Tuesday, June 19, 2007

How Not to Counter Terrorism

By Coleen Rowley & Other Intelligence Veterans
June 18, 2007

Editor's Note: Former FBI Special Agent Coleen Rowley and other members of the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) have compiled the following memo examining the question of whether Bush administration policies have made Americans safer from the threat of terrorism since 9/11.

Rowley gained national attention on June 6, 2002, when she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about pre-9/11 missteps and how the FBI could do a better job detecting and disrupting terrorism. Time magazine had acquired (not from Rowley) a long letter she had written to FBI Director Robert Mueller listing lapses before 9/11 that helped explain the failure to prevent the attacks.

Five years after her testimony, her VIPS colleagues asked Rowley to evaluate what has been done and what needs to be done. They also have contributed their own expertise to the memo:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Given the effort that many of us have put into suggestions for reform, how satisfying it would be, were we able to report that appropriate correctives have been introduced to make us safer. But the bottom line is that the PR bromide to the effect that we are “safer” is incorrect. We are not safer. What follows will help explain why.

Wrong-headed actions and ideas had already taken root before that Senate hearing on June 6, 2002. Post 9/11 dragnet-detentions of innocents, official tolerance of torture (including abuse of U.S. citizens like John Walker Lindh), and panic-boosting color codes, had already been spawned from the mother of all slogans—“The Global War on Terror”—rhetorically useful, substantively inane. GWOT was about to spawn much worse.

Within a few hours of the Senate hearing five years ago, President George W. Bush reversed himself and made a surprise public announcement saying he would, after all, create a new Department of Homeland Security. The announcement seemed timed to relegate to the “in-other-news” category the disturbing things reported to the Senate earlier that day about the mistakes made during the weeks prior to 9/11.

More important, the president’s decision itself was one of the most egregious examples of the doing-something-for-the-sake-of-appearing-to-be-doing-something-against-terrorism syndrome.

As anyone who has worked in the federal bureaucracy could immediately recognize, the creation of DHS was clearly a gross misstep on a purely pragmatic level. It created chaos by throwing together 22 agencies with 180,000 workers—many of them in jobs vital to our nation’s security, both at home and abroad.

lots more...[Open in new window]

Steering Group
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

Coleen Rowley, former FBI special agent

Tom Maertens, former NSC Director for Nonproliferation; former Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Department of State

Larry Johnson, former CIA analyst; former counterterrorism manager, Department of State

Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst

Monday, June 18, 2007

Editorial Observer
Millions of Missing Birds, Vanishing in Plain Sight

Published: June 19, 2007
Last week, the Audubon Society released a new report describing the sharp and startling population decline of some of the most familiar and common birds in America: several kinds of sparrows, the Northern bobwhite, the Eastern meadowlark, the common grackle and the common tern. The average decline of the 20 species in the Audubon Society’s report is 68 percent.

Forty years ago, there were an estimated 31 million bobwhites. Now there are 5.5 million. Compared to the hundred-some condors presently in the wild, 5.5 million bobwhites sounds like a lot of birds. But what matters is the 25.5 million missing and the troubles that brought them down — and are all too likely to bring down the rest of them, too. So this is not extinction, but it is how things look before extinction happens.

The word “extinct” somehow brings to mind the birds that seem like special cases to us, the dodo or the great auk or the passenger pigeon. Most people would never have had a chance to see dodos and great auks on their remote islands before they were decimated in the 17th and 19th centuries. What is hard to remember about passenger pigeons isn’t merely their once enormous numbers. It’s the enormous numbers of humans to whom their coming and going was a common sight and who supposed, erroneously, that such unending clouds of birds were indestructible. We recognize the extraordinary distinctness of the passenger pigeon now because we know its fate, killed off largely by humans. But we have moralized it thoroughly without ever really taking it to heart.

The question is whether we will see the distinctness of the field sparrow — its numbers down from 18 million to 5.8 million in the last 40 years — only when the last pair is being kept alive in a zoo somewhere. We love to finally care when the death watch is on. It makes us feel so very human...[Open in new window]
The world is shutting down...

Annals of National Security

The General’s Report

How Antonio Taguba, who investigated the Abu Ghraib scandal, became one of its casualties.

by Seymour M. Hersh

On the afternoon of May 6, 2004, Army Major General Antonio M. Taguba was summoned to meet, for the first time, with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in his Pentagon conference room. Rumsfeld and his senior staff were to testify the next day, in televised hearings before the Senate and the House Armed Services Committees, about abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, in Iraq. The previous week, revelations about Abu Ghraib, including photographs showing prisoners stripped, abused, and sexually humiliated, had appeared on CBS and in The New Yorker. In response, Administration officials had insisted that only a few low-ranking soldiers were involved and that America did not torture prisoners. They emphasized that the Army itself had uncovered the scandal.

If there was a redeeming aspect to the affair, it was in the thoroughness and the passion of the Army’s initial investigation. The inquiry had begun in January, and was led by General Taguba, who was stationed in Kuwait at the time. Taguba filed his report in March. In it he found:

Numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees . . . systemic and illegal abuse.

