Monday, April 30, 2007


Okay, Condi. Your turn. First, the lies
In his new book, former CIA Director George Tenet alleges that there was “never a serious debate that I know of within the administration about the imminence of the Iraq threat,” suggesting the administration had made up its mind to go to war from an early stage.

On CNN’s Late Edition, Condoleezza Rice responded, “We all thought that the intelligence case was strong,” adding that even “the U.N weapons inspectors [thought] Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.” . . . In fact, U.N. weapons inspectors declared weeks before the invasion that Hussein did not possess WMD. The inspectors publicly lambasted consistently false and misleading U.S. intelligence leading up to the war . . .
WOLF BLITZER: Because you remember Paul O'Neill, the first Treasury Secretary, where he wrote in his first book, The Price of Loyalty with Ron Suskind, and what Ron Suskind later wrote in his own book, The One Percent Solution, that the Bush Administration came in with a mindset to deal with what they called unfinished business with Saddam Hussein.

SECRETARY RICE: That is simply not true. . . .

[1999] “He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999,” said author and journalist Mickey Herskowitz. “It was on his mind. He said to me: ‘One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.’ And he said, ‘My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.’ He said, ‘If I have a chance to invade….if I had that much capital, I’m not going to waste it. I’m going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I’m going to have a successful presidency.” . . .

[2000] OSAMA SIBLANI: Yes, when he was running for election in May of 2000 when he was a governor. He told me just straight to my face, among 12 or maybe 13 republicans at that time here in Michigan at the hotel. I think it was on May 17, 2000, even before he became the nominee for the Republicans. He told me that he was going to take him out, when we talked about Saddam Hussein in Iraq. . .

[January 2001] PAUL O’NEILL: '"The hour almost up, Bush had assignments for everyone ... Rumsfeld and [Joint Chiefs chair Gen. H. Hugh] Shelton, he said, 'should examine our military options.' That included rebuilding the military coalition from the 1991 Gulf War, examining 'how it might look' to use U.S. ground forces in the north and the south of Iraq ... Ten days in, and it was about Iraq."
This evening, 60 Minutes will air its discussion with former CIA Director George Tenet. In one exchange, Tenet elaborates on a briefing that he and his former aide Cofer Black delivered to then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice in July 2001 warning of an “urgent threat” from al Qaeda. In the 60 Minutes interview, Tenet says this is the message he delivered to Rice two months prior to 9/11:

We need to consider immediate action inside Afghanistan now. We need to move to the offensive.

On CBS’s Face the Nation, a perplexed and stunned Rice said, “The idea of launching preemptive strikes into Afghanistan in July of 2001, this is a new fact.” Rice then said, “I don’t know what we were supposed to preemptively strike in Afghanistan. Perhaps somebody can ask that.” . . .

[Faiz] Note to Rice: The intelligence community was trying to tell you to take the action President Clinton took — that is, make an effort to kill [Bin Laden]

Next, the stonewall
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made it clear Sunday that she does not plan to comply with a subpoena that the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee authorized this week.

Panel Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) wants Rice to testify on the administration’s false claim that Iraq was seeking to acquire uranium from Niger. The congressman feels that Rice has not been responsive enough to repeated written requests for information on the issue.

However, the Secretary of State, when asked by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos why she would not comply with the subpoena to make her case, said that at issue is a separation of powers issue. . .

“I respect the oversight role of Congress, and I’m perfectly willing to continue to try to answer whatever questions Chairman Waxman may have about this very thoroughly investigated issue,” Rice said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” . . .

“Since then, I have received two additional letters,” Waxman said Wednesday. “The gist of the letters is that the Secretary either didn’t know about the forged evidence or forgot what she knew. Her staff has also suggested that the Secretary is too busy to answer these questions.”


Count your blessings that she’s such a terrible liar
No wonder Condi Rice is working so hard to avoid the subpoena from Waxman's committee for her testimony (despite having time to tape three Sunday Talking Head shows this morning). From ABC's This Week:

RICE: The question was…how long were you going to wait, given that it appeared that the situation was getting worse.

GEORGE S.: Well, looking back, do you think that Iraq posed an imminent threat to the United States?

RICE: I think that…uh…an imminent threat? Certainly Iraq posed a threat, and the question was, was it going to get worse over time, or was it going to get better?

[Christy Hardin Smith] So…that would be a no, then? Keeping all those excuses straight is hard work. . . .

Deep thinker
"Look, not everything went right. This is a very difficult circumstance. There were some things that went right and some things that went wrong. And you know what, we’ll have a chance to look at that in history. And I will have a chance to reflect on that when I have a chance to write my book."

-- Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, interviewed by CNN

“Totally dysfunctional”
[Fareed Zakaria] What you have to now realize is something we should have realized much earlier, which is that this administration, despite its reputation for competence, is basically, totally dysfunctional. At the level of the warring between Colin Powell and Rumsfeld, the freelancing of Vice President Cheney, the inability of the National Security Council under Rice to perform the core function of the National Security Council, which is to bring these disagreements to the floor, force the President to make a decision, then drive that decision down . . . . [The Tenet book is] a basic story of an extraordinary combination of incompetence and arrogance.

Rice’s successor at NSC also seems to have trouble handling the job
Stephen J. Hadley would be the first to tell you he does not have star power. But Mr. Hadley, the bespectacled, gray-haired, exceedingly precise Washington lawyer who is President Bush’s national security adviser, is in the market for someone who does — with the hope of saving Iraq.

Mr. Hadley is interviewing candidates, including military generals, for a new high-profile job that people in Washington are calling the war czar. The official (Mr. Hadley, ever cautious, prefers “implementation and execution manager”) would brief Mr. Bush every morning on Iraq and Afghanistan, then prod cabinet secretaries into carrying out White House orders.

It is the kind of task — a little bit of internal diplomacy and a lot of head-knocking, fortified by direct access to the president — that would ordinarily fall to Mr. Hadley himself. . . .

“What we need,” he said in a recent interview, “is someone with a lot of stature within the government who can make things happen.”

Even so, the idea that the national security adviser is subcontracting responsibility for the nation’s most pressing foreign policy crisis — and must recruit someone of stature to get the attention of the cabinet — is provoking criticism of Mr. Hadley himself, and how he has navigated the delicate internal politics of a White House famous for its feuding.

“Steve Hadley is an intelligent, capable guy, but I don’t think this reflects very well on him,” said David J. Rothkopf, author of “Running the World,” a book about the National Security Council. “I wouldn’t even call it a Hail Mary pass. It’s kind of a desperation move.”

Mr. Rothkopf sees the new position as “a tactic to separate the national security adviser from Iraq” — a way to save Mr. Hadley’s reputation. Ivo Daalder, a former Clinton administration official who is co-writing a book on national security advisers, said the proposal “raises profound questions” about Mr. Hadley’s “ability to put heads together and make sure that the president’s wishes are in fact his commands.” . .

