Friday, July 27, 2007


Time For President To Come Clean On Tillman Cover-Up

Jon Soltz, chairman of and veteran of the Iraq war.
The worst way you can further exacerbate the pain survivors of a fallen soldier feel, is to keep them wondering why and how their loved one died. Now past three years since former NFL star Pat Tillman died in Afghanistan, his mother, Mary Tillman, and her family do not have answers. Unfortunately, documents meant to put the investigation into his death to rest are only bringing up more painful questions, rather than calming them. What’s worse is that the case could start to have serious repercussions with internal confidence in the Armed Forces.

Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that among the files on the case that the news agency obtained were details of Army medical examiners being unable to convince the military to look into whether Tillman was intentionally killed. According to the documents, the wounds they found were inconsistent with the government’s original official story that Tillman was cut down by Afghani fighters and looked more like he was killed by an American M-16 just a mere 10 yards away.

After an investigation, the government changed the story — that Tillman was a victim of friendly fire, an honest mistake, because he was mistaken for the enemy. The recent revelations now cast this conclusion into serious doubt. You don’t mistake someone from 10 yards away. But, was it murder or negligence? Was this a deliberate homicide?

President Bush is not helping at all. With these new details, and his decision to invoke executive privilege in the Tillman investigation, the President is certainly sending the signal that he has something to hide.

It is inevitable, then, that unless the President comes clean, rumors about Tillman’s death will take hold. By stonewalling, there is no way to stop people from wondering, “Was the man the White House used to promote the war ordered to be killed because he was becoming increasingly critical of the war in Iraq?” It was well known that Tillman was critical of the decision to go to war, and had often read and quoted Noam Chomsky. I don’t personally believe such a conspiracy to be the case, but until the President comes clean, rumors like that will continue to grow. Every officer knows that if a soldier in their command is killed they must write the family and tell them the truth, for exactly that reason. Why can’t the man who sent Pat Tillman to war, and used his death for political gain, have the courage to tell a family what happened to their son?

Ultimately, besides causing unfair pain to the Tillman family, the President is perilously close to doing severe damage to the military with his bullheadedness. If America looks at the Tillman case and concludes that the military cannot be trusted to tell the truth and take care of its own, and that the White House is an enabler of that behavior, public confidence in our fine military will wane.

Recruiters rely on the family members like mothers and fathers to allow their 18-year olds to sign up. The longer this festers and the longer questions linger, these families and our young people will lose their will to serve our country. Who gives their child to country who doesn’t honor their sacrifice? We don’t need new hurdles to recruiting like that, at a time when we desperately need to increase the size of our active duty component. Additionally, those already in the military will lose faith that the leadership actually gives a damn about them, as the Tillman case becomes a hot topic in chow halls. Morale and confidence in the institution will crumble.

In the Army, we have a saying: Good units have problems, but great units fix them. In other words, we’re largely judged in the military by how we are able to step up, accept responsibility, and correct problems, because problems that are allowed to fester are unacceptable. Unfortunately, the Tillman case just extends the pattern from this President of being unwilling or unable to step up and fix problems.

In that sense, this President, everyday, firms up his legacy as the worst Commander-in-Chief this nation has ever seen.

Labels: , ,


Congressional Probe Into U.S. Attorney Firings turns into a Criminal Investigation. It's about Fucking Time.

Conyers Outfoxes Bushie in Contempt Showdown
Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse
Wed Jul 25, 2007 at 09:19:45 PM PDT<

Rep. John Conyers is methodically setting up the legal elements for Congress to pursue statutory and/or inherent contempt proceedings against executive branch officials in a manner that essentially wipes out any claim to executive privilege to shield the truth. A few weeks ago, I wrote a diary on Impeachment by Frog-Marching Congressional Oversight, which suggested that Congress had a better chance -- according to US Supreme Court precedent -- to obtain evidence and testimony from the Bush gang if it conducted a "criminal proceeding" to investigate potential criminal or unlawful conduct by executive branch officials. The beauty of the "criminal proceeding" is that Bush is not likely to prevail on executive privilege claims. Well, it looks like the US Attorney probe has now been officially transformed into a "criminal proceeding" to determine whether Bush officials have violated specific laws.

The Supreme Court has affirmed Congressional power to investigate possible criminal or unlawful conduct of executive branch officials in McGrain v. Daugherty. In fact, Congressional investigative powers are at its peak when probing whether executive branch officials have committed criminal conduct. This probe is a type of "criminal proceeding" because Congress is investigating "suspected illegal conduct" or "alleged abuses of authority" (pdf file) at hearings in which people testify under oath or face potential contempt, including the possibility of jail time. The investigation is valid as long as Congress is considering potential legislation to address or remedy the alleged misconduct of executive branch officials.

There are two key components of this type of oversight powers: (1) Congress investigates alleged criminal or unlawful conduct by executive branch officials for the (2) purpose of potential legislation to address the alleged misconduct.

Yesterday, in preparation for today's hearing on contempt citations against Bush's chief of staff and former counsel, the House Democrats published a report (pdf file) which sets out both of these key elements. It is a 52 page memorandum by Conyers or the Conyers' Report.

