Friday, June 30, 2006


Big, big development: the Supreme Court issues a broad repudiation of the Bush gang’s policies on Guantanamo detainees – and with implications for other misuses of power as well
The Supreme Court today delivered a sweeping rebuke to the Bush administration, ruling that it exceeded its authority by creating tribunals for terror suspects that fell short of the legal protections that Congress has traditionally required in military courts. . . As a result, the court said in a 5-to-3 ruling, the tribunals violated both American military law and the military's obligations under the Geneva Conventions.
The Supreme Court today delivered a stunning rebuke to the Bush administration over its plans to try Guantanamo detainees before military commissions, ruling that the commissions violate U.S. law and the Geneva Conventions governing the treatment of war prisoners.


Full text:

Extensive analyses – all important and worth reading. The ruling may also have implications for the administration’s torture and warrantless wiretapping policies
[Marty Lederman] Even more importantly for present purposes, the Court held that Common Article 3 of Geneva applies as a matter of treaty obligation to the conflict against Al Qaeda. That is the HUGE part of today's ruling. The commissions are the least of it. This basically resolves the debate about interrogation techniques, because Common Article 3 provides that detained persons "shall in all circumstances be treated humanely," and that "[t]o this end," certain specified acts "are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever"—including "cruel treatment and torture," and "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment." This standard, not limited to the restrictions of the due process clause, is much more restrictive than even the McCain Amendment. . .

This almost certainly means that the CIA's interrogation regime is unlawful, and indeed, that many techniques the Administration has been using, such as waterboarding and hypothermia (and others) violate the War Crimes Act (because violations of Common Article 3 are deemed war crimes). . .
[Glenn Greenwald] The Court dealt several substantial blows to the administration's theories of executive power beyond the military commission context. And, at the very least, the Court severely weakened, if not outright precluded, the administration's legal defenses with regard to its violations of FISA. Specifically, the Court. . . rejected the administration's argument [Sec. IV] that Congress, when it enacted the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force in Afghanistan and against Al Qaeda ("AUMF"), implicitly authorized military commissions in violation of the UCMJ [Uniform Code of Military Justice] . . .

This is a clearly fatal blow to one of the two primary arguments invoked by the administration to justify its violations of FISA. The administration has argued that this same AUMF "implicitly" authorized it to eavesdrop in violation of the mandates of FISA, even though the AUMF said absolutely nothing about FISA or eavesdropping. If -- as the Supreme Court today held -- the AUMF cannot be construed to have provided implicit authorization for the administration to create military commissions in violation of the UCMJ, then it is necessarily the case that it cannot be read to have provided implicit authorization for the administration to eavesdrop in violation of FISA.
[Jack Balkin] What the Court has done is not so much countermajoritarian as democracy forcing. It has limited the President by forcing him to go back to Congress to ask for more authority than he already has, and if Congress gives it to him, then the Court will not stand in his way. It is possible, of course, that with a Congress controlled by the Republicans, the President might get everything he wants. However this might be quite unpopular given the negative publicity currently swirling around our detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay. By forcing the President to ask for authorization, the Court does two things. First, it insists that both branches be on board with what the President wants to do. Second, it requires the President to ask for authority when passions have cooled somewhat, as opposed to right after 9/11, when Congress would likely have given him almost anything (except authorization for his NSA surveillance program, but let's not go there!). Third, by requiring the President to go to Congress for authorization, it gives Congress an opportunity and an excuse for oversight, something which it has heretofore been rather loathe to do on its own motion. . .


A fun read:
Look Out, David Addington's Head Just Exploded . .

The dissenting opinions, from the predictable sources
[In the Hamdan decision,] Justice Thomas refers to Justice Stevens' "unfamiliarity with the realities of warfare"; but Stevens served in the U.S. Navy from 1942 to 1945, during World War II. Thomas's official bio, by contrast, contains no experience of military service.

Watch the word choice: the Bush gang is setting up to trivialize or ignore this ruling. They don’t accept the fundamental authority of the Supreme Court and Constitution, but simply see this as a “disagreement” between two branches of government
Q This administration has said that under the Constitution, at a time of war, the President has had very far-reaching power to protect the American people, and the Court seems to disagree and says the President overreached in that power.

MR. SNOW: You know, it's -- overreached is the headline, it's not the way it's been written by the Court. I mean, I've got the opinion here, and I'd defy anybody to come up with a very quick and simple analysis of the varied holdings in here. You've got people agreeing and disagreeing in part. So I think what the Court is saying is that it wants to make sure that there's congressional authorization, and it also is concerned about comporting with the Geneva Conventions and also the Uniform Code of Military Justice. And those are matters that will be taken under advisement.

Q And those are things that this White House has basically said it did not have to do, that executive has the authority to pursue this war without dealing with those other institutions.

MR. SNOW: The Court disagreed with that. . . I think it would say that the administration -- the Supreme Court has disagreed with the approach we've taken. You may -- I don't know how you'd say "overreached." Apply whatever adjective or whatever verb you want, the Supreme Court has said that it disagrees with the way in which the commissions were convened, and has laid down some guidelines for proceeding. . .
[Digby] Certainly some of the legal questions about presidential wartime powers seem to have been answered. But from a political standpoint, I'm with Atrios about the practical effect of this ruling:

[Atrios] My quick take is that it's certainly an important symbolic victory, but this administration's contempt for the law, the constitution, and the balance/separation of powers that our system rests on isn't going to be very affected by what 5 people in black robes say. They've ignored Congress and they'll ignore the Court too. . .

This decision will ultimately feed into conservative boogeyman number 438: judicial activism. Look for Justice Sunday IV: Vengeance is Mine Sayeth Delay. And expect many more calls to spike John Paul Stevens' pudding with arsenic. This is the beauty of the conservo-machine. When your primary political tools are both intimidation and victimization, you can spin anything to your advantage.

Here's Trent Lott doing a triple axel:

LOTT: I think some people are probably laughing at us. This is ridiculous and outrageous. Now in legal speak, let me say, I have not read the entire opinion, nor the dissents. But preliminarily my opinion is they probably didn’t even have jurisdiction. They shouldn’t have ruled the way they did. This is not a bunch of pussycats we’re talking about here. These are people that have made it clear in many instances that they would kill Americans if they got out. This is Osama bin Laden’s driver. And this is one other example of why the American people have lost faith in so much of our federal judiciary. This is a very bad decision in my opinion.
[Eric Umansky] The White House suggested it will go to Congress to get the tribunals approved in one way or the other way. Of course, the other option is just to go slow and not push for any tribunals since the detainees can still be held indefinitely without them. UPI also quotes some anonymous administration officials talking tough and saying they just might get Congress to strip al-Qaida suspects of those pesky Geneva protections. . .

“The culture of treason”
[Ann Coulter] And the way newspapers are behaving. I mean, the culture of treason right now, it just -- it has become so pervasive that you just expect Democrats to side with Al Qaeda.


Don’t expect any help from the cable news stations in informing people about what this decision means

Fortunately, we still have newspapers
For five years, President Bush waged war as he saw fit. If intelligence officers needed to eavesdrop on overseas telephone calls without warrants, he authorized it. If the military wanted to hold terrorism suspects without trial, he let it. . . . Now the Supreme Court has struck at the core of his presidency and dismissed the notion that the president alone can determine how to defend the country. . .

