Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Psst. . .don’t tell anyone in the press, but there STILL isn’t an operational government in Iraq
[CAP] When Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki took office 10 days ago, he announced the formation of a new cabinet but did not name individuals to head three important security posts. Maliki said the announcement would come "within two or three days." More than a week later, the security posts -- the ministries of Interior, Defense, and National Security -- remain vacant, with some expecting the posts to be filled "within two or three days." There are signs, however, that the process could take longer. . . The truth may be, however, that even the announcement of new cabinet ministers for security will have little impact on the violence because the Iraq forces are largely controlled by militias and other elements loyal to terrorists and religious clerics. . . The most powerful man in Iraq may not be the prime minister or president, but rather Shiite cleric Moqtada al Sadr, who commands the powerful Mahdi Army and holds court with foreign dignitaries, including most recently the Iranian Foreign Minister. "In Baghdad and most of Iraq, the police are the Mahdi Army and the Mahdi Army is the police."

One year ago . . .
"I think we may well have some kind of presence there over a period of time. But I think the level of activity that we see today, from a military standpoint, I think will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency." — Dick Cheney, May 30, 2005

Today, instead of reducing troops, we’re INCREASING them
[AP] The Sunni Arab heart of the Iraqi insurgency seems likely to hold its strength the rest of the year, and some of its leaders are now collaborating with al-Qaida terrorists, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, in that Other War
[AP] Hundreds of suspected Taliban fighters attacked a remote central Afghan town on Wednesday and occupied a district police headquarters after the battle, driving out security forces, an official said. . . Also Wednesday, Afghanistan's parliament approved a motion calling for the government to prosecute the U.S. soldiers responsible for a deadly road crash that sparked the worst riots in Kabul in years. . .

The new Iraqi Ambassador comes to see Bush, says on national television that Haditha was a massacre

Haditha: there’s a good chance that the biggest story before all this is over is not the massacre itself, but the cover-up
The formal findings of investigations into the matter are several weeks away, said Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Pace cautioned against a rush to judgment.

"There are two ongoing investigations," he told CNN. "One has to do with what happened. The other investigation goes to why didn't we know about it sooner than we knew about it."
[Eric Umansky] The NYT off-leads details of an initial military inquiry into Marines apparent murder of Iraqis in Haditha. It's hard to tell what if any new info there is here—though the inquiry turned up evidence that officers, including a battalion commander, were involved in a cover-up.

Or, maybe not:

A “war on terror” might be a good thing – if we were serious about it

Bush’s new Supreme Court loses little time in restricting free speech
[TChris] The decision is nonsense. . .

John Snow’s replacement as Treasury Secretary might actually be an improvement – if they let him be
[CAP] President Bush's new nominee for Treasury Secretary, Goldman Sachs Chairman Henry M. Paulson Jr., not only endorses the Kyoto Protocol to limit greenhouse emissions, but argues that America's failure to enact Kyoto undermines the competitiveness of U.S. companies. Paulson serves as chairman of the board of directors for the Nature Conservancy, which has issued statements endorsing Kyoto: "The Kyoto Protocol is a key first step to help slow the onslaught of global warming and benefit conservation efforts. ... Additionally, without enacting our own emission limits, U.S. companies will lose ground to their competitors in Europe, Canada, Japan, and other countries participating in the Protocol who are developing clean technologies." Goldman Sachs, under Paulson's leadership, has also argued that the danger from global warming is imminent and requires "urgent" action by government to reduce emissions. As a result, Paulson's nomination is strongly opposed by a coalition right-wing groups seeking to cast doubt on climate science, such as the National Center for Public Policy Research, describing Paulson as "diametrically opposed to the positions of [the Bush] Administration.". . .
[Steve Benen] The more important question, I suppose, is whether Bush will actually let the guy do anything. . . Paulson was right to leak word that he was worried about a substantial role in the administration. The Bush gang has made little secret of the fact that they don't want someone with policy experience; they want a cheerleader at Treasury. The office of the Treasury Secretary used to be a very big deal, but under Bush, it, like the rest of his cabinet, serves no apparent purpose at all.

Bush just doesn’t care about telling the truth, even about the little things

Oh, now I see, he HAD to lie:

I’m so impressed by how Bush has followed through with his promise not to exploit 9-11 for political purposes

Karl Zinsmeister, Bush’s new domestic policy advisor, is looking worse and worse as we get to know him
[Digby] John Amato has all the dirt on this fine fellow, but he leaves out what I think is the most impressive item on Karl's list of accomplishment. It seems he writes comic books too. . .

In an exaggerated effort to create a false equivalence, the AP’s John Solomon labors to find a “scandal” affecting Harry Reid (D-NV). CNN and other cable news outlets give a big assist. Only one problem: it isn’t a scandal at all
[Steve Benen] So, is there anything to this? Not even a little. In fact, the closer one looks at the details, the better Reid looks. . .


HERE’S the scandal
[John Aravosis] This is rather serious. The Associated Press ran a story yesterday (byline John Solomon) attacking Senator Harry Reid for accepting tickets to a boxing match in Nevada as the guest of the Nevada state government (something that appears totally fine under Senate ethics rules).

AP then comes under some rather severe criticism from bloggers, this blog included, because the article notes in its second paragraph that rather than doing the bidding of the Nevada boxing folks, Reid was in fact pushing legislation they didn't like. . . Today, Josh Marshall discovered that AP appears to have edited its story and deleted the sentence. . .

A trash piece on Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) too, this one from the NYT

Uh, has anyone noticed that Rick Santorum (R-PA) isn’t a resident of the state he supposedly represents?

OK, I’ll say it: William Jefferson (D-LA) looks like a crook, acts like a crook, and sounds like a crook
[Josh Marshall] The FBI is now saying that during their earlier raid on his house, Rep. Jefferson (D-LA) was on the premises during the raid and tried to hide documents from FBI agents as they were conducting the search. That's not proven. But it's the sworn testimony of one of the FBI agents.

