Friday, September 5, 2008


Plane Not Sold on eBay

Updated 7:10 p.m.
By Anne E. Kornblut

One of the compelling anecdotes about Sarah Palin is that she auctioned off the Alaska governor's jet on eBay after taking office -- a swift move made by a reformer hoping to clean up the excesses of her predecessor.

But in fact, the jet did not sell on eBay. It was sold to a businessman from Valdez named Larry Reynolds, who paid $2.1 million for the jet, shy of the original $2.7 million purchase price, according to contemporaneous news reports, including a story in the New York Times.

Dan Spencer, the director of administrative services for Alaska's Public Safety Department, said that the Republican speaker of the Alaska House, John L. Harris, brokered the deal. Reynolds made campaign contributions to both Palin and Harris in 2006 and 2007.

What happened? It appears that, as promised during her bid for governor in 2006, Palin did try to sell the plane on eBay but that doing so was not as easy as it might have sounded. After putting it up to auction, there was one serious bid, in December 2006, and it fell through. Still, the Westwind II was sold about eight months later, achieving Palin's goal of ridding the state of a luxury item.

But that hasn't stopped Palin, or John McCain, from implying -- and, on Friday, claiming outright -- that Palin did sell the jet on the Internet.

"You know what I enjoyed the most? She took the luxury jet that was acquired by her predecessor and sold it on eBay -- and made a profit!" McCain declared in Wisconsin at a campaign stop on Friday. It could not be immediately determined what that profit was.
The video tribute to Palin that aired at the Republican National Convention on Thursday night made the same claim.

"She signed sweeping ethics reform legislation, auctioned the governor's jet on eBay," the narrator said, citing it in a list of Palin's achievements.

Palin has been more cautious in her comments. Rather than claiming she sold it on eBay, she gave in her convention remarks a description that was true but, nonetheless, still left the impression she had sold the jet online. "That luxury jet was over the top. I put it on eBay," Palin said.

"She put the plane on eBay," said Tucker Bounds, a spokesman for McCain's campaign. "It didn't meet the minimum threshold the state desired so they used a broker. The plane was purchased by the former gov against the wishes of the legislature and voters -- was a symbol of corruption."

She sold the plane and saved the taxpayers money on maintence and costs."


WASILLA, Alaska — While Sarah Palin’s supporters tout her personal warmth and openness, the newly minted Republican vice presidential nominee can be brusque to allies, advisers and employees who fall from her favor.

Palin has unceremoniously ended relationships with an aide who was dating a family friend’s soon-to-be ex-wife, a campaign adviser whose mother-in-law fought Palin’s legislative agenda, a local political mentor who she felt represented the “old boys network,” a police chief who she said tried to intimidate her with “stern look[s]” and a state commissioner who refused to fire her sister’s ex-husband.

By 9/5/08 1:21 PM EST

“When she decides you’re done, you’re done,” said John Bitney, who was a top aide to Palin’s gubernatorial campaign and administration.Bitney, a longtime state Capitol hand who grew up in this small town with Palin and her husband, Todd, said he was asked to leave his job as legislative director in the governor’s office last year after the Palins found out that he was dating the soon-to-be-ex-wife of one of Todd’s good friends.While Palin’s office framed the departure as an “amicable” mutual decision, Bitney told Politico that Sarah and Todd Palin “were upset with me about my divorce and who I was dating and they didn’t want that in the governor’s office. I wanted to stay with the governor and support the governor — we’re talking about someone who’s been a friend for 30 years — but I understood it and I have no ax to grind over the whole thing.”

Still, Bitney took a line from the "Seinfeld" character Elaine, deeming Palin “a bad breaker-upper.” Palin’s abrupt and often unexplained — or not fully explained — dismissals, though, leave former colleagues and political observers speculating about the “real reasons,” Bitney said, adding that her style “is more dramatic than the way most executives do it. They bring you in, tell you they’re going to go in another direction and get everyone in the office to sign a card and cut a cake. But that’s just not her style.”

