Friday, July 06, 2007
Gen. William Odom writes that opponents of the war should focus public attention on the fact that Bush’s obstinate refusal to admit defeat is causing the troops enormous psychological as well as physical harm.
Every step the Democrats in Congress have taken to force the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq has failed. Time and again, President Bush beats them into submission with charges of failing to "support the troops."
Why do the Democrats allow this to happen? Because they let the president define what "supporting the troops" means. His definition is brutally misleading. Consider what his policies are doing to the troops.
No U.S. forces have ever been compelled to stay in sustained combat conditions for as long as the Army units have in Iraq. In World War II, soldiers were considered combat-exhausted after about 180 days in the line. They were withdrawn for rest periods. Moreover, for weeks at a time, large sectors of the front were quiet, giving them time for both physical and psychological rehabilitation. During some periods of the Korean War, units had to fight steadily for fairly long periods but not for a year at a time. In Vietnam, tours were one year in length, and combat was intermittent with significant break periods.
In Iraq, combat units take over an area of operations and patrol it daily, making soldiers face the prospect of death from an IED or small arms fire or mortar fire several hours each day. Day in and day out for a full year, with only a single two-week break, they confront the prospect of death, losing limbs or eyes, or suffering other serious wounds. Although total losses in Iraq have been relatively small compared to most previous conflicts, the individual soldier is risking death or serious injury day after day for a year. The impact on the psyche accumulates, eventually producing what is now called "post-traumatic stress disorders." In other words, they are combat-exhausted to the point of losing effectiveness. The occasional willful killing of civilians in a few cases is probably indicative of such loss of effectiveness. These incidents don't seem to occur during the first half of a unit's deployment in Iraq.
After the first year, following a few months back home, these same soldiers are sent back for a second year, then a third year, and now, many are facing a fourth deployment! Little wonder more and more soldiers and veterans are psychologically disabled.
And the damage is not just to enlisted soldiers. Many officers are suffering serious post-traumatic stress disorders but are hesitant to report it – with good reason. An officer who needs psychiatric care and lets it appear on his medical records has most probably ended his career. He will be considered not sufficiently stable to lead troops. Thus officers are strongly inclined to avoid treatment and to hide their problems.
There are only two ways to fix this problem, both of which the president stubbornly rejects. Instead, his recent "surge" tactic has compelled the secretary of defense to extend Army tours to 15 months! (The Marines have been allowed to retain their six-month deployment policy and, not surprisingly, have fewer cases of post-traumatic stress syndrome.)
The first solution would be to expand the size of the Army to two or three times its present level, allowing shorter combat tours and much longer breaks between deployments. That cannot be done rapidly enough today, even if military conscription were restored and new recruits made abundant. It would take more than a year to organize and train a dozen new brigade combat teams. The Clinton administration cut the Army end strength by about 40 percent – from about 770,000 to 470,000 during the 1990s. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld looked for ways to make the cuts even deeper. Thus this administration and its predecessor aggressively gave up ground forces and tactical air forces while maintaining large maritime forces that cannot be used in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sadly, the lack of wisdom in that change in force structure is being paid for not by President Bush or President Clinton but by the ordinary soldier and his family. They have no lobby group to seek relief for them.
The second way to alleviate the problem is to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq as soon as possible and as securely as possible. The electorate understands this. That is why a majority of voters favor withdrawing from Iraq.
If the Democrats truly want to succeed in forcing President Bush to begin withdrawing from Iraq, the first step is to redefine "supporting the troops" as withdrawing them, citing the mass of accumulating evidence of the psychological as well as the physical damage that the president is forcing them to endure because he did not raise adequate forces. Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress could confirm this evidence and lay the blame for "not supporting the troops" where it really belongs – on the president. And they could rightly claim to the public that they are supporting the troops by cutting off the funds that he uses to keep U.S. forces in Iraq.
The public is ahead of the both branches of government in grasping this reality, but political leaders and opinion makers in the media must give them greater voice.
Congress clearly and indisputably has two powers over the executive: the power of the purse and the power to impeach. Instead of using either, members of congress are wasting their time discussing feckless measures like a bill that "de-authorizes the war in Iraq." That is toothless unless it is matched by a cut-off of funds.
The president is strongly motivated to string out the war until he leaves office, in order to avoid taking responsibility for the defeat he has caused and persisted in making greater each year for more than three years.
To force him to begin a withdrawal before then, the first step should be to rally the public by providing an honest and candid definition of what "supporting the troops" really means and pointing out who is and who is not supporting our troops at war. The next step should be a flat refusal to appropriate money for to be used in Iraq for anything but withdrawal operations with a clear deadline for completion.
The final step should be to put that president on notice that if ignores this legislative action and tries to extort Congress into providing funds by keeping U.S. forces in peril, impeachment proceeding will proceed in the House of Representatives. Such presidential behavior surely would constitute the "high crime" of squandering the lives of soldiers and Marines for his own personal interest.
So much of the intensity and anger driving the criticisms of the Bush presidency -- certainly my own, and much of what I read (as exemplified above) -- is grounded in a fervent belief in American political values, its political principles and its constitutional framework. The anger comes not from a belief that the U.S. is an evil and corrupt entity, but from the opposite view. It comes from witnessing the all-out assault on these vaunted political principles and values and the complete corruption, close to the destruction, of our country's national character that has made the U.S. such an important and admired presence in the world for so long.
read the rest here
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Libby won't even get probation.
A conviction remains on Scooter Libby's record, and he must still pay a $250,000 fine.
Strictly interpreted, the statute authorizing probation indicates that supervised release "should occur only after the defendant has already served a term of imprisonment," U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton wrote.
Walton ordered lawyers to weigh in with their arguments on the matter by Monday.
The Libby Cover-up Completed
President George W. Bush’s decision to spare former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby from jail marks the final act of a crime and cover-up that began four years ago when Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other top officials launched a campaign to discredit a critic of the Iraq War.
That campaign started with the leaking of sensitive classified information, the identity of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, destroying her career and jeopardizing the lives of her agents in other countries. That was followed by White House lies being told to both investigators and the public in order to shield the President from dangerous political fallout.
By commuting Libby’s 30-month jail sentence on July 2 – and dangling the possibility of a full pardon later – Bush has moved to ensure that Cheney’s former chief of staff keeps his mouth shut and that the full story is never told.
The Plame/Libby cover-up also demonstrates the modern techniques available at least to a Republican president who wants to minimize damage from embarrassing or incriminating information. Bush was able to tap into the ideologically committed right-wing news media to confuse the issue and create political space for his final decision.