CNN returns its attention to a missing blonde white girl in Aruba – because, hey, what ELSE is there to talk about?

Bonus item: Oh, what’s a little hyperbole in politics?
Last week, Sterling Burnett – a senior fellow at the Exxon-backed National Center for Policy Analysis – compared Al Gore to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. . . In this weekend’s Washington Post magazine, meteorologist Bill Gray – one of the most prominent climate skeptics – directly compared Al Gore to Adolf Hitler: “Gore believed in global warming almost as much as Hitler believed there was something wrong with the Jews.”

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Mr. President!
The office of Vice President Dick Cheney routinely reviews pieces of legislation before they reach the president's desk, searching for provisions that Cheney believes would infringe on presidential power . . .


Now it begins. . .
[AP] The Bush administration asked federal judges in New York and Michigan to dismiss a pair of lawsuits filed over the National Security Agency's domestic eavesdropping program, saying litigation would jeopardize state secrets.

In legal papers filed late Friday, Justice Department lawyers said it would be impossible to defend the legality of the spying program without disclosing classified information that could be of value to suspected terrorists.

[SusanG] Let's make sure we've got this straight. The NSA won't grant clearances to DOJ attorneys to look into the program. The FCC refuses to look into whether the phone companies illegally turned over data. SEC rules of accounting and reporting are waived at the behest of the John Negroponte, thus eliminating any "follow the money" trail for investigators.

Absolutely NO oversight, no way in to investigate anything at all about this data mining program, not through the Department of Justice, not through the SEC walking back the money end, not through the agency that regulates the telecoms. And oh, yeah ... anyone who gets the bright idea to go to the press to leak ... well, even the reporter may get prosecuted now, as well as the whistleblower. . .

Iraqification – how’s it going?
The top American commander in Iraq has decided to move reserve troops now deployed in Kuwait into the volatile Anbar Province in western Iraq to help quell a rise in insurgent attacks there . . .
[WP] "Zarqawi is the one who is in control" of Anbar's capital Ramadi, said one sheik. "He kills anyone who goes in and out of the U.S. base. We have stopped meetings with the Americans, because, frankly speaking, we have lost confidence in the U.S. side, as they can't protect us." . . .
[Swopa] I wrote two weeks ago about the unresolved tension between the Bushites' political need to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq (even if many remain in would-be permanent bases) and their equally strong need to avoid the appearance of retreat.

Ramadi is an example of how that circle is proving unsquareable. In a city of a few hundred thousand people, the U.S. controls five blocks. If we pull out of those five blocks, you might as well change the town's name to Zarqawiville. It seems like the Bushites have no more idea what to do about this problem than they did a year ago. . .
[Nir Rosen] I have spent nearly two of the three years since Baghdad fell in Iraq. On my last trip, a few weeks back, I flew out of the city overcome with fatalism. . .

Fake news:

The big story over the weekend, which I assume everyone followed, was the growing internecine warfare between the WH, House and Senate Republicans, over the FBI’s authority to search Congressional offices and seize incriminating evidence. The most delicious moment was when Gonzales and two other top Justice Dept officials threatened to quit if the William Jefferson (D-LA) materials were returned. How bad is it getting when Gonzales, the ultimate loyalist, is pissed off with Bush?



Is there or isn’t there a serious Constitutional issue about this search and seizure?

I think this time it might backfire: it’s just so transparent. In the midst of war, corruption, fiscal difficulty, skyrocketing gas prices, education, health, and social programs in crisis, what do the Republicans want to make the most important issues this fall?
There's an election this November. The Republicans who currently control the US House and the US Senate think flag burning and gay marriage are the top two issues in America today. . .
[AP] Amending the Constitution to prohibit flag burning may be considered political posturing in the nation's capital, says Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, but it's not pandering to the GOP's conservative base to pursue such protection. . . "It's important to the heart and soul of the American people," said Frist, R-Tenn. . .
[ABC] Frist defended a constitutional ban on gay marriage because "that union between a man and a woman is the cornerstone of our society. It is under attack today." . . .

He’ll fit right in
[Glenn Greenwald] Several days ago, the Bush administration announced that Karl Zinsmeister, the long-time Editor of the right-wing American Enterprise magazine, would become its new Domestic Policy Advisor. . .

But an exposè today in The New York Sun documents rather compellingly that integrity does not exactly appear to be one of Zinsmeister's strong suits. In 2004, The Syracuse New Times published a profile and interview with Zinsmeister which contained some rather controversial and provocative quotes, as well as some disrespectful and critical quotes about the Commander-in-Chief. But when Zinsmeister re-published the New Times profile on the American Enterprise website, he fundamentally changed the controversial quotations in order to make it appear that he never said them. . .

Ralph Reed (R-GA), sinking fast (and it couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy)

Today’s must-read
[Jamison Foser] The defining issue of our time is not the Iraq war. It is not the "global war on terror." It is not our inability (or unwillingness) to ensure that all Americans have access to affordable health care. Nor is it immigration, outsourcing, or growing income inequity. It is not education, it is not global warming, and it is not Social Security.

The defining issue of our time is the media. . .

A special place in hell
[Laura Ingraham, Dartmouth co-ed, wanna-be war hero] “To do a show from Iraq means to talk to the Iraqi military, to go out with the Iraqi military, to actually have a conversation with the people instead of reporting from hotel balconies about the latest IEDs going off.”
By some reckonings, the death of two journalists working for CBS News on Monday firmly secured the Iraq war as the deadliest conflict for reporters in modern times. . .

Bonus item: Bush on Memorial Day
"In this place where valor sleeps, we are reminded why America has always gone to war reluctantly, because we know the costs of war."