That is one reason the war czar proposal has left some in Washington scratching their heads. At a recent press conference, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates described it this way: “This is what Steve Hadley would do if Steve Hadley had the time.”

But Mr. Daalder, the Brookings scholar, was mystified. “If Hadley doesn’t have time for this,” he asked, ‘’what does he have time for? . . .”

Meanwhile, rewarded with a promotion to Sect’y of State, Rice has accomplished NOTHING (thanks to Buzzflash for the link)
[Sydney Morning Herald] For all the razzle-dazzle of Rice's first year as Secretary of State, it is hard to think of any real and substantial achievements. Her "transformational diplomacy" in the Middle East has achieved virtually nothing. None of the region's leaders, it seems, takes her seriously. Bush's democracy project, which Rice embraced so enthusiastically, is virtually dead and buried.

And there are no good signs that any peace talks of any kind between Israel and the Palestinians are likely in the foreseeable future, despite Rice's frantic shuttle diplomacy in the region last month. Her decline mirrors the disintegration of the Bush Administration. . . .

The damning fact that Tenet’s book confirms: the Bush gang was determined to go after Iraq, well before 9-11, and they only wanted to find an excuse for doing so. Tenet says that there was no serious debate about the wisdom of going to war – it was a foregone conclusion.

But here’s the revealing story, c/o Digby: surrounded by tough guys telling him he had to go to war, who did Bush talk to for help in making the decision? And who DIDN’T he talk to?

Even by the Bush gang’s own “legal standards,” more than a fifth of those held at Guantanamo shouldn’t be there and ought to be released. Why the unconscionable delay?

How’s that Iraqi national unification coming along?
A department of the Iraqi prime minister's office is playing a leading role in the arrest and removal of senior Iraqi army and national police officers, some of whom had apparently worked too aggressively to combat violent Shiite militias, according to U.S. military officials in Baghdad.

Since March 1, at least 16 army and national police commanders have been fired, detained or pressured to resign; at least nine of them are Sunnis, according to U.S. military documents shown to The Washington Post. . . .

[Jesse Stanchak] The WP, meanwhile, argues that no matter what the facts on the ground are, political realities at home make it virtually impossible for most Republicans to break ranks with the White House on the war. The WP reports that Republican members are finding the fervor of the pro-war Republican base makes it hard to have anything but unflagging support for the war, no matter what independent voters may think. . . .


Republicans are facing a train wreck in 2008
"Private House Democratic polls of the 50 most competitive congressional districts project a gain of 9 to 11 seats in the 2008 elections that would be an unprecedented further surge by the party after its 2006 gain of 30 seats to win control of the House," Robert Novak reports. . . .
“a toxic climate” . . . a "poisonous" environment. . . [read on]


“The Investigated Investigator”
When Special Counsel Scott J. Bloch put his obscure federal agency at the center of one of the furthest-reaching political investigations in the nation last week, it surprised many, but for different reasons than one might expect.

Bloch and the Office of Special Counsel aim to learn whether officials from Karl Rove on down used federal time and resources for Republican politicking, or pressured federal employees into doing the same. The team will also pursue allegations that David C. Iglesias was fired as U.S. attorney of New Mexico for his reluctance to undertake politically motivated cases and for absences related to his service as a Navy reservist.

Bloch has spent most of his tenure under investigation himself due to allegations of illegal personnel practices -- and he would be investigating the executive branch at the same time that it is investigating him. . .
On HBO's Real Time Friday night Bill Maher was going over the basics of the US Attorney scandal with former New Mexico US Attorney David Iglesias . . .

Iglesias: What they wanted me to do was come up with some bogus prosecutions with no evidence of voter fraud. That's number one. And number two, they wanted me to rush indictments against democrats who were engaging in corrupt activities. I couldn't do that because the case wasn't ready. It's that simple.

We’re starting to see a pattern: backs against the wall, the Bush gang has three approaches to Congressional subpoenas – ignore them, fight them, or respond to them in a nonresponsive manner, editing and selecting what they will or won’t release. What can Congress do about 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.***

Sunday, April 29, 2007


Signs of progress?
In a troubling sign for the American-financed rebuilding program in Iraq, inspectors for a federal oversight agency have found that in a sampling of eight projects that the United States had declared successes, seven were no longer operating as designed because of plumbing and electrical failures, lack of proper maintenance, apparent looting and expensive equipment that lay idle.

The United States has previously admitted, sometimes under pressure from federal inspectors, that some of its reconstruction projects have been abandoned, delayed or poorly constructed. But this is the first time inspectors have found that projects officially declared a success — in some cases, as little as six months before the latest inspections — were no longer working properly. . . .
The Bush administration will not try to assess whether the troop increase in Iraq is producing signs of political progress or greater security until September, and many of Mr. Bush’s top advisers now anticipate that any gains by then will be limited, according to senior administration officials.

In interviews over the past week, the officials made clear that the White House is gradually scaling back its expectations for the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. The timelines they are now discussing suggest that the White House may maintain the increased numbers of American troops in Iraq well into next year.

That prospect would entail a dramatically longer commitment of frontline troops, patrolling the most dangerous neighborhoods of Baghdad . . .
[David Kurtz] Don't be fooled by the subdued tone and subtle nuance of David Sanger's front page article in this morning's New York Times on the "New Way Forward" in Iraq. It is a milestone in the Bush Administration's public spin of the war, marking the first official acknowledgment that the surge and all the attendant fuss were nothing more than an elaborate stop-gap intended to buy time so that the colossal failure of the President's foreign policy can be pawned off on the next president . . .

How it all began
White House and Pentagon officials, and particularly Vice President Cheney, were determined to attack Iraq from the first days of the Bush administration, long before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and repeatedly stretched available intelligence to build support for the war, according to a new book by former CIA director George J. Tenet. . .,1,1064630.story
The CIA warned the Bush White House seven months before the 2003 Iraq invasion that the United States could face a thicket of bad consequences, starting with "anarchy and the territorial breakup" of the country, former CIA Director George Tenet writes in a new book. . . .


Quick! Look over here! No, not there, over HERE!
[Steve Benen] * The good news: “The Pentagon announced Friday the capture of one of al-Qaida’s most senior and most experienced operatives, an Iraqi who was trying to return to his native country when he was captured.”

* The bad news: the terrorist was actually captured late last year, but the announcement wasn’t made until “the exact moment when Democrats are mounting their strongest challenge to Bush’s foreign policy.”

Max Cleland nails it
BLITZER: All this happening as the battle over Iraq, funding for the war, and a time line for withdrawal, raging here in Washington with Congress and the White House at an impasse right now.

Joining us now, the Vietnam veteran, the former Democratic Senator, Max Cleland. . . .