Ever since July 2003 – when Plame’s husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, revealed that he had conducted a fact-finding trip for the CIA which helped debunk allegations that Iraq had been seeking uranium from Africa – the right-wing media has kept up a steady assault on Wilson.
Wilson received this treatment because his findings contradicted Bush’s claim in his 2003 State of the Union Address that Iraq’s supposed search for uranium suggested that Saddam Hussein was trying to build a nuclear bomb, a key argument for invading Iraq.
Wilson’s public statements – in a New York Times op-ed and later on TV news shows – represented the first challenge to Bush’s case for war from a government insider. At the time, with Bush near the peak of his popularity, Wilson looked like easy prey.
So, instead of showing gratitude to an American citizen who undertook a difficult assignment at no pay, the Bush administration – aided by congressional Republicans, the right-wing media and some pro-war mainstream pundits – sought to tear down Wilson’s reputation and mislead the public on the facts of the case.
The original White House talking points – given to about a half dozen journalists – included that Wilson’s wife, Plame, worked in the CIA office that sent Wilson to Africa, thus suggesting that the trip was a case of nepotism.
One White House official later told a Washington Post reporter that the administration had informed at least six reporters about Plame “purely and simply out of revenge” against Wilson.
Libby was one of the leakers, briefing two journalists – Judith Miller of the New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time – but neither ran with Plame’s identity. Libby also brought White House press secretary Ari Fleischer in on the leak operation.
Two other leakers, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and his friend, White House political adviser Karl Rove, finally managed to get right-wing columnist Robert Novak to run a story about Plame’s identity.
Novak’s column destroyed Plame’s career and put at risk the lives of her overseas contacts who had helped the United States keep on an eye on proliferation of dangerous weapons in the Middle East.
But the Plame leak backfired on the White House when the CIA sought a criminal investigation into the illegal disclosure of a covert officer’s identity.
In September and October 2003, the Bush administration’s next line of defense was simply to lie. For his part, Bush pretended that he knew nothing about the anti-Wilson leaks, even though he had authorized release of some intelligence information meant to bolster the White House position on the uranium issue and undercut Wilson.
Bush disingenuously urged his subordinates to say what they knew. “I want to know the truth,” Bush said on Sept. 30, 2003. “If anybody has got any information inside our administration or outside our administration, it would be helpful if they came forward with the information so we can find out whether or not these allegations are true.”
However, since the various conspirators knew that Bush already was in the know, they would have read his comments as a signal to lie, which is what they did. Rove issued a false statement through the White House press office denying any involvement.
That prompted Libby to seek help from Cheney. As Libby’s lawyer Theodore Wells disclosed at his client’s trial, Libby’s complaint was that “they’re trying to set me up; they want me to be the sacrificial lamb.”
In response to Libby’s complaint, Cheney penned a message to the press secretary demanding equal treatment for Libby. “Not going to protect one staffer + sacrifice the guy
the Pres that was asked to stick his head in the meat grinder because of incompetence of others,” Cheney wrote to press secretary Scott McClellan.
In the note, Cheney initially ascribed Libby’s sacrifice to Bush but apparently thought better of it, crossing out “the Pres” and putting the clause in a passive tense. Complying with Cheney’s wishes on Oct. 4, 2003, McClellan added Libby to the list of officials who have “assured me that they were not involved in this.”
So, the evidence is that not only was there a high-level administration conspiracy to leak Plame’s identity but there was an equally high-level conspiracy to cover up the truth.
Libby got nailed because he failed to shift away from the cover stories when the investigation grew serious following the appointment of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald as a special prosecutor in December 2003.
But the cover-up never ended. Republican senators and the Republican National Committee issued harsh attacks on Wilson, making him out to be a liar when the reality was that his fact-finding trip had helped the U.S. intelligence community correctly raise pre-war doubts about Iraq’s supposed pursuit of uranium for nuclear weapons.
As Libby faced trial in early 2007, other right-wingers, such as attorney Victoria Toensing, released other red herrings to confuse the public. Toensing, for instance, began insisting that Plame was not a “covert” officer because she was “stationed” at CIA headquarters in Langley, Viriginia.
Toensing’s argument was based on her assertion that a 25-year-old law protecting the identities of U.S. intelligence officers from exposure required that the person “reside” or be “stationed” overseas in the previous five years.
However, Toensing misstated the law, which actually refers to intelligence officers having “served” abroad in the previous five years, which Plame later testified that she had done by traveling on overseas assignments for the CIA.
In other words, the law would protect the identity of a CIA officer based at Langley who went on missions overseas or, say, a special operations officer who was stationed at Ft. Bragg and resided in Fayetteville, N.C., but who still “served” on dangerous missions overseas.
But many in the right-wing news media and even at prestige newspapers like the Washington Post have adopted Toensing’s word games as reality. It’s now an article of faith in some political circles that Plame was not a “covert” officer and that therefore there was “no underlying crime.”
After Libby was found guilty for perjury and obstruction of justice and received a 30-month jail sentence, the cover-up entered a new phase with a new ferocity. His neoconservative allies, the right-wing press and some mainstream pundits joined in a clamor for his pardon.
This phase of the cover-up created political space for Bush to commute Libby’s sentence and to hold open the possibility of a full pardon.
So, rather than Libby cooperating with prosecutor Fitzgerald and laying out the full story, Cheney’s former chief of staff has a very strong incentive to stay mum. Not only won't he go to jail, but he has reason to hope that Bush will eventually wipe out the felony convictions with a full pardon.
Barring some unforeseen development, the Libby cover-up appears to have succeeded.
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at Amazon.com, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'
Corruption in the White House.
Last month, the Supreme Court agreed with the Bush Justice Dept., ruling against Rita’s appeal for a reduced sentence based his exemplary military service.
Sen. Joe Biden:
Tony Snow said that President Bush decided to commute Scooter Libby’s two and a half year-prison sentence for perjury and obstruction of justice, because it was “excessive.”
Yet last year the Bush Administration filed a “friend-of-the-court brief” with the Supreme Court, in an attempt to uphold a lower court’s ruling that a 33-month prison sentence for Victor Rita, who was convicted of the same exact charges, perjury and obstruction of justice, was “reasonable.”
Pres. Bush cited Libby’s “years of exceptional public service” in commuting his prison sentence. But Libby is the classic Bushie chickenhawk — a neocon bureaucrat with no service record whose fingerprints are all over the worst military planning in American history.
