Sunday, July 31, 2005


George Bush: ten vacations a year
[USA Today] Bush plans 50th ranch trip in five years
President Bush was pronounced "fit for duty" after an annual checkup Saturday. . . A four-page medical summary issued by the White House said Bush remains in the "superior" fitness category for a man of his age. . .

"He's in superior health," White House spokesman Dana Perino told reporters after Bush returned to the White House. "I think you all know he's got a terrific fitness routine. . . "

Jean Schmidt, running for the Ohio Second district seat, is the essence of the modern Republican: hateful, simple-minded, and message-scripted to within an inch of her life. Listen to this clip, if you have the stomach for it, and ponder how we reached a point where people like this were judged worthy for some of the most important political positions in our country

The mean and angry version:

The John Aravosis version:

Yes, you heard that right, questioning the patriotism of a returning Iraq war veteran (sound familiar?). And what gives her the right to do that?
When asked about Democratic House candidate Paul Hackett's obvious experience with the Iraq question, he served as a US soldier in Iraq, his Republican opponent, Jean Schmidt, responded that she just got back from a memorial for a local soldier who died.

[NB: If you listen to this, you will also hear, among other crazy things, this explanation for why we never found WMD in Iraq: There weren’t any WMD in Iraq. We were listening to a thug, Saddam Hussein, and he lied to us about having them. He wouldn’t let people come in to inspect [which is untrue]. So when we got there, we didn’t find any.]


The New Iraq
[WP] Iraq's transportation minister, a Shiite Muslim, has ordered a ban on alcohol sales at Baghdad International Airport, declaring that the facility is "a holy and revered" piece of Iraq, a spokesman said Friday. . .

The New Pakistan
[NYT] Then on Jan. 2, Dr. Shazia woke up in the middle of the night, and at first she thought she was having a nightmare. "But this person was really pulling hard on my hair, and then he started pressing on my throat so I couldn't breathe.”. . . He tied the telephone cord around my throat. I resisted and struggled, and he beat me on the head with the telephone receiver. When I tried to scream, he said, 'Shut up - there's a man standing outside named Amjad, and he's got kerosene. If you scream, I'll take it and burn you alive.'. . . Then he took my prayer scarf and he blindfolded me with it, and he took the telephone cord and tied my wrists, and he laid me down on the bed. I tried hard to fight but he raped me."

The man spent the night in her room, beating her, casually watching television, raping her again and boasting about his powerful connections. A 35-page confidential report by a tribunal describes Dr. Shazia tumbling into the nurse's quarters that morning: "semiconscious ... with a swelling on her forehead and bleeding from nose and ear." Officials of Pakistan Petroleum rushed over and took decisive action.

"They told me to be quiet and not to tell anybody because it would ruin my reputation," Dr. Shazia remembers. One official warned that if she reported the crime, she could be arrested.

That was a genuine risk. Under Pakistan's hudood laws, a woman who reports that she has been raped is liable to be arrested for adultery or fornication - since she admits to sex outside of marriage - unless she can provide four male eyewitnesses to the rape. . .

"When I treat rape victims, I tell the girls not to go to the police," Dr. Shershah Syed, a prominent gynecologist in Karachi, told me. "Because if she goes to the police, the police will rape her."

That's the way the world works for anyone unfortunate enough to be born female in much of the world. . .

Jimmy Carter’s unusually harsh assessment of another President’s policies (thanks to Buzzflash for the link),0,4438597.story
"I think what's going on in Guantanamo Bay and other places is a disgrace to the U.S.A.," he told a news conference at the Baptist World Alliance's centenary conference in Birmingham, England. . .

"What has happened at Guantanamo Bay ... does not represent the will of the American people," Carter said Saturday. "I'm embarrassed about it, I think its wrong. I think it does give terrorists an unwarranted excuse to use the despicable means to hurt innocent people.". . .

"I thought then, and I think now, that the invasion of Iraq was unnecessary and unjust. And I think the premises on which it was launched were false," he said Saturday.

How bad is the Energy Bill? Here it is, chapter and verse (thanks to Susan Madrak for the link)

More from Susan
[WP] On the same day that the White House announced that President Bush is nominating California billionaire Roland E. Arnall to be ambassador to the Netherlands, the company he controls said it would set aside $325 million for a possible settlement of allegations of predatory lending tactics.

Arnall’s company, Ameriquest Mortgage Co., is being investigated by regulators in 30 states. A $325 million settlement would be one of the largest ever in a predatory lending case. . .

Arnall is the firm’s principal shareholder. He, his wife and their companies have been the biggest political contributors to Bush since 2002.

Life in a banana republic
Just a few New York Times headlines that popped out at me this morning:

• Senate Approves Bill Protecting Gun Businesses

• Lawmakers' Pet Projects Find Home in Bill

• Unending Graft Is Threatening Latin America

[Matthew Yglesias] I think it would be a mistake to construe the political forces governing the United States at the present moment as representing "conservatism" in any sort of traditional sense as one might find in a book on political theory. A graft-ridden banana republic, on the other hand, is not a terrible model.

The end of the Freedom of Information Act? (thanks to Buzzflash for the link)
During the Clinton administration, federal agencies were urged to resolve FOIA requests by erring on the side of releasing, not withholding, government information.

Ashcroft changed that policy by making federal agencies carefully consider national security and law enforcement concerns before releasing information. His memo said information sought under FOIA should be released "only after full and deliberate consideration of the institutional, commercial, and personal privacy interest that could be implicated by disclosure of the information."

More than 4 million FOIA requests were made to the federal government last year by the public and the media. Many requests drag on for years without resolution.

President Bush said last spring he would look at ways to speed FOIA responses, conceding that there is "suspicion" his administration is too security-conscious.

Problems with military recruiting? It’s the educators’ fault

How are Republicans reacting to Frist’s flip-flop on stem cells? One group, predictably, is condemning him as a traitor to the cause. The other group is bending over like a pretzel trying to explain how this is all perfectly consistent for him

Lincoln Chafee (R-RI): too little, too late on Bolton

Bonus item: NYT publishes a good review of NASA’s failures to deal adequately with safety issues, but fails to mention one key name
[After Columbia] “There is no question about this - this accident happened on my watch. I am accountable for this activity. And I am going to be accountable for the conduct of this whole review. And I am going to be accountable at the end of the day on how well we achieve the objective I talked about earlier - finding out what the problem was, fix it, and getting back to flying safely. That is an accountability that I will definitely feel every day - and have since the day this started.",12845,1120962,00.html

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I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Saturday, July 30, 2005


Another reminder of Rove 101: When your back is against the wall, heighten your belligerence and arrogance. When you are failing and under criticism, press on with even more audacious acts. What matters is to be SEEN as someone in control, so act like it even when it isn’t true

A good summary by Dan Froomkin: which way is the arrow pointing for W?
August is just around the bend and while it's a notoriously slow time for news in Washington, it's hot times for presidential prognostication.

So after the dust settles from this busy week and the assessments start to pour in, how will President Bush measure up?

Will the defining moment turn out to be his putting down of a Republican rebellion against a small trade pact? Or will it be the defiance of the Senate majority leader on the urgent and divisive issue of stem cell research?

When evaluating progress on Bush's domestic agenda, will the focus be on his success in pushing through pork-filled energy and highway bills? Or on his failure to achieve his top legislative priorities -- including the transformation of Social Security and the tax code?

On the foreign policy front, will his rebranding of the war on terror and talk of possible troop pullouts buy him some good will? Or will the continued violence in Iraq, the renewed threat from al Qaeda, and the controversy over the treatment of detainees still plague him?

Will his decision to nominate John G. Roberts Jr. for the Supreme Court still be seen as a master stroke once Roberts's potentially outside-the-mainstream views on civil rights are more fully fleshed out?

And when the next shoe drops on the CIA leak case, how big of a shoe will it be? And upon whom will it drop?

Bush to appoint Bolton on Monday: and even though a recess appointment is TEMPORARY, they’ve already started the b.s. machine
[Reuters] "We need our permanent representative in place at the United Nations at this critical time. There is an effort under way to move forward on comprehensive reform," [McClellan] said.

"And it's a critical time to be moving forward on this. The United Nations will be having their General Assembly meeting in September, and it's important that we get our permanent representative in place," he said.
[Matt Yglesias] I seriously do think there was a time when lying to Congress was considered problematic. . . Needless to say, it doesn't seem that any Senate Republicans find this troubling. And why should they? They've made it clear that executive branch oversight and the prerogatives of Congress are small things to sacrifice for the greater good of shielding the Bush administration from damaging information. Meanwhile, though this is hardly the essence of the case against Bolton, you really, really need to wonder if anyone on the right genuinely believes he's the best man for this job.
Most of the Senate Dems just sent the following letter to the president on the Bolton matter. . .