MAX CLELAND (D), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Well, it reminds me of Vietnam, quite frankly. The -- the essence of what we're seeing in Iraq is what we saw in Vietnam, that unless you have the political support of the people there, they're not going to support really fighting for their own country.

It's not until we get out will they really take it upon themselves to defend themselves, particularly against al Qaeda. . .

So, we are part of the problem, not part of the solution. That's why, after five years of war, it's painfully obvious that there is no strategy to win. There is no strategy to end this war. And so the war is essentially unwinnable and untenable militarily. And that's why we have to get out. . . .

BLITZER: Here's what the president said today about the Democrats' desires to include a timeline for withdrawal in the war funding bill.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If the Congress wants to test my will as to whether or not I'll accept a timetable for withdrawal, I won't accept one. . . .

CLELAND: Well, this is not a test of the president's will, you know? . . .

BLITZER: Senator Cleland, the current U.S. commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, has been in Washington all week. He's appealing to everyone for patience, to give him some time, to see if this new strategy can work. . .

CLELAND: Time? This is the fifth year of this war. As a matter of fact, next Tuesday is the anniversary of President Bush standing up on an aircraft carrier, playing dress-up with his flight suit, which he never wore in combat, trying to be the war hero he never was, and saying major combat over, mission accomplished. And later on he said, "Bring 'em on." Well, they came on, surprise, surprise. Have killed over 3,300 young Americans and wounded over 30,000, and over half a million Iraqis have died.

I don't want that kind of patience. It's five years into this thing now. It's time to end it, and it's time to move on and worry about al Qaeda. That's the real threat to this country.
President Bush recently said that "there's a lot of differences" between the current war in Iraq and the Vietnam War.

As fighting in Iraq enters its fifth year, an increasing number of experts in foreign policy and national strategy are arguing that the biggest difference may be that the Iraq war will inflict greater damage to U.S. interests than Vietnam did.

"In terms of the consequences of failure, the stakes are much bigger than Vietnam," said former defense secretary William S. Cohen. "The geopolitical consequences are . . . potentially global in scope." . . .

After Bush’s veto, what will the Dems do with the Iraq funding bill?

The beginning of the end?

Part of Donald Rumsfeld’s vision was to put more and more intelligence operations under military control: we saw the consequences of this with Doug Feith’s renegade “Office of Special Plans.” Well, Rumsfeld and Feith are gone – but the policy of undermining independent intelligence analysis rolls on

The two roiling scandals confronting the Bush gang right now – the pressure on US Attorneys to pursue partisan investigations on the eve of the 2006 elections and replacing those who wouldn’t play ball; and the widespread meetings with government agencies to give them a rundown on Republican electoral prospects (clearly inviting them to use their offices to help the party) – were, when you think about it, mad, desperate acts, trying to use every lever of govt power to avoid defeat. In hindsight, they show how frantic Rove and the others were to prevent a Democratic takeover. They saw the polls and knew that they had to pull out all the stops to hold onto a few more GOP seats in Congress. Assuming they would win, they could keep these maneuvers from ever coming to light. If not, they knew what would ensue (and has): investigations and a level of scrutiny that they’ve never had to deal with before. They rolled the dice, and lost big time
[Steve Benen] [O]fficials are confronted with questions about an unprecedented initiative from Karl Rove’s office to give blatantly partisan campaign briefings to 15 federal agencies, on government property, shortly before the 2006 elections, despite a federal law prohibiting these kinds of activities. What’s the new excuse? Take a wild guess. . . .
[Steve Benen] Rove’s office clearly violated the law and got caught. For another, the White House can’t seem to come up with a coherent defense for it. . . .

With this in mind, consider Dana Perino’s response to an easy question on this.

Q: Okay, on the political briefings, there seems — there’s no shortage of political information out there. Why does the White House feel it’s necessary to give these employees these briefings in the first place?

PERINO: I think that’s kind of ridiculous question. I mean, there’s — sorry, I usually don’t say those things, but I do think that that one was. Look, there is nothing wrong with political appointees providing other political appointees with an informational briefing about the political landscape in which they are working….. [T]he reason that you’re here working for the President is that you want to support his policies and his agenda, and so it’s good to get information from time to time. . .

According to Perino, even asking is “ridiculous.” But for the acting press secretary, the desperation was just getting started.

Q: Well, I’m trying to get to the motivation for this, and it’s 20 briefings –

PERINO: The motivation is to provide people information.

Q: But why? Why do they need this information –

PERINO: Why are you asking me these questions? You’re asking information, as well. . .

Please. This is a special kind of stupid.

Meanwhile, over at DOJ . . .
Senior congressional aides who have seen unedited internal documents say the Bush administration considered firing at least a dozen U.S. attorneys before settling on eight late last year.

The four who escaped dismissal came from states that the White House considered political battlegrounds in the last presidential election: Missouri, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. . .

The latest revelation could provide new fodder to critics who contend that politics, not policy or performance, played the determining role in the firing decisions. . . .
Quick updates on the dust flying in Minnesota: Late last night, McClatchy's Marisa Taylor and Margaret Talev broke the news that Attorney General Gonzales's then Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson had fingered Heffelfinger for "removal" . . .

According to Minnesota Star Tribune reporters Dan Browning and Brady Averill . . . Heffelinger reacted angrily to the news . .
More than a year before the Bush administration has said it first considered firing US attorneys, a top Justice Department official asked lawyers to determine how the administration could temporarily fill vacant US attorney positions with appointees who had not been confirmed by the Senate . . .
The White House told a Republican member of Congress last summer about its plans to fire a U.S. attorney in Arkansas and replace him with a former aide to presidential adviser Karl Rove, but it did not tell Democratic lawmakers . . .;_ylt=AoGrBNNsbCvaYDjTvkUNiLus0NUE
The U.S. attorney in Arkansas warned the Justice Department five months before he and seven federal prosecutors were fired that "there may be some stink about this down the road" — in part because of White House involvement. . . .

Well, they can no longer claim that no laws were broken
[Anonymous Liberal] Another Friday, another document dump from the DOJ. I haven't had time to look through very many of the documents, but one of the first ones I came across was this one from Monica "I plead the Fifth" Goodling. Notice the instruction in boldface type . . . Yes, that's an instruction to delete documents. And notice the date: February 12, 2007. That's well after Congress began investigating this matter. . .
[Christy Hardin Smith] Suddenly, all those e-mails in the custody of the RNC take on an even more urgent context — because there may well be a number of documents which have been deleted from the DoJ included in the e-mail stream in and out of the White House political shop which were sent back and forth through the RNC servers.

And, in the context of a potential attempt to obstruct an ongoing Congressional investigation and, now, a very real question of criminal obstruction? Well, that claim of executive privilege just lost a whole lot of lustre, didn't it?

Beyond that, emptywheel has a compendium of information which still has not been provided. . . .

Here are my questions, just of the top of my head:

– Was Goodling being an obstructionist moron on her own, or was she directing the destruction of evidence under the control of the Department of Justice under someone else's direction?

