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Shade It Black: Death and After in Iraq

Shade It Black: Death and After in Iraq

By Jessica Goodell, John Hearn

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The Money Behind the Anti-McCain Ad

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Posted on Mar 6, 2008
mccain ad

This story was reported by Will Evans of the Center for Investigative Reporting and Peter Overby of National Public Radio.

With Sen. John McCain having clinched the Republican presidential nomination, a new Democrat-funded group has already begun an ad campaign labeling him the “McSame” as President Bush.

The campaign represents the opening salvo from a consortium of top Democrat donors, operatives and unions that at this point has raised $6.75 million for the election season. The ad campaign is an example of what is expected to be a messy advertising battle among a slew of independently operating liberal and conservative groups, with many millions of dollars spent on each side.

The Center for Investigative Reporting and National Public Radio have traced the flow of money and interwoven connections behind the anti-McCain ads, which are being run by the Campaign to Defend America, a nonprofit set up last year by co-founder Wes Boyd, among others.

The group has run ads in Erie, Pa., over the past weeks, and plans to spend more than $1 million on the anti-McCain ad, according to a press release.


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The group’s money comes from the Fund for America, a new “527 organization” run by major Democrats and top union officials to help coordinate the effort to take back the White House. The fund’s money comes from billionaire investor George Soros ($2.5 million), the Service Employees International Union ($2.5 million) and hedge fund manager Donald Sussman ($1 million), among others. Its leadership includes President Clinton’s former chief of staff, John Podesta; Taco Bell heir Rob McKay; and executives from the SEIU and a national teachers union.

“A trillion dollars in Iraq over the next 10 years. McSame as Bush,” declares the ad. “Tell John McCain we need a new direction. Not the McSame old thing.”

The Campaign to Defend America declined repeated requests for interviews.

As an independent organization, the CDA can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, as long as it doesn’t coordinate with the candidate or party committee that it is helping.

The CDA uses lawyers who also represent the Democratic National Committee. For example, DNC general counsel Joseph E. Sandler helped incorporate the Campaign to Defend America in March 2007, according to documents. Sharing lawyers is usually not a violation of the coordination rule, as long as the lawyers don’t share or influence strategy, says election lawyer Kenneth Gross. But it can raise the question of the appearance of improper coordination. Gross notes that in 2004, a legal adviser to President Bush’s campaign resigned because he had also represented the independent group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

The McCain ad isn’t the only production of the Campaign to Defend America. The group is closely affiliated with Americans Against Escalation in Iraq (or “Iraq 2008”), a coalition of liberal groups that ran the “Iraq Summer” campaign last year, which organized grass-roots opposition to Republican members of Congress who opposed withdrawal timetables for the war in Iraq. The Americans Against Escalation coalition is an alias for the CDA, according to records filed with Washington’s secretary of state.

The Campaign to Defend America itself is organized as a 501c4 nonprofit organization, a form of tax-exempt group growing in popularity among political operatives because it doesn’t have to disclose its donors. As yet, the group has not received tax-exempt status from the IRS, according to an IRS spokesman.

Unlike 527s such as the Fund for America, the CDA wouldn’t have to disclose who funded its automated calls to voters, which have already been the target of complaints.

But running a TV ad about a candidate close to the date of an election is subject to stricter rules, which is why the CDA filed papers revealing its funding. In the filings, the CDA also claimed a special exemption that would allow it to use stronger wording than other organizations, explicitly urging voters to vote for or against a candidate.

Only organizations that don’t accept any corporate or union money qualify for that exemption. The CDA’s funder, the Fund for America, is based at the Service Employees International Union’s Washington, D.C., headquarters, counts union officials among its directors, and took in $2.5 million in union funds.

The Fund for America, however, sent only nonunion money to the CDA and reimbursed the SEIU for staff and office expenses, steps it must take for the CDA to follow the letter of the law, according to campaign finance experts.

Whether the CDA is violating the spirit of the rule is “a political or moral question,” says Larry Noble, former general counsel to the Federal Election Commission. “Your spirit may be different than mine. People can’t be prosecuted for violating the spirit of the law. If you’re allowed to do it, you’re allowed to do it.”

Listen to NPR’s on-air story and view a chart of the money and connections behind the Campaign to Defend America.

For more articles on money and politics and other important topics, go to the Center for Investigative Reporting’s Web site.