Taguba was met at the door of the conference room by an old friend, Lieutenant General Bantz J. Craddock, who was Rumsfeld’s senior military assistant. Craddock’s daughter had been a babysitter for Taguba’s two children when the officers served together years earlier at Fort Stewart, Georgia. But that afternoon, Taguba recalled, “Craddock just said, very coldly, ‘Wait here.’ ” In a series of interviews early this year, the first he has given, Taguba told me that he understood when he began the inquiry that it could damage his career; early on, a senior general in Iraq had pointed out to him that the abused detainees were “only Iraqis.” Even so, he was not prepared for the greeting he received when he was finally ushered in.

“Here . . . comes . . . that famous General Taguba—of the Taguba report!” Rumsfeld declared, in a mocking voice. The meeting was attended by Paul Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld’s deputy; Stephen Cambone, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (J.C.S.); and General Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, along with Craddock and other officials. Taguba, describing the moment nearly three years later, said, sadly, “I thought they wanted to know. I assumed they wanted to know. I was ignorant of the setting.”

In the meeting, the officials professed ignorance about Abu Ghraib. “Could you tell us what happened?” Wolfowitz asked. Someone else asked, “Is it abuse or torture?” At that point, Taguba recalled, “I described a naked detainee lying on the wet floor, handcuffed, with an interrogator shoving things up his rectum, and said, ‘That’s not abuse. That’s torture.’ There was quiet.”

Rumsfeld was particularly concerned about how the classified report had become public. “General,” he asked, “who do you think leaked the report?” Taguba responded that perhaps a senior military leader who knew about the investigation had done so. “It was just my speculation,” he recalled. “Rumsfeld didn’t say anything.” (I did not meet Taguba until mid-2006 and obtained his report elsewhere.) Rumsfeld also complained about not being given the information he needed. “Here I am,” Taguba recalled Rumsfeld saying, “just a Secretary of Defense, and we have not seen a copy of your report. I have not seen the photographs, and I have to testify to Congress tomorrow and talk about this.” As Rumsfeld spoke, Taguba said, “He’s looking at me. It was a statement.”...[Open in new window]

From Democratic Underground's Top Ten Conservative Idiots List for this week: Number Ten
And finally, what could you do with an hour-long, five-days-a-week cable news show all to yourself? No doubt a lot more than Chris Matthews, who has spent the last several months airing fascinating daily segments on the latest news from the Hillary Clinton campaign. Yes, if you want to know how Hillary is wearing her hair or what color her suit is, "Hardball" is the place to be.

But Matthews' deep political insight isn't just confined to the discussion of Hillary Clinton, he can be equally lame when it comes to the male candidates - with one important difference. In Matthews' eyes, Hillary's personal attributes are an indication of her cold and calculating nature, whereas the personal attributes of the Republican candidates always tend to be an indication of great integrity and courage. Take the show from last week, where according to the transcript on Think Progress, Matthews actually contemplated the gravitas of Fred Thompson's odor:

Does (Fred Thompson) have sex appeal? ... Gene, do you think there's a sex appeal for this guy, this sort of mature, older man, you know? ... Can you smell the English leather on this guy, the Aqua Velva, the sort of mature man's shaving cream, or whatever, you know, after he shaved? Do you smell that sort of - a little bit of cigar smoke? You know, whatever.

Easy! Down boy! I haven't seen Matthews this excited since George W. Bush landed on the aircraft carrier dressed as a fighter pilot. Lest we forget:

MATTHEWS: What do you make of the actual visual that people will see on TV and probably, as you know, as well as I, will remember a lot longer than words spoken tonight? And that's the president looking very much like a jet, you know, a high-flying jet star. A guy who is a jet pilot. Has been in the past when he was younger, obviously. What does that image mean to the American people, a guy who can actually get into a supersonic plane and actually fly in an unpressurized cabin like an actual jet pilot?


We're proud of our president. Americans love having a guy as president, a guy who has a little swagger, who's physical, who's not a complicated guy like Clinton or even like Dukakis or Mondale, all those guys, McGovern. They want a guy who's president. Women like a guy who's president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president.

Er, right.

Still, this gives me an idea. If Fred Thompson doesn't run for president, Aqua Velva could always hire him for their new ad campaign...

(click image to enlarge)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Judge won't delay Libby's prison term

(Editorial note: Republicans=Jack-booted thugs. We are living through the 1930s in Germany. The Rethugs are the Nazis.)

A federal judge said Thursday he will not delay a 2 1/2-year prison sentence for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a ruling that could send the former White House aide to prison within weeks.

This is a breaking news update. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge showed no sign that he would delay I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's prison term in the CIA leak case Thursday — even as he reported getting threatening letters and phone calls after sentencing the former White House aide.

"I received a number of angry, harassing, mean-spirited phone calls and letters," U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton said. "Some of those were wishing bad things on me and my family."

Walton made the remarks as he opened a hearing into whether to delay Libby's 2 1/2-year sentence while the former White House aide appeals. Walton heard arguments on the request and was scheduled to continue them Thursday afternoon.