– If so, whose?

– Was a similar instruction given at the White House political shop run by Rove?

– Can the White House Counsel's office be exempted from questions either, considering Harriet Miers involvement in this mess?

– How soon will Congress be given discovery of the RNC cache of e-mails? Because, the way I see it, nothing short of full disclosure is appropriate here, both for Congressional oversight and for what should now be a criminal investigation?

– Speaking of criminal investigations, is it time to discuss a special counsel investigation?

– What, exactly, was Goodling trying to hide with the deletion of all those e-mails? For whom was she hiding it?

– Should the House Judiciary Committee go foward with a grant of immunity for Goodling at this point? Can it be sufficiently narrowed to prevent interference with a criminal investigation?

– Isn't it convenient that this particular e-mail was disclosed after the House Judiciary Committee voted for Goodling's immunity? Could it be that this was strategically disclosed in order to construct a potential barrier to her testimony? If so, to whose benefit would this accrue? Who has the most to gain from silencing Goodling publicly?

– On what day and time would Mr. Rove like to testify under oath and publicly about his role in all of this? Ditto for Ms. Miers?


Destroying the “Justice” Dept
A federal task force investigating the activities of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff has in recent weeks been looking into whether one of Abramoff's colleagues improperly traded favors with a Justice Department lawyer, sources familiar with the Abramoff investigation said yesterday.

The lawyer, Robert E. Coughlin II, resigned on April 6 as deputy chief of staff in the Criminal Division, citing personal reasons, a department spokesman said. . . .
[David Kurtz] To follow up on the post below about the Attorney General Awards, DOJ's highest honor, I couldn't help but notice that one of the recipients of last year's Attorney General Award for Fraud Prevention was Robert E. Coughlin, II. . . .

In September, Coughlin was honored for his work on fraud and white collar crime. By the following April, he was out because of his alleged connections to the one of the largest white collar crime investigations in DOJ's history. Only in the Gonzales Justice Department.

[NB: Quit April 6, announced April 27. Why?]
And his resignation announcement was held until late on a Friday afternoon. Natch.
The Kansas City Star's Dave Helling got a quote (sub.req.)from 'resigned' US Attorney Todd Graves.

“I value the years I spent at DOJ (Department of Justice) and the friendships I forged there. But the current environment at the Department can only be described as toxic, and I am very thankful I left…What is going on now in DC is a three-ring circus, and I don’t want to have anything to do with it.”

[Josh Marshall] Remember, today we learned for a fact what we've long suspected: that Graves, the former US Attorney from Kansas City, showed up on the DOJ's firing list not long before he 'resigned' and was replaced by Bradley Schlozman as a non-Senate-confirmed appointment under the USA Patriot Act.

The details get complicated and murky; they can be difficult to follow. But this is the big picture: it now seems clear that before those seven firings on December 7th of last year there was a series of 'soft firings' of US Attorneys through much of 2006.

And Schlozman was a prime architect of the Bush administration's 'vote fraud' scam -- which we'll be discussing more next week.

The wrong story
The Justice Department is removing political appointees from the hiring process for rookie lawyers and summer interns, amid allegations that the Bush administration had rigged the programs in favor of candidates with connections to conservative or Republican groups . . .

[NB: The question that needs to be answered is why they were ever part of the process in the first place, and what their role was. Or is this change only for appearance’s sake?]


Coming attractions
[] For the moment, Gonzales' days will be spent in much the same way they have been for most of the spring: preparing to defend himself before Congress. With the May 10 hearing before Conyers' committee fast approaching, the attorney general is certain to face new questions from members of Congress armed with information gleaned from testimony by McNulty, Moschella, Comey and possibly Goodling. As if that wasn't enough, Gonzales must also prepare for a May 9 Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, in which he'll be asked detailed questions about his management of the rest of the 110,000-person department.

More to come:

I hope you’re enjoying this
[Kevin Drum] Michael Finnegan writes in the LA Times today that the current political landscape for Republicans is so toxic that the party is having trouble finding good candidates to contest even winnable House seats in 2008. . . .

The GOP’s war against the Voting Rights Act began almost immediately after it was passed in 1965. And it continues today

Meanwhile, more trouble for Rice’s State Dept
[Steve Benen] In 2004, the State Department’s report on global terrorism showed a decline in international attacks, a result which was hailed by administration officials as proof of the efficacy of the president’s strategy. Soon after, we learned that the State Department cooked the books and undercounted — by half — the number of people killed in terrorist attacks.

In 2005, the State Department decided it didn’t want to publish the report on global terrorism anymore.

The good news is, due to an outcry, the document is back. The bad news is . . .

DC Madam
Randall L. Tobias, the deputy secretary of state responsible for U.S. foreign aid, abruptly resigned yesterday after he was asked about an upscale escort service allegedly involved in prostitution, U.S. government sources said. . . .


Meanwhile, Powerline and other reality-challenged conservative blog sites are calling the Bush administration “extraordinarily scandal-free”

Wasn’t the ONLY way for Wolfowitz to handle the job situation of his girlfriend to recuse himself entirely and turn it over to an independent administrator? Why was he negotiating her status?
A World Bank committee investigating president Paul D. Wolfowitz has nearly completed a report that it plans to give the institution's governing board, concluding that he breached ethics rules when he engineered a pay raise for his girlfriend, three senior bank officials said Friday.

Friday evening, the committee was debating whether to explicitly recommend that Wolfowitz resign. . . .

The official media, and the bloggers


Sunday talk show line-ups
* Meet the Press: Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE).

* Face the Nation: SoS Condi Rice; Rep. John Murtha (D-PA); Politico's Roger Simon.

* This Week: SoS Condi Rice; Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI); Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS); actress Natalie Portman; roundtable of ABC's Martha Raddatz, Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria and George Will.

* Fox News Sunday: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Cindy McCain; remembering ex-MPAA chief Jack Valenti.

* Late Edition: SoS Condi Rice; Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL); Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA); Iraqi FM Hoshyar Zebari; European Commiss. Pres. Jose Manuel Barroso; a roundtable of Dana Bash, Joe Johns, and Ed Henry

Rush Limbaugh crosses the Imus line

Bonus item: Maybe they should just permanently rename Fox News as “Faux News”

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

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

Friday, April 27, 2007


You can’t even use the term “bait and switch” any more. Having lied to us about the kind of war Iraq was going to be (quick, easy, cheap, and decisive), the Bush gang has been spending years trying to get the American people to accept that the ACTUAL war we have been given is long, difficult, and costly. Moreover, they’ve tried to rewrite history to pretend that this is the kind of war they were always talking about (can you say “Mission Accomplished”?) – and in the latest act of jaw-gaping absurdity, have tried to paint the 2006 elections as a “mandate” for a surge that has turned into an open-ended escalation. While all the main architects of this nightmare have since moved on to greener pastures, the hard core of true believers left behind can only articulate war policy in deep, serious arguments like, “if we leave, the terrorists win” or “we have to fight them there so we don’t have to fight them here.”