Mr. Bolton's excuse that he "didn't recall being interviewed by the State Department's Inspector General" is simply not believable. How can you forget an interview about an issue so important. . .
[Bloomberg] Senator Richard Lugar, the Indiana Republican who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, said the disclosure doesn't change his mind about supporting Bolton. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told him today during a telephone conversation that Bolton is ``correcting the record,'' Lugar said. . . Senator Lincoln Chafee, a Rhode Island Republican who supported Bolton in the committee, said the latest disclosure might cause him to reconsider. . . Chafee said “it would be a mistake'' for Bush to give Bolton a temporary appointment. “The nomination is so controversial I think it deserves a Senate vote,'' he said.

More on Chafee. He is shocked, truly shocked, to find out what a bad guy Bolton actually is:

Of course, CNN manages to cover the recess appointment story without even mentioning the fact that we just found out that Bolton lied to Congress

It’s the little lies
Q First on Bolton, and then another question about today's discussion. Is the President concerned about the apparent error on Mr. Bolton's questionnaire to the Senate. . .

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think the State Department addressed that last night and it was John Bolton who pointed that out.

[NB: Of course, that is utterly untrue: according to the State Dept’s OWN letter, Bolton recalled nothing about the interview until after being "reminded" by Biden’s letter (that’s the generous interpretation, of course). But by any account, neither Bolton nor the State Dept acknowledged the discrepancy until they were forced to:]

Well, you can look at it this way
[Hunter] I have mixed feelings about such an appointment. Well, not really -- at this point, I mostly welcome it, and I think most administration critics have been coming to roughly the same conclusions. If you're out to prove spectacular Bush administration incompetence and corruption, Bolton is the yellowcake-dusted gift that keeps on giving. . .

Already, it looks like we're in for quite a ride. You have to marvel at the corporate desk-thumping audacity of rallying against the bloated bureaucracy of the U.N. -- claiming it wouldn't make much of a difference if the U.N. lost ten floors -- and taking on, as your first act (while your battered nomination is still resting deep in the cold ground), the doubling in size of your own ambassadorial office. Does that sound like a powerful voice of reform, or a corporate management guy who wants to make sure he has the biggest desk and the rollingest chair?

Mostly, however, he's going to be ineffective -- and I expect given the visibility of the post, comically so. No, I'm not thinking Bolton is going to start any wars, any more than I think he's going to "reform" the ambassadors around him. There's not like there's any goodwill among the international community left to squander, so he can expect to be treated, by both friend and foe, with lazily shaded revulsion. They've been following the stories closer than any of us have. They know what they're getting. And, to be honest, John Bolton fits the studious non-diplomacy of George W. Bush like a furry glove. Short of nominating a horse wearing diapers to be his next U.N. Ambassador, I'm not sure how Bush could make his contempt for the international community any more clear.

Honestly, the most remarkable part about all of this -- actually, about most of the administration and Senate events of the last week, all told -- is the utter childishness of it all. Bolton, if appointed to the post, will be installed there because the Bush administration refuses to give the Senate a mere handful of documents which, according to prevalent rumor, demonstrate Bolton to be even worse than we already knew. And even without the additional documents, Bolton doesn't have enough support in the Senate to move forward even another inch because of underground Republican wariness, not just Democratic opposition.

Now, Bush could do what every other modern President has done when a nominee has gone so badly sour; dump him, and nominate someone else. (Even Newt Gingrich has been named as a possible replacement, here.) But Bush is less loyal, his handlers' signature praise line, than just preternaturally lazy. This is, truly, the CEO Presidency, and Bush is the CEO that many of us know far too well from the business world. Can't make decisions. Can't listen to complex issues. Can't handle basic personnel problems or staff infighting to save his life. At this point it looks like the objections to Bolton are near unanimous around those who have worked with and above him -- but Bush doesn't have any way of dealing with it other than giving Bolton what Bolton wants and hoping it just works out somehow. . .

A recess appointment is an act of political weakness, since it accomplishes through fiat what the president doesn't have the coattails to accomplish even through his obsessively loyal Republican-run Senate. And given the eyes on Bolton, I'm betting dollars to donuts such an appointment is going to backfire spectacularly. . .

So. Let me be among the first to welcome you to your new, highly visible, highly critical post, John Bolton; look forward to working at you.

[NB: It's not my way here to offer predictions, but let me hazard a little guess that we may see a big anti-Bolton story leaked in the next day or two by one of the many, many people -- including Republicans -- who don't want to see Bolton over at the U.N.]

Judith Miller: why is she in jail, and what does the NYT know about the facts of her Plame involvement?
[Arianna Huffington] The more I'm reading about Judy Miller and her actions leading up to and during the early days of the war, and then through the unfolding Plame-Rove-Libby-Gonzalez-Card scandal, the more I’m struck by the special access and relationships she enjoyed with many of the key players in the Iraq debacle (which, at the end of the day, is really what Plamegate is all about).

For starters, of course, we have her still unfolding involvement in the Plame leak. Earlier this month, Howard Kurtz reported that Miller and Libby spoke a few days before Novak outed Plame -- and I’m hearing that the Libby/Miller conversation occurred over breakfast in Washington. Did Valerie Plame come up -- and, if so, who brought her up? There is no question that Miller was angry at Joe Wilson… and continues to be. A social acquaintance of Miller told me that, once, when she spoke of Wilson, it was with “a passionate and heated disgust that went beyond the political and included an irrelevant bit of deeply personal innuendo about him, her mouth twisting in hatred.”

Miller’s special relationships go much further than Scooter Libby, Richard Perle and the rest of the neocon establishment. Take her involvement as an embedded reporter during the war with the Pentagon’s Mobile Exploitation Team (MET) Alpha -- the unit charged with hunting down Saddam’s WMD. As extensively reported by both Kurtz and New York Magazine’s Franklin Foer, Miller’s time with the unit was highly unusual.

First, there was the fact that she landed the plum assignment in the first place. It would give her first dibs on the biggest story of the war… the hoped-for reveal of Saddam’s much-touted WMD (with much of the touting done by Miller herself and her special sources). Was this the reward for her pro-administration prewar reporting?

Foer cites military and New York Times sources as saying that Miller’s assignment was so sensitive that Don Rumsfeld himself signed off on it. Once embedded, Miller acted as much more than a reporter. Kurtz quotes one military officer as saying that the MET Alpha unit became a “Judith Miller team.” Another officer said that Miller “came in with a plan. She was leading them. . . She ended up almost hijacking the mission.” A third officer, a senior staffer of the 75th Exploitation Task Force, of which MET Alpha was a part, put it this way: “It’s impossible to exaggerate the impact she had on the mission of this unit, and not for the better.”

What did Miller do to create such an impression? According to Kurtz, she wasn’t afraid to throw her weight around, threatening to write critical stories and complain to her friends in very high places if things didn’t go her way. “Judith,” said an Army officer, “was always issuing threats of either going to the New York Times or to the secretary of defense. There was nothing veiled about that threat.”

In one specific instance, she used her friendship with Major General David Petraeus to force a lower ranking officer to reverse an order she was unhappy about. (Can we stop for a moment and take the full measure of how unbelievable this whole thing is?) . . .

Miller apparently ended up developing an especially close relationship with Chief Warrant Officer Richard Gonzalez, the leader of the MET Alpha unit. Along with puffing him up in some of her dispatches. . . Miller took the unusual step of taking part in the ceremony where Gonzalez was promoted, actually pinning his new rank to his uniform (has the bizarreness of all this hit you yet?).

Later, when Miller’s reporting came under serious fire, Gonzalez was only too happy to return the favor, writing an impassioned response to the Times’ Iraq reporting mea culpa. “We have been deeply disturbed,” Gonzalez wrote in a letter to the Times that was co-signed by a pair of his colleagues, “by the mischaracterizations of the operation and of [Miller’s] reporting. . . [We] remain firmly supportive of the accuracy of her accounts of the events she described, as well as other articles she wrote while embedded with our unit.” Wow. I’m kinda surprised he didn’t sign it “JM + MET Alpha, N.A.F (Now and Forever)”. . .