After a monthlong trial, jurors found in March that Libby lied to investigators about how he learned that Valerie Plame, the wife of an outspoken war critic, worked for the CIA, and whom he told.

Libby maintains his innocence and says any misstatements were the result of a bad memory, not deception.

Libby argues that he has a good chance of persuading an appeals court that when senior Justice Department officials recused themselves from the leak investigation, they gave special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald unchecked and unconstitutional authority.

Walton was skeptical, saying the alternative was to put someone with White House ties in charge of an investigation into the highest levels of the Bush administration. Libby had been chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.

"If that's going to be how we have to operate, our system is going to be in serious trouble with the average Joe on the street who thinks the system is unfair already," Walton said...[Open in new window]

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Trouble With the Super-Rich

Barbara Ehrenreich

This article originally appeared on Barbara Ehrenreich's blog.

Twenty years ago it was risky to point out the growing inequality in America. I did it in a New York Times essay and was quickly denounced, in the Washington Times, as a "Marxist." If only. I've never been able to get through more than a couple of pages of Das Kapital, even in English, and the Grundrisse functions like Rozerem.

But it no longer takes a Marxist, real or alleged, to see that America is being polarized between the super-rich and the sub-rich everyone else. In Sunday's New York Times magazine we learn that Larry Summers, the centrist Democratic economist and former Harvard president, is now obsessed with the statistic that, since 1979, the share of pretax income going to the top 1 percent of American households has risen by 7 percentage points, to 16 percent. At the same time, the share of income going to the bottom 80 percent has fallen by 7 percentage points.

As the Times puts it: "It's as if every household in that bottom 80 percent is writing a check for $7,000 every year and sending it to the top 1 percent." Summers now admits that his former cheerleading for the corporate-dominated global economy feels like "pretty thin gruel."

But the moderate-to-conservative economic thinkers who long refused to think about class polarization have a fallback position, sketched out by Roger Lowenstein in an essay in the same issue of the New York Times magazine that features Larry Summers' sobered mood. Briefly put: As long as the middle class is still trudging along and the poor are not starving flamboyantly in the streets, what does it matter if the super-rich are absorbing an ever larger share of the national income?

In Lowenstein's view: "...whether Roger Clemens, who will get something like $10,000 for every pitch he throws, earns 100 times or 200 times what I earn is kind of irrelevant. My kids still have health care, and they go to decent schools. It's not the rich people who are pulling away at the top who are the problem..." .......(more)...[Open in new window]

Sunday, June 10, 2007

ROME, ROSTOCK, PRAGUE, POLAND: Everywhere he goes, the people all know, everybody's doin' that rage. (They like him in Albania, though. They liked Hitler there, too.)

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Avoiding any & all accountability, the Bush administration signature move:

General 'sacrificed' to clear decks on Iraq

· Chairman of joint chiefs of staff to stand down
· Senate hearings would have been controversial

Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
Saturday June 9, 2007
The Guardian

The Bush administration yesterday attempted to wipe the slate clean on the Iraq war and chart a new way forward with the surprise announcement that it was replacing General Peter Pace as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.

The defence chief, Robert Gates, said he had reluctantly decided on the reshuffle - despite his initial support for Gen Pace - to avoid a "divisive ordeal" at the Senate which would have had to approve an extension of the general's term.

"The focus of this confirmation process would have been on the past rather than on the future," Mr Gates told the press conference. "There was a very real prospect that the process would be quite contentious."

He said he had nominated Admiral Mike Mullen, who is currently chief of naval operations, to replace Gen Pace. In another house cleaning move, the vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Admiral Edmund Gambastiani, also announced his retirement yesterday.

A career marine, Gen Pace has been at the centre of military decision-making by the Bush administration on Afghanistan and Iraq for the last six years. As vice chairman and then chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, he was a key architect of the 2003 invasion to remove Saddam Hussein, as well as the post-war planning.

The decision not to fight for Gen Pace was seen as a sign of the administration's eagerness to open a new chapter in the Iraq war, and so help rebuild wavering Republican support for the troops increase. Mr Gates denied any doubts about Gen Pace's performance. "I am disappointed that the circumstances make this kind of decision necessary," Mr Gates told reporters. "I wish that were not the case."...


That spectacle could have proved devastating at a time when the White House is fighting hard to maintain Republican support for additional troops in Iraq. Republican leaders have warned the White House repeatedly that they need to see concrete results from the surge by September if they are to continue to justify their support to a war-weary public.

That task grew even more difficult in recent days as the death toll among US troops serving in Iraq reached a grim milestone of 3,500....[Open in new window]

Friday, June 08, 2007

Screen capture: Don't know about you, but that looks like some of that 12 or 20 or 50 year old 'Kentucky' illness pResident Goober is sippin' on there.
(click on image to enlarge)
John Yoo

John Yoo was an untenured professor at Berkeley when he became a clerk for Clarence Thomas and squash partner for Antonin Scalia. He returned to Berkeley and got tenure in 1999. He was involved with the American Enterprise Institute and became a friend of now-U.S. United Nations Ambassador John R. Bolton, whose contempt for international law is well known. He testified to the Florida legislature during the 2000 presidential election recount. From 2001 to 2003 he worked for the Justice Department.

