While Oil Slick Spread, Interior Department Chief of Staff Rafted with Wife on “Work-Focused” Trip in Grand Canyon

While Oil Slick Spread, Interior Department Chief of Staff Rafted with Wife on “Work-Focused” Trip in Grand Canyon

May 05, 2010 5:47 PM

Though his agency was charged with coordinating the federal response to the major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Department of the Interior chief of staff Tom Strickland was in the Grand Canyon with his wife last week participating in activities that included white-water rafting, ABC News has learned.

Other leaders of the Interior Department were focused on the Gulf, joined by other agencies and literally thousands of other employees. But Strickland’s participation in a trip that administration officials insisted was “work-focused” raised eyebrows among other Obama administration officials and even within even his own department, sources told ABC News.

Strickland, who also serves as Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, was in the Grand Canyon with his wife Beth for a total of three days, including one day of rafting. Beth Strickland paid her own way, Obama administration officials said.

The Stricklands departed for the Grand Canyon three days after the leaks in the Deepwater Horizon pipeline were discovered.  Ultimately, after the government realized that the spill was worse than had been previously thought, officials decided that Strickland was needed in the Gulf so Strickland was taken out of the Grand Canyon by a National Park Service helicopter.

One government official, asking for anonymity because of the political sensitivities involved, told ABC News that some Interior Department employees thought it was “irresponsible” for Strickland to have gone on the trip, given the crisis in the Gulf, which was fully apparent at the time he departed for the Grand Canyon.

When asked about Strickland’s trip, Interior Department press secretary Kendra Barkoff told ABC News that “the federal government has been all over this issue from day one in a unified coordinated response.”

Barkoff said that Secretary Salazar deputized Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Hayes “to be the point person on this issue and from the morning after the explosion from the time he got to New Orleans he has been working on this non-stop with the help of other people in the Interior Department as well as other agencies involved.”

An administration source says that Strickland’s trip to the Grand Canyon was work-focused. He was with the director of the National Park Service, Jonathan Jarvis, and Grand Canyon National Park Superintendant Steve Martin, the source said, and they discussed matters such as river flows, beach erosion, humpback chub, tamarisk control, overflights, safety, motor boats, and wilderness management.

Strickland is Salazar’s chief of staff as well as the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, having been confirmed to the latter position on April 30, 2009.

When asked during his Senate confirmation hearings as to which job would take priority, Strickland was very clear to the members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the Energy and Natural Resource Committee: “My first priority will be the responsibilities of this assistant secretary position, and we are staffing the personal operation of the Secretary with that in mind,” he said.

Strickland’s deputy chief of staff, Renee Stone, “is going to take most of the responsibilities of the chief of staff day-to-day,” he testified.

The White House has aggressively pushed back on any notions that the federal government did not immediately respond to the crisis, providing today a detailed timeline indicating the day by day response in terms of the total numbers of response vessels, feet of boom deployed, oily water recovered, and overall personnel responding, among other measures.

That timeline, however, might raise even more questions as to why the Assistant Secretary in charge of fish and wildlife — not to mention the Interior Department chief of staff — didn’t reconsider the timeliness of his trip to the Grand Canyon with his wife, however work-focused.

The explosion at Deepwater Horizon was on April 20, and Hayes and Barkoff arrived in the Gulf the next day.

On Saturday April 24, the first oil leaks were discovered.

On Tuesday, April 27, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that his department along with the Department of Homeland Security would launch an investigation into the Deepwater Horizon Incident.  Salazar pledged “every resource we can to support the massive response effort underway at the Deepwater Horizon.”

Strickland and his wife arrived in the Grand Canyon that night.

The day before his travel, the US Fish and Wildlife Service began working with the Coast Guard to identify high-priority national wildlife refuges to be shielded with boom. More than one thousand overall personnel had been deployed to the region.

By Thursday, April 29, the fact that Strickland was not one of those personnel became sufficient issue that he tried to leave the Grand Canyon. The night before, the federal government updated its assessment that 1,000 barrels of oil a day were leaking into the Gulf, judging the spillage to be five times that. A National Park Service helicopter was flown in to remove him from the Grand Canyon so he could travel to the Gulf of Mexico to help with the federal response to the oil slick.

As Strickland made his way to New Orleans that Thursday, April 29, President Obama first addressed the oil slick in public, saying his “administration will continue to use every single available resource at our disposal, including potentially the Department of Defense, to address the incident.”

A former U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado, Strickland ran unsuccessfully for the US Senate in 1996 and 2002.

On January 22, 2009, Salazar said that at the department he and Strickland – as a former US Attorney and a former Attorney General, respectively – “will hold people accountable. We will expect to be held accountable.”