Congress commenced the US Attorney probe to determine if the Justice Dept. and White House were using US Attorney positions for political reasons. Now, Democrats are stating "for the first time" specific allegations of how "several administration officials may have broken the law during the multiple firings of U.S. attorneys."

The Conyers' Report says that Congress's investigation into the firings has "uncovered serious evidence of wrongdoing by senior White House and Justice Department aides" involved in the removal of nine U.S. attorneys. The alleged wrongdoings include obstructing justice and violating federal statutes that protect civil service employees and prohibit political retaliation against government officials. The report states that the investigation has yielded evidence that:

  1. The decision to fire or retain some U.S. Attorneys may have been based in part on whether or not their offices were pursuing or not pursuing public corruption or vote fraud cases based on partisan political factors, or otherwise bringing cases which could have an impact on pending elections;
  1. Department officials appear to have made false or misleading statements to Congress, many of which sought to minimize the role of White House personnel in the U.S. Attorney firings, or otherwise obstruct the Committee's investigation, and with some participation by White House personnel, and
  1. Actions by some Department personnel may have violated civil service laws and some White House employees may have violated the Presidential Records Act.

This report then cites specific examples of evidence for each of these allegations, and includes citations to criminal laws. For example, if one US Attorney was fired in retaliation for his failure to "bring a politically useful prosecution," the firing could also be a federal crime under the Hatch Act.

Thus, the US Attorney probe may now have been transformed into a "criminal proceeding" in which Congress is investigating whether executive branch officials violated the law.

The Conyers' Report also addresses the second key element. The purpose of this proceeding and the reason Congress needs to obtain testimony and documents via subpoenas is to enable Congress to "determine whether laws were broken and to rewrite laws regarding U.S. attorneys." The report then analyzes the existing laws which may need to be modified and potential areas of new legislation.

In fact, the report states that the need to modify or enact new laws is a well-recognized basis for "Congress to conduct investigations and obtain executive branch information, as the Supreme Court stated in McGrain v. Daugherty. It is interesting that the report cites this case, which involved the use of inherent contempt powers when the Senate investigated misfeasance and nonfeasance in the AG's office in order to determine effective legislative measures that "might be taken to remedy or eliminate the evil."

Weeks ago, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley suggested that Congress may avoid the executive privilege scam by stating that it is "investigating a potential crime." Of course, Turley was right. I checked out some of the judicial decisions on executive privilege in my frog-marching diary and concluded that Bush does not have a slam dunk right to assert executive privilege when Congress is exercising its constitutional right of investigative powers in a criminal context. Moreover, Bush is likely claiming his own theory of executive privilege, which is based upon his view of unitary executive prerogatives for which no specific legal authority is or can be cited.

Well, the Democrats also evaluated these same factors and concluded that executive privilege may not prevail when Congress is probing wrongdoing by the executive branch:

Even if executive privilege were properly asserted, the privilege is not absolute, but rather is subject to a "balancing of interests" based on the needs of the President and the Congress. In the present case, where there is clear evidence of wrongdoing leading to the White House, where the information is important for considering possible legislative changes, where the Committee has sought to obtain the information elsewhere and has sought to obtain a reasonable accommodation, and where there is no overriding issue of national security, it is clear the Committee's oversight and legislative interests should prevail."

Bravo Conyers and fellow Democrats! The US Attorney probe is now officially a "criminal proceeding" to investigate alleged criminal and unlawful conduct by the Bush gang. US Supreme Court precedent has confirmed these powers over the years and has also indicated that executive privilege is not favored when the president raises it in a criminal context or when Congress needs the information to perform its legislative functions, such as considering potential legislation in the US Attorney probe.

The Democrats have just taken a gigantic step toward prevailing in this showdown with Bush.


Alberto Gonzales Lied to Congress. "The President Supports Him." - Tony Snow

F.B.I. Chief Challenges Gonzales’s Testimony
Alex Wong/Getty Images

F.B.I. Director Robert Mueller testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

Published: July 26, 2007

WASHINGTON, July 26 — The dispute over the truthfulness of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales reached a new intensity today as the F.B.I. Director, Robert S. Mueller 3rd, contradicted Mr. Gonzales’s sworn testimony before a Senate committee.

Mr. Mueller told the House Judiciary Committee that the Bush administration’s secret eavesdropping program was the main topic at an encounter in the hospital room of then-Attorney General John Ashcroft on March 10, 2004, contrary to what Mr. Gonzales told a Senate panel on Tuesday.

At the time, Mr. Gonzales was the White House counsel, and Mr. Ashcroft was recovering from gall bladder surgery. That March night, Mr. Gonzales went to the hospital room with Andrew H. Card Jr., then White House chief of staff.

In his testimony before the Senate panel on Tuesday, Mr. Gonzales said the subject in the hospital room was “intelligence activities” under debate in the administration, but not the secret eavesdropping program.

But Mr. Mueller contradicted that version of events today, several hours after four Senate Democrats called for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate whether Mr. Gonzales perjured himself before Congress.

