Saturday, December 31, 2005

The DeLay-Abramoff Money Trail

This article in today's WaPo is all the buzz in the blog world.

It's a blockbuster and details the links between DeLay (and his votes) and the Russian mob and a couple indian tribes.

And the reported links of DeLay with the Russians are not new as Mark Kleiman reminded us a while back.

Abramoff Cops a Deal?

2006 promises to be a very interesting year.

Link,
Federal prosecutors and lawyers for lobbyist Jack Abramoff are putting the finishing touches on a plea deal that could be announced early next week, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

The plea agreement would secure the Republican lobbyist's testimony against several members of Congress who received favors from him or his clients.

As exciting as this is, I still have a hard time imagining this justice department actually prosecuting the GOP Leadership.

Watch this space.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

We Need to Do Much More of This

Daily Kos: Have you seen the Nixon/Bush ad from the ACLU Where is the DNC in this? What is our message?

Liar!

I find this breathtaking. These people are unbelievable liars. How could they even hope to get away with it?

Josh has the story.

The court should punish DeLay by rejecting his habeas appeal.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Taking Down the Clinton / FISA Nonsense

Judd at Think Progress does a great job of down all the recent nonsense about Clinton approving the same warrentless seaches that push has approved.

Misinformation On Spying Doesn’t Take A Holiday

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Played for Fools?

By now you've probably heard about the 4th Circuit's rebuke of the Bushies in the Padilla case.

I wrote about the 4th Circuit's outrageous earlier decision here and here.

Well, now as the SCOTUS appears on the verge of taking the case the Admin has lost their nerve. They've now finally charged Padilla with some crimes none of which appears to have anything to do with a dirty bomb. And they asked the 4th Circuit to withdraw their September decision. In case you didn't know, requesting the US Circuit Court of Appeals to withdraw a decision in your favor is extraordinary.

The 4th Circuit, including the conservative darling Judge Luttig really stuck their neck out for the Admin in the Sept decision taking them at their word that Padilla was a dirty bombing terrorist. It now appears clear that the admin can't prove that and Luttig and his colleagues are pissed. Who can blame them, they've been played for fools.

I've not yet read the decision, but from what I have read, it appears that Kevin at the The Washington Monthly has got it figured out.

The Fruit of the Poisonous Tree

This story is starting to take on a life of it's own, which is probably good given the lack of D message discipline.

The WaPo reports today that the FISA judges will meet for a classified briefing on the extra-legal activities of the Bush Administration. The FISA court is very rightly concerned that many warrants were tainted with illegally obtained information. Those warrants and all the evidence flowing from them would be the 'fruit of the poisonous tree' and inadmissible in any trials.

This is a big deal. Terrorist could be set free because of this illegal activity.

Here is the crux,
Several members of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court said in interviews that they want to know why the administration believed secretly listening in on telephone calls and reading e-mails of U.S. citizens without court authorization was legal. Some of the judges said they are particularly concerned that information gleaned from the president's eavesdropping program may have been improperly used to gain authorized wiretaps from their court.

"The questions are obvious," said U.S. District Judge Dee Benson of Utah. "What have you been doing, and how might it affect the reliability and credibility of the information we're getting in our court?"

Such comments underscored the continuing questions among judges about the program, which most of them learned about when it was disclosed last week by the New York Times. On Monday, one of 10 FISA judges, federal Judge James Robertson, submitted his resignation -- in protest of the president's action, according to two sources familiar with his decision. He will maintain his position on the U.S. District Court here.
It is complete and utter incompetence that brings us to this point, and what really pisses me off is that the incompetents will claim that it is liberty that is the enemy if any terrorist walk.

Never mind that the Clinton Administration had no problem convicting the 1993 WTC bombers playing within the rules.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Abramoff Cutting a Deal?

From Josh. Tomorrow's NYTs reports that Abramoff may be cutting a deal with the feds. If that's true, it would be huge, and really bad news for a lot of Rs.

I can't help but think that this is too good to be true. I can't believe Gdub's Justice is going after DeLay and his crew.

This could be a very Merry Christmas!

UPDATE: Here is the open link to the New York Times article.

An Impeachable Offense

I haven't blogged on the recent revelation that Bush authorized warrentless domestic spying, because I wanted to see the general reaction.

Frankly, Bush has exploited 9/11 to seize dictatorial powers ever since that dreadful day, so this really didn't come as a surprise.

I assume that anyone that reads this blog has been following this story so let me add just one nugget that is key to understanding the implications of what Bush's actions.

It is not any Federal statute, such as FISA, that prevents the Government from spying on US citizens, but the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Without question, Bush's order is an impeachable offense. And it is not just the left that thinks so.

Think Progress: Conservative Scholars Argue Bush'’s Wiretapping Is An Impeachable Offense

QUESTION: Is spying on the American people as impeachable an offense as lying about having sex with an intern?

BRUCE FEIN, constitutional scholar and former deputy attorney general in the Reagan Administration: I think the answer requires at least in part considering what the occupant of the presidency says in the aftermath of wrongdoing or rectification. On its face, if President Bush is totally unapologetic and says I continue to maintain that as a war-time President I can do anything I want – I don’t need to consult any other branches – that is an impeachable offense. It’s more dangerous than Clinton’s lying under oath because it jeopardizes our democratic dispensation and civil liberties for the ages. It would set a precedent that … would lie around like a loaded gun, able to be used indefinitely for any future occupant.

NORM ORNSTEIN, AEI scholar: I think if we’re going to be intellectually honest here, this really is the kind of thing that Alexander Hamilton was referring to when impeachment was discussed.


Norm got that right.

Flashback to 1974: The Senate Judiciary Committee at the time of Watergate prepared this report on the history, grounds and proper uses of impeachment. Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment

Sadly, They Just Can't Be Trusted

Abuse of power is always the result of a loosening of restrictions on Government. They just can't help themselves. They couldn't during Hoover's tenure and they can't now. The ACLU always suspecting abuse of power has been making FOIA requests and getting some interesting responses.

From today's New York Times,
....F.B.I. Officials said Monday that their investigators had no interest in monitoring political or social activities and that any investigations that touched on advocacy groups were driven by evidence of criminal or violent activity at public protests and in other settings.
_____

But the documents, coming after the Bush administration's confirmation that President Bush had authorized some spying without warrants in fighting terrorism, prompted charges from civil rights advocates that the government had improperly blurred the line between terrorism and acts of civil disobedience and lawful protest.

One F.B.I. document indicates that agents in Indianapolis planned to conduct surveillance as part of a "Vegan Community Project." Another document talks of the Catholic Workers group's "semi-communistic ideology." A third indicates the bureau's interest in determining the location of a protest over llama fur planned by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Thank God the FBI doesn't let any Constitutional nonsense keep them from protecting all of us from vegans and PETA!

ID Struck Down in PA

Clearly, so called "intelligent design" is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

But what I like most about US District Judge Jone's ruling is that he is so frank,
"The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy," Jones wrote, calling the board's decision "breathtaking inanity."

"The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources," he wrote.
You may recall that the school board who pursued this fiasco was resoundingly voted out of office. The new school board is not expected to appeal the ruling.

A victory for the good guys!

UPDATE: You can read the opinion of Judge Jones here.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Bush's Speech

Kevin at the Washington Note points to this Carpetbagger post that deals pefectly with Gdub's speech,
The media reports on the president's speech last night seems to have a common thread.....

First, it's giving enormous credit to the president for a minimal degree of appreciating reality. Talk about your soft bigotry of low expectations, Bush won praise for acknowledging that the "work has been especially difficult in Iraq," and for recognizing that there are a more than a few Americans who disapprove of his handling of the war. It's as if there was an expectation that the president would, once again, tell us how great everything in Iraq is, facts be damned. It's frustrating; we seem to have reached a point in which the president's willingness to concede a few obvious facts is so unusual, it's literally front-page news.


The Carpetbagger in turns points to this excellent analysis from Ryan Lizza writing at TNR,
Still, Bush and his political strategists can't help themselves....[Bush]delivered a familiar rhetorical punch, attributing to opponents a preposterous argument. Addressing what he called the "important" question of whether "we are creating more problems than we're solving" in Iraq, Bush said that "the answer depends on your view of the war on terror." How did the president describe his opponents' views of that war? Well, according to Bush, the debate over how to deal with terrorists is between his steely resolve to crush them everywhere and those who "think the terrorists would become peaceful if only America would stop provoking them."