The cost of the Afghan, Iraq Wars will soon top a half trillion dollars
[December 2002] In a telephone interview today, the official, Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., director of the Office of Management and Budget, also said there was likely to be a deficit in the fiscal 2004 budget, though he declined to specify how large it would be. The administration is scheduled to present its budget to Congress on Feb. 3. . . . Mr. Daniels would not provide specific costs for either a long or a short military campaign against Saddam Hussein. But he said that the administration was budgeting for both, and that earlier estimates of $100 billion to $200 billion in Iraq war costs by Lawrence B. Lindsey, Mr. Bush's former chief economic adviser, were too high. . .

U.S actions since 9-11 have strengthened, not weakened, Al Qaeda
[Michael Hirsh] . . . But there was substantial evidence showing that, up to 9/11, Al Qaeda could barely hold its act together, that it was a failing group, hounded from every country it tried to roost in (except for the equally lunatic Taliban-run Afghanistan). That it didn't represent the mainstream view even in the jihadi community, much less the rest of the Muslim world. This is the reality of the group that the Bush administration has said would engage us in a "long war" not unlike the cold war—the group that has led to the transformation of U.S. foreign policy and America's image in the world. . .

The ultimate tragedy of the Iraq war was not only that it diverted the U.S. from the knockout blow against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan—the deaths of bin Laden and Zawahiri would likely have persuaded most jihadis it was wiser to focus on the near enemy—but that Iraq also altered the outcome of Al Qaeda's internal debate, tipping it in bin Laden's favor. "Iraq ended that debate because it fused the near and the far enemy," as Arquilla puts it succinctly. America ventured into the lands of jihad and willingly offered itself as a target in place of the local regimes. And as a new cause that revived the flagging Al Qaeda movement. It is, no doubt, bin Laden's greatest victory.

Bin Laden was right to help elect Bush:

Condi Rice, one-time university Provost, seems to have taken to this propaganda thing pretty easily


Bush finally finds someone willing to replace John Snow as Treasury Secretary – now here’s the job Henry Paulson has ahead of him

Fascinating account of the Net Neutrality vote, in committee, with the Senators surrounded by lobbyists actively intervening in the deliberation and vote, in real time. This tells you all that is wrong with this issue, and how important it is

Good news:

Bob Ney (R-OH): the beginning of the end


The House of Representatives finds time in its busy schedule to overturn a previous vote requiring gunlocks on all handguns – because, let’s face it, it just makes too much damn sense

More mischief:
The House voted Thursday to end a quarter-century offshore drilling ban and allow energy companies to tap natural gas and oil beneath waters from New England to Alaska. . .

The death of the Fourth Estate: Fox “News” anchor calls for an Office of Censorship
BRIAN KILMEADE: . . . See, I'm more into the ends justifying the means. . . Winning is everything. . . That's the reality. You're in love with the law, but I'm in love with survival. . .

Not bad enough? How about the regular “commentator” on MSNBC who said. . .
[Melanie Morgan] "If [Bill Keller, Executive Editor of the New York Times] were to be tried and convicted of treason, yes, I would have no problem with him being sent to the gas chamber."

More proof that disclosing the SWIFT program did little or no damage

Bonus item: The Daily Show “is destroying democracy as we know it”

[NB: Not the hateful and divisive Rush Limbaugh, not Ann Coulter, not David Horowitz -- no, a late-night comedy show. . . ]

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Thursday, June 29, 2006


Lying bastards. So while lashing out at the press for publishing details about their surveillance of bank records, suggesting that publishing such news “helps the terrorists,” and encouraging their proxies to accuse some reporters of “treason,” a few new facts come out. . .

#1 If tracking financial records was such a crucial secret, why had the administration been saying openly for months that they were doing it?
[Boston Globe] News reports disclosing the Bush administration's use of a special bank surveillance program to track terrorist financing spurred outrage in the White House and on Capitol Hill, but some specialists pointed out yesterday that the government itself has publicly discussed its stepped-up efforts to monitor terrorist finances since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

On Monday, President Bush said it was “disgraceful" that The New York Times and other media outlets reported last week that the US government was quietly monitoring international financial transactions handled by an industry-owned cooperative in Belgium called the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Communication, or SWIFT . . . But a search of public records -- government documents posted on the Internet, congressional testimony, guidelines for bank examiners, and even an executive order President Bush signed in September 2001 -- describe how US authorities have openly sought new tools to track terrorist financing since 2001. That includes getting access to information about terrorist-linked wire transfers and other transactions, including those that travel through SWIFT.

“There have been public references to SWIFT before," said Roger Cressey, a senior White House counterterrorism official until 2003. “The White House is overreaching when they say [The New York Times committed] a crime against the war on terror. It has been in the public domain before." . . .
[Glenn Greenwald] Yet again, The Boston Globe demonstrates what real journalism is supposed to do -- subject claims by the Government and its loyalists (in this case, claims that the Times disclosed information that will help the terrorists commit terrorist attacks) to skeptical scrutiny, and then report facts which have been concealed that undermine the Government's claim. That's the definition of the core journalistic purpose.

This is not a complicated matter. Nobody who is making these accusations can identify a single specific act that Terrorists would have engaged in before that they will now avoid. That, by itself, does not merely undermine, but destroys, the claim that the Times harmed national security. Any "journalist" who allows those accusations to be made without pointing out that fact are, to put it mildly, acting quite irresponsibly.
[Dan Froomkin] When asked to back up the White House accusation that a recent New York Times story put American lives at risk by disclosing vital secrets to terrorists, the best press secretary Tony Snow could do yesterday was this: "I am absolutely sure they didn't know about SWIFT."

SWIFT, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, is the international banking cooperative that quietly allowed the Treasury Department and the CIA to examine hundreds of thousands of private banking records from around the world.

But the existence of SWIFT itself has not exactly been a secret. Certainly not to anyone who had an Internet connection. . . SWIFT has a Web site, at . .

It's a very informative Web site. For instance, this page describes how "SWIFT has a history of cooperating in good faith with authorities such as central banks, treasury departments, law enforcement agencies and appropriate international organisations, such as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), in their efforts to combat abuse of the financial system for illegal activities." . . .
[John Aravosis] This is what we call explosive stuff. Reporters are coming forward to document just how much the Bush administration already told journalists about their supposedly super secret spying they do on financial records in order to catch terrorists. We now know that the Bush administration already told reporters FAR MORE about this program than anything the New York Times reported last week. Yet Bush and his surrogates are accusing the NYT of treason. . .


[NB: did the SWIFT program violate European laws? (shhh! don’t tell them!)]

#2 Did the stories tell the terrorists anything they didn’t already know – or are they upset because it told the American people something they didn’t already know?
[John Aravosis] Hasn't anybody else noticed that had George Bush not skirted the law with his various domestic spying programs, had George Bush actually gotten the appropriate court approval and warrants necessary in order to conduct such unprecedented spying on Americans, none of these recent "revelations" would have been as newsworthy?

What made last week's New York Times story so newsworthy was the fact that, yet again, the Bush administration was caught spying on Americans without following the normal court procedures expected in a democracy. Procedures that separate America from common dictators.

