Saturday, December 08, 2007


How Anti-Clinton Zealots Pushed Huckabee To Let A Rapist Free

by Sam Stein

In the months, weeks, and even days prior to the parole board hearing for Wayne Dumond, then-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee faced tremendous pressure to secure the convicted rapists' release from jail, individuals with direct knowledge of the case tell the Huffington Post.

Politically, there existed a fervent movement that believed Dumond was the victim of a Bill Clinton vendetta, carried out by the state's Democratic political machine. That movement, which had helped Huckabee ascend to power just months earlier in 1996, ramped up pressure on the newly elected governor to rectify a wrong.

Huckabee himself was either friends with or associated to several of the key activists who publicly criticized Dumond's arrest. And Huckabee's particular religious background made him disposed to believing that Dumond -- who would go on to rape and murder another woman upon his release -- was either innocent of his crimes or had been rehabilitated in prison.

Those close to the case say that in the end, it was a combination of these factors that compelled Huckabee to ignore evidence, forgo advice, and ultimately press the parole board for the release of Wayne Dumond. A governor with more experience and will power, and less susceptibility to outside influences, they say, would have handled the case much differently.

"Huckabee saw East Arkansas County [where Dumond was arrested] as a Democratic political machine and probably assumed the worst," Jay Barth, a political science professor at Arkansas' Hendrix College and an authority on state politics, told the Huffington Post. "There were people pushing that story and Huckabee was clearly susceptible to it. But he also had this basic notion that people can be taken care of through the system... You have to recognize what an immature - in terms of time - governor, Huckabee was at that point. I don't know if the Mike Huckabee of four years later would have been susceptible to these forces."

Pressure for the release of Dumond from jail began long before Huckabee became governor. For nearly a decade, conservative activists in Arkansas had painted Dumond as a tragic victim of Bill Clinton's power-hungry machinations. Ashley Stevens, Dumond's rape victim, was Clinton's distant cousin. Within Republican circles, the logic was that if they were to regain political power, it would be through lashing out against rulings like Dumond's.

"Clinton was a maddening figure for the Republicans to work against," Hal Bass, professor of political science at Arkansas' Ouachita Baptist University, told the Huffington Post. "He had an effective personal organization. And this idea of a Clinton machine -- which wasn't there -- became a convenient scapegoat... Huckabee found in the early 90s that campaigning against the Democratic 'machine' and Clinton was a great way to booster his electoral prospects."

Huckabee was privy to this kind of blame-Clinton thinking. As Lieutenant Governor, he had several personal meetings with Dumond's wife, Dusty, in which she lobbied on her husband's behalf. Huckabee's spokesman at the time, Rex Nelson, acknowledged that a case file on Dumond was developed from these exchanges.

Dusty herself came with some leverage. After moving to Texas following her husband's arrest, she befriended and worked for a lawyer named Mike Riddle. Riddle was and remains a political player, and he and his wife clearly took to the Dumond case. In October 1991, when Bill Clinton went to campaign in Houston, Debbie Riddle approached him in public, questioned his judgment, and demanded Dumond's release.

As she recalled in the pages of the Village Voice: I said, "There is a man in your home state, incarcerated, and you put together a pardon committee to look and said you would respond according to their findings. And you didn't. And the young woman allegedly assaulted is related to you."

Dusty and the Riddles were not alone. Several influential media figures in Arkansas had latched unto the Dumond case and saw, in Huckabee, a politician who could advance their cause. Reverend Jay Cole, a Baptist minister and radio personality who had been blaming Clinton for Dumond's travails for nearly a decade, described Huckabee as a friend; and according to a July 8, 2001, article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, said that on several occasions Huckabee declared that DuMond was innocent.

Steve Dunleavy, a close friend and writer for Rupert Murdoch (a vociferous Clinton critic) also grew obsessed with Dumond's innocence, often to the point that it clouded his reporting. In a September 21, 1999, Dunleavy wrote in the New York Post that Dumond's wife Dusty had died and would not be able to greet him when he was paroled from jail. In a column five months later, Dunleavy wrote of Dumond's recent release, "[he] was greeted by his wife, Dusty, who I knew really well." Dunleavy was, according to several sources, one of the few reporters to whom Huckabee granted Dumond-related interviews.

"The press didn't cover itself in glory. From their coverage you could conclude that Dumond was innocent," Fletcher Long, the lawyer for Ashley Stevens, Dumond's 1985 rape victim, told the Huffington Post. "What was missing from the reporting was that the case was overwhelming. But it made good news to print that this man was innocent and kept in jail... Huckabee's problem was in believing what he read in the newspaper and listening to other people who read those newspapers."

But in the end it was a deep-seated belief that Bill Clinton was in the wrong and that Dumond, in fact, was the victim, around which all of these forces coalesced.

Indeed, just one year before Huckabee ascended to the governor's chair, another criminal case became a vehicle for Clinton hatred. In 1995, a woman named Sharlene Wilson was convicted of several counts of criminal drug possession. She became a cause celebre for conservatives who theorized that Wilson had damaging information on Clinton and his brother Roger's supposed drug use (among other nefarious activities) and was set up and put in jail because of it.