Conversely, Victor Rita is the real deal:
Victor Rita is a very sympathetic defendant: he served 24 years in the Marine Corps, had tours of duty in Vietnam and the first Gulf war, and has received over 35 military metals and awards. Also, he is an elderly gentleman who suffers serious health problems.
The Supreme Court ruled on the case last month:
The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that criminal sentences within guidelines set by a federal commission are generally entitled to be upheld on appeal, a decision that limits legal options for defendants who feel that they have been punished too harshly.
By a vote of 8 to 1, the court held that, even though it recently ruled that the sentencing ranges set by the U.S. Sentencing Commission are no longer mandatory, judges who follow them may be presumed to have acted reasonably…
The case that the court decided yesterday, Rita v. United States, No. 06-5754, was meant to help define “advisory.”
Victor Rita, convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice, asked for a lighter sentence based in part on his past military service. But the judge gave him 33 months, as suggested by the guidelines. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, based in Richmond, upheld the sentence, saying that penalties within the guidelines are “presumptively reasonable.”
It is customary in the pardoning process for the president to contact the Justice Dept. for input. But the White House is adamant that Bush did not speak to anyone at Justice about the Libby pardon. If he had run it past them, it’s possible he could have avoided what appears to be a spectacular blunder.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
It should be noted, for future record, that the President of the United States has just used his power of clemency to sabotage an active criminal investigation into the office of his own Vice President. In some parallel universes, I have heard tell that such a thing was once itself considered corruption, or obstruction. It seems at minimum useful to put a footnote in the history books, somewhere, that such a remarkable thing could happen and still receive not merely praise, but unsheepish celebration among people who pretend nightly to be serious about such things.
I think almost everyone involved sees this as what it almost certainly is: Scooter Libby, loyal to the last, is getting his pardon on the installment plan. There is little advantage -- and distinct disadvantage -- for Bush to pardon the charges entirely, at the moment, but Bush indeed came through with an impeccably timed effort to ensure Libby faced no actual material consequences from his actions. Facing immediate jail time? Then kill the jail time. All of it, from day one onward. If Libby was in any actual danger of having to pay his $250,000 fine, there seems little doubt he would have seen that part of his sentence commuted as well.
But now Libby is in no imminent danger: problem solved. Bush has neatly and in one action removed any impetus for Libby -- or anyone else -- to cooperate with government investigators. There is no leverage a prosecutor can use against Libby, in order to gain a plea deal in exchange for information that he has so far refused to provide. Conservative backers have contributed more than five million dollars in a slush fund for Libby's defense, and are eager to help him in his hour of need; it seems hard to believe that Libby himself will ever have to contribute even one thin dime towards his own fine. He will be, presuming his appeal runs its course in the next year and a half without still more intervention, a convicted felon, but one whose sole substantive punishment will be the well-financed adulation of his supporters as a true martyr.
We should note here, for the record, the magnificent-if-selective cowardice of Scooter Libby. He allowed Judith Miller to go to jail for three months on his behalf, keeping his silence until the pressure had built to intolerable levels. His willingness to sacrifice others -- at least in direct proportion to their access to power -- for his own freedom has at this point been well established. He relied on the sacrifices of others for his own self-preservation, sacrificing himself in turn only to one thin premise: that lying to investigators was an acceptable thing, in exchange for... what? He lied to investigators, repeatedly and provably, rather than cooperate in a case that threatened to implicate his own more powerful friends. Seldom is justice in a single case so transparently stratified, each layer of establishment Washington valiantly wounding itself in obsequious service to the one above it.
But after it all, the consequences of the law were considered too much. Nobody expects a mere Scooter Libby to have the ruggedness of a Martha Stewart, the toughened pastry chef and craftsperson who somehow managed to soldier through jail time on her own without requiring the intervention of two of the four known branches of constitutional government. Amidst dire pleas from conservatives, President Bush cited the excessiveness of Libby's 30-month sentence, and substituted not 15 months, or even one, or even one lazy afternoon, but instead deemed even a single hour to be excessive, for the crime of obstructing justice in an investigation into his own White House, and the office of his own Vice President. No clearer signal to future prosecutors could possibly be given, short of simply Xeroxing up clemencies on cardstock to be distributed as Christmas gifts -- and we may yet see that.
Let me reemphasize: George W. Bush claimed repeatedly that the sentence in this case was excessive. But when it came time to decide what punishment would not be excessive, Bush chose zero. Not a month, a week, or even a single summer day in jail would be appropriate in this case of obstruction, the President asserted. Even the prospect of a single hour behind bars, for this particular most senior of senior members of the Vice President's staff, required immediate neutralizing action.
Eighteen months from now, on some mid-January day, Libby will of course be lauded for his great service to the nation -- that service in no way being the remarkable ability to keep his mouth tightly shut in face of a criminal investigation into activities at the White House, perish the thought -- and fully pardoned. Bush's statement about respecting jury opinions will be recast once again, this time to the effect of "I respect the jury opinions, but Scooter has had quite the rough time of it lately, what with all these investigations and indictments and whatnot, and has suffered enough. Let the healing begin!" This will be lauded by administration members, administration friends, other indicted members of the Republican party, and by "centrist" pundits eager to ply all of them for quotes and insights. The mere premise that a member of his administration would be held accountable for criminal actions as others would be is not just unthinkable, but has been a matter of great contention throughout Bush's presidency, requiring elaborate fictions of legalese to defend even the transparently illegal, such as domestic espionage and torture, and even more tortured justifications for reasons why no such justifications need be given in the first place.
This case is, and has been, a touchstone. Scooter Libby was indicted and convicted for obstruction of justice in a criminal investigation that reached into the office of the Vice President himself, and that obstruction of justice is still ongoing. It has not gone away. It has not been resolved. The only change is that, now, the President of the United States has interrupted the trial process, the appeal process, the prospects for plea and negotiation, and the ongoing White House investigation itself in order to preemptively inoculate the most key witness in the case from further investigation, testimony, or punishment.
There is no rationale that justifies such an act, and merely being used to such levels of corruption on the part of the Bush administration and the rest of the conservative movement in service of the quest for unitary power does not excuse that corruption. Bush may have never been willing to discuss an "ongoing case" inside his White House, but he was more than willing to use his Constitutional powers to shut it down at the precise moment judgment suddenly became a material, tactile thing.