Mr. Mueller was testifying at an F.B.I. oversight hearing when he was questioned by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat of Texas.

“Did you have an understanding that the conversation was on T.S.P.?” the Congresswoman asked, using the shorthand for terrorist surveillance program.

“I had an understanding the discussion was on an N.S.A. program, yes,” Mr. Mueller replied, using the abbreviation for the National Security Agency. A moment later, he added that the discussion was on the warrantless eavesdropping program “that has been much discussed, yes.”

The conflict in accounts could be significant, because Mr. Gonzales’s critics have accused him of trying to convey the false impression that the N.S.A. program had spawned no serious dissension within the Bush administration.

But former Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey has testified that Justice Department lawyers were balking at recertifying the program early in 2004 and that he thought Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Card rushed to the hospital to persuade Mr. Ashcroft, who was not at full capacity, to overlook his own objections to the program.

Mr. Mueller said that after receiving a call from Mr. Comey he went to the hospital, arriving shortly after Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Card left, and that after he spoke with Mr. Ashcroft he understood that the N.S.A. program was indeed the focus of the dramatic bedside encounter. (Editor's Note: Why doesn't somebody just ask Ashcroft?)

There have been repeated instances in which lawmakers have questioned Mr. Gonzales’s competence and his recollection of events. But today’s developments seemed to mark a shift toward suggestions that he actually committed crimes in testifying before Congress.

The four senators who sought a special counsel are all members of the Judiciary Committee. They urged Solicitor General Paul D. Clement in a letter to name an independent counsel from outside the Justice Department. “It has become apparent that the attorney general has provided at a minimum half-truths and misleading statements,” the senators wrote.

While the four were asking for a special counsel, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, announced that a subpoena was being issued to Karl Rove, President Bush’s chief political adviser, to provide information on the firings last year of nine federal prosecutors. The White House has asserted executive privilege in resisting Congressional demands for testimony by present and former presidential aides.

The request that the solicitor general name a special counsel to investigate Mr. Gonzales marked a new stage in the long-running controversy over his stewardship of the Justice Department. Mr. Gonzales’s most outspoken critics suggested today that the attorney general might have committed crimes, including perjury and obstruction of justice, when he testified about President Bush’s domestic-surveillance program and the dismissal of the nine United States attorneys.

The four senators — Charles E. Schumer of New York, Dianne Feinstein of California, Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island — zeroed in today on Mr. Gonzales’s testimony that there had been no internal dissent over the president’s warrantless eavesdropping program and that an emergency meeting at the White House in March 2004 concerned subjects other than the secret eavesdropping operation.

“Both of those statements appear to be false,” Mr. Schumer said today. “We know from senators who were there, and we know from a letter from John Negroponte,” he went on, referring to the former director of national intelligence. “It’s in black and white.”

The letter from the four senators was addressed to the solicitor general because Mr. Gonzales has recused himself, as has the outgoing deputy attorney general, Paul J. McNulty.

A Justice Department spokesman, Brian Roehrkasse, said on Wednesday that Mr. Gonzales stood by his testimony. And the White House spokesman, Tony Snow, said today that Mr. Bush still stood by Mr. Gonzales.

After Mr. Gonzales’s most recent testimony on Tuesday, Justice Department aides acknowledged in a background briefing for reporters that the attorney general had caused confusion by his “linguistic parsing.” A special counsel, if one is named, would presumably try to determine if any of Mr. Gonzales’s ambiguous statements were outright lies.

Senator Feinstein said today that Mr. Gonzales has often given “misleading and often untrue statements to Congress,” and that she had never seen “an attorney general so contemptuous of Congress and his role as the chief law enforcement officer of the United States.”

A spokesman for the Democratic majority leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, told The Associated Press that Mr. Reid supported the request for a special counsel.

Senator Leahy said he was subpoenaing Mr. Rove because “the accumulated evidence shows that political considerations factored into the unprecedented firing” of the federal prosecutors last year. A subpoena is also being issued for J. Scott Jennings, a White House political aide, Mr. Leahy said.

United States attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president, and the people in those posts typically change when administrations change. But once installed, United States attorneys have traditionally been free of explicit political interference. Democrats have asserted that the nine who were let go last year may have been victims of cynical political calculations.

Mr. Leahy has said explicitly that he simply does not trust Mr. Gonzales. Today, Mr. Leahy sent a letter to Mr. Gonzales inviting him to change his testimony to cleanse himself of any possible perjury charges, and to do so by the end of next week.

Aboard Air Force One on the way to Philadelphia today, the White House spokesman, Mr. Snow, said that, contrary to the Democrats’ assertions, Mr. Gonzales has been consistent and that “the president supports him.” Mr. Snow suggested that what some see as deliberate inconsistencies in Mr. Gonzales’s accounts may be a reflection of the complexity of the issues being discussed.

President Bush was accompanied on his visit to Philadelphia by Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee. Mr. Specter has been as critical of Mr. Gonzales as have the Democrats, and he told reporters that he might talk to the president today about his concerns, The Associated Press reported.

