Tuesday, February 28, 2006


The hits just keep on comin’. . .



More: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/02/27/opinion/polls/main1350874.shtml

“No traction”

[AP] [Bush] just can't seem to find traction for his second-term agenda. . .



The Bubble


Friction with Congressional Republicans


Behind the Dubai deal: a web of conspiracy



Why the current “compromise” won’t solve the problem (and isn’t meant to)



How ports actually work


So now we read that both Homeland Security and the Coast Guard raised doubts about the Dubai deal: concerns that were “addressed” and supposedly resolved. Anyone who has watched this gang in action knows exactly how this internal debate and opposition was “addressed” – cosmetic changes and a demand to get on board


In Iraq, the steady slide toward civil war (if we’re not there already)


How the Specter NSA bill, flawed as it is, puts the WH in a very sticky position (another great analysis by Glenn Greenwald)

I can say with confidence that neither this bill nor any modified version of it is going to be even remotely acceptable to the Bush Administration. And, in ways that may (or may not) be intended by Specter, this proposed legislation -- which the Administration is sure to reject -- can achieve the critical goal of highlighting the Administration's true motives in violating FISA. . .

More: http://glenngreenwald.blogspot.com/2006/02/pushing-teetering-monster.html

A stunning abuse of power

The Internal Revenue Service recently audited the books of a Texas nonprofit group that was critical of campaign spending by former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) after receiving a request for the audit from one of DeLay's political allies in the House.

The lawmaker, House Ways and Means Committee member Sam Johnson (R-Tex.). . . a member of the subcommittee responsible for oversight of the tax agency, sparked the IRS's interest by telling IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson in a letter dated Aug. 3, 2004, that he had "uncovered some disturbing information" and received complaints of possible tax violations.

Johnson said he was sure the IRS would follow up. "I ask you to report back your findings of each of these investigations directly to me," he told Everson in the letter, according to a copy obtained by The Washington Post. . .

More: http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/007750.php

DeLay using campaign funds for legal fees


The Department of Justice is taking an interest. . .

"If those guys won't start policing themselves, we'll do it for them". . .

Follies of War (today’s must-read)

[Barbara Tuchman] To qualify as folly for this inquiry, the policy adopted must meet three criteria: it must have been perceived as counter-productive in its own time, not merely by hindsight. . .

Secondly a feasible alternative course of action must have been available. . .

The purpose of the war was not gain or national defense. . .

In the illusion of omnipotence, American policy-makers took it for granted that on a given aim, especially in Asia, American will could be made to prevail. . .

Wooden-headedness, the "Don't-confuse-me-with-the-facts" habit, is a universal folly never more conspicuous than at upper levels of Washington . . .

Stop the presses! “Poor post-war planning. . ."


[NB: “Poor” as in NONE]

Why does Bush hate our troops? (part #241)

[AP] At least tens of thousands of veterans with non-critical medical issues could suffer delayed or even denied care in coming years to enable President Bush to meet his promise of cutting the deficit in half. . .

Every now and then. . .

The New York Times sued the U.S. Defense Department on Monday demanding that it hand over documents about the National Security Agency's domestic spying program.

The Times wants a list of documents including all internal memos and e-mails about the program of monitoring phone calls without court approval. It also seeks the names of the people or groups identified by it. . .

The decline of White House Briefings


A case in point: http://www.first-draft.com//modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=5381

Ooooh, those mean “extremist” bloggers


Comment: http://americablog.blogspot.com/2006/02/media-politicians-and-academics-do-not.html

[Digby] Note to the clueless DC insiders: the blogosphere is only "extreme" to the extent it is extremely impatient with people like you. We believe that your strategy of caution has failed and we are agitating for a more aggressive Democratic politics. After a partisan impeachment, a stolen election in 2000, an illegal war and an unprecedented executive power play we think this is a pretty serious situation. In fact, we see this as political civil war. You apparently think that is "extreme." We think it is common sense.

Perhaps it would be easier for these people to understand if we speak like Republicans and use stupid Civil War analogies to make a point, so here goes:

We believe that the DC establishment is running the war like George McClellan and we think his cautious strategy is losing us the war. It's not because we aren't all on the same side or don't have the same goals. It's that the McClellans of the establishment are temperamentally inhibited at a time when aggression is called for. We believe the party needs to fight like Grant. . .

Bonus item: Bush in love (thanks to AG Rud for 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 (http://pbd.blogspot.com).

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.***

Monday, February 27, 2006


Right now, it seems that a stunning series of Bush misjudgments, increased Republican infighting and finger-pointing, and policy failures everywhere you look may be signaling an end to the Republican hegemony (well, we can hope, can’t we?)

Bill Frist: on a VERY short leash

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said yesterday he's gained a "pretty good" comfort level with the deal under which a United Arab Emirates company would take over operations at six U.S. ports. . .

[NB: By the way, it’s not 6, but 21 ports! http://makeashorterlink.com/?D2E2126BC]

[Joe] This is one of those times that it's fun to see the GOPers in Congress cave to the White House. Let's hope that Republicans keep trusting Bush on this one. Bush cut a deal to let a country with ties to terror guard American ports. If the GOP thinks that's a winning issue, so be it.

The non-solution solution: playing Kabuki with Dubai


A deal with NO upside



Only the NYT notes that, under the terms of the review, President Bush himself will have to personally decide whether or not the merger goes through. . .