This is an absurd characterization. Nobody argues that leaving Iraq will make "terrorists" more "peaceful."....

Friday, December 16, 2005

Merry Freakin Christmas,...

And burn in hell.

The STL archbishop has lost his mind.

From today's Post,
St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke has notified the six lay members of the board of directors of St. Stanislaus Kostka parish and a priest from the diocese of Springfield Cape-Girardeau who they had hired to be their pastor that they have been excommunicated.
If you are member of the Saint Louis Archdiocese and you continue to make contributions to the Archdiocese (not your parish) you are a part of this.

Because of the hierarchtical nature of the church, the only way you can really make your displeasure felt is to 'starve the beast'. The only way Burke's superiors will be convinced he is a problem is when the money dries up.

If you give this kook money, than you are a part of what he is doing to those poor people.

This is what Christianity is all about?

UPDATE: Go here if you want the background on this fight, and / or you want to help St Stans.

How The Liberals Stole Christmas

Kevin Horrigan, writing in yesterday's St Louis Post-Dispatch has a nice poem.

Twas the month before Christmas
And as I lit candles,
Conservatives stirred -
They were onto a scandal.

"They want to kill Christmas!"
Came the cry from the right:
"They want to axe Bethlehem
And O! Holy Night!

"They're after the Christ child
And Joseph and Mary
And shepherds and wise men;
These liberals are scary."

Who? I said. Who
Is behind these cruel plots?
"Well, we're not really sure,
But we heard it on Fox.

"Fox fair and balanced;
Esteemed, and most highly.
We're not really sure -
It was prob'ly O'Reilly."

So I grabbed the remote
And clicked over to Fox
And there snarled O'Reilly.
(Imagine my shock):

"The liberals, the commies,
The A.C.L.U.
They want to steal Christmas
From me and from you.

They say 'Happy Holidays'
And acknowledge the Jews
By throwing in Hannukah."
I was really confused.

"And what's this with Kwanzaa?"
The O'Reilly elf said.
"Some guy made it up,
Made it up from whole cloth.

And somewhere the pagans
Are worshipping trees
And Muslims turn eastward
On rugs on their knees."

"The Democrats did it,"
He said with a roar.
"It was Kerry and Biden
And Clinton and Gore."

And then with a smirk
He fired heavy artillery:
"If you want my opinion,
I bet it was Hillary."

I sat there in silence,
Stunned in my jammies.
My pulse was just racing
My hands were all clammy.

Who can save Christmas
From plots so barbaric
That turn Jesus' birthday
To a season generic?

What will happen to Christmas?
Should I recycle my creche?
And toss out John's gospel
'Bout Word become flesh?

Should I toss out the angels?
They could get me arrested.
I was, lo, sore afraid
And my soul greatly tested.

Who will save Christmas?
George W. Bush?
Who will save Christmas
When shove comes to push?

We could call the Marines
But they've all been assigned.
This disaster needs FEMA.
Oh . . . never mind.

Then I heard a weird jingling
From somewhere in back
And grabbed for the pistol
I'm licensed to pack.

I pulled back the slide
And quick chambered a round
And yelled out "Freeze dirtbag!
Don't dare make a sound!"

The guy, he was balding
And wore a blue suit.
He was driving a pickup
That said "Brown & Root."

His eyes they were squinting,
His voice, slightly nervous
Said, "Richard B. Cheney.
I'm here, at your service."

I was stunned at the sight
Of the man who's the veep.
And I thought I was dreaming,
In some weird right-wing sleep.

I heard him cough softly
Then say, "It's not fiction.
"First Comet is venison.
"And next I'll shoot Vixen."

"I killed off the reindeer,"
He softly exhaled.
"And I sent Santa off
To a black CIA jail.

This secular nonsense,
We'll end it, right quick.
I've got other priorities
Or my name's not St. Dick."

He said, "Christmas's really
Just all about loot
You can stuff in your bag
And then dis-t'-ri-bute

To friends and to donors
And pals who are cronies,
It's not about children
Or Democrat phonies.

"The trick that I've learned,"
St. Dick said like a Scrooge,
"Is avoiding the blame.

Instead, get you a stooge,
So the stooge takes the heat
As you make dead certain
That the goodies pile up
Inside Halliburton."

"So we'll blame it on liberals,
And commies and gays.
We'll blame it on Democrats
And folks who don't pray."

We've got Bill O'Reilly
To stir up the base
While we haul all our loot
To an undisclosed place."

Then he turned with a wink,
Jumped back into his pickup.
He nodded his head
And then said with a hiccup:

"I'll tell you one thing
Gives me great satisfaction:
'The liberals stole Christmas'
Is a dandy distraction."

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Earle Looking At Matt Blunt?

Josh points to this: Exclusive: Texas Prosecutor Seeks Governor Blunt's Campaign Finance Records

What a Crook!

Josh points to this piece today in the Austin American-Statesman.
Capital Athletic Foundation, a charity run by disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff now at the center of an influence-peddling investigation on Capitol Hill, told the IRS it gave away more than $330,000 in grants in 2002 to four other charities that say they never received the money.

The largest grant the foundation listed in its 2002 tax filing was for $300,000 to P'TACH of New York, a nonprofit that helps Jewish children with learning disabilities.

"We've never received a $300,000 gift, not in our 28 years," a surprised Rabbi Burton Jaffa, P'TACH's national director, told the Austin American-Statesman. "It would have been gone by now. I guess I would have been able to pay some teachers on time."
But here I think is the money quote,
...around the time Capital Athletic's tax form was filed in fall 2003, listing the $300,000 donation P'TACH says it didn't get, a DeLay-created charity called Celebrations for Children was begun with $300,000 in seed money.

Celebrations for Children was a short-lived effort to raise money for children's charities by providing donors with special access to DeLay, plus yacht trips and other enticements, during the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York. Watchdog groups protested, claiming the fundraiser violated a new ban on accumulating unlimited "soft" money, and DeLay dropped it in May 2004.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

38%

Percentage of Americans in the New Zogby Poll who think Gdub is doing a good job. Sadly, for Gdub, this figure is down 3 points from the poll last month.

To be fair, the latest Gallup Poll show Bush getting a bump from his recent push-back. The Gallup poll seems to always be Bush's high water mark. Interestingly, this Gallup number actually appears down 1 point from the week before with his approval minus disapproval number taking a 4 point hit to -13 from a -9 from just the week before. Confused? Go here to see what I'm talking about.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

'How Abramoff Spread the Wealth'

Via TPM, we have this excellent graphic from the WaPo.

Print it and save it for future reference as the Abramoff scandal unfolds and you endlessly hear everyone tell you about "everyone doing it."

How Abramoff Spread the Wealth

Josh provides great Abramoff context here.

Hullabaloo

Sorry for the lack of posts. Been busy,...and a little bored with the headlines.

You need to go read Digby. He does a very good job discussing the Viveca Novak story as it has come out the last 10 days or so.

The post is long with several updates. Here is a taste,
I haven't seen anyone accusing [Viveca] of being a right wing operative. It's not her politics that are at issue. It's her ethics. "Pushing back" shouldn't include exposing her colleague Matt Cooper's source to a third party. She ended up becoming part of the story and the investigation because of that. It's a major screw up that shines yet another bright light on the curious ethical habits of the DC establishment.

Apparently others at TIME magazine, not just Cooper and his editors, knew that Karl Rove was personally blabbing to the press that Plame was CIA. (Half of Washington seems to have known it.) Viveca Novak knew and blabbed it to Karl Rove's lawyer over drinks at Cafe Deluxe, Lawrence O'Donnell knew and kept it secret for months because he didn't want to be subpoenaed and God knows how many other people knew it and passed it on to other privileged insiders or kept it to themselves for selfish reasons. Can't reporters like Corn understand why we poor hapless rubes out here in the hinterlands (not to mention the Justice department) find their shrieking for the last year and half about the sanctity of the confidential source just a little bit self-serving?

....I understand that reporters need to keep their sources identities secret at times. What I don't understand is the practice of going back to powerful sources who lie to you again and again and granting them anonymity so that they can spread scurrilous stories without having to take responsibility for them. I don't understand why it's ok for a reporter to spill the name of a colleague's confidential source over drinks at Cafe Deluxe or why the public should accept that a newsroom and friends and cocktail party guests should know the names of these confidential sources, but the people (even "the people" as represented by the government) should not.
I don't understand either. And the public needs to hold the collective media's feet to the fire on this. It's out of control.