Obama biggest recipient of BP cash

Obama biggest recipient of BP cash
By: Erika Lovley
May 5, 2010 05:05 AM EDT
While the BP oil geyser pumps millions of gallons of petroleum into the Gulf of Mexico, President Barack Obama and members of Congress may have to answer for the millions in campaign contributions they’ve taken from the oil and gas giant over the years.

BP and its employees have given more than $3.5 million to federal candidates over the past 20 years, with the largest chunk of their money going to Obama, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Donations come from a mix of employees and the company’s political action committees — $2.89 million flowed to campaigns from BP-related PACs and about $638,000 came from individuals.

On top of that, the oil giant has spent millions each year on lobbying — including $15.9 million last year alone — as it has tried to influence energy policy.

During his time in the Senate and while running for president, Obama received a total of $77,051 from the oil giant and is the top recipient of BP PAC and individual money over the past 20 years, according to financial disclosure records.

An Obama spokesman rejected the notion that the president took big oil money.
“President Obama didn’t accept a dime from corporate PACs or federal lobbyists during his presidential campaign,” spokesman Ben LaBolt said. “He raised $750 million from nearly four million Americans. And since he became president, he rolled back tax breaks and giveaways for the oil and gas industry, spearheaded a G20 agreement to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, and made the largest investment in American history in clean energy incentives.”

In Congress, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who last week cautioned that the incident should “not be used inappropriately” to halt Obama’s push for expansion of offshore drilling, has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of BP’s largesse. Her comments created some blowback, with critics complaining that she is too blasé about the impact of the disaster, even though she was among the first lawmakers to call for a federal investigation into the spill.

As the top congressional recipient in the last cycle and one of the top BP cash recipients of the past two decades, Landrieu banked almost $17,000 from the oil giant in 2008 alone and has lined her war chest with more than $28,000 in BP cash overall.

“Campaign contributions, from energy companies or from environmental groups, have absolutely no impact on Sen. Landrieu’s policy agenda or her response to this unprecedented disaster in the Gulf,” said Landrieu spokesman Aaron Saunders. “The senator is proud of the broad coalition she’s built since her first day in the Senate to address the energy and environmental challenges in Louisiana and in the nation. This disaster only makes the effort to promote and save Louisiana’s coast all that more important.”

Several BP executives have given directly to Landrieu’s campaign, including current and previous U.S. operation Presidents Lamar McKay and Robert Malone. Other donors include Margaret Hudson, BP’s America vice president, and Benjamin Cannon, federal affairs director for the U.S. branch. Donations ranged from $1,000 to $2,300 during the past campaign cycle.

Environmentalists complain that Landrieu has played down the impact of oil spills.

“I mean, just the gallons are so minuscule compared to the benefits of U.S. strength and security, the benefits of job creation and energy security,” Landrieu said at a hearing last month on offshore drilling. “So while there are risks associated with everything, I think you understand that they are quite, quite minimal.”

 

“They own Mary Landrieu and the rest of the Louisiana delegation,” said Greenpeace Research Director Kert Davies. “They have more money, disposable income and a fleet of dispensable lobbyists to beat the band.”

Other politicians with ties to coastal states or states with BP refineries have also reaped benefits from the fourth largest company in the world.

The top congressional recipients of BP campaign cash include Republican Rep. Don Young of the oil-intensive Alaska delegation, who has received almost as much as Obama, raking in $73,300 during his congressional tenure. Also on the list is Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), whose state has a BP refinery in Toledo and who has raked in $41,400. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has received $44,899.

“Make no mistake: BP ranks among the most powerful corporate forces in U.S. politics,” said Dave Levinthal, spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics. “It donates hundreds of thousands of dollars every election cycle through its employees and political action committee and is routinely a seven- or eight-figure federal lobbying powerhouse each year.”

In 2008 alone, BP gave $37,000 to members of the House Energy Committee and $106,501 to members of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, which deals with security issues facing the nation’s oil supply.

BP has also evolved in its corporate giving over the past decade, shifting more money to Democrats. In 2000, the company gave almost 39 percent more to Republicans than to Democrats. But by 2008, Democrats had nearly pulled even with Republicans on BP donations.

Moreover, the company has nearly tripled the amount of money it has spent on lobbying, from about $5.7 million in 1999 to $15.9 million last year, according to lobbying disclosures.

BP has bulked up its K Street team by signing some of the biggest firms in Washington, several of which employ former Hill staffers with deep-seated ties to Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico coast.

BP representation within lobby shop Alpine Group alone includes lobbyist Bob Brooks, who served as chief of staff to former Rep. Jim McCrery (R-La.), and lobbyist Rebecca Hawes, a longtime counsel for former Sen. John Breaux (D-La.). Jason Schendle worked for Landrieu for nine years, according to lobbying disclosures.