Army pays off Halliburton, despite their known fraud

The Army has decided to reimburse a Halliburton subsidiary for nearly all of its disputed costs on a $2.41 billion no-bid contract to deliver fuel and repair oil equipment in Iraq, even though the Pentagon's own auditors had identified more than $250 million in charges as potentially excessive or unjustified. . .

John McCain: a REAL wartime President

BILL KRISTOL: There would not be civil war if Zarqawi had not spent the last 2 1/2 years – had ex-Saddamists with him, very skillfully going on the offensive slaughtering Shia in Karbala, now blowing up the mosque.

CHRIS WALLACE: They’re there. There are going to be more mosques to blow up. What do you do about the terrorists?

KRISTOL: Kill them. Defeat them.

CHRIS WALLACE: We’ve been trying.

KRISTOL: We’ve been trying, and our soldiers are doing terrifically, but we have not had a serious three-year effort to fight a war in Iraq. . .

[Digby] This William Kristol quote from this morning is another step in the eventual disavowal of Bushism. You see, just as it was in Vietnam, the know-nothings in Washington won't let the military leaders take the gloves off which is why we are having so many problems. . .

[Atrios] It isn't quite here yet, but at some point fairly soon Republicans will en masse make it clear that their opinion of Bush is only half a notch above their opinion of Nixon. The missing history - and context - in this is that in 2000 John McCain was the neoconservative poster boy. The Weekly Standard Gang was his posse. The owner of the Free Republic at one point purged all of the Bush supporters as he too was a McCainiac. The Bushies then fled to lucianne.com. . .

Once upon a time we all imagined that McCain's presidential aspirations were doomed by age, or illness, or by his unpopularity with the True Believers. . .

More: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/2/26/193920/601


Bush gang sees positive signs in Iraqi chaos



Gunmen hold sway over streets lined with concrete bomb-blast barriers and razor wire. Entire neighborhoods are too dangerous for police to enter.

The government, holed up in a fortress behind layers of checkpoints, huddles in emergency meetings and issues proclamations that draw little attention on the streets or in foreign capitals.

And this may be the best that Iraqis and Americans can hope for. . .

So much for “looking into Putin’s heart” – Bush gang to get tough with Russia


[NYT] "The U.S. administration is thinking that it needs to do something . . . but it doesn't know what yet."

George Bush: STILL screwing over the National Guard



Against the “Unitary Executive”


2006: how’s it going so far?

[Steve Benen] By any reasonable standard, 2005 was not only an embarrassingly bad year for President Bush, it was also one of the worst years any president has had since Nixon was forced from office in 1974. . .

Never fear, the Bush gang said, 2006 is when everything gets back on track.

Two months in, how's that working out for the White House? The launch of Medicare Plan D has gotten a Grade F from everyone involved; a domestic warrantless-search program has shed light on possible illegal surveillance; the Jack Abramoff scandal has reached the White House (including pictures!); the Vice President shot an old man in the face and then tried to keep the story quiet; Iraq is on the brink of a civil war; and the Dubai Ports World controversy — and the administration's handling of it — has drawn widespread criticism. . .

More: http://www.warandpiece.com/blogdirs/003738.html

[Fred Barnes] The revolt showed that Bush's strength in Congress has significantly eroded as he begins his sixth year as president. In effect, his Republican base is no longer secure. . .

Arlen Specter’s NSA bill: the devil IS in the details

[Glenn Greenwald] I actually under-stated how pernicious this legislation is and erred in some of what I said about it. . . It does indeed go far beyond simply bringing the NSA program within the purview of the FISA court. What it does is authorize the entire warrantless eavesdropping program itself by directing the FISA court to approve of it every 45 days provided some extremely permissive criteria are met, and in the process, allows eavesdropping without case-by-case warrants. . .

More: http://balkin.blogspot.com/2006/02/mother-of-mercy-is-this-en_114098414956416326.html


EPA? We don’t need no stinkin’ EPA!

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency won't oppose the U.S. Department of Defense and DuPont Co.'s plan to dump a wastewater byproduct of a deadly nerve agent into the Delaware River. . . The agency said it's assured of a safe treatment for up to 4 million gallons of caustic wastewater created in the treatment for VX, a chemical weapon with a pinhead-size potency to kill a human. DuPont is treating VX for disposal at its Newport Chemical Depot in Indiana. . . The agent, once neutralized, would be shipped to DuPont's Chambers Works plant in Deepwater, N.J., for discharge into the river.

California adopts Diebold’s e-voting machines

[Kevin Drum] Are you dying to know how to hack into a Diebold machine? Unless your local registrar has bothered to change it, here's the key: F2654hD4. And the 8-byte password used for Diebold’s voter, administrator, and ender cards is ED 0A ED 0A ED 0A ED 0A. Aren't you glad this stuff is so easily found on the internet?. . .

You couldn’t make it up: look at what Ernie Fletcher (R-KY) is doing now

[TChris] Gov. Ernie Fletcher in Kentucky is at it again. As TalkLeft noted here, Fletcher used his pardon power to block the prosecution of state officials who were indicted for making illegal patronage appointments to state positions without regard to qualifications. Fletcher also purported to pardon anyone else who might be indicted in the future.

Whether the grand jury can continue to issue indictments is an issue before Kentucky's Supreme Court. Some might think that Fletcher is rigging the outcome by appointing two judges to sit on the case as replacements for two justices who recused themselves. . .

