Wednesday, January 31, 2007

How Libby became Cheney's pawn

By Sidney Blumenthal

The vice president knew the intelligence for the Iraq war was cooked. So he launched his aide to smear the man who took the information public.

Feb. 1, 2007 | Few issues more agitated and preoccupied Vice President Dick Cheney in the early months after the declaration of "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq than former ambassador Joseph Wilson's disclosure that the intelligence underlying the administration's central justification for the invasion was bogus. So far as the occupation of Iraq was concerned, Cheney was in a triumphal mood. In a speech before a conservative group in Washington on July 30, 2003, he repeated his rationales for the war with a sense of finality: "In Iraq, a dictator with a deep and bitter hatred of the United States, who built, possessed and used weapons of mass destruction and cultivated ties to terrorists, is no more."

Behind his serene public face a distressed vice president frantically micromanaged a campaign of press leaks to discredit Wilson. Cheney even scripted talking points to aides about what to tell reporters. And he fretted about what was said on cable TV talk shows like MSNBC's "Hardball." His chief agent in this intense effort to discredit Wilson was his chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, finely attuned to his principal's wishes.

Cheney was distraught over Wilson's revelation that on his mission to Niger he had discovered that Saddam Hussein was not purchasing yellow uranium to develop nuclear weapons and that the documents that allegedly proved it were forgeries. He could have ignored Wilson, whose complaint might have faded into the woodwork. But Cheney was not trying to correct the record, but to suppress it. He knew that what Wilson had written in his New York Times Op-Ed of July 6, 2003, and what Wilson had said earlier about it at a public forum, obliquely reported, were accurate. Wilson posed a potential menace not only to the legitimacy of the Iraq invasion but also to the reelection of Bush-Cheney.

Cheney knew that the intelligence for the war had been cooked. He was not obsessed with Wilson because he was angry that Wilson was allegedly falsifying information. Cheney was not seized with a feeling of injustice or a need to inform the public of the truth. Cheney is not a fool. "Cheney knows how to read intelligence reports. He knows how to read classified information," Richard Clarke, former director of counterterrorism on the National Security Council, told me. Of course, Clarke said, "Cheney had read the reports" that disproved the administration's line. "Cheney knew it was false," said Clarke. What worried Cheney was that he was keenly aware that the so-called intelligence the administration propagated was phony, shabby and shaky. What also peeved him was that Wilson had said that his mission had been triggered by a request from the Office of the Vice President... [Open in new window]
Obama Freezes Out FOX News After Madrassah Story

These are chilly days on Capitol Hill ... and on the campaign trail for Fox News journalists -- at least when they're anywhere near Sen. Barack Obama these days.

Sources tell The Sleuth that the Obama camp has "frozen out" Fox News reporters and producers in the wake of the network's major screw-up in running with the erroneous Obama-the-jihadist story reported by Insight magazine.

"I'm still in the freezer," one Fox journalist said, noting that the people at Fox "suffering the most did nothing wrong." (It was "Fox and Friends" host Steve Doocy who aired the Insight magazine piece, which reported that operatives connected to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) found out that Obama, as a child, was educated at a Muslim madrassah in Indonesia.)

Another Fox journalist called the network's airing of the story "unfortunate" for the network's journalists who have to cover Obama and who are being adversely affected despite not being involved in the incident.

Since the madrassah incident, Obama has given interviews to ABC, CNN, CBS and NBC -- pretty much every other network except Fox. Sources close to Obama acknowledged that they're not thrilled to play ball with Fox journalists, but they stopped short of saying they are freezing the network out... [Open in new window]
No Democrat should ever talk to anyone from FOX. What good does it do, only idiots watch it. Two different types of idiot. The voting idiot, who would never vote for anyone but a RW loon & the non-voting idiot who doesn't really matter.
Matthew Cooper Testifies That Rove Told Him About CIA's Plame

Jan. 31 (Bloomberg) -- Former Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper testified today that top presidential aide Karl Rove was the first person to tell him that an Iraq war critic's wife was a CIA agent.

Cooper, testifying in Lewis ``Scooter'' Libby's perjury trial, also contradicted Libby's account of a conversation the two had the following day, on July 12, 2003, about war critic Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame.

Libby, 56, is accused of lying to investigators probing whether U.S. officials deliberately leaked Plame's identity to retaliate against Wilson for attacking the administration's Iraq war claims. Prosecutors say Libby falsely told a grand jury that, when Cooper asked about Plame, he said he heard about her from other reporters but didn't know if the information was true... [Open in new window]
Is there anybody in the Bush/Cheney inner circle that's NOT a traitor? Doesn't sound like it.
I'm guessing Cheney is going to resign soon in order to spend more time shooting his family in the face.

Inconvenient truth: Why Plame had to go

Valerie Plame was working on counter-proliferation of nuclear arms in Iraq and Iran. Until she was outed by someone in the White House. And, when her cover was blown, so was the entire "brass-plate" cover operation she worked for - Brewster-Jennings.

And when that happened, a key player in the CIA's human intelligence apparatus investigating nuclear programs in the Middle East went with it - which was just what the neocon cabal in the White House wanted.

By stifling the gathering of contradictory intelligence on nuclear proliferation in Iran, the BushCheney administration, which had long sought war with Tehran, could put forth all manner of faulty and/or fabricated "intelligence" with regard to the Iranians' nuclear capabilities and intentions. Without any credible means to refute such assertions, selling a war with Iran would be that much easier.

It's exactly what they did in the leadup to the invasion of Iraq. And it's exactly what many of the same cast of characters did with respect to the "threat" posed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s... [Open in new window]

Great Post from Democratic Underground:

Lieberman leaving humanity
Joe Lieberman Leaves Human Race, Forms Independent Species

Facing increasing opposition from within his own species, Joe Lieberman announced yesterday that he was giving up his membership in Homo Sapiens Sapiens and forming his own primate subgroup.

The new species will be known as Homo Josephus Liebermanus, or "Homentum" for short.

While it is somewhat unusual for a sitting Senator to switch species, the move was not entirely unexpected. Lieberman had been signaling his intentions for some time by engaging in such patently inhuman behavior as quashing the Senate's Katrina investigation and threatening a filibuster in support of increased troop levels in Iraq.

Members of the small Congressional Human Caucus expressed regret that Lieberman chose his current action. "We had hoped that Senator Lieberman would find a way to remain human for the duration of his term," said Senator Russ Feingold, one of the caucus' few remaining members, "but in the end, Joe just found it too difficult to reconcile his personal goals with continued participation in the human race."

For his part, Lieberman remained steadfastly upbeat about the change. "This new biological designation represents a willingness on my part to remain independent from the constraints of accepted human behavior," said Lieberman in a prepared statement. "I look forward to working across the aisle with other primates such as bonobo chimps, gibbons and Trent Lott." Lieberman then formally launched his new species with a brief male dominance display and a ceremonial tossing of his own poop...
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Ronald Reagan’s many admirers may find this idea offensive, but – given a new report by the Washington Post – it might be fitting to have a display at Reagan National Airport to show how Salvadoran baby skulls were used as candle holders and good luck charms. Perhaps the presentation could contain skeletal remains of Guatemalans and Nicaraguans, too.

It might be modeled after skeletons on display in Cambodia from the slaughters by the Khmer Rouge. After all, it was President Reagan – more than any other person – who justified and facilitated the barbarity that raged through Central America in the 1980s, claiming the lives of tens of thousands of peasants, clergy and students, men, women and children.

Reagan portrayed the bloody conflicts as a necessary front in the Cold War, but the Central American violence was always more about entrenched ruling elites determined to retain their privileges against impoverished peasants, including descendants of the region’s Maya Indians, seeking social, political and economic reforms.