"I think the hatred to Clinton played a big role in Huckabee's decision [to push for Dumond's parole]," said a prominent legal figure in the state, who asked to remain anonymous. "If there wasn't a connection to Clinton he wouldn't have been involved and there must have been something deeply affecting him that would have caused him to go to the parole board and lobby for this."

And yet, if disdain for Clinton, lobbying pressures, and a strong religious belief in rehabilitation persuaded Huckabee that Dumond's should be removed from jail, there was an abundance of warning signs that suggested otherwise.

In October 1996, Huckabee solicited the advise of local doctors to determine whether Dumond, whose testicles had been cut off before his arrest (perhaps by himself), could rape again. His office refused to reveal the findings. But the Memphis Commercial Appeal interviewed one national expert on castration who said that a man in Dumond's condition did indeed pose a sexual danger.

As reported by Murray Waas for the Huffington Post, Huckabee was also sent letters from Dumond's previous victims, as well as the victim's family members, detailing harrowing accounts of rapes and violence.

Huckabee didn't even have to open the mail. According to Fletcher Long, Ashley Stevens attorney, five hundred feet from the governor's office was a transcript of the Stevens' case, within which was printed Dumond's lengthy rap sheet.

"From what I understand," Long told the Huffington Post, "he never bothered to look at it."

Huckabee's campaign did not return requests for comment. He has said there was no way anyone could have predicted Dumond's violent behavior upon release.

When Huckabee first announced his intention to commute Dumond's sentence in September 1996, he did so without consulting Stevens and her family. Nor, for that matter, did he solicit the advice of Dumond's former attorney, John Wesley Hall Jr., who had been fired by his client years earlier but nevertheless had firsthand knowledge about Dumond's disposition. When Huckabee's predecessor, Jim Guy Tucker, was considering commutation, he and Hall Jr. had a two-and-a-half hour meeting to discuss its merits.

With Huckabee, Hall Jr. says, "I never talked with the governor. In fact, I can't recall ever meeting him."

Huckabee did eventually meet with Stevens and her attorney after his decision to pursue commutation provoked a public backlash. But even then, Long noted, "It was pretty obvious to me that we weren't being heard or listened to but his mind was already made up."

The individuals who served on Arkansas' parole board recounted a similar Huckabee mindset. And Butch Reeves, the governor's top aide, told the Huffington Post on Wednesday that, contrary to his now former boss's claims, Huckabee lobbied the parole board to reverse its previous rejection. Huckabee has said that in supporting Dumond's parole he was merely following the judgment of the board. But just one month earlier the board had voted 4-to-1 against Dumond's parole

By that point in time, those who have followed the case claim, Huckabee was convinced both of Dumond's rehabilitation in prison and of his victimhood at the hands of the Clinton machine. Throughout the case, they claim, Huckabee exhibited poor judgment and a lack of political skill.

"The whole deal about the Dumond case, and it can be overanalyzed, was that this was a bad guy with a proven record of sexual misconduct and violence. This is the last guy you want to set free," Max Brantly, executive editor of the Arkansas Times and one of the chief chroniclers of the Dumond case, told the Huffington Post. "And Huckabee formed the judgment to do this not after consulting anyone but after being sold a story and buying it. It's kind of like Bush and weapons and mass destruction."

Editor's Note: After his release, Dumond went on to Kill and Rape Two More Women.

Only six weeks after Dumond moved to Missouri, Carol Sue Shields, of Parkville, Mo., was found murdered in a friend’s home. She had been sexually assaulted and suffocated.
In late June 2001, Missouri authorities charged Dumond with the first-degree murder of Shields. The Clay County, Mo., prosecutor’s office asserted that skin found under Shield’s fingernails, the result of an apparent struggle with her murderer, contained DNA that matched Dumond’s.

Missouri authorities also say that Dumond is the leading suspect in the rape and murder of a second woman, Sara Andrasek, of Platte County, Mo., though he has not yet been charged with that crime.

Andrasek was 23. Like Shields, Andrasek had her brassiere cut from her body; Dumond cut Stevens’ bra off before he raped her.


‘Well-Informed’ Source Tells CBS That Tapes Were Destroyed To Prevent Prosecution

Last night on the CBS Evening News, national security correspondent David Martin reported that a “well-informed source” informed the network that the CIA destroyed the interrogation videos to “avoid criminal prosecution.”

On Thursday, in a memo to CIA employees, Director Michael Hayden claimed that the videotapes were destroyed because they “posed a serious security risk“:

Beyond their lack of intelligence value — as the interrogation sessions had already been exhaustively detailed in written channels — and the absence of any legal or internal reason to keep them, the tapes posed a serious security risk. Were they ever to leak, they would permit identification of your CIA colleagues who had served in the program, exposing them and their families to retaliation from al-Qa’ida and its sympathizers.

CBS’s Martin reported, however, that a high-level anonymous source says that’s not true:

A well-informed source tells CBS News the videotapes of the interrogation of two high-level al Qaeda operatives were destroyed to protect CIA officers from criminal prosecution.