[Bluegrass Report] Of all the shameless and offensive acts that Governor Fletcher has pulled on us in the two years he's been in office, I don't think any of them compare to the sham he pulled at 5:25 pm on Friday when he appointed two campaign contributors as Special Justices to the Kentucky Supreme Court to hear just one case -- his own desperate appeal in the Merit System criminal investigation. . .

Hard to make Dick Cheney into an object of sympathy, but Joe Klein tries mightily

[Cheney's FOX interview] was perhaps the most eloquent, emotionally unguarded moment from the notoriously buttoned-up Vice President. He seemed stunned, uncertain for once. And the haunted look in his eyes reminded me of what soldiers in Vietnam used to call the Thousand-Yard Stare--the paralytic shock that comes from seeing the impact that even low-caliber weaponry can have on human flesh. . .

[Y]es, the Vice President's behavior did seem to be another manifestation of his well-known disdain for accountability. . . But Cheney's stubborn diffidence may have been something else entirely: a consequence of the incoherence and confusion that come with emotional trauma . . .

The possibility of vice-presidential anguish was barely mentioned by most commentators at first. Cheney is a tough customer; Oprahfied "sharing" isn't his way. But then, there he was, with that haunted look in his Fox News interview, saying, "[T]he image of him falling is something I'll never be able to get out of my mind. I fired, and there's Harry falling" . . . [read on!]

Timmy’s all-Republican edition of “Meet the Press”


Bonus item: Erasing history


***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 (http://pbd.blogspot.com).

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.***

Sunday, February 26, 2006


Worse than Guantanamo

While an international debate rages over the future of the American detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the military has quietly expanded another, less-visible prison in Afghanistan, where it now holds some 500 terror suspects in more primitive conditions, indefinitely and without charges. . .

[Daniel Politi] As the administration decided to pretty much stop sending new detainees to Guantamo in 2004, the population of Bagram has soared. No one from the outside world, except the Red Cross, is allowed to visit the facilities. Officials who spoke anonymously to the NYT insist that Bagram was never meant to house long-term prisoners, but now some have been there for three years. Although conditions at the detention center seem to have improved since the military decided to renovate the facilities, by all accounts the situation is still bleak and prisoners are mostly held in large wire cages. . .

In Iraq: terrible, and getting worse by the minute

[K-R] This week's surge in sectarian violence in Iraq -- shootings, mosque burnings and mob attacks -- is a chilling indicator of how successful the Sunni Muslim insurgency and foreign terrorists have been in fomenting unrest.

While U.S. combat deaths have declined in recent months -- from 70 in November to 42 in January and 38 in February as of Friday -- insurgents are still staging hundreds of attacks a week. Last week, they struck 555 times, according to American military officials.

The insurgency appears to be adjusting its tactics as confidence grows that U.S. troops will withdraw. Rather than killing American soldiers, the insurgents and foreign terrorists are more focused on creating civil strife that could destabilize Iraq's political process and possibly lead to outright ethnic and religious war.

. . . The International Crisis Group, a research organization that's dedicated to conflict resolution, reported this month that Iraq's insurgency has found a new confidence. . . "When the U.S. leaves, the insurgents do not doubt that Iraq's security forces and institutions would quickly collapse."

This is what you get with an administration that always believes it’s right and refuses to listen to critics – all of this was predicted long ago

[NYT] American officials have been repeatedly stunned and frequently thwarted in the past three years by the extraordinary power of Muslim clerics over Iraqi society. . .

Who could have guessed? The “gates of Hell”

[2002] THE United States was told last night that a war to oust President Saddam Hussein would "open the gates of Hell" in the Middle East. The chief of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, issued the warning after a meeting in Cairo of the foreign ministers from 20 Arab states. . .

[2004] Arab League chief Amr Mussa warned that the "gates of hell" had been opened in Iraq, as ministers from the pan-Arab grouping gathered for a meeting set to be dominated by the war-ravaged country. . .

[2006] The toppling of a sacred site urged into the open the Shia fighters who had previously battled the Sunni uprising in the back lanes of towns and villages. The Shias now have a lightning rod to make their rebellion public. The gates of hell, slightly ajar for a year, have been flung wide open.

History repeats itself: “The first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” So what do you call the fourth time?


Whose brilliant idea was THIS?

[Eric Umansky] Over the past few days in Iraq, the U.S. military has been taking a "wait-and-see" approach to the violence, which appears to be picking up again. What that means in practice is that the U.S. has been standing by while mosques have been scorched, etc.

That's obviously pissing off Sunnis. . .

More catastrophes



Condi Rice may be a pretty smart person, but as Sect’y of State, she’s just another example of someone promoted mostly because she’s loyal and unthreatening to Bush

[Joe] Banner week for the Secretary of State. Everything she touched --- on behalf of her hapless, clueless boss -- was a disaster. This shouldn't come as a surprise. . .

[Atrios] Why has no one bothered to notice that putting two people in charge (Rice and Hughes) of shaping our image abroad whose entire schtick consists of talking to people as if they're 8 years olds was probably not the best idea. . .

The Dept of Homeland Security raised concerns against the Dubai Ports Deal, but let themselves be bought off with token concessions: “the system worked”

[AP] The Homeland Security Department objected at first to a United Arab Emirates company's taking over significant operations at six U.S. ports. It was the lone protest among members of the government committee that eventually approved the deal without dissent. . . The department's early objections were settled later in the government's review of the $6.8 billion deal after Dubai-owned DP World agreed to a series of security restrictions.