More on Miller:

Other Plame updates
[David Corn] [Cliff] May maintained that before Bob Novak on July 14, 2003, published a column identifying Valerie Plame as a CIA "operative," a former government official "mentioned" to May the CIA identity of Joseph Wilson's wife "in an offhanded manner, leading me to infer it was something that insiders were well aware of."

Well, who said this?. . . [N]o such source has come forward. And May has not identified his source. May works for the neoconnish Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a pro-Iraq war outfit that features as advisors such ex-government officials as R. James Woolsey (former CIA director), Newt Gingirch, Richard Perle and Bill Kristol. That is, May is surrounded by people with close ties to the White House and the intelligence community. Who can know which one of his comrades, if any of this crowd, shared the supposedly open-secret secret with May?
[Eric Umansky] Forget for a moment whether Rove's chatting about breaks the law about outing an agent. Forget even the enticing possibility he perjured himself. Those are both still hypotheticals. What isn't a hypothetical is that Rove leaked classified info and that is, what's the word, illegal. Over to David Corn, who links to a letter the CIA sent Rep. John Conyers:

In it, [the CIA] told Conyers that the CIA on July 30, 2003--two weeks after the Plame/CIA leak first appeared in Bob Novak's column--"reported to the Criminal Division of DoJ a possible violation of criminal law concerning the unauthorized disclosure of classified information." Once more, here is proof that Valerie Wilson's employment status at the CIA was classified information. . . Which means that when Karl Rove and Scooter Libby told at least two reporters (Novak and Time's Matt Cooper) that Joseph Wilson's wife worked at the CIA they were disclosing classified information. Case closed. . .

Condi Rice?

A truly disturbing trend. In their never-ending effort to cow and control the press, the latest Bush ploy is to provide privileged leaks to reporters, but only if they promise not to get any Democratic responses or question any other sources – guaranteeing an uncritical and one-sided report. And guess what? They are finding reporters happy to make such deals
[Kos] What's particularly egregious about the Roll Call piece is that her Republican source demanded Whittington not talk to any other sources and she agreed, a gross violation of standard journalistic practices. Furthermore, Whittington failed to disclose that arrangement in the story, which ended up being a one-sided affair at the insistence of the Republicans. Whittington essentially wrote a GOP press release for them in a journalistic publication. . .


Bush’s incoherent and futile policy toward North Korea

How we let Bin Laden escape from Tora Bora: and why you haven’t heard the whole story (yet)

New bill protects gun manufacturers from lawsuits: because this is a priority for what the country needs right now

Apparently the Secret Service isn’t that concerned about people impersonating their agents,1,3797013.story

How things get done in today’s GOP
[NB: edited for sequence] U.S. Attorney Gregory White, a leader in a multiagency task force investigating powerful Republicans in Ohio, asked for help from Gov. Bob Taft’s office to get the federal post he now holds. . . Mr. White asked the governor to call President Bush on his behalf in August, 2002. . .

On Aug. 21, 2002, Mr. White requested, through Mr. Hicks, that the governor call President Bush and touted his help as a local leader in the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign. In the e-mail, Mr. White expressed frustration with an interview for the post that had gone poorly.

“I wonder what it is that went so badly. This is very frustrating to me,” Mr. White wrote. “I believe that my record speaks for itself, and I doubt there are too many county chairs for the Bush Campaign that worked harder.”. . .

A week later, top Bush aide Karl Rove was given the phone numbers of Brian Hicks, the governor’s former chief of staff.

In February, 2003, after Mr. White was named interim U.S. attorney. . .

Jean Schmidt (R – OH2) not just a crook, but a petty crook
[Toledo Blade] Jean Schmidt, a former Republican state representative from the Cincinnati area, also appealed to the governor's office on behalf of a Web-based lottery. Ms. Schmidt is currently running for Congress against Paul Hackett, a Democrat who served in the Iraq War.

The race has attracted national attention.

In a November, 2001, e-mail, Jon Allison, a staff member for Governor Taft, complained that Ms. Schmidt "continues to bug me on Internet lottery."

One year later, her state representative re-election campaign garnered a $1,000 donation from Mr. Ach.

Ms. Schmidt said through a spokesman that she does not remember any conversations with the governor's office about an online lottery, although she does remember that this was a significant issue at the time.

"The documents indicate that she is lobbying the governor on behalf of Roger Ach," said her opponent, Mr. Hackett. "After doing their bidding, she takes a $1,000 donation. That is the culture of corruption - documented."


Duke Cunningham (R-CA) says, 1000 DOLLARS?! Jean, Jean, Jean. . . let me show you how we do things in the REPUBLICAN party. . .

Member of Cheney’s 2001 Task Force, who helped let corporations write US energy policy, rewarded with chair of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (thanks to Buzzflash for the link)

DeLay vs Frist: the coming war within the Republican party over stem cell research

Whoa: this is about as nasty as it gets in the WH briefing room. During a discussion of stem cell policy. . .
Q The Republican Party appears to be moving away from this President on this issue. How does he react to that?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think that there are many Americans that share the President's view. . .

Q Okay, let me just interrupt. Most Americans --

MR. McCLELLAN: Hang on, hang on.

Q Most Americans don't support the President's decision, according to polls.

MR. McCLELLAN: Hang on. This is a difficult issue. . .

Q As an individual, does he support the private research that's going forward on embryonic stem cells?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President -- the decision he made was relating to taxpayer money.

Q I understand that. I'm asking if as an individual --

MR. McCLELLAN: And the President is someone who believes we shouldn't be creating life for the sole purpose of destroying it. And he stated that position.

Q Separate issue.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that addresses your question.

Q One factual thing here. Well, let me just get an answer to this first part. The fact is that the Republican Party is moving away from this President. . .

MR. McCLELLAN: Okay, I'm going to disagree with you right now on saying the Republican Party is moving away. The Republican Party is united and moving forward to implement important priorities for the American people. This week has been one of the most successful weeks --

Q On stem cell -- I'm talking about this issue.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, no, you made a general statement that they're moving away.

Q No, no, I meant on this issue. I meant on this issue.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, but let me talk about this issue, because some of you in this room, and some of your colleagues, two months ago, were saying that this President is facing lame duck status. . .

Q Let's not divert off of that, Scott. I was specific to this issue. Let's not get off on that.

MR. McCLELLAN: Of course, you don't want to talk about it.

Q That was your opening statement, you had time about that. No, the Republicans support you on any number of things, I can list them --

MR. McCLELLAN: You don't want to talk about it.

Q I'd love to talk about it, let's lengthen the briefing, but one question about --

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not going anywhere. . . Now I want to back up, because I do think it's important to talk about the accomplishments. Maybe you don't want to talk about it, because a number of people in the media were saying just two months ago --

Q Don't start with that.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, let's start with that.

Q Don't take me on like I don't want to talk about it. That's ridiculous. You want to make your statement, make your statement. I was asking you a specific question on a specific issue, and don't try to turn this into a screed about the media.

MR. McCLELLAN: Then don't make a broad statement, like you did.

Q I corrected myself. I meant on this issue.

MR. McCLELLAN: Of course you don't want to talk about it, because you don't want the American people to hear about the great progress that we're making on the legislative front.

Q I thought I heard your opening statement pretty clearly.

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sure you'll be reporting on it later tonight.

Q Watch the broadcast tomorrow.

[David Gregory, NBC – in case you were wondering. Video available at CSPAN]

Bonus item: Thucydides, right then, and still right now
“The meaning of words had no longer the same relation to things, but was changed by them as they thought proper. Reckless daring was held to be loyal courage; prudent delay was the excuse of a coward; moderation was the disguise of unmanly weakness; to know everything was to do nothing. Frantic energy was the true quality of a man.”

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Friday, July 29, 2005


Bolton filed a false report to Senate confirmation committee. WH response? “Whoops – no biggee”
[Joe Biden, to Condoleezza Rice] It has just come to my attention that then-Undersecretary of State John Bolton was interviewed on July 18, 2003 by the State Department Office of the Inspector General in connection with a joint State Department/CIA IG investigation related to the alleged Iraqi attempts to procure uranium from Niger. This information would appear to be inconsistent with information that Mr. Bolton provided to the Committee on Foreign Relations during the Committee’s consideration of his pending nomination to be Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

The Committee on Foreign Relations expects all nominees to provide to it accurate and timely information. Indeed, in submitting the Committee’s questionnaire, all nominees are required to swear out an affidavit stating that the information provided is “true and accurate.” It now appears that Mr. Bolton’s answers may not meet that standard.
[AP] John Bolton, the nominee for U.N. ambassador, inaccurately told Congress he had not been interviewed or testified in any investigation over the past five years, the State Department said Thursday, responding to a Democratic critic.