Later, after returning to Washington, Mr. Specter declined to discuss what he and the president had talked about. Asked whether he supported the call for a special counsel, which was led by Senator Schumer, Mr. Specter said he did not.

Regarding Mr. Gonzales’s testimony, Mr. Specter said: “There are very complex questions that have to be answered on looking at the record. But Senator Schumer’s not interested in looking at the record. He’s interested in throwing down the gauntlet and making a story in tomorrow’s newspapers.”

Mr. Specter pointed out that Senator Leahy had not signed the letter to the solicitor general.


Mmmm Mmmm Bottled Water. Aquafina and Dasani.... Tap Water for $1.25 a bottle.

Aquafina labels to spell out source - tap water
By Martinne Geller
Thu Jul 26, 5:31 PM ET

PepsiCo Inc. will spell out that its Aquafina bottled water is made with tap water, a concession to the growing environmental and political opposition to the bottled water industry.

According to Corporate Accountability International, a U.S. watchdog group, the world's No. 2 beverage company will include the words "Public Water Source" on Aquafina labels.

"If this helps clarify the fact that the water originates from public sources, then it's a reasonable thing to do," said Michelle Naughton, a Pepsi-Cola North America spokeswoman.

Pepsi Chief Executive Indra Nooyi told Reuters earlier this week the company was considering such a move.

Pepsi's Aquafina and Coca-Cola Co's Dasani are both made from purified water sourced from public reservoirs, as opposed to Danone's Evian or Nestle's Poland Spring, so-called "spring waters," shipped from specific locations the companies say have notably clean water.

Coca-Cola Co. told Reuters it will start posting online information about the quality control testing it performs on Dasani by the end of summer or early fall.

"Concerns about the bottled-water industry, and increasing corporate control of water, are growing across the country," said Gigi Kellett, director of the "Think Outside the Bottle" campaign, which aims to encourage people to drink tap water.

San Francisco's mayor banned city employees from using city funds to buy bottled water when tap water is available. Ann Arbor, Michigan passed a resolution banning commercially bottled water at city events and Salt Lake City, Utah asked department heads to eliminate bottled water.

Critics charge the bottled water industry adds plastic to landfills, uses too much energy by producing and shipping bottles across the world and undermines confidence in the safety and cleanliness of public water supplies, all while much of the world's population is without access to clean water.

But industry observers said such opposition is unlikely to drain U.S. sales of bottled water, which reached 2.6 billion cases in 2006, according to Beverage Digest. The industry newsletter estimated that U.S. consumers spent about $15 billion on bottled water last year.

"Consumers have an affection for bottled water. It's not an issue of taste or health, it's about convenience," the newsletter's publisher, John Sicher, said. "Try walking up (New York City's) Third Avenue on a hot day and getting a glass of tap water."

Dave Kolpak, a portfolio manager at Victory Capital Management, said the environmental objections will have little impact on the bottom line for either Pepsi or Coke, though he admitted it could slow the market's growth rate.

"Pepsi and Coke do not make a lot of profit" on bottled water, said Kolpak, adding that people may talk about the issue, but will likely continue buying some bottled water. Victory Capital owns about 3 million shares of PepsiCo among its $62 billion under management.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


War Criminals. It's not just me and Uncle Salty calling Bush and his Cronies that anymore. Two former supporters turn on the Bush Cheney War Machine

War Crimes and the White House
The Dishonor in a Tortured New 'Interpretation' of the Geneva Conventions

By P.X. Kelley and Robert F. Turner
Thursday, July 26, 2007; A21

One of us was appointed commandant of the Marine Corps by President Ronald Reagan; the other served as a lawyer in the Reagan White House and has vigorously defended the constitutionality of warrantless National Security Agency wiretaps, presidential signing statements and many other controversial aspects of the war on terrorism. But we cannot in good conscience defend a decision that we believe has compromised our national honor and that may well promote the commission of war crimes by Americans and place at risk the welfare of captured American military forces for generations to come.

The Supreme Court held in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld last summer that all detainees captured in the war on terrorism are protected by Common Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which prescribes minimum standards of treatment for all persons who are no longer taking an active part in an armed conflict not of an international character. It provides that "in all circumstances" detainees are to be "treated humanely."

This is not just about avoiding "torture." The article expressly prohibits "at any time and in any place whatsoever" any acts of "violence to life and person" or "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment."

Last Friday, the White House issued an executive order attempting to "interpret" Common Article 3 with respect to a controversial CIA interrogation program. The order declares that the CIA program "fully complies with the obligations of the United States under Common Article 3," provided that its interrogation techniques do not violate existing federal statutes (prohibiting such things as torture, mutilation or maiming) and do not constitute "willful and outrageous acts of personal abuse done for the purpose of humiliating or degrading the individual in a manner so serious that any reasonable person, considering the circumstances, would deem the acts to be beyond the bounds of human decency."