The rest of us are left like people sitting helplessly in the back seat of a car being driven by a reckless, stubborn driver, careening forward in the night with the headlights turned off. Stop! We’d like to get out, please!;_ylt=ApnzTTX4iqJa9BtBy4QZY9ys0NUE
The U.S. military commander in Iraq says the war effort may well get harder before it gets easier . . .

Speaking as the Senate was passing legislation to start bringing home U.S. forces in October, Gen. David Petraeus said the war will require "an enormous commitment" by the United States. . . .
The Senate approved a $124 billion Iraq war spending bill yesterday that would force troop withdrawals to begin as early as July 1, inviting President Bush's veto even as party leaders and the White House launch talks to resolve their differences.

The 51 to 46 vote was a triumph for Democrats, who just weeks ago worried about the political wisdom of a veto showdown with the commander in chief as troops fight on the battlefield. But Democrats are hesitant no more. And now that withdrawal language has passed both houses of Congress, even Republicans acknowledge that Bush won't get the spending bill that he has demanded, one with no strings attached. . . .
"We are one signature away from ending the Iraq War."
[Atrios] Well, with almost all Republicans now on record voting in support of permanent war, the only thing which could prevent another big victory for Democrats in '08 is campaign consultants telling their candidates not to run on the war.

[NB: McCain and Graham skipped the vote]

We’re fighting for THIS?
[LAT] The Iraqi government has refused to provide the United Nations with civilian casualty figures for its latest report on the hardships facing Iraqis, the U.N. said Wednesday, but numbers from various ministries indicate that more than 5,500 people died in the Baghdad area alone in the first three months of this year. . . [read on]
[WP] U.S. military commanders say a key goal of the ongoing security offensive is to buy time for Iraq's leaders to reach political benchmarks that can unite its fractured coalition government and persuade insurgents to stop fighting. . . .

Ten weeks into the security plan, even as U.S. lawmakers propose timelines for a U.S. troop withdrawal, there has been little or no progress in achieving three key political benchmarks set by the Bush administration. . . "They are all up in the air," said Ahmed Chalabi, a secular Shiite who is chairman of Iraq's Supreme National Commission for De-Baathification. "They are certainly not going to be produced in any timetable that is acceptable within the context of the current political climate in the United States." . . . [read on]


Wait! It gets worse
[Josh Marshall] This is the key point: right near the beginning of this nightmare it was clear the sole remaining premise for the war was false: that is, the idea that the Iraqis would freely choose a government that would align itself with the US and its goals in the region. As the occupation continued, anti-American sentiment -- both toward the occupation and America's role in the world -- has only grown.

I would submit that virtually everything we've done in Iraq since mid-late 2003 has been an effort to obscure this fact. And our policy has been one of continuing the occupation to create the illusion that this reality was not in fact reality. In short, it was a policy of denial. . . . [read on!]
[Michael Ware, CNN] “When I was in Diyala province, I interviewed a two-star general on camera for CNN, and he admitted for the first time from anyone in the military that they are now prepared to accept options other than democracy. Now, this is what this war was sold to the American public on. Yet, they are saying now democracy isn’t mandatory, it’s an option, and that they are prepared to see a government that can protect itself, give services to its people, and it doesn’t have to be democratic. . . .” [read on!]

The four-year anniversary of “Mission Accomplished”

Dana’s not long for this job:

Deep thinkers
[Steve Benen] Today, Dana Perino repeated the same dumb argument Bush and Krauthammer like so much: “Last November, the American people voted for a change in strategy in Iraq – and the President listened. Tonight, the House of Representatives voted for failure in Iraq – and the President will veto its bill.” I wonder if these guys ever get tired of being wrong.
"If the standard of success is no car bombings or suicide bombings, we have just handed those who commit suicide bombings a huge victory."

-- President Bush, in an interview with Charlie Rose, explaining why the Bush administration no longer includes suicide car bombings in Iraqi casualty counts.

Cooking the books:

The “puppy dog” theory:

George Tenet does 60 Minutes, before his book comes out on Monday. Watch the fireworks
George J. Tenet, the former director of central intelligence, has lashed out against Vice President Dick Cheney and other Bush administration officials in a new book, saying they pushed the country to war in Iraq without ever conducting a “serious debate” about whether Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat to the United States. . . .

“There was never a serious debate that I know of within the administration about the imminence of the Iraqi threat,” Mr. Tenet writes in a devastating judgment that is likely to be debated for many years. Nor, he adds, “was there ever a significant discussion” about the possibility of containing Iraq without an invasion.

Mr. Tenet admits that he made his famous “slam dunk” remark about the evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. But he argues that the quote was taken out of context and that it had little impact on President Bush’s decision to go to war. . . .

Mr. Tenet described with sarcasm watching an episode of “Meet the Press” last September in which Mr. Cheney twice referred to Mr. Tenet’s “slam dunk” remark as the basis for the decision to go to war.

“I remember watching and thinking, ‘As if you needed me to say ‘slam dunk’ to convince you to go to war with Iraq,’ ” Mr. Tenet writes. . . .
George Tenet says he's pissed off at whoever it was who leaked his "slam dunk" comment to Bob Woodward:

The phrase "slam dunk" didn't refer to whether Saddam Hussein actually had WMDs, says Tenet; the CIA thought he did. He says he was talking about what information could be used to make that case when he uttered those words. "We can put a better case together for a public case. That's what I meant," explains Tenet. . . .

He says he doesn't know who leaked it but says there were only a handful of people in the room.

"It's the most despicable thing that ever happened to me," Tenet says. "You don't do this. You don't throw somebody overboard just because it's a deflection. Is that honorable? It's not honorable to me."

[Kevin Drum] Well....color me unconvinced. Given a couple of years to think it over, that's probably the kind of story I'd come up with too, but I think I'd try to make it more believable. Frankly, the table-pounding declaration that something is a "slam dunk" doesn't really sound like the kind of thing you'd say if you were merely agreeing that your PowerPoint presentation could use some sprucing up, does it?

But who knows. Maybe that really is the way Tenet talks. As for his belated discovery that the Bush White House doesn't always behave in honorable ways, all I can say is: I hope Tenet's take on foreign leaders was more insightful than his take on his own boss. The fact that loyalty is a one-way street with Bush the Younger is not exactly the news of the century.


Condi Rice “not inclined” to honor congressional subpoena. Oh yeah?;_ylt=ArxG_CszupDLsi67KifD8a6s0NUE

What next?

The power of the subpoena
[Josh Marshall] Are you crazy to think all the recent news on Republican corruption investigations is connected to Al Gonzales and Co. not being able to obstruct them any longer? We think you're on to something. . . . [watch the video!]