[Georgia10] But as the AP reported on Feb. 23, those "security restrictions" are actually just window dressing. . .

[Sect’y of Treasury John Snow] "That is the way the process should work. It should come to the Cabinet-level people if there is a security issue ... in this case, they found the issue did not present a security issue. Now we have a political issue," Snow said.

Dubai Ports World and a Carlyle Group connection – what a surprise


The role of unqualified Bush crony appointments in the deal


Erasing history?


Frist backs down

Moving toward a deal that could allow President Bush and congressional GOP leaders to save face and avert a prolonged confrontation, GOP officials said today that they were discussing the idea of having Dubai Ports World seek a new review of its acquisition of a British company's operation that runs several key U.S. ports. . . If approved by all parties, the new deal would allow Bush to avert a GOP-driven bill to overturn the Dubai deal with enough votes to override Bush's threat of his first veto. Republican sources tell TIME that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee proposed the basic terms of a deal designed to give the White House a graceful way out, while also allaying the concerns of the many lawmakers in both parties who have said the deal could be a threat to our security. Under the Frist plan, the deal could stand a good chance of ultimately going through after the extended review. . .

Arlen Specter proposes new NSA surveillance rules


What’s strange is, we already HAVE these rules – it’s called FISA

[Glenn Greenwald] It is, of course, so disorientingly bizarre to hear about a proposed law requiring FISA warrants for eavesdropping because we already have a law in place which does exactly that. It's called FISA. That's the law the Administration has been deliberately breaking because they think they don't have to comply with it and that Congress has no power to make them. Reading this article about Specter's proposed legislation is somewhat like hearing that a life-long, chronic bank-robber got arrested for robbing a bank over the weekend and, in response, a Senator introduces legislation to make it a crime to rob banks. . .

Jack Abramoff: like Sherwin-Williams, he “covers the earth”

Two Senate Democrats are calling on Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate lobbyist Jack Abramoff's activities in two Pacific island territories. . . "We believe an independent investigation is needed of the possible access given to Mr. Abramoff" of the security risk report, the letter states. Citing media reports, the letter mentions "possible improper or illegal activity by Department of Justice officials in discussing this report with a lobbyist."

Rick Santorum’s “charity” sucks up 60% of contributions in “administrative costs”

Sen. Rick Santorum's charity donated about 40 percent of the $1.25 million it spent during a four-year period, well below Better Business Bureau standards - paying out the rest for overhead, including several hundred thousand dollars to campaign aides on the charity payroll.

The charity, Operation Good Neighbor, is described on its Web site as an organization promoting "compassionate conservatism" by providing grants to small nonprofit groups, many of them religious.

The Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance says charitable organizations should spend at least 65 percent of their total expenses on program activities. . .

Sean Hannity, erstwhile “news” professional, engages in active fundraising for Santorum


Katherine Harris: stupid or lying? (uh is “both” an option?)



Rep. Thomas Reynolds (R-NY), "a key member of the House Republican leadership, is soliciting political contributions by in effect scalping tickets for NCAA ''Sweet Sixteen'' games at Washington's sold-out MCI Center for more than 30 times face value," Robert Novak reports. . . "Reynolds is soliciting $2,000 a person to provide tickets for the March 24 tournament session that are sold by the NCAA for $65 apiece." Says the invitation: ''Tickets are very limited, 'so please RSVP as soon as possible.''

How Cheney’s emails got “found”

[Steve Benen] I haven't seen any real follow up yet, but this seems like a development that warrants a little more explanation. In September 2003, White House staff was ordered to preserve materials related to Fitzgerald's investigation. More than two years later, Fitzgerald finds that a whole lot of emails that were supposed to have been archived are missing. More recently, the White House "located" over 250 pages of email. . .

More: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2006_02/008295.php

Libby’s latest ploys




Sunday talk shows

FOX NEWS SUNDAY: White House homeland security adviser Francis Fragos Townsend , Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) and Washington Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs.

THIS WEEK (ABC): Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and actor Richard Gere.

FACE THE NATION (CBS): National security adviser Stephen J. Hadley and Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.).

MEET THE PRESS (NBC): Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R).

LATE EDITION (CNN): Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.), Iraqi national security adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie , Arab American Institute President James Zogby and Hadley.

Bonus item: what will the far right say about this?

William F. Buckley, Jr. in The National Review, yesterday

One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed. . . . Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans. . . . . [Bush] will certainly face the current development as military leaders are expected to do: They are called upon to acknowledge a tactical setback, but to insist on the survival of strategic policies. Yes, but within their own counsels, different plans have to be made. And the kernel here is the acknowledgment of defeat. . . .

Jim Geraghty, writing in Bill Buckley’s own National Review [writing about Howard Dean]

I think any statement from a national leader that sounds like, "we have been defeated in Iraq" is political nitroglycerin. . . [read on for more hypocrisy]

***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 (http://pbd.blogspot.com).

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, February 25, 2006


[Glenn Greenwald] George Bush's presidency is in deep trouble. . .

“Thoroughly vetted”? Michael Chertoff, Director of Homeland Security, ALSO was never informed of the Dubai Ports deal


A few more reasons to be a bit concerned about DPW running our ports

The Bush administration is letting the United Arab Emirates take control of six key U.S. ports despite its own port’s reputation as a smuggling center used by arms traffickers, drug dealers and terrorists. . . .

