Friday, October 21, 2005


Condoleezza Rice Admits it was always the Bush administration's intention to redesign the Middle East after the September 11 attacks

from DailyKos:

Condi's Amazing Testimony

Fri Oct 21, 2005 at 06:41:47 PM PDT

During testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, October 20th, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said something truly extraordinary. She said that it was always the Bush administration's intention to redesign the Middle East after the September 11 attacks. 9/11, she said, merely exposed a "deep malignancy that had been growing" in the region for a long time. The Iraq war is merely part of a much larger plan designed to change the political character of Middle Eastern countries and concomitantly change the mindset of the peoples living in them.

While Senators may have taken note of this amazing admission, most opted to spar with Rice on fairly trivial points. Shouldn't the administration set a time-table for withdrawal? What is Rice's definition of victory? Why does she not see the need for more troops?

Barbara Boxer was a singular voice in pointing out the obvious, namely that remaking the mindset of the Middle East was not the rationale the Bush administration gave to the American people and to the world prior to the invasion.

However, even Boxer's statement didn't go far enough in terms of a more rationale reaction to Rice's comment. Every single committee member should have said, in unison, the following.

If the president sees it as America's mission to change the political character of Middle Eastern countries and to change the mindset of the peoples therein, and if he is of the opinion that this can be done initially through force of arms, and subsequently through massive expenditures of American money, and if he thinks that this mission will take upwards of a generation, he needs to come before a joint session of Congress and make his case to the elected representatives of the American people and simultaneously to the American people watching at home. He needs to explain why he thinks force of arms (invasion) is the best way to sweep away this "malignancy" and the best way to encourage healthy tissue to grow in its place. He needs to name the countries that he is prepared to invade - Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc. He needs to ask Congress to reinstate the draft in order to ensure sufficient men under arms. He needs to warn the American people that sacrifices will be required of them - higher taxes, foregoing expenditures on domestic programs, and should the world's production of oil be significantly impacted, higher prices for energy at a minimum and perhaps higher prices all around. And most importantly, Bush needs to define the ultimate shape and character that he envisions for these countries so that all can judge whether the effort is worthwhile.

No Senator this day said any thing even remotely resembling this, but I suspect, that slowly, over time, as the implications of Rice's astonishing admission seep into the brains of these Senators, both Democrat and Republican, Bush's mission will begin to be discussed openly, and debated openly as both a political issue and a public policy option.

When this happens, Americans will come to understand that not was George Bush not truthful when he said that 9/11, WMD, and ties to al-Qaeda drove him to invade Iraq. They will also understand that he has up to this point been withholding from the American people a very large vision whose realization the American people may or may not wish to pursue.

Americans may instead judge that the cost of this mission in terms of soldiers killed and maimed, treasure expended, and domestic sacrifices suffered, are not worth a reshaped, reengineered Middle East, its ultimate similarity to Western style capitalist democracies notwithstanding.

Should Bush and his apologists respond that only by embarking on this mission will America be safe from attack over the ensuing decades, most reasonable people would find it relatively easy to disagree. Choosing to call 9/11 as an act war as opposed to a crime does is one thing. Unleashing the full force of the American military against four countries at a minimum in a decades long war simply to prevent other 9/11s would strike most Americans as disproportionate and foolish, given that 9/11 was perpetrated by a mere nineteen hijackers, all of whom were under surveillance by the FBI for a year prior to their war-like act.

I have no idea whether Rice intended to say what she said on Thursday, but in doing so, she has changed the focus of the debate regarding the Iraq invasion. No longer is it a matter of "the best intelligence we had at the time" versus "the best cooked intelligence we could come up with". It is rather a matter that can be discussed and debated, and that is a good thing.

If Rice, by the way, intends to run for president in 2008, either from a vice presidential chair or from the Secretary's office, she may have a difficult time running on "remake the Middle East with American blood and money" platform.


A Small Victory: Prosecuting Bush in Canada for Torture

from Counterpunch:

by Justine Davidson

On Monday, October 17th Gail Davidson and Howard Rubin along with Jason Gratl and Micheal Vonn representing B.C. Civil Liberties stepped into courtroom 55 of the BC Supreme Court in Vancouver with the hopes of lifting the publication ban which, since December of 2004 August, has kept the case out of the public eye. After a relatively short session of 45 minutes they emerged successful. "I don't know that I would call it a victory quite yet," said Ms. Davidson, "but it is at least a step in the right direction. People deserve to know what is happening here."
What is happening is that Ms. Davidson and Lawyers Against the War have laid charges against George Bush Jr; accusing him of aiding, abetting, and counseling the commission of torture. This charge is based on the abuses of the prisoners held at the U.S. prisons in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba and Abu-Ghraib, Iraq including Canadian minor Omar Khadr, who has been held in Cuba since 2001.

"Many Canadians don't realize that we have not only the right but the responsibility to pursue these charges, it is a responsibility that the Canadian government owes not only to the people of Canada, but to the people of the world. The 1987 Convention Against Torture [And Other Cruel, Inhuman Or Degrading Treatment Or Punishment] binds us to this action." Canada ratified the UN Convention on Torture along with 139 other nations; promising to protect the inalienable right of all the world's citizens to live a life free of torture.

Torture is a unique crime in that it is an act of the state, carried out for the purpose of punishment, extracting information from or compelling the cooperation of its victims. It comes in many forms; starvation, degradation, and most horribly, extreme physical abuses, the likes of which most of us living in the safety of Canada cannot imagine.

Prisoners are regularly subjected to extreme temperatures without clothing or any other form of protection, they are chained by their wrists and ankles to a bolt in the floor for periods as long as 24 hours; they are routinely terrorized by armed guards and vicious dogs, threatened with humiliation, rape, and death. These are not outlandish or hysterical claims. They are facts supported by a terrible wealth of visual, audio and testimonial evidence. Ms. Davidson has compiled a presentation of photographs which is gut-wrenching to watch. "Most people can't sit through the whole thing," she reports, "it goes against our humanity to see these kinds of acts. Anyone with any sense of right and wrong knows immediately that this is wrong. Deeply and inexcusably wrong." Perhaps the most awful aspect of these images is the smiling U.S. soldiers who proudly pose atop piles of naked and battered prisoners. The victims are often forced into sexual and submissive positions to make for a "better" photo. The fact that these acts are sanctioned by the nation which claims to be the leader of the free world is almost unbelievable.

Ms. Davidson returns to court on the 25th of November, ironically she is arguing against Crown Counsel, legal representative of the very government which promised to oppose torture wherever and whenever it occurs. "It's frustrating," she says, "but I believe that the citizens of Canada and the world will support what we are trying to do, and will voice their outrage. We want people to know and participate in what we are doing."

Gag Order Lifted On Canadian Torture Charges Against Bush

October 18th 2005
­ Vancouver B.C.

Lawyers Against the War (LAW) has achieved what it is calling a "very important victory" in its battle to have George W. Bush face criminal charges in Canada for torture.

The charges stem from the notorious cases of torture carried out by U.S. forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, first exposed in a series of gruesome private photos that scandalized the world in early 2004. Torture charges were laid against Bush on the occasion of his controversial visit to Canada in November of that year.

The charges were laid under sections of the Canadian Criminal Code enacted pursuant to the United Nations Torture Convention, which requires extra-territorial jurisdiction to be exercised against officials, even Heads of State, who authorize or oversee torture.