On Friday, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) scoffed at Hayden’s rationale for destroying the tapes, calling it a “pathetic excuse.” “You’d have to burn every document at the CIA that has the identity of an agent on it under that theory,” Levin said.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), however, said he would not side with calls for an investigation because he believed the CIA’s actions were legal. “That doesn’t mean I like it,” McCain added.

Friday, December 07, 2007


CIA analysts willing to ‘go to jail’ to ensure NIE’s release.

Retired Col. W. Patrick Lang, a former official in the Defense Intelligence Agency, reveals that senior CIA analysts pushed for the NIE’s key judgments on Iran to be released, threatening to speak to the media if they weren’t:

The “jungle telegraph” in Washington is booming with news of the Iran NIE. I am told that the reason the conclusions of the NIE were released is that it was communicated to the White House that “intelligence career seniors were lined up to go to jail if necessary” if the document’s gist were not given to the public. Translation? Someone in that group would have gone to the media “on the record” to disclose its contents.


December 7, 1941



by Keith Olbermann

Finally, as promised, a Special Comment about the President's cataclysmic deception about Iran.


There are few choices more terrifying than the one Mr.. Bush has left us with tonight.

We have either a president who is too dishonest to restrain himself from invoking World War Three about Iran at least six weeks after he had to have known that the analogy would be fantastic, irresponsible hyperbole -- or we have a president too transcendently stupid not to have asked -- at what now appears to have been a series of opportunities to do so -- whether the fairy tales he either created or was fed, were still even remotely plausible.

A pathological presidential liar, or an idiot-in-chief. It is the nightmare scenario of political science fiction: A critical juncture in our history and, contained in either answer, a president manifestly unfit to serve, and behind him in the vice presidency: an unapologetic war-monger who has long been seeing a world visible only to himself.

After Ms Perino's announcement from the White House late last night, the timeline is inescapable and clear.

In August the President was told by his hand-picked Major Domo of intelligence Mike McConnell, a flinty, high-strung-looking, worrying-warrior who will always see more clouds than silver linings, that what "everybody thought" about Iran might be, in essence, crap.

Yet on October 17th the President said of Iran and its president Ahmadinejad:

"I've told people that if you're interested in avoiding World War Three, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge to make a nuclear weapon."

And as he said that, Mr.. Bush knew that at bare minimum there was a strong chance that his rhetoric was nothing more than words with which to scare the Iranians.

Or was it, Sir, to scare the Americans?

Does Iran not really fit into the equation here? Have you just scribbled it into the fill-in-the-blank on the same template you used, to scare us about Iraq?

In August, any commander-in-chief still able-minded or uncorrupted or both, Sir, would have invoked the quality the job most requires: mental flexibility.

A bright man, or an honest man, would have realized no later than the McConnell briefing that the only true danger about Iran was the damage that could be done by an unhinged, irrational Chicken Little of a president, shooting his mouth off, backed up by only his own hysteria and his own delusions of omniscience.

Not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Mr. Bush.

The Chicken Little of presidents is the one, Sir, that you see in the mirror.

And the mind reels at the thought of a Vice President fully briefed on the revised Intel as long as two weeks ago -- briefed on the fact that Iran abandoned its pursuit of this imminent threat four years ago -- who never bothered to mention it to his boss.

It is nearly forgotten today, but throughout much of Ronald Reagan's presidency it was widely believed that he was little more than a front-man for some never-viewed, behind-the-scenes, string-puller.

Today, as evidenced by this latest remarkable, historic malfeasance, it is inescapable, that Dick Cheney is either this president's evil ventriloquist, or he thinks he is.

What servant of any of the 42 previous presidents could possibly withhold information of this urgency and gravity, and wind up back at his desk the next morning, instead of winding up before a Congressional investigation -- or a criminal one?

Mr. Bush -- if you can still hear us -- if you did not previously agree to this scenario in which Dick Cheney is the actual detective and you're Remington Steele -- you must disenthrall yourself: Mr. Cheney has usurped your constitutional powers, cut you out of the information loop, and led you down the path to an unprecedented presidency in which the facts are optional, the Intel is valued less than the hunch, and the assistant runs the store.

The problem is, Sir, your assistant is robbing you -- and your country -- blind.

Not merely in monetary terms, Mr.. Bush, but more importantly of the traditions and righteousness for which we have stood, at great risk, for centuries: Honesty, Law, Moral Force.

Mr.. Cheney has helped, Sir, to make your Administration into the kind our ancestors saw in the 1860's and 1870's and 1880's -- the ones that abandoned Reconstruction, and sent this country marching backwards into the pit of American Apartheid.

Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland...

Presidents who will be remembered only in a blur of failure, Mr.. Bush.

Presidents who will be remembered only as functions of those who opposed them -- the opponents whom history proved right.

Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland... Bush.

Would that we could let this President off the hook by seeing him only as marionette or moron.

But a study of the mutation of his language about Iran proves that though he may not be very good at it, he is, himself, still a manipulative, Machiavellian, snake-oil salesman.

The Bushian etymology was tracked by Dan Froomkin at the Washington Post's website.

It is staggering.

March 31st: "Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon..."

June 5th: Iran's "pursuit of nuclear weapons..."