More: http://www.prospect.org/weblog/archives/2006/02/index.html#009258

Is opposition to having the UAE run our east coast ports racist? A debate




A “slight delay”


Will GOP leaders start “redefining” their positions?


This is interesting. Bush fully intends to push this loser of a deal through

[SusanG] [T]his Dubai Debacle is growing increasingly disastrous for the GOP by the hour. Literally, by the hour. . .

[Dan Froomkin] It's not often that President Bush gets a taste of his own medicine. But it's happening now as Bush defends his administration's decision to turn over operations at six U.S. seaports to an Arab company.

He stands accused of being weak on national security, insufficiently fearful of terrorism, and out of touch with the American public. And he's operating in a political climate where nuance and details make a poor defense. . .

Carolyn Maloney [D-NY] said the port deal is a sign of "pre 9/11 mentality.". . .

[NB: Ha, ha! Good one: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/20/AR2006012001853.html]

Yeah, right: Now we’re being told that it’s the opponents of the ports deal who are endangering national security (Well, what do you expect? It’s the only card they have left to play, so of course they are playing it over and over and over again)


Lying like crazy

[Holden] But yesterday Little Scottie claimed that 100% of the containers [at US ports] are inspected. . .

The Goofus files (Ports Edition)

“Secondly, I've set a clear doctrine: America makes no distinction between the terrorists and the countries that harbor them. If you harbor a terrorist, you're just as guilty as the terrorists, and you're an enemy of the United States of America.”

[Holden] Later, he was heard to add, "Except if you are the United Arab Emirates."

“This deal wouldn't go forward if we were concerned about the security for the United States of America.”

[Steve Benen] Well, this is a quote Bush may have trouble living down.

President Bush on Thursday defended his administration's decision to allow a company from an Arab country to operate six major U.S. ports, saying, "People don't need to worry about security." . . . [read on]



Iraqi battalions ready to fight alone: ZERO



[NB: Yes, that’s LESS than they had six months ago]

The Ugly Americans say, “Iraq civil war could be a GOOD thing”



[NB: I have a colleague, Jan Pieterse, who has been arguing for months that destabilizing Iraq and the middle east was the plan all along – well, now he has allies]

How the Bush gang leaks classified information whenever it wants to



More: http://whateveralready.blogspot.com/2006/02/did-bush-administration-authorize-leak.html

One word. Find the one word in this denial that makes you sit up and take notice

The Pentagon denied that former deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz approved interrogation techniques used on war-on-terror detainees as claimed in a recently released FBI email. . . "To make any suggestion that Paul Wolfowitz was involved in approving individual interrogation plans is simply wrong," said Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman. . .

What they’re doing in Guantanamo

[K-R] Military interrogators posing as FBI agents at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, wrapped terrorism suspects in an Israeli flag and forced them to watch homosexual pornography under strobe lights during interrogation sessions that lasted as long as 18 hours, according to one of a batch of FBI memos released Thursday.

FBI agents working at the prison complained about the military interrogators' techniques in e-mail to their superiors from 2002 to 2004, 54 e-mails released by the American Civil Liberties Union showed. The agents tried to get the military interrogators to follow a less coercive approach and warned that the harsh methods could hinder future criminal prosecutions of terrorists because information gained illegally is inadmissible in court.

Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who was in charge of the prison at the time, overrode the FBI agents' protests, according to the documents.

The memos offer some of the clearest proof yet that the abuses and torture of prisoners weren't the isolated actions of low-ranking soldiers, the ACLU said. . . .

More: http://www.motherjones.com/mojoblog/archives/2006/02/more_documents.html

Tom DeLay, a Great American

U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay was likened to Stonewall Jackson, Lyndon Baines Johnson and a courageous World War I officer today as members of the Texas Republican congressional delegation joined the former House majority leader to endorse his re-election. . . . The Republicans took turns singing DeLay's praises as a selfless leader who not only helped get them elected, but also won Republican majorities in Congress and the Legislature, and brought home the bacon for NASA, the port of Houston and other local needs. . . .

[NB: Yeah, a lot of bacon. . . ]

The Republicans and the Russians

[Susan Madrak] You have no idea how interesting this is going to get. . .

More bad news for Katharine Harris


Why is the GOP spending so much money defending election fraud?


Libby’s “throw it at the wall and see what sticks” defense is getting pretty silly – but with $5 million to spend, expect a lot more of this nonsense


“Smacks of desperation” http://www.discourse.net/archives/2006/02/the_legal_equivalent_of_a_hail_mary_pass.html

I guess Libby’s not done leaking


Cheney's Plame emails. Fun!

[Jason Leopold] The emails are said to be explosive. . .

Retribution against Plame whistleblowers?


Another unqualified crony, this time for the Fed (eh, who cares? How important is THAT panel?)


I know this is supposed to be all settled now, but it turns out there was a fair amount of drinking at the “no drinking” Cheney hunting party


The American Taliban


Bonus item: Rita Crosby, professional twit, makes her first appearance here

Rita Cosby said that it's wrong that the Republicans in South Carolina are asking for church rolls to target the evangelical vote but it's just as wrong that Democrats are targeting the "hoodlum vote." Yes, the hoodlum vote. When a plainly confused Chris Matthews asked what she meant, she explained that Democrats were going through voter rolls to find felons to vote for them.