On Monday, the Supreme Court of British Columbia quashed an order banning publication of everything having to do with the case. In a secret hearing held December 6th 2004 in Provincial Court, the charges against Bush were rejected on the basis of arguments by the Attorney General of British Columbia that the visiting president was shielded from prosecution by diplomatic immunity. The ban on publication of anything to do with the proceedings was imposed at the same time.

The secrecy, the immunity claim and the ban were vigorously opposed by LAW, who appealed all aspects of the decision.

On Monday, Justice Deborah Satanove of the Supreme Court of British Columbia quashed the publication ban after government lawyers failed to come up with any argument to defend it. The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association had intervened on the side of LAW against the ban.

"This is a very important victory", said Vancouver lawyer Gail Davidson, who laid the charges for LAW, "because it ensures that the proceedings will be scrutinized by people in Canada and throughout the world, to make sure that the law is applied fairly and properly and, above all, to make sure that Bush doesn't get away with torture."

"The American legal system seems incapable of bringing him to justice and there are no international courts with jurisdiction. So it's up to Canada to enforce the law that everybody has signed on to but nobody else seems willing to apply."

The next hearing in the case will take place on November 25th 2005, at 10:00 a.m. at the B.C. Supreme Court, 800 Smithe Street, Vancouver, B.C., when government lawyers have said they will argue that the issue is now "moot" because the Attorney General of Canada has not yet consented to the prosecution. Toronto law professor Michael Mandel, co-chair of LAW, calls this argument "bogus": "It's irrelevant to the issues before the court. Anyway it's hard to see how the Attorney General can withhold his consent to simply let justice take its course. Irwin Cotler's credo is supposed to be "Justice, justice shall you pursue" not ingratiation with superpowers who practice torture. Bush is still guilty, he's still on the loose and we still have our obligations under the United Nations Convention to bring torturers to justice."

Lawyers Against the War is an international group of jurists based in Canada with members in fourteen countries.


DeLay's Lawyers Lie, Media Reports it as Fact

from ThinkProgress:

Tom DeLay’s attorney, Dick DeGuerin, claims that the judge presiding over DeLay’s criminal case in Texas, Bob Perkins, should be disqualified. A central part of his claim is that an organization that Perkins has donated to in the past, MoveOn, is selling t-shirts with Tom DeLay’s mug shot:

DEGUERIN: The latest thing on’s website, they are trying to raise money by selling t-shirts with Tom DeLay’s mug shot on the t-shirts. And I just don’t think that it looks right for the judge sitting on Congressman DeLay’s case to have contributed to an organization such as that.

According to MoveOn’s Washington director Tom Mattzie, this claim is false. Mattzie told ThinkProgress this morning that MoveOn has “never sold any t-shirts with Tom DeLay’s mug shot” on their website or otherwise. You can go to their website and see that he’s right.

Nevertheless, the media is already picking it up DeGuerin’s comments as if they were true. From the Associated Press:

The judge, Bob Perkins, has been a contributor to Democratic causes. DeLay’s attorney pointed out Friday that those causes include, which is now selling a T-shirt with DeLay’s picture on it.

Dick DeGuerin wasn’t immediately available for comment. We’ll update you if he gets back to us.

UPDATE: DeGuerin made a similar false statement in the courtroom:

I noticed yesterday, to which you have contributed, was selling T-shirts with Mr. Delay’s mugshot on it to raise money.

And from DailyKos:

The AP and the Mugshot; or, A Case Study in Bad Journalism

Fri Oct 21, 2005 at 11:05:43 AM PDT

There are going to be a lot of diaries on The Case of Tom Delay's Lying Lawyer with respect to the non-existent Delay mugshot t-shirts, but I thought a quick look at the Associated Press's approach to reporting on this was worth a diary.

CNN has the AP's story here, in which the AP reports about the courtroom theatrics revolving around defense lawyer Dick DeGuerin's claim that Judge Bob Perkins should be removed from the case because Perkins gave money to, which in turn is selling Delay mugshot t-shirts.

Now, let's skip past the substantive question of whether, assuming this is true, such funding should disqualify the judge. Let's go straight to the lie.

As pointed out elsewhere, this is false. Very very false. As in, not true.

So false, no longer worth discussing.

So, what does the AP do to us? Let's look at how they frame it.

One side of the story:

In respectful tones, DeGuerin noted that Perkins had donated money to, a liberal organization that he said has been "selling T-shirts with Mr. DeLay's mug shot on it."

The other side of the story: denied it was selling any such shirts, and issued a statement that said, "DeGuerin has either bad information or lied in court."


I guess the question on everyone's lips is...


Do we get an answer?

Of course not!


And so, we have the state of modern journalism. There are two sides to every story, each side is entitled to equal air time, the "truth" is subjective and therefore not pointed out by the press, fact-checking would only serve to bias the story against one side (a.k.a. the liars) and the American people will just have to stumble around, hearing two sides to one truth until the truth dies a nice, quiet death.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


From ThinkProgress - The No Spine Zone

A screen shot from O’Reilly’s appearance on the Today Show this morning:

This image has not been altered. It’s not clear whether the caption is an error or a sudden decision by NBC to raise their standards of accuracy.


Former REPUBLICAN House Majority Leader Tom DeLay Arrested!

Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay dodged reporters and photographers awaiting his arrest in Fort Bend County today to surrender to Harris County sheriff's deputies on conspiracy and money laundering charges.

DeLay, accompanied by lawyer Dick DeGuerin, arrived shortly after noon at a Harris County Sheriff's Department facility at 49 San Jacinto, said sheriff's Lt. John Martin.

The Sugar Land Republican was fingerprinted, photographed, taken before a judge, posted $10,000 bail and left shortly before 1 p.m. His lawyer told reporters DeLay was put through the process because of a political vendetta by Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, the Democrat who brought the case.

"Now Ronnie Earle has the mugshot he wanted,'' DeGuerin said.

"I wanted to avoid the circus,'' DeGuerin added. "He wanted a perp walk, and we did not want to do it.''

DeGuerin said the Harris County site was selected in part because his own offices are based in downtown Houston. But the surrender in Harris County allowed DeLay to avoid news media coverage. Journalists had been staking out the Fort Bend County sheriff's office since Wednesday.

Although the indictment was issued in Travis County and DeLay's home county is Fort Bend, Martin said state law allows defendants to surrender in any county, and DeLay received no special treatment.

Fort Bend County Sheriff Milton Wright said DeGuerin had asked Wednesday if DeLay could come in and out of the sheriff's office unnoticed.

Wright said he told DeGuerin that even if DeLay could come in through a back door to avoid the media, "he would have had to come out the front."

Since the first day DeLay was indicted by a Travis County grand jury last month, his attorneys had been trying to avoid a public spectacle of him being arrested.

But Travis County prosecutors had played legal hardball Wednesday by having an arrest warrant issued for DeLay. DeGuerin said it was retaliation for their accusations of prosecutor misconduct.

The capias warrant by state District Judge Bob Perkins normally would have been a routine procedure in Texas after a person has been indicted on a felony. It requires that the defendant be arrested and have fingerprints and a mug-shot taken.

When DeLay was first indicted Sept. 28, his lawyers convinced Earle to have District Judge Mike Lynch issue a summons, which would have legally allowed DeLay to avoid booking.

Earle on Wednesday said he decided against asking for a summons for DeLay on a second set of indictments that was returned Oct. 3.

"We believe Congressman Delay should be treated like everyone else," Earle said.

Deguerin said the arrest warrant was issued because the defense team for DeLay and co-defendants Jim Ellis and John Colyandro have spent the last two weeks filing briefs claiming prosecutor misconduct by Earle.