In other words, as long as the intent of the abuse is to gather intelligence or to prevent future attacks, and the abuse is not "done for the purpose of humiliating or degrading the individual" -- even if that is an inevitable consequence -- the president has given the CIA carte blanche to engage in "willful and outrageous acts of personal abuse."

It is firmly established in international law that treaties are to be interpreted in "good faith" in accordance with the ordinary meaning of their words and in light of their purpose. It is clear to us that the language in the executive order cannot even arguably be reconciled with America's clear duty under Common Article 3 to treat all detainees humanely and to avoid any acts of violence against their person.

In April of 1793, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson wrote to President George Washington that nations were to interpret treaty obligations for themselves but that "the tribunal of our consciences remains, and that also of the opinion of the world." He added that "as we respect these, we must see that in judging ourselves we have honestly done the part of impartial and rigorous judges."

To date in the war on terrorism, including the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and all U.S. military personnel killed in action in Afghanistan and Iraq, America's losses total about 2 percent of the forces we lost in World War II and less than 7 percent of those killed in Vietnam. Yet we did not find it necessary to compromise our honor or abandon our commitment to the rule of law to defeat Nazi Germany or imperial Japan, or to resist communist aggression in Indochina. On the contrary, in Vietnam -- where we both proudly served twice -- America voluntarily extended the protections of the full Geneva Convention on prisoners of war to Viet Cong guerrillas who, like al-Qaeda, did not even arguably qualify for such protections.

The Geneva Conventions provide important protections to our own military forces when we send them into harm's way. Our troops deserve those protections, and we betray their interests when we gratuitously "interpret" key provisions of the conventions in a manner likely to undermine their effectiveness. Policymakers should also keep in mind that violations of Common Article 3 are "war crimes" for which everyone involved -- potentially up to and including the president of the United States -- may be tried in any of the other 193 countries that are parties to the conventions.

In a letter to President James Madison in March 1809, Jefferson observed: "It has a great effect on the opinion of our people and the world to have the moral right on our side." Our leaders must never lose sight of that wisdom.

Retired Gen. P.X. Kelley served as commandant of the Marine Corps from 1983 to 1987. Robert F. Turner is co-founder of the University of Virginia's Center for National Security Law and a former chair of the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Law and National Security.



Jesus. Alberto Gonzales is a Joke.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Alberto Gonzalez and the Bush Administration most Corrupt Government in U.S. History. A Revolution may be in order.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Gonzales Contradicts Prior Statements, Confirms Existence Of Other Spying Programs

In his testimony today before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was asked by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) to address inaccuracies in his 2006 testimony in relation to the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. “There has not been any serious disagreement about the program that the president has confirmed,” Gonzales said at the time.

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) recalled that former Deputy Attorney General James Comey testified to a much different version of events. Comey said he had refused to sign on to an extension of the program “amid concerns about its legality and oversight.”

Today, Gonzales said Comey was referring to “other intelligence activities,” appearing to confirm that the Bush administration is operating more than one warrantless domestic spying program. In a heated back and forth with Specter, Gonzales stated:

The disagreement that occurred was about other intelligence activities and the reason for the visit to the hospital was about other intelligence activities. It was not about the terrorist surveillance program that the president announced to the American people.

Today’s testimony contradicts what Gonzales had said previously. In June, Gonzales claimed that both he and Comey were referring to the same domestic spying program. “Mr. Comey’s testimony related to a highly classified program which the president confirmed to the American people sometime ago,” he said.

If Gonzales’ testimony is accurate today, then he is confirming the existence of a new administration spying program.


SPECTER: Let me move quickly through a series of questions there’s a lot to cover. Starting with the issue Mr. Comey raises, you said “there has not been any disagreement about the program.” Mr. Comey’s testimony was that “Mrs. Gonzales began to discuss why they were there to seek approval” and he then says “I was very upset, I was angry, I thought I had just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man.”

GONZALES: The disagreement that occurred was about other intelligence activities and the reason for the visit to the hospital was about other intelligence activities. It was not about the terrorist surveillance program that the president announced to the american people.

SPECTER: Mr. Attorney General, do you expect us to believe that?


Monday, July 23, 2007


Destabilizing Iraq, Broadly Defined

By Walter Pincus
Monday, July 23, 2007; Page A15

Be careful what you say and whom you help -- especially when it comes to the Iraq war and the Iraqi government.

President Bush issued an executive order last week titled "Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq." In the extreme, it could be interpreted as targeting the financial assets of any American who directly or indirectly aids someone who has committed or "poses a significant risk of committing" violent acts "threatening the peace or stability of Iraq" or who undermines "efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform" in the war-torn country.

The executive order, released Tuesday, was designed to target "perpetrators of violence in Iraq including Shiite militia groups linked to Iran, Sunni insurgent groups with sanctuary in Syria, and other indigenous Iraqi insurgent groups," said Molly Millerwise, a spokeswoman for the Treasury Department, which will determine who is in violation of the order. The move follows similar Bush orders to freeze assets of members or associates of al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups and former Iraqi government officials, Millerwise said. "It fills in the cracks," she added.