***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 (http://pbd.blogspot.com).

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, February 24, 2006


Sorry, folks, travelling today and no Internet access. A full issue comes tomorrow.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Bush’s exercise in adventurism and nation-building hubris is going wrong in ways that were predicted in advance. Ask the people of Iraq if they feel better off now than they did under Hussein

News: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060222/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_explosion




[Holden] . . . a full-scale civil war has erupted with 168 Suni mosques attacked, 10 Suni imams killed and an additional 120 Iraqi civilians dead over the past 24 hours.

Analysis: http://talkleft.com/new_archives/014106.html



[Juan Cole] Tuesday was an apocalyptic day in Iraq. I am not normally exactly sanguine about the situation there. But the atmospherics are very, very bad, in a way that most Western observers will miss. . .

Major damage control: Bush distancing himself furiously from the disastrous Dubai Ports policy, as more in his own party revolt. He claims now that he didn’t even know about it

[John Aravosis] So we've established the pattern. Bush is either a serial liar, or he's completely out of touch and a simple figurehead who has no idea what his own employees are doing. . .

[Kos] Of course, the big question is who reviewed and approved the deal, since we now find that a decision with major national security ramifications was made without input from either the president (supposedly) or the Secretary of Defense. Or perhaps the better question is whether the administration has decided to hang Chertoff off to dry. The dude is on his way out anyway, might as well tar him with this disaster as well. Because as far as we can tell, we have no proof the committee that McClellan assured us yesterday had unanimously approved the deal has even met.

Furthermore, while the administration was required under law to conduct a 45-day investigation into the deal, none took place. Of course, "laws" are those pesky words on paper that King George and his infallible administration are allowed to ignore and discard at their own perogative. . .

45 days: http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2006_02_19.php#007728


[Omen] The way I see it, there are three points to take out of what's happened:

1. Bush could care less about border security.

Between his fuzzy immigration policy (which even republicans aren't 100% behind) and this port sale, the President has effectively shown that border saftey isn't a concern. While I understand that the UAE won't control the actual sercurity checkpoint and the like at these points, it's stupid to think that they couldn't try to slip something through. After all, ABC did and succeded. . . [read on]

Your daily Scotty: http://www.first-draft.com//modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=5335
Q Scott, you said this morning that the President wasn't made aware of the ports decision until the last several days, until after the decision had been made. Does the President wish that he'd been brought into the deliberations sooner, that he knew about it before it became a big political controversy? . . .

Et Tu, DeLay? (thanks to Atrios for the link, and the joke)

U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay said Wednesday that President Bush is making a big mistake backing a sale of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports to a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates. . . The former Republican majority leader said the administration's approval of the deal is "pretty outrageous". . .

More outrage: http://www.prospect.org/weblog/archives/2006/02/index.html#009238




Look who’s lobbying for UAE



Remember who made a big issue about port security during the 2004 campaign? It isn’t just the Dubai Ports problem




BREAKING NEWS: it won’t surprise you to hear that the ports deal was secretly negotiated with the UAE in exchange for their cooperation with US investigations into terrorist activities. So that explains why Bush can’t back down on the promise now



Other special favors for UAE

[Guardian] The administration did not require Dubai Ports to keep copies of business records on U.S. soil, where they would be subject to court orders. It also did not require the company to designate an American citizen to accommodate U.S. government requests. Outside legal experts said such obligations are routinely attached to U.S. approvals of foreign sales in other industries.

[Josh Marshall] The failure to require the company to keep business records on US soil sounds like a pretty open invitation to flout US law as near as I can tell. Forget terrorism. This is the sort of innovative business arrangement I would think a number of Bush-affiliated American companies might want to get in on. Perhaps Halliburton could be domiciled in Houston, pay its taxes in Bermuda, do its business in Iraq and keep its business records in Jordan.

More: http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/6686.html

Will the WH play the “this is a national security issue, and Congress can’t interfere with the President’s authority” card?


The next port security scandal?


Louise Slaughter (D-NY): “America for Sale”


Force-feeding Gitmo prisoners becomes just another form of torture


[NB: Even when they say they’re trying to HELP them, it turns into a violent, adversarial process]

98 die in US custody


It’s about ideology versus competence (again)

[WP] The Bureau of Land Management, caretaker of more land and wildlife than any federal agency, routinely restricts the ability of its own biologists to monitor wildlife damage caused by surging energy drilling on federal land, according to BLM officials and bureau documents.

The officials and documents say that by keeping many wildlife biologists out of the field doing paperwork on new drilling permits and that by diverting agency money intended for wildlife conservation to energy programs, the BLM has compromised its ability to deal with the environmental consequences of the drilling boom it is encouraging on public lands.

[NYT] Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday began a four-day visit to the Middle East, where she hoped to persuade Arab leaders to cut off financial aid to Hamas. But she ran into trouble on her very first stop. . .

South Dakota about to ban abortions? (If so, it could be the test case for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and throw the decision back to the states)



Now it’s Abramoff and the Russians


Rick Santorum (R-PA): it just gets worse and worse


Duke Cunningham’s “bribe menu” (thanks to Laura Rozen for the link)


The 25 most vulnerable House seats (and 9 of the top 10 are GOP)


Bonus item: Libby’s defense: “I forgot”


***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 (http://pbd.blogspot.com).

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, February 22, 2006


The next Harriet Miers? Has Bush taken on another inevitably losing issue?