That's news. And news of George Bush's own making.

#3 Why trash the NY Times (a “liberal” paper) for running the story, but not the Wall Street Journal (a reliably conservative paper) for running the same story – or are the WSJ reporters going to be charged with treason too?
[Greg Sargent] I just got off the phone with a spokesperson for the Treasury Department, and she's refusing to explain why Treasury officials didn't demand that the Wall Street Journal hold off on publishing the story about the U.S.'s secret financial surveillance program, the way they demanded it of the New York Times and the L.A. Times.

This is interesting, because Tony Snow said today that the Treasury Department's press office could explain this. But now they're clamming up. . .

More traitors at the National Review?

The New York Times hits back hard
Over the last year, The New York Times has twice published reports about secret antiterrorism programs being run by the Bush administration. Both times, critics have claimed that the paper was being unpatriotic or even aiding the terrorists. Some have even suggested that it should be indicted under the Espionage Act. There have been a handful of times in American history when the government has indeed tried to prosecute journalists for publishing things it preferred to keep quiet. None of them turned out well . . .

The United States will soon be marking the fifth anniversary of the war on terror. The country is in this for the long haul, and the fight has to be coupled with a commitment to individual liberties that define America's side in the battle. A half-century ago, the country endured a long period of amorphous, global vigilance against an enemy who was suspected of boring from within, and history suggests that under those conditions, it is easy to err on the side of security and secrecy. The free press has a central place in the Constitution because it can provide information the public needs to make things right again. Even if it runs the risk of being labeled unpatriotic in the process.

Where do they get these people?
Michelle Boardman, a deputy assistant attorney general, had this to say to Congress yesterday [on Bush’s signing statements]: "It is often not at all the situation that the president doesn't intend to enact the bill.". . . [read on]

Tony Snow continues to learn that it’s hard to b.s. reporters at the WH press briefing when they know more about the issues than he does
MR. SNOW: Meanwhile, the U.S. military says that, in fact, it will meet its training goal for Iraqi security forces by the end of the year.

Q Tony, I was at the briefing at the Pentagon yesterday by General Dempsey, and it was actually a very sobering briefing. . . [read on!]

Iraq update (you can’t write jokes better than this)
The Los Angeles Times nailed it with their headline on Saturday . . .

Divisive Plan to Unify Iraq

[read on!]

Read this, then multiply 2500 times

[NB: Ooops, I forgot – that’s “just a number”]

Republicans knew that Bush's military was recommending a troop withdrawal at the same time they were attacking the Dems for proposing one

More on the GOP’s “American Values Agenda”
[Steve Benen] Congressional Republicans gave up, quite literally, on passing a substantive policy agenda several weeks ago, choosing instead to focus on divisive bills, which they didn't expect to pass, in the hopes of rallying the base in advance of the midterm elections. . .

Bill Frist (R-TN), nitwit
Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) appeared on CNN's American Morning to explain why the Senate is spending time on issues like flag burning while polls indicate that the American people are more concerned about Iraq and the economy.

CNN host Miles O'Brien asked Frist why recent polls show that show 54% of Americans will vote for Democrats in the upcoming elections while only 38% planned to vote for Republicans. Frist explained that the people's concerns were being addressed by the Republican Senate but told O'Brein those were the sort of issues "you may not cover and others may not cover."

O'Brien defended CNN, "We are covering but I think there is -- a lot of what you say there -- Americans are not hearing that particular message. As the majority leader, isn't that part of your job?"

Frist replied, "Well, you know, it's part of my job and your job and your whole coming into this was, again, saying [from] Harry Reid that we are spending all of our time on marriage -- which is important.”. . .

Shorter version:
Senate GOP polls sagging because CNN not living up to role as GOP mouthpiece. . .
[Steve Benen] At times, I almost feel sorry for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. . .

Amendment on Net Neutrality stalls in Senate committee. This is serious – nothing less than the fate of an open Internet is at stake

This is also a very smart fight for the Democrats to pick
A week after the GOP-led Senate rejected an increase to the minimum wage, Senate Democrats on Tuesday vowed to block pay raises for members of Congress until the minimum wage is increased. . .

"They can play all the games the want," [Harry] Reid said derisively of the Republicans who control the chamber. "They can deal with gay marriage, estate tax, flag burning, all these issues and avoid issues like the prices of gasoline, sending your kid to college. But we're going to do everything to stop the congressional pay raise." . .

All politics IS local: the Supreme Court affirms the right of state legislatures to redistrict every time party control switches (what a mess this will turn out to be). Okay, Democratically controlled state houses – get busy


(So-called) “Justice” Dept backs new Jim Crow voting rules in Georgia – next step, the courts

Another Bush official indicted in the Abramoff scandal – and not the last

“A culture of corruption”
[Norman Ornstein] In all my years of watching Congress, I have never seen anything quite like what we have now. . .

Bob Ney (R-OH), going down. . .

DeLay’s (R-TX) desperate attempt to get off the ballot in his Texas district isn’t looking very good

DeLay, still pulling strings behind the scenes in the House of Representatives

Well, good, thank you
The Pentagon no longer deems homosexuality a mental disorder, officials said on Wednesday . . .

Bonus item: I told you, he’s a dangerous man
[Jeb Bush] "In Texas, they call guys like George 'a hard case.' It wasn't easy being his brother, either. He truly enjoys getting people to knuckle under." . . . [read on!]

More from Suskind:

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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.***

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Bush, because he hasn’t seized enough new and unprecedented power to the Executive branch, wants even more
President Bush called on Congress today to give him a line-item veto as a means to enforce fiscal discipline in spending bills . . .
[Matt Yglesias] Truly, pleading for line-item veto power is the last refuge of conservative scoundrels. Bush hasn't bothered to veto anything at all so he hardly seems in need of additional veto powers. On top of that, it's simply a myth -- a giant one -- that "pork" projects are an important cause of "big government." Overwhelmingly, money is getting spent on big popular programs like Social Security and the Navy.

On one front, at least, some push-back
The White House on Tuesday defended President Bush's frequent use of special statements that claim authority to limit the effects of bills he signs, saying the statements help him uphold the Constitution and defend national security.

Senators weren't so sure.

"It's a challenge to the plain language of the Constitution," said Arlen Specter, a Republican whose Senate Judiciary Committee opened hearings on the issue. "There is a sense that the president has taken signing statements far beyond the customary purview." . . .
The Senate Judiciary Committee this morning began examining President Bush's use of signing statements. . . [read on]

[Dan Froomkin] President Bush’s unprecedented use of “signing statements” to quietly assert his right to ignore legislation passed by Congress – including its ban on torture – first came to light in January due to some aggressive reporting by Boston Globe reporter Charlie Savage. . . In April, Savage reported his astonishing discovery that Bush has claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws in all since he took office. . .

The Bush gang is determined to bully the press into holding back on stories that disclose the truth about their full-court assault against privacy and civil liberties (all just to keep us safe, of course). The latest salvo ratchets the hyperbole up to an absurd level: the press is now accused of “treason”
[Dan Froomkin] In accusing the press -- and specifically, the New York Times -- of putting American lives at risk, President Bush and his allies have escalated their ongoing battle with the media to nuclear proportions. . .