June 19th: "consequences to the Iranian government if they continue to pursue a nuclear weapon..."

July 12th: "the same regime in Iran that is pursuing nuclear weapons..."

August 6th: "this is a government that has proclaimed its desire to build a nuclear weapon..."

Notice a pattern?

Trying to develop, build or pursue a nuclear weapon.

Then, sometime between August 6th and August 9th, those terms are suddenly swapped out, so subtly that only in retrospect can we see that somebody has warned the President, not only that he has gone out too far on the limb of terror -- but there may not even be a tree there...

McConnell, or someone, must have briefed him then.

August 9th: "They have expressed their desire to be able to enrich uranium, which we believe is a step toward having a nuclear weapons program..."

August 28th: "Iran's active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons..."

October 4th: "you should not have the know-how on how to make a (nuclear) weapon..."

October 17th: "until they suspend and/or make it clear that they, that their statements aren't real, yeah, I believe they want to have the **capacity**, the **knowledge**, in order to make a nuclear weapon."

Before August 9th, it's: Trying to develop, build or pursue a nuclear weapon.

After August 9th, it's: Desire, pursuit, want...knowledge technology know-how to enrich uranium.

And we are to believe, Mr.. Bush, that the National Intelligence Estimate this week talks of the Iranians suspending their nuclear weapons program in 2003...

And you talked of the Iranians suspending their nuclear weapons program on October 17th...

And that's just a coincidence?


And we are to believe, Mr.. Bush, that nobody told you any of this until last week?

Your insistence that you were not briefed on the NIE until last week might be legally true -- something like "what the definition of is is -- but with the subject matter being not interns but the threat of nuclear war.

Legally, it might save you from some war crimes trial... but ethically, it is a lie.

It is indefensible.

You have been yelling threats into a phone for nearly four months, after the guy on the other end had already hung up.

You, Mr.. Bush, are a bald-faced liar.


And more over, you have just revealed that John Bolton, and Norman Podhoretz, and the Wall Street Journal Editorial board, are also bald-faced liars.

We are to believe that the Intel Community, or maybe the State Department, cooked the raw intelligence about Iran, falsely diminished the Iranian nuclear threat, to make you look bad?

And you proceeded to let them make you look bad?


You not only knew all of this about Iran, in early August...

But you also knew... it was... accurate.

And instead of sharing this good news with the people you have obviously forgotten you represent...

You merely fine-tuned your terrorizing of those people, to legally cover your own backside...

While you filled the factual gap with sadistic visions of -- as you phrased it on August 28th: a quote "nuclear holocaust" -- and, as you phrased it on October 17th, quote: "World War Three."


My comments, Mr. Bush, are often dismissed as simple repetitions of the phrase "George Bush has no business being president."

Well, guess what?

Tonight: hanged by your own words... convicted by your own deliberate lies...

You, sir, have no business... being president.


Good night, and good luck.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Time to put impeachment back on the table

by clammyc

Joe Biden said it recently about bombing Iran and impeachment. Hell, some loudmouth said it back in February as well. But we can’t afford to wait for the smoking gun about whether we will bomb Iran to be the mushroom cloud over Iran, right?

Noted terrorist loving communist far left radicals such as Joe Scarborough and Pat Buchanan are calling for hearings into who knew what and when. And frankly, we know that there was highly questionable behavior with respect to the "when", as also pointed out by TomP earlier today.

We know that there were thinly veiled threats about avoiding World War III and Iran having the knowledge to make nukes by Mister Bush at a time when he most likely knew (or should have known, and someone was deliberately keeping that information from him). We know that the White House still isn’t coming clean, as they demanded that Iran do. We just found out that Israel may have known about this for more than a month before Bush claimed he knew about it.

And now that this NIE contains information that isn’t all too pleasing to Cheney, Bush, John Bolton or the other neocon warmongers, let’s remember what Cheney said back in 2003 about the 2002 NIE that he had changed:

Last October, the Director of Central Intelligence issued a National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's Continuing Programs of Weapons of Mass Destruction. That document contained the consensus judgments of the intelligence community, based upon the best information available about the Iraqi threat. The NIE declared -- quote: "We judge that Iraq has continued its weapons of mass destruction program, in defiance of UN Resolutions and restrictions. Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons, as well as missiles with ranges in excess of UN restrictions. If left unchecked, it probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade." End quote.

Those charged with the security of this nation could not read such an assessment and pretend that it did not exist. Ignoring such information, or trying to wish it away, would be irresponsible in the extreme. And our President did not ignore that information - he faced it. He sought to eliminate the threat by peaceful, diplomatic means and, when all else failed, he acted forcefully to remove the danger.

And certainly, the White House defended its’ reliance on the 2002 NIE on numerous occasions (of course there is plenty written about Cheney pressuring the CIA and intelligence community in 2002 for an NIE that was ultimately changed).

So here we are again. There is something very wrong going on here. There was a deliberate use of the words "World War III", "Iran" and "nuclear weapons" in the same sentence. There is more documented evidence coming out, and more people are stepping forward contradicting Bush, Cheney or some of their war drum banging cohorts. There is an intent to deceive the public regarding whether Iran is a threat, how big of a threat it is, who they are a threat to and why they are such a big threat.