Former Rep. Jim Turner, now a lobbyist for BP with Arnold & Porter, formerly represented the 2nd District of Texas, which includes a large piece of Gulf shoreline. And at DC Legislative and Regulatory Services, BP lobbyist David Marin was formerly the lead Hill staffer for Congress’s Select Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina.

“First, they are exceedingly competent. Second, they are [Democratic-centric]. I know the first will help enormously in the next few weeks. I am not so sure about the second,” said Republican energy lobbyist Mike McKen­na of MWR Strategies, who predicted that Landrieu would quite likely get “very wide latitude” on the oil issue. “That may not be the case with BP, whose record is a bit more spotty.”

Bomber trained at Pakistan terror camp

AP sources: Bomber trained at Pakistan terror camp

 

 Email this Story

May 4, 3:26 PM (ET)

By EILEEN SULLIVAN and KIMBERLY DOZIER 

WASHINGTON (AP) – The suspect in the failed Times Square bombing told authorities he trained at a terrorism camp in Pakistan, officials said Tuesday as they worked to unravel the events leading up to the nearly catastrophic attack.

Faisal Shahzad was arrested late Monday and charged with trying to blow up an SUV in crowded Times Square on Saturday evening. Attorney General Eric Holder said Shahzad was cooperating with authorities and would face terrorism and weapons of mass destruction charges.

Holder said Shahzad had provided valuable information, but the attorney general would not elaborate.

One law enforcement official said Shahzad told the FBI he trained in Pakistan. A second said the training was believed to be in the lawless tribal region of Waziristan, where the Pakistani Taliban operates with near impunity.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive ongoing investigation.

The Pakistani Taliban has taken credit for the bomb plot, but U.S. officials say there’s no evidence to back that up.

The report of training raises the possibility the attack was a coordinated international effort, but authorities have not said whether they believe that to be the case.

Franklin Graham: Obama ‘Giving Islam a Pass,’ Warns of Persecution

Franklin Graham: Obama ‘Giving Islam a Pass,’ Warns of Persecution

May 5th, 2010

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid14599856001?bctid=82734462001

By: David A. Patten, Newsmax

Evangelical leader Rev. Franklin Graham issued his toughest remarks yet Monday on the administration’s role in revoking his invitation to speak at the Pentagon’s National Day of Prayer event, charging that President Obama is “giving Islam a pass” rather than speaking openly about the “horrific” treatment women and minorities receive in many Muslim countries.

In an exclusive telephone interview with Newsmax.TV, Graham called revoking his invitation to the prayer service “a slap at all evangelical Christians.”

And he clearly placed the blame on the Obama administration, telling Newsmax that the Pentagon would never revoke such an invitation without first consulting with the White House.

“I’m being restricted from my religious rights, and from what I believe,” Graham warned, as he complained of a growing “secularization” in the government.

He also warned Christian of “coming” persecution for believing in Jesus Christ.

Read More:

MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer ‘Frustrated’ That Times Square Bomber Is a Muslim

MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer ‘Frustrated’ That Times Square Bomber Is a Muslim

MSNBC host Contessa Brewer appeared on the liberal Stephanie Miller radio show on Tuesday and lamented the fact that the person arrested for the attempted Times Square bombing is a Pakistani American. She complained, “I get frustrated…There was part of me that was hoping this was not going to be anybody with ties to any kind of Islamic country.” [Audio available here.]

Is a Radical Islamic Movement Spreading Throughout America?

Exclusive: Is a Radical Islamic Movement Spreading Throughout America?

 

The National Ummah – a Muslim movement that seeks to transform American cities into sovereign Islamic states – has gained a foothold in metropolitan areas throughout the country. Few groups are more radical, subversive, and dangerous.
 
The movement is led by Jamil al-Amin, (H. Rap Brown) from his cell in a maximum security prison on the outskirts of Florence, Colorado, where he is serving a life sentence for killing two police officers.
 
Some of the Ummah mosques maintain armed militias. Others provide training in martial arts and guerilla warfare. Almost all operate beneath the radar of local, state, and federal law enforcement officials.
 
