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The promised Pentagon report on Iraq was released today. You can find it here. Surprise: I can't find the specific numbers in here that corresponded with the GAO's request.

However, the report notes that the months of September and October were the most violent so far:

"Attack levels—both overall and in all specific measurable categories—were the highest on record during this reporting period, due in part to what has become an annual cycle of increased violence during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. . . .

"Country-wide, the average number of weekly attacks increased 22% from the previous reporting period (May 20, 2006 to August 11, 2006) to the current reporting period (August 12, 2006 through November 10, 2006). Attacks decreased slightly in August, but rebounded quickly and were the highest on record in September and October."

From The Observer:

The US uses its aid budget to bribe those countries which have a vote in the United Nations security council, giving them 59 per cent more cash in years when they have a seat, according to research by economists.

Kofi Annan, the outgoing UN Secretary-General, expressed his frustration at the power the US wields over the UN in his parting speech last week. In a detailed analysis of 50 years of data, Harvard University's Ilyana Kuziemko and Eric Werker provide the clearest evidence yet that money is used by the council's richest member to grease the wheels of diplomacy....

When there is a controversial vote in prospect, the premium for countries with a security council seat is even higher. US aid surges by as much as 170 per cent, bringing in a £23m windfall, while the UN spends an extra £4m.

'Some countries serve on the security council during relatively calm years, whereas others, by chance, are fortunate enough to serve during a year in which a key resolution is debated and their vote becomes more valuable,' the authors say....


Via Raw Story.

I just got a call from Lt. Col. Mark Ballesteros, a spokesman for the Defense Department. I relayed to him my conversation with the GAO official, who said the Pentagon was refusing to declassify data showing the number of enemy attacks in Iraq for the months of September, October and November.

"That's an interesting accusation from your source," Ballesteros said. As it happens, the Pentagon is releasing a report today at 5 p.m. on "back trends in violence" in Iraq, he informed me.

Does it contain the three-month attack data the Pentagon declined to allow the GAO to include in its report?

Ballesteros paused. "There's information about attacks. Okay?" he replied. "Why don't you wait until 5 o'clock?"

According to another official, the report will be posted to the DoD Web site, at http://www.defenselink.mil.

Well, this just proves the wisdom of Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) decision to keep almost $300,000 in his campaign coffers.

Burns paid approximately $12,000 more to Powell Goldstein in early November, according to Burns' last FEC report, meaning that since he hired Ralph Caccia of that firm in April, Burns' campaign has doled out more than $103,500. And you can bet that number will continue to climb.



Just how many different ways has the Bush Administration tried to hide once-public information sources from the public record? Help us count the ways.



On Friday, Justin discovered that the Department of Defense has suddenly classified the numbers of attacks in Iraq for September through November of this year -- after providing the figures for every month since the war began. Why classify the information now? If there's a good explanation, we don't know it, and the Pentagon isn't returning our calls.



As others have noted, it's far from the first time that the administration has tried to deep-six data that was unhelpful to its goals. Over the years, they've discontinued annual reports, classified normally public data, de-funded studies, quieted underlings, and generally done whatever was necessary to keep bad information under wraps.



Wouldn't it be great to have all those examples in one place? Thankfully, Steve Benen at the Carpetbagger Report has started us off on that goal. But we're pretty confident there are more examples, so please use the comments to make suggestions, and we'll update the list as we verify the specifics. Please, include links where possible.



Here's Steve's list:



* In March, the administration announced it would no longer produce the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation, which identifies which programs best assist low-income families, while also tracking health insurance coverage and child support.



* In 2005, after a government report showed an increase in terrorism around the world, the administration announced it would stop publishing its annual report on international terrorism.



* After the Bureau of Labor Statistics uncovered discouraging data about factory closings in the U.S., the administration announced it would stop publishing information about factory closings.