***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.***

Saturday, May 27, 2006

I am away from Internet access for the next couple of days -- so the next regular issue of PBD will be on Tuesday the 30th.

Friday, May 26, 2006


Murray Waas (not Jason Leopold) reports that Karl Rove really is in big trouble – and Bob Novak too, apparently
Murray Waas reports that Karl Rove, Robert Novak's source for learning Valerie Plame's identity, may have collaborated with the columnist to cover up his leak. Upon first learning of the federal probe into the Plame leak, Rove and Novak spoke and invented a "cover story" to hide the truth about the leak, Fitzgerald's investigators believe.


Libby fingers Cheney
Vice President Cheney was personally angered by a former U.S. ambassador's newspaper column attacking a key rationale for the war in Iraq and repeatedly directed I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, then his chief of staff, to "get all the facts out" related to the critique. . . Libby also told the grand jury that Cheney raised as an issue that the former ambassador's wife worked at the CIA and that she allegedly played a role in sending him to investigate the Iraqi government's interest in acquiring nuclear weapons materials. That issue formed the basis of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV's published critique.

In the court filing that included the formerly secret testimony, Fitzgerald did not assert that Cheney instructed Libby to tell reporters the name and role of Valerie Plame, Wilson's wife. But he said Cheney's interactions with Libby on that topic were a key part of the reason Libby allegedly made false statements to the FBI about his conversations with reporters around the time her name was disclosed in news accounts. . . "The state of mind of the Vice President as communicated to defendant is directly relevant to the issue of whether defendant knowingly made false statements to federal agents and the grand jury regarding when and how he learned about Ms. Wilson's employment and what he said to reporters regarding this issue," he said.


If called, Cheney will have to testify

Enron execs Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling found guilty
Lay is known to be a very close personal friend of current US president George W. Bush, and was one of the largest contributors to his presidential campaigns . . .

George Bush’s close links with “Kenny Boy”
[January 2002] THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, Ken Lay is a supporter. And I got to know Ken Lay when he was the head of the -- what they call the Governor's Business Council in Texas. He was a supporter of Ann Richards in my run in 1994.
"In distancing himself from Enron, President Bush said that CEO Kenneth Lay 'was a supporter' of Democrat Ann Richards in his first race for Texas governor in 1994.

"But records and interviews with people involved in the Richards campaign show that he was a far bigger Bush supporter.

"Mr. Lay and his wife gave Mr. Bush three times more money . . . than Ms. Richards in their gubernatorial contest, according to a computer-assisted review of campaign finance reports by The Dallas Morning News. … Mr. Bush, a Republican, collected $37,500 from the Lays in his successful bid to unseat the Democratic incumbent, state records show. Ms. Richards received $12,500."

Much more:

But did the press ask about these ties once the Enron convictions came down?
[Digby] So Kenny Boy Lay went down today. Let's hear it for the justice system.

But let's also hear it for the White House press corps who after eight long years of invetigating every transaction that members of the Clinton administration ever made, never really gave a damn about Kenny Boy's very intimate connection to George W. Bush and apparently still don't.

One pathetic, half-hearted attempt

Sounds like a cover-up
An internal Justice Department inquiry into whether department officials -- including Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft -- acted properly in approving and overseeing the Bush administration's domestic eavesdropping program was stymied because investigators were denied security clearances to do their work. The investigators, however, were only seeking information and documents relating to the National Security Agency's surveillance program that were already in the Justice Department's possession. . .

Haditha: it really was a massacre
A military investigation into the deaths of two dozen Iraqis last November is expected to find that a small number of marines in western Iraq carried out extensive, unprovoked killings of civilians . . .
[Eric Umansky] The New York Times and Los Angeles Times front what military officials say appears to be the murder of two dozen Iraqis by Marines last November. A congressional official said the shootings were "methodical in nature." The Marines reportedly killed a few unarmed men taken from a taxi. Then they went into houses, where they killed women and children.

An initial press release from the military said most of the civilians were killed by a "roadside bomb." The NYT, which has the more detailed report, asked a "senior defense official" how many Iraqis were really killed by the bomb. The answer: "Zero."

The military only investigated after Time magazine started digging and reported the story back in March. The killings are now the focus of three investigations, including one into the possible cover-up.

"When these investigations come out, there's going to be a firestorm," one retired military lawyer told the Washington Post. "It will be worse than Abu Ghraib— nobody was killed at Abu Ghraib."

[NB: I think that's unlikely. Haditha wasn't the result of clear and systematic instructions from higher-ups. Horrible as it is, it's the kind of thing that happens in war. Abu Ghraib was a result of policy.]

Will anyone apologize to Murtha?

Republicans at war with one another over immigration policy
The immigrant bashers in the House aren't backing down. . .

“Coming train wreck”

Funny. Jimmy Carter endorses Bush's approach (which will further inflame the far-right opponents on this issue, naturally)

Senate Republicans are scared to death of the stem cell issue

ABC stands by its story that Hastert IS being investigated for Abramoff connections
[John Aravosis] Is this why Hastert was complaining so loudly about the FBI raid that sought documents from Cong. Jefferson? And is this why Hastert himself called today for the agents who conducted the raid to be taken off the case? Tell me that isn't obstruction off justice, trying to get the guys investigating YOU fired.


Was the leak of this story punishment?
The White House tried to cool congressional anger Thursday over a report linking House Speaker Dennis Hastert to a wide-ranging corruption probe, denying the story was leaked to punish Hastert for criticizing the FBI's raid of a lawmaker's office. . .

Hastert has been a particularly vocal critic of an FBI search of a Democratic lawmaker's office Saturday and suggested the leak was meant to intimidate him. . . "This is one of the leaks that come out to try to intimidate people, and we're just not going to be intimidated on it," Hastert told Chicago radio station WGN on Thursday. . .