"In a series of opinions," said the Washington Post, "Yoo argued that the Constitution grants the president virtually unhindered discretion in wartime. He said the fight against terrorism, with no fixed battlefield or uniformed enemy, was a new kind of war. Two weeks after Sept. 11, Yoo said in a memo for the White House that the Constitution conferred 'plenary,' or absolute, authority to use force abroad, 'especially in response to grave national emergencies created by sudden, unforeseen attacks on the people and territory of the United States." Yoo's Sept. 25, 2001, memo said"the President's broad constitutional power to use military force to defend the Nation, recognized by the Joint Resolution itself, would allow the President to take whatever actions he deems appropriate to pre-empt or respond to terrorist threats from new quarters." . He advised the White House that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to al Qaeda or the terrorism fight."

In a December 2005 Chicago debate, wrote Washington Post reporter Peter Sleven, "Notre Dame professor and international human rights scholar Doug Cassel said, 'If the President deems that he's got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person's child, there is no law that can stop him?' 'No treaty,' Yoo replied. 'And also no law by Congress,' Cassel said, 'That is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo.' 'I think,' said Yoo, 'it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.'"...[Open in new window]


How crazy are they?

Pretty damned crazy.

It all needs to come out.

And then charges...trials...sentences. Silence is death.


Blackwater Heavies Sue Families of Slain Employees for $10 Million in Brutal Attempt to Suppress Their Story

By Daniel J. Callahan and Marc P. Miles, AlterNet
Posted on June 8, 2007, Printed on June 8, 2007

The following article is by the lawyers representing the families of four American contractors who worked for Blackwater and were killed in Fallujah. After Blackwater refused to share information about why they were killed, the families were told they would have to sue Blackwater to find out. Now Blackwater is trying to sue them for $10 million to keep them quiet.

Raleigh, NC -- The families of four American security contractors who were burned, beaten, dragged through the streets of Fallujah and their decapitated bodies hung from a bridge over the Euphrates River on March 31, 2004, are reaching out to the American public to help protect themselves against the very company their loved ones were serving when killed, Blackwater Security Consulting. After Blackwater lost a series of appeals all the away to the U.S. Supreme Court, Blackwater has now changed its tactics and is suing the dead men's estates for $10 million to silence the families and keep them out of court.

Following these gruesome deaths which were broadcast on worldwide television, the surviving family members looked to Blackwater for answers as to how and why their loved ones died. Blackwater not only refused to give the grieving families any information, but also callously stated that they would need to sue Blackwater to get it. Left with no alternative, in January 2005, the families filed suit against Blackwater, which is owned by the wealthy and politically-connected Erik Prince.

Blackwater quickly adapted its battlefield tactics to the courtroom. It initially hired Fred F. Fielding, who is currently counsel to the President of the United States. It then hired Joseph E. Schmitz as its in-house counsel, who was formerly the Inspector General at the Pentagon. More recently, Blackwater employed Kenneth Starr, famed prosecutor in the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky scandal, to oppose the families. To add additional muscle, Blackwater hired Cofer Black, who was the Director of the CIA Counter- Terrorist Center.

After filing its suit against the dead men's estates, Blackwater demanded that its claim and the families' existing lawsuit be handled in a private arbitration. By suing the families in arbitration, Blackwater has attempted to move the examination of their wrongful conduct outside of the eye of the public and away from a jury. This comes at the same time when Congress is investigating Blackwater...[Open in new window]

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Jeffrey Feldman

Facelift For The Fear Frame

Now that trashing Bush on TV is de rigueur for GOP presidential wannabes, one might think that the right-wing rhetoric of fear and violence might fall by the wayside, too. Guess again.

Rather than dump that old Bush-Cheney bunk about a vote for the Democrats being a vote for nuclear annihilation by "terrorists," many Republicans are framing the debate with a new word: "Jihadism."

Tuesday night's Republican "debate" on CNN was chock full of attempts by the candidates to say "Jihadism" and "Jihadist" as much as posible, often coupled with direct jabs at the competence of the Bush administration and--no big shocker,here--at the credibility of the Democrats.

And here we see the crux of the matter on this word shift: Republicans are still working with campaign consultants pushing the fear frame as best path to the victory in 2008, but they are increasingly aware that looking and sounding like George W. Bush is a one-way ticket to wikipedia obscurity, not the White House.

Given this dilemma, whatever is today's Machiavellian authoritarian with presidential ambitions to do?

Why...switch the debate on Iraq from a "war on" an evil tactic ( e.g., terrorism) to a "war on" an evil culture (e.g. Jihadism), of course!...[Open in new window]
Stephanie Miller, The Stand Up Comic of Progressive Talk Radio


Generally human nature is that you don't want to be angry all the time, or depressed. In a way, that's on our side. That's the only power we have -- the power to mock them, which means you're taking the power back. You're not letting them make you afraid and depressed. A lot of people say it's the only way you can deal with what's happened to this country over the last however-many-years that Bush has been in, because it is depressing, and it is horrible.