"It's retaliation plain and simple," DeGuerin said. "He's retaliating because we haven't given him any quarter."

DeGuerin has raised questions about the Sept. 28 indictments, which alleged DeLay conspired to violate state election laws by using corporate money to help Republican candidates for the Texas House in 2002. DeGuerin claims the conspiracy statute did not apply to the election law until 2003.

After that came up, Earle took money laundering charges to one grand jury on Sept. 30, but it declined to indict DeLay. Earle then took the case on Oct. 3 to a third grand jury, which indicted DeLay on conspiracy and money laundering charges.

DeLay is accused of involvement with $190,000 in corporate money that was sent from a Texas committee to the Republican National Committee.

The indictment alleges that money was exchanged illegally for money that could be legally donated to seven candidates for the Texas House.

The Associated Press and Houston Chronicle reporter Samantha Levine contributed to this story from Washington, D.C..


U.S. forces have started fighting Syrians at Iraq's border. Can anybody say 'Cambodia'?

by Dan Simpson

Wednesday, October 19, 2005 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

As I suspected six months ago, U.S. military and Bush administration civilian officials confirmed last week that U.S. forces have invaded Syria and engaged in combat with Syrian forces.

An unknown number of Syrians are acknowledged to have been killed; the number of Americans -- if any -- who have died in Syria so far has not yet been revealed by the U.S. sources, who by the way insist on remaining faceless and nameless.

The parallel with the Vietnam War, where a Nixon administration deeply involved in a losing war expanded the conflict -- fruitlessly in the event -- to neighboring Cambodia, is obvious. The end result was not changed in Vietnam; Cambodia itself was plunged into dangerous chaos, which climaxed in the killing fields, where an estimated 1 million Cambodians died as a result of internal conflict.

On the U.S. side, no declaration of war preceded the invasion of Syria, in spite of the requirements of the War Powers Act of 1973. There is no indication that the Congress was involved in the decision to go in. If members were briefed, none of them have chosen to share that important information with the American people. Presumably, the Bush administration's intention is simply to add any casualties of the Syrian conflict to those of the war in Iraq, which now stand at more than 1,970. The financial cost of expanding the war to Syria would also presumably be added to the cost of the Iraq war, now estimated at $201 billion.

The Bush administration would claim that it is expanding the war in Iraq into Syria to try to bring it to an end, the kind of screwy non-logic that kept us in Vietnam for a decade and cost 58,193 American lives in the end.

Others would see the attacks in Syria as a desperation political move on the part of an administration with its back against the wall, with a failed war, an economy plagued by inflation --1.2 percent in September, a 14.4 percent annual rate if it continues -- the weak response to Hurricane Katrina, grand jury and other investigatory attention to senior executive and legislative officials, and the bird flu flapping its wings toward us on the horizon. The idea, I suppose, is to distract us by an attack on Syria, now specifically targeted by U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad.

There is some question as to how America's military leadership feels about fighting Syria too, given its already heavy commitment in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. At least some U.S. military officials must wish that President Bush and his associates would move away from his administration's "Johnny One Note," hand-it-to-the-military approach to its problems, now to include Hurricane Katrina-type disaster relief and the newest possible duty, dealing with a bird flu epidemic.

And then there is the tired old United Nations. An invasion by one sovereign member, the United States, of the territory of another sovereign member (Syria), requires U.N. Security Council action.

What of the regional impact in the Middle East? Some observers have argued that destabilizing Syria, creating chaos there, even bringing about regime change away from the current government of President Bashar Assad, is somehow to improve Israel's security posture in the region. The argument runs that Saddam Hussein's Iraq was the biggest regional threat to Israel; Bashar Assad's Syria is second. The United States got rid of Saddam; now it should get rid of the Assad regime in Damascus.

The trouble with that argument, whether it is made by Americans or Israelis, is that, in practice, it depends on the validity of the premise that chaos and civil war -- the disintegration of the state -- in Iraq and Syria are better for Israel in terms of long-term security than the perpetuation of stable, albeit nominally hostile regimes.

The evidence of what has happened in Iraq since the U.S. invasion in early 2003 is to the contrary. Could anyone argue that Israel is made safer by a burning conflict in Iraq that has now attracted Islamic extremist fighters from across the Middle East, Europe and Asia? Saddam Hussein's regime was bad, but this is a good deal worse, and looks endless.

Is there any advantage at all to the United States, or to Israel, in replicating Iraq in Syria?

For that is what is at stake. Syria in its political, ethnic and religious structure is very similar to Iraq. Iraq, prior to the U.S. bust-up, was ruled by a Sunni minority, with a Shiite majority and Kurdish and Christian minorities. Syria is ruled by an Alawite minority, with a Sunni majority and Kurdish and Christian minorities.

That is the structure, not unlike many states in the Middle East, that the Bush administration, by word and now by deed, in the form of U.S. forces fighting in Syria, is in the process of hacking away at.

It seems utterly crazy to me. One could say, "Interesting theory; let's play it out," if it weren't for the American men and women, not to mention the Iraqis and now Syrians, dying in pursuit of that policy.

What needs to be done now is for the Congress, and through them, the American people, and the United Nations and America's allies, the ones who are left, to have the opportunity to express their thoughts on America's expanding the Iraq war to Syria. A decision to invade Syria is not a decision for Mr. Bush, heading a beleaguered administration, to make for us on his own.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


DeLay's Arrest Warrant


Cheney "cabal" hijacked foreign policy

from Financial Times:

By Edward Alden in Washington
Published: October 20 2005 00:00 | Last updated: October 20 2005 00:19

Vice-President Dick Cheney and a handful of others had hijacked the government's foreign policy apparatus, deciding in secret to carry out policies that had left the US weaker and more isolated in the world, the top aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell claimed on Wednesday.

In a scathing attack on the record of President George W. Bush, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Mr Powell until last January, said: “What I saw was a cabal between the vice-president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made.

“Now it is paying the consequences of making those decisions in secret, but far more telling to me is America is paying the consequences.”

Mr Wilkerson said such secret decision-making was responsible for mistakes such as the long refusal to engage with North Korea or to back European efforts on Iran.

It also resulted in bitter battles in the administration among those excluded from the decisions.

“If you're not prepared to stop the feuding elements in the bureaucracy as they carry out your decisions, you are courting disaster. And I would say that we have courted disaster in Iraq, in North Korea, in Iran.”

The comments, made at the New America Foundation, a Washington think-tank, were the harshest attack on the administration by a former senior official since criticisms by Richard Clarke, former White House terrorism czar, and Paul O'Neill, former Treasury secretary, early last year.

Mr Wilkerson said his decision to go public had led to a personal falling out with Mr Powell, whom he served for 16 years at the Pentagon and the State Department.

“He's not happy with my speaking out because, and I admire this in him, he is the world's most loyal soldier."

Among his other charges:

■ The detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere was “a concrete example” of the decision-making problem, with the president and other top officials in effect giving the green light to soldiers to abuse detainees. “You don't have this kind of pervasive attitude out there unless you've condoned it.”

■ Condoleezza Rice, the former national security adviser and now secretary of state, was “part of the problem”. Instead of ensuring that Mr Bush received the best possible advice, “she would side with the president to build her intimacy with the president”.

■ The military, particularly the army and marine corps, is overstretched and demoralised. Officers, Mr Wilkerson claimed, “start voting with their feet, as they did in Vietnam. . . and all of a sudden your military begins to unravel”.