The biggest GOP revolt since Harriet Miers . .

President Bush, trying to put down a rapidly escalating rebellion among leaders of his own party, said Tuesday that he would veto any legislation blocking a deal for a state-owned company in Dubai to take over the management of port terminals in New York, Miami, Baltimore and other major American cities. . . Mr. Bush issued the threat after the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, and the House speaker, J. Dennis Hastert, publicly criticized the deal. . .

President Bush today strongly defended plans to allow a company controlled by the United Arab Emirates to assume management of key U.S. ports, a stance that distanced him from a growing number of Republicans, including the congressional leadership that has threatened to pass legislation to stop the move. . . Bush said he would veto any legislation to hold up the port deal. He warned that if the United States derailed the deal, it would send "mixed signals" because no criticism was raised when a British company was in charge. Lawmakers, he said, must "step up and explain why a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard."

Mr. Bush's rare veto threat came as Republican leaders and many of their Democratic counterparts called up today for the port takeover to be put on hold. They demanded that the Bush administration conduct a further investigation of the Dubai company's acquisition of the British operator of the six American ports.

What’s wrong with Dubai? http://americablog.blogspot.com/2006/02/does-bush-even-know-that-al-qaeda-used.html
[USAT] Osama bin Laden's operatives still use this freewheeling city as a logistical hub three years after more than half the Sept. 11 hijackers flew directly from Dubai to the United States . . .

[Joe] Just imagine if a Democratic President cut this deal -- and defended it the way Bush has. Karl Rove would have a field day.

More: http://www.needlenose.com/node/view/2677

The Dubai firm that won Bush administration backing to run six U.S. ports has at least two ties to the White House.

One is Treasury Secretary John Snow, whose department heads the federal panel that signed off on the $6.8 billion sale of an English company to government-owned Dubai Ports World - giving it control of Manhattan's cruise ship terminal and Newark's container port. . . Snow was chairman of the CSX rail firm that sold its own international port operations to DP World for $1.15 billion in 2004, the year after Snow left for President Bush's cabinet.

The other connection is David Sanborn, who runs DP World's European and Latin American operations and who was tapped by Bush last month to head the U.S. Maritime Administration. . .

More: http://www.workingforchange.com/blog/index.cfm?mode=entry&entry=8F0C2C26-E5A6-B306-55BE87948B44A59C

Jack Cafferty, CNN

Wolf, this may be the straw that finally breaks the camel's back, this deal to sell control of six US ports to a company controlled by the United Arab Emirates. There are now actually Senators and Congressmen and Governors and Mayors telling the White House "you're not gonna do this." And it's about time. No one has said "no" to this administration on anything that matters in a very long time. Well this matters. It matters a lot. If this deal is allowed to go through, we deserve whatever we get. A country with ties to terrorists will have a presence at six critical doorways to our country. And if anyone thinks that the terrorists, in time, won't figure out how to exploit that, then we're all done. Nothing's happened yet, mind you, but if our elected representatives don't do everything in their power to stop this thing, each of us should vow to work tirelessly to see that they are removed from public office. We're at a crossroads - which way will we choose?

[From a reader] Being a War President, and the War on Terror itself, eclipses everything. . . Except when it doesn’t.

The people who voted for him genuinely believed that he would keep them safer than any alternative we could elect. And now he’s blowing it all off, under the guise of “fair play” for countries that have “played by the rules.” Aside from the cribbing from Clinton, just which rules is it he thinks the UAE has played by?. . . The cynicism of his defense of the port deal is just staggering.

[Steve Benen] Bush is drawing a line in the sand here, but he's also taking a big risk. Right now, the White House has very few allies on this; opposition to the deal is bi-partisan and common on the Hill and statehouses. Lawmakers, especially those who are more worried about their own re-election that helping Bush's port deal, will see no upside to helping the White House out on this one.

For that matter, the president is threatening a veto today, but will he go through with it? Bush is the first president in nearly two centuries not to veto a single bill — and he's going to start with a foreign-run port deal?

For that matter, it's also worth noting that Bush's veto threats don't mean much anymore. The last several threats were treated as little more than speed-bumps for lawmakers who have their own agenda and careers to worry about.

Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina said on Fox News Sunday that the administration approval was "unbelievably tone deaf politically". . .

Tin ear

THE PRESIDENT: It's not a political issue.

Q But there clearly are members of your own party who will go to the mat against you on this.

THE PRESIDENT: It's not a political issue. . .

[Digby] If there are three hallmarks of this failed Bush administration, it is hubris, incompetence and cronyism. This port deal features all three. . .

[Kevin Drum] This whole controversy over "Portgate" — a decision by the Bush administration to allow the operations of six big U.S. ports to be managed by a company owned by the United Arab Emirates — is fascinating. Not so much for the substantive issues it raises, which are disturbing but a bit murky, but for what it says about the waning political power of the Bush White House. . . What it shows is that Bush still doesn't understand how much influence he's recently lost with his conservative base. . .

[Digby] Assuming that we aren't seeing some sort of kabuki here, it appears that the Eunuch Caucus is getting an earful from their constituents and see no margin in working with the lame albatross right now. He's threatened vetoes before and the invertebrate Republicans have always fallen into line. This time appears to be different. . . If this is true, the Bush administration may be effectively over. . . Apparently, they have no idea that they have lost the trust of the people on exactly these kinds of things. The rigor of their planning, the "experience" with private companies and the ineptitude of Homeland Security.