There is no coalition-of-the-anything now except for a coalition of countries who are laughing at us for the predicament that we have let our "leaders" get us into and who scoff at anything that our "leaders" say due to a complete lack of credibility. There will be no more sanctions. There will be no more trust in Bush, Cheney or anyone else from Russia, China, Germany or the other major UN countries.

Congress was pretty complicit, at least by turning the other cheek in 2003 – 2006 as first their own party leaders in the administration and then this past year with the opposition party leaders in the executive branch regarding Iraq, illegal wiretapping, deleted emails, ignoring subpoenas or whatever other crimes this administration may have committed in the past.

And somehow, Congress is yet again given a chance to redeem itself for shirking its responsibility so many times over the past six years with these new developments. Crimes may very well have been committed. Illegal pressure may yet again have been put on the intelligence community by members of the executive branch. There certainly was a campaign to obfuscate and distort the truth – over and above the general "guilt by association" language used so often in the run up to Iraq about Saddam, al Qaeda and 9/11.

On top of all that, it is looking increasingly clear that people at the highest levels of this government (once again) knew one thing and deliberately said another. This country deserves to know if impeachable offenses were committed by Bush, Cheney or anyone else.

Scarborough and Buchanan are right. Investigations are warranted. I know that Rep. Conyers is up for the challenge. I know that he, and a good number of other very fine patriots in the House, knows what is at stake. It’s time to see what happened, who knew what, when they knew it, and whether they deliberately hid it from others that should have known or deliberately tried to conceal it from and deceive the public.

And that means that impeachment can be off the table no longer.


Hayden Says CIA Videotapes Destroyed

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - The CIA videotaped its interrogations of two top terror suspects in 2002 and destroyed the tapes three years later out of fear they would leak to the public and compromise the identities of U.S. questioners, the director of the agency told employees Thursday.

CIA Director Michael Hayden said House and Senate intelligence committee leaders were informed of the existence of the tapes and the CIA's intention to destroy them. He also said the CIA's internal watchdog watched the tapes in 2003 and verified that the interrogation practices were legal.

He said the CIA began taping the interrogations as an internal check on the program after President Bush authorized the use of harsh questioning methods. The methods included waterboarding, which simulates drowning, government officials said.

"The Agency was determined that it proceed in accord with established legal and policy guidelines. So, on its own, CIA began to videotape interrogations," Hayden said in a written message to CIA employees, obtained by The Associated Press.

The CIA also decided to destroy the tapes in "the absence of any legal or internal reason to keep them," Hayden wrote. He said the tapes were destroyed only after it was determined "they were no longer of intelligence value and not relevant to any internal, legislative or judicial inquiries."

"The tapes posed a serious security risk," Hayden wrote. "Were they ever to leak, they would permit identification of your CIA colleagues who had served in the program, exposing them and their families to retaliation from al-Qaida and its sympathizers."

The CIA only taped the interrogation of the first two terror suspects the agency held, one of whom was Abu Zubaydah. Zubaydah, under harsh questioning, told CIA interrogators about alleged 9/11 accomplice Ramzi Binalshibh, Bush said in 2006.

Binalshibh was captured and interrogated and, with Zubaydah's information, led to the capture in 2003 of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the purported mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

Hayden said a secondary reason for the taped interrogations was to have back-up documentation of the information gathered.

"The Agency soon determined that its documentary reporting was full and exacting, removing any need for tapes. Indeed, videotaping stopped in 2002," Hayden said.

The CIA is known to have waterboarded three prisoners since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but not since 2003. Hayden banned the use of the procedure in 2006, according to knowledgeable officials.

A House Intelligence Committee official said the entire committee, not just its top two members, should have been informed.

"This is a matter that should have been briefed to the full Intelligence Committee at the time. This does not appear to have been done. There may be a very logical reason for destroying records that are no longer needed; however, this requires a more complete explanation," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

Hayden's message was an attempt to get ahead of a New York Times story about the videotapes.

"What matters here is that it was done in line with the law," Hayden said. "Over the course of its life, the Agency's interrogation program has been of great value to our country. It has helped disrupt terrorist operations and save lives. It was built on a solid foundation of legal review. It has been conducted with careful supervision. If the story of these tapes is told fairly, it will underscore those facts."

In November, the CIA admitted to an Alexandria, Va., federal court that it had failed to hand over videotaped prisoner interrogations relevant to the trial of al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui. Those interrogations were not part of the CIA's detention program and were not conducted or recorded by the agency, according to the Justice Department.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


White House Reveals Bush Lied: Was Told In August Iran’s Nuclear Program ‘May Be Suspended’

On Tuesday, President Bush said he was never forewarned by the intelligence community that Iran had suspended its nuclear weapons program in 2003:

In August, I think it was John — Mike McConnell came in and said, We have some new information. He didn’t tell me what the information was.

Now the White House is revealing that wasn’t true. In fact, Bush did know what the information was. CNN reports:

President Bush was told in August that Iran’s nuclear weapons program ‘may be suspended,’ the White House said Wednesday, which seemingly contradicts the account of the meeting given by Bush Tuesday.”