Last October, after conducting a raid on Ummah congregations in Detroit and Dearborn, Michigan, federal investigators said that the movement was small and regional with only a few hundred active members. But thousands of African-American Muslims pledge their allegiance to the Ummah (Arabic for “community”) and a short list of mosques affiliated with the movement is as follows:
 
  • The Universal Islamic Brotherhood in Cleveland
  • West End Community in Atlantic
  • Ta’if Tul Ministry in Los Angeles
  • First Cleveland Mosque
  • Masjid al-Islam – Washington, D.C.
  • Dar al-Hijrah – Falls Church, Virginia
  • Masjid Mohammad – Washington, D.C.
  • Peace in the Hood – Cleveland
  • Masjid Bilal – Lexington, Kentucky
  • Masjid Waritheen – Oakland, California
  • Masjid Ibrahim – Sacramento
  • Sankore Institute – Green Haven Penitentiary
  • Community Mosque – Winston-Salem
  • Adams Center – Washington, D.C.
  • Masjid Mujahidin – New York City
  • Masjid al-Mumin – New York City
  • Masjid al-Taqwa – New York City         
 
The movement is an outgrowth of Dar ul-Islam, an Islamic street gang in Brooklyn. Many members of the gang ended up in Green Haven, a maximum security prison in upper New York where they established Masjid Santore, a mosque within the prison. The prison mosque receives full funding from New York state legislators.
 
Another offshoot of Dar ul-Islam is Jamaat ul-Fuqra, an Islamic group that operates Islamberg and approximately 40 additional Islamic paramilitary compounds throughout the country.
 
On October 28, 2009, the FBI raided a warehouse in Detroit and two houses in Detroit and arrested eleven Ummah members on charges of mail fraud, the illegal possession of firearms, trafficking in stolen goods, and altering vehicle identification numbers.
 
In the course of the raid on the warehouse, Luqman Ameen Abdullah, the ringleader of the group, opened fire on the federal agents and was killed in the ensuing gunfight. Luqman Abdullah was the imam of the Masjid al-Haqq in Detroit, a mosque that was part of the Ummah network. He sought to claim a section of blight ravaged Detroit for his group in order to establish a sovereign Muslim enclave governed by Sharia (Islamic law).
 
In his sermons, Imam Abdullah called upon his followers to launch an “offensive jihad” against U.S. officials and to carry and use firearms. Imam Abdullah was one of the founders of the Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA). Another founder was Siraj Wahhaj, an un-indicted co-conspirator in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and imam of Masjid al-Taqwa in Brooklyn.
 
MANA was formed to defend Jamil al-Amin and to advance the Islamic take-over of the United States by “cultural jihad” – pushing for black/Muslim privileges under the guise of equal opportunity and civil rights.
 
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Paul L. Williams, Ph.D., is the author of The Day of Islam: The Annihilation of America and the Western World, The Al Qaeda Connection, and other best-selling books. He is a frequent guest on such national news networks as ABC News, CBS News, Fox News, MSNBC, and NPR. Visit his website at http://thelastcrusade.org.

The Case of the Mysterious Disappearing Religion

The Case of the Mysterious Disappearing Religion

by Monica CrowleyIslam? Islam? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone? Anyone?

We awake to news that after extraordinary police work, investigators have made an arrest in the attempted car bombing of Times Square in New York.  Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani native-turned-naturalized-U.S.-citizen, was taken into custody late last night. He was naturalized last year, and shortly thereafter, made a trip to Peshawar, Pakistan–a hotbed of Islamic terrorist activity and recruitment.

I have read countless reports about the arrest, in newspapers and websites big and small.  So far, I have not seen a single mention of his faith.  Not a single reference to his being Muslim.  We’re left to deduce that by his Pakistani ethnicity and name.

Political correctness has stripped us of our ability to be brutally honest about the nature of the threat we face.  It’s not from a bunch of maniacal Catholics or Jews or Hindus or Buddhists.  The lethal threat is coming from radical Muslims.  Even after September 11, even after repeated terror attacks and attempts here and abroad, we still cannot be truthful and outspoken about it?  Pathetic.

This suicidal inability to call the enemy what it is comes straight from the top:  the President will not go anywhere near the words “Islam” and “terror” together.  His administration has contorted itself into all kinds of politically correct gymnastics to avoid making the connection, going so far as to term acts of terror as “manmade disasters” and the fight against it as “overseas contingency operations.”

He refused to speak the truth about the motivation of Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who killed 13 fellow Americans in the name of Islam, and would not make the connection with the Christmas Day bomber, Abdulmutallab.  He refused to “jump to conclusions” about what propelled them to try to kill Americans (although he had no problem “jumping to conclusions” about Sgt. Crowley of the Cambridge Police and the Arizona immigration law.)

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a ridiculous statement before the arrest, suggesting it could be “someone…that doesn’t like the health care bill.”

Bloomberg’s comment was idiotic, but he’s not the Commander-in-Chief.  Obama was notified of the arrest five minutes after midnight.  We’ve gotten a statement from his Attorney General, but as of 8:30am ET, still no statement from the Commander-in-Chief.

Unless and until we can call the enemy and what drives him to kill us what they are -­ Muslims propelled by their religious belief -­ we cannot and will not win this war.

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