Mr Wilkerson said former president George H.W. Bush “one of the finest presidents we have ever had” understood how to make foreign policy work. In contrast, he said, his son was “not versed in international relations and not too much interested in them either”.

“There's a vast difference between the way George H.W. Bush dealt with major challenges, some of the greatest challenges at the end of the 20th century, and effected positive results in my view, and the way we conduct diplomacy today.”


Judith Miller was a "Charter Member of The White House Iraq Group" (WHIG)

Prez Iraq Team Fought to Squelch War Critics
By James Gordon Meek and Kenneth R. Bazinet
Daily News Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - It was called the White House Iraq Group and its job was to make the case that Saddam Hussein had nuclear and biochemical weapons.

So determined was the ring of top officials to win its argument that it morphed into a virtual hit squad that took aim at critics who questioned its claims, sources told the Daily News.

One of those critics was ex-Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who debunked a key claim in a speech by President Bush that Iraq sought nuclear materials in Africa. His punishment was the media outing of his wife, CIA spy Valerie Plame, an affair that became a "side show" for the White House Iraq Group, the sources said.

The Plame leak is now the subject of a criminal probe that has seen presidential political guru Karl Rove and Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis (Scooter) Libby, hauled before a grand jury.

Both men were members of the group, also known as WHIG. From late 2002 through mid 2003, it was locked in a feud with officials inside the CIA and State Department over claims Saddam tried to buy "yellow cake" uranium in Niger to build nukes, a former Bush administration and intelligence sources told The News.

"There were a number of occasions when White House officials or Vice President [Cheney's] staffers, or others, wanted to push the envelope on things," an ex-intelligence official said. "The agency would say, 'We just don't have the intelligence to substantiate that.'" When Wilson was sent by his wife to Africa to research the claims, he showed the documents claiming Saddam tried to buy the uranium were forgeries.

"People in the Iraq group then got very frustrated. It was a side show," said a source familiar with WHIG.

Besides Rove and Libby, the group included senior White House aides Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin, James Wilkinson, Nicholas Calio, Condoleezza Rice and Stephen Hadley. WHIG also was doing more than just public relations, said a second former intel officer.

"They were funneling information to [New York Times reporter] Judy Miller. Judy was a charter member," the source said.


Did Bush lie to Fitzgerald?

tip to AmericaBlog:

from The Anonymous Liberal:

A new article in the New York Daily News lays out an entirely different version of what the President knew about the Plame leak and when he knew it.

An angry President Bush rebuked chief
political guru Karl Rove two years ago for
his role in the Valerie Plame affair, sources
told the Daily News.

"He made his displeasure known to Karl," a
presidential counselor told The News. "He
made his life miserable about this."
The article goes on to say:

Other sources confirmed . . . that Bush was
initially furious with Rove in 2003 when his
deputy chief of staff conceded he had talked
to the press about the Plame leak.
And finally:

A second well-placed source said some recently
published reports implying Rove had deceived
Bush about his involvement in the Wilson
counterattack were incorrect and were leaked
by White House aides trying to protect the

"Bush did not feel misled so much by Karl and
others as believing that they handled it in a
ham-handed and bush-league way," the
source said.
(sidenote: do you think that, many years from now, people will mistakenly think that the term "bush-league" is actually a reference to the world-class incompetence of this particular administration?)

Anyway, it's clear that the "Rove misled the President" talking point is no longer operative. That may have just been a trial balloon. The new story is that Rove came clean and was privately admonished by the President in 2003. This new story raises some interesting questions, though.

First, as Rep. John Conyers points out at the Huffington Post, this new story doesn't explain why President Bush said in June 2004 that he would fire anyone found to be involved in the leak. And if Rove came clean in 2003, was that before or after Scott McClellan told the press that he was "not involved" in the leak?

More importantly, if this story is true, particularly the part about this disclosure taking place in 2003, there is a potentially far more serious problem. Let's go back to Murray Waas' Oct. 7 article in the National Journal, which was one of three articles that leaked the "Rove misled Bush" story. Waas wrote:

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove
personally assured President Bush in the early
fall of 2003 that he had not disclosed to anyone
in the press that Valerie Plame, the wife of an
administration critic, was a CIA employee,
according to legal sources with firsthand
knowledge of the accounts that both Rove and
Bush independently provided to federal
prosecutors . . .

In his own interview with prosecutors on
June 24, 2004, Bush testified that Rove
assured him he had not disclosed Plame as a
CIA employee and had said nothing to the
press to discredit Wilson, according to sources
familiar with the president's interview.
So if this new story is true--Rove "came clean" to Bush in 2003--and Waas is also right, doesn't that mean that Bush lied to Fitzgerald in June 2004?

Moreover, it has previously been reported that Rove failed to mention his conversation with Cooper in either his initial FBI interview or his first grand jury appearance. Only after finding his email to Hadley did Rove come forward and correct his prior testimony. Now, the conventional wisdom is that this email was discovered in 2004, after Fitzgerald took over the case and issued subpoenas. If that's true, then the fact that Rove "came clean" to the President back in 2003 (presumably before the email was discovered) does not look good for Rove. It could mean that Rove made no effort to correct testimony he knew to be misleading until the discovery of the Hadley email forced his hand.

Given all these questions and potential inconsistencies, I expect we'll see a third, clarifying version of Bush's story emerge in coming days.


Texas Court Issues Warrant for DeLay

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- A state court issued an arrest warrant on Wednesday for Rep. Tom DeLay, requiring him to appear in Texas for booking on state conspiracy and money laundering charges.

The court set an initial $10,000 bail as a routine step before the Texas Republican's first court appearance Friday.

DeLay, R-Texas, could be fingerprinted and photographed, although his lawyers had hoped to avoid this step. DeLay probably will surrender in his home county of Fort Bend, near Houston, but he could go to any law enforcement office in Texas. His court appearance will be in Austin.

The warrant, known as a capias, is "a matter of routine and bond will be posted," said DeLay's lawyer, Dick DeGuerin.

DeLay has stepped down as U.S. House majority leader - at least temporarily - under a Republican rule requiring him to relinquish the post if charged with a felony.

Two grand juries have charged DeLay and two political associates in an alleged scheme to violate state election law, by funneling corporate donations to candidates for the Texas Legislature. State law prohibits use of corporate donations to finance state campaigns, although the money can be used for administrative expenses.

The indictments charge that a DeLay-founded Texas political committee sent corporate donations to the Republican National Committee in Washington, and the national party sent funds back to the state for 2002 campaigns.

DeLay has denied wrongdoing and accused Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle - a Democrat - of having partisan motives. Earle has denied the accusation.

Earle did not ask for the arrest warrant for DeLay, but approved the court's request, his office said Wednesday.

DeLay's Republican fund-raising in 2002 had major political consequences, allowing the GOP to take control of the Texas Legislature. The Legislature then redrew congressional boundaries according to a DeLay-inspired plan, took command of the state's U.S. House delegation and helped the GOP retain its House majority.


Bush knew Rove was the leaker in 2003. Lied in 2004 when he said he didn't know who leaked - Obstruction of Justice.

from John at Americablog:

As a follow-on to Joe's post below, that article is a bombshell. And here's why:

From the NY Daily News:
Other sources confirmed, however, that Bush was initially furious with Rove in 2003 when his deputy chief of staff conceded he had talked to the press about the Plame leak....

A second well-placed source said some recently published reports implying Rove had deceived Bush about his involvement in the Wilson counterattack were incorrect and were leaked by White House aides trying to protect the President.

"Bush did not feel misled so much by Karl and others as believing that they handled it in a ham-handed and bush-league way," the source said.