When seeking clemency for a criminal obstruction of justice, it is always considered a stroke of luck to have committed the obstruction on behalf of individuals with the power to grant such clemency. And when predicting actions on the part of George W. Bush, it's always best to presume he would take the exact same actions a crime boss would take, if a crime boss were in a position to take them. With each passing day, Bush becomes a little less presidential, and a little more like Al Capone with an Air Force.
George W. Bush could at any point in the last three years have used his position to demand that others come forward, either exonerating Libby or condemning him as the evidence warranted. We are asked to believe that he had no such power: that, in spite of testimony that at least two other administration officials had leaked the identity of the American covert agent to the press, merely because her husband had the audacity to anger the perpetually crabby and apparently uncontrollable Richard Cheney, Bush himself was completely incapable of putting two leakers plus one perjurer plus one Vice President together, or of demanding answers of his own staff, or even seeking them. For an administration so famous for discipline and order, it was a remarkable failure of will. If the President and Vice President consciously set out to intentionally obstruct the investigation into their own administration, they would have made each decision exactly as they did. Upon the hour when, like Nixon firing Cox, the President finally reaches into the wheels of American justice themselves to extract his loyal servant, it is no longer credible to assume all of it was merely three years of coincidence.
There are of course theoretical remedies that could be taken, if a President was constantly abusing his power in order to satisfy the daily demands of cronyism, or even to help support -- as seems unambiguous -- the continued obstruction of justice by convicted members of his own staff. The Constitution could in theory be amended to allow some oversight of clemency decisions, or a caveat added pertaining to the ability or inability of a President to use the pardon process to block investigation into members of his own administration. At the end, however, it seems a bridge too far to have to amend the very Constitution itself in order to protect against the depredations of a single corruption-riddled White House. If Bush cannot competently execute his abilities as President of all these United States, and instead chooses to continue to use the office as vehicle for cronyism, political sabotage, domestic espionage, unconstitutional acts and flagrant self-protection, he should be removed. The Constitution allows for such a contingency, when an administration engages in one cover up too many, one scandal too many, or one bout of self interested corruption too many.
Unfortunately, it does not allow for any such relief when one political party is determined, from the top down, that all such obstructions, crimes, or constitutional subversions merit a throaty defense if done in service of their own party, or when a small but bafflingly influential subset of the national gatekeepers to power continue to genuflect and seek a sniffling "unity" rather than have the country suffer the shabby fate of -- terror of terrors! -- politicians facing the consequences of their own created scandals. Nixon was finally sent to pasture, in primary part, by the offended conscience and basic ethics of members of his own party. Bush in his own era, however, has not been inconvenienced with any such bouts of unfortunate integrity on the part of others; his party remains firmly united around all administration crimes and incompetencies, whether large or small.
With every passing scandal, from Watergate to Iran-Contra to the Justice Department scandals to this, the demands for investigation get fainter, the calls for justice, more tepid, and the punishments, more nebulous. Requests for even the most basic kind of patriotism -- that of simple decency and integrity -- now seem quaint in the current climate, and almost morbid. Perhaps finally, after all these years, it can be reduced to a single moment, when Bill Kristol and other apologists for Republican crimes large and small lost the last public shreds of their honor, and patriotism, and even of notions of crime and consequence.
At present, when Republican presidential candidates such as Fred Thompson, Giuliani, Romney and others seemingly attempt to one-up each other in their declarations of praise for Republican-backed felonies and criminals -- Thompson has been especially keen on letting voters know, in this episode, that he finds the entire notion of prosecuting a member of power for crimes they committed to be a scandalous thing, and the other candidates have lavished their debate-podium endorsements on all matter of other unconstitutional acts in the "War on Terror", believing the rule of law to be an obsolete and pedantic luxury of a past era -- it is impossible to believe that any will step back from that brink and commit themselves to simple decency, or even simple legality. At present, when members of the punditry are more rattled by the terrible partisanship of denouncing abominable and illegal acts than they are by the acts themselves, it seems impossible to suppose that they could be roused from their impeccably groomed and nourished apathy. They are more vexed by an insulting barrage of criticism than they are by anything else; it seems wisest to leave them where they are, defending their own tiny ink-and-paper fiefdoms.
And so it goes. Yet another transparent corruption, yet another investigation sabotaged, yet another enabling felon praised as martyr to the cause. America may at this rate find both its laws and its honor dismantled from within. From the broadcasting tower to the Senate floor, and from the opinion pages to the Department of Justice, there seem to be too few left with an interest in defending either one.
But it should be noted, for the record, that the President of the United States has just used his power of clemency to sabotage an active criminal investigation into the office of his own Vice President. I have heard tell that such things used to be considered scandalous.
The Declaration of Independence
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Labels: Declaration of Independence
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Bush Decision to Give Scooter a Get Out of Jail Free Card Resoundingly Condemned by the Nations Newspaper Editorial Boards.
By E&P Staff
Published: July 03, 2007 7:30 PM ET
NEW YORK The bloggers, politicians, and TV pundits weighed in quickly Monday after President Bush took the surprisingly sudden step of commuting Lewis "Scooter" Libby's 30-month prison sentence for perjury and obstruction of justice in the CIA leak case. Now newspaper editorials are appearing, and nearly all of them have condemned the Bush act.
First up, The New York Times and The Washington Post, which had viewed the case quite differently, each ripped the Bush move.
From the Times' Tuesday editorial: "Mr. Bush’s assertion that he respected the verdict but considered the sentence excessive only underscored the way this president is tough on crime when it’s committed by common folk ...
"Within minutes of the Libby announcement, the same Republican commentators who fulminated when Paris Hilton got a few days knocked off her time in a county lockup were parroting Mr. Bush’s contention that a fine, probation and reputation damage were 'harsh punishment' enough for Mr. Libby.
"Presidents have the power to grant clemency and pardons. But in this case, Mr. Bush did not sound like a leader making tough decisions about justice. He sounded like a man worried about what a former loyalist might say when actually staring into a prison cell."
The Post, which had often mocked the court case, declares today: "We agree that a pardon would have been inappropriate and that the prison sentence of 30 months was excessive. But reducing the sentence to no prison time at all, as Mr. Bush did -- to probation and a large fine -- is not defensible. ... Mr. Bush, while claiming to 'respect the jury's verdict,' failed to explain why he moved from 'excessive' to zero.
"It's true that the felony conviction that remains in place, the $250,000 fine and the reputational damage are far from trivial. But so is lying to a grand jury. To commute the entire prison sentence sends the wrong message about the seriousness of that offense."
