Tuesday, July 31, 2007


The Republicans are still searching for a way to SEEM to be voting against the war, without actually doing a damn thing to bring it to a conclusion


The way out

[Peter Galbraith] On May 30, the Coalition held a ceremony in the Kurdistan town of Erbil to mark its handover of security in Iraq's three Kurdish provinces from the Coalition to the Iraqi government. General Benjamin Mixon, the US commander for northern Iraq, praised the Iraqi government for overseeing all aspects of the handover. And he drew attention to the "benchmark" now achieved: with the handover, he said, Iraqis now controlled security in seven of Iraq's eighteen provinces.

In fact, nothing was handed over. . . [read on]

Well, it’s a good thing Gen. Petraeus hasn’t been prejudging the conclusions of his September report

[Reuters] U.S. generals expect to need a large contingent of troops in Iraq until the middle of 2009, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq said on Monday.

Such a timeline would hand President George W. Bush's successor the task of bringing U.S. forces home from Iraq, more than six years after Bush dispatched them to topple Saddam Hussein. . .

Asked about media reports that Washington envisioned a substantial American force remaining in Iraq through mid-2009, General David Petraeus told ABC News: "Sustainable security is, in fact, what we hope to achieve.

"It's in our campaign plan. We do think it will take about that amount of time, as you discussed, to establish the conditions for it." . . .

Simple truths, simply stated

[Atrios] [I]t's amazing that the rather obvious fact that for years the entire "Iraq policy" has simply been to postpone leaving until after Bush leaves office has managed not to penetrate the skulls of some of our very smart pundits.

More: http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/11641.html

The kind of people they are

[Atrios] I've been thinking about about certain Bushies - Bush himself, obviously, and Condi Rice - who seem to honestly believe that "will" and "resolve" are the way one gets things done instead of, you know, actually getting stuff done. I've finally decided that they're basically people have always gotten where they were by manipulating others into doing things for them, and so for them getting things done is all about wanting it to happen bad enough.

Farewell to the Iraqi Parliament

[Reuters] "Bush cannot realistically go to Congress and say he has to keep U.S. troops there because the Iraqi government is doing a good job -- because the government is largely absent. It places him in a very difficult predicament," said Gareth Stansfield, an analyst at leading British think-tank Chatham House.

More: http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/11642.html

And they plan to sell arms to these people?

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, on Sunday accused U.S. ally Saudi Arabia of undermining efforts to stabilize Iraq. . .

Geniuses at work

[Bob Novak] The morass in Iraq and deepening difficulties in Afghanistan have not deterred the Bush administration from taking on a dangerous and questionable new secret operation. High-level U.S. officials are working with their Turkish counterparts on a joint military operation to suppress Kurdish guerrillas and capture their leaders. Through covert activity, their goal is to forestall Turkey from invading Iraq. . .

Gordon Brown: not gonna be Bush’s poodle no more?



Alberto Gonzales has NO defenders (except Bush and Cheney, of course)




His long trail of lies




You’ll tell the NYT, but you won’t tell us. Did the classified leak on “data-mining” actually make Gonzales’s position WORSE?

[John Conyers, House Judiciary chair] [W]e are concerned that this disclosure, stemming from “current and former officials briefed on the program,” may simply be an effort to respond via Administration leak of potentially classified information designed to rehabilitate previous controversial testimony by you. In this regard, we would inquire whether you or anyone in your front office has any knowledge or involvement in these leaks, and if so, who and the nature thereof.

Why data-mining (of the sort they were apparently doing) was illegal





Impeachment resolution coming for AG





More: http://thinkprogress.org/2007/07/30/inslee-to-introduce-gonzales-impeachment-tomorrow/

A chance to revamp NCLB


Ted Stevens’ (R-AK) home raided by the FBI and IRS. Another Republican crook faces trouble


More: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/30/AR2007073001427.html

Poor Fred, we hardly knew ya

[Steve Benen] Desperate for a white knight to come save the party from electoral ruin, the Republican establishment turned its lonely eyes to Fred Thompson. It was going to be awesome — he’d run a new kind of campaign that could start late because of the phenomenon — online and off — it would inspire.

And how’s that working out for the actor/senator/lobbyist? So far, not very well. . .

Chief Justice John Roberts has a seizure, falls and injures himself – I’m sorry for him, but the questions are inevitable


[Digby] God forbid anything permanent should happen to the Chief Justice, but keep in mind that there is absolutely nothing written anywhere that says the Supreme Court has to have nine justices. There is ample precedent for the court only having eight and there are many cases that are heard by eight because one of the justices is recused. So there is no way in hell that George W. Bush should ever, EVER get another bite at that apple with Democrats in charge of the congress. Just saying --- no more Bush Supreme Court appointees for any reason. None.