1. We just had a two year investigation costing a ton of taxpayer money to find out something that the president knew all along?

2. Bush has kept Rove on staff even though HE KNEW Rove was the leaker.

3. It was June 10 of 2004 that Bush said he'd fire anyone involved in the leak. This was AFTER he already knew that Karl was the leaker, Bush knew that in 2003. So Bush lied when he told the public in June of 2004 that he would fire the leaker because he already knew who the leaker was, and clearly hadn't fire him.

From the White House's own Web site:
Q Given -- given recent developments in the CIA leak case, particularly Vice President Cheney's discussions with the investigators, do you still stand by what you said several months ago, a suggestion that it might be difficult to identify anybody who leaked the agent's name?

THE PRESIDENT: That's up to --

Q And, and, do you stand by your pledge to fire anyone found to have done so?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. And that's up to the U.S. Attorney to find the facts.
4. Bush's comments border on obstruction of justice. He went public and made clear that he didn't know who the leaker was - he said he'd fire anyone found to have been involved, he hadn't yet fired Karl, so clearly he was saying that he had no evidence that Karl was involved. Bush was trying to cover up the fact that Karl was the guy. That's obstruction.

Now that we know that Bush knew Karl was the leaker in 2003, I want folks to scour the Web for any White House comments, from Bush, McClellan, Mehlman, anybody from 2004 until today who says that we don't have all the facts, that Karl is innocent, etc. Remember, the quotes must be dated 2004 or 2005. This is obstruction of justice territory - let's prove that they intentionally misled the public when they already knew that Karl was the leaker.



This week's Obfuscation Report Heinous Bitch Award goes to Judith Miller, New York Times reporter.

Most of you know Miss Miller by now, she's the "reporter" who wrote stories about Iraq's Weapons of Mass Distruction that turned out to be bigger fabrications than Jayson Blair, the other NYT reporter who at least had the decency to admit he made up his stories.

Some of you may not know that Miller's other stories were equally false, such as everything she ever wrote about the UN Oil for Food "Scandal" that turned out to be not such a scandal after all.

In fact, a careful examination of Miss Miller's "reporting" reveals that she is nothing more than a paid shill for the Bush Administration. The only difference between her and Armstrong Williams is that Armstrong was paid in cash and Miller was paid in "access." This allowed her to get special security clearances while imbedded with troops in Iraq. This kind of reporting is usually called Public Relations, but in this case Miller pretended to be an actual "reporter." You know, Miss Miller, you keep using that word, I don't think it means what you think it means.

This unprecedented shilling for the Bushie's is what landed Judith Miller in Jail for 85 days. Although the common spin these days seems to be that Miller was "protecting her sources" it turned out that Miller's source Scooter Libby, claimed she had his permission to speak to the special prosecuter 1 year before she went to jail.

So why, if her source didn't want her to protect him, did Judith Miller go to jail? She went to jail so that she could sell a book and get more attention for herself. It's plain and simple. I haven't seen this kind of pathetic "oh please pay attention to me!" kind of grandstanding since Anne Coulter. (On a side note I have to apologize to Anne because normally she gets our weekly Heinous Bitch Award, every week, but this week Judy blew her fake blond head right out of the water.)

In fact the only thing that comes close to that pathetic exuse for a reporter Judith Miller is the fact that a group of journalists this week gave her a First Amendment Award. Are you fucking kidding me? A First Amendment Award for a reporter who used confidential sources to push a fake scandal at the UN, a fake threat to the U.S. in Iraq's WMD program, and then hid behind her "confidential" source to go to jail when the Confidential source didn't even want her to, and in the end became a tool used by a corrupt administration to silence a critic of that administration by outing an undercover CIA agent?

Her principles that supposedly landed her in jail weren't to protect a whistleblower, someone who needs protecting, it was to protect a mudslinger. The worst kind of government official who uses his confidentiality to spread lies and misinformation, and in this case used it to put a CIA agent and all her contacts lives in danger, in fact an act that may be treason.

And she supposedly did all of this in the name of the public's right to know? What about our right to know how corrupt our government is? Isn't that the most important part of the first amendment in a democracy? Aren't reporters supposed to challenge government officials? I don't give a fuck if they are democrats or republicans, journalists are supposed to pursue truth for the the public good. What truth did Judith Fucking Miller expose? Everthing she peddled was a lie. The people she protected were scumbags.

This is the kind of person you give a First Amendment Award to? I say again, you've got to be fucking kidding me.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Bill O'Reilly - "I just wish they'd stop the viciousness"

Bill - You are an idiot.

But how many enemies can any one man have? O'Reilly calls the ongoing battles "tremendously wearing and debilitating," adding, "I don't need the approval of the press, but I just wish they'd stop the viciousness. It's reached a level of almost comical proportions and it does affect people around me and they do get upset. I keep it from them as much as possible, but there are some very, very bad people out there and we're dealing with those people."


Cheney aide cooperating with CIA outing probe, sources say

from RawStory:

Larisa Alexandrovna and Jason Leopold

A senior aide to Vice President Dick Cheney is cooperating with special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson, sources close to the investigation say.

Individuals familiar with Fitzgerald’s case tell RAW STORY that John Hannah, a senior national security aide on loan to Vice President Dick Cheney from the offices of then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, John Bolton, was named as a target of Fitzgerald’s probe. They say he was told in recent weeks that he could face imminent indictment for his role in leaking Plame-Wilson’s name to reporters unless he cooperated with the investigation.

Others close to the probe say that if Hannah is cooperating with the special prosecutor then he was likely going to be charged as a co-conspirator and may have cut a deal.

Hannah did not return two calls and several emails to his White House address seeking comment.

Fitzgerald is investigating whether officials in the Bush Administration illegally outed a CIA agent to get back at her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who was a critic of the Administration’s faulty intelligence and lead-up to war.

In a July 2003 editorial, Wilson wrote that the Bush administration “twisted” pre-Iraq war intelligence in order to win public support for the Iraq conflict.

Specifically, Wilson called into question the veracity of President Bush’s claim in his January 2003 State of the Union address that Iraq tried to purchase yellow-cake uranium from Africa. Wilson had been sent on a fact-finding mission to Niger a year before and reported that those allegations were unfounded. Bush administration officials said Wilson’s trip was a boondoggle, and was set up by his wife who worked at the CIA on weapons of mass destruction.

Those close to the investigation said in June 2003, Hannah was given orders by higher-ups in Cheney’s office to leak Plame’s covert status and identity in an attempt to muzzle Wilson, who had been a thorn in the side of the administration since May 2003, when he started questioning the administration’s claims that Iraq was an imminent threat to the U.S. and its neighbors in the Middle East. The specifics of who issued those orders and what directives were given were not provided.

Hannah had been fingered by Wilson

To many following the case, Hannah’s involvement will not come as a surprise. Wilson pointed to Hannah as a possible leaker in his book, The Politics of Truth.

“In fact, senior advisers close to the president may well have been clever enough to have used others to do the actual leaking, in order to keep their fingerprints off the crime,” Wilson writes.

“John Hannah and David Wurmser, mid-level political appointees in the vice-president’s office, have both been suggested as sources of the leak …Mid-level officials, however, do not leak information without the authority from a higher level,” Wilson notes.

The revelation that Hannah has become a prosecution witness strongly suggests that Fitzgerald is now looking into the motive for outing Plame and how Wilson’s complaints threatened to destroy public support for the war, which the Bush administration worked diligently to win.