The White House statement released by Dana Perino tonight also states McConnell told Bush “the new information might cause the intelligence community to change its assessment of Iran’s covert nuclear program.”

On Tuesday, Bush said “nobody ever told me” to back down from his hawkish rhetoric on Iran. No, maybe not. But Bush knew Iran “may have suspended” its nuclear weapons program and that the intelligence community was in the process of “changing its assessment.” And yet, he continued to warn of “World War III” and a “nuclear holocaust” because nobody told specifically him to stop.

UPDATE: Dan Froomkin reported today that Bush deceptively “changed the way he talked about Iran” starting in August. “Instead of directly condemning Iranian leaders for pursuing nuclear weapons, he started more vaguely accusing them of seeking the knowledge necessary to make such a weapon. Even as he did that, however, he and the vice president accelerated their rhetorical efforts to persuade the public that the nuclear threat posed by Iran was grave and urgent.”


White House Still Won’t Answer When Bush First Learned Iran Halted Its Nuclear Weapons Program

On Monday, the Bush administration released the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, which revealed that “in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program.” The revelation contradicted public statements from Bush administration officials over recent months warning that Iran was quickly developing a nuclear weapons program.

National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said Bush was briefed last Wednesday on the NIE report, but had learned there was new information on Iran’s program sometime “in the last few months.” Bush claimed yesterday that he was told “in August” by DNI Mike McConnell that “we have some new information.” But Bush claimed McConnell didn’t tell him what the information was.

It has now been two days since the NIE was released, and the White House is still unable to answer the most basic question about when Bush first learned that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program. This morning, in a press briefing with reporters, White House spokesman Tony Fratto waffled on three direct questions about whether Bush knew that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program months ago:

QUESTION: Just to clarify one point from the press conference yesterday, the President was — said that he was told by Mr. McConnell, just generally, that there had been some new intelligence and that people were taking another look at it. Did the President at that point ask any follow-up? Did Mr. McConnell offer any comments that, in fact, there might have to be a serious reevaluation of the whole intelligence?

FRATTO: What Director McConnell said is that we’re going to go back and do rigorous analysis of this intelligence, and when we can be certain of it, we’re going to come back and talk to you — and that’s what they did. […]

QUESTION: In that conversation did McConnell tell him that our previous intelligence could be all wrong? How — (inaudible) — was he about that?

FRATTO: I don’t have anything on that. […]

QUESTION: I just want to follow up on Mike’s question. Was there any indication from McConnell of the nature of the intelligence in the meeting in August?

FRATTO: I can’t give you more detail on what Director McConnell said to the President.

In an interview with CNN’s Rick Sanchez yesterday, former Bush administration official Flynt Leverett suggested the White House is being dishonest about what it knew. “I can’t imagine that McConnell…would tell the President about this and not tell him what the information actually said,” Leverett said.

On PBS’ Newshour with Jim Lehrer last night, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) said, “I was really struck when the president said that he only got the final judgments on Tuesday,” adding that he “can’t believe” that McConnell’s indication of new information didn’t prevent the President from “talking about a nuclear holocaust.”


QUESTION: Just to clarify one point from the press conference yesterday, the President was — said that he was told by Mr. McConnell, just generally, that there had been some new intelligence and that people were taking another look at it. Did the President at that point ask any follow-up? Did Mr. McConnell offer any comments that, in fact, there might have to be a serious reevaluation of the whole intelligence?

FRATTO: What Director McConnell said is that we’re going to go back and do rigorous analysis of this intelligence, and when we can be certain of it, we’re going to come back and talk to you — and that’s what they did. I’ve seen some criticism of, number one, of the international — I mean, of the intelligence community in the last couple days, which I think is just incredibly misguided. The intelligence community is out there doing very difficult, courageous work to try to get the intelligence right. They’re doing it in some of the most hardened places to try to acquire this intelligence, and they’re doing an astounding job of it, under Director McConnell’s leadership. And then I’ve seen some criticism of the leadership of the intelligence community for not being more forthcoming, and I think this is also unfounded. It is important, if you’re going to tell the Congress and the American people and the President of the United States an important piece of intelligence information, that it be rigorously analyzed, that you have the highest degree of confidence. And that’s what they went back and did and they took the extra time to do that.

And then I’ve seen criticism that the President should have either changed his rhetoric or asked more. What he asked of his intelligence community was to tell him what was right when you know it’s right, and that’s what they did. In terms of rhetoric, there is no rhetoric to change when the facts on the ground still suggest to any reasonable observer that Iran poses a threat and is a destabilizing force, unless they change their activities.

QUESTION: In that conversation did McConnell tell him that our previous intelligence could be all wrong? How — (inaudible) — was he about that?

FRATTO: I don’t have anything on that.


QUESTION: I just want to follow up on Mike’s question. Was there any indication from McConnell of the nature of the intelligence in the meeting in August?

FRATTO: I can’t give you more detail on what Director McConnell said to the President.


Bush Today On The NIE

Moments ago, speaking in Nebraska, George Bush said:

It is clear from the latest NIE, that the Iranian government has more to explain about its nuclear intentions and past actions.