As far as I can tell, all these disclosures do is alert the American public to the fact that all this stuff is going on without the requisite oversight, checks and balances. . . . How does it possibly matter to a terrorist whether the government got a court order or not? Or whether Congress was able to exercise any oversight? The White House won't say. In fact, it can't say.

By contrast, it does matter to us. . .
[Steve Benen] Just how apoplectic is the right? Well, first consider what talk show host Melanie Morgan said on MSNBC's Hardball last night.

Chris Matthews: Let me ask you Melanie, do you really mean "treason"? You mean put them in jail for life? I don't know what treason carries as a sanction, but I assume the penalties are incredible severe, 20 years perhaps.

Melanie Morgan: Yes.

Matthews: You are saying to put Bill Keller and his associates in prison for 20 years?

Morgan: Absolutely. I am absolutely advocating that.

Yes, MSNBC hosted a discussion on whether NYT journalists were literally guilty of treason, as if this were a normal, reasonable question. . . I noticed one popular conservative blogger, however, who was willing to go a little further.

“Just a few quick comments about what the New York Times, The L.A. Times, and the Wall Street Journal have done in divulging government secrets used to defend Americans against our terrorist enemy during a time of war.

The Rosenbergs where executed for a lot less. . . Wouldn't executing Risen, Lichtblau, and Keller for treason (along with the person or persons responsible for leaking the government secrets) bring with it the ancillary benefit of encouraging other journalists and editors to find more socially beneficial ways to win a Pulitzer Prize. . . [T]he SOBs deserve to be shot at sunrise - without a trial."


A LOT of traitors:
[Kevin Drum] The New York Times story that exposed the Treasury Department's terrorist finance tracking program says it relied on "nearly 20" former and current government officials. The LA Times story on the same subject relied on "more than a dozen" sources.

Isn't that an awful lot of traitors in our midst? Why were so many people willing to talk about this? Was it because (a) revealing the program's existence didn't really endanger anything, or (b) they were concerned about its legality? Or both?
[Glenn Greenwald] Any doubts about whether the Bush administration intends to imprison unfriendly journalists (defined as "journalists who fail to obey the Bush administration's orders about what to publish") were completely dispelled this weekend. As I have noted many times before, one of the most significant dangers our country faces is the all-out war now being waged on our nation's media -- and thereby on the First Amendment's guarantee of a free press -- by the Bush administration and its supporters, who are furious that the media continues to expose controversial government policies and thereby subject them to democratic debate. After the unlimited outpouring of venomous attacks on the Times this weekend, I believe these attacks on our free press have become the country's most pressing political issue. . . [read on!]

And, disturbingly, many IN the press are happy to encourage this line of thinking
[Matt Yglesias] I never, ever, ever watch prime time cable news because it makes me want to kill extremely large numbers of people. Tragically, I walked through the door yesterday and my roommate already had Hardball on. There were two people debating the issue of . . . whether or not The New York Times should be brought up on charges of treason. Seriously. Treason. For publishing an article in a newspaper. Treason. And there was Chris Matthews happily presiding over the whole thing as if this was a serious conversation that people should be having. This all taking place on a network that, allegedly, does journalism.
[Atrios] Torturing people, jailing journalists for treason, the president being allowed to disobey the law at whim . . . The mainstream media has made all of these things a part of the normal conversation. They've allowed "two sides" to all of these things to be debated on equal footing. Left wing bloggers on the internets complain about the media and they get ignored and accused of "blogofascism." Conservatives call for the New York Times to be blown up and their reporters and editors jailed and they get treated seriously on MSNBC's flagship political talk show. . . . There's a problem here. You've been playing this game for years, letting these people control the terms of the debate. This is where it has brought you. Congratulations.


A dangerous man
[Josh Marshall] So on exporting democracy ...

1. President encourages supporters to accuse newspaper reporters of treason: check.

2. President mandates systematic use of torture: check.

3. President routinely asserts right to ignore laws passed by Congress: check.

What am I missing?

Actually, I think it's more one of those trick questions. Like, we're not exporting 'democracy' but our democracy. So, as we send it to them, we lose ours.

The Republicans in Congress, of course, CAN’T RESIST exploiting the issue (thanks to Josh Marshall for the link)
House Republican leaders are expected to introduce a resolution today condemning The New York Times for publishing a story last week that exposed government monitoring of banking records. . .
The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee [Pat Roberts, R-KS] on Tuesday blasted U.S. media for exposing details of highly secretive intelligence programs and asked the Bush administration for a formal damage assessment. . .

Cynical, despicable “flag-burning” amendment goes down in a narrow vote – despite widespread public clamoring that THIS is the issue most needing Congress’s attention right now (uh-huh)

[Orrin Hatch, R-UT] "They say that flag burning is a rare occurrence; it is not that rare," he told the chamber. . . . "Now, I have to tell you," he vouched, "the American people are aggrieved."

Trumpet it far and wide, loud and clear: if Bush’s rubber-stamp congress is re-elected in the fall, they will go after Social Security AGAIN


And. . . do people really want more of THIS?
[AP] The "American Values Agenda" also includes a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage — which already has failed in the Senate — a prohibition on human cloning and possibly votes on several popular tax cuts. . .

More busywork for the mindless:
[Josh Marshall] Sen. James Inhofe's Senate Environment and Public Works Committee put out this press release slamming an AP article that reported there is a scientific consensus that the claims Al Gore makes in his movie [“An Inconvenient Truth”] are correct. . .

I guess someone sent Maliki the horse’s head, because his new and revised reconciliation plan says nothing (despite advance leaks to the contrary) about either troop withdrawal or amnesty for U.S troop killers
[Eric Umansky] The papers point out inside that Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki told reporters that the "amnesty" he's proposed will only apply to those who "did not kill anyone." Maliki's comments came after much criticism in the U.S. about the proposal to pardon those who've killed U.S. troops. A NYT editorial notices that the latest formulation "would seem to leave few, if any, real insurgents eligible for any amnesty."

More evidence (as if any more is needed) that the Bush gang was TOLD their Iraqi misadventure wasn’t going to go as smoothly as they were leading us all to believe – but did they listen?

A new twist on the Bin Laden tape, released just before the 2004 election, that helped elect Bush
[Anonymous Liberal] Five days before the 2004 presidential election, Osama bin Laden released a video to Al Jazeera; it was his first on camera appearance in nearly three years. It was obvious at the time who benefited politically from this "October surprise." The tape helped George W. Bush and hurt his challenger, John Kerry. Given the timing and subject matter of the tape, it was clear that Bin Laden was attempting to influence the U.S. election, and, almost surely, knew that the tape would benefit President Bush.

One of the (so far) overlooked revelations in Ron Suskind's new book, The One Percent Doctrine, is the fact that the CIA reached this same conclusion about the bin Laden tape almost immediately. . . Of course the fact that the Bush administration itself had concluded that the purpose of the tape was to tilt the election in favor of the President did not stop the Bush/Cheney campaign from sending its surrogates out to make the exact opposite claim . . .