As for Viveca, I think the truth is, she knew she screwed up, got scared when she realized what she had done and decided to keep her mouth shut hoping nothing would come of it. If something like this hasn't happened to you, it's because you're too young. Just wait.

I can understand her response to Luskin who she believed was bullshiting her. I could see myself responding the same way. Her mistake (she has now left Time) was the cover-up. She should have told her editors. And Digby is right about all this, starting with his 'spare me the it's okay to spill another's source'.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Fitz Spends 3 Hours with New Grand Jury

There would be no reason to spend any time with a new grand jury if he wasn't going to indict someone else.

Maintaining status quo doesn't require a grand jury.

ABC12.com: Fitzgerald Appears As CIA Leak Probe Continues

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Friday, December 02, 2005

Speaking of Abramoff,....

The Raw Story explains how a $1 billion contract becomes $3 billion.
The Transportation Security Administration awarded a $1 billion contract to Unisys to devise a cutting-edge computer network linking hundreds of airports to the TSA’s state-of-the-art security centers. The contract was ideal, they argued, because if the company failed to meet its goals, Unisys would pay money back to the agency.

It didn’t turn out that way. In October, the Washington Post revealed the Pennsylvania-based information services company had overcharged the government for a whopping 117,000 hours -- billing $131 an hour for employees who were paid less than half that amount. Officials now see the project costing taxpayers as much as $3 billion.

Unisys’ prime lobbyists? A team from the Greenberg Traurig lawfirm led by Neil Volz, former chief of staff to Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) -- which included indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Abramoff Scandal

Josh points to this from today's NYTs updating the latest on Abramoff's woes and the pressure he is under to crack.

...Mr. Abramoff is under mounting pressure to cooperate with prosecutors as they consider a case against lawmakers. Participants in the case, who insisted on anonymity because the investigation is secret, said he could try to reach a deal in the next six weeks.

Many forces are bearing down on Mr. Abramoff. Last week, his closest business partner, Michael Scanlon, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in exchange for cooperating in the inquiry, being run by an interagency group, into whether money and gifts were used in an influence-peddling scandal that involved lawmakers.

It is difficult to exaggerate just how big the Abramoff scandals will be as they unfold. The corruption involved in Congress and the Administration is staggering and will eventually blow, with or without Jack's help.

The remainder of Gdub's term is going to be the ugliest anyone has seen since Watergate, and the corruption is likely much more extensive and pervasive.

This is a Big Story

DeLay's redistricting of TX was a key to the GOP takeover of the house. There were other factors, but no doubt this redistricting was the biggest.

Well, turns out the career lawyers at Justice (unanimously!) thought it was illegal.

From Today's WaPo,
Justice Department lawyers concluded that the landmark Texas congressional redistricting plan spearheaded by Rep. Tom DeLay (R) violated the Voting Rights Act, according to a previously undisclosed memo obtained by The Washington Post. But senior officials overruled them and approved the plan.

The memo, unanimously endorsed by six lawyers and two analysts in the department's voting section, said the redistricting plan illegally diluted black and Hispanic voting power in two congressional districts. It also said the plan eliminated several other districts in which minorities had a substantial, though not necessarily decisive, influence in elections.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

AIPAC Has a Point

Josh points to this article reporting that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee is upset with the WH for not pushing for sanctions against Iran.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee criticized the White House for not pushing the U.N. nuclear watchdog to recommend sanctions for Iran.

The Bush administration backed a European Union bid last week to reopen negotiations with Iran that would allow Iran to continue with its nuclear program as long as it exports its uranium to Russia for enrichment.

There is no question that Iran is pursuing nukes and the rest of the world doesn't want to deal with it. Likely Europe doesn't want to upset business relationships with Iran.

We invaded Iraq for much less. Unlike Iraq, Iran actually has a nuclear program and poses a real threat to our friends in the region and stability in the ME. So where are those balls for which Gdub is so famous?

The truth is we're bogged down in Iraq and don't have the reach to do anything about Iran. In other words, the folly in Iraq is an ongoing threat to the national security of the United States.

But of course, the Bushies would never admit this, so suddenly their all about detente. WTF?

And when Iran actually does go nuclear, the GOP will blame the Ds for being soft on them, and America will believe them.

Taking Down the WSJ

Jack Shafer does an excellent job to taking down the WSJ and others who've recently wanted to compare Wright's transgressions to the current GOP.

Jim Wright was an amateur.

Wright and Wrong and Cunningham

(Via TPM)

A Patriotic American

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff General Peter Pace is a patriotic American. Donald Rumsfeld is not.

Go read Kevin to learn why.

'Nice Tries'

Piggybacking on Josh's 'nice tries list', Digby reminds us of the K Street Project.

Go read Digby.

"What the Republicans Need,....

is 50 Jack Abramoffs. Then this becomes a different town."

Grover Norquist in 1995.

(Via Josh)

National Strategy for Victory in Iraq

Behold! National Strategy for Victory in Iraq

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

More on Andrea the Shill

firedoglake: Andrea Mitchell Watch Day 3 -- Anatomy of a Circle Jerk

Shiite Death Squads

Kevin has the story at The Washington Monthly

This Makes No Sense

This morning's WaPo says that a Time reporter will testify to the grand jury essentially as a defense witness.

Supposedly, conversations Rove's attorney Robert Luskin had with his friend and Time reporter Viveca Novak would be exculpatory to Rove, and Luskin's representation of this fact is why Rove wasn't indicted last month.

This makes absolutely no sense. Who gives a rat's ass what a defense attorney says to 3d parties and how is this, in any way, evidence of anything?

But targets don't get to call witnesses and the conversations of those not involved in the crime being investigated are nothing more than hearsay.

The only scenario that makes sense to me is that Viveca was somehow involved in the underlying crime (say, Rove testified that he could not recall the reporter who told him about Plame and Viveca was that reporter, etc) and came to Luskin who came to Fitz. So Fitz will not put this testimony to the grand jury and cross her, etc.

What am I missing?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Mathew Has More on the West Wing Meltdown

Unease in the West Wing | Mathew Gross

Saving Colin Powell?

Like rats fleeing a sinking ship.

Ex-Powell Aide Criticizes Detainee Effort,
In an Associated Press interview, former Powell chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson also said President Bush was "too aloof, too distant from the details" of postwar planning. Underlings exploited Bush's detachment and made poor decisions, Wilkerson said.

Wilkerson blamed Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and like-minded aides. He said Cheney must have sincerely believed that Iraq could be a spawning ground for new terror assaults, because "otherwise I have to declare him a moron, an idiot or a nefarious bastard."
This ship is sinking fast and Powell's friends are trying to distance him from the carnage.

Powell's problem is that he could have spoken out and used his popularity to stop much of the madness.

Cyrus Vance resigned in protest.

What did Powell do? NOTHING! Well, he actually did something, he lied his ass-off at the UN.

Screw Colin Powell. I hope he goes to his grave full of regret for what he took part in.

The Duke is Out

and going to jail.

Duke Cunningham coped a plea today to taking $2.4M in bribes and resigned.

Here is a link to the AP Story.

Now, he will begin to 'atone'. Maybe he'll help OJ look for the real killers.

135 More Casualties?

The Left Coaster reports that the official DoD fatality court has jumped by 135 people without explanation.

The Left Coaster: Rummy's Untidy New Iraq Body Count

UPDATE: The DoD has corrected their casualty report. Their total is now 2106.

Andrea Mitchell: Liar

As you may know, Andrea Mitchell is married to Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan. She has also been a shill for the GOP for a very long time.

Way back in Oct 2003, she reported that it was well know "inside Washington" that Plame was a CIA agent and thus had no 'cover' to blow. This was a lie.

I'm no fan of Don Imus and haven't listened to him in years, but am taking great delight in him having stuck it to Mitchell on her blatant lie, which she now admits was a misstatement made out of confusion. She just can't stop lying, because the truth is worse: She's a GOP plant in the MSM who manufactures stories to please the Rs.

Go read Just One Minute for the whole story. You'll really enjoy it.