Fitzgerald may be looking at a broader conspiracy case of pre-war machinations by the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) and by the Pentagon’s ultra-secret Office of Net Assessment, the former operating out of Dick Cheney’s office and tasked with “selling” the war in Iraq, and the latter operating out of Defense Under Secretary for Policy, Douglas Feith’s office and tasked with creating a war to “sell,” as some describe.

To spread its message that Saddam Hussein was a nuclear threat, the White House Iraq Group relied heavily on New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who, after meeting with several of the organization’s members in August 2002, wrote an explosive story that many critics of the war believe laid the groundwork for military action against Iraq.

On Sunday, Sept. 8, 2002, for example, Miller wrote a story for the Times quoting anonymous officials who said aluminum tubes found in Iraq were to be used as centrifuges. Her report turned out to be wrong.

Hannah under investigation for role with Chalabi group

Hannah is currently under investigation by U.S. authorities for his alleged activities in an intelligence program run by the controversial Iraqi National Congress (INC) and its leader, Ahmed Chalabi.

According to a Newsweek article, a memo written for the Iraq National Congress (INC) raised questions regarding Cheney’s role in the build up to the war in Iraq. During the lead up to the war, Newsweek asserts, the INC was providing intelligence on the now discredited Iraqi WMD program through Hannah and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Cheney’s chief of staff.

“A June 2002 memo written by INC lobbyist Entifadh Qunbar to a U.S. Senate committee lists John Hannah, a senior national-security aide on Cheney’s staff, as one of two ‘U.S. governmental recipients’ for reports generated by an intelligence program being run by the INC and which was then being funded by the State Department. Under the program, ‘defectors, reports and raw intelligence are cultivated and analyzed’; the info was then reported to, among others, ‘appropriate governmental, non-governmental and international agencies.’ The memo not only describes Cheney aide Hannah as a “principal point of contact” for the program, it even provides his direct White House telephone number.”

“…Hannah and Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, were the two Cheney employees,’ We believe that Hannah was the major player in this,’ one federal law-enforcement officer told the magazine.

According to the Washington Post, Libby discussed Wilson's wife with at least two reporters before her identity became public.


White House Watch: Cheney resignation rumors fly

Posted 10/18/05
By Paul Bedard

Sparked by today's Washington Post story that suggests Vice President Cheney's office is involved in the Plame-CIA spy link investigation, government officials and advisers passed around rumors that the vice president might step aside and that President Bush would elevate Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"It's certainly an interesting but I still think highly doubtful scenario," said a Bush insider. "And if that should happen," added the official, "there will undoubtedly be those who believe the whole thing was orchestrated – another brilliant Machiavellian move by the VP."

Said another Bush associate of the rumor, "Yes. This is not good." The rumor spread so fast that some Republicans by late morning were already drawing up reasons why Rice couldn't get the job or run for president in 2008.

"Isn't she pro-choice?" asked a key Senate Republican aide. Many White House insiders, however, said the Post story and reports that the investigation was coming to a close had officials instead more focused on who would be dragged into the affair and if top aides would be indicted and forced to resign.

"Folks on the inside and near inside are holding their breath and wondering what's next," said a Bush adviser. But, he added, they aren't focused on the future of the vice president. "Not that, at least not seriously," he said.




Miller Receives SPJ Award, Gets Standing Ovation in Vegas

By KEN RITTER, Associated Press Writer

Published: October 18, 2005 1:54 PM ET
LAS VEGAS (AP) New York Times reporter Judith Miller defended her decision to go to jail to protect a source and told a journalism conference Tuesday that reporters need a federal shield law so that others won't face the same sanctions.

Miller was jailed 85 days for refusing to reveal the source who disclosed the identity of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame.

"Ultimately we protect sources so people will come forth -- so people will know," she told the national conference of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Miller received a standing ovation from more than half the crowd of about 350 journalists when she was presented with the group's First Amendment Award.

During a 12-minute speech, Miller defended her reporting and her decision to go to jail, saying she "could not risk a fishing expedition into all my intelligence sources."

"It is the freedom of people to talk to the press without getting in trouble, it is that right that's under assault today," she said.

Later, Miller was to take part in a panel discussion about whether reporters should be legally shielded from revealing confidential sources. The First Amendment does not protect reporters from grand jury subpoenas, the Supreme Court has ruled.

On Wednesday, Miller is due to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on behalf of a federal shield law, said Bruce Sanford, a First Amendment lawyer and consul for SPJ.

Miller became a focus of the discussion about shield laws while fighting a special prosecutor's attempts to compel her to tell a grand jury how the name of Plame was made public in July 2003.

Plame's name was exposed eight days after Plame's husband, Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson, published an opinion article in the Times saying the administration had manipulated prewar intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs to justify going to war.

Miller, 57, never wrote a story about Plame, but was jailed for contempt of court for refusing to testify about her confidential sources.

She was released Sept. 29 after saying Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, had released her from her obligation to keep his name secret.

Miller said in her speech she did not feel comfortable that she had been released from her pledge of confidentiality until she heard from Libby personally.

Miller has since testified twice before the grand jury and said in a first-person account in the Times last the weekend that in June and July of 2003 she discussed Wilson with Libby.

However, Miller said she could not remember who told her the name she wrote in her notebook as "Valerie Flame."

SPJ President Irwin Gratz, a radio producer for Maine Public Broadcasting in Portland, said 22 members of the society's board ratified the First Amendment Award on Saturday to recognize Miller's refusal to cooperate with prosecutors, her pursuit of the case to the Supreme Court and her willingness to go to jail.

"What she has done is shine a bright light on the need for a federal shield law," Gratz said.

"That's important because confidentiality often is the only way we can find out information that is important to the public," Gratz said.

Gratz said the board was aware there was some criticism of Miller, including her decision to testify before the grand jury as well as the Times' handling of the story.

"There was opportunity to change our mind if we wanted to do that," Gratz said. "We haven't wanted to do that."

Associated Press special correspondent Linda Deutsch, a longtime courts reporter in Los Angeles, also was to receive a First Amendment Award during the convention.

SPJ is an organization with about 9,700 television, radio, print and student members nationwide.


The Scandal of the Century

from Booman:

by lichtman
Mon Oct 17th, 2005 at 07:00:14 PM EDT

Unlike the response to Hurricane Katrina, the first great scandal of the century remains mostly unknown. This was the disenfranchisement of more than 50,000 African-American voters in Florida's 2000 presidential election. These were not potential votes struck from the rolls as felons or prevented from reaching the polls. These were voters who actually turned up at the polls and fully expected their ballots to be counted in the election.

George W. Bush will be president of the United States for eight years because the votes counted in
Florida's 2000 election did not come close to matching the ballots cast by the state's voters. The result in Florida was not decided by hanging chads, recounts, or intervention by the Supreme Court. As the analyst for the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights I found that George Bush won Florida and the presidency because officials tossed into the trashcan as invalid one out of every nine to ten ballots cast by African-Americans throughout the state. In some counties, nearly 25 percent of ballots cast by blacks were set aside as invalid. In contrast, officials rejected less than one out of every fifty ballots cast by whites statewide.

Such treatment of a minority group would have raised a worldwide scandal if it happened, for example, to Catholics in Northern Ireland. But because it happened to blacks in the United States, few noticed. Imagine if George Bush had lost in 2000 because one of nine white voters had their ballots disqualified. George Will, Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh would have proclaimed the end of civilization as we know it. Instead, the Right cynically suppressed the truth of Florida's scandal.

But slumbering liberals were no less to blame than militant conservatives for the lack of national attention to an extraordinary injustice to minorities that decided a presidential election. Why no mobilization of protest from the NAACP or the Democratic Party?