The McCain-Palin campaign declined to answer questions about Palin’s personnel moves or personal rifts. Her supporters in Wasilla — a group that seems to include an overwhelming majority of the city’s 7,000 or so residents — say she is guided by the taxpayers’ interests and a strong moral compass.“In general, she is an extremely kind-hearted person,” said Judy Patrick, a close ally who served on the city council when Palin was mayor.

“It’s just difficult when you’re a leader. She had to make tough decisions on how she planned to accomplish what she planned to accomplish and who was going to be on the team to do that.”Palin’s willingness to end allegiances with those who offend her may have helped propel her rise in 2004, when she exposed corrupt dealings by a Republican bigwig on the state’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, burnishing her reformer credentials and setting the stage for her 2006 gubernatorial campaign.But on other occasions, her trigger has gotten her into trouble.

An ongoing investigation by the state legislature—expected to be released before the presidential election—into Palin’s firing of Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan in January threatens to damage her reputation as a reformer.At first, Palin offered only a vague, platitudinal explanation for Monegan’s dismissal. But after Monegan asserted he was pressured by both Sarah and Todd Palin, the governor accused Monegan of not being a team player, and of failing to hire sufficient numbers of troopers or doing enough to reduce rural alcohol abuse.

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Senator Lindsay Graham (R. South Carolina) angrily told the GOP convention that we are "winning in Iraq" even as the Pentagon was issuing a statement calling for a slowdown in a drawdown of U.S. troops in Iraq because of the unstable conditions in the country.

Pentagon Urges Extended Pause in Iraq Drawdown

By Karen DeYoung and Ann Scott TysonWashington Post Staff Writers
Friday, September 5, 2008; A01

Pentagon leaders have recommended to President Bush that the United States make no further troop reductions in Iraq this year, administration officials said yesterday.

The plan, delivered this week, calls for extending a pause in drawdowns until late January or early February -- after the Bush administration has left office. At that point, up to 7,500 of the approximately 146,000 troops in Iraq could be withdrawn, depending on conditions on the ground there.

The reduction would coincide with new deployments to Afghanistan, officials said.
Defense officials described the recommendation as a compromise between those who believed that security gains in Iraq remained too tenuous to contemplate further withdrawals now, and those who proposed continuing the reductions that began this spring.

Gen. David H. Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, adopted a cautious approach in an assessment he presented last week to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Petraeus cited several areas of ongoing concern, including the postponement of provincial elections initially scheduled for this month, the disputed status of the northern city of Kirkuk, lingering ethno-sectarian conflicts, and questions surrounding the future of a local security force known as the Sons of Iraq.

There was also the factor of "a new commander coming in," one official said. On Sept. 16, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno will replace Petraeus, who will become head of U.S. Central Command.

According to another military official close to the process, Petraeus and Odierno also considered the rising violence in Afghanistan as well as the overall strain on the U.S. military from the two conflicts. Under the proposal Gates and Mullen gave Bush in a video briefing Wednesday, at least one additional Army combat brigade -- about 3,500 troops -- would be sent to Afghanistan instead of its scheduled deployment to replace a brigade leaving Iraq. An additional 4,000 would be withdrawn from disparate units. In Afghanistan, a Marine battalion due to depart by the end of the year would be replaced.

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Robert Parry is an American investigative journalist. He was awarded the George Polk Award for National Reporting in 1984 for his work with the Associated Press. In 1995, he established Consortium News as an online ezine dedicated to investigative journalism. From 2000 to 2004, he worked for the financial wire service Bloomberg. Major subjects of Parry's articles and reports on Consortium News include the presidency of George W. Bush[3], the career of Army general and Bush Secretary of State Colin Powell (with Norman Solomon), the October Surprise controversy of the 1980 election, the Nicaraguan contra-cocaine investigation, the efforts to impeach President Clinton, right-wing terrorism in Latin America, the political influence of Sun Myung Moon, mainstream American media imbalance, United States Defense Secretary Robert Gates [11], as well as international stories . Parry has written several books, including Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & "Project Truth." (1999) and Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq (2004).