Seattle Post-Intelligencer: "President Bush's commutation of a pal's prison sentence counts as a most shocking act of disrespect for the U.S. justice system. It's the latest sign of the huge repairs to American concepts of the rule of law that await the next president."
The Denver Post found that "such big-footing of other branches of government is not unprecedented with this administration. The president's abuse of signing statements show his disrespect for Congress' power to make law. His insistence that terror detainees at Guantanamo Bay be denied Habeas Corpus rights mocks legal tradition. It's a shame that his actions in the Libby affair will add to that list. Libby should be held accountable for his crimes."
San Francisco Chronicle: "In commuting the sentence of former White House aide Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, President Bush sent the message that perjury and obstruction of justice in the service of the president of the United States are not serious crimes."
But The Wall Street Journal sees it differently: "By failing to issue a full pardon, Mr. Bush is evading responsibility for the role his administration played in letting the Plame affair build into fiasco and, ultimately, this personal tragedy. ... Mr. Libby deserved better from the President whose policies he tried to defend when others were running for cover. The consequences for the reputation of his Administration will also be long-lasting."
New York Post: "If Bush thinks such parsing will spare him the political backlash an outright pardon would produce, he's wrong. The jackals are tearing at his heels this morning -- and for doing only half the necessary job. Bush knows a pardon is warranted. He should grant it."
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's editorial declares that "mostly this commutation fails on the most basic premise. There was no miscarriage of justice in Libby's conviction or his sentence. The trial amply demonstrated that he stonewalled. Like President Clinton's 11th-hour pardons of an ill-deserving few, this commutation is a travesty."
New York's Daily News: "However misbegotten was the probe by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, the fact is that Libby did commit a federal crime and the fact is also that he was convicted in a court of law. Thankfully, Bush did not pardon Libby outright, but time in the slammer was in order. Sixty days, say, wouldn't have hurt the justice system a bit."
Chicago Tribune believes that "in nixing the prison term, Bush sent a terrible message to citizens and to government officials who are expected to serve the public with integrity. The way for a president to discourage the breaking of federal laws is by letting fairly rendered consequences play out, however uncomfortably for everyone involved. The message to a Scooter Libby ought to be the same as it is for other convicts: You do the crime, you do the time."
The Arizona Republic: "We thought Scooter Libby was going through the criminal justice system. Just like anyone else. Then, President Bush whipped out a get-out-of-jail-free card. This is the wrong game to play on a very public stage."
San Jose Mercury News: "Other presidents have doled out pardons and the like, usually on the way out of office. It's never pretty. But few have placed themselves above the law as Bush, Cheney and friends repeatedly have done by trampling civil liberties and denying due process. Chalk up another point for freedom. Scooter's, at least."
The Sacramento Bee: President Bush, a recent story in the Washington Post tells us, is obsessed with the question of how history will view him. He has done himself no favors on that count by commuting the prison term of I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby."
The Dallas Morning News: "Perhaps the president felt he had nothing left to lose, given his unpopularity. But considering how much trouble the White House faces in regard to congressional subpoenas, the last thing this president needed was to further antagonize Capitol Hill regarding abuse of executive power."
The Rocky Mountain News, in Denver, in the most bizarre comment, accepts the "compassion" argument and just wishes Bush had waited a little bit so his move could not be wrongly "perceived": "Bush's statement exudes compassion, and it carefully gives credit to those who criticize prison time for Libby as well as to those who defend it. But the president should have restrained his compassion -- and delayed his commutation -- for at least a few more months, lest he be perceived as subverting justice, too."
Tony Snow is a Fucking Liar.
During the White House press briefing this morning, spokesman Tony Snow characterized President Bush’s commutation of Scooter Libby’s prison term as “routine.”
“The president spent weeks and weeks consulting with senior members of this White House about the proper way to proceed,” said Snow, adding, “I think it handled it in a routine manner in the sense that the president took a careful look.” Watch it:
There was nothing routine about this commutation. Although Snow said Bush consulted with White House advisers, the New York Times reported this morning that the decision “seemed to catch Justice Department officials, and even some of Mr. Bush’s closest aides, off guard. … They were floored.” Additionally, the Washington Post noted that Bush circumvented the normal route for commuting a sentence:
For the first time in his presidency, Bush commuted a sentence without running requests through lawyers at the Justice Department, White House officials said. He also did not ask the chief prosecutor in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, for his input, as routinely happens in cases routed through the Justice Department’s pardon attorney.
Bush granted Libby clemency even though he was appealing his sentence and had not yet served any jail time. According to the Justice Department, commutation requests “‘generally are not accepted unless and until a person has begun serving that sentence,’ and they are generally not granted to those appealing their convictions.”
Additionally, Snow’s comment that Bush “spent weeks and weeks” figuring out how to proceed on Libby is contradicted by a senior administration official who said that “Bush quickly made his decision yesterday after hearing that the U.S. Court of Appeals had refused to keep Libby out of prison while his appeal ran its course.”
In addition to the 73 percent of poll respondents who described this shit as "beyond belief," 9 percent said they could "hardly" believe this shit, with another 5 percent "just barely" believing it. An additional 13 percent said they "couldn't give a flying fuck about the whole goddamn thing."
The poll also found that the National Shit-Credulity Index (NSCI) has hit an all-time low, with only 2 percent of Americans describing themselves as "fully confident of [their] capacity to believe this shit."
"The American people have had to deal with this kind of shit for years," Gallup Organization president Lee Sanderson said, "but now, for the first time, it appears that the vast majority of them just can't fucking believe it anymore."
"In all honesty, who can blame them?" Sanderson added. "Regardless of one's political affiliation, socioeconomic status, religion or just about any other viewpoint, you've got to admit, the shit that's been going on lately is way out of hand."
In the wake of the poll, many activists are calling upon America's leaders to get their shit in gear.
"The American people have had it up to here with this shitheap," said James Schuerholz, president of the D.C.-based Heritage Foundation. "There is a public mandate for our leaders to cut this shit out, and it's high time they finally did."
Despite Americans' incredulity over this shit, historians note that this sort of shit has been going on for years and is unlikely to end anytime soon.
"Contrary to popular belief, this type of shit is hardly anything new," Harvard University American history professor Lawrence Coombs said. "The same shit was going down 50, 100 and 150 years ago. The only difference was, back then, you never read about that shit in the newspapers."
Calling the American people's enormous shit-belief capacity "one of the cornerstones of our democracy," U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) stressed that it is the patriotic duty of all citizens to grant our leaders the benefit of the doubt with regard to their shit.