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By kath cantarella, March 13, 2008 at 1:15 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)


Yes, if i had a job which required me to kill innocent people, i would quit, or go to the brig for many years, rather than try to live with that horror on my conscience. There is no doubt in my mind that i would do this: i have swum upstream all my bloody life and it has cost me. I don’t do things because others’ approve. And the concept of ‘glory’ is pure unadulterated SHIT, in war or in anything else.

There are no war-heroes, there are only war-victims. I know vets who agree with me, i lived in an army town for years.

When you kill someone who is a direct threat to yourself or someone else, it is self-defence. When you kill non-combatants en masse, it is not only mass-murder, it is pure insanity.

McCain would have my sympathy that he was placed in such a position IF he regretted it, IF he was working to prevent it happening again, IF he didn’t prove his continued culpability by advocating the invasion of Iraq which resulted in the unnecessary deaths of countless innocents.

In the real world, outside of the delusion of testosterone-fueled control and omniscience, most wars are avoidable. 

WWII was the only war worth fighting in the last century, and it was ended by the self-defensive actions of an invaded people: Russia.

Are you one of those people who thinks men are immune to naivete because they have dicks?

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By Shenonymous, March 9, 2008 at 12:22 pm Link to this comment

Part 2
The Corporation Contamination of the Candidates Game Report and Tabulation
For instance,
as reported in the Star Telegram today, Former CEO Hewlett-Packard joins McCain effort.
Current Scores
McCain 499
$19,200 defense corporation donation, no specific company named, The Political Inquirer, Oct. 19, 2007 – minus 1 point
Joseh W. McQuaid, Union Leader Publication, Dec 2. 2007 – minus 1 point
John Hagee, Evangelical Christian, Cornerstone Church televangelist, Texas, Feb. 27, 2008 – minus 1 point
Hispanic Outreach Director, Juan Hernandez, concerning illegal aliens – minus 1 point, News with Views, Pastor Chuck Baldwin, Feb.  8, 2008
same article:
Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Gehman Brothers, JP Morgan Chase & Co. – minus 4 points
Fred Hall, Co-Chair Business Leaders for McCain – minus 1 point
Tom Price – SrVP, Chesapeake Energy Corp. – minus 1 point
same article:  18 other individuals associated as CEO or other managers with corporations - minus 18 points
Total net points so far:  471

Clinton 500 – shall she be counted minus 1 point for the CDA shenanigans?
  Accused by John Edwards, Nov. 2007, of taking $750,000 from PACs and $500,000 from lobbyists, however, no specific company named.
$52,600 defense corporations, no specific company named, The Political Inquirer, Oct. 19, 2007
Accused by Celsias, Feb. 19, 2008 of affiliation with Monsanto and Monsanto lobbyists – minus 1 point
A very interesting report.
The Rose Law Firm, that owns controlling interests in corporations, which own controlling interests in other corporations (kind of like a silenos doll where hidden within hidden units are other hidden units) several named in the Stephens Group:  Tyson Foods, Walmart, DP&L;– minus 3 points
Total net points so far:  495

Obama 500 – shall he be counted minus 1 point for the CDA shenanigans?
$10,000 no specific defense corporation named as a donor, The Political Inquirer, Oct. 19, 2007
Endorsed by Nevada’s Culinary Workers Union, FirstRead, Jan. 9, 2008 – minus 1 point
Oprah Winfrey support (televised) – minus 1 point
Total net points so far:  497

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By Shenonymous, March 9, 2008 at 12:21 pm Link to this comment

In two parts:
While there are plenty of other issues on which to make such a decision, to help solve the problem of apprehension of who to vote for president specifically to ameliorate the effect corporate America has on the government, I propose a game called The Corporation Contamination of the Candidates Game.  All candidates start off with 200 points, no, let’s make that 500 points.  For every corporation, corporation management, or former corporation manager that donates to or supports a candidate, a point is subtracted from that candidate’s score.  By Election Day, we should know accurately which candidate is more in the pocket of corporations and which would be more beholden to them in terms of vetoing bills or making government appointments.  Whoever has the most points is the one, if you care, that is, about being manipulated by the corporate world, to vote for.  But sometimes corporations or corporate cartels make donations to parties, such as the FFA and CDA, the AAE for Iraq, noted above in the article, Soros, SEIU, Sussman to the Democrats (to be fair*), a point from each of that party’s candidates needs to be deducted.  Okay, so Clinton, Obama, and McCain now have 500 points.  Submit the names of corporations, managers, and former managers that have signed up for a candidate.  You must cite your sources.  I will be happy to keep the score and keep it public.  See next post for a cursory report and tabulation.