As Josh Marshall says, “The entire scheme has been laid out before us. The question now is whether Karl Rove will get away with it. . .”
A House committee chairman asked 27 federal departments and agencies yesterday to turn over information related to White House briefings about elections or political candidates, substantially widening the scope of a congressional investigation into the administration's compliance with the law that restricts partisan political activity by government employees. . . .


Another Republican congressman will resign in disgrace soon
The top aide to Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) called the office of Arizona's U.S. attorney about six weeks before the prosecutor was fired, inquiring about a federal probe into the congressman's role in a land deal that benefited a former business partner and political patron. . . . [NB: boom! Bye-bye!]

The former U.S. attorney, Paul K. Charlton, told House investigators this week that his office alerted the Justice Department's headquarters about the call from Renzi's chief of staff, Brian Murray, because he considered it potentially improper. . . . The incident means that Charlton was the third of eight U.S. attorneys forced to resign last year who had reported to Justice officials that Republican members of Congress or their staffs made inappropriate overtures to their offices about politically sensitive investigations they were supervising. . . .
[Josh Marshall] Rep. Renzi (R-AZ): Two hundred grand here, two hundred grand there ... who can keep track?
U.S. Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz., could soon step down in the wake of a federal investigation into his involvement in a federal land swap deal and FBI raids of an insurance agency owned by his wife.

His resignation could come as early as Friday . . .

Meanwhile, in Florida . . .

I think it is safe to assume that Alberto Gonzales’s testimony did not put an end to the Democrats’ investigation of the US Attorney firings, the real reasons behind them, and Rove’s role in it all,,-6590134,00.html
The Justice Department released a list of internal documents Thursday focusing on lawmakers' concerns and media questions about the firings of eight federal prosecutors, but the department resisted congressional demands for copies of the memos. . . .
Paul McNulty's predecessor, former Deputy Attorney General James Comey will appear before the House Judiciary Committee next Thursday . . .
[Josh Marshall] As we've suggested many times over recent weeks, the US Attorney Purge story is much bigger than the eight fired US Attorneys you've already heard about. Now we have another case where a US Attorney in a key swing state was likely forced out in 2006 to be replaced by a Gonzales Justice Department flunky under the US Patriot Act. . . . .
[Josh Marshall] Bush DOJ appointee Schlozman kicked voting rights ass in civil rights "reign of terror" at Main Justice before heading to Missouri to crack down on Dems!

Bush breaks 30%, headed in the wrong direction

I have to tell you, I am really looking forward to running against ANY of the current GOP front-runners. Their political instincts are for crap
In the interview, Romney also said the country would be safer by only "a small percentage" and would see "a very insignificant increase in safety" if al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was caught because another terrorist would rise to power. "It's not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person," Romney said . . . [read on]

Bill Moyers shames the press for not doing their job (if they are even capable of being shamed)

Bonus item: How wrong could they be?

***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, April 26, 2007


I think we are about to see a shift in beltway conventional wisdom. Karl Rove, the “genius,” has been praised by friend and foe alike as the architect of Bush’s successful campaigns and the consigliere for every major Bush policy decision since then. But what we are starting to see is that his scorched-earth partisanship, his contempt for compromise, and his strategy of using every lever of government to promote a GOP political alignment have brought about a crisis for the Bush Presidency.

Soon, I think, we’ll hear Rove described as a zealot who pushed party loyalty over competence and undermined the professionalism and effectiveness of government agencies by turning them into working branches of the RNC.

One thing for sure: we are going to see Karl Rove, under oath, sitting under the hot lights before Congress, and we’re going to see those RNC emails. Then, all hell will break loose
White House officials conducted 20 private briefings on Republican electoral prospects in the last midterm election for senior officials in at least 15 government agencies covered by federal restrictions on partisan political activity, a White House spokesman and other administration officials said yesterday.

The previously undisclosed briefings were part of what now appears to be a regular effort in which the White House sent senior political officials to brief top appointees in government agencies on which seats Republican candidates might win or lose, and how the election outcomes could affect the success of administration policies, the officials said.

The existence of one such briefing, at the headquarters of the General Services Administration in January, came to light last month, and the Office of Special Counsel began an investigation into whether the officials at the briefing felt coerced into steering federal activities to favor those Republican candidates cited as vulnerable.

Such coercion is prohibited under a federal law, known as the Hatch Act, meant to insulate virtually all federal workers from partisan politics. In addition to forbidding workplace pressures meant to influence an election outcome, the law bars the use of federal resources -- including office buildings, phones and computers -- for partisan purposes. . . .

[Josh Marshall] Who's vulnerable, who's not and how you can use your agency's resources for the team effort -- that seems to have been the basic idea. Pretty much every department got a briefing. And oddly enough NASA too. That must have been an interesting one. . . . Then there's this fun graf on DHS ...

At the Department of Homeland Security, spokesman Russ Knocke at first said "there is no indication that any meeting on election targets, congressional districts or candidate support or assistance took place at the department." He then called back to alter that remark, saying he had no indication that such a meeting was held at department "offices." A department official said employees were briefed on "morale" but did not elaborate.

In short, there's simply no end to how deep the corruption goes. . .
When Ty Clevenger, a line attorney in the Civil Rights Division, forwarded a friend's resume to deputy division chief Bradley Schlozman, he was expecting questions about his friend's experience as a lawyer. But what Schlozman wanted to know, according to Clevenger, was whether his friend was a Republican.

Clevenger, a member of the Republican National Lawyers Association, told Schlozman that his friend was conservative. He just wasn't sure how active his friend was politically. The friend never got an interview.

It's the most direct account yet of politicization at the Justice Department. . . .

A slew of subpoenas, including one for Condi Rice
On a party-line vote, the committee voted 21-10 to authorize its chairman, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), to issue a subpoena compelling Rice to testify May 15 on several matters . . .
Across Capitol Hill, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved--but did not issue -- a subpoena for Sara Taylor, the White House's political director. Taylor reports to senior adviser Karl Rove and her name has appeared on several e-mails released by the Justice Department in which White House and Justice officials discuss planning for the firings.

The e-mails show that Taylor's office was keenly interested in securing the appointment of former Rove deputy Tim Griffin to be the U.S. attorney for Little Rock. The documents show that Justice aides planned to circumvent senatorial confirmation for Griffin by using a now revoked power to appoint interim prosecutors for indefinite periods-- something Gonzales had previously assured Pryor he was not trying to do.

The House Oversight committee also authorized a subpoena to the Republican National Committee for e-mails written by White House advisers who simultaenously used RNC email accounts. Some of those e-mails have surfaced in the more than 4,000 pages of documents Justice has turned over to congressional committees. . .
[WP] Over the course of only 15 minutes today, three congressional committees will consider subpoenas for half a dozen officials from the White House and the departments of Justice and State. . . .,1,4813189.story
Congressional investigators uncovered the use of the RNC e-mail addresses by White House staffers as they looked into the role of politics in the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. The subpoena gives the RNC two weeks to produce a list of the estimated 50 to 60 White House officials who have held RNC e-mail accounts.