One of the most notorious acts of brutality occurred in December 1981 in and around the Salvadoran town of El Mozote. The government’s Atlacatl Battalion – freshly trained and newly armed thanks to Reagan’s hard-line policies – systematically slaughtered hundreds of men, women and children.

When the atrocity was revealed by reporters at the New York Times and the Washington Post, the Reagan administration showed off its new strategy of “perception management,” denying the facts and challenging the integrity of the journalists.

Because of that P.R. offensive, the reality about the El Mozote massacre remained in doubt for almost a decade until the war ended and a United Nations forensic team dug up hundreds of skeletons, including many little ones of children.

Now the Washington Post has added a new grisly detail. Several months after the massacre, the Salvadoran army returned to the scene and collected the skulls of some El Mozote children as novelty items, the Post reported.

“They worked well as candle holders,” recalled one of the soldiers, Jose Wilfredo Salgado, “and better as good luck charms.”

Now, a quarter century later, describing his role piling the tiny skulls into sacks as souvenirs, Salgado acknowledged that he had “lost his love of humanity.”

The Post reported that “witnessing the aftermath of what his colleagues did in El Mozote and reflecting on those skulls changed his mind about how the war was being fought.” Salgada said his mentor, Col. Domingo Monterrosa, who later died in a helicopter crash, had ordered an act of “genocide” in El Mozote.

“If Monterossa had lived,” the Post reported, “Salgada said, he should have been prosecuted for ‘war crimes like a Hitler.’” [Washington Post, Jan. 29, 2007]
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US 'victory' against cult leader was 'massacre'

By Patrick Cockburn in Baghdad
Published: 31 January 2007

There are growing suspicions in Iraq that the official story of the battle outside Najaf between a messianic Iraqi cult and the Iraqi security forces supported by the US, in which 263 people were killed and 210 wounded, is a fabrication. The heavy casualties may be evidence of an unpremeditated massacre.

A picture is beginning to emerge of a clash between an Iraqi Shia tribe on a pilgrimage to Najaf and an Iraqi army checkpoint that led the US to intervene with devastating effect. The involvement of Ahmed al-Hassani (also known as Abu Kamar), who believed himself to be the coming Mahdi, or Messiah, appears to have been accidental.

The story emerging on independent Iraqi websites and in Arabic newspapers is entirely different from the government's account of the battle with the so-called "Soldiers of Heaven", planning a raid on Najaf to kill Shia religious leaders.

The cult denied it was involved in the fighting, saying it was a peaceful movement. The incident reportedly began when a procession of 200 pilgrims was on its way, on foot, to celebrate Ashura in Najaf. They came from the Hawatim tribe, which lives between Najaf and Diwaniyah to the south, and arrived in the Zarga area, one mile from Najaf at about 6am on Sunday. Heading the procession was the chief of the tribe, Hajj Sa'ad Sa'ad Nayif al-Hatemi, and his wife driving in their 1982 Super Toyota sedan because they could not walk. When they reached an Iraqi army checkpoint it opened fire, killing Mr Hatemi, his wife and his driver, Jabar Ridha al-Hatemi. The tribe, fully armed because they were travelling at night, then assaulted the checkpoint to avenge their fallen chief.

Members of another tribe called Khaza'il living in Zarga tried to stop the fighting but they themselves came under fire. Meanwhile, the soldiers and police at the checkpoint called up their commanders saying they were under attack from al-Qai'da with advanced weapons. Reinforcements poured into the area and surrounded the Hawatim tribe in the nearby orchards. The tribesmen tried - in vain - to get their attackers to cease fire... [Open in new window]
All I know is, whatever the Bush administration's version is, it's 100% bullshit...just going on their record...

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Unraveling of Dick Cheney
By Dan Froomkin
Special to

While Dick Cheney undoubtedly remains the most powerful vice president this nation has ever seen, it's becoming increasingly unclear whether anyone outside the White House believes a word he says.

Inside the West Wing, Cheney's influence remains considerable. In fact, nothing better explains Bush's perplexing plan to send more troops to Iraq than Cheney's neoconservative conviction that showing the world that we have the "stomach for the fight" is the most important thing -- even if it isn't accomplishing the things we're supposed to be fighting for. Even if it's backfiring horribly.

But as his astonishing interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer laid bare last week, Cheney is increasingly out of touch with reality. He seems to think that by asserting things that are simply untrue, he can make others believe they are so.

Maybe that works within the White House. But for the rest of us, it's becoming a better bet to assume that everything -- or almost everything -- Cheney says is flat wrong... [Open in new window]


MSNBC's Shuster unveils expected developments with Judith Miller

Published: Tuesday January 30, 2007

RUSH TRANSCRIPT LIVE FROM WASHINGTON'S TRIAL OF CHENEY AIDE: "What is so interesting about Judy Miller, is that the curtain is going to essentially be lifted on the relationship of one of the key reporters that reported the intelligence that Iraq was seeking uranium and about her relationship with the Bush administration...."

"It's going to pull back the curtain on whether there was anything unseemly in that relationship, whether Judy Miller followed journalistic principles. It's also going to pull back the curtain on how the Bush administration was able to use the media, in this case Judy Miller, to put stories on the front page of the New York Times, underscoring the idea that Saddam Hussein was interested in nuclear weapons, how that frightened the American people, how that helped the Bush administration make the case for war."

"In particular, in this trial, Judy Miller is adding to the prosecution argument that after a criminal investigation began into the leak of a CIA operative, that Scooter Libby when he testified said he learned about it from reporters. Judy Miller's testimony is going to, in fact, show that he had that information before the crucial conversations where he said he learned it and that he was taking that information and giving it to reporters like Judy Miller. "

more at: [Open in new window]
I am so lovin' the Libby trial. These people present themselves as sooo morally upright but they're a bunch of sleazeballs; greasier than a Denny Hastert breakfast.
And Judy Miller is just a stooge, used by criminals to advance their con...
Washington Confidential
by Larry C Johnson

Give Scooter Libby credit for something, the man is at heart an artist with a firm grip on irony and probably has inked a deal with Danny DeVito to play him when this tawdry event becomes a movie. How else to account for his July 7, 2003 chat with White House spokesman Ari Fleischer. Fleischer testified in court today that during a lunch with Libby, Scooter told Ari that Valerie Plame worked at the CIA in CPD (a division in the Directorate of Operations) and that this info was, "hush, hush and on the QT".

Paging Danny DeVito. Mr. DeVito please. Yep cineophiles, Scooter was quoting Danny Devito from L.A. Confidential. As described by Clark Kimball of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Danny DeVito:

was the slimeball publisher of a tabloid tattler that outed celebs and civic insiders, helped in no small part by "moles" inside the Police Department, in particular Kevin Spacey as the "technical adviser", a detective who found a synergistic partner in DeVito. Their careers were mutually boosted by high-profile arrests and tawdry exposes. Of course, both characters paid a huge price for their methods.

DeVito answers the phone throughout the movie with this stock phrase, "HUSH, HUSH, and on the QT".

Damn! It don't get any better than this. Talk about art imitating life. Danny DeVito played a scumbag, but Scooter Libby really is one. DeVito outed fictional celebs while Libby helped expose a CIA undercover officer. And Danny DeVito's character gets beaten to death. Ahh, we can only dream.

At this juncture, Libby isn't getting a physical tune up (police slang for beating), but U.S. prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is certainly kicking his psychological ass. The few witnesses on the stand this week are shredding Libby's credibility and raising serious doubts that Scooter had no time to worry about the Wilson's exposing the Bush lies because he was busy figuring out where to take Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz for a power lunch.

Scooter Libby as Star Fucker. That boy missed his calling. He's unoriginal enough to be a real star, but by God he has the vindictiveness and pettiness to be a terrific Hollywood studio executive. When he is in prison he should plot his comeback in the hills of Hollywood rather than the halls of Washington... [Open in new window]
...and Dick Cheney as 'Mr. Big'.
This just in from the No, D'uh Dept:

US must abandon Iraqi cities or face nightmare scenario, say experts

The US must draw up plans to deal with an all-out Iraqi civil war that would kill hundreds of thousands, create millions of refugees, and could spill over into a regional catastrophe, disrupting oil supplies and setting up a direct confrontation between Washington and Iran.