Y’all get the idea once you see the report below.  I’m sure I am quite shy of points here for these candidates, I’m also sure you can provide more.

Does anyone think I have to change the beginning score from 500 to 1,000?  This game should appeal to Ralph Nader and John Edwards, no?

*Speaking of fairness, which is just another name for justice, it would seem that liberals, among whom I count myself, would serve themselves well to point out their existence on the edge of ethics as well as making the points these organizations are providing.  It does no good to call the kettle scorched if the pot appears to be as corrupt.  Appearances are everything in elections. As the article points out, “violating a spirit of a rule” although it is indeed a moral issue, permission to be at the cutting edge of morality might as well push it over into the immoral column.  Don’t you think this is a telling article?  Don’t we have to police ourselves to deserve the badge of morality?

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By heavyrunner, March 7, 2008 at 5:02 pm Link to this comment

Hillary is a snarling hag and both she and her husband are no more than high priced whores.

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By Expat, March 7, 2008 at 4:02 am Link to this comment

^ I couldn’t agree more! YES!!!!!!!!!

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By J.Anthony, March 6, 2008 at 10:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

  John McCain

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By 911truthdotorg, March 6, 2008 at 8:59 pm Link to this comment

9/11 Truth (& False Flag Terror) FINALLY on CBS NATIONAL Radio - Jim Bohannan
Show !!  STUNNING National CBS Radio Interview!

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By ocjim, March 6, 2008 at 7:42 pm Link to this comment

How can anyone have respect for McCain. Rove and Bush trash him in the 2000 South Carolina primary (whisper campaign claiming McCain fathered a black child [adopted Bangladesh daughter]) and McCain seeks Bush’s endorsement with a hug: it’s like Judas hugging Judas.

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By SuGee, March 6, 2008 at 6:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

McCain is a problem.  He was a prisoner of war for a reason.  He only sees a military solution and that makes us all less safe.  I don’t like some people saying that we can’t be safe if we don’t attack other people.  That’s just not sane.

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By Ashley, March 6, 2008 at 5:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I appreciate the long and thorough explanation of the money trail and legal standards that must be adhered to in this type of advertising campaign. The American people deserve to know how these slanted creations come about, and who is ultimately responsible for them. This is obviously not the first time we have seen a campaign like this designed to smear the competition, yet the participants are not associated with the opposition, and I am sure that this will not be the last we see, as more loopholes are discovered in the legal and financial standards for such an organization. However, while I do find it important to investigate the fairness in competition, and that there should be a level playing ground between the two parties and candidates, is anyone honestly going to say that equality in practice exists?

I am definitely not asserting that because we haven’t seen fair practices in politics (which as I write this sounds like an oxymoron) doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive or attempt to achieve them. However, what I would like to point out comes directly at the end of the article, after we have been informed on what the standards for the organizations, donors, and their affiliations, after we have seen where exactly the money did and should come from, after we have been notified of the practices and affiliations one is allowed to engage in…is that the question arises “Whether the CDA is violating the spirit of the rule is ‘a political or moral question.’ The answer is then given by the former general counsel to the Federal Election Commission that “People can’t be prosecuted for violating the spirit of the law. If you’re allowed to do it, you’re allowed to do it.”

I find this response completely expected, but also completely disgusting. Everyone has an expectation that politicians and policy practices are dirty, and while there was always examples to support that claim, now there is complete confirmation. We live in a nation that acts by dancing on the line between good and evil, failing to cross in only when the law prohibits us from doing so. I’m sure all these individuals are interested in the positive future of the country, otherwise they wouldn’t go to so much trouble to ensure that a particular candidate is not elected into office. But is it so much to ask that we find truthful and honest ways to shoot down the opposition without dirty money and secret conniving. Once again, I ask the simple question if anyone, or their attorney, has any ethics anymore. Though we are a relatively new country, we have a long foundation in the concept of the “marketplace of ideas,” which allows for the people to decide what ideas are best and elect our leaders and shape policy resulting from those decisions. While it isn’t “required” and you can interpret the law in various “spirits,” didn’t anyone ever decide that sometimes doing what’s right/just can be in everyone’s best interest? Maybe I’m way too much of a if given the time and opportunity to do so.