Bolton was interviewed by the State Department inspector general as part of a joint investigation with the Central Intelligence Agency related to Iraqi attempts to buy nuclear materials from Niger, State Department spokesman Noel Clay said.

When Bolton filled out a Senate questionnaire in connection with his nomination, "he didn't recall being interviewed by the State Department's inspector general. Therefore, his form, as submitted, was inaccurate," Clay said. "He will correct it."

* * *
The new information does not change the Bush administration's commitment to Bolton's nomination, said a senior State Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the political sensitivity of the subject.

[NB: This was an Inspector General investigation of the forged Niger documents, not the Plame investigation per se – but still falls under what Bolton was required to disclose. So what, did he FORGET?]

By the way, it looks like the State Dept “forgot” about their own Inspector General’s investigation too (this stinks to high heaven)
[Stygius] Yesterday, July 27, Senator Biden sent a different letter to Rice asking. . .

. . . whether Mr. Bolton did, in fact, appear before the grand jury, or whether he has been interviewed or otherwise asked to provide information by the special prosecutor or his staff in connection with this matter, and if so, when that occurred.

The State Department today [before Biden’s SECOND letter, above] answered that question thus:

They'd asked whether or not the nominee has been interviewed or asked to supply any information in connection with any administrative, including an Inspector General, congressional or grand jury investigation within the past five years, except routine Congressional testimony. Mr. Bolton, in his response on the written paperwork, was to say no. And that answer was truthful then and it remains the case now.
[Josh Marshall] Of all the things for John Bolton to forget about, he forgets that he was interviewed for the Joint State-CIA IG Report on the Niger forgeries.

Here's a question, though. My impression is that you don't just fill these confirmation disclosure forms out one evening in the den over a cup of tea.

I think it's a thorough process, with a team that goes over details, checks over specifics and so forth.

Presumably it was a team of people from State, though I don't know whether they were from his shop or congressional liaison or what. Bolton can't have been the only one who knew he'd been interviewed as part of that investigation, for he wasn't a minor player in the case the Inspectors General were investigating. And he certainly wasn't the only one who reviewed that form.
In a letter to Bush, California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer said Bolton's admission was "too little, too late" and urged Bush to withdraw the nomination.

"A recess appointment of a man who did not tell the truth to the (Senate Foreign Relations) committee and only admitted the truth when he was caught would send a horrible message," Boxer wrote.

"It seems unusual that Mr. Bolton would not remember his involvement in such a serious matter. In my mind, this raises more questions that need to be answered. I hope President Bush will not make the mistake of recess appointing Mr. Bolton," Biden said in response to the admission that Bolton's information was inaccurate.”

ANOTHER instance of perjury by a Bush nominee? Ho-hum, you can scour the mainstream press for hours and find no mention of this

And ANOTHER,1,6786183.story

The CAFTA “victory” – won’t do much good for anyone else, but it sure meant a lot for George Bush
[Dan Froomkin] Is it good news or bad news for the president when he is only barely able to eke out a victory on a key bit of legislation -- even after an orgy of deal-making and arm-twisting -- in a chamber where his party enjoys a 30-vote majority?

The answer: Extremely good news. Because Democrats were ready to officially declare Bush's second term politically moribund if he failed, and the press might well have gone along and run his obituary.

But it wasn't an easy victory.

Not easy, for sure. Look what it took to get it through
We all know what happened the last time the White House told the House GOP leadership that it had to pass a certain bill, despite significant resistance from GOP backbenchers. Lots of offers were made that couldn't be refused. And that was when out-going Rep. Nick Smith got hit with a mix of bribes and threats on the floor of the House itself.

I've been hearing from various sources that what the GOP leadership did in the House last night on CAFTA put that earlier episode to shame. Rep. Early Pomeroy (D) of North Dakota told the local paper: "I've seen the Republican leadership break arms on close votes before, but nothing quite this ugly.". . .
[WP] The last-minute negotiations for Republican votes resembled the wheeling and dealing on a car lot. Republicans who were opposed or undecided were courted during hurried meetings in Capitol hallways, on the House floor and at the White House. GOP leaders told their rank and file that if they wanted anything, now was the time to ask, lawmakers said, and members took advantage of the opportunity by requesting such things as fundraising appearances by Cheney and the restoration of money the White House has tried to cut from agriculture programs. Lawmakers also said many of the favors bestowed in exchange for votes will be tucked into the huge energy and highway bills that Congress is scheduled to pass this week before leaving for the August recess. . .
[CQ] House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday raised the possibility that an ethics inquiry could result from the deals offered by Republicans as they rounded up the votes to pass the implementing language for the Central American Free Trade Agreement (HR 3045).

Pelosi, D-Calif., offered no examples, though, and would not name which Democrats were the recipients of what she considered improper overtures.

“Offers made to Democrats didn’t sound like it passed legal muster to me,” Pelosi said. “Offers were made, that were in my view, questionable. . .”
Rep. Charles Taylor (R) of North Carolina has just put out a statement about his claim that his "NO" vote last night on CAFTA was not recorded by the House clerk.


Another Pyrrhic victory: the Energy Bill
The House of Representatives today passed an energy bill that includes $14.5 billion in tax breaks and encourages a new wave of nuclear power plant construction.

The bill was hailed by the White House and energy companies, but it drew criticism from environmental and consumer groups. The critics oppose what they regard as giveaways to highly profitable corporations and complain that the bill's provisions will not significantly reduce energy consumption or drive down record high oil prices.
MR. McCLELLAN: This is a good bill. . .

Q Is there anything in this bill, Scott, that will give Americans relief from the high gas prices?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Terry, we didn't get into this overnight, and we're not going to get out of it overnight. . .

Q Why did the administration hold back on releasing an EPA report that acknowledges car fuel efficiency has actually decreased?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think you might want to talk to the EPA about that. . .

Q Did the White House ask the EPA to hold it back as a way to ensure that it didn't get in the way of passage --

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think it really has any relation to the energy bill, but you might want to talk to the EPA about it. . .

Q Is the President concerned about car fuel efficiency and the fact that it's actually decreased and it's not addressed in the energy bill?

MR. McCLELLAN: We've actually increased the standards for light trucks and SUVs. We've taken action to do that, and we continue to consider other ways to improve the energy -- or the fuel economy standards.

Q Is it adequately addressed in the energy bill?

MR. McCLELLAN: The energy bill is, as I just said, is a good piece of legislation. I can't go down every piece of -- or every initiative within the energy bill, but this administration has acted. . .

Q Okay, on another matter. I might have missed it; I wasn't sure if I heard an answer. The energy bill that Congress is going to pass, will it decrease gasoline prices at the pump eventually?

MR. McCLELLAN: As I said, what Terry was asking was what impact this will have on people now. And we didn't get into this overnight; we're not going to get out of it overnight. . .

Q So that's a "yes," it will address the root causes.

MR. McCLELLAN: I just answered it.

Go ahead.

Q Can you give a simple answer, that, yes, it will reduce gasoline prices?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think that -- I think you have to look at what has led us to this position today, and go to the root causes of high energy prices, and why we're in this position. . .

Q But what -- this is very interesting, because we've asked you many times what the President is doing to reduce gasoline prices, and you said, well, number one, Congress can pass an energy bill. Now I'm asking you, Congress is about to pass an energy bill -- simple question -- will the energy bill reduce prices --

MR. McCLELLAN: And I just said it goes to address the root causes. We're not going to get out of this overnight. . .

John Hannah: another name you’ve never heard of, which you’ll be hearing a lot about soon (thanks to Susan Madrak for the link)
Federal law-enforcement officials said that they have developed hard evidence of possible criminal misconduct by two employees of Vice President Dick Cheney's office related to the unlawful exposure of a CIA officer's identity last year. The investigation, which is continuing, could lead to indictments, a Justice Department official said.

According to these sources, John Hannah and Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, were the two Cheney employees. "We believe that Hannah was the major player in this," one federal law-enforcement officer said. Calls to the vice president's office were not returned, nor did Hannah and Libby return calls.

The strategy of the FBI is to make clear to Hannah "that he faces a real possibility of doing jail time" as a way to pressure him to name superiors, one federal law-enforcement official said.