Perfect, just perfect. On the brink of a total rout because of Republican corruption, the Democrats collapse into racially charged squabbling over how to deal with the William Jefferson (D-LA) scandal

Stupid and unnecessary

Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) jointly sponsor bill requiring Bush to follow FISA requirements. I assume this could pass the Senate, but never the House. Though if it did, would Bush veto it?

Bill Nelson (D) vs Katherine Harris (R) in the Florida senate race

New guy in the White House: once again media savvy and ideological conformity matter more than government policy experience
[Steve Benen] When Claude Allen was forced to resign from the White House after getting caught in some unfortunate shoplifting incidents, the West Wing was temporarily without a chief domestic policy advisor. It probably didn't matter too much — the Bush gang shows about as much interest in policy as the president shows in sightseeing in France — but yesterday, the White House announced Allen's replacement. . .

Treasury Secretary John Snow will (finally) resign

Bonus item: The kind of little story that tells so much
[Elisabeth Bumiller, NYT] Reporters en route to Arizona on Air Force One last week opted to watch the movie "King Kong" in the press cabin. Not so Tony Snow, the new White House press secretary and former Fox News commentator, who told reporters that he spent the flight in the staff cabin watching Gen. Michael V. Hayden's confirmation hearings to be the new C.I.A. director — on CNN.

[Digby] Okay, once you're back from the dental surgery room and had your jaw returned to its proper place, let's state the obvious: In a country with a rational press, any reporter on that plane who was watching "King Kong" instead of the Hayden hearings would be fired within 1 hour of the publication of Bumiller's story. Including, apparently, Bumiller herself.

***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.***

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Cheney may be called upon to testify in Libby case. Wow. What happens once this guy gets put on the stand under oath (assuming he agrees to do it)?
[NY Daily News] "Two top CIA officials will bolster prosecutors' charge that Vice President Cheney's chief aide lied to them, court papers show”. . .


Bush’s Security State draws broader and broader guidelines around information they won’t provide in criminal cases

Glenn Greenwald, of course:


Speaker of the House Denny Hastert under investigation?!?

Maybe not:

GOP House leaders are furious that the FBI is collecting evidence from congressional offices (and with good reason)

Why they should worry:

Contrarians Yglesias and Kleiman agree with them:

Why the Democrats just can’t figure out how to play the corruption issue

The WH won’t tell us how often Abramoff visited, who he visited with, and why – and no one seems inclined to make them

Rove: who the hell knows?

Bush has been trying for more than a year to find someone to replace John Snow. And he still can’t find anyone. . .

Good question, idiotic answer
Q The U.S. has the most powerful military in the world, and they have been unable to bring down the violence in any substantial way in several of the provinces. So how can you expect the Iraqis to do that?. . . [read on]


Chalabi, Allawi, Jaafari, Maliki – who’s next in the line of great Iraqi democratic heroes?

GOP foreign policy: clueless

What’s going on at the Washington Post?

Bonus item: Priceless. DeLay’s legal team turns to that noted right-wing commentator, Stephen Colbert (no kidding!)

***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.***

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Is Bush starting to lay the groundwork for a troop pullout from Iraq? Here we have a situation that MUST be trumpeted as a “turning point” – but how many of these have we seen in the past?
"We can expect the violence to continue, but something fundamental changed this weekend," Bush said. . .

[NB: “We can expect the violence to continue. . .”]

The press helps:

Mr. Mandate, Mr. Bold Agenda, Mr. Political Capital, is now reduced to trying to find the “rational middle ground” and “incrementalism”
President Bush acknowledged to a Chicago audience Monday that "there's an unease in America" over the war in Iraq, but he insisted that . . our progress is incremental”. . .


I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed,
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

-Percy Bysshe Shelley

Blair faces the same problem in Britain

So. . . .like clockwork
Tony Blair and George Bush will announce that they are to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq at a summit in Washington as early as this week, RAW STORY has learned.

The process has already been carefully choreographed in an attempt to bolster the popularity of both Bush and Blair who have suffered domestically for their handling of the war. . .
An old word is gaining new currency in Washington: containment. You may be hearing a lot more of it as the Bush administration hunkers down for its final two years. Containment of Iraq’s low-level civil war, which shows every sign of persisting for years despite the new government inaugurated this week. Containment of Iran’s nuclear power, which may lead to a missile defense system in Europe. Containment of the Islamism revived by Hamas and Hizbullah, by the Sunni suicide bombers in Iraq, as well as by the “Shiite Crescent”—as Jordan’s King Abdullah once called it—running from Iran through Southern Iraq and into the Gulf. . .

So, now it’s “containment,” huh?
[Bush, March 8, 2005] For the sake of our long-term security, all free nations must stand with the forces of democracy and justice that have begun to transform the Middle East. . .
[Bush, December 14, 2005] As I stated in a speech in the lead-up to the war, a liberated Iraq could show the power of freedom to transform the Middle East . . .

I don’t get it. I think this Seymour Hersh story is HUGE. I’m out of the country, but I see no indication that it’s caught on. Why not?

Report: Libby knew Plame was classified

He’s screwed:

“At any time”
MSNBC's David Shuster declared Monday evening that Karl Rove's legal team expects Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald to announce a decision "at any time". . .