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By PatrickHenry, March 6, 2008 at 5:09 pm Link to this comment

There’s that dog again.

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By Marshall, March 6, 2008 at 5:06 pm Link to this comment

...and rather happy to see TD publishing a story that’s unflattering to the Democrats.  Helps separate it from the moveon crowd and bost it’s legitimacy a bit.

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By PatrickHenry, March 6, 2008 at 5:06 pm Link to this comment


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By bert, March 6, 2008 at 4:48 pm Link to this comment

MMC - I can’t believe you just said you want to do away with free speech. Real American of you MMC. Jefferson is rolling over in his grave that any Anerican would want to do away free speech.

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By Joe, March 6, 2008 at 3:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m having a hard time feeling badly for these two creepy knob gobblers. These warmongering scumbags, along with their scabby-thighed confederate, Hillary, represent only desperation for a world weary of war and bullying.

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By kath cantarella, March 6, 2008 at 2:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

McCain knowingly dropped napalm on non-combatants. On kids.

People with any real honour don’t do that.

He could’ve said no. He didn’t. They were just ‘gooks’ after all.

Decades later, he advocated more war crimes. Hundreds of thousands of people died. I’d make a wild guess that most of them never held a gun.

McCain believes the US military generals should be running the world.

It’s my world too.

If you put this guy in charge, i will never forgive you.

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By Thomas Mc, March 6, 2008 at 9:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Too bad Hillary is McSame as McCain, and Obama is McSame as Hillary.

US presidential elections are now officialy a joke.

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By HC, March 6, 2008 at 8:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Maybe I’m missing something, but just what’s the big deal and the earth shattering news here, as if we couldn’t figure out something like this was already going on?  And this is supposed to be an example of “investigative reporting” by NPR?  Stale, unimaginative, pedestrian, and next to useless is more like it.  Why doesn’t NPR do some real investigative reporting by showing how truly important issues, like the erosion of civil liberties, have been shunted aside in all the politicking, and not even touched by the timid, complacent, lazy media?

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By Outraged, March 6, 2008 at 7:51 am Link to this comment

Well…that’s one way to reach McAmerica.  The only problem is, can we trust the McDems to forgo the philosophy of the McRepubs in the end, or are they going to serve up Double Whoppers while the rest of the world goes out for Chinese…....

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By GW=MCHammered, March 6, 2008 at 7:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Awesome post, Expat. True American Spirit never swallows the sand, no matter its red-white-blue hue. coup d’état not coup de théâtre. Do Not Tread On Me! Or its modern equivalent: Waterboard This!

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By SuGee, March 6, 2008 at 6:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Talk about flip floopers!  McCain has become just another one of the Military Industrial Complex.  He was a prisoner of war for a reason.  He was dropping bombs in NORTH Viet Nam, where as our country was fighting in SOUTH Viet Nam. He’s sang Bush’s war criminal song now, “We’ll be in Iraq for 100 years”  It doesn’t get any more pathetic than that.

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By Expat, March 6, 2008 at 5:58 am Link to this comment

^ of McCain and Bush is too pathetic for words.

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By Expat, March 6, 2008 at 5:50 am Link to this comment

^ whole goddamned campaign is obscene.  We are being sucked into spending obscene amounts of money to escape a bunch of Nazi/Fascist bastards who hijacked our country.  So, we’re now going to spend a trillion fucking dollars to elect a president.  Screw the whole thing!  Jefferson is likely clawing to get out of his grave to start the next American Revolution to throw the twisted, bankrupt bastards out of office.  These assholes have been talking of election finance reform and then spend enough money to fund any health care program we could want for every man, woman, and child.  Sorry, I’m just really pissed when I read this absolute crap! 527 up your asses and quit accepting platitudes from these assholes….hold their feet to the fire…get some balls and quit being so goddamned scared America.  Brought to you by one pissed off son of a bitch…free of charge!

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By weather, March 6, 2008 at 5:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Denial is very cruel, a dis-ease sets in that a capitalist model ever dependent upon a level of confidence fails to deliver.

Privately, if we’re lucky we sense that we are only as sick as our secrets - and as long as that film continues to cover our activities as a society we’ll limp along along in a conviction-less, passion-less place where very little progress can take hold.

This is the point in the screenplay where a country so lied to itself, it transformed a potentially esteemable vision into a nightmare, a sheepdom and much of it accomplished in broad daylight.

Arrest Silverstein/Bushco and start to heal or stay stuck in the lie?

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