More updates on Plame

Karl Rove:
“Fitzgerald Knew It Was Rove All Along”

Judith Miller:

The facts:

George H.W. Bush on those who out CIA agents (just in case you haven’t heard it already)
“I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors.” [Speech at CIA, 4/26/99]

Good news for Karl. It has taken THREE YEARS for the hearings on Richard Shelby’s (R-AL) leak to reach a conclusion, and they’re not finished yet. Will it surprise you to hear that Pat Roberts (R-KS) is a big reason why it has taken so long?
The Washington Post reported in August that federal investigators concluded that Shelby “divulged classified intercepted messages.”

The referral to the Ethics Committee has been widely interpreted to mean that the Justice Department decided not to prosecute Shelby. . . A witness who worked with FBI investigators said federal agents had expressed annoyance over the decision not to prosecute. . .

One reason the investigation has dragged on is because [Pat] Roberts’s continued participation has chilled the cooperation of witnesses. Many who saw Shelby ask questions of Hayden during the closed-door hearing work for the Senate or House intelligence panel.

Two of Roberts’s senior aides, Bill Duhnke and Jim Hensler, were staff director and deputy staff director of the Senate Intelligence Committee under Shelby and may fall under the scope of the ethics investigation.

Frist breaks with Bush, will back stem cell bill. Well, I have to give him credit: he’s acting like a real doctor for once

"The White House said [yesterday] that under a policy enacted in 2001 it would neither examine Roberts’s tax returns itself nor provide them to the Senate." -- Washington Post, 7/27/05


"We did ask for his [Roberts'] tax returns from the past three years, and we have received those." -- White House Spokesman Scott McClellan, 7/27/05

For once, I agree with Howard Kurtz
Whether you love or hate his judicial philosophy, John Roberts is one canny bureaucratic player. . . As you plow through the blizzard of memos he wrote as a government lawyer, you get the sense of a man who is more conservative, more combative and more sarcastic than he has been portrayed in these walk-on-water profiles. . .

You will, by the way, hear almost none of this on TV. Understanding the memos requires walking through the background and legal context of each controversy at the time, and television has no inclination to do that. . .

Roberts is quite familiar with bureaucratic dodges and the art of Washington insincerity, the documents suggest. . .

When Republicans serve in the military, they are National Heroes. When Democrats serve in the military, it’s nothing special – maybe a drawback: Exhibit A (Al Gore) Exhibit B (John Kerry) Exhibit C (Paul Hackett, running for Congress in the Second Ohio District)
[Chris Matthews, Hardball] "Will his military service hurt his bid for office?"
This is pretty stunning. You can watch the Hackett segment on Countdown here. What amazed me was what his opponent, Schmidt, said regarding his time in Iraq:

NOVOTNY: His opponent, Republican frontrunner Jean Schmidt, a former state representative who is not convinced that time served in battle can compare to experience at home.

JEAN SCHMIDT, OHIO REPUBLICAN CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Everything’s local. Of course, it’s more important here. The issues that the people have are more important to those individuals than anything outside of that region.
When we last saw him, Schmidt campaign consultant Eric Minamyer was disgracefully questioning Paul Hackett's service to this country and the sacrifices made by men and women who have served in civil affairs units in Iraq:

I understand that Hackett did not participate in combat at all. . . Let's just not act as though we led marines in combat if we did not, okay.

Not only was Minamyer insulting, he was also wrong.

The ridiculous re-branding of the “Global War on Terror”

Scotty sez “2 = 6”
Q Scott, the U.S. has now had three lengthy bilateral meetings in China with the North Koreans. Are you now having direct talks with the North Koreans?

MR. McCLELLAN: I wouldn't say "now." Let me back up and remind you that we have met with the North Korean delegation and other delegations within the context of the six-party talks. . . And in terms of the bilateral discussions that are going on, those are discussions that relate to the modalities of the talks, and it's a way for us, also, to understand North Korea's position and for us to explain our views, as well. . .

Q Oh, come on.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- and this is happening within the context of the six-party talks. . .

Q You have rejected [bilateral talks] time and time again.

MR. McCLELLAN: We have -- we have no intention of negotiating any bilateral agreement with North Korea. . .

Q Since the first time, now, you've had three separate meetings where the North Koreans and Americans have met together alone, in private.

MR. McCLELLAN: We've had meetings with all the delegations. . .

Q I know, but this is not -- it's not comparable. North Korea is the issue, and we have met privately with them. But we've always said we weren't going to. . .

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the place to negotiate is in the context of the six-party talks and with all parties at the table. . .

Q I'm asking you a specific question. The two sides are getting together privately. Why don't you admit that?

MR. McCLELLAN: I just said it.

Q No, you only say it within -- you're so afraid --

MR. McCLELLAN: Did I not just say that? I think I did.

Q There's always a -- you're afraid to say there's been a change --

MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, David. Have a question?

Q -- that's what you're afraid to say.

MR. McCLELLAN: There has been change. We're pursuing this in a multilateral format with all six parties in it, but not in terms of negotiations.

Q They just go together -- (laughter.)

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not going to get the last word in here. Go ahead, David.

Oooh. Harsh words for Condi
[Leon Hadar] In a recent column in the Singapore Business Times (reprinted in, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being 'Condi,'" I suggested that our secretary of state Condoleeza Rice is kind of a, well, lightweight, especially when you compare her to predecessors like, say, George Marshall, John Foster Dulles, Dean Acheson, and of course, Henry Kissinger. Yes, I expected some criticism. But you should have read some of the hate email I've been receiving. I've been accused of, among other things, being a racist and a misogynist, who isn't capable of dealing with the reality of strong women, and a powerful African-American female at that. . .

But no apology from moi, guys. I'm an equal opportunity basher, and proud of being one. As Princeton Professor L. Carl Brown, noted in a review of my earlier book Quagmire: America in the Middle East: "Hadar provides a consistently tough-minded and skeptical examination of the public pieties that pass for policy. His approach reminds of the late Vince Lombardi about whom one of his players observed 'He is very fair. He treats us all like dogs.' Such is the Hadar touch." Indeed, many of the neocons, who happen to be members of my own Hebrew tribe, have been grilled to death in my new book, Sandstorm: Policy Failure in the Middle East.

So if I think that America's top diplomat, who happens to be a black female, has done a lousy job, I'm going to say so. . . In fact, as a national security advisor Rice was a disaster of historic proportions. She was responsible for the advice reaching the White House and for the disinformation coming out of it before 9/11 and in the months leading up to the war in Iraq, and had failed to coordinate the Bush administration's preparation for the postwar occupation of the country. Now she seems to be managing U.S. foreign policy, a reward for a job well done, as a Paris Hilton-style television reality show, with her uninterrupted globetrotting covered 24/7 by the embedded and sycophantic media. . .

Will Iraq become more like Turkey or more like Iran?
[WP] Iraq's constitution will enshrine "a significant role for religion in the state," the Shiite Muslim Arab who is leading the drafting of the charter said Wednesday. . . Constitution committee chairman Humam Hammoudi, in statements backed by Shiites and Kurds working with him on the document, described a system that would steer Iraq between the Muslim secularism of neighboring Turkey and the Muslim theocracy of neighboring Iran. . .

Statements from Hammoudi and other members of the committee, as well as proposed language circulating in Baghdad, have made clear that the draft is going further in embracing religious law than the preliminary national code drawn up in the first year of the U.S. occupation. . . The interim charter officially describes Islam as one main source of Iraqi law. Leaders now are debating designating Islam as the only principal source of new legislation. . .

A yet-to-be-established constitutional court would decide whether specific laws were in conflict with Islamic law, Hammoudi said. . . Clerics and religion would have a "guiding role in enhancing the unity and the strength of this state," he added. . . "Religion is the organizer of the state now.''

Oh, and on Iran: the story about the new President being part of the 1979 hostage crisis? Watch Scotty dance around the truth (again)
Q On another matter, does the White House have an update on the investigation into Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's role in the Iran hostage crisis?

MR. McCLELLAN: . . . We know he was a leader of the student movement that organized the attack on the embassy and the taking of American hostages. However, we are still looking into whether or not he was actually one of the hostage-takers. . .

Q Scott, what -- Scott -- just hold on a second. He was a leader of the student movement that orchestrated the attack on the embassy and the taking of the hostages, but you don't know if he was a leader of it? That sounds like --

MR. McCLELLAN: We don't know if he was explicitly one of the hostage-takers.

Q But he organized the attack that led to the hostage-taking.

MR. McCLELLAN: He was a leader, is the way I would describe it, of the student movement that organized the attack and the taking of American hostages. . .