***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.***

Monday, May 22, 2006


Sy Hersh: guess what? The NSA program WASN’T just limited to collecting a data base of unidentified phone calls: their content WAS being monitored


Bush gang threatens to prosecute reporters over revealing illegal domestic spying. I say, “bring it on, guys.” Do they really want to turn the press into their blood enemy?
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales raised the possibility yesterday that New York Times journalists could be prosecuted for publishing classified information based on the outcome of the criminal investigation underway into leaks to the Times of data about the National Security Agency's surveillance of terrorist-related calls between the United States and abroad. . .
[Joe] Obviously, they intend to stifle the free press in America. It's really quite amazing because the traditional media has been overly kind and deferential to Bush and his cronies. But in Bush world, there is no room for criticism. Exposing unconstitutional behavior by the Bush team can result in criminal charges--and not just your run of the mill charges--they're talking espionage. . .
[Glenn Greenwald] An aggressive and adversarial press in our country was intended by the founders to be one of the most critical checks on abuses of presidential power, every bit as much as Congress and the courts were created as checks. . . . And the only reason, in turn, that the press is a check against the Government is because it searches for and then discloses information which the Government wants to keep secret. That is what investigative journalism, by definition, does. The Government always wants to conceal its wrongdoing from the public, and the principal safeguard in this country against that behavior is an adversarial press, which is devoted to uncovering such conduct and disclosing it to the country.

Virtually every issue of political controversy during the Bush administration has been the result of the disclosure to a journalist by a concerned Government source that the administration is engaging in illegal, improper and/or highly controversial conduct. Whatever criticisms one wants to make of the American press -- and such criticisms are numerous -- it is still the case that what we do know about this Administration's conduct is the result of the press. Literally, if George Bush had his way -- if government sources were sufficiently intimidated out of disclosing classified information and journalists were sufficiently intimidated out of writing about it -- we would not know about any of these matters:

* Abu Ghraib

* The Bybee Torture Memorandum

* The use of torture as an interrogation tool

* The illegal eavesdropping on Americans without warrants

* The creation of secret gulags in Eastern Europe

* The existence of abundant pre-war information undermining and even negating the administration's WMD claims

* Policies of rendering prisoners to the worst human rights-abusing countries. . . [read on!]

Although, my optimism rests on the assumption that the major press will strike back . . .
[Glenn Greenwald] One of the most striking aspects of these escalating attacks on the press is just how silent the major media outlets are about any of this. The Attorney General threatened journalists with prison this weekend on national television. Shouldn't the Times and the Post be editorializing against those threats, at the very least? And yet, from what I've seen today, no newspaper has published an editorial response to the administration. Just silence.

Condi Rice’s shameless lies about Gitmo

Longtime readers have become more than familiar with Larry Di Rita’s lies and distortions as Press Secretary for Rumsfeld’s Defense Dept. But even from him this is impressive. . .

Plame keeps slipping down the priority list as everyone shifts into “wait and see” mode. But deep in the blogsophere, speculation continues

Dick Armitage, hero?

Libby’s laughable defense excuse

Alberto Gonzales, defendant?

Truthout, on the defensive

Rove cooperating?

Of course Presidents campaign for candidates as the leader of their party. But Bush has turned this into something more

***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.***

Sunday, May 21, 2006


(Sporadic posting over the next couple of days, while I’m traveling.)

Iraq forms government! (Well, kinda sorta)
[AP] The inauguration of Iraq's new government marks a new era in relations with the country that the U.S. has occupied for more than three years, President Bush said Sunday.

"The formation of a unity government in Iraq is a new day for the millions of Iraqis who want to live in peace," Bush said. "And the formation of the unity government in Iraq begins a new chapter in our relationship with Iraq."

Bush briefly spoke to reporters from the White House with his wife, Laura, at his side, to highlight the political development without mentioning the violence that still rages in Iraq.

The president did not speak of the spree of bombing, mortar rounds and a drive-by shooting that killed at least 18 Iraqis and wounded dozens. . .
Even thought the new government boasts a Sunni Arab vice president and deputy prime minister, 15 Sunni politicians stormed out of the celebrations to protest Maliki's decision to proceed with a vote even though three key Cabinet positions have yet to be filled—defense, interior, and national security, the three ministries that will share control of the country's new security forces. . .
[Kevin Drum] After months of haggling, Iraqi leaders finally formed a government today. However, they were forced to leave three important ministries unfilled — all related to oversight of security forces — because Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds couldn't agree on who to appoint.

That's obviously troubling, but I have a feeling that an even bigger problem was buried in a single paragraph inside this morning's New York Times account:

The incident underscored how difficult it could be for the new government to act with any degree of decisiveness. And it presages the bitter conflicts that lie ahead, especially over amendments to the Constitution, which Sunni leaders are insisting on as a condition for remaining in the democratic process.

Last October, in a desperate attempt to get Sunni support for the referendum on the proposed Iraqi constitution, Shiite leaders agreed to form a special committee to consider amendments to the constitution within four months of forming a government. That was mostly a fig leaf, since no one agreed to actually change the constitution, but it was enough to allow the Sunni bloc to hold out hope that they'd eventually get some of the concessions they were after.

But that's been on hold ever since the December parliamentary elections because no government had been formed. Now, though, the clock is ticking. With a government in place, Iraq's leadership is obligated to form the promised committee and begin considering constitutional changes.

So what's going to happen? The leader of Iraq's biggest Shiite party pretty much repudiated the deal months ago, and the most likely outcome seems to be either no changes or else mere cosmetic changes. And then the Sunnis will have to decide: do they decide to live with the constitution they hated back in October, or do they pull out of the government when the constitutional committee fails to deliver on any substantive changes? . . .


Iraq’s police force (Well, kinda sorta)
Much more in-depth is a piece the NYT fronts on the Iraqi police force and the failure of the Bush administration to adequately train it. The administration rejected a plan to rebuild the force using thousands of American civilian trainers. Instead, a dozen ill-equipped advisers were initially sent to rebuild the force. Former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik said he was sent to Baghdad with 10 days' notice and no preparation; he prepared himself by watching A&E Network documentaries on Saddam Hussein. In the two weeks he had to ready himself for his job, L. Paul Bremer wasn't sure he'd even been briefed on the Iraqi police. Even more troublesome—despite being unable to find foreign field trainers for the force or to trust the Iraqis signing up, American officials never sounded alarm bells. When Kerik returned to the U.S., he said the force had made "tremendous progress.". . .