Ha ha. Looks like Tom DeLay played things a little too cute for his own good, stayed in the GOP congressional primary so he could continue to raise money for his “campaign” (which he actually planned to use for his legal defense), then quit – and now he’s stuck with his name on the ballot


Looks like DeLay’s dubious redistricting plan will also be getting a skeptical review
In arguments before the court earlier this year, challengers characterized the new map as a partisan power grab that violated the Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act. . .


Once again, all I can do is point you in the direction of Billmon’s sharp analysis: what the attacks on Kos and other left of center bloggers are really all about. . . . [read it all]
Seriously, though, I suspect the real objective here is to try to scare away the Democratic pols who have been cozying up to Kos and the liberal blogosphere. The sight of all those powerbrokers -- Harry Reid, etc. -- lining up to kiss Kos's ring in Vegas must have really set the klaxons wailing at DLC HQ. . . . The Lieberman Dems don't hate and fear Kos and the Daily Kos "community" because they are too far to the left. They hate them because they represent an emerging power center within the Democratic Party that they don't control -- what's more, one that is now much closer to the public mainstream on the central issue of our time (the Iraq War) than they are. . .

More on Rush’s new drug problem: Viagra, the little blue pill, OxyContin, the little blue pill. . . ?

This really may violate his plea deal:

Katherine Harris (R-FL), is. . .just. . . ridiculous!

Bonus item: Bush, the dry drunk (no, I’m not kidding, and no I don’t think this is an exaggeration) – thanks to Holden for the link
[Patrick Moore] In 1999, responding to questions about his use of drugs and alcohol, George Bush told the Washington Post, "Well, I don't think I had an addiction. . . Having observed the president's behavior in office, I wonder if he might be wrong. Perhaps not only the president, but also his administration, suffers from alcoholism. After all, arrogance and the inability to take responsibility for one's actions, classic alcoholic traits, have become trademarks of the Bush presidency.

George Bush's problems are not only personal. By necessity, they have become the problems of our entire country. And our country is like the family of an alcoholic, devastated by the drinker's actions but powerless to stop them.

Many will consider it a cheap insult to call the president an alcoholic. But recovering alcoholics, with steady doses of humility and rigorous honesty, can become extraordinary human beings. It is no insult to be an alcoholic. However, an alcoholic who simply controls his drinking, without taking the time to examine the many defects of character that fueled his destructive behavior, only grows more dangerous. There is a term for this unhappy creature - dry drunk.

In 2002, Alan Bisbort wrote a piece about Bush for American Politics entitled "Dry Drunk" in which he mused:

"Bush's past battles with the bottle are worth pondering at a time like this, one of the most dangerous in the nation's history... fumble-tongued, incapable of stringing more than two coherent sentences together, snippily irritable with anyone who dares disagree with him or even ask a question, poutily turning his back on the democratically elected president of one of our most important allies because of something one of his underlings said about him...listlessly in need of constant vacations and rest, dangerously obsessed with only one thing (Iraq), to the exclusion of all other things..."

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Ah, for those simple days when the Bush gang convinced themselves that they could dash into Iraq, throw around a little “shock and awe,” be greeted by the grateful citizens with flowers and kisses, arrest Hussein and remove him from power, install a friendly puppet regime under Chalabi, and be back home in time for dinner. So much for Plan A. Now they’re into Plan J, and desperate for a way to get out of it. They’re trapped into fighting a ruthless and growing insurgency; struggling with all the worst aspects of “nation-building” (which they vowed never to do), in a “nation” riven by irresolvable ethnic and religious interests that they still do not understand; locked into ongoing negotiations with an increasingly independent “democratically elected government” which is not quite convinced that U.S. interests are compatible with their own in the long term; finding that within the wider Middle and Near East they have exacerbated the very forces of anti-western mistrust and hatred that engendered the 9-11 attacks which supposedly justified this enterprise in the first place; and making very little headway against the terrorist threat that was the justification for it all. Oh yeah, and no oil profits – in fact, a steady outflow of war expenditures at a time of already-massive deficits.

Meanwhile, back at home, the awareness that we were duped into the war through, at best, exaggerations and wishful thinking or, at worst, cynical lies, has firmly taken root. Too many people have relatives or friends over there, and they’re hearing first-hand from the soldiers how frustrating and sisyphean the mission has become. They have heard all the stories about foolish post-war “planning” (if that word can be used), ranging from underestimating the likelihood of an insurgent opposition, to dismantling the Iraqi army, to failures to plan effectively for the protection of U.S. personnel. They watch enlistment figures continue to lag, despite lowered standards and raising the maximum enlistment age; and they watch tours of duty getting doubled and tripled; and they understand what all that means. They have LOST FAITH that the Bush gang will ever level with them about the purpose and duration of this mission, and even though they don’t want to see the Iraqi government fall, they are sick of the endless commitment that seems to be involved with propping it up. And they are hearing clearer and clearer signs from the Iraqis that they don’t want us there any more either.

Increasingly, the Bush plan looks to have only two remaining purposes: get through this fall’s election with vague promises of troop withdrawals and hope that the American people don’t decide to treat the vote as a referendum on the conduct of the war; and then muddle through to the end of Bush’s term, taking out as many troops as possible, perhaps, without unleashing the kind of civil war that will bring down the carefully-maintained appearance of a workable coalition government, and leaving the underlying commitment to the next President to deal with.

Finally, the insurgents know something that no one over here wants to talk about openly: the Iraqi government, as currently constituted, will NEVER be able to subdue them – and NO government committed to the purposes that the U.S. desires (including the establishment of permanent bases and privileged access to oil contracts) will ever be able to maintain legitimacy there.

So, what do the American people want?
A majority of Americans say Congress should pass a resolution that outlines a plan for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq . . . . In the poll, 57% say Congress should pass a resolution that outlines a plan for withdrawing U.S. troops. . .

Or, as the Post prefers to describe it:
Nation Is Divided on Drawdown Of Troops

[NB: Gee, and when Bush got 50.73% of the vote in 2004, that was a “mandate”,_2004]

[Atrios] Bush wants to stay in Iraq forever. We don't know what the presumed benefits of that are because they won't tell us why, and nobody will ask. We have some sense of how costly the ongoing occupation is, and how costly it will be in the future.

We can't have a sensible public debate about this issue until the public understands what the issue is. Our pundit class is blissfully unaware of why we're in Iraq. No one has yet been able to answer the question.
[John Aravosis] No matter what stunts Bush pulls, things will get worse, and the American public will know it.
[Steve Benen] In the broader context, it's worth taking a moment to consider the landscape that Tony Snow can't quite bring himself to describe. Congressional Dems want a timed withdrawal; Gen. Casey wants something similar, and perhaps most importantly, Iraq's new Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has called for a withdrawal timetable for coalition forces from Iraq. As Newsweek reported over the weekend, "Mahmoud Othman, a National Assembly member who is close to President Talabani, said that no one disagrees with the concept of a broad, conditions-based timetable."

Does that include Bush? Well, that depends on the limitations of the president's options.

Greg Sargent described a fascinating political dilemma for the White House yesterday.

[F]or Bush, a timetable isn't really an option politically — both because Dems have been calling for it and because the GOP has scorned Dems for doing just that and has now dug itself in too deep with a "stay the course" position. More to the point, a timetable would force the Bush administration into a real discussion of what it's really trying to accomplish in Iraq, something it's been scandalously loath to talk about in specific terms at all.