This is the central recommendation of a study by the Brookings Institution here, based on the assumption that President Bush's last-ditch troop increase fails to stabilise the country - but also on the reality that Washington cannot simply walk away from the growing disaster unleashed by the 2003 invasion.

Even the US staying to try to contain the fighting, said Kenneth Pollack, one of the report's authors, "would consign Iraqis to a terrible fate. Even if it works, we will have failed to provide the Iraqis with the better future we promised." But it was the "least bad option" open to the US to protect its national interests in the event of full-scale civil war.

US troops, says the study, should withdraw from Iraqi cities. This was "the only rational course of action, horrific though it will be", as America refocused its efforts from preventing civil war to containing its effects... [Open in new window]

Monday, January 29, 2007

Is it time for some historical perspective yet? Yes...please. Fear-mongering right wing loonies have had their day. TV-ised citizens were told what to think & how to feel about the 9/11 attacks. The event was very 'mediated'. I really think it's time for critical reasoning rather than knee-jerk emotionism to make a come-back. Maybe bringing civics, critical thinking & history back into school curiculum would be good, hmm?
Turning off the tube & reading a real book or six would be good too.

Was 9/11 really that bad?

The attacks were a horrible act of mass murder, but history says we're overreacting.
By David A. Bell
January 28, 2007

IMAGINE THAT on 9/11, six hours after the assault on the twin towers and the Pentagon, terrorists had carried out a second wave of attacks on the United States, taking an additional 3,000 lives. Imagine that six hours after that, there had been yet another wave. Now imagine that the attacks had continued, every six hours, for another four years, until nearly 20 million Americans were dead. This is roughly what the Soviet Union suffered during World War II, and contemplating these numbers may help put in perspective what the United States has so far experienced during the war against terrorism.

It also raises several questions. Has the American reaction to the attacks in fact been a massive overreaction? Is the widespread belief that 9/11 plunged us into one of the deadliest struggles of our time simply wrong? If we did overreact, why did we do so? Does history provide any insight?

Certainly, if we look at nothing but our enemies' objectives, it is hard to see any indication of an overreaction. The people who attacked us in 2001 are indeed hate-filled fanatics who would like nothing better than to destroy this country. But desire is not the same thing as capacity, and although Islamist extremists can certainly do huge amounts of harm around the world, it is quite different to suggest that they can threaten the existence of the United States.

Yet a great many Americans, particularly on the right, have failed to make this distinction. For them, the "Islamo-fascist" enemy has inherited not just Adolf Hitler's implacable hatreds but his capacity to destroy. The conservative author Norman Podhoretz has gone so far as to say that we are fighting World War IV (No. III being the Cold War).

But it is no disrespect to the victims of 9/11, or to the men and women of our armed forces, to say that, by the standards of past wars, the war against terrorism has so far inflicted a very small human cost on the United States. As an instance of mass murder, the attacks were unspeakable, but they still pale in comparison with any number of military assaults on civilian targets of the recent past, from Hiroshima on down... [Open in new window]
At the presser announcing the Libby indictment Fitz said:

He was like an umpire who had dust thrown in his eyes.

So when his eyes are clear, will the grand Jury investigation into the leak continue?

Will he bring indictments against the leaker(s)?

What will the charge(s) be?

Will the entire WHIG be executed for treason?

What will Mary Matalin wear to her execution?
Ari Fleisher arrives at the Libby trial all lawyered up & immunized.

Live blogging continues at Fire Dog Lake:
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Christianists on the March

By Chris Hedges

Dr. James Luther Adams, my ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School, told his students that when we were his age—he was then close to 80—we would all be fighting the “Christian fascists.”

The warning, given 25 years ago, came at the moment Pat Robertson and other radio and television evangelists began speaking about a new political religion that would direct its efforts toward taking control of all institutions, including mainstream denominations and the government. Its stated goal was to use the United States to create a global Christian empire. This call for fundamentalists and evangelicals to take political power was a radical and ominous mutation of traditional Christianity. It was hard, at the time, to take such fantastic rhetoric seriously, especially given the buffoonish quality of those who expounded it. But Adams warned us against the blindness caused by intellectual snobbery. The Nazis, he said, were not going to return with swastikas and brown shirts. Their ideological inheritors had found a mask for fascism in the pages of the Bible.

He was not a man to use the word fascist lightly. He had been in Germany in 1935 and 1936 and worked with the underground anti-Nazi church, known as the Confessing Church, led by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Adams was eventually detained and interrogated by the Gestapo, who suggested he might want to consider returning to the United States. It was a suggestion he followed. He left on a night train with framed portraits of Adolf Hitler placed over the contents of his suitcases to hide the rolls of home-movie film he had taken of the so-called German Christian Church, which was pro-Nazi, and the few individuals who defied the Nazis, including the theologians Karl Barth and Albert Schweitzer. The ruse worked when the border police lifted the tops of the suitcases, saw the portraits of the Führer and closed them up again. I watched hours of the grainy black-and-white films as he narrated in his apartment in Cambridge.

Adams understood that totalitarian movements are built out of deep personal and economic despair. He warned that the flight of manufacturing jobs, the impoverishment of the American working class, the physical obliteration of communities in the vast, soulless exurbs and decaying Rust Belt, were swiftly deforming our society. The current assault on the middle class, which now lives in a world in which anything that can be put on software can be outsourced, would have terrified him. The stories that many in this movement told me over the past two years as I worked on “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America” were stories of this failure—personal, communal and often economic. This despair, Adams said, would empower dangerous dreamers—those who today bombard the airwaves with an idealistic and religious utopianism that promises, through violent apocalyptic purification, to eradicate the old, sinful world that has failed many Americans.

These Christian utopians promise to replace this internal and external emptiness with a mythical world where time stops and all problems are solved. The mounting despair rippling across the United States, one I witnessed repeatedly as I traveled the country, remains unaddressed by the Democratic Party, which has abandoned the working class, like its Republican counterpart, for massive corporate funding. The Christian right has lured tens of millions of Americans, who rightly feel abandoned and betrayed by the political system, from the reality-based world to one of magic—to fantastic visions of angels and miracles, to a childlike belief that God has a plan for them and Jesus will guide and protect them. This mythological worldview, one that has no use for science or dispassionate, honest intellectual inquiry, one that promises that the loss of jobs and health insurance does not matter, as long as you are right with Jesus, offers a lying world of consistency that addresses the emotional yearnings of desperate followers at the expense of reality. It creates a world where facts become interchangeable with opinions, where lies become true—the very essence of the totalitarian state. It includes a dark license to kill, to obliterate all those who do not conform to this vision, from Muslims in the Middle East to those at home who refuse to submit to the movement. And it conveniently empowers a rapacious oligarchy whose god is maximum profit at the expense of citizens. We now live in a nation where the top 1 percent control more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined, where we have legalized torture and can lock up citizens without trial. Arthur Schlesinger, in “The Cycles of American History,” wrote that “the great religious ages were notable for their indifference to human rights in the contemporary sense—not only for their acquiescence in poverty, inequality and oppression, but for their enthusiastic justification of slavery, persecution, torture and genocide.” ... [Open in new window]
JUAN COLE: Differing Najaf narratives

Well, a big battle took place at the Shiite holy city of Najaf on Saturday night into Sunday, but there are several contradictory narratives about its significance. Iraqi authorities, claimed that the Iraqi army killed a lot of the militants (250) but only took 25 casualties itself. The Shiite governor of Najaf implied that the guerrillas were Sunni Arabs and had several foreign Sunni fundamentalist fighters ("Afghans") among them. He said that they based themselves in an orchard recently purchased by Baathists. Other sources said that the militants were Shiites. I'd take the claim of numbers killed with a large grain of salt, though the Iraqi forces did have US close air support. I infer that the guerrillas shot down one US helicopter.