No, what is clear from the latest NIE is that the Bush administration has more to explain on what they knew and when they knew it. Less than two months ago, when Bush said:

...if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. And I take this very -- I take the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon very seriously.

...did he already know that Iran had suspended their nuclear weapons program in 2003?


Report says U.S. jails more blacks than whites for drugs

By Matthew Bigg

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Black Americans are 10 times more likely to be imprisoned for illegal drug offenses than whites, even though both groups use and sell drugs at the same rate, according to a study released on Tuesday.

Almost all large counties in the United States showed sharp disparities along racial lines in the sentencing of drug offenders, the study by the Washington-based Justice Policy Institute showed.

There were 1.5 million drug arrests out of 19.5 million drug users in 2002, it said. About 175,000 people were incarcerated for a drug offense, of which half were black, even though blacks account for 13 percent of the U.S. population, it said.

The study looked at data from 198 U.S. counties with the biggest population. Its findings were similar to others on the subject, but it is the first to look at relative incarceration rates at a local level.

"What you keep seeing is this towering drug admission rate for African Americans and a very small rate for whites. In many cases, the admission rate for whites is smaller than the (percentage of whites in the) whole population," said Jason Ziedenberg, the institute's executive director.

The reasons for the disparity include federal mandatory minimum jail terms for drug crimes, which he said hit blacks harder.

For instance, the mandatory federal sentence is the same for possession of 5 grams (0.2 ounces) of crack, more associated with blacks, as 500 grams (18 ounces) of cocaine, which is more often used by whites.

Local police also tend to devote more resources to policing illegal drugs in open-air drug markets in inner cities with more blacks than in suburban communities or college campuses, Ziedenberg said, citing other research.

Research also shows that probation officers are sometimes more lenient with white offenders, blaming their problems on factors such as a broken home, than with black offenders, who were more likely to be described as having a failure of moral character, he said.

Ziedenberg advocated more investment in drug treatment and applauded individual U.S. counties that decided to make drug enforcement a lower priority than policing violent crime.

Reform of drug laws and increases in funding for drug treatment are difficult to achieve because politicians are unwilling to be seen as soft on crime, according to Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

"The public is by and large supportive of (some drug) reform, but legislatures have been hesitant to move forward. ... The law enforcement industry is politically very powerful and has a lot of sway over legislators," Nadelmann said.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


In Case you missed the Youtube Republican Debate. Here's a recap from Democratic Underground.

The Republican Presidential Candidates batshit crazy

And finally, after trembling in fear for months (see Idiots 301), the GOP candidates finally decided to face off at the CNN/YouTube debate last week - and what a debate it was! Boy, America sure has a lot to look forward to if one of these guys becomes president.

Now, I'm sure many of you decided that you had something better to do than tune in, like taking out the trash or picking lint out of your bellybutton, but if that's the case you missed a treat. So for those of you who skipped it, I'm proud to present...

The Top 10 Conservative Idiots GOP CNN/YouTube Debate Recap

See you next week!


Kidnapping Not a Crime, Claims Bush Justice Department

BY Scott Horton

Continuing its recent spree of criminality in the alleged pursuit of law enforcement, the Bush Justice Department formally advised a British Court last week that it is fully entitled to kidnap foreigners (i.e., Britons) off the street around the world and carry them off to secret prisons. The claim was formerly thought to relate to terrorists. But no longer. Now the Bush Justice Department asserts the right to kidnap anyone it suspects of a crime. The Sunday Times (London) reports:

America has told Britain that it can “kidnap” British citizens if they are wanted for crimes in the United States. A senior lawyer for the American government has told the Court of Appeal in London that kidnapping foreign citizens is permissible under American law because the US Supreme Court has sanctioned it.

The admission will alarm the British business community after the case of the so-called NatWest Three, bankers who were extradited to America on fraud charges. More than a dozen other British executives, including senior managers at British Airways and BAE Systems, are under investigation by the US authorities and could face criminal charges in America.

A look a little deeper into the case at hand provides a good explanation:

The US government’s view emerged during a hearing involving Stanley Tollman, a former director of Chelsea football club and a friend of Baroness Thatcher, and his wife Beatrice. The Tollmans, who control the Red Carnation hotel group and are resident in London, are wanted in America for bank fraud and tax evasion. They have been fighting extradition through the British courts.

During a hearing last month Lord Justice Moses, one of the Court of Appeal judges, asked Alun Jones QC, representing the US government, about its treatment of Gavin, Tollman’s nephew. Gavin Tollman was the subject of an attempted abduction during a visit to Canada in 2005. Jones replied that it was acceptable under American law to kidnap people if they were wanted for offences in America. “The United States does have a view about procuring people to its own shores which is not shared,” he said.

He said that if a person was kidnapped by the US authorities in another country and was brought back to face charges in America, no US court could rule that the abduction was illegal and free him: “If you kidnap a person outside the United States and you bring him there, the court has no jurisdiction to refuse — it goes back to bounty hunting days in the 1860s.” Mr Justice Ouseley, a second judge, challenged Jones to be “honest about [his] position”. Jones replied: “That is United States law.”