The real tragedy here, though, is this: Not only is decreasing the troop level politically impossible for Bush, but increasing it is politically untenable, too — no one would stand for it. So the only remaining option happens to be the one that's the absolute worst option for the soldiers in Iraq: Keeping things exactly as they are.

A slightly different take:
[Michael Tomasky] They invaded Iraq. They didn’t expect a problem. They got a problem. Now they want out. But they want out provided two conditions are met in the process: 1. They can do it in such a way to make the Democrats look weak; 2. They can time it so as to maximize electoral benefit from announcement of withdrawal.

. . . You’ve surely learned by now that there is no substance with these people. There is only politics. We will start to get out of Iraq, bit by bit, this September and October. By the end of 2007, a plan will be announced to ensure we’re substantially out (i.e., a 75 percent draw down or some such) by October 2008. You can set your watch by it.

Yardsticks of civic stability will be manipulated, just as intelligence was manipulated three and four years ago, to “prove” that Iraq is becoming a stable society at whatever moment the administration wants to trot out those statistics. The substance, and the consequences, will be something for the next administration to deal with. . .

Has the Bush gang managed to get Maliki to back away (in public anyway) from his request that the U.S. offer a plan for troop withdrawals?


Atrios coins a new demarcation of time in Iraq, a “Friedman” (equal to six months) – as in: every new development results in a new pronouncement that “the next six months will be critical”

“As they stand up, we will stand down. As we stand down, they will run away”

(Karzai in Afghanistan is fed up with dealing with us, too)

Here’s a very good question (thanks to Buzzflash for the link)
Did Cheney Know Of Casey's Redeployment Plan When He Said Democrats' Redeployment Plan Was "Worst Possible Thing?"

Here’s an attempt to get at the answer – and watch the verbal gymnastics
Question: Tony, you had Democrats over the weekend -- Sen. Kerry, Sen. Boxer -- saying that even the framework of a plan would kind of fly in the face of Republican [claims that] the Democrats want to cut and run. Do you have any response to that? I mean, the president, himself, has implied it, Rove has said it outright.

Snow: There's still a pretty significant difference between what Sen. Kerry or even Sen. Levin had proposed and what Gen. Casey is talking about, simply because one is driven by a calendar and the other is driven by events on the ground. So there is a significant difference.

Question: But doesn't Gen. Casey -- like, part one of his plan has a significant number of troops, two combat brigades, coming out in September. Doesn't that give the enemy --

Snow: Well, actually, he has one, and it -- you know, again, this is not, I believe the way, at least it was reported, is you've got two brigades by the end of the year, September being short of the end of the year. But I may be misreading it. In any event, you've got to keep in mind that this is not a statement of policy. Again, Gen. Casey keeps in mind a number of scenarios. You're talking about scenarios here ... And so I would caution very strongly against everybody thinking, well, they're going to pull two brigades out. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. That really does depend upon a whole series of things that we cannot, at this juncture, predict. But Gen. Casey -- again, I would characterize this more in terms of scenario building, and we'll see how it proceeds.

[Tim Grieve] A few minutes later, a reporter asked Snow if any of Casey's "scenarios" might involve a significant increase in U.S. troop levels. "You know," Snow said, "here's the thing about military plans: You don't disclose them. So rather than trying to talk about various scenarios for typical reasons, Gen. Casey will have a number of scenarios in mind for differing situations on the ground. As I said, as conditions on the ground change, he will adjust those plans. But I'm certainly not going to announce in advance anything that he may have in mind for the president, or that he may be recommending -- just don't do that in a time of war."


Tony Snow is making so many misstatements in his daily briefings that the WH now has to annotate (correct) the transcript

Go Helen!
Q Why didn't the President seek congressional authorization for the program?

MR. SNOW: He didn't need to.

Q Why?

MR. SNOW: Because, why would he need it? Under what statute would he need congressional authorization?

Q On what legal -- what is your legal basis for --

MR. SNOW: The legal basis -- no, the legal basis here is that you've got an executive order, and furthermore, if you want to get into the legal vagaries, I will send you over to the Treasury Department attorneys who have been working this. . .

Q Why doesn't it --

MR. SNOW: It is legal, Helen.

Q What is the law that allows you to go into the private --

MR. SNOW: I'll tell you what, we will attach -- we'll get our lawyers to attach all this and it will just --

Q No, no, just give me the law --

MR. SNOW: I am going to give you the law.

Go ahead.

Q You don't even know --

MR. SNOW: You're absolutely right, I do not know the specific statute . . .

Q That's not --

MR. SNOW: Helen, will you stop heckling and let me conduct a press conference.

The Bush gang has a simple position: we decide what national security requires, and we don’t want anyone else to know about it
[AP] President Bush said Monday it was "disgraceful" that the news media had disclosed a secret CIA-Treasury program to track millions of financial records in search of terrorist suspects. . . "The fact that a newspaper disclosed it makes it harder to win this war on terror," Bush said, leaning forward and jabbing his finger during a brief question-and-answer session with reporters. . .

[Tony Snow] [T]he New York Times and other news organizations ought to think long and hard about whether a public’s right to know in some cases might override somebody’s right to live. . .
NYT editor Bill Keller offered his response yesterday. Today the LAT's chief, Dean Baquet, chimes in: The government did not "give us any strong evidence that the information would thwart true terrorism inquiries."

Remember this, write it down, and make sure your grandchildren understand why the government didn’t do anything about global warming when there was still time to reverse the catastrophe
"I have said consistently," answered Bush, "that global warming is a serious problem. There's a debate over whether it's manmade or naturally caused..."

The President -- as far as the extensive and repeated researches of this and many other professional journalists, as well as all scientists credible on this subject, can find -- is wrong on one crucial and no doubt explosive issue. When he said -- as he also did a few weeks ago -- that "There's a debate over whether it's manmade or naturally caused" ... well, there really is no such debate.
[June 2002] "I read the report put out by the bureaucracy," Mr. Bush said dismissively when asked about the EPA report . . . The report was the first by the Bush administration to mostly blame human activity for global warming.

Everything you need to understand about the Bush gang, how they seized and maintained power, and how their approach has screwed up the country
[LAT] Perhaps more than any other administration, the White House of George W. Bush has mastered the art of mixing politics and policy and keeping track of how federal government decisions can affect even obscure local elections. Rove, with a broad portfolio and extraordinary influence, introduced a new political doctrine, effectively putting the federal bureaucracy and the bully pulpit of the White House in the service of GOP political ends. . .

[Kevin Drum] Pundits keep trying to figure out just what it is that makes Bush so different from other presidents, but most of them start by trying to figure out what he values…. The fact is, all presidents rely for their decisions on a complex stew of ideology, interest group pandering, and political calculation. So what is it that makes Bush so different? Just this: until Bush they also all cared about serious policy analysis. . .

[Steve Benen] None of this should come as a surprise to anyone, of course, but it's yet another affirmation of what John DiIulio said after his stint as a policy advisor to the president: "There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus. What you've got is everything — and I mean everything — being run by the political arm” . . . There is no precedent for such an operation. The history books will no doubt be filled with Bush's errors and tragedies, but ultimately, his most profound legacy will be eight years of mixing policy and politics to the point in which there is no meaningful difference.