"If the American people are no longer willing to believe this shit, who will?" Kerry said. "Somebody's got to take this shit at face value. Otherwise, why are we even doing all this shit in the first place? I am truly saddened by the lack of faith that the citizens of this country are willing to put in my shit, as well as that of my esteemed colleagues. We must repair our society's fraying trust in the shit of our elected officials, or you would not believe the kind of hardcore, heavy-duty shit that will come down."
"America," conservative author and social critic Patricia Stouffer said, "is seriously losing its shit. But we've got to somehow hold our shit in place until all this passes. We've got to learn to believe in shit again. After this latest shitstorm, it may take years to accomplish, but we must somehow find the strength to put our trust back into the nation's shit."
Despite such impassioned calls for faith in the U.S. political system and all the shit that comes with it, if the Gallup Poll is any indication, the majority of Americans are no longer willing to put up with the shit.
"Fuck that shit," said Evansville, IN, day-care provider Helen Reiderer. "I'm tired of hearing about it. Do they actually expect us to still believe that load of shit?"
"If you ask me, the shit is about to hit the fan," said Reiderer's husband Frank. "As far as I'm concerned, all that shit is just too much to be believed."
Another disgruntled citizen, Wenatchee, WA, tractor salesman Tom Huard, summed up the sentiments of most Americans when, holding up the front page of the local newspaper to friend Benjamin Pritchard, he said, "Jesus, Ben, can you believe this?""Shit, no," Pritchard replied.
Thick as Thieves... Bush has now become Co-Conspirator in Scooter Libby's Obstruction of Justice.
Hypocrisy, Thy Name is Bush
Posted July 2, 2007 | 10:52 PM (EST)
President Bush's commutation of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's sentence is simply stunning, both in its hypocrisy and its arrogance.
His spokespersons had assured the public he would not interfere in the judicial process until the appeals court had decided the merits of his appeal.
"Scooter Libby still has the right to appeal, and therefore the president will continue not to intervene in the judicial process," said White House spokeswoman Dana M. Perino. "The president feels terribly for Scooter, his wife and their young children, and all that they're going through."
Here's Tony Snow, asked about a pardon at his press briefing yesterday: "What the President has said is 'Let the legal process work itself out.' We're just not engaging in that right now."
Yet, hours after the D.C. Court of Appeals denied an appeal bond for Libby, the President acted, not by granting Libby a pardon, but by commuting his jail sentence.
His stated reason for the commutation reeks of disingenuity.
Mr. Libby was sentenced to thirty months of prison, two years of probation, and a $250,000 fine. In making the sentencing decision, the district court rejected the advice of the probation office, which recommended a lesser sentence and the consideration of factors that could have led to a sentence of home confinement or probation.
I respect the jury's verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby's sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison.
Bush didn't just reduce Libby's prison term to a lesser amount that was not, in his view, excessive. He eliminated it altogether.
While the Probation Report itself is not public, my review of the pleadings referencing it and the sentencing hearing transcript in the case indicates the Probation Department didn't recommend that Libby spend no time in jail. It found his sentencing guideline range to be 15 to 21 months (instead of 30 to 37 months) and it found the presence of factors that warranted the Judge considering departing below the guidelines. It stated that if the Judge agreed those factors were present and warranted a lesser sentence, the final sentencing range could (not should) drop to a level allowing for either a split sentence of prison and home detention or straight probation.
Judge Walton, in sentencing Libby, carefully considered the grounds for departure before concluding they didn't negate the need for a prison sentence. He's the Judge, that's his call. His decision was subject to review by the Court of Appeals. Bush's decision to short-circuit the process rendered both the Judge's sentencing decision and appellate review of it meaningless.
What changed between the time Dana Perrino and Tony Snow made their pronouncements and today? It wasn't Scooter's sentence. It was only that the Court of Appeals decided Libby would have to serve it before the legal process finished playing out.
At the same time Bush has his Attorney General calling upon Congress to make every federal crime subject to a mandatory minimum sentence, thereby preventing judges from imposing an individually tailored sentence based on their view of the offender's character and mitigating factors, he has no qualms making an exception for a single member of his Administration.
The proposed Sentencing Reform Act will:
* Restore the binding nature of the guidelines by making the bottom of the guideline range for each offense a minimum sentence that must be imposed when the elements of the offense are proven;
Hypocrisy, thy name is Bush.
Bush's arrogance is apparent from the extent to which Scooter's clemency decision departs from Justice Department guidelines on pardons and clemency.
Requests for commutation generally are not accepted unless and until a person has begun serving that sentence. Nor are commutation requests generally accepted from persons who are presently challenging their convictions or sentences through appeal or other court proceeding.
Patrick Fitzgerald, in a carefully worded statement (pdf), disputes that Libby's sentence was excessive. Was he consulted on the commutation? He should have been. The DOJ Manual provides:
The Pardon Attorney routinely requests the United States Attorney in the district of conviction to provide comments and recommendations on clemency cases....The views of the United States Attorney are given considerable weight in determining what recommendations the Department should make to the President.
....The Pardon Attorney also routinely requests the United States Attorney to solicit the views and recommendation of the sentencing judge.
It's all part of a well-delineated process.
The Pardon Attorney, under the direction of the Deputy Attorney General, receives and reviews all petitions for executive clemency (which includes pardon after completion of sentence, commutation of sentence, remission of fine and reprieve), initiates and directs the necessary investigations, and prepares a report and recommendation for submission to the President in every case.
If the requisite investigation was conducted with a chance for the prosecutor and judge to weigh in, followed by a report and recommendation, the process took some time. Rome wasn't built in a day.
Inquiring minds want to know, was protocol and Justice Department policy followed or did Bush unilaterally make this decision, perhaps with his beleagured Attorney General or the Vice President, without moving through the proper channels?
Does anyone doubt that Dick Cheney, whose fingerprints were all over the investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame's identity, called in a chit to spare Libby?
Finally, amidst all the protests and cheers that Scooter Libby dodged the warden with a get of out jail free card, will anyone remember, as Bob Dylan might say, that the Vice President of the United States didn't have to stand naked?
(Jeralyn Merritt blogs daily at TalkLeft: The Politics of Crime.)
Pardon Me? Bush Administration Officials Above the Law. When the Revolution Comes....
WASHINGTON — President Bush spared former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby from a 2 1/2-year prison term in the CIA leak investigation Monday, delivering a political thunderbolt in the highly charged criminal case. Bush said the sentence was just too harsh.