JustOneMinute: Andrea Mitchell, Take Two

The End of Rove?

I'm back from diving. I'll try and catch up in the next few days.

This is a huge story, if it's true. Raw Story claims that Fitzgerald is going back to the grand jury with this,

...Rove'’s former personal assistant, Susan B. Ralston ...testified in August about why Cooper'’s call to Rove was not logged. Ralston said it occurred because Cooper had phoned in through the White House switchboard and was then transferred to Rove'’s office as opposed to calling Rove'’s office directly....

But those close to the probe tell RAW STORY that Fitzgerald obtained documentary evidence showing that other unrelated calls transferred to Rove'’s office by the switchboard were logged. He then called Ralston back to testify.

Earlier this month, attorneys say Fitzgerald received additional testimony from Ralston -- who said that Rove instructed her not to log a phone call Rove had with Cooper about Plame in July 2003.

Ralston also provided Fitzgerald with more information and "clarification"” about several telephone calls Rove allegedly made to a few reporters, including syndicated columnist Robert Novak, the lawyers said.

If this story is accurate, how can Rove continue to serve while waiting for an inevitable indictment on a major obstruction charge(s)? What a huge disservice he would do to the President to be still on the job when he's indicted for what would be a Watergate-like cover-up, instructing an assistent to alter records and lie about it, etc.

It's too good to be true.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Slow News Weeks but Lots of Action Behind the Scenes

Looks like the White house is feeling the pressure of the anti-war movement. Condi Rice made a speech on Wednesday in which she claimed the Iraqi Army is about ready to take over control of the country. And Bush himself is expect to tout the same crap in a speech later this week. Amazing how much progress was made in just a few months. The never cut and run crowd seems to be getting ready to cut and run. They'll use the excuse that the new government is ready to assume control, but we all know that the whole thing is they are shaking in their boots about the midterm elections.

The possibility of a large number of R's being charged in the Indian casino mess, including Tom DeLay and Dennis Hassert, doesn't bode well of them. And the trouble in the Senate with Frist's stock sales are not yet over. Finally, the R's are finding out that name calling only works to shore up the radical right base and turns off the middle of the roaders after a while.

Let's just hope the D's don't screw it up by trying to cater to every fringe group to win support when the R's seems to be doing a good job of screwing it up themselves. As Don has said many times on this blog, it is easier to the minority party that can raise issues than the majority trying to keep control in tough times, especially if the ethics issues keeps popping up.

In case you didn't see it, the big reason for all the sales so early this Christmas season is that the retailers are concerned that once you get your first winter heating bill, the disposal income stream will drop like a rock and people will snap those purses and wallets tighter than the plastic film everyone is putting on their windows. We'll see what happens. Here in Chicago, the price of gas is done to $2.21 a gallon. I was traveling over the holidays and saw it as cheap as $2.02. Think we'll ever see below $1.50 again? As an economist, I'd say no and say that would be a good way to control demand. But as a consumer, I know I don;t think I can cut out a lot of my trips in the car, especially in the winter in Chicago. Until Detroit brings out a true fuel efficient car, look for prices to continue to go up.

Finally, a few thought on GM. The planned cuts are too little too late. GM needs to eliminate most of the current divisions and build fewer cars. I know that means massive layoff and I predict a bankruptcy in which the union contracts are tossed. Good bye to major section of the middle class. But the business model both Ford and GM are using is flawed. They make more money from their financial group than they do from building cars. That has got to stop. I am a big proponent of unions, but in this case, greed took the place of common sense and the unions have signed their own death certificates in the auto industry.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Been Out of Town Will Start Blogging

All,

Like Don, I have been out of town at a convention that hasn't given me any time to watch the news or even do more than glance at a newspaper. I'll get caught up tomorrow and have some commentary tomorrow night.

Tim

Friday, November 18, 2005

Think Progress has More Scoop on Manipulated Intel

The Rendon Group: Proof The Administration Manipulated Intelligence,

From “Saddam Hussein’s Development of Weapons of Mass Destruction” [White House website]:

In 2001, an Iraqi defector, Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, said he had visited twenty secret facilities for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. … Mr. Saeed said Iraq used companies to purchase equipment with the blessing of the United Nations - and then secretly used the equipment for their weapons programs.

None of al-Haideri’s claims were true. Today’s Rolling Stone reveals that the administration’s use of al-Haideri’s lies to justify the Iraq war were “the product of a clandestine operation…that had been set up and funded by the CIA and the Pentagon for the express purpose of selling a war.”

'Attack' is all They've Have

Have you've likely heard, Rep Murtha, the conservative D from PA has called for the withdrawal of American troops.

From the WaPo,

Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), a decorated Vietnam War veteran, said many of those troops are demoralized and poorly equipped and, after more than two years of war, are impeding Iraq's progress toward stability and self-governance.

"Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency," Murtha said in a Capitol news conference that left him in tears. Islamic insurgents "are united against U.S. forces, and we have become a catalyst for violence," he said. ". . . It's time to bring them home."
_____

In sometimes vitriolic terms, Republican leaders accused Democrats of siding with terrorists, and Democrats countered that Bush deceived the nation in starting a war that he has no strategy for ending. The bitter exchanges came as polls show Americans are increasingly eager to have Iraqis assume control so U.S. troops can come home.

Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) declared: "Murtha and Democratic leaders have adopted a policy of cut and run. They would prefer that the United States surrender to the terrorists who would harm innocent Americans. To add insult to injury, this is done while the president is on foreign soil."

The Rs really are just a one-trick pony. Attack, attack, attack.

When their numbers first began to slide, post election, the R appeared to not know what to do without an enemy to attack. Now, with Ds challenging the war, they are back on the attack.

Josh documents the vicious attacks on Murtha.

Cheney is now back into full attack mode, and doing what Rs do best, casually calling everyone who disagrees with them traitors.

This has worked in the past for them, especially as Ds have been slow to shot back, like Murtha did yesterday responding to Cheney's remarks,
I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done.
I'm very curious to see if this new round of attacks works. It seems to me that a problem the Rs have on these attacks is that everything they say about the Ds is equally true of the American public where a majority now believes they lied about he war, favor bring the troops home, etc.

If we assume the new attacks don't work (Bush continues to slide in the polls) what else will they do?

We have yet to see just how ugly the Rs can get.

And a final thought on Murtha. When the history of this war is written, will Murtha's remarks from yesterday but the turning point?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Go Get'em Roy Blunt!

New York Times
WASHINGTON, Nov. 17 - House Republican leaders were dealt a rare defeat today as Democrats and about two dozen Republicans teamed up to kill a $142 billion health and education spending bill.

Many members said the bill's defeat, by 224 to 209 votes, was the first rejection of an appropriation measure they could recall since Republicans assumed House control in 1995. The loss left the leadership uncertain whether to bring up another budget measure, which calls for $50 billion in cuts over five years.

On Holiday

I'm off for a week of scuba diving in the Caribbean. I won't be able to check in.

Hopefully, Tim will drop in on occasion for an update.

Marty Kaplan: Journalism: R.I.P.

Atrios points to Marty Kaplan's column today,
Mainstream journalism has cancer. The diagnosis – stage three, terminal – was made this week, by anyone with eyes to see.

Before now, the symptoms were alarming, but there was still hope. Fox’s “liberal media” lie; the reduction of all debates to polarized left/right shouting matches; the triumph of infotainment and missing-white-women-as-news over information we actually need to know; the substitution of he-said/she-said for shoe-leather and fact-finding; the social coziness of reporters and sources; the bottom-line obsession; the consolidation of power in fewer and fewer owners' hands' the politicization of public broadcasting – these, and more, were tumors, but their fatal metastasizing was not inevitable.

But the coverage of the battle between the White House and the Democrats over the use of prewar intelligence, and the reporting on l’affaire Woodward, is the end of the road for the mandarin gatekeepers.

If the Judy Miller saga left anyone wondering what high-church journalism’s standards are about sourcing, confidentiality, and citizen responsibility, the Bob Woodward tale now makes it clear: They make the rules up as they go along....
There's more, and it's worth a read.

Hope?

Did I speak too soon?

AP: Senators Threaten to Hold Up Patriot Act
A bipartisan group of senators told congressional leaders Thursday they will try to block reauthorization of the Patriot Act to protest the elimination of Senate-pushed protections against "unnecessary and intrusive government surveillance" in a House-Senate compromise.

