounded, according to a leading watchdog organization and federal tax filings.

Eight veterans charities, including some of the nation’s largest, gave less than a third of the money raised to the causes they champion, far below the recommended standard, the American Institute of Philanthropy says in a report. One group passed along 1 cent for every dollar raised, the report says. Another paid its founder and his wife a combined $540,000 in compensation and benefits last year, a Washington Post analysis of tax filings showed.

A little organization called the Freedom Alliance showed up on AIP’s worse charities list. And who founded that organization, none other then Mr. Iran-Contra, Oliver North. Also listed as a director is former Republican Senator Steve Symms who was acting like Karl Rove before it became the kind of behavior that the Republican party adopted as the status quo,

Symms claimed in a radio interview that a photograph existed from the 1960s showing Kitty Dukakis, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, burning an American flag to protest the Vietnam war. Kitty Dukakis angrily denied the accusation as “totally false and beneath contempt,” and Symms later admitted that he could not substantiate it.[1] Nevertheless, the claim became national news, as media outlets began searching for the photograph Symms said he had “heard” about.

This is from the Freedom Watch link above. One just has to wonder why a group of multi-millionaires find it necessary to run expensive media ads rather then give to the troops directly,

Freedom’s Watch, a deep-pocketed conservative group led by two former senior White House officials, made an audacious debut in late August when it began a $15 million advertising campaign designed to maintain Congressional support for President Bush’s troop increase in Iraq.

[ ]…One benefactor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the group was hoping to raise as much as $200 million by November 2008. Raising big money “will be easy,” the benefactor said, adding that several of the founders each wrote a check for $1 million. Mr. Blakeman would not confirm or deny whether any donor gave $1 million, or more, to the organization.

Since the group is organized as a tax-exempt organization, it does not have to reveal its donors and it can not engage in certain types of partisan activities that directly support political candidates. It denies coordinating its activities with the White House, although many of its donors and organizers are well connected to the administration, including Ari Fleischer, the former White House press secretary.

Inspector General for Iraq Under Investigation

But Bowen’s office has also been roiled by allegations of its own overspending and mismanagement. Current and former employees have complained about overtime policies that allowed 10 staff members to earn more than $250,000 each last year. They have questioned the oversight of a $3.5 million book project about Iraq’s reconstruction modeled after the 9/11 Commission report.

I think we’ve all linked to some of Bowen’s reports. Currently Bowen and his office are under investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office. It seems that he might have found just enough wrong doing to appear like one of the good guys.

As SIGIR grew in prominence, dissension was growing within the agency’s offices. In 2006, several former SIGIR employees sent an eight-page complaint to the presidential council, an executive-branch oversight body, alleging that the agency’s leaders had engaged in fraud, violated federal regulations, created a hostile workplace, abused their positions and “sustained patterns of inappropriate behavior.” The council launched an investigation and eventually referred some of the matters to the FBI.

In an e-mail to SIGIR staff members, Bowen described the complaint filed with the presidential council as a result of “disgruntled former employees.”

Disgruntled former employees? While we’re using hackneyed excuses we’ll probably hear that Mr. Bowen will be leaving his job soon to spend more time with family.

House Passes Bill to Ban CIA’s Use of Harsh Interrogation Tactics. A law that should have been superfluous since we don’t torture people right? And if we don’t torture people why has Bush already claimed that he’ll veto it, another cry wolf Republican Rep. Peter Hoekstra has said that we’d all be dead if it wasn’t for these practices that are not torture. While someone that Rush Limbaugh would no doubt call a phony soldier, Retired Army Gen. Paul J. Kern has said that it would be best if the CIA was bound by the Army’s field manual which forbids torture. The world turns as Conservatives continue to play Chicken-Little.

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