That's one narrative. Here is another. The pan-Arab London daily al-Hayat reported that the militiamen were followers of Mahmud al-Hasani al-Sarkhi. It says one of his followers asserted that the fighting erupted when American and Iraqi troops attempted to arrest al-Hasani al-Sarkhi. The latter tried last summer to take over the shrine of al-Husayn in Karbala. It may have been feared that he would take advantage of the chaos of the Muharram pilgrimage season to make a play for power in Najaf. Al-Hayat says that although As'ad Abu Kalil, governor of Najaf, said the attackers were Sunnis, the director of the information center in Najaf, Ahmad Abdul Husayn Du'aybil, contradicted him. The latter said, "At dawn, today , violent clashes took place between security forces and an armed militia calling itself "the Army of Heaven," which claims that the Imam Mahdi will appear." He added, "The goal of this militia is the killing of clergymen and the grand ayatollahs." The group follows Ayatollah Ahmad al-Hasani al-Sarkhi, called al-Yamani, who is said by his followers to be in direct touch with the Hidden Imam or promised one. In the fighting 10 Iraqi security police were killed and 17 wounded. One official said that the death toll among the militants was not known.

Al-Hayat, however, quotes a member of the group, Abu al-Hasan, who is said to be close to al-Hasani al-Sarkhi. He said that the rumors that the group intended to conduct a campaign of assassinations inside Najaf was "devoid of truth." It says that an attempt had been made to arrest al-Hasani al-Sarkhi, who was present in the al-Zarkah, an agricultural area east of Najaf, which caused his followers to revolt.


Then there is yet a third narrative. Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that on Saturday night into Sunday morning, a Shiite millenarian militia calling itself "The Army of Heaven" (Jund al-Sama') attempted to move south from the Zarqa orchards just north of Najaf to assassinate the four grand ayatollahs of Najaf-- Ali Sistani, Bashir Najafi, Muhammad Ishaq Fayyad and Muhammad Said al-Hakim. The holy city of Najaf, where Ali is buried, is the seat of Shiite religious authority in Iraq. The militiamen, devotees of an obscure religious leader named Ahmad Hassaani, are said to have infiltrated the area from Hillah, Kut and Amara. The well-armed, black-clad militiamen were heard to call upon the Mahdi, the awaited Promised One of the Muslims, to return on that night.

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Blackwater, Inc. and the Privatization of the Bush War Machine

Our Mercenaries in Iraq


As President Bush took the podium to deliver his State of the Union address Tuesday, there were five American families receiving news that has become all too common: Their loved ones had been killed in Iraq. But in this case, the slain were neither "civilians," as the news reports proclaimed, nor were they U.S. soldiers. They were highly trained mercenaries deployed to Iraq by a secretive private military company based in North Carolina - Blackwater USA.


The president's proposed Civilian Reserve Corps was not his idea alone. A privatized version of it was floated two years ago by Erik Prince, the secretive, mega-millionaire, conservative owner of Blackwater USA and a man who for years has served as the Pied Piper of a campaign to repackage mercenaries as legitimate forces. In early 2005, Prince - a major bankroller of the president and his allies - pitched the idea at a military conference of a "contractor brigade" to supplement the official military. "There's consternation in the about increasing the permanent size of the Army," Prince declared. Officials "want to add 30,000 people, and they talked about costs of anywhere from $3.6 billion to $4 billion to do that. Well, by my math, that comes out to about $135,000 per soldier." He added: "We could do it certainly cheaper."

And Prince is not just a man with an idea; he is a man with his own army. Blackwater began in 1996 with a private military training camp "to fulfill the anticipated demand for government outsourcing." Today, its contacts run from deep inside the military and intelligence agencies to the upper echelons of the White House. It has secured a status as the elite Praetorian Guard for the global war on terror, with the largest private military base in the world, a fleet of 20 aircraft and 20,000 soldiers at the ready.

From Iraq and Afghanistan to the hurricane-ravaged streets of New Orleans to meetings with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger about responding to disasters in California, Blackwater now envisions itself as the FedEx of defense and homeland security operations. Such power in the hands of one company, run by a neo-crusader bankroller of the president, embodies the "military-industrial complex" President Eisenhower warned against in 1961.

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Jon Stewart on CNN host & ABC commentator Glenn Beck:
"Finally, a guy who says what people who aren't thinking are thinking."

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sunday: 373 Iraqis, 5 GIs Killed; 166 Iraqis Injured; US Helicopter Shot Down

Updated at 3:25 p.m. EST, Jan. 28, 2007

In Iraq, at least 373 Iraqis were killed or found dead today and another 166 were injured in various attacks during the festival of Ashura. Three more American servicemembers were killed in separate incidents, and a U.S. helicopter was shot down, killing two more soldiers as well.

The U.S. military reported that a Marine died from wounds he received during combat in Anbar province. Roadside bombs killed a soldier and an MP in separate incidents north of Baghdad as well. Also, a U.S. helicopter was shot down near Najaf; no details about casualties were released.

In Najaf, several clashes are taking place. Police are reporting that about at least 250 gunmen and three Iraqi soldiers have been killed and 21 soldiers have been injured. As many as 300 gunmen may have been killed in the clashes. Also, a U.S. helicopter supporting Iraqi forces was shot down as well. Many pilgrims heading to Karbala for the holy festival of Ashura are in the area.

The holy festival of Ashura culminates on Tuesday. It marks several historical events, in particular the martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson at Karbala. The last few years have seen increased violence associated with the holiday, which Shi'ite Muslims consider a solemn day of mourning. It also marks one of the divisions that separate Shi'ite Muslims from their Sunni brethren... [Open in new window]
Presidential Letter
Text of a Letter from the President to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and President Pro Tempore of the Senate

March 21, 2003

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

On March 18, 2003, I made available to you, consistent with section 3(b) of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243), my determination that further diplomatic and other peaceful means alone will neither adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq, nor lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.

I have reluctantly concluded, along with other coalition leaders, that only the use of armed force will accomplish these objectives and restore international peace and security in the area. I have also determined that the use of armed force against Iraq is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organiza-tions, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001. United States objectives also support a transition to democracy in Iraq, as contemplated by the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-338).

Consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148), I now inform you that pursuant to my authority as Commander in Chief and consistent with the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1) and the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243), I directed U.S. Armed Forces, operating with other coalition forces, to commence combat operations on March 19, 2003, against Iraq.

These military operations have been carefully planned to accomplish our goals with the minimum loss of life among coalition military forces and to innocent civilians. It is not possible to know at this time either the duration of active combat operations or the scope or duration of the deployment of U.S. Armed Forces necessary to accomplish our goals fully.

As we continue our united efforts to disarm Iraq in pursuit of peace, stability, and security both in the Gulf region and in the United States, I look forward to our continued consultation and cooperation.


This could be an exhibit at:

A) The Bush Library

B) Impeachment Hearings

C) War Crimes trial

D) The Museum of Utter Horseshit

E) All of the above


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Army Probes War Contractor Fraud

The Associated Press
Saturday, January 27, 2007; 5:07 PM

WASHINGTON -- From high-dollar fraud to conspiracy to bribery and bid rigging,
Army investigators have opened up to 50 criminal probes involving battlefield
contractors in the war in Iraq and the U.S. fight against terrorism, The
Associated Press has learned.

Senior contracting officials, government employees, residents of other countries
and, in some cases, U.S. military personnel have been implicated in millions
of dollars of fraud allegations.

"All of these involve operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait," Chris Grey,
a spokesman for the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, confirmed Saturday
to the AP.