Is the hard-right backlash against John McCain starting? How does he become the Republican nominee with people like Grover Norquist saying this about him?
"When McCain claims this was something other than an annual contribution, he is lying," Norquist said. . . “He is delusional"

Or is Norquist about to become irrelevant?

In for a penny, in for a pound: Rick Santorum (R-PA) follows up his risible lies about WMD with this

Arlen Specter (R-PA) is making angry noises again. . .

Ernie Fletcher (R-KY) – a piece of work
[Kos] He's corrupt (indictments all over his administration), he's blocking state employees from seeing liberal blogs (while conservative blogs get through fine), and now, we find out about his big commute:

Under a blue Kentucky sky, birds sing from the boughs of the oaks and magnolias on the Capitol lawn. People walk their dogs. Joggers pass by. . . . Gov. Ernie Fletcher finishes a day at the office, but instead of walking through the idyllic scene across the street to the Governor's Mansion, he gets into a Lincoln Town Car to be chauffeured to his door.

500 feet. That's the distance.

Nope, not joking: Rush Limbaugh gets busted at the Palm Beach International Airport for illegal drugs

So, here’s the full story: He had a prescription for Viagra that did not have his name on it; that’s a misdemeanor. He claimed it was a legitimate prescription, issued under his doctor’s name, not his own, “for privacy reasons” (oops – well, so much for that!). Two things are not known: why did he need Viagra during his trip to the Dominican Republic, and does this violate the terms of his plea bargain for previous drug offenses?

Or is there more?

Why the left blogosphere has trouble with The New Republic

Bonus item: Have people caught on to the joke? Fox “News” ratings plummet

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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.***

Monday, June 26, 2006


Billmon was right: Orwell had nothing on this
Senate Democrats reacted angrily yesterday to a report that the U.S. commander in Iraq had privately presented a plan for significant troop reductions in the same week they came under attack by Republicans for trying to set a timetable for withdrawal. . .


. . . and the media, of course, plays dumb
[Atrios] It was bad for Democrats when they couldn't get Republicans to agree with them and now it's bad for Democrats now that Republicans do agree with them. . .


Still, Republicans are skittish about backing the administration on withdrawal, especially if it is linked to amnesty for the insurgents who have been killing our troops

Dubai Ports redux?

Hey, are the Democrats eating their Wheaties?
[CNN] DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The worst possible thing we could do is what the Democrats are suggesting, and no matter how you carve it, you can call it anything you want, but basically, it is packing it in, going home, persuading and convincing and validating the theory that the Americans don't have the stomach for this fight.

BLITZER: All right. You want to respond to the vice president, Senator Biden?

BIDEN: No, I don't want to respond to him. He's at 20 percent in the polls. No one listens to him. He has no credibility. It's ridiculous.


I still think the Iraq War is a WINNING issue for the Democrats. Why? Because things aren’t getting better over there – and they’re not going to

More phony war news, coordinated with RNC operatives
"Baghdad is absolutely beautiful. . . I mean shockingly majestic. This is a city for years we have been told is unsalvageable and I was amazed to see this level of cleanliness."

Yep, people are just cramming in line to get to fight in Bush’s Great Patriotic War (then why have they had to raise the enlistment age to 42?)

Good thing we’re treating returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans better than we did Vietnam veterans
Thousands of U.S. veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are facing a new nightmare - the risk of homelessness. The U.S. government estimates several hundred vets who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan are homeless on any given night across the country, although the exact number is unknown.

The reasons that contribute to the new wave of homelessness are many: some are unable to cope with life after daily encounters with insurgent attacks and roadside bombs; some can't navigate government red tape; others simply don't have enough money to afford a house or apartment. . .

Here’s another issue the Democrats shouldn’t let go: corruption and the need for lobbying reform
When Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) announced his resignation as majority leader in January -- soon after lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to corruption charges -- House Republicans panicked. Dozens of GOP lawmakers, fearing a political backlash, flooded the office of House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) with urgent pleas for lobbying reform. . .

But that was then. Six months later, the legislation has slowed to a crawl. Along the way, proposals such as Hastert's that would sharply limit commonplace behavior on Capitol Hill have been cast aside. Committee chairmen once predicted the bill would be finished in March, but the Senate did not pass its ethics bill until March 29 and the House passed its version May 3. The House has yet to name negotiators to draft the final package.

Legislators and public-interest group advocates say the most likely result this year is a minimalist package that would allow members to say they have responded to the Abramoff situation and other scandals but would do little to crimp their ability to accept lobbyist favors. . .

The latest Establishment attacks on progressive bloggers

Digby complies, vows to retire
It is with great regret that I must resign from the vast left wing blogospheric conspiracy today. The time has come to choose one's allegiances, and mine must lie with my liege lords, the journalistic and political leadership who have brought us where we are today. I can no longer be associated with the barbaric, illiterate jacknapes who presume to call their betters' judgment into question.

You see, I've come to realize that this business of "punditry" and "politics" is not something anyone can just "do." It is what one is born to, what one is meant to do, what one is. Some people are simply designed to have superior opinions. And those people are well known by others who have superior opinions. It is outside the natural order of things for unwashed, unknown rabble like me to set forth my ideas in the same public arena . . .

Bonus item: Murray Waas, hero of Plame reporting, has a secret. . . [read on!]

***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, June 25, 2006


The Iraqi government is asking us to withdraw our troops. Hmmm. . . . what was it Bush promised?
[Bush, January 2005] President Bush said in an interview on Thursday that he would withdraw American forces from Iraq if the new government that is elected on Sunday asked him to do so. . . [A]sked if, as a matter of principle, the United States would pull out of Iraq at the request of a new government, he said: "Absolutely. This is a sovereign government. They're on their feet."
A timetable for withdrawal of occupation troops from Iraq. Amnesty for all insurgents who attacked U.S. and Iraqi military targets. Release of all security detainees from U.S. and Iraqi prisons. Compensation for victims of coalition military operations. . . Those sound like the demands of some of the insurgents themselves, and in fact they are. But they're also key clauses of a national reconciliation plan drafted by new Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who will unveil it Sunday.

What was it Bremer, Powell, Wolfowitz, and Rumsfeld promised?
[May 2004] “If the provisional government asks us to leave we will leave,” Bremer said, referring to an Iraqi administration due to take power June 30.
[May 2004] U.S.-led coalition forces would leave Iraq if a new interim government should ask them to, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Friday. . .
[May 2004] MARGARET WARNER: . . . let me also show you what Colin Powell had to say, the secretary of State, a couple of weeks ago. He said, were this interim government to say us to we really think we can handle this on our own, it would be better if you were to leave, we would leave. If the transitional government asks us to leave, asks the U.S. to leave --

PAUL WOLFOWITZ: That's the right answer to the hypothetical question. . .
Bush and Rumsfeld have said that if the Iraqi government asks them to leave, they'll leave. . .