Bush's move came just five hours after a federal appeals panel ruled that Libby could not delay his prison term. That meant Libby was likely to have to report soon, and it put new pressure on the president, who had been sidestepping calls by Libby's allies to pardon Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff.
"I respect the jury's verdict," Bush said in a statement. "But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby's sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison."
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald disputed the president's assertion that the prison term was excessive. Libby was sentenced under the same laws as other criminals, Fitzgerald said. "It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals," the prosecutor said.
Libby's attorney, Theodore Wells, said in a statement that the Libby family was grateful for Bush's action and continued to believe in his innocence.
Bush's decision enraged Democrats and cheered conservatives _ though some of the latter wished Bush had granted a full pardon.
"Libby's conviction was the one faint glimmer of accountability for White House efforts to manipulate intelligence and silence critics of the Iraq war," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "Now, even that small bit of justice has been undone."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Bush's decision showed the president "condones criminal conduct."
Unlike a pardon, which would have wiped away Libby's criminal record, Bush's commutation voided only the prison term.
The president left intact a $250,000 fine and two years' probation for his conviction of lying and obstructing justice in a probe into the leak of a CIA operative's identity. The former operative, Valerie Plame, contends the White House was trying to discredit her husband, a critic of Bush's Iraq policy.
Bush said his action still "leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby."
Libby was convicted in March, the highest-ranking White House official ordered to prison since the Iran-Contra affair roiled the Reagan administration in the 1980s. Arms were secretly sold to Iran to gain freedom for American hostages, with the money funneled to anti-communist guerrillas in Nicaragua in spite of a congressional ban. Bush's father, former President George H.W. Bush, issued pardons for six former officials shortly before leaving office in 1992.
Testimony in the Libby case revealed the extraordinary steps that Bush and Cheney were willing to take to discredit a critic of the Iraq war.
Libby's supporters celebrated the president's decision.
"President Bush did the right thing today in commuting the prison term for Scooter Libby," said House Republican Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri.
"That's fantastic. It's a great relief," said former Ambassador Richard Carlson, who helped raise millions for Libby's defense fund. "Scooter Libby did not deserve to go to prison and I'm glad the president had the courage to do this."
Already at record lows in the polls, Bush risked a political backlash with his decision. President Ford tumbled in the polls after his 1974 pardon of Richard M. Nixon, and the decision was a factor in Ford's loss in the 1976 presidential election.
White House officials said Bush knew he could take political heat and simply did what he thought was right. They would not say what advice Cheney might have given the president.
On the other hand, Bush's action could help Republican presidential candidates by letting them off the hook on the question of whether they would pardon Libby.
Bush said Cheney's former aide was not getting off free.
"The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged," Bush said. "His wife and young children have also suffered immensely. He will remain on probation. The significant fines imposed by the judge will remain in effect. The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant and private citizen will be long-lasting."
A spokeswoman for Cheney said simply, "The vice president supports the president's decision."
The White House said Bush came to his decision in the past week or two and made it final Monday because of the ruling of the appeals panel, which meant Libby would be going to prison soon.
The president's announcement came just as prison seemed likely for Libby. He recently lost an appeals court fight that was his best chance to put the sentence on hold, and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons had already designated him inmate No. 28301-016.
Bush's statement made no mention of the term "pardon," and he made clear that he was not willing to wipe away all penalties for Libby.
The president noted Libby supporters' argument that the punishment did not fit the crime for a "first-time offender with years of exceptional public service."
Yet, he added: "Others point out that a jury of citizens weighed all the evidence and listened to all the testimony and found Mr. Libby guilty of perjury and obstructing justice. They argue, correctly, that our entire system of justice relies on people telling the truth. And if a person does not tell the truth, particularly if he serves in government and holds the public trust, he must be held accountable."
Bush then stripped away the prison time.
The leak case has hung over the White House for years. After CIA operative Valerie Plame's name appeared in a 2003 syndicated newspaper column, Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald questioned top administration officials, including Bush and Cheney, about their possible roles.
Nobody was ever charged with the leak, including Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage or White House political adviser Karl Rove, who provided the information for the original article. Prosecutors said Libby obstructed the investigation by lying about how he learned about Plame and whom he told.
Plame believes Libby and other White House officials conspired to leak her identity to reporters in 2003 as retribution against her husband, Joseph Wilson, who criticized what he said was the administration's misleading use of prewar intelligence on Iraq.
Attorney William Jeffress said he had spoken to Libby briefly by phone and "I'm happy at least that Scooter will be spared any prison time. ... The prison sentence was imminent, but obviously the conviction itself is a heavy blow to Scooter."
A White House official notified the trial judge, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton, of the decision. Walton, a Bush appointee who served in the White House under the president's father, had cited the "overwhelming" evidence against Libby when he handed down his sentence. A courthouse spokesman said Walton would not comment.
Associated Press writer Matt Apuzzo contributed to this report.
Monday, July 02, 2007
Michael Moore Exposes Republican Fear Mongering About Public Finance and Health Care.
"It is estimated that, before Bush's War is over, we will have spent two trillion dollars on it. Let me say this: I NEVER want to hear again from ANY politician that we "don't have the money" to fix our schools, to take care of the poor, to provide health care for every American. Clearly, the money IS there when we want to illegally invade another country and then prolong a disastrous occupation. From now on, we have to demand that our tax dollars be there for the things we need, not the things that make us one of the most detested countries on earth." - Michael Moore
Also, “the youngest US respondents share the Europeans’ view that theirs is the biggest threat, with 35 per cent of American 16- to 24-year-olds identifying it as the chief danger to stability.”
Al Gore should be our next President
A recent Supreme Court ruling which upheld the unreasonable and unrealistic application of time limits on those who believe they are the victim of pay discrimination is another in a growing list of occurrences which demonstrate, clearly and convincingly, that the clock is being rolled back on civil rights enforcement in America. It's the Reagan era all over again. Court rulings and the Bush administration's abdication of support for those who have been wronged has literally made it easier to discriminate against individuals based on race and gender. This is an unfortunate result of conservative deregulation of civil rights enforcement that, if left unchecked, will adversely impact minorities and women for decades. The conservative juggernaut that has demonized discussions of legitimate concern regarding civil rights as simply seeking "political correctness" or "playing the race card" has gone on long enough and those who know better must speak up in defense of what is right.
The Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. seems absurd on its face. Lilly Ledbetter, who worked at Goodyear for 19 years, alleged that she received less pay than male counterparts for the same work because of gender discrimination. At the time of the discrimination complaint, Ledbetter was making $6,000 less per year than the lowest paid man doing the same job. She was awarded $360,000 (down from the $3.6 million original jury award) in damages but the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed, holding that the district court should have granted Goodyear's motion for judgment because the statute required Ledbetter to file her complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within six months of the alleged illegal employment practice (Ledbetter argued that each paycheck constituted a new discriminatory act). The Supreme Court upheld the circuit court ruling in a ruling which held that each paycheck that showed a gender-based disparity must have been contested within the 180-day EEOC timeframe.
Congress established the time limit in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The limit now seems arbitrary and penalizes anyone who finds out after that period that they are being wronged. The Supreme Court has made the burden even more difficult by now putting victims of discrimination in the position of being protected only if they happen to find out about the discrimination within the first six months of their employment. How likely is it that a discriminatory practice would be revealed so quickly? While a time limit is a reasonable requirement, a short one such as this does not give a fair chance to those seeking court redress. This is even more notable when one considers the enormous and growing backlog of cases before the EEOC. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg noted in the dissenting opinion, "The Court's insistence on immediate contest overlooks common characteristics of pay discrimination." Ginsberg noted that pay discrimination often occurs in small increments that may take a long period of time to be revealed. As pay information is often secret, it is even more difficult for someone being victimized by wage discrimination to learn of such discrepancies.
And as the Supreme Court continues to erode civil rights protections, the Bush administration is making things worse. It was recently revealed that the Justice Department has an abysmal record when it comes to hiring Black attorneys and conducting civil rights cases. Since 2003, the criminal section within the Civil Rights Division (CRD) has not hired a single African American attorney to replace those who have left and it's not like the CRD was a hotbed for Black attorneys. In 2007, there are fifty attorneys in the Criminal Section, just two of whom are African American. By comparison, the section had two African American attorneys in 1978, despite the fact that it was half the size of the current organization.
Justice commissioned KPMG Consulting and Taylor Cox and to examine diversity among attorneys throughout the department. The report, which was initially kept from Congress and the public, was heavily redacted when it was released. It was ultimately revealed that women and minority attorneys in the department feel that their careers are hindered and they are passed up in favor of White men when it comes to getting the best assignments. This, combined with six senior CRD officials being forced from their jobs for what appears to be political reasons, has undermined the work of the Justice Department.
The personnel decisions in the CRD are but part of the problem. Prosecutions are down as well. On the one hand, one may argue a decline in prosecutions can reflect a reduction in discrimination and, therefore, be a sign of progress. Those who reject that argument, of which I am one, would counter that it could mean that Justice is more accommodating to those who engage in illegal discrimination. Be that as it may, the statistics are more than worrisome. According to the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the Justice Department has only tried 35 Title VII employment discrimination cases since 2001, compared to 92 cases brought during the Clinton administration. The Housing and Civil Enforcement section's cases dropped from 53 in 2001 to 31 in 2006, with a 60% decline in the number of race-related cases.
Sadly, this is in keeping with the history of conservative civil rights enforcement. As professor Hanes Walton demonstrated in his book When the Marching Stopped: The Politics of Civil Rights Regulatory Agencies, conservatives have long resisted fair civil rights enforcement. Conservative arguments often revolve around the notion that federal civil rights enforcement too often results in reverse discrimination and harms Whites. These efforts took on new resonance with Ronald Reagan's election to the presidency in 1980. He talked openly of remaking the civil rights status quo.
But as I note in my book Republicans and the Black Vote, Democrats controlled the House of Representatives and vehemently opposed Reagan's efforts and served as a backstop against Reagan and the Republican majority in the Senate, many of whom were elected along with Reagan on a conservative policy platform and were sure to support the president's proposed changes in this regard. Overtly seeking to overturn these measures would continue to paint Reagan as a racist, and continued a controversy that had the potential to bog down other areas of his domestic agenda, such as tax cuts. Reagan needed a more covert approach to get closer to his policy goals. The Reagan solution was to defund the parts of the federal apparatus responsible for enforcing and contributing to the enforcement of civil rights laws, thereby lessening their ability to examine and enforce federal civil rights issues.
The dismantling of Federal civil rights enforcement under Reagan took two forms occurring concomitantly. First, was the freezing or reducing of funding for agencies charged with enforcement of federal civil rights laws and regulations. Rather than overtly end these programs and agencies, the Reagan administration sought to starve them to prevent them from doing their work. In this way, they could largely achieve their goal of civil rights deregulation without seeking the abolition of the programs and agencies, thereby providing some political cover. Second, was the hiring of individuals to lead these organizations, or take high-ranking positions therein, who were ideologically pre-disposed to not enforce federal civil rights laws and regulations as aggressively as their predecessors. These actions deregulated federal civil rights enforcement and created an environment in which civil rights violations could occur with near impunity and certainly with much less fear of federal reprisals than before.
In some departments, enforcement either shifted in new ways, was reduced, or discontinued. One congressional investigation concluded that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission shifted away from class action lawsuits, elevated the standard of proof to establish reasonable cause, orally directed staff not to recommend the use of goals and time tables and not to intervene in cases in which goals and timetables were proposed as a remedy for discrimination, and accelerated closure of cases at the expense of quality of investigations. The Justice Department filed no cases under the Fair Housing Act of 1968 during its first year under Reagan; they filed two in 1982. Under presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter, the department averaged thirty-two cases a year.
This background demonstrates that the Bush administration's civil rights enforcement efforts are part of a long lineage of conservative policies in this area. It is clear and incontrovertible that conservative civil rights enforcement will always work against those most likely to be victimized by discrimination, be it in the workplace, in housing, or education. For conservatives, the real victims are not those who are discriminated against but, rather, those who are have to operate within the confines of civil rights law and are trapped into frivolous litigation. Conservatives who argue otherwise are either ignorant of history or willfully twisting the truth to support their point.
The conservative-led deregulation of civil rights enforcement has created a fairness void in America that flies in the face of attempts by the Republican Party to reach out to minorities. Republican political activists are quick to note the appointments of Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice to significant and unprecedented positions in the Bush administration as evidence that the GOP is doing the right thing on civil rights. While notable, these appointments do nothing to overcome the reality that this administration, like so many conservative governments of previous years, has deregulated civil rights enforcement to such a degree that basic, common-sense civil rights for all is in jeopardy.
Michael K. Fauntroy is an assistant professor of public policy at George Mason University and author of the recently published book Republicans and the Black Vote.