Bush speaks Spanish (Well, kinda sorta)

Bush speaks English (Well, kinda sorta)

Truthout apologizes for mistaken Rove story (Well, kinda sorta)
[Tim Grieve] "The time has now come. . . to issue a partial apology to our readership for this story," Truthout Executive Director Marc Ash said in a post on the site Friday. "While we paid very careful attention to the sourcing on this story, we erred in getting too far out in front of the news cycle. In moving as quickly as we did, we caused more confusion than clarity. And that was a disservice to our readership and we regret it. As such, we will be taking the wait-and-see approach for the time being. We will keep you posted."

An apology for "getting too far out in front of the news cycle"? How's that again? Where we come from, reporters try to get out in front of the news cycle. It's called aggressive reporting, breaking some news, a scoop. And it's not the sort of thing that warrants an apology -- unless, of course, you've gotten the story wrong.

So is Truthout saying that Jason Leopold's reporting was wrong? We put that question to Ash this morning, and his answer seemed to be a pretty unequivocal no. Although Rove's lawyer and his spokesman have both said that Leopold's story was false, Ash said that Truthout still believes that Patrick Fitzgerald, Karl Rove and Rove lawyer Robert Luskin participated in a 15-hour plea-negotiation session at Patton Boggs last Friday; that Fitzgerald gave Rove's lawyers a copy of an indictment charging Rove with perjury and lying to investigators; and that Fitzgerald told Rove's lawyers that their client had 24 hours -- or 24 business hours -- to get his affairs in order.

So why apologize for the story? Leopold's story quoted "sources close to the case" who predicted an indictment announcement last week, and Ash told us this morning that Truthout "hoped and felt strongly" that Fitzgerald would announce Rove's indictment on Friday. That it didn't happen was a cause for concern, Ash said.

In addition, Ash said that he's uncertain about some of the events leading up to and following the meeting that supposedly happened last Friday at Patton Boggs. Ash said he isn't sure now when the grand jury voted to indict Rove, although he said he remains confident that it did so before last Friday. He said that he isn't sure what's going on now to warrant keeping the alleged indictment under wraps, although he suggested that it must mean that Rove's team is cooperating with Fitzgerald somehow.

Finally, Ash said that "there are people whose life was made inconvenient by our story," and that "not all of them are Karl Rove or people beholden to Karl Rove." Who are they? "I can't tell you any more than that," Ash said. Is one of them Leopold? "You're making my life complicated now," Ash said. . .

Wayne Madsen goes all in, stands by the story and adds a new piece of speculation: Fitzgerald really was all ready to announce an indictment for Rove, but Attorney General Gonzales (the one who said he was recusing himself from the investigation, remember?), Madsen seems to suggest, un-recused himself to intervene and override Fitzgerald. I don’t believe that, and I can’t imagine how they would think they’d get away with it – but, man, if it were true. . .
May 20, 2006 -- Yesterday came and passed without an announcement by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald in Leakgate. . .

WMR stands by its report that there was a meeting between Fitzgerald and Rove and his attorneys at Patton Boggs LLC in Washington on Friday, May 12. The meeting was to inform Rove that he would be indicted. The Attorney General had been informed in person by the Grand Jury that they had indicted Rove -- the same courtesy afforded him last October in the Libby case. The Grand Jury was apparently not in session yesterday but that does not mean the Rove matter was off the agenda. According to the daily docket in the Clerk's Office, two US District Court judges were deliberating cases in which there were potentially sealed indictments. Judge Alan Kay heard a case titled "UNITED STATES v. SEALED." Judge Reggie Walton, the presiding judge in the Libby trial, deliberated a number of cases titled "SEALED v. SEALED." With a sealed indictment in hand, the Special Prosecutor could have been negotiating a plea agreement with the Rove camp during the last week. And that may have set off a guerre royale between the Special Prosecutor and White House, with the prosecutor at a severe disadvantage.

Even before WMR reported on Rove's likely indictment yesterday, there were clear signs that something was amiss. Rather than keep Rove out of the public eye, the White House put him out in front of the neocon American Enterprise Institute on Monday, had him arm twisting GOP members of Congress during the week, and had him fly to Lake County, Illinois Friday night for a GOP fundraiser and pep talk. Washington insiders report that if the White House were confident that Rove would soon be indicted, they would refrain from having him out among GOP ranks taking part in future embarrassing photo ops. Which brings us back to yesterday's item about the power of the Special Counsel as opposed to that of an Independent Special Counsel. Even Watergate independent counsel Archibald Cox was not immune enough to prevent him from being fired by Richard Nixon. (Although the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General refused to fire Cox and resigned, the dirty work was carried out by the Solicitor General, Robert Bork). Fitzgerald is merely protected by a series of Justice Department administrative directives and not by anything even close to an Independent Counsel Statute. In taking on the most powerful and unconstitutional administration in the history of the United States, Fitzgerald's brief is certainly vulnerable to pressure from the White House. And it is clear that something drastic followed the May 12 meeting at Patton & Boggs. . .

Mid-week, WMR received an email from someone claiming to be a reporter for a major TV news network. It claimed that Gonzales was nowhere near the US Courthouse on May 12 and insinuated that the reporter was able to see the members of the secret Grand Jury come and go, that the same Grand Jury deliberating the Rove matter was also hearing a drug case, and that the reporter had somehow been given inside information into the secret Grand Jury proceedings. The "reporter" failed to mention the well-armed, multi-vehicle motorcade that arrived at the Courthouse from the Justice Department at the rear garage of the courthouse, placed the Attorney General's personal security detail throughout the courthouse annex, and returned to Justice some 30 minutes later. . .