-- Stephanie Miller, Jones Radio Network, 9 am - 12 pm ET

Interview here:[Open in new window]
Juan Cole:

The Eighth Front

According to Turkish sources, hundreds of Turkish troops crossed into Iraqi Kurdistan on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning in hot pursuit of Kurdish terrorists. There was some skepticism about whether this incident actually occurred, and it was both affirmed and denied by various Turkish sources in the course of the day. MSNBC showed footage of the incursion, but I don't know if that was stock footage or if it showed today's events accurately (shouldn't they label these things?). A US military spokesman in Baghdad could not confirm the border incursion but said "we are very concerned." As well he should be.

A hot eighth front may have just opened up in the kaleidoscopic Iraq War, which appears to be gradually fulfilling its potential for unravelling the entire Middle East as it was constituted by the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 in the aftermath of WW I.

How many fronts are there in the Iraq War? The Sunni Arab guerrillas of the center, west and north are themselves fighting a four-front war. They are fighting US troops. They are fighting Shiites. They are fighting Kurds in the Kirkuk region and Ninevah and Diyala provinces. And they are fighting other Sunni Arab forces (Baathists fight Salafi fundamentalists, and both fight tribal levies gravitating to the Americans).

Then there is a muted Shiite front with two dimensions. Radical Shiites attack US forces. And, in Basra, Diwaniya and elsewhere, there is Shiite on Shiite violence as the Badr Corps paramilitary of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (often infiltrated into the Iraqi police) fights the Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr.

So that makes 6-- four Sunni Arab fronts and 2 Shiite fronts.

Then there are the Kurds. Of course they are fighting the Sunni Arabs. But they have also given haven to two terrorist groups. One is the PKK, or Kurdish Worker's Party, which operates in Turkey's eastern Anatolia, blowing things up and killing people. Some 5,000 PKK fighters are holed up in Iraqi Kurdistan, to the rage of the Turkish government in Ankara. The other is PEJAK, an Iranian-Kurdish terrorist group that launches attacks in Iran. Both Iran and Turkey have lobbed mortars and artillery shells over the border into villages of Iraqi Kurdistan as a way of lodging a complaint and making a threat against these Kurdish forces.

So in addition to the Arab-Kurdish front already counted, that makes 2 more fronts, for a grand total of 8. Not all 8 are very active at all times. But all 8 do break out into substantial violence from time to time. And we may have just seen a flare-up in no. 8.

By the way, why does the Bush administration allow its Kurdistan allies to harbor PKK terrorists? I thought that sort of thing was a no-no in the age of the war on terror? Wasn't it even the casus belli for Bush's two big invasions? Or is it all right to do terrorism to Turkey and Iran, but not to the US and Britain? I'm confused...[Open in new window]

On the June 5 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, Fox News host John Gibson said he was putting one of his "groups of enemies on notice" after receiving a "demand[] for a retraction" from Media Matters for America. Gibson said that "they are complaining that I said something about them which isn't true, which was that, basically, it was a front for [Sen.] Hillary [Rodham Clinton (D-NY)]." As Media Matters noted, Gibson falsely stated on his June 1 radio show that Media Matters was "invented" and "funded" by "the Hillary Clinton campaign."

Gibson also claimed that Media Matters has been "taking money from the Tides Foundation, which is a George Soros-funded operation. Over a short period of years, got $3.5 million, and they spend all their time now attacking anybody who breathes a word about not liking Hillary." As previously indicated, Soros has never given money to Media Matters, either directly or through another organization. As Media Matters documented when Fox News host Bill O'Reilly falsely suggested that Soros funded Media Matters through the Tides Foundation, Soros' Open Society Institute's donations to Tides were all designated for specific programs, and Media Matters was not included on this list.

Gibson did not retract his false statement. Instead, he said he enjoys this "good little fight."...[Open in new window]


Poor Gibson. The Grade-Z host on the fake news network. Like Coulter all that's left to do is lie loudly. O'Leilly stole the 'war on christmas' from Gibson. I guess John couldn't say anything.

Who watchs FOX other than media bias researchers, comedy fans & cranks? Nobody, that's who...

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Joe Wilson & Lawrence O'Donnell on Libby Sentence

Last night, following the sentencing of Scooter Libby, Keith Olbermann conducted two excellent interviews of Ambassador Joe Wilson and political analyst Lawrence O`Donnell.

Crooks & Liars has posted the video of Lawrence O'Donnell (thanks for the link, Leslie!). And MSNBC's transcript is finally up:[Open in new window]

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The supporters are a roll-call of war criminals of our times:


The following letters -- both supporting and criticizing Scooter Libby -- were sent to Judge Reggie B. Walton. They are organized in alphabetical order by the name of the sender.

Bill Kristol's Double Standards

by BooMan
Tue Jun 5th, 2007 at 09:08:42 PM EST

This won't surprise anyone, but it has to be said. William Kristol has no respect for the rule of law:

I FEEL TERRIBLE for Scooter Libby's family. Millions of Americans feel terrible for Scooter Libby's family. But we can't do anything about the injustice that has been done. Nor can we do anything to avert a further injustice looming on the horizon--Judge Reggie Walton seems inclined not to let Libby remain free pending appeal.