Q As a substantive matter, if he was the leader of an organization that led to a hostage-taking, what does it matter if he was actually there physically doing it?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, remember, I told you I don't think it should surprise anyone, given the nature of the regime in Iran, that he might have been involved in this kind of activity. But, again, there were people that were actually the hostage takers and carried it out, and we're still looking into that. . .

Q Scott, let me just circle back to the '79 Iranian hostage-taking. Does this White House consider that to be an act of terrorism?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again -- you're talking about the hostage taking?

Q Yes.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that was sovereign American territory that was violated. That was -- we all remember well the hostages that were taken and held for so long.

Q Was it an act of terror?. . .

MR. McCLELLAN: It was certainly a violation of international laws and obligations. . . .

Q I'm just wondering if you considered that particular incident --

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I know, I heard your question.

Q -- to be an act of terrorism, because --

Q -- because then it opens up the question of what is Ahmadinejad's status under the Bush Doctrine?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that's why I was pointing out that Iran --

Q That's why you were avoiding answering it. . .

The nutty upside-down world of right-wing paranoid denial: the innocent Brazilian killed by police in London was. . . actually part of an Al Qaeda set-up to MAKE the police kill a dark-skinned person in order to. . . oh hell, just read and laugh

Bonus item: Top Ten List
Top Ten George W. Bush Solutions For Global Warming...

10. NASA mission to turn down the sun's thermostat

9. Federal subsidies to boost production of Cool Ranch Doritos

8. Fast track Rumsfeld's "Colonize Neptune" proposal

7. Convene Blue-Ribbon Committee to explore innovative ways of ignoring the problem

6. Let Hillary worry about it when she takes over

5. I dunno---tax cuts for the rich?

4. Give the boys at Halliburton 90-billion dollar contract to patch hole in ozone

3. Switch to Celsius so scorching 98 becomes frosty 37

2. Keep plenty of Bud on ice

1. Invade Antarctica

[Late Show with David Letterman]

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Thursday, July 28, 2005


Wow. We all knew Tom DeLay was corrupt, but this is breathtaking (I guess he’s rushing to get one more big scam pushed through before they come after him)
Tom DeLay thinks the federal treasury is his personal piggy bank. DeLay slipped “a $1.5 billion giveaway to the oil industry, Halliburton, and Sugar Land, Texas” into the energy bill.

But this isn’t a normal case of government pork. DeLay has completely dispensed with the democratic process. From a letter Rep. Henry Waxman just sent Speaker Dennis Hastert:

The provision was inserted into the energy legislation after the conference was closed, so members of the conference committee had no opportunity to consider or reject this measure.

The $1.5 billion won’t be administered by the government but by a private consortium in DeLay’s district:

The subtitle appears to steer the administration of 75% of the $1.5 billion fund to a private consortium located in the district of Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Ordinarily, a large fund like this would be administered directly by the government.

Hastert and DeLay need to explain themselves immediately. No member of Congress who takes taxpayer dollars seriously should vote for the energy bill until this matter is resolved.

Incredible: Bush admin efforts to redefine interrogation rules, justifying torture and abuse, were actually OPPOSED by the military’s own lawyers


The memos:

After months of refusing to set a timetable for withdrawal in Iraq, Bush Co. gets an earful from the leaders of that country
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld met with Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari and the top U.S. commander in Iraq Wednesday and discussed specific steps to speed preparations for the withdrawal of some of the 135,000 U.S. troops in Iraq beginning as early as next spring.

The tone of statements by Rumsfeld and Jafari, as well as the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, suggested a heightened determination and immediacy to planning for the U.S. troop reduction. . . "The great desire of the Iraqi people is to see the coalition forces be on their way out as they take more responsibility," Jafari said. . .
Gen. George W. Casey Jr. reaffirmed to reporters his statement in March that the Pentagon will be able to make "some fairly substantial reductions" in troops by next spring if the political process remains on track and Iraqi forces assume more responsibility for securing their country. . .



Scotty sez. . .
Q The Iraqi Prime Minister called today for a speedy withdrawal of U.S. troops. Was the President surprised that this happened at a time when insurgency shows no signs of abating?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think everybody wants our troops to come home, and I know the Iraqi people want to be able to have full responsibility for their future. . .

Q And when General Casey says that substantial pullout will take place next summer or next spring, tell us why this doesn't send a wrong message to the insurgents --

MR. McCLELLAN: I think General Casey said that it would be based upon conditions on the ground. . .

Q Does the President share General Casey's views?

MR. McCLELLAN: General Casey said that it would be based on conditions on the ground, is what I saw that he said.

Q I understand. I'm asking you, is that consistent with what the President believes? Was he speaking, in effect, for the President?

MR. McCLELLAN: That it would be based on conditions on the ground?

Q What he said today --

MR. McCLELLAN: What he said in terms of being based on conditions --

Q -- setting a timetable based on those conditions.

MR. McCLELLAN: The President's view is that we will look to the commanders on the ground. General Casey is one of our commanders on the ground, and we will make decisions based on what they say, and they make decisions based on the conditions and the progress that's being made on the ground.

We all want to see our troops come home. The President wants to see our troops come home. . .

Q So the President is comfortable with the timetable that General Casey discussed, provided that those various markers are met? Is that accurate?

MR. McCLELLAN: We look to our commanders on the ground, and the President has always said that we will make decisions based on what they say.

[NB: Robot-boy sure has that repetition thing down pat, eh? The problem of course, is that you can’t maintain both that the withdrawals depend on conditions on the ground AND that you expect to start withdrawing troops in the spring. There is no way to know what the conditions on the ground will be at that time. . .unless, of course, you intend to declare WHATEVER the conditions are in the spring a propitious time to begin withdrawal – which seems to be exactly what they plan to do]

Fox News breaks a story that speaks volumes about the Republican view of the world. Apparently Valerie Plame bought tickets to a Bruce Springsteen concert that was a fundraiser for Kerry (or in the words of Fox, an “anti-Bush group”). Now you might think (a) she has a right to do this, which she does, (b) maybe she just wanted to go hear Bruce, or (c) who the hell cares? But you would be wrong. Because in the Fox/Rush/Rove subtextual universe, it’s okay to out a CIA agent, ruining her career and possibly putting her life in danger, IF SHE’S A DEMOCRAT,2933,163777,00.html

What? You think that’s too cynical an interpretation?
Hamburger's and Wallsten's sources tell them that Karl Rove's animus toward Wilson was so intense that curiosity arose within the White House about it. When asked about this, Rove reportedly said, "He's a Democrat.”

Pat Roberts (R-KS) reverses self, won’t hold Plame hearings any time soon (thanks to Susan Madrak for the link)

Why is Judith Miller REALLY in jail?
[Arianna Huffington] Not everyone in the Times building is on the same page when it comes to Judy Miller. The official story the paper is sticking to is that Miller is a heroic martyr, sacrificing her freedom in the name of journalistic integrity.

But a very different scenario is being floated in the halls. Here it is: It's July 6, 2003, and Joe Wilson's now famous op-ed piece appears in the Times, raising the idea that the Bush administration has "manipulate[d]" and "twisted" intelligence "to exaggerate the Iraqi threat." Miller, who has been pushing this manipulated, twisted, and exaggerated intel in the Times for months, goes ballistic. Someone is using the pages of her own paper to call into question the justification for the war -- and, indirectly, much of her reporting. The idea that intelligence was being fixed goes to the heart of Miller's credibility. So she calls her friends in the intelligence community and asks, Who is this guy? She finds out he's married to a CIA agent. She then passes on the info about Mrs. Wilson to Scooter Libby (Newsday has identified a meeting Miller had on July 8 in Washington with an "unnamed government official"). Maybe Miller tells Rove too -- or Libby does. The White House hatchet men turn around and tell Novak and Cooper. The story gets out.

This is why Miller doesn't want to reveal her "source" at the White House -- because she was the source. Sure, she first got the info from someone else, and the odds are she wasn't the only one who clued in Libby and/or Rove (the State Dept. memo likely played a role too)… but, in this scenario, Miller certainly wasn't an innocent writer caught up in the whirl of history. She had a starring role in it. This also explains why Miller never wrote a story about Plame, because her goal wasn't to write a story, but to get out the story that cast doubts on Wilson's motives. Which Novak did.

This version of events has divided the Times into two camps: those who want to learn everything about this story, and those who want to learn everything as long as it doesn't downgrade the heroic status of their "colleague" Judy Miller. . .