Isn’t this infuriating? When Democrats talk about withdrawing troops from Iraq, it’s “cutting and running.” When the Bush gang decides to do it, it’s because of “conditions on the ground.” (The condition that matters most to them, of course, is getting SOME kind of token withdrawal before the fall elections)
[Cheney, June 22] What the Democrats are suggesting, basically, about a withdrawal -- you can call it redeployment, whatever you want to call it. Basically, it in effect validates the terrorists' strategy. . . If we were to do that it would be devastating from the standpoint of the global war on terror. . . . It is absolutely the worst possible thing we could do at this point. It would be to validate and encourage the terrorists by doing exactly what they want us to do. . . You're not going to complete the mission if we follow the Democrats' advice. . .
[June 23] So Senate and the House Republicans seem pretty united that a time table for withdrawal of our men and women from Bush's Iraqi quagmire would be a bad idea. Why, it would be a sell out, bordering on treasonous assistance to the terrorists and an insult to the casualties of Bush's war. Bully for them, and as the traditional media reports in breathless glowing detail, that's a sign of strength. . .

The U.S. House has voted in favor of not setting a timetable for troops to be removed from Iraq. . .

And the DoD has signed right on the dotted line:

Rumsfeld: Iraq Timetable wouldn't 'do any good':--As for a timetable for troop withdrawal, Rumsfeld said that timetables are often wrong. "Once you start doing that, then you are stuck with a number and a date, and it just doesn't do any good," he said. . .

So what do we learn today?
[June 25] The top American commander in Iraq has drafted a plan that projects sharp reductions in the United States military presence there by the end of 2007, with the first cuts coming this September . . .
[John Aravosis] They've got to be kidding. The same week the Republicans and the White House viciously and personally attack Democrats for wanting to establish a timetable to start withdrawing US troops from Iraq, the top US general in Iraq has now created a detailed timetable for partially withdrawing US troops from Iraq, and George Bush himself has seemingly signed off on it. . .
[Andrew Rice] Several caveats, however: 1) The story says Casey presented only a "concept" as opposed to a "formal plan"; 2) Most units in Iraq aren't combat brigades; 3) It's all dependent on things going well during the next year, which the Pentagon is referring to as a "period of stabilization”. . . .

Billmon’s a pretty smart guy
[Billmon] If this Newsweek story is correct, then we're probably approaching one of those truly Orwellian moments when the trained parrots all start screeching a completely different set of propaganda talking points -- diametrically opposed to the ones they were screeching just a few minutes before. . .

A timetable for withdrawal of occupation troops from Iraq [is one of the] key clauses of a national reconciliation plan drafted by new Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who will unveil it Sunday. The provisions will spark sharp debate in Iraq — but the fiercest opposition is likely to come from Washington, which has opposed any talk of timetables, or of amnesty for insurgents who have attacked American soldiers.

Far from opposing it, I think Washington is probably where the plan originated. Maliki, after all, was the American choice for the prime ministership -- the guy that Ambassador Khalilzad and his band of behind-the-scenes string pullers went to the mat for during the long, drawn-out negotiations in Baghdad earlier this year. It's pretty far fetched to think he would pull a peace plan like a rabbit out of a hat and then present it to his U.S. benefactors as a fait accompli.

And, right on cue, we have the New York Times weighing in with a well-timed leak promising major U.S. troop reduction, beginning two months before the November elections. Now isn't that a coincidence? . . .

The next step, of course, will be for the same people who three days ago were demanding the execution of John Kerry and John Murtha for even daring to suggest a withdrawal timetable to immediately begin calling for a withdrawal timetable -- that is, when they're not hailing the Cheney administration for having won a smashing victory in Iraq. In fact it's already started.

I really should have seen this coming. . .

Déjà vu?

Just in case there’s any doubt that these decisions are being made under fundamentally political calculations. . . .
[Josh Marshall] No leaving Iraq until 2009, the president says. But then the administration leaks word that the pull-out is in 2007. No plan -- just whatever sounds best at the moment.

Against a phased withdrawal before they were for it.

They can't keep their story straight. . .


Anyway, the insurgents are already saying they aren’t interested in making any deals (Why should they? THEY’RE WINNING. The U.S. has to start pulling out troops sooner or later, and when we do the Iraqi government will never be able to contain them. What comes next is anyone’s guess, but it will NEVER be a stable democracy. All the Bush claims to the contrary are sugar-spun candy for domestic consumption),,2089-2242602,00.html

Bush was right: invading Iraq WILL lead to a realignment of the Middle East
Wary of U.S., Syria and Iran Strengthen Ties

. . . Those changes illustrate what may well be a worrying phenomenon for Washington as it seeks to contain Iran and isolate Syria: the two governments, and their people, are tightening relations on several fronts as power in the region shifts away from the once dominant Sunni to Shiites, led by Iran. . .

Good question: why aren’t the Democrats making a bigger issue of Bush’s plan for permanent bases in Iraq? (And can any Iraqi government survive that agrees to them?)


One of the lynchpins of pre-war lies: the source known as “Curveball”
In late January 2003, as Secretary of State Colin Powell prepared to argue the Bush administration's case against Iraq at the United Nations, veteran CIA officer Tyler Drumheller sat down with a classified draft of Powell's speech to look for errors. He found a whopper: a claim about mobile biological labs built by Iraq for germ warfare. . . . Drumheller instantly recognized the source, an Iraqi defector suspected of being mentally unstable and a liar. The CIA officer took his pen, he recounted in an interview, and crossed out the whole paragraph.

A few days later, the lines were back in the speech. . .

Those goofs in Miami
By any reasonable measure, the Bush administration's track record on exposing dangerous terrorist plots isn't terribly impressive. . .
The Justice Department has a terrible track record of exaggeration when it comes to claiming that they've uncovered terrorist cells in the US. . .

Grover Norquist: nailed
[Paul Kiel] It's now clear to anyone who's paid attention that Norquist used his non-profit, Americans for Tax Reform, as a money-washing business and lobbying firm. . .


Can’t anyone connect the dots here?
[AP] Wanted: Face time with President Bush or top adviser Karl Rove. Suggested donation: $100,000. The middleman: lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Blunt e-mails that connect money and access in Washington show that prominent Republican activist Grover Norquist facilitated some administration contacts for Abramoff's clients while the lobbyist simultaneously solicited those clients for large donations to Norquist's tax-exempt group. . .

The new CW is that the rampant corruption and abuses of power by the Republicans, even though they have been thoroughly documented (and with even more to come), won’t be the deciding factor in the fall elections


Well, if that’s not a reason to dump them, how about this, then?
The Republican-controlled Congress seems to be struggling lately to carry out its most basic mission: passing legislation. . .


Running scared on immigration . . .


Global warming: “Worse than we thought”

I know it’s not this simple, and the numbers can change, but doesn’t Mark Kleiman have a point here?
According to a Harris Interactive poll. . .

48% say they would "definitely not vote for" Al Gore;
47% say they would "definitely not vote for" Hillary Clinton;
47% say they would "definitely not vote for" John Kerry. . .

That suggests to me that. . . the Democrats shouldn't nominate Gore, Clinton, or Kerry.

I must admit, this is kinda fun: Markos Moulitsas (Kos, of Daily Kos) has been embroiled in a big fight with the (once liberal) New Republic – and, my, have these boys been pissy with each other

Bonus item: The Boss, on CNN. Don’t miss it!

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