Scooter and Me

Professing liberal doubt in an age of fundamentalist fervor

By Nick Bromell

When I say that the conservative lacks principles, I do not mean to suggest that he lacks moral conviction. The typical conservative is indeed usually a man of very strong moral convictions. What I mean is that he has no political principles which enable him to work with people whose moral values differ from his own for a political order in which both can obey their convictions.

—F. A. Hayek
, Why I Am Not a Conservative

Ralph Waldo Emerson tells us that the history we’re moving through finds its ultimate significance within us: “We are always coming up with the emphatic facts of history in our private experience, and verifying them here.” Certainly this has been true for me. As I’ve looked out upon the public history of the past six years, my eyes have beheld the same ribbon of events everyone else has seen. But the meaning of this history has been strongly shaped and intensified by a purely accidental twist in my own private experience. I went away to boarding schools in the early 1960s, and at one of these my best friend was a boy named Scooter—Lewis “Scooter” Libby—who grew up to become Paul Wolfowitz’s protégé, Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, and one of the Bush administration’s strongest advocates for the war in Iraq....

... So, for six years I’ve been obsessed with Scooter. Every time I read a newspaper, I see Scooter and me hunched over a game of Stratego (which he usually won), or I see him faking right before hooking left so I can hit him with a pass in the end zone. Walking my dog through the woods around our house, I chant the mantra of questions I literally ache to ask him: How could you work for an administration that denies global warming and supports tax breaks for large SUVs? How could you work for an administration that cuts funding for birth control to the poorest people in our country and the world? How could you so brazenly exaggerate the threat of Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction, and how could you so foolishly imagine that American troops would be welcomed in Baghdad with cheers and flowers?...

...This difference came into sharp focus when I happened to read an article by Lynne Cheney, the wife of his boss. As an English professor, I couldn’t resist its title: “The Roots of Today’s Lying Epidemic: The English Department Virus.” In it, Cheney claims that lowly English departments are “a primary source of the epidemic of lying currently upon us.”

I assume that Scooter knows Lynne Cheney well, laughs with her at the dinner table, brings his family over to the vice president’s mansion, and considers her a friend much as he thinks of me as an old buddy. And so, accused now of lying himself, he must know that she regards me and my colleagues as condoners of lying, and my life’s work as a major contribution to the problem of lying that besets our country. Of course I’m angered. And hurt. But once I get past these feelings, and past the words kettle and black, I begin to see that Cheney’s views are useful because they bring into view the essence of the conflict that is tearing us all—friends, nation, world—apart.

Cheney begins by claiming correctly that most English professors believe that “knowledge and power are always intertwined.” But she goes on to assert that as a consequence of this belief, we also maintain that “there is no such thing as truth.” This is false, and I suspect that she knows it’s false. Certainly it’s illogical. Cheney’s error, possibly deliberate, is her sleight-ofhand removal of the definite article the from its crucial place beside the noun truth. Yes, most English professors and intellectuals today do believe that knowledge and power are intertwined. But no, we do not maintain that there is no such thing as truth. We believe, rather, that there is no such thing as the truth, no such thing as truth conceived of as an eternal verity standing apart from power and outside the push and pull of human history... [Open in new window]...
Fantastic article.

Tens of thousands demand Iraq withdrawal

By CALVIN WOODWARD and LARRY MARGASAK, Associated Press Writers1 hour, 4 minutes ago

Protesters energized by fresh congressional skepticism about the Iraq war demanded a withdrawal of U.S. troops in a demonstration Saturday that drew tens of thousands... [Open in new window]


C-SPAN Live Anti-War Rally Coverage Schedule (Today!)

08:30 AM EST

0:45 (est.) LIVE
Anti-War Rally
C-SPAN, Washington Journal
Tom Andrews , Win Without War

11:15 AM EST
1:45 (est.) LIVE
Anti-War Rally
United for Peace and Justice
Washington, District of Columbia (United States)
ID: 196264 - 01/27/2007 - 2:00 - ns

Fonda, Jane Actress
Waters, Maxine U.S. Representative, D-CA
Woolsey, Lynn U.S. Representative, D-CA
Glover, Danny Actor
Botean, John Michael Bishop, Catholic Church, Eparchy of Saint George's in Canton (OH), Romanian
Kucinich, Dennis U.S. Representative, D-OH
Jackson, Jesse Founder and President, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition
Lee, Barbara U.S. Representative, D-CA

The beginning and end of this live program may be earlier or later than the scheduled times.
in progress

War Opponents Want Troops to Come Home

The Associated Press
Saturday, January 27, 2007; 3:35 AM

WASHINGTON -- Opponents of the war in Iraq want their protest on the National Mall to launch a nationwide movement to bring the troops home...

...Plans call for rallies across the country and visits to members of Congress when they return home to their districts.

United for Peace and Justice, a coalition group sponsoring the protest, said there has been intense interest in the rally since President Bush announced he was sending 21,500 additional troops to Iraq.

The group said its Internet site received more than 5 million hits this month, including 650,000 on Wednesday _ the day leaders held a media briefing about the protest.

A small group of active-duty military troops will attend the protest, said Navy petty officer Jonathan Hutto. The sailor, stationed about the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, said he planned to speak.

Cynthia O. Smith, a Defense Department spokeswoman, said members of the Armed Forces can speak out, subject to several restrictions. They must not do so in uniform, and they must make clear that they do not speak on behalf of their military unit, their service or the Defense Department, unless authorized to do so, she said.

The rally was scheduled as congressional opposition to the war is building. The Senate is considering nonbinding resolutions that would state opposition to Bush sending the extra forces to Iraq.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led a delegation to Iraq on Friday, while Bush met with military leaders in the Oval Office... [Open in new window]


Friday, January 26, 2007

FOX: OLD NEWS RE-DISTORTED: Read to you by 'OJ Trial' real network rejects...
John Gibson used his "My Word" segment yesterday 1/25/07 to offer his emphatic assertion that former CIA agent Valerie Plame did indeed send her husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson, to Niger to confirm or deny reports about Iraq's attempts to buy yellowcake from that country, and he, Gibson, was right all along. Gibson says that testimony in the "Scooter" Libby case proves his point, though he offered no specifics, just his jubilant claim. I don't know what transcript he was reading, but the documents we've seen prove exactly the opposite... [Open in new window]

Will Rove Testify?

The president's political guru—and counselor Dan Bartlett—have been subpoenaed by Scooter Libby's lawyers. What it means for the most-watched trial in Washington—and who's next on the witness stand.

By Michael Isikoff
Updated: 5:05 p.m. PT Jan 26, 2007

Jan. 26, 2007 - White House anxiety is mounting over the prospect that top officials—including deputy chief of staff Karl Rove and counselor Dan Bartlett-may be forced to provide potentially awkward testimony in the perjury and obstruction trial of Lewis (Scooter) Libby.

Both Rove and Bartlett have already received trial subpoenas from Libby’s defense lawyers, according to lawyers close to the case who asked not to be identified talking about sensitive matters. While that is no guarantee they will be called, the odds increased this week after Libby’s lawyer, Ted Wells, laid out a defense resting on the idea that his client, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, had been made a “scapegoat” to protect Rove. Cheney is expected to provide the most crucial testimony to back up Wells’s assertion, one of the lawyers close to the case said. The vice president personally penned an October 2003 note in which he wrote, “Not going to protect one staffer and sacrifice the other.” The note, read aloud in court by Wells, implied that Libby was the one being sacrificed in an effort to clear Rove of any role in leaking the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame, wife of Iraq war critic Joe Wilson. “Wow, for all the talk about this being a White House that prides itself on loyalty and discipline, you’re not seeing much of it,” the lawyer said...