It also asks RNC Chairman Robert M. "Mike" Duncan to appear before the congressional committee. . . .

Monica 2.0. This could be big, folks
The House Judiciary Committee today overwhelmingly approved granting limited immunity from prosecution to a former top Justice Department aide in order to obtain her testimony in the investigation of the firings of eight U.S. attorneys. . . .

Gonzales will appear again at a newly scheduled hearing May 10 before the House Judiciary Committee. Before then, the panel's investigators hope that they will have secured what they consider a critical interview with Goodling, who was both a top adviser to Gonzales and Justice's liaison to the White House.

"Ms. Goodling appears to be a key witness for us, as to any possible undue influence or improper interference, and as to any internal discussions as to how forthcoming to be to Congress," Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) said . . .

The committee also approved a subpoena for Goodling's testimony. Under the deal -- known in legal parlance as "limited-use immunity" -- Goodling could not be prosecuted for anything she truthfully tells Congress. . . .

Goodling was involved in many discussions of the U.S. attorney firings, including preparation for congressional testimony by McNulty and another top Justice official. Congress has received conflicting information from Justice officials about who was responsible for the dismissals, prompting Congressional Democrats' interest in Goodling's conversations with White House aides.

"She was apparently involved in crucial discussions over a two-year period with senior White House aides, and with other senior Justice officials, in which the termination list was developed, refined and finalized," Conyers said.
Last night on MSNBC, fired U.S. Attorney David Iglesias said former Alberto Gonzales aide Monica Goodling is the key to understanding exactly what transpired in the prosecutor purge. “I think Monica Goodling is holding the keys to the kingdom,” Iglesias said. “I think if they get her to testify under oath with a transcript, and have her describe the process between the information flow between the White House counsel, White House and the Justice Department, I believe the picture becomes a lot clearer.” . . .
[Paul Kiel] It is likely to be weeks before the committee actually gets to interview Goodling. That's because the law requires that the Justice Department be allowed an opportunity to provide its views on immunity -- i.e. whether it might interfere with an existing or possible investigation. If the DoJ objects to giving Goodling immunity, then the committee would be forced to consider whether to defer or delay conferring immunity. And regardless of what the DoJ says, the local federal court has to approve giving Goodling immunity.

Leahy and Specter aren’t going to take Gonzales’s “I don’t recall’s” as the end of the story. No, they aren’t
"You spent weeks preparing for the April 19th hearing. Yet during your testimony, in response to questions from Senators on both sides of the aisle, you often responded that you could not recall. By some counts you failed to answer more than 100 questions, by other counts more than 70, but the most conservative count had you failing to provide answers well over 60 times. . .

The questions asked by Senators should not have been a surprise. You were alerted in letters to you well in advance of last Thursday’s hearing. By letter sent April 4, you were asked to include in your written testimony a "full and complete account of the development of the plan to replace Untied States Attorneys, and all the specifics of your role in connection with that matter." That account was not included in your written testimony nor in your answers to questions at the hearing. You were also alerted in advance of the hearing, by a letter sent on April 13, that you would be asked about information derived from the staff interviews of your senior aides. You were, nevertheless, unprepared to answer those questions.

We believe the Committee and our investigation would benefit from you searching and refreshing your recollection and your supplementing your testimony by next Friday to provide the answers to the questions you could not recall last Thursday. . ."

More Republicans realize that cutting Gonzales loose is the only way to even hope to prevent a full-scale investigation into WH involvement with US Attorney scandal and the disclosure of RNC emails – which they understand, rightly, would be a killer

Here’s why
E-mails being sought from Karl Rove's computers, and recent revelations about critical electronic conflicts of interest, may be the smoking guns of Ohio's stolen 2004 election . . .
Did the [Wisconsin] state GOP consult with the White House on an 06 voter suppression effort? . . .
[Paul Kiel] Yet another questionable prosecution brought by U.S. Attorney for Milwaukee Steve Biskupic has been reversed by an appeals court.

This time, it was one of the voter fraud prosecutions Biskupic's office pushed . . .
[Greg Palast] That was two years back, while I was investigating strange doings in New Mexico and Arizona, where, simultaneously, state legislators, Republicans all, claimed they had evidence of “voter fraud.” Psychiatrists call this kind of mutual delusional behavior folie a deux. I suspected something else: I smelled Karl Rove. . . .
Yesterday we showed you Karl Rove's speech about the 'hotspots' of 'vote fraud' around the country . . .

It’s all about Rove:

Is that OSC investigation real, or not?
[Evans-Novak] "The new investigation into political activities in the White House, announced Tuesday by the President's appointee in the Office of Special Counsel, is a big deal. On the face, the charge in this investigation is that White House personnel -- particularly one of Karl Rove's deputies -- engaged in political activities on government time and in a government building. A Power Point presentation provided the probable cause. But there is far more to this story than a potentially illegal Power Point. It signifies a loss of fear and respect for the administration, evincing a perception that its power brokers will have no influence in Washington beyond 2008."

"The beginning of this investigation marks an unlikely course of events in a long-running saga in which President Bush has been trying to purge Special Counsel Bloch, his own appointee. Just a year ago, Bloch looked like he was the one sinking, about to be removed from office, maligned among prospective employers, and perhaps even prosecuted. But all of the sudden, it is the White House in hot water, and Bloch may be untouchable."


Meanwhile, over on the Abramoff/corrupt GOP congressmen side of the ledger, more developments. Steve Benen is keeping a list

[Atrios] In a burst of activity over the last eight days, FBI agents and federal prosecutors have won a guilty plea from a former congressional aide, implicated two more House of Representatives members and put the scandal surrounding onetime super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff's influence-peddling back into the headlines.

The pace of the inquiry, which now has bagged a veteran congressman, a deputy Cabinet secretary, a White House aide and eight others, appears to be accelerating. . . .
[Paul Kiel] The Jack Abramoff investigation has certainly come roaring out of its hibernation.

Next on the list, apparently, is Tom DeLay's former right-hand man, Ed Buckham. . . .
[WSJ] As midterm elections approached last November, federal investigators in Arizona faced unexpected obstacles in getting needed Justice Department approvals to advance a corruption investigation of Republican Rep. Rick Renzi, people close to the case said.

The delays, which postponed key approvals in the case until after the election, raise new questions about whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales or other officials may have weighed political issues in some investigations. . . .
[Paul Kiel] There's another revelation in the piece: that investigators had lobbied Washington for clearance to tap Renzi's phone for months. That clearance was only given in October of last year. And unfortunately for the investigators, word broke of the investigation in late October -- disrupting their wiretap. . . .