WMR apologizes to its loyal and supportive readers for being led, along with our sources, down the Rove rabbit hole of media mirages and public relations B.S. Until an actual announcement is made by the Special Prosecutor regarding Rove, we will concentrate our limited resources on other, more important, stories, including continuing CIA rendition flights, NSA eavesdropping, and Iraq war atrocities.

Plame update: Richard Armitage

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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, May 20, 2006


General Hayden is getting a pretty soft touch from the Senate, but he has said some things that should make us all worry
[Marty Lederman] According to accounts of General Michael Hayden's testimony yesterday, in the days following September 11th, Hayden was of the view that FISA outlawed the sort of surveillance program that the NSA eventually implemented. Indeed, one year later he even testified to a joint House-Senate Committee that the legislators and their constituents needed to reconsider, in light of modern developments and 9/11, the balance between liberties and security that Congress and the President had struck when they enacted FISA in 1978.

But in October 2001, he approved the NSA surveillance program anyway. Why didn't he abide by FISA? Because he received assurances from the Attorney General, the Office of Legal Counsel, and the White House Counsel that the President had Article II authority to supresede (i.e., violate) that statute and its criminal prohibitions. Apparently, the top three NSA attorneys agreed with this constitutional analysis, which was enough for Hayden -- even though their views were not provided in writing and Hayden had not read the OLC opinions (still not public, by the way) setting out the Article II argument. . . [read on!]
[Glenn Greenwald] In his confirmation hearing yesterday, Gen. Hayden yesterday all but acknowledged that when President Bush ordered the NSA to engage in warrantless eavesdropping on Americans, the administration did not, at that time, rely upon any purported claim that Congress had authorized the President to engage in warrantless eavesdropping via its authorization to use military force against Al Qaeda. That legal theory justifying violations of FISA only came much later. The sole justification the administration had when the President ordered warrantless eavesdropping was its claim that the president has "inherent authority" to violate the law.

Thus, when President Bush ordered warrantless eavesdropping, the administration did not believe that this eavesdropping was authorized by Congress as a result of the AUMF, nor did it believe that the eavesdropping was consistent with FISA. To the contrary, it knew that the eavesdropping it had ordered was criminally prohibited by FISA, and the sole legal justification it relied upon was its belief that the President had the power to order eavesdropping in violation of that law . . . [read on]
AT THE SENATE intelligence committee hearing Thursday on Gen. Michael V. Hayden's nomination to head the CIA, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) asked the nominee a simple question: Is "waterboarding" an acceptable interrogation technique? Gen. Hayden responded: "Let me defer that to closed session, and I would be happy to discuss it in some detail." That was the wrong answer. The right one would have been simple: No. Last year Congress banned cruel, degrading and inhumane treatment of detainees; one of its explicit aims was to stop the CIA's use of waterboarding, which induces an excruciating sensation of drowning and is considered by most human rights organizations to constitute torture. So why couldn't Gen. Hayden say clearly that the technique is now off-limits?. . . [read on]
Spencer Ackerman argues that when the law and his bosses' desires have been in conflict, Hayden has always sided with the latter. . .


Pat Roberts (R-KS): this is what passes today for “patriotism”
"I am a strong supporter of the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment and civil liberties," Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) remarked at yesterday's Hayden confirmation hearings, "but you have no civil liberties if you are dead."

[John Aravosis] Patrick Henry once said: "Give me liberty or give me death."

Pat Roberts said yesterday: Take my liberty and spare me death. . . . [which is becoming a standard GOP talking point: read on]
[Josh Marshall] First off is the sheer cowardice of it. . .

Second is just this dogmatic post-9/11 insistence on acting as if human history began suddenly in 1997 or something. The United States was able to face down such threats as the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany without indefinite detentions, widespread use of torture as an interrogative technique, or all-pervasive surveillance. . . .

Last, there's the unargued assumption that civil rights and the rule of law are some kind of near-intolerable impediment to national security. . .


Repeated suicide attempts, and now a prison riot. The UN says, time to shut down Gitmo


[NB: I heard an execrable analysis on CNN, saying “This shows that these prisoners are still determined to attack Americans.” NO! What it shows is that when you lock up people indefinitely, with no hope of release, they have nothing to lose but to fight back.]

Consistently inconsistent on their reasons for the Iraq War

Is Cunningham cooperating? A few cocktails just got spilled at the Old Boy’s Club

How does the Department of Homeland Security plan to evacuate big-wigs in the case of a national emergency? Sit down, put down any sharp objects, then read this

Paul Krugman, trying hard to teach America a bit of Economics 101, when the Bush gang is working at dumbing us all down

George Bush’s buddies over at the phone companies
[John McDonald] President Bush is top recipient of political funds from phone companies that turned over calling records of millions of Americans. AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth gave Bush $511,955. . . [read on]
A new Business Week article may help explain how AT&T and BellSouth can say they didn't help the NSA, despite the spy agency having millions of their records showing the call details of Americans using their networks.

The magazine reveals a hidden corner of the telecommunications world: a small group of companies who specialize in granting the government access to telecommunications records, conversations and real-time data on behalf of the telecom giants.

That's right: the government now makes so many requests for wiretaps, phone records and call information that an industry has sprung up to handle the load.

Rather than respond themselves to requests from the FBI and others, a telco can sign up with one of these companies, give them access to their call records and equipment, and let that third party do all the hard work. . .

But. . . .

The kind of people they are
[Bob Geiger] OK, let's face it, we're as jaded as they come when it comes to the low-rent campaign tactics Republicans will use to smear their opponents. We've seen them swift-boat decorated Veterans like John Kerry and Max Cleland and we've watched them go after the wives of candidates, such as in 1988 when they exploited Kitty Dukakis's battle with alcoholism and floated a rumor that she had once burned an American flag to protest the Vietnam War.