But the Rove account could cut in other ways. Fitzgerald would likely argue that Libby’s comment to Rove merely shows that the vice president’s top aide “was even lying inside the White House,” according to the legal source. Moreover, Rove is likely not eager to recount the story either. The reason? He would have to acknowledge that shortly after he had the chat with Libby, he went back to his office and had a phone conversation with Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper in which he also disclosed the fact that Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA. The disclosure was potentially illegal since, at the time, Plame was employed in the Directorate of Operations, the agency’s covert arm. (There is no evidence that Rove or anybody else knew Plame’s status at the time—and Rove has never been charged with any crime—but the possibility that White House officials were leaking classified information in an effort to discredit Wilson is what triggered the probe in the first place.)

An equally embarrassing conflict could emerge next week when former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer takes the stand. Fleischer has been one of the most mysterious figures in the case, making virtually no public comments about it since he left the White House in July 2003. In the past he has insisted he wasn’t even represented by a lawyer. But it emerged during court arguments this week that Fleischer originally invoked his Fifth Amendment privileges to avoid testifying and then only agreed to do so after he was given an immunity deal by Fitzgerald—an arrangement that normally requires extensive bargaining among attorneys. Fleischer’s testimony is critical to Fitzgerald’s case: as the prosecutor laid out this week in his opening statement, Fleischer has said that Libby told him over a White House lunch on July 7, 2003, that Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA and made a point of describing this information as “hush and hush.” Fitzgerald used that account to undercut Libby’s grand-jury assertion that he was surprised and “taken aback” just three or four days later when, he claims, Russert told him about Wilson’s wife. “You can’t learn something startling on Thursday that you’re giving out Monday and Tuesday of the same week,” Fitzgerald said. Fleischer has also testified that Bartlett also later told him about Wilson’s wife and, after hearing it from both Libby and Bartlett, the then-White House press secretary disclosed the information to NBC reporter David Gregory... [Open in new window]


Lawyers Probe Fleischer's Immunity Deal

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Attorneys for former vice presidential aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby want more information about an unusual immunity-from-prosecution deal that government lawyers gave former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer in the CIA leak case.

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald says that in early 2004, as his investigation was heating up into who revealed CIA operative Valerie Plame's name to reporters, Fleischer stepped forward with an offer to prosecutors: Promise no prosecution and he would help their case.

Fleischer acknowledged being one of the leakers, but he wouldn't say a word without a promise of immunity.

Prosecutors normally insist on an informal account of what a witness will say before agreeing to such a deal. It's known in legal circles as a proffer, and Fitzgerald said Thursday that he never got one from Fleischer, who was chief White House spokesman for the first 2 1/2 years of President Bush's first term.

"I didn't want to give him immunity. I did so reluctantly," Fitzgerald said in court Thursday. "I was buying a pig in a poke."...

...Once the deal was struck in February 2004, Fleischer revealed that he had discussed Plame with reporters in July 2003, days before leaving his job at the White House. He also said he learned about Plame from Libby, who was the chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney...

...he Fleischer gamble is the second such arrangement that prosecutors are known to have made with leakers in the case.

At the onset of the investigation, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said he told authorities that he was the source behind columnist Robert Novak's story that revealed Plame's identity and triggered the probe.

Fitzgerald has not discussed the arrangement with Armitage but said Thursday that he granted immunity to Fleischer believing only that he had "relevant information."... [Open in new window]


O what a tangled web we weave...


NEW YORK - Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman reported sharp increases in fourth-quarter profit yesterday and raised full-year forecasts, as two of the world's largest defence contractors capitalised on the continuing boom in US military spending.

Lockheed's profit easily beat Wall Street's forecast, helping its shares rise slightly, almost hitting a record.

Northrop narrowly missed analysts' average forecast due to a charge on a radar programme, sending its shares down modestly after notching an all-time high earlier this week.

The companies, with rivals Boeing, General Dynamics and Raytheon, are taking advantage of record US defence spending and more outsourcing of Government technology projects.

Richard Aboulafia, aerospace analyst at Teal Group, said: "If you get the kind of supplementals we've been getting, then that's a lot of money," referring to the billions of dollars being used to pay for operations in Iraq on top of the regular defence budget.

Standard & Poor's Aerospace and Defence index is up about 29 per cent over the past 12 months... [Open in new window]


President Bush, on a collision course with Congress over Iraq, said Friday "I'm the decision-maker" about sending more troops to the war. He challenged skeptical lawmakers not to prematurely condemn his buildup.

"I've picked the plan that I think is most likely to succeed," Bush said in an Oval Office meeting with senior military advisers.

The president had strong words for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who are lining up to support resolutions opposing his decision to send 21,500 troops to Iraq. He challenged them to put up their own ideas.

"I know there is skepticism and pessimism and that some are condemning a plan before it's even had a chance to work," the president said. "They have an obligation and a serious responsibility therefore to put up their own plan as to what would work."... [Open in new window]


Psst, George. Since your gazillionaire pals who own the mass media HAVE to put them on now there are quite a few plans out there.

And another thing how about the last FOUR YEARS as a trial for your plan. Or last July when it caused casualties to dramatically spike.

And just one more thing George. Looking like you're a staggering drunk in public is NOT going to make your decision-making (that's the word, not 'decider') abilities anymore popular with the majority of Americans. People aren't diggin' that drunken redneck thing as much as they were a few years ago. It's gotten too many people killed

So there you go. Free advice. Worth the price.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

"If it's Sunday, It's Meet the Vice President's Agenda."

In Ex-Aide's Testimony, A Spin Through VP's PR

By Dana Milbank
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 26, 2007; A01

Memo to Tim Russert: Dick Cheney thinks he controls you.

This delicious morsel about the "Meet the Press" host and the vice president was part of the extensive dish Cathie Martin served up yesterday when the former Cheney communications director took the stand in the perjury trial of former Cheney chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Flashed on the courtroom computer screens were her notes from 2004 about how Cheney could respond to allegations that the Bush administration had played fast and loose with evidence of Iraq's nuclear ambitions. Option 1: "MTP-VP," she wrote, then listed the pros and cons of a vice presidential appearance on the Sunday show. Under "pro," she wrote: "control message."

"I suggested we put the vice president on 'Meet the Press,' which was a tactic we often used," Martin testified. "It's our best format."

It is unclear whether the first week of the trial will help or hurt Libby or the administration. But the trial has already pulled back the curtain on the White House's PR techniques and confirmed some of the darkest suspicions of the reporters upon whom they are used. Relatively junior White House aides run roughshod over members of the president's Cabinet. Bush aides charged with speaking to the public and the media are kept out of the loop on some of the most important issues. And bad news is dumped before the weekend for the sole purpose of burying it.

With a candor that is frowned upon at the White House, Martin explained the use of late-Friday statements. "Fewer people pay attention to it late on Friday," she said. "Fewer people pay attention when it's reported on Saturday."... [Open in new window]


Declassification unnerved White House aide

By Andy Sullivan
Thursday, January 25, 2007; 3:10 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush's 2003 decision to declassify an intelligence report to rebut an Iraq war critic stirred unease even in the White House, an administration official said on Thursday in the perjury trial of a vice presidential aide.

White House official Cathie Martin said she was "not comfortable" in July of that year when her boss, Vice President Dick Cheney, told her to use the information to counter charges that the administration had manipulated intelligence to build a case for invading Iraq.

Bush drew criticism last spring when he admitted he declassified the report and authorized White House officials to leak it to reporters in order to counter criticism from former ambassador Joseph Wilson, who said the administration ignored his findings that no uranium sale had taken place.

With her husband FCC Commissioner Kevin Martin watching from the front row of the courtroom, Martin said she was "still not comfortable about the NIE" even as Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, began sharing the information with reporters... [Open in new window]

Ex-spokeswoman contradicts Libby account

By MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN, Associated Press Writer1 hour, 54 minutes ago

Vice President Dick Cheney's spokeswoman testified Thursday she told I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby that a prominent war critic's wife was a CIA employee earlier than Libby has said he first learned it from a reporter.