The bosses at main Justice seem to have been similarly reluctant to proceed with regard to the Duke Cunningham probe. As TPM reported a couple of weeks ago, U.S. Attorney for San Diego Carol Lam had to wait sometimes for months for clearance on certain moves in her investigation. So is there a pattern here?

How the Democratic war votes are as much targeted against congressional Republicans as they are against Bush. It’s good to see them playing this so smartly,1,6734487.story
Convinced that Bush will never listen to their calls to bring troops home, senior Democrats have concluded that they must force Republicans to vote again and again in defense of the unpopular war until enough plead with the president to change course. . . .

Democratic strategists also believe that repeated votes on the war will allow the party to expand its congressional majorities in next year's elections by continuing to link GOP lawmakers with the president and his war policies . . .

Peace, but only on our terms. Why is the US government concerned that Maliki might reach a political accord with al Sadr? And who is running Iraq anyway?

More bad news:

Appalling: how the military fabricated news about Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch

Even more appalling:
[ABC] President Bush hopes someone is held responsible for the U.S. military’s mishandling of information about the death of former football star Pat Tillman in Afghanistan, the White House said Wednesday. . . .

Annals of justice
[Jeralyn Merritt] Not content to seek to deprive the Guantanamo detainees of habeas corpus and access to the federal courts to challenge the conditions of their confinement, the Bush Administration is taking it one step further. Now, it wants to limit the detainees' access to their lawyers. . .

You know how the media loves a good meme. Their latest seems to be, “everything Nancy Pelosi does is an outrage”
Major media outlets and conservatives are pounding Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for not attending a House briefing today with Gen. David Petraeus, the senior U.S. commander in Iraq. (Never mind that Pelosi spoke personally to Petraeus about Iraq yesterday.)

What hasn’t been mentioned is that another major figure in the Iraq debate is also skipping out of a briefing with Petraeus today: Sen. John McCain . . .

The Pelosi attacks today fit a recurring pattern. Like the contrived controversies over the Syria delegation and her military jet, journalists are again exploiting Pelosi to stir up a partisan-motivated “scandal” and ignoring conservatives who have done the very same thing.

More press irresponsibility

The kind of people they are: Frank Luntz, GOP pollster and strategist, wrote a famous early memo that urged Republicans to deny global warming. He now admits it was a lie, and admits that global warming is real – but he still defends his “great memo”

Yep, let’s all feel sorry for George

[December 2006] “I must tell you, I’m sleeping a lot better than people would assume,” [the president] said. . . .
[Yesterday] NBC: Do you know the American people are suffering?

Laura Bush: Oh, I know that very much. And believe me, no one sufferers more than their president and I do when we watch this. And certainly the Commander in Chief, who has asked our military to go into harm’s way. . . .

[Steve Benen] It’s not enough to share in the anguish; she thinks the First Couple suffers more than anyone else. Ezra suggested this morning that her comments have “the potential to become a destructively definitional moment for the administration.” I’m very much inclined to agree.

Indeed, in just a few seconds, Laura Bush encapsulated so many of the White House’s failings. For example, a common refrain for years has been that this White House has no real sense of sacrifice. . . .

“No one” suffers more than the president? He has the “burden of worry”? It’s a slap in the face to those who understand sacrifice far better than the Bushes. . .
[Atrios] Consider, if you will, a parallel universe in which Bill Clinton presided over a deeply unpopular war in Iraq which was increasingly opposed by members of the Republican party. Thousands of US troops had died, and many thousands more had life-altering injuries. And, then, First Lady Hillary Clinton said, on a popular morning show, that over the course of the war no one had suffered more then she and her husband had.

Just imagine for a moment how that would’ve played out on talk radio, Drudge, CNN, Fox, MSNBC, the nightly news, the Sunday shows, the wingnut columnists, the liberal columnists, NPR, etc . . .


What chutzpah
[Josh Marshall] White House spokesperson Dana Perino just said no one in the White House has ever 'played the patriotism' card in the Iraq debate. We'll have video shortly.

Can you think of any examples? We'll make a contest out of it.

[More] Here's a little White House ridiculousness update. You'll see in the video that Perino claims that yesterday Harry Reid called Dick Cheney a "dog" and used this as an example of the reckless attack rhetoric being used by the Democrats. I must confess that sounded a bit rough to me too. But we looked into it and what Reid said was that Cheney was an "attack dog" for the White House.
[Josh Marshall] We're looking for examples from TPM Readers that show Perino is pretty much lying through her teeth. If you can think of examples, please send them in.

But that's not how Democrats themselves should be responding. Make no mistake: complaining that the other side is questioning your patriotism telegraphs weakness.

Democrats should just hit right back on how President Bush has been helping Osama bin Laden for almost six years. Sounds harsh. But it's true. . . .

More Perino gems:

John McCain (R-AZ) announces for President, as he becomes LESS popular (in Arizona!)
Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican, began his second bid for the White House today by embracing the war in Iraq but distancing himself from six years of White House rule. . . .

Mr. McCain spoke at what his aides viewed as a pivotal time in a candidacy that has gone through some difficult days. Mr. McCain has spent three years preparing for a campaign in which he had long been viewed as the presumptive frontrunner for his party’s nomination. But the announcement today had the feel of a re-launch, reflecting that Mr. McCain finds himself in the unexpected position of trailing rivals in some of early measures of the strength of a candidacy: particularly in fundraising, which Mr. McCain himself said today had been lackluster, and in early polls.

Mr. McCain delivered his speech in flat tones and in front just a few hundred people who turned up for the outdoor event; he drew only a few rounds of applause. . . .
In Arizona, a new Cronkite-Eight Poll finds support for Sen. John McCain’s candidacy in the Republican presidential primary race declined from 44% in February to 32% this month. . . .

Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) on the total disaster that has been the Bush presidency - but the Republican assessment is even worse!
The saddest legacy of the Bush Administration’s six-year trail of cronyism and corruption is that it contributes to the public’s already cynical view of government. This makes it even more difficult for those of us who believe that the purpose of government is to secure a better future for our country and all of its people. Repairing this sorry legacy is the first challenge our next President will face. . . [read on]
[WP] If you want to hear despair in Washington these days, talk to Republicans...."This is the most incompetent White House I've seen since I came to Washington," said one GOP senator. . . .

When a presidency is as severely damaged as this one, the normal drill is to empower a strong and politically adept White House chief of staff to make the necessary changes....The current White House chief of staff, Josh Bolten, needs to mount a similar salvage mission, argue several prominent Republicans. They question whether he's politically adept enough. But most of all, they question whether Bolten or anyone else can break through Bush's tight, tough shell and tell him the truth. . . .

Bonus item: The “F” word (thanks to Craig M. for the link),,2064157,00.html
From Hitler to Pinochet and beyond, history shows there are certain steps that any would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms. And, argues Naomi Wolf, George Bush and his administration seem to be taking them all . . .


***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.***