If black ballots had been rejected at the same rate as white ballots, more than 50,000 additional black votes would have been counted in Florida's presidential election. Given that more than 90 percent of blacks favored Gore over Bush, Gore would have won Florida by at least 40,000 votes, carried the Electoral College, and become President of the United States. You know the price the country and world has paid for this injustice.

The failure to reckon with what happened to African-American voters in Florida also meant that our country missed a chance five years ago to confront persisting racism and its consequences. Instead, the suppression of the truth about Florida's presidential elections upheld the notion that race no longer matters in America and that discrimination ended long ago in the era of the civil rights movement.

It took the second scandal of Hurricane Katrina, to force George W. Bush and his allies to admit "there is also some deep, persistent poverty in this region," with "roots in a history of racial discrimination." Yet in the weeks since, the president has offered nothing to cope with race, poverty, or anything else that irks America.

Not only in Florida, but across the nation, I have seen first hand the reality of racial discrimination as an expert witness in more than 70 civil rights and redistricting cases. In Texas, for example, I testified against Tom DeLay's redistricting plan that destroyed the voting rights of millions of African-Americans and Hispanics by fragmenting their communities and scattering minority voters within Anglo-dominated Republican districts. Now I am bringing to electoral politics my experience with civil rights and other issues by running as a Democrat for the open US Senate seat in Maryland. Please check out my credentials and ideas on Look for my next diary on a ten point plan to bring full and fair voting to the United States.


Investigative Journalism is Back!

Karl Rove's Garage Proves to be Typical

By DARLENE SUPERVILLE, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - He is "the architect" who steered George W. Bush to victory four times, twice as Texas governor and twice as president.

But can Karl Rove organize his own garage? Can the master of Bush's political planning figure out where to put the ladders, paint cans and cardboard boxes?

Rove's wife, Darby, raised the white garage door one morning last week to show journalists outside the million-dollar brick home that the deputy chief of staff, assistant to the president and senior adviser wasn't home. All the interest came on the eve of his testimony Friday before a grand jury investigating who in the White House might have revealed the identity of a CIA operative.

There was no car in the garage. And the stuff left behind turned out not to be much different from what gathers dust inside most American garages.

The inventory, seen from outside:

_Some cardboard file boxes stacked one on top of the other, labeled "Box 6," "Box 4" and what appears to be "Box 7." No sign of boxes 1, 2, 3 and 5.

_What appear to be paint cans stacked alongside a folded, folding chair.

_A rather large wood crate marked "FRAGILE" and painted with arrows indicating which way is up. On top of the crate, two coolers.

_A tall aluminum ladder.

_A snow shovel leaned in front of another cardboard box.

_Wicker baskets inside of wicker baskets on top of a shelf running the length of the rear wall. Transparent plastic storage bins crammed with indiscernible stuff. Another cardboard box.

_In one corner, the rear wheel of a bicycle sticks out, along with what appears to be a helmet.

_Another ladder, this one green, leaning sideways.

Monday, October 17, 2005




The Criminalization of Politics

from Dailykos:

by Hunter


Party over country. You can hear it in Miller's accountings of her conversations with Libby; you can hear the "crimes aren't crimes if they're done for the sake of politics" meme from pundits like Chris Matthews and William Kristol; you can hear it everywhere in Washington, for that matter. Lying about sex had many of these same pundits foaming and frothing at the outrage of it all; compromising our intelligence assets against weapons of mass destruction, at the very same time the government is warning us to stock up on duct tape and watch out for swarthy bearded types holding glow-in-the-dark suitcases, is considered too shallow a crime to pursue -- if a Republican does it.

There's something beyond mere politics in all of this. Politics, one would hope, is not sufficient reason to damage the country. This is different. This is the cult of power, and of corruption, that is not just defended, but celebrated by pundits, by journalists, and by politicians alike.

The Republican pundit machine wails, and wags their fingers, and is shocked by the investigations, and depositions, and prosecutions, and calls it the "criminalization of politics".

Most of the rest of us call it crime, disguised as politics.

Crime, disguised as politics, and defended by crooks, cowards, and blowhards.

In The Weekly Standard, William "Bill" Kristol and Jeffrey Bell milk the "criminalizing conservatives" talking point like the professional paid blowhards they are. The high point:

Why are conservative Republicans, who control the executive and legislative branches of government for the first time in living memory, so vulnerable to the phenomenon of criminalization? Is it simple payback for the impeachment of Bill Clinton? Or is it a reflection of some deep malady at the heart of American politics? If criminalization is seen to loom ahead for every conservative who begins successfully to act out his or her beliefs in government or politics, is the project of conservative reform sustainable?

We don't pretend to have all the answers, or a solid answer even to one of these questions. But it's a reasonable bet that the fall of 2005 will be remembered as a time when it became clear that a comprehensive strategy of criminalization had been implemented to inflict defeat on conservatives who seek to govern as conservatives. And it is clear that thinking through a response to this challenge is a task conservatives can no longer postpone.

Oh, boo-goddamn-dumbfucking-hoo. I've watched Bill Kristol do his wide-eyed oh-my-goodness "thinking man's Dan Quayle" brand of dumbass punditry for some time, and Kristol long ago got his card stamped for membership in that class of people who think that standard operating procedures during the Clinton years are now outrageous!, simply outrageous! when applied across the aisle, but that the use of classified information for political payback is a perfectly acceptable and common practice because, as Libby so inartfully danced around the edges of in his conversations with Miller, the bitch deserved it.

But Kristol is right. This isn't politics as usual any more. Not for them, and not for us.

Since they don't have the answers, let me help them, since apparently I'm a hell of a lot more tuned in to the political scene than they are.

Is it simple payback for the impeachment of Bill Clinton?

You bet. Deal with it, because we partisans intend to staple every Republican scandal to your furrowed, studiously shocked brows until you can't walk down the streets without re-collating your own foreheads.

Or is it a reflection of some deep malady at the heart of American politics?

Yep, I'd say that's a pretty solid conclusion too. I'd say when the most important Republican figures in the White House, the Senate, the House, and the Republican lobbying machine are all under investigation for separate alleged criminal actions, something is wrong.

If criminalization is seen to loom ahead for every conservative who begins successfully to act out his or her beliefs in government or politics, is the project of conservative reform sustainable?

Apparently not.

Because, apparently, it is absolutely impossible to sustain so-called conservative reform without committing crimes. That's the lesson I've been getting from DeLay, Frist, Abramoff, Franklin, Tobin, Safavian, Rove, Libby, etc, that have state prosecutors, the FBI, the SEC, and/or other federal officials buying new filing cabinets by the truckfull in a futile effort to keep track of it all.

Is that conservatism? Kristol, you want to field that one? These are the heros of your movement?

What's particularly galling is while Kristol and Bell bemoan the criminalization of "conservatives who seek to govern as conservatives", few of the people at the heart of the various Republican scandals represent much in the way of true conservatism at all. Is Abramoff a "conservative", or simply the main driveshaft of a Republican money machine? What about DeLay? Does his deficit-busting, spend-money-like-a-drunken-pirate agenda really square with "conservative" principles, or does "conservative" these days simply mean whatever principles Kristol deems convenient during this particular twenty minute span of time, to be revised as needed by the latest RNC-faxed talking points?

Yeah, Kristol, I said RNC-faxed. The entire "criminalization of politics" meme got horked up onto the conservative stage with the subtlety of a greased-up Arnold Schwarzenegger lovemaking scene. So don't count yourself as clever, just because you can regurgitate the orchestrated RNC position in a begrudging Fox Pundit Book Report, along with everyone else in your class.