Unlike the rest of us, however, George W. Bush is president. Article II, Section Two of the Constitution gives him the pardon power. George W. Bush can do something to begin to make up for the injustice a prosecutor appointed by his own administration brought down on Scooter Libby. And he can do something to avert the further injustice of a prison term.

Whatever happened to the idea that government officials, especially Bill Clinton, must tell the truth under oath?

Again, this is not a surprise. But it is still absolutely pathetic.

Monday, June 04, 2007

O'Reilly: Man with TB acted on "secular-progressive" values, "put[ting] his own welfare above everything and everybody else"

On the June 1 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, discussing the recent news that attorney Andrew Speaker traveled by airline while infected with an antibiotic-resistant strain of tuberculosis, host Bill O'Reilly asserted that the "the story comes down to ... philosophy of life." O'Reilly explained: "Traditional-values people put others on a par with themselves. ... Secular progressives put themselves above all others. That philosophy says, 'Me first, then I'll worry about you.' As a nation, the USA has been successful embracing the traditional point of view. But today, that's being challenged. And this TB case is a great example." He added: "Did Speaker put his own welfare above everything and everybody else? You bet he did."

Later in the broadcast, discussing with Focus on the Family chairman James C. Dobson recent comments about drugs and sex made by panelists at the Conference on World Affairs to a group of students at Boulder High School in Boulder, Colorado, O'Reilly again generalized about the beliefs of so-called "secular progressives." He said: "Secular progressives are going to basically tell children to use drugs, to have indiscriminate sex, do what you want when you're 14 years old, never mind what your parents think."

Media Matters for America has documented (here, here, here, here and here) numerous examples of O'Reilly's attacks on what he calls "secular progressives," as well as dubious claims about who qualifies as such. For instance, on the November 27, 2006, broadcast of Westwood One's The Radio Factor, O'Reilly claimed that "secular progressives" want "out-of-wedlock birth in the USA" to be "at record highs." Additionally, on the November 18, 2005, edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly asserted that the "war" on Christmas is part of the "secular-progressive agenda" that also includes the "legalization of narcotics, euthanasia, abortion at will, [and] gay marriage, because the objection to those things is religious-based, usually."...[Open in new window]


What's wrong with Bill O'Reilly?

Is he just another belligerent loudmouth or is there a diagnosis for what ails him?


Arkansas GOP head: We need more 'attacks on American soil' so people appreciate Bush

In his first interview as the chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party, Dennis Milligan told a reporter that America needs to be attacked by terrorists so that people will appreciate the work that President Bush has done to protect the country.

"At the end of the day, I believe fully the president is doing the right thing, and I think all we need is some attacks on American soil like we had on [Sept. 11, 2001]," Milligan said to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, "and the naysayers will come around very quickly to appreciate not only the commitment for President Bush, but the sacrifice that has been made by men and women to protect this country."

Milligan, who was elected as the new chair of the Arkansas Republican Party just two weeks ago, also told the newspaper that he is "150 percent" behind Bush in the war in Iraq.

In his acceptance speech on May 19th, Milligan told his fellow Republicans that it was "time for a rediscovery of our values and our common sense."...[Open in new window]


Note on photo: I think it might be 'sport clothes' that make squares soooo stooopid.


Fred Thompson & Bride.

Remember how all the right wing nutlogs used to ask :"How will we explain it to the children?" regarding that ever popular children's book The Starr Report?

Just tell them a very nice man's coming over in a little while to marry them & he'll explain it all.

(..."but Clinton killed Vince Foster...")

I'm an American & he ain't MY mayor.
...or Godfather.

Sentencing for Dummies

The Fate of I. Lewis Libby
By Elizabeth de la Vega

If the memorandum filed by defense attorneys in anticipation of former top White House adviser I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's June 5th sentencing is any indication, it appears that Libby -- one of the highest White House officials ever convicted of a felony -- has learned precisely nothing from his trial and conviction on charges of false statements, obstruction of justice, and perjury.

Libby's lawyers admit -- because they have to -- that their client, a man with three decades of executive-level federal government service, disseminated classified information about the status of CIA Agent Valerie Plame Wilson in response to public criticism of the Bush administration by her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson. They nevertheless insist that this, at best, reckless (and, far more likely, intentional) act is not only not illegal, but not even wrong.

Unfortunately for Libby, this in-your-face position also has a certain shoot-yourself-in-the-foot quality. Libby is arguing for a probationary sentence, which is considerably more lenient than that called for by the Sentencing Guidelines. (See lesson one below.) An essential factor every judge must consider in deciding whether to depart from the guidelines to impose such a light sentence is whether it would sufficiently deter others from similar misconduct.

Having aggressively argued that there was neither crime, nor misconduct, how do Libby's lawyers then address the issue of deterrence? They argue that Libby has experienced a "very public fall from grace" and that this "dire consequence" alone would be enough to "warn the public -- and high ranking government officials in particular -- that it is important to take FBI and grand jury investigations very seriously." This is an exquisite expression of the entitlement and arrogance that spawned the administration's smear campaign against Joseph Wilson in the first place. It could only be more pointedly evocative of utter contempt for the rule of law if it were followed by a sneer emoticon.