White House press secretary Tony Snow offered further clarification at a briefing on Tuesday: "What this is really aimed at is insurgents and those who come across the border . . . or anybody who is caught providing support or poses a significant risk of providing support to those who may come across the border."

However, the text of the order, if interpreted broadly, could cast a far bigger net to include not just those who commit violent acts or pose the risk of doing so in Iraq, but also third parties -- such as U.S. citizens in this country -- who knowingly or unknowingly aid or encourage such people.

Under the order, the Treasury secretary -- in consultation with the secretaries of defense and state -- creates the list of those whose assets are to be frozen. However, the targeting of not just those who support perpetrators of violence but also those who support individuals who "pose a significant risk" of committing violence goes far beyond normal legal language related to intent and could be applied in a highly arbitrary manner, said Bruce Fein, a senior Justice Department official in the Reagan administration and a frequent Bush administration critic.

Fein also questioned the executive order's inclusion of third parties, such as U.S. citizens who assist, sponsor or make "any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services" to assist people on the Treasury list. "What about a lawyer hired to get someone off the list?" Fein asked.

The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control keeps a "Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons" roll that includes those covered by several such executive orders. It most recently ran to 276 pages; of the roughly 11,000 entries, more than 700 are Iraq-related. Millerwise said the list is primarily for use by banks and other financial institutions that regularly check it to freeze assets and prevent financial transfers.

What happens then to the Shiite Iraqi American who sends money or speaks out in support of humanitarian efforts by Moqtada al-Sadr's political party? We'll have to wait and see. Though Millerwise said the Treasury Department already has some names in mind for the list, they will be disclosed only after their assets under U.S. control are frozen.

Meanwhile, the department must develop rules and regulations to carry out the order, a process that Fein said he hopes will protect civil liberties that could be at risk.

National security and intelligence reporter Walter Pincus pores over the speeches, reports, transcripts and other documents that flood Washington and every week uncovers the fine print that rarely makes headlines -- but should. If you have any items that fit the bill, please send them




War Criminals.


It's the Fukin News. You Gotta Watch.


More Reasons to Revile the Mainstream Press.

"Media Matters"; by Jamison Foser


Someone's got it in for me, they're planting stories in the press

America's political reporters don't like John Edwards, and have tried to destroy him.

But don't take my word for it.

Marc Ambinder was one of the founders of ABC's The Note and is a contributing editor to the National Journal's Hotline newsletter. The Note and the Hotline consist largely of links to and excerpts of political news and commentary by other reporters with ample doses of snark and Rove-worship thrown in. Whatever they may lack in insight and judgment, The Note and the Hotline are at the center of the D.C. political media establishment.

Ambinder, in other words, is a political reporter whose job has largely been to understand the political media.

This week, Marc Ambinder explained why the media has covered John Edwards' grooming regimen so much and Mitt Romney's so little:

There is a difference in the political reality: fairly or unfairly, a healthy chunk of the national political press corps doesn't like John Edwards.

Fairly or unfairly, there's also a difference in narrative timing: when the first quarter ended, the press was trying to bury Edwards. It's not so much interested in burying Romney right now -- many reporters think he's the Republican frontrunner.

Now, if reporters dislike a candidate, that's their business. But when they wage a relentless and petty campaign to "bury" that candidate, that's our business. All of us.

And we've been through this before.

The 2000 election was close enough that any number of things can fairly be described as having made the difference. But what Bob Somerby describes as the media's "War Against Gore" was undoubtedly one of the biggest factors in Bush's "victory." The contempt many political reporters felt for Gore is clear, as is the inaccurate, unfair, and grossly distorted coverage of Gore that decided the campaign. And, again, you needn't take my word for it: Bob Somerby, Eric Alterman, Eric Boehlert, and others have chronicled the acknowledgements by working journalists of their colleagues' hate for Gore. Jake Tapper described reporters "hissing" -- actually hissing -- Gore. Time's Eric Pooley described an incident in which a roomful of reporters "erupted in a collective jeer" of Gore "like a gang of 15-year-old Heathers cutting down some hapless nerd."

And Joe Scarborough -- conservative television host Joe Scarborough; former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough -- has said that during the 2000 election, the media "were fairly brutal to Al Gore. ... [I]f they had done that to a Republican candidate, I'd be going on your show saying, you know, that they were being biased."

Somerby has long argued that one of the reasons the media's hatred for Gore was able to define the 2000 campaign so completely is that too few people talked about it -- and demanded that it stop -- at the time. Indeed, as he writes today, too many of those who should be combating these nonsensical but damaging storylines repeat them instead:

But then, inside Washington, establishment liberals and Democrats often seem congenitally unable to understand the shape of the past fifteen years. Haircuts -- and earth tones -- have destroyed the known world! But so what? Dems and libs keep reciting these trivia! We keep inviting the public to draw conclusions from these idiot tales.