But this may be a new low even for them… And this is GOP-on-GOP smearing in the form of a mailer sent out by California Republican Bill Conrad, a candidate for State Assembly, attacking his primary opponent Tom Berryhill for having -- are you ready for this? -- heart surgery and promoting the idea that voters should not support Berryhill because he might die soon.

"Tom Berryhill doesn't have the HEART for State Assembly," says the mailer, which then goes on to list "facts" about the survival rates of people who have Berryhill's surgery and implores voters to consider "…the costs to taxpayers for a special election when poor health renders him unable to fulfill the duties of office.". . .

The kind of person Bush is: He realizes people have lost faith in him – but what lesson does he draw from it?
[NBC] Gregory: "In the most recent survey, your disapproval rating is now one point lower than Richard Nixon's before he resigned the presidency. You're laughing, but …

Bush: "I'm not laughing, I just …"

Gregory: "Why do you think that is?"

Bush: "Because we're at war, and war unsettles people. We got — listen, we've got a great economy. We've added 5.2 million jobs in the last two-and-a-half years. But … people are unsettled. They don't look at the economy and say life is good. They know we're at war and I'm not surprised that people are unsettled because of war."

Gregory: "But they're just not unsettled, sir. They disapprove of the job you're doing."

Bush: "That's unsettled."

[Steve Benen] So, if the public disapproves of the president's job performance, it's our fault? We're unsettled because the war he's mismanaged from the start is going poorly?

And if it's really Iraq that's dragging Bush's poll numbers down, why is it that the public also strongly disapproves of the president's handling of the economy, ethics in government, taxes, immigration, energy policy, and the federal budget deficit?

The video is worth watching to see how just unconcerned the man really is. I'm not in his shoes, but if I had support like this, I wouldn't be laughing.

Laugh at this headline, George (thanks to Kevin Drum for the link)
[K-R] Americans don't like President Bush personally much anymore, either . . .

The silliness of the “English as national language” bill – and the incoherence of the Bush position(s) on it

Tony Snow:
As you know, there were actually a couple of amendments that came up yesterday, an Inhofe amendment and also a Salazar amendment. And what has come out of that is a description of English as the national language. And I think — and we have supported both of these. … And I think both of these amendments are consistent with that stated presidential desire.
Alberto Gonzales: "The president has never supported making English the national language," Gonzales said after meeting with state and local officials in Texas to discuss cooperation on enforcement of immigration laws.


He said Bush has instead long supported a concept called "English-Plus," believing that it was good to be proficient in more than one language.

"English represents freedom in our country and anybody who wants to be successful in our country has a much better chance of doing so if they speak English," Gonzales said. "It is of course a common language."

[NB: Well, who doesn’t believe THAT? Bush wants it both ways: riding the wave of nativism, then backing off the jingoistic sentiments he has unleashed]


What reporter will dig deeper into the New Hampshire phone jamming scandal?

How dumb is this? Someone looks inside the Santorums’ “voting residence” in Pennsylvania, finds out it’s totally empty and unoccupied. Their response? “Arrest the person who trespassed”

This Plame business is driving me crazy. One day after reporting that Armitage was under investigation, the same sources say he isn’t, that he’s actually HELPING the investigation. Look, folks, I’m not a reporter: I just read other people I trust to know what they’re talking about. And that list is getting shorter and shorter
[Jeralyn Merritt] Several people wrote me yesterday asking why I wasn't covering The Washington Note's report that Bobby Ray Inman suggested Richard Armitage was in criminal jeopardy in the Valerie Plame investigation. The short answer is I don't believe it. I have believed for months that it is Armitage whom Patrick Fitzgerald refers to in Libby pleadings as "an innocent accused." Which to me means that he got immunity for his cooperation with Fitzgerald.

The Washington Note today updates and acknowledges Bobby Ray Inman was wrong. New sources provide opposite information on Armitage, i.e., he's been helping Fitzgerald.

That's the self-correcting nature of the blogosphere at work. . .

Perhaps the most interesting element to Clemons' post Friday is a claim by one individual close to the case -- which jibes with the legal action in the investigation to date -- that the focus of Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's inquiry has shifted away from the actual outing towards those who were dishonest in their testimony and interviews. This, of course, would raise the stakes for senior presidential adviser Karl Rove, who seems to have lied to FBI investigators about his role in Plame's outing. . . . "Another person with deep knowledge about this investigation called to say that Fitzgerald seems to have abandoned any interest in securing indictments regarding the "outing" of Plame and has invested his efforts in challenging the "white collar cover-ups" involved," Clemons writes. "According to this source, the information provided by Richard Armitage is -- more than any other information -- what has put Karl Rove at major risk of indictment."

Truthout apologizes (sort of)

Leopold doesn’t (and this critical analysis partly explains why)

A sick cat:

The growing prospects for a Democratic (and democratic) takeover in the House

Some things we just can’t let alone: more irregularities in Bush’s National Guard service (thanks to David K. for the link)
No one in journalism has picked up one aspect of Bush's past: He never was properly trained to be a second lieutenant in the first place! I'm talking about before flight school, entrance to which requires an officer's commission.

Those of us in the real Air Force got commissioned in one of three ways: The Air Force Academy, ROTC, or -- if already college graduates -- the Officer Training School at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. If you saw the film An Officer and a Gentleman, depicting the Navy's version, you have a rough idea of what that training was like. It was goddamned hard.

But young Georgie didn't have to go through it. If you examine his records, you will find that he was given a direct commission as a second lieutenant after completing enlisted basic training and nothing more! Bang: He went directly from Airman Third Class, which is the rank of someone just out of basic, to a second lieutenant with a few typewriter keystrokes. Then he went to flight school.

Bonus item: I have nothing to say here about “The DaVinci Code,” but I do have something to say about really stupid attacks on it


***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.***