On the third day of Libby's trial, Cathie Martin became the first member of Cheney's inner circle to contradict statements by Libby that led to the charges he lied to the FBI and a grand jury investigating who leaked the wife's identity to reporters in 2003.

Theodore Wells, defense lawyer for Cheney's former chief of staff, quickly sought to limit any damage from the testimony of Cheney's former assistant for public affairs.

Wells got Martin to acknowledge that she herself could not recall for sure whether she relayed the information about CIA operative Valerie Plame, wife of Iraq war critic Joseph Wilson, to Cheney and Libby on June 11, 2003, or as late as July 6, 2003.

The date is important because Libby told investigators he first heard of Plame's job from NBC reporter Tim Russert on July 10. Libby claims that because he was preoccupied with pressing national security issues, he simply forgot he had earlier learned about her work at CIA from government officials... [Open in new window]


There was a great line in the trial testimony today about a discussion among Cheney's staff. Someone said something like, "we like to use Meet The Press." I guess that's kind of like saying, "I like to use the whore house over on ____St." I hope you're proud Tim. How much Jack Welch/GE money did it take to make it OK to be called a whore by a sleazeball in Cheney's office?


Rockefeller: Cheney applied 'constant' pressure to stall investigation on flawed Iraq intelligence

McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney put "constant" pressure on the Republican former head of the Senate Intelligence Committee to stall an investigation into the Bush administration’s use of flawed intelligence on Iraq, the panel’s Democratic chairman charged Thursday.

In an interview with McClatchy Newspapers, Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia said it was "not hearsay" that Cheney, a leading proponent of invading Iraq, pushed Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., to drag out the probe.

"It was just constant," Rockefeller said of Cheney’s alleged interference.

Cheney said in response to Rockefeller's charge that he believes Sen. Roberts "was a good chairman" of the Intelligence Committee, spokeswoman Lea McBride said.

Roberts’ chief of staff, Jackie Cottrell, said in an email statement it was Democrats’ fault the investigation remains incomplete more than two years after it was begun.

"Senator Rockefeller's allegations are patently untrue," she said. "The delays came from the Democrats' insistence that they expand the scope of the inquiry to make it a more political document going into the 2006 elections. Chairman Roberts did everything he could to accommodate their requests for further information without allowing them to distort the facts."

Roberts chaired the intelligence committee from January 2003 until the Democrats took over Congress this month.

Rockefeller’s comments were among the most forceful he has made about why the committee failed to complete the inquiry under Roberts.

The panel released a report in July 2004 that lambasted the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies for erroneously concluding that Saddam Hussein was concealing biological, chemical and nuclear warfare programs.

It then began examining how senior Bush administration officials used faulty intelligence to justify the March 2003 invasion... [Open in new window]


Breaking:Cheney's ex-spokeswoman says VP's office was aware of Plame prior to Libby's talks with reporters

01/25/2007 @ 1:35 pm

Filed by John Byrne

In a major development today in the I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby perjury and obstruction of justice trial, a former vice presidential spokeswoman raised questions about the defense employed by Dick Cheney's former chief of staff. Cheney's former Press Secretary Cathie Martin took the stand and told the prosectuion she had briefed Libby and the Vice President on the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame as the wife of Iraq war critic Ambassador Joseph Wilson.

Martin revealed that she had a conversation with a CIA counterpart who in the course of the discussion said that Plame was Wilson's wife. She immediately informed Cheney and Libby of this fact, on a date she said was prior to July 6th, according to the Associated Press. Libby claims he learned of Plame's identity days later.

The defense will cross-examine Martin on Libby's behalf this afternoon. MSNBC has provided details on Libby's lawyers questioning of memory as a tactic to call witnesses' accounts into doubt during the trial.

DEVELOPING HARD RAW STORY: [Open in new window]


At the Libby Trial, Hints of Intrigue and Betrayal

WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 — The assertion by lawyers for I. Lewis Libby Jr. that White House aides had sacrificed him to protect Karl Rove, the senior political adviser, appears to be based primarily on Mr. Libby’s own sense that the administration had failed to defend him adequately as the C.I.A. leak case unfolded... may have been other reasons Mr. Libby felt the White House was turning against him. Under questioning from reporters, Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, said on Sept. 29, 2003, that Mr. Rove had no involvement in the leak of the identity of an intelligence officer, Valerie Wilson. But it took nearly a week before Mr. McClellan made a similar defense of Mr. Libby.

In each instance, Mr. McClellan’s statements, which he said at the time were based upon conversations with Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby, proved to be inaccurate; Mr. Libby and Mr. Rove had spoken to reporters about Ms. Wilson, who had worked undercover... [Open in new window]


Ex-CIA Official Testifies About Libby's Calls

Queries' Timing Key To CIA Leak Case

By Carol D. Leonnig and Amy Goldstein
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, January 25, 2007; A03

A former high-ranking CIA official testified yesterday that, when Vice President Cheney's agitated chief of staff called him out of the blue in June 2003 to ask what he knew about a CIA-sponsored trip to Niger, he jumped to get answers.

Summoned out of a meeting with the CIA director to take I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's urgent call later that same afternoon, then-Associate Deputy Director Robert Grenier said he relayed all he had learned about former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, the man behind news reports of the trip that had Libby so concerned.

Yes, Wilson had gone on a CIA-sponsored mission to check out intelligence that Iraq was trying to buy uranium for nuclear weapons and had concluded that the tip was unfounded, Grenier testified he told Libby. And, he told Libby, it appeared that Wilson's wife, a CIA officer, had suggested Wilson for the trip.

The timing of Grenier's response and Libby's anxiety over Wilson are central to the prosecution's allegation that Libby lied to investigators when he said that he believed he first learned CIA officer Valerie Plame's identity from NBC's Tim Russert a month later. Grenier is one of three government officials to testify, so far, that they held conversations with Libby about Wilson's wife weeks before Libby contends he learned her name.

Libby has pleaded not guilty to five felony counts during the investigation of how Plame's identity was disclosed to the media. His defense maintains that he got confused about details of conversations with reporters amid the crush of his work on urgent national security issues.

The second day of trial testimony continued to throw back the curtain on a Bush administration beset with rivalries, self-interested alliances and attempts at blame-shifting. Those efforts were particularly intense during the summer of 2003, with U.S. troops in Iraq still unable to find the weapons of mass destruction that President Bush had cited to justify a preemptive war....

...Ari Fleischer, a former White House press secretary who is expected to testify for the prosecution, also has a motive to help the prosecution, Wells has said. Fleischer had demanded immunity before he would talk about his conversations with Libby, then had admitted to government prosecutors that he had spoken to several reporters about Wilson's wife in the days before he left his job... [Open in new window]


"There had been a number of anonymous leaks to reporters from the intelligence community during the late spring and early summer of 2003, claiming that Vice President Cheney, his chief of staff, Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, and even former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich had pressured analysts to skew intelligence analysts to back up the administration’s preconceived political intentions."The Politics of Truth; Joseph Wilson; page 6.

TRY THEM ALL!!! They all lied to take us to war.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

He looks like a potato; an evil potato.


This morning in his opening statements before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) said, “The American people are far ahead of us” on what to do next in Iraq. “They’re not conflicted with the nuances of life. They understand what’s going on.” According to a recent Gallup Poll, 56 percent of Americans want a withdrawal from Iraq within a year.

Hagel chided his fellow colleagues for being too concerned about the politics of their Iraq positioning. “If you wanted a safe job, go sell shoes,” he said. Hagel concluded that all 100 Senators have a responsibility to take a position on escalation. “We owe it to those men and women that we continue to send in that grinder.” Watch it: [Open in new window]


All he is saying is give war a chance.