One recent example occurred during Wednesday's Lou Dobbs Tonight, when Air America Radio host Laura Flanders said that Barack Obama has "kind of become the female on this race. ... He's seen as the weaker -- cute, attractive. ... Hillary is the one with the balls." In just a few moments, Flanders managed to suggest that a male progressive is feminine and that a female is masculine -- one of the conservatives' favorite tactics for marginalizing progressives -- and to equate being "female" with being "weak." With progressives like Laura Flanders, who needs Ann Coulter?

For anyone who would rather fight these absurd media storylines than repeat them, coverage of Edwards' haircut presents a valuable opportunity to do so.

Last week, we noted that NBC senior correspondent Jim Miklaszewski took $30,000 from the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce for a speech in which he reportedly called John Edwards a "loser" for defending his haircut. (Not that it really matters, but Edwards hasn't defended the haircut.)

This is a grossly unethical act on Miklaszewski's part -- taking tens of thousands of dollars from a special interest group for a speech, then attacking a candidate in that speech. Last year, NBC president Rick Kaplan said that company policy prevented anchors from taking speaking fees, and that anyone who violates that policy "would risk being fired."

But this is worse than simply taking speaking fees: this is taking a speaking fee from a special interest group that has supported tax cuts for the wealthy -- and attacking a candidate who has proposed eliminating a tax break for the wealthy in order to pay for health care.

If Miklaszewski took $30,000 from, say, the Children's Defense Fund to give a speech in which he attacked President Bush for announcing that he would veto a children's health program, you can bet the Right would be up in arms and calling for his head. They'd claim it proves that the media is biased against them. And their criticisms would promptly be amplified by that same media. Howard Kurtz would waste no time at all in telling you what Rich Lowry and Glenn Reynolds thought of the matter.

Well, Miklaszewski didn't take $30,000 from the Children's Defense Fund, and he didn't blast George Bush for threatening to veto health care for kids. He took $30,000 from the business lobby, and in exchange for it, he attacked John Edwards.

If you care about stopping misinformation in the media -- if you care about the media at all, really -- it doesn't get much clearer than this. Contact NBC. Tell them Miklaszewski's actions are unacceptable. Ask them if he violated NBC policy -- and if he hasn't, ask NBC to change their policies to prevent such behavior.

This isn't going to stop unless you make it stop.

After you contact NBC, contact Howard Kurtz. As the media beat reporter for The Washington Post and the host of CNN's Reliable Sources, Kurtz may be the nation's highest-profile media critic. Yet a Nexis search shows that Kurtz hasn't written a word about media coverage of Edwards' haircut for the print edition of the Post. And it has come up only in passing on his television show. (In a "Media Backtalk" online discussion with Washington Post readers, Kurtz acknowledged that "[t]he haircut thing has been overdone." Then -- in the next sentence -- he defended Post reporter John Solomon's much-maligned effort to count Edwards' haircuts.) So: contact Howard Kurtz. Ask him to cover Miklaszewski's unethical attacks on Edwards.

This isn't going to stop unless you make it stop.

How can we be so sure? Well, the 2000 campaign should be all the proof anyone needs. But here's another indication of how relentless the media will continue to be in harassing John Edwards about his haircut: So far this week alone, there are nine Washington Post articles available in Lexis-Nexis that mention John Edwards. Four of the nine mention his haircuts. Three mention his haircuts or his wealth in either the first or second sentence. Another doesn't mention either until the fifth paragraph -- but then makes up for lost time with three paragraphs about "controversies" including the haircut, Edwards' big house, and his work at a hedge fund before finally focusing on the ostensible topic of the article: Edwards' poverty tour.

And that doesn't even include an online-only article by Dan Balz and Chris Cillizza about an interview Edwards gave to the "PostTalk" program. The article began: "Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards defended himself against criticism that his expensive haircuts and lucrative income from a hedge fund undercut his campaign's effort to highlight the issue of poverty in America."

Keep in mind that it has been more than three months since the haircut story first appeared. But the media continue cover it as though it is both new and important. It is not. It is old and utterly insignificant.

There's another lesson to be drawn from 2000. Too often, those who weren't actively participating in the media's War Against Gore were enabling it by suggesting he brought it on himself. Sure, the media was unduly harsh toward Gore -- but he gave them ammunition. We hear the same thing said about John Edwards today: The Washington Post's decision to assign its star investigative reporter to count Edwards' haircuts may be absurd, but Edwards opened himself up to the attack by getting the pricey cut in the first place. It showed poor judgment; he should have known it would provide fodder for the media.

This is blame-the-victim nonsense.

If you think it is foolish to suggest that John Edwards' haircut makes him a hypocrite, it is foolish to hold him responsible for such suggestions. If there is nothing inherently wrong with a haircut, it's unfair to hold it against a candidate just because some reporters decide to pretend there is.

But shouldn't the candidate have known it would be unfairly held against him? No. If reporters don't like a candidate and decide to "bury" him, they're going to do so. If they can't do it by pointing to his "ostentatious" displays of wealth, they'll do it by claiming he is hiding his wealth. It isn't hard to imagine the media reaction if John Edwards, like Fred Thompson, rented a red pickup truck to campaign for office: he's a phony, they'd say; a rich man pretending to be otherwise. Or they'd find out he gets the Biggie Fries during his anniversary dinners at Wendy's. The key details here are that reporters don't like him, and they're willing to be unfair in order to bury him.