* When an annual report called “Budget Information for States” showed the federal government shortchanging states in the midst of fiscal crises, Bush’s Office of Management and Budget announced it was discontinuing the report, which some said was the only source for comprehensive data on state funding from the federal government.



* When Bush’s Department of Education found that charter schools were underperforming, the administration said it would sharply cut back on the information it collects about charter schools.




Our list continues, after the jump.

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During his doomed re-election campaign, former Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) did his best to convince voters that he wasn't worried in the least about what Jack Abramoff had told prosecutors. Hell, he's not even a target of the investigation!

If he failed to convince voters, that may be because he appears not to have convinced himself: rather than spend his bottom dollar on last-minute ad buys to eke out a win, Burns quietly banked nearly $300,000. He lost by 3,602 votes.

Playing the squirrel to Rep. John Doolittle's (R-CA) grasshopper, Burns is now sitting pretty. That's money he can use down the line to pay his lawyers, whom he's already paid more than $90,000. By contrast, Doolittle, the other lawmaker reported to be in prosecutors' sites, finished his successful re-election bid in debt. Silly grasshopper.

In his latest column, Congressional Quarterly's Jeff Stein revisits the Silvestre Reyes Shia-or-Sunni fiasco (which his previous column had sparked).

The incoming House intelligence committee chairman isn't the only person who doesn't know his ABCs, Stein reports:

Former Army intelligence Col. Rich Reynolds, who spent over two decades in the Middle East, told me he was startled recently to hear about several young CIA intelligence analysts at the CIA headquarters who were completely unfamiliar with Israel’s disastrous 1982 invasion of Lebanon.

The analysts’ current area of responsibility? Lebanon.

Likewise, a young intelligence analyst specializing in terrorist finances at the Department of Homeland Security was baffled a few weeks back by a question about hawalas, the ubiquitous Arab shops that work like an informal Western Union network to transfer money around the Middle East.

Experts think hawalas are one of al Qaeda’s prime channels for moving cash.

“What’s a hawala?” she asked.

Another young CIA analyst at the National Counterterrorism Center, according to a former White House National Security Council official who continues to work on intelligence matters, seemed totally surprised to learn that the terrorist group most responsible for killing Americans before 9/11 was not al Qaeda or a Palestinian faction but Hezbollah. The Iran-backed Shiite“Party of God” killed more than 300 Americans in suicide bombings in Beirut and Saudi Arabia in the 1980s and 1990s.


I guess we'll find out if it's true what they say -- what you don't know can't hurt you.

Reid Does His Own "Dead-of-Night" Legislation "Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, who has pledged to stop 'dead-of-night legislating,' did a little of his own in the final hours of this year's congressional session.

"Reid slipped two home state projects into the last major bill Congress passed last week: a transfer of federal land in Nevada to state and private control that's almost two-thirds the size of Rhode Island; and a $4 million grant for a hospice. Neither had been approved by any congressional committee.

"Reid said the land measure will help Las Vegas and other cities in his state grow and the hospice money rights a flawed Medicare ruling. One senator and some government watchdog groups criticized the actions, pointing to promises by Reid and the new Democratic majority in Congress to change a lawmaking process known for targeted funding and secretive deals.

"'Doing anything last minute shoved into an irrelevant measure — that's exactly what Harry Reid said he was going to stop,' said Steve Ellis, vice president of programs at Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington-based nonprofit that monitors government spending. 'It goes against the grain of transparency and openness.'" (Bloomberg)

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From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Authorities are investigating whether Rep. Tim Murphy's (R-PA) legislative staff members performed campaign work while on government time, which would violate federal law, according to a broadcast report.

Federal authorities have started interviewing Mr. Murphy's former staff members, according to KDKA-TV, which cited anonymous sources.


It's hard to keep track, but I believe this would be the 19th member of the 109th Congress under federal investigation. Time's running out. Who'll make it an even twenty?

Oh, and no mention of Murphy's alleged transgression should go unaccompanied by a link to this.

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