Let’s be a bit fairer to the United States shall we? This is not U.S. law, it is a Bush Administration hallucination as to U.S. law. The sort of nightmare that comes flowing freely from the pen of John Yoo or David Addington. The sort of nightmare which refuses to recognize the sovereignty of foreign states or the solemn commitments of U.S. governments over the last two centuries in treaties and conventions. The sort of nightmare that refuses to recognize the “law of nations” referred to by the Founding Fathers and incorporated into the Constitution. Alas, it is the attitude of a criminal who imagines himself busy enforcing the law, even as he holds himself above the law.

It is the attitude which has brought our nation low in the world and threatens more damage still.


Bush: DNI Told Me ‘We Have Some New Information, He Didn’t Tell Me What The Information Was’

At a press briefing this morning, President Bush said he was told by his Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell “in August” that “we have some new information” regarding Iran’s nuclear program. But Bush asserted “he didn’t tell me what the information was”:

BUSH: I was made aware of the NIE last week. In August, I think it was John — Mike McConnell came in and said, We have some new information. He didn’t tell me what the information was. He did tell me it was going to take a while to analyze.

Later, when a reporter followed-up on this statement, Bush asserted no one ever told him to stop ratcheting up the rhetoric against Iran:

REPORTER: Are you saying at no point while the rhetoric was escalating, as World War III was making it into conversation — at no point, nobody from your intelligence team or your administration was saying, Maybe you want to back it down a little bit?

BUSH: No — I’ve never — nobody ever told me that.

Yesterday, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said, “when the President was told that we had some additional information, he was basically told: stand down; needs to be evaluated; we’ll come to you and tell you what we think it means.” Later in the briefing, Hadley reversed course and said, “In terms of stand down, they did not tell the President to stand down and stop talking about Iran’s nuclear program.”

White House officials are obfuscating on what they knew and when they knew it because the answer has the potential of further damaging the credibility of what they have asserted about Iran in the past few months. As ThinkProgress has noted, while the intelligence community was processing new information that Iran was “less determined to develop nuclear weapons,” President Bush was specifically warning that Iran was trying to “build a nuclear weapon.”

To recap: At the same time Bush was ratcheting up the rhetoric on Iran, he was told by his National Intelligence Director that that have “some new information.” Yet Bush wants the public to believe he never learned what the information was, nor was he interested.

UPDATE: The Washington Post reports this morning that “intelligence officials began briefing senior members of the Bush administration” about the new information “beginning in July.” But apparently, Bush was left completely in the dark until last Tuesday.

Monday, December 03, 2007


CIA To Dick Cheney: Suck. On. This.

by Atrios


WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 — A new assessment by American intelligence agencies concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains on hold, contradicting an assessment two years ago that Tehran was working inexorably toward building a bomb.

The conclusions of the new assessment are likely to be explosive in the middle of tense international negotiations aimed at getting Iran to halt its nuclear energy program, and in the middle of a presidential campaign during which a possible military strike against Iran’s nuclear program has been discussed.

The assessment, a National Intelligence Estimate that represents the consensus view of all 16 American spy agencies, states that Tehran’s ultimate intentions about gaining a nuclear weapon remain unclear, but that Iran’s “decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic and military costs.”

-Atrios 12:34


Wolfowitz Returns To Bush Administration As WMD Adviser

Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff reports that Iraq war architect Paul Wolfowitz has been rewarded with a new position in the Bush administration which will allow him to oversee classified intelligence and inform policies on WMD issues:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has offered Wolfowitz, a prime architect of the Iraq War, a position as chairman of the International Security Advisory Board, a prestigious State Department panel, according to two department sources who declined to be identified discussing personnel matters. The 18-member panel, which has access to highly classified intelligence, advises Rice on disarmament, nuclear proliferation, WMD issues and other matters. “We think he is well suited and will do an excellent job,” said one senior official.

Prior to the Iraq war, Wolfowitz established the Office of Special Plans in the Pentagon to skirt the intelligence community and peddle the most egregiously false claims of Iraqi WMD. In a Jan. 2003 speech, Wolfowitz referenced “Iraqi efforts to procure uranium from abroad” despite the fact that the claim had already been discredited by the CIA. A few months after the Iraq invasion was launched, Wolfowitz admitted that claims of Iraqi WMD was used as a political tool to achieve consensus for the war:

The truth is that, for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason [to go to war].

When Wolfowitz left the World Bank in disgrace and landed at the American Enterprise Institute, he said he was leaving “open the possibility of rejoining the government.” Brookings analyst Philip Gordon speculated at the time that “the need for Senate confirmation would be a big political obstacle” for Wolfowitz to be named to another senior government post. Laura Rozen notes, however, that Wolfowitz’s new position “doesn’t require Senate confirmation.”

Paul Wolfowitz’s career continues to shine as a stunning example of what Paul Krugman has called the “comprehensiveness and generosity of the neocon welfare system.”

UPDATE: Siun at FDL has more.

UPDATE II: Andrew Sullivan comments: “He’s advising Condi on WMDs. Curveball wasn’t available?

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