If Libby and his loyal followers -- including former Law and Order District Attorney Fred Thompson who appears to be taking the creative approach of launching his presidential campaign with an attack on prosecutions for perjury (those wacky soft-on-crime Hollywood types!) -- have learned nothing from this case, what about the rest of us? What lessons might we learn from Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation into the outing of Valerie Plame Wilson?...[Open in new window]

What If Our Mercenaries Turn On Us?

by Chris Hedges

Armed units from the private security firm Blackwater USA opened fire in Baghdad streets twice in two days last week. It triggered a standoff between the security contractors and Iraqi forces, a reminder that the war in Iraq may be remembered mostly in our history books for empowering and building America’s first modern mercenary army.There are an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 armed security contractors working in Iraq, although there are no official figures and some estimates run much higher. Security contractors are not counted as part of the coalition forces. When the number of private mercenary fighters is added to other civilian military “contractors” who carry out logistical support activities such as food preparation, the number rises to about 126,000.

“We got 126,000 contractors over there, some of them making more than the secretary of defense,” said House defense appropriations subcommittee Chairman John Murtha (D., Pa.). “How in the hell do you justify that?”

The privatization of war hands an incentive to American corporations, many with tremendous political clout, to keep us mired down in Iraq. But even more disturbing is the steady rise of this modern Praetorian Guard. The Praetorian Guard in ancient Rome was a paramilitary force that defied legal constraints, made violence part of the political discourse, and eventually plunged the Roman Republic into tyranny and despotism. Despotic movements need paramilitary forces that operate outside the law, forces that sow fear among potential opponents, and are capable of physically silencing those branded by their leaders as traitors. And in the wrong hands, a Blackwater could well become that force.

American taxpayers have so far handed a staggering $4 billion to “armed security” companies in Iraq such as Blackwater, according to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Henry Waxman (D., Calif.). Tens of billions more have been paid to companies that provide logistical support. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D., Ill.) of the House Intelligence Committee estimates that 40 cents of every dollar spent on the occupation has gone to war contractors. It is unlikely that any of these corporations will push for an early withdrawal. The profits are too lucrative.

Mercenary forces like Blackwater operate beyond civilian and military law. They are covered by a 2004 edict passed by American occupation authorities in Iraq that immunizes all civilian contractors in Iraq from prosecution.

Blackwater, barely a decade old, has migrated from Iraq to set up operations in the United States and nine other countries. It trains Afghan security forces and has established a base a few miles from the Iranian border. The huge contracts from the war - including $750 million from the State Department since 2004 - have allowed Blackwater to amass a fleet of more than 20 aircraft, including helicopter gunships. Jeremy Scahill, the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, points out that Blackwater has also constructed “the world’s largest private military facility - a 7,000-acre compound near the Great Dismal Swamp of North Carolina.” Blackwater also recently opened a facility in Illinois (”Blackwater North”) and, despite local opposition, is moving ahead with plans to build another huge training base near San Diego. The company recently announced it was creating a private intelligence branch called “Total Intelligence.”...[Open in new window]

Lawrence Wilkerson: Neocons tried to push Taiwan to declare 'Independence'
(ie Rumsfeld tried to start a nuclear war between the US & China)

Neo-conservatives in the Bush administration -- led by former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld -- frequently dispatched representatives to Taiwan to encourage President Chen Shui-bian's administration to move toward a declaration of independence, the latest US edition of Esquire magazine quoted a former official at the US State Department as saying.

Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to former secretary of state Colin Powell, was quoted in the Esquire article in the issue published on Friday.

Wilkerson said that the actions had the potential to generate a conflict -- possibly nuclear -- between the US and China.

He said that White House officials promoting independence were the same as those who engineered the war on Iraq, including Rumsfeld, former deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz and former UN ambassador John Bolton, as well as former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) head Therese Shaheen.


These actions forced then secretary of state Colin Powell to send State Department officials to tell Chen that the White House's "one China" policy remained unchanged, Wilkerson was quoted as saying.

The State Department continued its actions until US President George W. Bush personally asked Rumsfeld to cease encouraging Taiwanese independence and resume military exchanges with China, according to Wilkerson...[Open in new window]
There have been & are two kinds of people in the Bush administration; The stupid & the crazy. The fuckwits & the asshats.
I hope most of us are around to eventually sort it all out. Make it a learning moment on the road to peace & sanity.
If you voted for Bush, please NEVER vote again. Devote the rest of your life to figuring out what's WRONG with you.
Figure out how you thought it was a good idea to have a Secretary of Defense trying to start a nuclear war.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Mafia prosecutor now has Bush in his sights

By Tim Shipman in Washington,
Sunday Telegraph

Last Updated: 12:39am BST 03/06/2007

George W Bush has seen off Al Gore, John Kerry and Saddam Hussein. But with the varnish fast disappearing from his administration, the president may finally be about to meet the man who could prove his undoing.