John Edwards could not have avoided making a "mistake" that the media would trash him for, because they were willing to trash him for any dumb thing they could think of. And if they couldn't have found something dumb-but-real, they'd have used something dumb-but-made-up, like they did in falsely claiming Al Gore had taken credit for discovering Love Canal. If it is impossible for a candidate to avoid unfair, absurd coverage like this, then it is unfair to hold that candidate responsible for a meaningless "mistake" that is only a "mistake" in that it plays into that coverage.

Earlier this year, Ambinder inadvertently illustrated the circularity of the blame-the-victim approach to these bogus media stories.

The truth is that the media seems to be confusing "hypocrisy" -- doing what one says one must not do -- with bad optics and a few cases of ill-considered judgment.

The fact is, if you're in politics and you talk about poverty, extra attention will be paid to the manner in which you display your personal wealth -- whether, by dint of expensive haircuts and mammoth homes, you spend the money you earn and don't care about "what it looks like."

Edwards has been uncautiously ostentatious. That's the basic mistake. He's set himself up for questions about the work his poverty center did, the Cayman Islands, why he joined Fortress, Sudan holdings, etc, not because he held himself to a different moral standard, but because he didn't hold himself to a high enough political standard. The press reads this as arrogance.

Knowing he was going to focus on poverty, he probably should have dialed back his displays of wealth. The optics would look better. Roger Simon wrote that the problem with Edwards's $400 haircut was not the haircut itself; it was the fact that it slipped into his campaign finance report. Wrong. The problem was the haircut -- or, more precisely, the shrug of the shoulders that accompanied his decision to get it. The press pays attention to these things. It -- we -- have a fetish for the discrepant, the unseemly, the showy. You just don't get a $400 haircut during a campaign to eradicate poverty. Your credibility as a messenger suffers.

It may seem at first like Ambinder's explanation makes sense. But if -- as Ambinder stipulates -- there is nothing hypocritical about a rich man talking about poverty, or about a haircut, what are we left with? Precious little.

Ambinder tells us: "If you're in politics and you talk about poverty, extra attention will be paid to the manner in which you display your personal wealth" But why? Why will extra attention be paid to the wealth of the candidate who talks about poverty rather than to the wealth of the candidate who wants to lower taxes for the wealthy? There is no logical reason; nor is there a legitimate emotional reason. Ambinder has already acknowledged there is no hypocrisy at play in the former case. In the latter, there is arguably self-serving greed. So why will "extra attention" be paid? Ambinder doesn't tell us -- he doesn't even seem to think the question needs an answer. Extra attention will be paid because it will be paid.

The haircut is bad "optics," Ambinder tells us. But why? Candidates (all humans, really) do a dozen things a day that could look bad if they were endlessly repeated and mocked. Why is this one bad "optics"? What makes it different from, say, lobbyist Fred Thompson renting a red pickup, or Mitt Romney spending a lot of money on makeup (or strapping his poor dog to the roof of the Family Truckster)? Why are those not optically bad? All we're left with is that the optics of the haircut are bad because the press covers it so much, and the press covers it so much because the optics are bad.

These aren't reasons, they are excuses.

Grasping, Ambinder announced that the media "have a fetish for the discrepant, the unseemly, the showy."

Bunk. "Discrepant" doesn't apply, as there is nothing inconsistent with being rich and talking about poverty, as Ambinder himself already acknowledged. So, we're left with "unseemly" and "showy." But that cannot explain the media's focus on Edwards. Mitt Romney has a big house -- in fact, he has three. President Bush hand-picks the cloth for his custom-made suits, each of which costs thousands of dollars. That's awfully "showy," and coming from people who support tax policies that benefit ... themselves. No, the media's "fetish" for the "showy" can't explain the abuse Edwards has taken, because other "showy" behavior isn't treated similarly.

"You just don't get a $400 haircut during a campaign to eradicate poverty," Ambinder finally announces. But ... why not? You "just don't." That's the best Ambinder can come up with: you just don't. And that is perhaps the best indication that there is no real reason; that there is no actual problem with the haircut.

If the media is going to spend three months -- and counting -- relentlessly covering a damn haircut, is it too much to ask that they have a better explanation for it than that "you just don't" get such a haircut? These are professional journalists, who hold enormous power over our political process, and they can't come up with a better reason than a parent gives for not letting a teenager stay out 15 minutes later? "You just can't."

This kind of media coverage, as Bob Somerby says, is what gave us President Bush. It is why we are in Iraq today. It isn't going to go away on its own, and it isn't going to go away if John Edwards is no longer a candidate. There is an endless supply of nonsense for reporters to say about progressives, whether it is Hillary Clinton's alleged display of cleavage (the horror!) or bogus attacks on Barack Obama's comments about teaching kindergarteners about "inappropriate touching."

This isn't going to stop unless you make it stop.

Posted to the web on Friday July 20, 2007 at 8:07 PM EST

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?