And what’s up with this?
[NY Daily News] Famed editor Jason Epstein, husband of jailed New York Times reporter Judith Miller, has lately been making himself scarce at the federal facility in Virginia where his wife has been incarcerated for the past three weeks....In a frothy social column yesterday about a celeb-glutted Mediterranean cruise, featuring everyone from Isabella Rossellini to J.K. Rowling aboard the ocean liner Silver Shadow, the New York Sun's A.L. Gordon revealed:

"One passenger with his mind soberly on home is the literary icon Jason Epstein. . . Ms. Miller would have been on the cruise had she not gone to jail."

His wife's in the slammer and he cruises the Med?

The NYT reminds us that the WH was actively pushing the Plame story, not just passively responding to or confirming press inquiries


And a reminder that there is ANOTHER source, described by Novak as “no partisan gunslinger” (which rules out Rove, Libby, and Fleischer)
(Then-Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley?)

GOP gearing up to slime Fitzgerald

A move to can him? (I can't really believe this)


Why there is no govt interest in investigating who forged the Niger documents that started this whole mess

Plame struggle reveals longstanding tensions between the WH and the CIA, State Dept.

Portrait of the Supreme Court Justice as a Young Man
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I actually talked about that yesterday. I think that the files that you're referring to mostly are from about 20 years ago, and I think what those files show is a young White House staffer helping to provide legal analysis in support of the President's agenda, President Reagan's agenda. I think that's what they show. . .

Q You're not suggesting that the legal views expressed in a document when he was a young lawyer at the Justice Department do not reflect his own legal views, are you?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think you have to look at his record. . .

Q You continue to say, he was young. You've used those words consecutively for a couple of days. Are you aware of something that is getting ready to come out in the 65,000 documents from the Reagan era that will make this administration say, well, that was when he was young and he has now changed his mind, because there's a major --

MR. McCLELLAN: Okay, let me address that -- let me address that very quickly: No. (Laughter.)

Q Well, why do you continue to preface, he was young, then? Why do you continue to say that, because you lead us to believe that --

MR. McCLELLAN: Because I'm stating a fact.

Q Don't be smart about it. I'm looking for a serious answer.

MR. McCLELLAN: Ken, go ahead.

Q No, no, no, I'm looking for a serious answer, not anything just off the cuff. I want to know why you continue to say this man was young. We don't know anything about his philosophy, and it seems that you are trying to preface this now, so when this happens --

MR. McCLELLAN: At the period of the early '80s?

Q This administration must know something that is coming out to preface us, to get us to understand this was when he was young, and he may have changed his mind.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, not all.

Q What are you aware of? Is it about abortion, Roe v. Wade?

MR. McCLELLAN: Not at all. . .

Maybe “youthful” recommendations like these

Or, more recently
U.S. Supreme Court nominee John Roberts played a broader behind-the-scenes role for the Republican camp in the aftermath of the 2000 election than previously reported -- as legal consultant, lawsuit editor and prep coach for arguments before the nation's highest court, according to the man who drafted him for the job.

All the documents the WH is “releasing” on Roberts are already-available public domain materials. They haven’t given up one thing that Senators couldn’t have accessed for themselves

Robot-boy receives some well-deserved snark
MR. McCLELLAN: [Blah blah blah] he is someone who will be an impartial judge who is committed to interpreting our Constitution and our laws, and not trying to make law from the bench.

Q Right, I understand all that. I've heard that a million times, with all respect.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, maybe people that are watching haven't heard that, so I think it's important --

Q Well, you say it every day. My question --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- I think it's important for them to know about that.

Q I understand that. Everybody has said that repeatedly, which doesn't tell us very much.

The Dems just don’t seem to have their head in the game sometimes
After no challenge or questioning, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday "unanimously approved the nomination of Karen the State Department's top public relations official."

Joe Biden (D-DE) asks Rice: did Bolton testify, or not?

Bush’s Medicare plan too complicated, can’t work: and these are the people who want to “fix” Social Security too?

CAFTA vote to be held after midnight (trying to hide anything, GOP?)

(Yes they were)
As only the Post emphasizes, last night legislators at first voted to defeat the bill; then Republican leaders held the vote open for an hour. After the leaders made some members of Congress offers they couldn't refuse, the bill finally passed at about midnight, 217 to 215. Holding the vote open for so long goes against congressional tradition, but Republicans seem to be making a habit of it. They made the same move with the prescription drug bill.

Walmart, defender of our freedoms (thanks to the Center for American Progress for the link)
You can't buy the Pensacola News Journal at Wal-Mart anymore. . . The store ordered us off their property, told us to come pick up our newspaper racks and clear out. . .

Some managers at Wal-Mart didn't appreciate a column Mark O'Brien wrote last month about the downside of the cheap prices that Sam Walton's empire has brought to America. . .

Bonus item: Quick – describe George Bush in a single word. Then click the link

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


In their never-ending bid to assert maximal secrecy over the release of govt documents, the Bush gang now invents an “attorney-client privilege” to shield John Roberts’ work while he worked in the Solicitor General’s office. Problem is, there IS no attorney-client privilege there
The dispute has to do with documents related to Judge Roberts's work in the solicitor general's office from 1989 to 1993, under the first President George Bush. Democrats say they need the documents because they could shed light on the nominee's thinking about issues that may come before the Supreme Court. . . The White House and its Republican allies say Democrats are not entitled to those papers because they are covered under the attorney-client privilege. The solicitor general acts as the lawyer for the federal government.
The Bush administration plans to release documents from Judge John G. Roberts's tenure in the White House counsel's office in the mid-1980's and his earlier job working for the attorney general, but will not make public papers covering the four years he spent as principal deputy solicitor general starting in 1989, two senior administration officials said Monday. . . The officials said the administration had decided to waive any claim to attorney-client privilege from those documents because the papers are covered by the Presidential Records Act, the law that governs the disposition of presidential papers. . . One of the officials, both of whom sought anonymity to speak candidly about a decision that had not yet been made public, said the White House had reviewed some of the papers from Judge Roberts's work in the counsel's office and saw nothing in them that could create problems for his confirmation. . . "We don't have concerns," the official said.

[NB: So the WH CLAIMS attorney-client privilege for both positions (it applies to neither), but is willing to “waive” it when they do not see any confirmation problems with the documents. Plus, there is a little problem with the LAW (the Presidential Records Act) which they "agree to" abide by in this instance - and which they have already flouted in other cases - but it appears that they are laying the groundwork for selectively ignoring it in the future as well.]
The Office of the Solicitor General, as others have pointed out, works not for the president but for the people of the United States. This was already decided legally during the Clinton administration.

One reason they don’t want the Deputy Solicitor General docs released
Emerging as a hot button issue is the holding back of Roberts documents from his days in the Bush I administration as a deputy in the Solicitor General's office, on grounds of client-attorney privilege. Democrats are looking for any scrap of evidence on Roberts' views of Roe v. Wade. But of extra interest here, for some Democrats, is what advice Roberts might have offered leading up to President George H.W. Bush's pardon of Caspar Weinberger and others in the Iran-Contra scandal.

But some feel that that client-attorney privilege argument may not hold, legally, so the White House may also be prepared to deny documents on “national security” grounds. . .

They won’t release Roberts’ tax records?!??!!

Republicans now scrambling to obscure the issue of Roberts’ religious faith and the power it should wield over his judicial opinions
[Michael in New York] But the far right wants to pretend that simply asking a candidate about their faith and how it might conflict with their role as a public servant is wrong. Ridiculous. As a Supreme Court justice and a Catholic, Roberts will be faced with issues where voting one way could expose him to refusal of Communion and even excommunication from his Church. That is extraordinary and NEW pressure that Catholics have never faced before. In the past, the Church went out of its way to dismiss as absurd any idea that Catholic politicians would be puppets of Rome. Now the Church says very explicitly that politicians MUST do as Rome says or suffer the consequences. This is a BRAND NEW situation that has never been in effect. Roberts is the FIRST Supreme Court nominee who will be put into his lifetime position with this added pressure weighing down on him.


Our coming theocracy: Gonzales hints that religious beliefs trump “stare decisis”

Roberts’ role in the Reagan Revolution

The threat posed by the Federalist Society agenda

Washington Post offers a large “state of the investigation” report on Plame – nothing new, except confirmation that Fitzgerald’s scope of inquiry is “expanding.” In light of comments here yesterday, let’s see if the GOP Excuse Brigade seizes on this to argue that Fitzgerald is exceeding the scope of his proper investigative role (i.e., looking into the Plame leak only)
The special prosecutor in the CIA leak probe has interviewed a wider range of administration officials than was previously known, part of an effort to determine whether anyone broke laws during a White House effort two years ago to discredit allegations that President Bush used faulty intelligence to justify the Iraq war, according to several officials familiar with the case.