Others are not:
WASHINGTON - The Democratic-controlled Senate Foreign Relations Committee dismissed President Bush's plans to increase troops strength in Iraq on Wednesday as "not in the national interest," an unusual wartime repudiation of the commander in chief.

At least it's something. Why would anyone in their right mind believe anything this guy says? He & his cabal have been WRONG about everything. But they have been able to parlay the death & destruction into spectacular profits.
Bush (& Co.) Intellectually inferior; morally degenerate. What a legacy!
From the SOTU address last night:
"A second task we can take on together is to design and establish a volunteer Civilian Reserve Corps. Such a corps would function much like our military reserve. It would ease the burden on the Armed Forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them. And it would give people across America who do not wear the uniform a chance to serve in the defining struggle of our time."

I wonder what he's talking about here? Will they wear brown shirts?
Is it just more of the same outsourcing to mercenaries from BlackWater & others?
Is it a chance for O'Reilly, Hannity & the other brave mouths to get in it the win it?
Another GWB mystery like the human-animal hybreds...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Scant evidence found of Iran-Iraq arms link

U.S. warnings of advanced weaponry crossing the border are overstated, critics say.
By Alexandra Zavis and Greg Miller
Times Staff Writers

January 23, 2007

BAQUBAH, IRAQ — If there is anywhere Iran could easily stir up trouble in Iraq, it would be in Diyala, a rugged province along the border between the two nations.

The combination of Sunni Arab militants believed to be affiliated with Al Qaeda and Shiite Muslim militiamen with ties to Iran has fueled waves of sectarian and political violence here. The province is bisected by long-traveled routes leading from Iran to Baghdad and Shiite holy cities farther south in Iraq.

But even here, evidence of Iranian involvement in Iraq's troubles is limited. U.S. troops have found mortars and antitank mines with Iranian markings dated 2006, said U.S. Army Col. David W. Sutherland, who oversees the province. But there has been little sign of more advanced weaponry crossing the border, and no Iranian agents have been found.

In his speech this month outlining the new U.S. strategy in Iraq, President Bush promised to "seek out and destroy" Iranian networks that he said were providing "advanced weaponry and training to our enemies." He is expected to strike a similar note in tonight's State of the Union speech.

For all the aggressive rhetoric, however, the Bush administration has provided scant evidence to support these claims. Nor have reporters traveling with U.S. troops seen extensive signs of Iranian involvement. During a recent sweep through a stronghold of Sunni insurgents here, a single Iranian machine gun turned up among dozens of arms caches U.S. troops uncovered. British officials have similarly accused Iran of meddling in Iraqi affairs, but say they have not found Iranian-made weapons in areas they patrol... [Open in new window]
I wonder if our dim-witted pResident will talk about this tonight. I bet not. It'll be steroids in pro basesball or 'we're goin' to Mars', or human-animal hybreds or some other such non-sense. & then a cut-away to Laura & the little dog raising a purple paw...

Lawyers Paint Libby As Sacrificial Lamb

'Scooter' Libby Laywers Paint Former Aide As Sacrificial Lamb in CIA Leak Case


The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald described for jurors Tuesday a Bush administration effort to beat back early criticism of the Iraq war and accused former White House aide "Scooter" Libby of lying to investigators probing the leak of a CIA operative's identity.

I. Lewis Libby's attorney countered by painting a different White House plot, alleging that administration officials sought to blame Libby for the leak to protect Bush political adviser Karl Rove's own disclosures.

"They're trying to set me up. They want me to be the sacrificial lamb," attorney Theodore Wells said, recalling a conversation between Libby and his boss, Vice President Dick Cheney, as the leak investigation heated up in 2003. "I will not be sacrificed so Karl Rove can be protected."

As the trial opened with a preview of each side's position, it was clear that the jury will be tasked with sorting through conflicting statements in a high-profile case that has opened a very public window on the behind-the-scenes Washington practice of leaking sensitive information to the news media.

The investigation began after syndicated columnist Robert Novak revealed that a chief Bush administration critic, Joseph Wilson, was married to CIA operative Valerie Plame. Rove was one of two sources for Novak's story.

Nobody, including Rove, has been charged with the leak. Libby is accused of lying to investigators and obstructing the probe into the leak.

When the leak investigation was launched, White House officials cleared Rove of wrongdoing but stopped short of doing so for Libby. Libby, who had been asked to counter Wilson's criticisms, felt betrayed and sought out the vice president, Wells said.

Cheney's notes from that meeting underscore Libby's concern, Wells said.

"Not going to protect one staffer and sacrifice the guy that was asked to stick his neck in the meat grinder," the note said, according to Wells.

The description of the White House infighting was a rare glimpse into the secretive workings of Bush's inner circle. It also underscores how hectic and stressful the White House had become when the probe was launched.

By pointing the finger at Rove, whom he referred to as "the lifeblood of the Republican party," Wells sought to cast Libby as a scapegoat.

"He is an innocent man and he has been wrongly and unjustly and unfairly accused," Wells said.

Using a computerized calendar during opening statement, Fitzgerald cast Libby's actions much differently. Fitzgerald described a tumultuous week in 2003 when he said the White House was under "direct attack" from Wilson.

Fitzgerald said Libby learned from five people from Cheney to members of the CIA and State Department that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA. Libby discussed that fact to reporters and others in the White House, Fitzgerald said.

"But when the FBI and grand jury asked about what the defendant did," Fitzgerald said, "he made up a story."

Libby told investigators he learned about Plame from NBC News reporter Tim Russert. But Fitzgerald told jurors that was clearly a lie because Libby had already been discussing the matter inside and outside of the White House.

"You can't learn something on Thursday that you're giving out on Monday," Fitzgerald said.

Libby says he didn't lie but was simply bogged down by national security issues and couldn't remember his conversations with New York Times report Judith Miller, Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper and Russert.

Opening statements were expected to continue into Tuesday afternoon. The trial is expected to last four to six weeks... [Open in new window]


I just updated the story on edit. This is soooo great. Merry effin' Fitzmas everybody! Get some, dude.


Monday, January 22, 2007

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Intelligence Community to Congress: “The dog ate my national intelligence estimate”

Back in July, I reported that, in spite of despite pressure from CIA analysts, intelligence czar John Negroponte was blocking a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE)on Iraq. A fresh NIE—which the CIA describes as “the most authoritative written judgment concerning a national security issue”—was badly needed because the prior one, which was leaked to the New York Times, had been completed two years earlier and had grown out of date. Negroponte was said to fear that given the worsening situation in Iraq a new NIE would of necessity be deeply pessimistic, and, if it leaked before last November's midterm elections, could cause great embarrassment at a critical time for the Bush Administration.

In response to the story, six U.S. senators called for a new NIE on Iraq, and in August the Senate passed an amendment demanding that one be prepared. I've just learned that, months later, the new NIE is still not ready—to the immense frustration of Congress.

The situation came to a head last week, during a closed-door session of the Senate Armed Services Committee. This committee expected to be briefed on the long-awaited NIE by an official from the National Intelligence Council (NIC), which coordinates NIEs by gathering input from all of the nation's various intelligence agencies. But the NIC official turned up empty-handed and told the committee that the intelligence community hadn't been able to complete the NIE because of the many demands placed upon it by the Bush Administration to help prepare the new military strategy on Iraq. He then said that not all of the relevant agencies had offered input into the NIE process, and thus it had proven impossible to put together a finished product.

Apparently these “dog ate my homework”-style alibis were badly received by both the Democrats and the Republicans on the committee, and those in attendance now believe that senior intelligence officials are stalling because an NIE will be very bleak—and thus a political liability. Given the Bush Administration's “surge” policy and the extraordinary danger faced by U.S. troops in Iraq (27 U.S. servicemembers died there this weekend), the new NIE was needed yesterday. The intelligence community is doing the nation a disservice by making Congress wait for the truth... [Open in new window]