"If further changes are not made, we will work to stop this bill from becoming law," GOP Sens. Larry Craig, John Sununu and Lisa Murkowski and Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin, Russ Feingold and Ken Salazar said in a letter to the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence committees.

This came a day after House-Senate negotiators crafted a tentative compromise to make most provisions of the existing law permanent, and set new seven-year sunsets for rules on wiretapping, obtaining business records under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and new standards for monitoring "lone wolf" terrorists who may be operating independent of a foreign agent or power.
Now is the time to contact your senators, no matter the party, and let them know that you are not happy with the wholesale reauthorization of the Patriot Act. Tell them that liberty is NOT the enemy.

Concern for the Patriot Act comes from both sides of the isle.

Who Was Woodward's Source?

While I find it interesting that this nugget has popped up after we thought the guts of the Plame investigation was over, I'm not as excited as some about the recent Woodward revelation.

I'm under no illusions about who Bob Woodward is, so I can't get excited about any possible ethical lapses-- Bob has no ethics.

If you are interested, Kevin at The Washington Monthly has a good rundown about who might be Bob's source.

A Major Democratic Failure

It's hard to maintain faith in the Democratic leadership.

If not now, when?

Congress Arrives at A Deal on Patriot Act
House and Senate negotiators reached a tentative agreement yesterday on revisions to the USA Patriot Act that would limit some of the government's powers while requiring the Justice Department to provide a better accounting of its secret requests for information on ordinary citizens.

But the agreement would leave intact some of the most controversial provisions of the anti-terrorism law, such as government access to library and bookstore records in terrorism probes, and would extend only limited new rights to the targets of such searches.

For President Bush, renewal of the act would provide a boost as he looks to restore his image as a strong commander in chief in combating terrorism. And Democrats said yesterday that the administration largely got what it wanted -- a major break after lawmakers challenged the White House in recent days on the conduct of the Iraq war, budget policies and tax cuts.

The deal would make permanent 14 Patriot Act provisions that were set to expire at the end of the year. Three other measures -- including one allowing law enforcement agents access to bookstore and public library records -- would be extended for seven years, or three years longer than the Senate had agreed to. The House initially extended the provisions for 10 years but later voted to accept the Senate's four-year extension.

Also extended for seven years is a provision allowing roving wiretaps that follow an individual who may use multiple means of communication, rather than targeting a single phone line. The agreement also extends for seven years a provision of a separate intelligence law passed last year that allows federal investigators to track an individual not connected to a foreign government but suspected of operating as a "lone wolf" terrorist.
There's more.

Repeat after me, " liberty is NOT the enemy."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Roe Fatigue

Over at TPM Cafe, where I hang-out some, I've put up my post on Roe Fatigue.

I posted it their in hopes of getting some comments. You people are too quiet.

Slave Labor

I think we may have hit a new low. The DOJ needs to investigate this, and if true, people need to be jailed.

Pandagon: Slave wage, er, slavery, in the Gulf

Alito's 'Personal Crusade'

From Think Progress,
Just as Alito tries to distance himself from his 1985 Justice Department application (where he wrote he "personally believed" that a woman'’s right to choose is not protected in the Constitution), more evidence has emerged of his personal commitment to overturn Roe v. Wade. From the Boston Globe (11/16/05):
Albert Lauber, who served with Alito in the solicitor general'’s office, said Alito had been instrumental in drafting arguments for why the court should uphold laws in Pennsylvania and Illinois, which imposed numerous restrictions on abortions.
Alito wasn't just doing tasks asked of him by his boss. Alito wasn't'’t originally assigned to the case, but he still approached Lauber and asked to help argue for "“overturning the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion [Roe v. Wade]"”:
Sam said, "‘I know this is not in your area."’ He kind of volunteered to be helpful.
Alito wasn'’t just an '“advocate for the Reagan administration.' He sought out work that helped advance his personal agenda.
Am I the only one on the left who suffers from Roe fatigue? I'm going to write a post on this.

Is Gdub going Nixon?

Kevin at The Washington Monthly has written the post I've been writing in my head for the past 24 hours.

As Kevin notes, stories of Gdub cracking are not new, but always of dubious sourcing. I will ad to Kevin's a couple reports from my memory. The first dates back to his election loss in 2000. The report goes that Gdub had no idea that the election was tight because no one had told him (remember, he doesn't read the paper). Gdub was stunned at the loss and angry at his aids for losing the election.

The second were reports from last year when the campaign wasn't going so well, of him moving between shouting obsenities at staff and quoted scripture to them.

It was also leaked from the WH that the Meyers pick for SC came from an isolated Gdub who was angry at this staff.

Here is my bottom line: First, I don't believe anything Capital Hill Blue has to say.

Second, I think one doesn't have to look very hard to find a history of Gdub not dealing well with adversity. He is a classic underachieving spoiled 'rich kid' who can't cope with things not going his way.

Third, It does not appear that events for Bush will improve for the forseeable future. So, if the above reports are true, we will likely know within the next several months because he will have an outburst that can't be hidden.

Wow, Now Woodward

From today's WaPo,

Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward testified under oath Monday in the CIA leak case that a senior administration official [not Libby or Rove] told him about CIA operative Valerie Plame and her position at the agency nearly a month before her identity was disclosed.

In a more than two-hour deposition, Woodward told Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald that the official casually told him in mid-June 2003 that Plame worked as a CIA analyst on weapons of mass destruction, and that he did not believe the information to be classified or sensitive, according to a statement Woodward released yesterday.

Meanwhile, Back in Washington,

Republicans fight to get tax cuts through
....The Senate Finance Committee voted 14-6 to endorse a package that would cut taxes by $60 billion over five years but would omit a GOP priority of preserving reduced tax rates for investment income. Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, a moderate Republican holding a pivotal vote on the committee, rejected the extension.

"The reality is, this is a very different world than where we were even six months ago," Snowe, said, pointing to budget deficits, rebuilding efforts along the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast, ongoing operations in Iraq and rising energy costs.
Um, who's going to explain to Sen Snowe that budget deficits, Iraq and rising energy costs did NOT come up a mere 6 months ago?

And Snowe is one of the sane ones.

'A Fiscal Hurricane'

I can't believe this didn't get more attention in the blog world yesterday. I caught this when at the airport.

From the Wednesday USA Today,
WASHINGTON — The comptroller general of the United States is explaining over eggs how the nation's finances are going to hell.

"We face a demographic tsunami" that "will never recede," David Walker tells a group of reporters. He runs through a long list of fiscal challenges, led by the imminent retirement of the baby boomers, whose promised Medicare and Social Security benefits will swamp the federal budget in coming decades.
_____

Sadly, it's no laughing matter. To hear Walker, the nation's top auditor, tell it, the United States can be likened to Rome before the fall of the empire. Its financial condition is "worse than advertised," he says. It has a "broken business model." It faces deficits in its budget, its balance of payments, its savings — and its leadership.

Walker's not the only one saying it. As Congress and the White House struggle to trim up to $50 billion from the federal budget over five years — just 3% of the $1.6 trillion in deficits projected for that period [and $70 billion in tax cuts]— budget experts say the nation soon could face its worst fiscal crisis since at least 1983, when Social Security bordered on bankruptcy.

Without major spending cuts, tax increases or both, the national debt will grow more than $3 trillion through 2010, to $11.2 trillion — nearly $38,000 for every man, woman and child. The interest alone would cost $561 billion in 2010, the same as the Pentagon.
And the Comptroller is not the only one,

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, director of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, dispassionately arms 535 members of Congress with his agency's stark projections. Barring action, he admits to being "terrified" about the budget deficit in coming decades. That's when an aging population, health care inflation and advanced medical technology will create a perfect storm of spiraling costs.

Maya MacGuineas, president of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, sees a future of unfunded promises, trade imbalances, too few workers and too many retirees. She envisions a stock market dive, lost assets and a lower standard of living.

Kent Conrad, a Democratic senator from North Dakota, points to the nation's $7.9 trillion debt, rising by about $600 billion a year. That, he notes, is before the baby boom retires. "We're not preparing for what we all know is to come," he says. "We're all sleepwalking through this period."

Stuart Butler of the conservative Heritage Foundation projects a period from now until 2050 in which tax revenue stays stable as a share of the economy but Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security spending soars. To avoid big tax increases, he says the government has to "renegotiate" the social contracts it made with its citizens.