One other thing in the WP story: the CIA is furious, and looking for blood

Bush refuses to pull Rove’s security privileges based on “rumors in the media” (rumors like the public comments of ROVE’S OWN LAWYER) – but look at what Bush did in 2001


A new line of defense for Rove (thanks to Buzzflash for the link)
[Kevin Drum] Two years ago, when the Valerie Plame affair first surfaced, the conservative response was largely one of yawning silence. Still, the conservatives who did speak up mostly conceded that, yes, if someone in the White House exposed the identity of a CIA agent, it was a bad thing to do. And if it was done as part of a political campaign to discredit a critic, it was an especially bad thing to do.

During the past month, however, the growing evidence that someone in the White House really did expose Plame has caused more than a bit of panic — and a change of heart. We've already heard from Fox's John Gibson, who not only thinks it was OK to expose the identity of a covert CIA agent to the press, but apparently thinks it was a positive social good. Valerie Plame "should have been outed by somebody," he said, and Karl Rove deserves a medal for being the only guy with the guts to do it.

Since then, the proposition that it wasn't a big deal even if the White House did out Plame, has become a routine talking point. Over at QandO, Jon Henke nicely summarizes the now standard conservative position:

If a White House official 1) consciously knew that Valerie Plame was a covert agent 2) whose identity ought to have been protected, and 3) that White House official initiated a leak of her name to the press 4) in order to disclose her identity, then he ought to be removed from his position and prosecuted.

In other words, if Rove's failure was merely that he didn't care enough to check on Plame's status, then he did nothing wrong. If he knew she was covert but didn't realize that the CIA prefers its covert agents to stay covert, then he did nothing wrong. If he knew that too, but outed Plame in a conversation that someone else initiated, then he did nothing wrong. And finally, even if he knew all those things, but his motivation was merely to score points against Joe Wilson, rather than to ruin Valerie Plame's career, then he did nothing wrong. These criteria essentially justify in advance virtually anything that Rove might plausibly have done.

Nearly every conservative blog now follows this line. Plame wasn't really all that covert. Rove was merely engaged in a longrunning turf battle with the CIA. Hell, somebody had to smear Joe Wilson. The guy had it coming. If that required the exposure of Plame, her front company, and potentially every source she's ever worked with, that's the way it goes. After all, we don't know for sure that anything bad came of this, do we?

The moral bankruptcy at the core of this argument is truly stunning, but this weekend it got even worse. Senator Pat Roberts, the Republican chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, announced that he "intends to preside over hearings on the intelligence community's use of covert protections for CIA agents and others involved in secret activities."

Let that sink in. Does it sound like Roberts is concerned about CIA agents being exposed in the press? Of course not. Instead, Roberts is preemptively defending Rove by implying that perhaps the real problem is that the CIA overuses clandestine cover for its agents. The gall is almost beyond belief, especially coming from the party that keeps telling us they're the ones who are serious about national security. . .

Plamegate has now turned into the public relations task of convincing the public that even if Rove did out Plame, outing a covert CIA agent is a perfectly acceptable thing for a White House aide to do. . . Welcome to the modern Republican Party.

No joke
[The Onion] “Bush Awaits Orders From Rove On Handling Of Rove Scandal”

Ari Fleischer: “Periphery”?! (I don’t think so)
“Ex-White House Aide on Periphery of Leak Inquiry”

Meanwhile, in the WH Press Briefing room, another through-the-looking-glass moment
Q Scott, in the wake of the Valerie Plame incident, on which you will not comment. . . isn't it necessary to do something more than simply stonewalling all discussion of the incident in order to restore confidence?

MR. McCLELLAN: And I'll reject your characterization. What we're doing is helping to advance the investigation forward. . . We have for a long time said that we want to help them get to the bottom of this and the best way to do that is to cooperate fully in that investigation. And that means not commenting on it here from this podium.

One from Susan Madrak
Q Scott, on another topic, former President Bill Clinton spoke to the “Today Show” recently and he basically called the CIA leak issue terrible. And he said, “Rove is a brilliant political strategist and he’s proved brilliantly effective at destroying Democrats, personally.” He says, “I mean they’ve gotten away with murder and he’s really good at it. He’s good at playing psychological head games that damage our side.” What are your comments to that?

MR. McCLELLAN: What I’ve said previously, and I don’t have anything else to add to what I’ve said previously.

Q Former President Clinton, a friend of the first President Bush and a friend of this President Bush, has said “they’ve gotten away with murder.”

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, thank you. And you know our response on questions related to the investigation.

Q This is not a question. I’m asking you what are your thoughts as it relates to this quote from a former President of the United States.

MR. McCLELLAN: That’s a question.

And this, which must have been fun to watch: remember Bush’s much-touted “Mars mission” (which he announced to much fanfare, then promptly ignored)?
Q So the President supports a Mars mission?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, this is a long-term mission that the President outlined, John, so I think you have to look at the overall perspective in what the President said. But he wanted to make sure that there's a clearly defined mission for our space program, and there is. And he believes it's important to continue to advance space exploration and for the United States to continue to lead the way. And that's what we are doing. . .

Q And how is the Mars program going?

MR. McCLELLAN: NASA can probably update you on the effort. Again, this is a long-term program, and you can sit there and smirk about it, but the President felt it was important -- (laughter) -- the President felt it was important to outline a clearly defined mission for NASA. . .
[Hendrik Hertzberg, January 2004] George W. Bush says he wants to go to Mars—a motion that many of his fellow-citizens would heartily second—but he probably doesn’t mean it. The speech in which he announced his “New Vision for Space Exploration” was exceedingly vague about how and when the trip was to be made. It did say that in 2015 or maybe in 2020 Americans would be going back to the moon, where they would build a base for “human missions to Mars and to worlds beyond.” An official likened this speech to President Kennedy’s address of May 25, 1961, in which he asked the nation to “commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.”. . . A week later came Bush’s State of the Union address, the text of which one scans in vain for any mention of Mars, the moon, or space exploration. The subject has already been dropped. . .

Sleazy! Slimy! Such attacks should be beneath us! (I agree, but here it is anyway. . .)
[Radar Online] As a string of foes from John McCain to Richard Clarke can attest, Karl Rove has never been shy about using personal attacks for political gain. But as the Valerie Plame scandal rages on, the Bush administration's in-house bulldog may be forced to endure a taste of his own medicine. . . For years, political insiders in the Lone Star State have whispered about Rove's close friendship with lobbyist Karen Johnson, a never-married, forty-something GOP loyalist from Austin, Texas. . .

The Bush PR meisters decide it’s time to. . .sorry. . .I’m trying not to. . . hold on a second. . .CHANGE THE NAME of the “war on terror”
From now on, the United States is no longer engaged in a "global war on terror," and instead, we're fighting a "global struggle against violent extremism.". . . [read on!]

[NB: Isn’t this what they used to call “mission creep”?]

Frist, dependable WH lapdog, blocks further consideration of the Defense appropriations bill because it still contains anti-torture restrictions the Bush gang doesn’t want (ironically – ?? – they advance an NRA-friendly gun bill instead),1,2532073.story

More than half the people now believe that Bush “deliberately lied” to them about Iraq

(The media yawns)

Not really a surprise, but an established link between Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo torture and abuse practices (but Gen. Geoffrey Miller’s name doesn’t come up until the last paragraph?)

Chris Cox? SEC? Is anyone paying attention to this?
If confirmed, as he almost surely will be, Cox could very well be Bush’s single most destructive regulatory appointee. Financial markets are one of the very few areas where even laissez-faire types concede that a measure of regulation is necessary. But Cox is a true believer who imagines that financial markets can police themselves. He has been a relentless foe of even the modest regulation enacted by the outgoing Republican SEC chairman, William Donaldson. The two other Republican commissioners are ideological clones of Cox, who will have a working majority to do whatever he wants. It is widely expected that he will preside over the evisceration of the commission. Says a former commissioner, “This is the worst thing to happen in the SEC’s 70-year history.”. . .

Talk about a recess appointment for Bolton won’t go away – meanwhile, Steve Clemons keeps piling up the lies. Have the Bushies thought about what happens if a story comes out showing Bolton lied during his Senate testimony AFTER they've appointed him to the U.N.?

Is there an opportunity for the Dems to retake Congress?

Bonus item: No more “liberal media,” says Ann Coulter (who should know – thanks to Atrios for the link)
AC: “we have the media now”

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***