“Thorough review,” huh? Rumsfeld, military not consulted

Rumsfeld’s statement was particularly troubling because Dubai Ports World, owned and operated by the UAE government, will also take over a major contract managing the movement of military equipment for the U.S. Army. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Peter Pace, who was at the briefing, also said he found out about the deal over the weekend. The deal was approved on February 13.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan claimed the Defense Department was part of “a rigorous review…for national security concerns.” If so, why were two of the Department’s top officials not even informed, much less consulted?

UPDATE: Donald Rumsfeld, as Secretary of Defense, is a member of Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States. As such, he was one of the people who, according to the Treasury Department, unanimously approved the sale on February 13. How could do that when he didn’t even find out about the sale until last weekend?

The funniest part: Bush may be right




Always attack others for doing what you are doing yourself: how Rove slimed Kerry for his connection to Malaysia’s PM Mahathir Mohammed


They can’t wait, can they?

The Supreme Court announced today that it will hear a challenge to a federal law outlawing a late-term abortion procedure, reopening the contentious issue on Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.'s first day on the bench. . .

More: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/21/politics/21cnd-abortion.html

[NB: But of course, as Mr. Alito lied throughout his hearings, he has “no agenda” and keeps an “open mind” on this issue. Every pro-choice Republican and Democrat who voted for him should be thrown out of office]

The Goofus Files



[Josh Marshall] This is one of those funny Bush Washington moments.

The budget cutters axed 32 jobs at the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

The employees were laid off two weeks ago.

But apparently no one told them that the political office at the White House had decided to make this energy independence squeeze-the-switchgrass-until-it-bleeds-gas week at the White House. And President Bush was heading over to the lab today to participate in a panel on the wonders of renewable energy.

The jobs got reinstated; the president says it was all a mix-up.

Dog Bites Man

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Tuesday he was mistaken when he stated last week that the U.S. military had stopped paying Iraqi newspapers to publish pro-American articles.

Rumsfeld had said in a television interview on Friday that the U.S. military had ceased paying to place positive stories in Iraqi media after criticism in the U.S. Congress and press. Rumsfeld made similar comments the same day to the Council on Foreign Relations.

"I just misstated the facts," Rumsfeld told a Pentagon briefing on Tuesday.

The Know-Nothings


Who’s a “liberal”?


Who’s brainless? Orrin Hatch or the 9-11 Commission?

[Hatch] Nobody denies that [Saddam Hussein] was supporting al-Qaeda...Well, I shouldn't say nobody. Nobody with brains.

[9-11 Commission] The Sept. 11 commission reported yesterday that it has found no “collaborative relationship” between Iraq and al Qaeda, challenging one of the Bush administration’s main justifications for the war in Iraq.

Bonus item: The Blondes


***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 (http://pbd.blogspot.com).

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.***

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


US now openly tries to steer the development of Iraqi democracy – the hell with this “sovereignty” notion

Apparently tired of my seeing his shadow behind every twist and turn, U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad has decided to take his act out into broad daylight . . .

More: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/21/international/middleeast/21iraq.html


Or: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2006_02/008260.php
[Kevin Drum] Khalilzad has to walk a tricky line in his public statements, but this strikes me as a useful stance: not too hot and not too cold. What's more, if it doesn't have the desired effect it gives us a prepackaged excuse to pull out later this year.

George Bush thinks he is Abraham Lincoln


[Laura Rozen] When Pat Roberts, Mike DeWine, David Addington and Andy Card get their ducks in a row, here's where things are headed if people don't step up to the plate: concocted retroactive legal cover for breaking the law, without any oversight or investigation.

Bush gang busily reclassifying declassified documents: really, they don’t want ANYTHING out there, unless they control it


More: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/21/politics/21reclassify.html

What a surprise!

A State Department reorganization of analysts involved in preventing the spread of deadly weapons has spawned internal turmoil, with more than half a dozen career employees alleging in interviews that political appointees sought to punish long-term employees whose views they considered suspect. . .

The torturers win. . .


Abramoff and Bush

Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Monday that disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff was paid $1.2 million to organize his 2002 meeting with President Bush . . .

Another Jason Leopold piece on the Plame scandal

[Swopa] Jason Leopold is either steadily breaking open the story of who outed Valerie Plame Wilson as a CIA officer, or he's just plain making stuff up; I'm not sure which. . . As with Leopold's earlier piece, I'm putting this article in a stack labeled "awaiting further confirmation."

Leopold: http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/022006Z.shtml
The investigation into the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson is heating up. Evidence is mounting that senior officials in the office of Vice President Dick Cheney and the National Security Council conspired to unmask Plame Wilson's identity to reporters in an effort to stop her husband from publicly criticizing the administration's pre-war Iraq intelligence, according to sources close to the two-year-old probe. . . In recent weeks, investigators working for Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald have narrowed their focus to a specific group of officials . .

Making an issue of the NSA scandal



Electoral prospects in Fall ‘06



Bonus item: Rick Santorum (R-PA), finished

[Laura Rozen] It seems Santorum has been using his PAC to pay his family expenses, getting favorable bank loans, etc.

And Starbucks! http://www.pnionline.com/dnblog/attytood/archives/002807.html

More! http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewPrint&articleId=11174

***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 (http://pbd.blogspot.com).

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.***