Preet Bharara is a 38-year-old Indian-American lawyer, who made his name prosecuting the bosses of the Gambino and Colombo crime families in New York.

Now the former district attorney has President Bush in his sights, as well as the man they call "Bush's Brain": Karl Rove, the president's chief political adviser.

Mr Bharara is spearheading the Democrat campaign to uncover corruption, mismanagement, incompetence and financial impropriety at the heart of the Bush administration.

In a flurry of subpoenas and press releases, the Democrats have launched 36 investigations, holding about 220 committee hearings since seizing control of Congress last November - and forcing the resignations of six Bush administration officials. It is as if several dozen Hutton inquiries had started at once.

Mr Bharara is already well on his way to claiming his first prominent political scalp through his role as senior counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, one of three bodies conducting inquiries into the sacking by the Bush administration of eight US lawyers.

The hearings generated damaging headlines for the Bush administration as they investigated accusations against Alberto Gonzales, the attorney general, that government lawyers were dismissed if they investigated Republicans or failed to investigate Democrats.

Mr Gonzales had an apparent "amnesia" attack, being unable to recollect any relevant evidence during testimony - only for his aide Monica Goodling, who was granted immunity from prosecution, to admit that the Justice Department routinely took the political views of lawyers into account.

The growing body of evidence that Mr Gonzales, who was once Mr Bush's personal lawyer, abused his position is seen as a triumph for Mr Bharara. Indeed, it was Mr Bharara who originally suggested to the New York senator Chuck Schumer, a senior member of the Judiciary Committee who hired him in 2005, that he launch the investigation when news of the lawyers' sackings began to leak out.

A congressional official told The Sunday Telegraph: "He knew it didn't smell right and he put in calls to his old contacts to find out what was going on. He has managed to get people to testify who would normally have seen this as a politically motivated attack."...[Open in new window]

From Crooks & Liars:

I'm not a violent man, but this segement on Friday's "Hardball" made me want to hurl something at my tv. Chris Matthews' guests are conservative publisher Eric Jackson, pimping his new global warming denial book for children and author, Frances Moore Lappe, who discuss teaching children about the left and right and in particular the book, Mom! Help! There Are Liberals Under My Bed!. This book is clearly designed to scare the crap out of young children by brainwashing them into believing that liberals are scary, evil people. What's more infuriating is that Jackson claims Laurie David's new book, The Down-to-Earth Guide To Global Warming is just as frightening to children as showing Hillary Clinton and other liberals as violent and dangerous villains....[Open in new window]

Mom! Help! If all the votes had been counted the president wouldn't be a moron!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Idiot breaks with bigger idiots. Cry me a river Peg & then go resign from the WSJ.
Why were you & all the rest of the enablers so late?
Stupid I guess. Like everyone who works OP/ED at the WSJ.


Too Bad
President Bush has torn the conservative coalition asunder.

Friday, June 1, 2007

...The beginning of my own sense of separation from the Bush administration came in January 2005, when the president declared that it is now the policy of the United States to eradicate tyranny in the world, and that the survival of American liberty is dependent on the liberty of every other nation. This was at once so utopian and so aggressive that it shocked me. For others the beginning of distance might have been Katrina and the incompetence it revealed, or the depth of the mishandling and misjudgments of Iraq.

What I came in time to believe is that the great shortcoming of this White House, the great thing it is missing, is simple wisdom. Just wisdom--a sense that they did not invent history, that this moment is not all there is, that man has lived a long time and there are things that are true of him, that maturity is not the same thing as cowardice, that personal loyalty is not a good enough reason to put anyone in charge of anything, that the way it works in politics is a friend becomes a loyalist becomes a hack, and actually at this point in history we don't need hacks...[Open in new window]
Student at college Jerry Falwell founded is held after testimony of violent plans

SUE LINDSEY Associated Press Writer

(AP) - ROANOKE, Virginia-A federal judge refused to release from jail a university student charged with possessing a bomb the night before the Rev. Jerry Falwell's funeral, saying there was compelling evidence he could pose a danger.

Mark David Uhl told authorities he did not intend to hurt anyone, according to testimony from a special agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

But the agent, R.A. Davidson, also testified that the 19-year-old had other plans for violence, including a plot with a friend to disrupt a dance at his former high school in Virginia with heated homemade pepper spray

A search of Uhl's computer turned up photographs of Adolf Hitler and young adults giving a Nazi salute, with one caption that said "I love Hitler," the agent said...[Open in new window]

Top Bush aide Dan Bartlett resigns

By Steve Holland2 hours, 25 minutes ago

Dan Bartlett, a key member of President George W. Bush's inner circle and an aide for him going back more than 13 years, announced on Friday he is resigning as White House counselor effective July 4.

In an interview, Bartlett, who turned 36 on Friday, said he had been pondering his departure for months and decided now is the best time to get a less demanding job so he can concentrate on helping raise three children all under the age of 4.

He is the most important White House insider to leave Bush's side since the resignation last November of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Bartlett started working for Bush in October 1993 in Bush's first race for Texas governor. He stayed with him through another gubernatorial campaign and two presidential elections...[Open in new window]