Alice Rivlin and Isabel Sawhill of the centrist Brookings Institution put their pessimism into a book titled Restoring Fiscal Sanity. Rivlin, who became the first director of the Congressional Budget Office in 1974, says it will take an "economic scare" such as the 1987 stock market crash to spur action. Sawhill likens the growing gulf between what the government spends and takes in to a "Category 6 fiscal hurricane."

There's more and everyone should read the article.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Whole complexion of the Alito Confirmation has now changed.

In meeting with Ds following disclosure of Alito's 1985 comments,Alito sought to explain those remarks,
"He said, first of all, it was different then," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told reporters after meeting with Alito. "He said, 'I was an advocate seeking a job, it was a political job, and that was 1985. I'm now a judge, I've been on the circuit court for 15 years, and it's very different. I'm not an advocate, I don't give heed to my personal views. What I do is interpret the law.' "

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) recounted a similar conversation. "He indicated that that was 20 years ago and it was a job application....
Teddy Kennedy, not missing the obvious implication of this "defense",
Kennedy said Alito, 55, told him he wrote the memo as someone "who was interested in getting a job" in the Justice Department as deputy assistant attorney general.

"So I asked him, 'Why shouldn't we consider that the answers you are giving today are an application for another job?" Kennedy said.
Of course, Alito goes on to make a more nuanced argument that his view in the last 20 years have "matured".

It would not be unreasonable for Alito to say that in 1985 Roe was a mere 12 years old and still very young as SC decisions go and very controversial in legal circles. Now at 32 years old, and repeatedly reaffirmed (including the Casey decision), Roe (which is still controversial in legal scholarship for good reason -- but that's another matter) has very different legal standing-- what Spector calls a "super precident". And given the reaffirmations of Roe these last 20 years changes everything. I know many of you will never believe him on this, and I don't know that I believe him either, but I'm just sayin,...

Hagel Shows Some Real Cojones

From tomorrow's WaPo,
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) strongly criticized yesterday the White House's new line of attack against critics of its Iraq policy, saying that "the Bush administration must understand that each American has a right to question our policies in Iraq and should not be demonized for disagreeing with them."

With President Bush leading the charge, administration officials have lashed out at Democrats who have accused the administration of manipulating intelligence to justify the war in Iraq. Bush has suggested that critics are hurting the war effort, telling U.S. troops in Alaska on Monday that critics "are sending mixed signals to our troops and the enemy. And that's irresponsible."

Hagel, a Vietnam War veteran and a potential presidential candidate in 2008, countered in a speech to the Council of Foreign Relations that the Vietnam War "was a national tragedy partly because members of Congress failed their country, remained silent and lacked the courage to challenge the administrations in power until it was too late."

"To question your government is not unpatriotic -- to not question your government is unpatriotic," Hagel said, arguing that 58,000 troops died in Vietnam because of silence by political leaders. "America owes its men and women in uniform a policy worthy of their sacrifices."
'bout time. Of course, that such a no-brainer statement is newsworthy speaks volumes at the damage these ignorant fools have done to our nation.

Frist Has Lost the Senate

I was in Chicago all day on business and came home to learn that Frist has lost control of the Senate. Sure, there were other examples (the Democratic Senate shutdown, the budget bill, etc) but today's vote -- in my mind anyway -- seems to confirm that the previous events were not just the result of a rough couple weeks. Frist no longer controls the Senate. This is not to say the the Ds control the Senate -- they clearly do not -- but the days of GOP Über-control are over.

Senate Presses for Concrete Steps Toward Troop Withdrawal From Iraq

Monday, November 14, 2005

No Right to Abortion, Alito Argued in 1985

The WaPo now has the story.

Republicans Continue to Hide Behind Democrats on Iraq

Responding to reports that the RNC is putting together an ad of Bill Clinton in 1998 saying that Saddam posed a potential threat based upon WMD, Mathew gets it right.
They really are getting desperate. The difference between acknowledging a potential threat and taking appropriate steps to minimize it versus marching off half-cocked toward an unneccessary war is not lost on the American people, however. It's the difference between presidents of both parties for 30 years pursuing a policy of detente with the Soviet Union and pushing the big red button. Damn good thing George Bush was too drunk to serve before the Soviet Union fell. (Unfortunately for all of us, he's probably drunk again.)

An Itemization

Kevin Drum at The Washington Monthly does an excellent job of itemizing the Bushies misstatements on Iraq.

Alito's Confirmation Just Got Interesting

And from Rev Moon's Washington Times, no less.

Link.
Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., President Bush's Supreme Court nominee, wrote that "the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion" in a 1985 document obtained by The Washington Times.

"I personally believe very strongly" in this legal position, Mr. Alito wrote on his application to become deputy assistant to Attorney General Edwin I. Meese III.
_____

In direct, unambiguous language, the young career lawyer who served as assistant to Solicitor General Rex E. Lee, demonstrated his conservative bona fides as he sought to become a political appointee in the Reagan administration.

"I am and always have been a conservative," he wrote in an attachment to the noncareer appointment form that he sent to the Presidential Personnel Office. "I am a lifelong registered Republican."

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Judy's Retirement

You no doubt know at this point, that Judy Miller has "retired" from the NY Times.

The Times publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. was on Charlie Rose Thursday night where he removed any doubt anyone might have that he is a complete fool. Of course, he can't be fired because his family owns the paper, and since his name is "Arthur" he must be publisher. Apparently, it's the law.

Anyway, again on this topic, Matt sums it up perfectly.

"Wow! Brazil is Big"

I missed this earlier this week.

Link,
At one point, [Brazil's president Luiz Inacio Lula] da Silva even exhibited a map of his country, which is larger than the continental United States. "Wow! Brazil is big," Amorim quoted the U.S. president as responding.
Really makes you proud, doesn't it?

It's Hard to Overstate the Enormity of the Abramoff Scandal

Josh has a post up pointing to a newspaper article linking the Jr sen from TX to the scandal.

This scandal is a who's-who of Right wing-nut politics.

John Edwards Plan for Iraq

Friends ask me all the time who I think will be the next president. Of course, I have no idea, but I'm as certain as any guesser can be that neither a Bush nor a Clinton will by on that November ballot.

If I had to place a bet today, it would be on John Edwards as the next POTUS.

To that end, John has an op/ed in the Sunday WaPo wherein he takes a position on Iraq.

To my knowledge, John is the second presidential hopeful to lay out such a plan. Last spring, Joe Biden, in an address to the Brookings Institution laid out his plan for Iraq.

But John Edwards does something that Biden has not. John admits his vote for the war was a mistake. His op/ed begins:
I was wrong.

Almost three years ago we went into Iraq to remove what we were told -- and what many of us believed and argued -- was a threat to America....

It was a mistake to vote for this war in 2002. I take responsibility for that mistake. It has been hard to say these words because those who didn't make a mistake -- the men and women of our armed forces and their families -- have performed heroically and paid a dear price.

To my knowledge, Biden has never admitted as much, and continues to argue that the invasion was the right thing to do. Joe will never be POTUS.

John believes that it is still possible to leave Iraq with some dignity if we temper our expectations. Iraq, for instance, will never be a Jeffersonian democracy.

Here is what John thinks,
A plan for success needs to focus on three interlocking objectives: reducing the American presence, building Iraq's capacity and getting other countries to meet their responsibilities to help.

First, we need to remove the image of an imperialist America from the landscape of Iraq. American contractors who have taken unfair advantage of the turmoil in Iraq need to leave Iraq....

Second, this redeployment [of US troops] should work in concert with a more effective training program for Iraqi forces. We should implement a clear plan for training and hard deadlines for certain benchmarks to be met. To increase incentives, we should implement a schedule showing that, as we certify Iraqi troops as trained and equipped, a proportional number of U.S. troops will be withdrawn.

Third, we must launch a serious diplomatic process that brings the world into this effort....

America's leaders -- all of us -- need to accept the responsibility we each carry for how we got to this place. More than 2,000 Americans have lost their lives in this war, and more than 150,000 are fighting there today. They and their families deserve honesty from our country's leaders. And they also deserve a clear plan for a way out.

Obviously, there are more details I've left out.