These are the Movement Republicans of Fox News, whose talking points are set over their cups of coffee in accordance to whatever the Bush-focused needs of the day prove to be. Deficits are bad, then deficits are good. Espionage against America is bad, except when it's no big deal. States' rights, but never mind. Drugs are bad, except when Rush does it. The Katrina response was fantastic! Iraq is going well! The economy, booming! Cronyism is good!

Blah, blah, blah. Punditry with the predictable pattern and spray of automatic lawn sprinklers. If Iraq has turned into the much-predicted fiasco most observers expected it would, it's because liberals didn't believe hard enough. If the economy is going to hell, it's the fault of the damn American middle class, which needs to collectively get off its quivering, jobless ass and buy a few hundred thousand new cars. And if a Republican commits a crime, it's the Democrats fault for politicizing it.

Honestly, do these people have a bone of responsibility or self-accountability in their thick, Clinton-addled skulls? Is their brand of so-called "conservatism" nothing more than the economic and national security version of Intelligent Design, in which it'll all just work out fine if you draw a picture of Noah carrying everyone's 401K plans onto the Ark?

Whether it be election law, campaign finance law or lobbying restrictions, we see Republicans in legal jeopardy defended primarily by the arguments like Chris Matthews' faux-dismissive "everybody does it" or Bill Kristol's sniffling "how dare you bring these things up". Whether it be government report after government report found to be "cooked" by political cronies who need to sell by deception what actual fact can't support, or government payments to ostensible pundits, or the wholesale manufacture of fake reporters producing fake news segments, there is literally nothing -- nothing -- which a movement Bush loyalist apparently finds ethically questionable, and damn you for finding out about it in the first place.

No. No dice, pundit class. Don't give us vapid, amoral, blastfaxed crap about how horrible it is that everyone-on-the-planet-but-the-involved-Republicans are responsible for a certain collection of viciously partisan figures toeing the fine lines of numerous federal laws, and finally losing their balance on a half-dozen of them.

Is this the best face that the Republican Party can put on? Is this the best defense against scandal after scandal -- to ignore the sentenced, defend the indicted, blame the investigtors, and howl at the injustice of it all?

Honestly, what farce.

Conservatism, whatever it may be, is hopefully not this. You don't have far to look, in the Republican Party, to find true conservatives. I may not like the political stances of a John McCain or an Arlen Specter, but nor do I fear for the nation if they come to lead the Republican party. Men of integrity can disagree on the principles of government; men whose sole moral compass is directed by what they can technically get away with, however, aren't political men. They're just crooks.

But for every politician of questionable honesty, for every staffer under arrest, for every Republican lobbyist caught as bagman, there's a hundred desperate Bill Kristols willing to prostrate themselves and their own morality in exchange for another perceived half an inch towards their own movement's elusive prize: some nebulous faux-conservative utopia that always turns to a deficit-riddled, pork-choked, crony-laden hell within the first years their chosen Republican leaders try to implement it. And then, the political cycle repeats.

No, Movement Republicans are people who not only are willing to overlook advantageous crimes, but celebrate them, if done in service to the party. Successful pundits include Iran-Contra figure Oliver North and convicted Watergate burglar G. Gordon Liddy -- people who, in any movement with the integrity of week-old tuna, would have been drummed out, not hired on as voices of the movement.

So I think we know pretty much all we need to know about the ethics of the modern "conservative" movement, as practiced by Fox News, the Weekly Standard, et al. And with all due deference to the weak constitutions of the "conservative" pundit class, desperately trying to revise their well-worn politics of personal destruction scripts before it bites them in the ass -- I think it's a valid issue.

Kristol says, in closing:

[I]t's a reasonable bet that the fall of 2005 will be remembered as a time when it became clear that a comprehensive strategy of criminalization had been implemented to inflict defeat on conservatives who seek to govern as conservatives. And it is clear that thinking through a response to this challenge is a task conservatives can no longer postpone.

And here we see, again, the tired and boring chin-jutting half-threat that, if all this investigating and arresting and indicting continues, in response to Republican scandals, there will be a Republican "response" or retribution. I don't know, Bill: I think you're going to want to think long and hard about your "response" to the "challenge" of Republicans committing crimes.

Only a jackass of the caliber of a Fox News pundit could write an entire column in response to the scandal after scandal after scandal dogging every significant figure in the Republican leadership, and come to the conclusion that the problem was that Democrats were finding too many scandals and should just shut up.

So, William Kristol, with an honorary mention to Jeffrey Bell who probably wrote a great deal of that drivel but sadly didn't have the clout to get his name in the lede alongside Horking J. Blastfax up there:

Go to hell.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


The Normalization of Treason, the Republicans' gift to America

from John Aravosis at AmericaBlog:

If a senior White House staffer had intentionally outed an American spy during World War II, he'd have been shot.

We're at war, George Bush keeps reminding us. We cannot continue with business as usual. A pre-9/11 mentality is deadly. Putting the lives of our troops at risk is treason.

Then why is the White House and the Republican party engaged in a concerted campaign to make treason acceptable during a time of war? That's exactly what they're doing. On numerous news shows today, Republican surrogates, their talking points ready, issued variations of the following concerning White House chief of staff Karl Rove's outing of a covert CIA agent as part of a political vendetta:

- It's the criminalization of politics
- Is this 'minor' leak really worth all this?
- Political payback is common and should not be criminalized
- Mis-speaking or mis-remembering is not a crime

Yes, the Republicans are now making light of an intentional effort to expose an undercover CIA agent, working on weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, no less, while we are at war in the Middle East on that very issue.

The GOP has become the party of treason.

It would be one thing for a senior adviser to the president to put the nation's security at risk during a time of war. That could be explained as an aberration - a quite serious one, no doubt - but a fluke nonetheless. But when the president himself refuses to keep his own word about firing that aberration, and when the entire Republican party rallies around that fluke and tries to minimize what is usually a capital offense during wartime, something is seriously wrong with that party and its leadership.

America is ignoring the Geneva Conventions because our president feels that winning this war is so paramount. Our Congress has watered down our civil rights laws. We have jailed American citizens with no access to legal counsel. And our President even believes it is worth lying to the American people in order to wage this so-important battle. All this because we are a nation at war and nothing will be permitted to stand in the way of this life-and-death struggle.

But when a senior aide to the President of the United States endangers the life of an undercover CIA agent, her colleagues and contacts around the world - when he chooses to put at risk our entire effort to undercover weapons of mass destruction before they are used to kill millions in an American city - what response do we get from the Bush White House and the Republican Party? A defensive (offensive) shrug.

The Republican party's gift to the American people, and the Bush administration's legacy, will be the normalization of treason. They are trying to convince Americans that betraying our country during wartime for personal gain is no more serious than running a stop sign or going 60 in a 55 zone.

If a senior aide to the president had intentionally outed an American undercover agent during World War II, an agent whose work was central to our mission of defeating the Germans, that aide would very likely be put to death. While no one is yet arguing that Karl Rove be executed, it is the height of hypocrisy and hubris for the Republican party to attempt to minimize a crime that not only puts our troops at risk, but risks the lives of every American man, woman and child.

It is truly a sad day when the Republican party minimizes treason in a selfish attempt to defend a traitor. President Bush has yet to give a clear explanation as to why 2,000 Americans have given their lives in Iraq. But one thing is for sure. It wasn't to defend our right to treason.

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