The 'we've made this mess and we need to try and fix it' argument has always appealed to me. Not because I thought it would be easy, but because I felt that we had a moral obligation as a nation to attempt to fix the mess these fools have made in our name. I've gone away from this thinking after last November simply because I had no hope that Bush or anyone working for him had the capability to formulate and execute a workable plan.

I'm willing to consider that some fresh leaders might be able to make Iraq slightly less a mess. I'm skeptical, but if it's possible, it needs to be done.

Asterisks Dot White House's Iraq Argument

The WaPo decides to do a little fact reporting. How refreshing.

Asterisks Dot White House's Iraq Argument

Friday, November 11, 2005

'About That NIE'

Matt has more showing that Bush is a liar.

Libby Testimony Is Key To Rove Inquiry

A few weeks ago following Libby's indictment I explained how prosecution of this nature work.

Murry Waas writing the National Journal confirms my theory.
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald delayed a decision on whether to seek criminal charges against Karl Rove in large part because he wants to determine whether Lewis (Scooter) Libby,...can provide information on Rove's role in the CIA leak case, according to attorneys involved in the investigation.

Even if Fitzgerald concludes in the near future that he does not have sufficient evidence to charge Rove, the special prosecutor would not rule out bringing charges at a later date and would not finish his inquiry on Rove until he hears whatever information Libby might provide -- either incriminating or exculpatory -- on Rove's role, the sources said.
This could easily go on for the remainder of Bush's term.

Of course, Rove should resign. If this were any other admin, R or D, that would have happened by now but it's hard to imagine Bush without Rove and who tells Bush Rove has to go?

Who at the WH doesn't believe that he or she actually works for Rove, and who in Congress could come to the WH and tell Gdub that Rove has got to go? DeLay? Frist?

Think Progress Corrects Gdub

One of the talking points coming from the Rs is that the Senate Intel Committee's report found no manipulation of pre-war intel.

Bush retold this lie today in his speech.

Think Progress does a nice job correcting the record with specific examples of manipulations.

What The Senate Intel Commitee Found: Bush Admin Manipulated Case For War:

Essentially, the Bush administration took the intelligence that was presented to them in the classified NIE and twisted it to present a stronger case for war in the public version of the NIE. Here are some examples:

Classified NIE: “Although we have little specific information on Iraq’s CW stockpile, Saddam Hussein probably has stocked at least 100 metric tons” of such poisons.
Unclassified NIE: The phrase “although we have little specific information” was deleted. Instead, the public report said, “Saddam probably has stocked a few hundred metric tons of CW agents.”
[Senate Intel Cmte Report]

Classified NIE: “Iraq has some lethal and incapacitating BW [biological weapons] agents and is capable of quickly producing … a variety of such agents, including anthrax, for delivery by bombs, missiles, aerial sprayers and covert operatives.”
Unclassified NIE: The words “potentially against the U.S. homeland” are inserted at the end of the statement.
[Senate Intel Cmte Report]

Classified NIE
: Stated Iraq was developing unmanned aerial vehicles “probably intended to deliver biological warfare agents.”
Unclassified NIE: A footnote in the classified version from the Air Force stating its disagreement with this claim was eliminated. The Senate Committee report stated the public NIE missed “the fact that… [the] agency with primary responsibility for technological analysis on UAV programs did not agree with the assessment.”
[Senate Intel Cmte Report]

Classified NIE
: Included a reference to State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research dissenting view on whether Iraq would have a nuclear weapon this decade.
Unclassified NIE: Did not contain any mention of INR’s dissent.

Lies and Lying Liars

I'm really surprised that DITSUM No. 044-02 has not gotten more press attention.

This document was prepared by the Defense Intelligence Agency in February of 2002 -- more than a year before the invasion of Iraq -- and concluded that the sole witness relied upon by the Bushies to push the line that Al Qaeda was being trained by Saddam in bomb making and the use of poison gas was probably "intentionally misleading the debriefers".

The document -- or at least parts of it -- were just recently declassified and released by Senator Carl Levins office.

My guess is that the document is not getting a lot of attention because it has been years since anyone believed any of those lies anyway. Even so, this document is very important because it tells us what the Admin knew to be true while telling a very different story to the Congress and American people.

Robert Scheer, writing in the Los Angeles Times sees the significance of this document,
The report demolished the credibility of the key Al Qaeda informant the administration relied on to make its claim that a working alliance existed between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. It was circulated widely within the U.S. government a full eight months before Bush used the prisoner's lies to argue for an invasion of Iraq because "we've learned that Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb making and poisons and deadly gases."
_____

Folks in the highest places were very interested in claims along the lines Libi was peddling, even though they went against both logic and the preponderance of intelligence gathered to that point about possible collaboration between two enemies of the U.S. that were fundamentally at odds with each other. Al Qaeda was able to create a base in Iraq only after the U.S. overthrow of Hussein, not before. "Saddam's regime is intensely secular and is wary of Islamic revolutionary movements," accurately noted the DIA.
Scheer gets it. Knowing from February 2002 that these claims were bogus, Scheer writes,
Yet Bush used the informant's already discredited tall tale in his key Oct. 7, 2002, speech just before the Senate voted on whether to authorize the use of force in Iraq and again in two speeches in February, just ahead of the invasion.

Leading up to the war, Secretary of State Colin Powell tried to sell it to the United Nations, while Vice President Dick Cheney, national security advisor Condoleezza Rice, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer and Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith repeated it breathlessly for homeland audiences. The con worked, and Americans came to believe the lie that Hussein was associated with the Sept. 11 hijackers.

Even CIA Director George Tenet publicly fell into line, ignoring his own agency's dissent that Libi would not have been in a position to know what he said he knew. In fact, Libi, according to the DIA, could not name any Iraqis involved, any chemical or biological material used or where the training allegedly occurred. In January 2004, the prisoner recanted his story, and the next month the CIA withdrew all intelligence reports based on his false information.

One by one, the exotic intelligence factoids Bush's researchers culled from raw intelligence data files to publicly bolster their claim of imminent threat — the yellowcake uranium from Niger, the aluminum tubes for processing uranium, the Prague meeting with Mohamed Atta, the discredited Iraqi informants "Curveball" and Ahmad Chalabi — have been exposed as previously known frauds.

When it came to selling an invasion of Iraq it had wanted to launch before 9/11, the Bush White House systematically ignored the best available intelligence from U.S. agencies or any other reliable source.
This is a perfect example of why the Bushies so very much fear a real Congressional investigation into pre-war intel fabrications.

This is also a perfect example of the Bushies latest attacks designed to cast blame on the consumers of their lies is so absurd.

CIA Personnel Don't Want to Torture

The Knight-Ridder Washington Bureau has a great story up today quoting current and past CIA operatives who make the case against US torture.

Link
....many former and some current CIA operatives say - morality aside - that mistreatment and torture aren't useful interrogation tactics and the loophole should be rejected.

"We ought to declare we don't do this. We ought to declare the intelligence isn't worth it," said Frank Anderson, a former chief of the CIA's Near East and South Asia division in the agency's Operations Directorate, the clandestine service.

There's also the question of what brutality does to those who carry it out, Anderson said.

"I will rebel against anyone who wants my son to torture, because it won't ever heal," he said, speaking at a conference this week sponsored by the Middle East Institute.

Anderson's views were echoed, with some variation, in interviews with a half-dozen current and former CIA and military officers with extensive field experience....
Conservatives love to point to the bold Israelies who don't stand on sissy morality to protect their people, and insist we must follow their lead,....except in this case.
The Israelis, Baer said, have learned that they can gain valuable information by establishing personal relationships with the inmates and gaining their trust.

"They found that torture, abusive tactics, made things overall worse for them politically," Baer said. "The Israelis are friendly with their prisoners. They play cards with them and allow them to contact their families. They are getting in their minds to determine what makes up a suicide bomber."

Angry Desperation Sets In

From today's WaPo,
Bristling from fresh assaults on its justification for war, the White House dispatched national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley to the briefing room to issue a rebuttal to "the notion that somehow the administration manipulated prewar intelligence about Iraq." The administration's judgment on the threat posed by Iraq, he said, "represented the collective view of the intelligence community" and was "shared by Republicans and Democrats alike."

"Some of the critics today," Hadley added, "believed themselves in 2002 that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, they stated that belief, and they voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq because they believed Saddam Hussein posed a dangerous threat to the American people. For those critics to ignore their own past statements exposes the hollowness of their current attacks."
Complete BS.

Yes, many major Ds were too quick to jump on this bandwagon and deserve criticism.

But to suggest that the consumers of the lies were as culpable as the liars is just absurd and they know it. Where does this leave the American people, Mr. Hadley? They believed you too.

More than once I've cited to information about many, many doubters of their intel who were just silenced as the intel the Bushies wanted was manipulated, altered and out right fabricated to meet their needs.

Successive investigations have documented the failure of U.S. intelligence agencies to correctly judge Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs before the war, including a commission appointed by Bush that concluded that the intelligence was "dead wrong." The government relied on lying sources, fragmentary information and unwarranted analysis, the commission found, resulting in one of the "most damaging intelligence failures in American history."

Democrats immediately took issue with Hadley's account. Within minutes of his briefing, the Senate Democratic caucus issued a statement saying the responsibility did not fall on lawmakers who voted to authorize use of force: "Some critics of how the administration misused intelligence did believe that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. What these critics object to is the hyping of the intelligence by the Bush administration."

In a separate statement earlier in the day, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) recounted the various urgent warnings about supposed Iraqi weapons delivered by Bush and his advisers in the months leading up to the March 2003 invasion -- warnings that all proved overstated if not flatly wrong.

"In his march to war, President Bush exaggerated the threat to the American people," Kennedy said. "It was not subtle. It was not nuanced. It was pure, unadulterated fear-mongering, based on a devious strategy to convince the American people that Saddam's ability to provide nuclear weapons to al Qaeda justified immediate war."

Hadley yesterday offered no direct critique of the prewar intelligence and instead said that at the time it was compelling evidence that also convinced the Clinton administration and other governments.

Of course Hadley didn't offer a critique of the intel they provided for the same reason that these frauds fight for all it's worth to prevent a Congressional investigation into their crimes on pre-war intel.

Let's again review Kevin Drum's conclusion that I posted a couple days ago.
In any case, if it's really true that the Bush administration did nothing to spin, exaggerate, or lie about WMD before the war, why are war supporters so relentlessly trying to suppress any congressional investigation into this? You'd think they'd welcome it instead. For a bunch of innocent bystanders, they sure are acting awfully guilty.

DNC National Organizing Kickoff

From the DNC:

Are you ready to build the Democratic Party? Do you want to be part of an organizing machine that competes in every precinct of every county in every state? Do you want to help Democrats win in 2006 and beyond?

On November 15, thousands of Democrats will gather around the country and take part in our National Organizing Kickoff. During this event, Democrats will gather in communities across America for a night of grassroots action. Governor Dean will host a conference call and brief everyone on the progress of the Democratic Party's 50-state strategy.

All you need to do is show up. Find an event in your community and signup to attend by visiting:

http://www.democrats.org/events/find

These meetings will be an incredible opportunity to become a leader of the Democratic Party in your neighborhood. In order to compete in every state we need leaders in every precinct. You demanded a party that works from the grassroots up -- now is your chance to be a part of that movement.

We cannot wait until the last minute to start organizing for 2006 -- we need to start now. It is vital that everyone who cares about the future of our party plays an active role in building it. Find an organizing meeting in your area and RSVP by visiting:

http://www.democrats.org/events/find

Don't pass up your chance to be a part of our 50-state strategy from the start. This is an event you don't want to miss.

Thank you,

Tom McMahon
Executive Director
Democratic National Committee

P.S. -- Don't miss Governor Dean on NBC's 'Meet the Press' this Sunday -- check your local listings for the time in your area.

DeLay Admitted the Crime

DeLay tried to cop a plea to a midemeanor after admitting the crime to prosecutors.

From today's WaPo,
The last-minute negotiations between the lawyers and Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle were arranged after DeLay made what Earle considered a seriously damaging admission about his fundraising activities during an Aug. 17 meeting with the prosecutor in Austin.

At that session, DeLay acknowledged that in 2002 he was informed about and expressed his support for transfers of $190,000 in mostly corporate funds from his Texas political action committee to an arm of the Republican National Committee in Washington and then back to Texas, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition that they not be named.
_____

As disclosed by sources involved with the case, the new details present a more complete picture of the sequence of events leading to the indictment of DeLay at the end of September. They reveal the unusual lengths to which DeLay and his lawyers were willing to go to avoid charges that would force him to leave his powerful post -- and how it was DeLay's own words that ultimately got him in trouble with the prosecutor.

Denial

Rice, in Iraq, Says Strategy Against Rebels Is Working

New York Times

MOSUL, Iraq, Friday, Nov. 11 - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a surprise stop on Friday in this violent, Sunni-dominated city in northern Iraq , declaring that it had recently become a success story for the strategy of using Iraqi forces to quell the insurgency.

On her way to Mosul, a detour in her trip to the Middle East, Ms. Rice said she wanted to show that the American approach of "clear, hold and build" was working despite criticism at home that the Bush administration lacked a plan for success in Iraq and for the eventual withdrawal of American forces.

"We are working to better unify our political and military activities in the field," Ms. Rice said, citing the creation of three "provincial reconstruction teams," one in Mosul and two in other northern cities, Kirkuk and Hilla. In general, she said, the American objective was to "redefine the mission" toward more cooperation between military forces and the effort to rebuild the area.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

And These People Question Our Morals?

Via TPM, From the AP,
Frist told reporters Thursday that while he believed illegal activity should not take place at detention centers, he believes the leak itself poses a greater threat to national security and is "not concerned about what goes on" behind the prison walls.

"My concern is with leaks of information that jeopardize your safety and security -- period," Frist said. "That is a legitimate concern."
But not Valerie Plame.

The US is running gulags and his only concerned is that someone made this public.

How long will it take us to get their stink off our country?

This is Your GOP

We have to hang these guys around their necks like an albatross.

Moderate Rs are in denial about most of their parties positions. We all have these people as friends who go on about b. We must make them embarrassed to vote R.

Link
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson warned residents of a rural Pennsylvania town Thursday that disaster may strike there because they "voted God out of your city" by ousting school board members who favored teaching intelligent design.

All eight Dover, Pa., school board members up for re-election were defeated Tuesday after trying to introduce "intelligent design" _ the belief that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by a higher power _ as an alternative to the theory of evolution.

"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God. You just rejected him from your city," Robertson said on the Christian Broadcasting Network's "700 Club."

Fleeing like Rats

House leaders ended up pulling from the floor their budget bills while Senate leaders pulled their tax cutting bill. The moderate Rs are in full revolt.

From tomorrow's WaPo,

"The fractures were always there. The difference was the White House was always able to hold them in line because of perceived power," said Tony Fabrizio, a Republican pollster. "After Tuesday's election, it's 'Why are we following these guys? They're taking us off the cliff.' "

Acting House Majority Leader Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) did not dispute that.

"One of the challenges of any second-term administration is you always lose a certain amount of identification with the Congress, because everybody in the Congress in the first term knows you'll be out there in the next campaign with them," Blunt said in an interview yesterday. "Your motives are always a little more suspect when you don't have to face the voters again."

Can Blunt survive this? When does the whispering campaign begin against Frist?

Here is the money quote,
"I've told the leadership they're asking for the dismantling of the Republican conference" with this budget, said Rep. Sherwood L. Boehlert (R-N.Y.), a leading moderate. "The clear evidence from Tuesday's election results is that Americans are moderate. They need to start listening to us."
And the conservatives are referring to their moderate GOP brothers as "liberal republicans". Just try to imagine exactly what a "liberal republican" would be? Joe Lieberman?

Meanwhile, back in the Senate,
the Senate Finance Committee broke up in disarray yesterday morning after failing to secure support for a tax package that would have extended the president's 2003 cut to the tax rates on dividends and capital gains. Joining the panel's Democrats, Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) declared she could not support a tax cut that primarily benefited the rich as Congress was trying to cut programs for the poor. But when the panel's chairman, Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), tried to win approval of a tax package without the investment tax cuts, panel conservatives refused to go along.
Has Christmas come early this year?

Go read the whole Post article because there is more. For instance, in an 82 to 9 vote yesterday, the Senate approved an amendment to the defense authorization bill by Kerry to require Rummy to disclose to Congress the existence of clandestine terrorism detention facilities in foreign countries. Think about that: 82 votes almost half of which would have to be Rs.