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

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

Monday, July 30, 2007


On Fox News Sunday this morning, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) refused to defend Attorney General Alberto Gonzales against accusations that he may have perjured himself before Congress. “It’s very damaging…we badly need an attorney general who is above any question,” said Gingrich. . . .

Later in the show, host Chris Wallace revealed that no conservative would willingly defend Gonzales on Fox. “By the way, we invited White House officials and Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to defend Attorney General Gonzales,” said Wallace. “We had no takers.”

[Steve Benen] How bad is it? Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the only Republican senator who went easy on Gonzales during the latest humiliating hearing, acknowledged on ABC this morning that "of course” Gonzales has a credibility problem. . .

A credibility problem. . .

When Alberto R. Gonzales was asked during his January 2005 confirmation hearing whether the Bush administration would ever allow wiretapping of U.S. citizens without warrants, he initially dismissed the query as a "hypothetical situation."

But when Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) pressed him further, Gonzales declared: "It is not the policy or the agenda of this president to authorize actions that would be in contravention of our criminal statutes."

By then, however, the government had been conducting a secret wiretapping program for more than three years without court oversight, possibly in conflict with federal intelligence laws. . . .

More analysis of the data-mining story – and why it doesn’t help Gonzales one bit




What WAS the March 2004 dispute really about?

[Marty Lederman] I think there are at least three possibilities . . .

Third -- and this is to my mind the most likely possibility -- the legal problem wasn't the data mining itself, but instead that the uses of the data that were mined violated FISA. The Times story hints at this -- that perhaps it was not so much the data mining itself, but instead what what NSA did with the mined data, that caused the legal uproar: "Some of the officials said the 2004 dispute involved other issues in addition to the data mining, but would not provide details. They would not say whether the differences were over how the databases were searched or how the resulting information was used."

Here's the theory, roughly:

There was some sort of data mining program going on. Probably not of content, almost certainly not content reviewed by humans. That is to say, it involved computers searching through "meta-data" related to calls and e-mails, looking for certain patterns that might suggest connections to Al Qaeda or to suspicious activitiy that might be terrorism-related. . . .

This data-mining indicated that it might be valuable to do more targeted searches of particular communications "pipelines" (John Yoo's phrase), looking for more specific information. But that's where FISA came in. In order to target a particular U.S. person, or to wiretap a particular "facility," FISA requires that the NSA demonstrate to the FISA court probable cause to believe (i) that the target of the electronic surveillance is a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power, and (ii) that each of the facilities or places at which the electronic surveillance is directed is being used, or is about to be used, by a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power. 50 U.S.C. 1805(a)(3).

Perhaps, as John Yoo suggests in his book, FISA would have prohibited following up on the leads revealed by the data mining with more targeted wiretaps of suspicious "channels" or "pipelines," "because we would have no specific al Qaeda suspects, and thus no probable cause."

I think what happened is that the data mining revealed something that the NSA, with DOJ's blessing, followed up on, perhaps using quite long and attenuated "connections" (e.g., phone calls and e-mails three degrees of separation removed) -- what Risen and Lichtblau's original story referred to as "an expanding chain" -- and this follow-up surveillance involved purely domestic communications, as well as communications of persons for whom there was no probable cause to believe they were Al Qaeda agents. . .

[Emptywheel] [W]e can be sure that this is one of the things that was going on, because when Bush "confirmed" a program in December 2005--clearly aiming to confirm just that part of the program of undisputed legality--he stressed that the targets for wiretapping were people with clear ties to Al Qaeda. The problem was that the Administration was using data mining (already of dubious legality for reasons I'll get into a second) as their basis for choosing targets to wiretap. They were therefore tapping people whose communication patterns--rather than their actions--suggested they might have terrorist ties. . .

In other words, they're tapping people who have no ties to Al Qaeda, but who share the same communications profiles as some people in Al Qaeda, and therefore invading their privacy and the privacy of Americans who they communicate with. Reports have suggested they moved people in and out of the program quickly, presumably meaning they'd end the taps on the false positives pretty quickly once they learned they were simply aid workers rather than terrorists. But that's putting the best spin on things: what have they dug up in those periods before they established someone was a false positive? Do they check in on those false positives to make sure they were right? . . .

Which is a fancy way of saying that the data-mining violated the requirements for probable cause in FISA, but the data-mining itself probably violated a law Congress had passed in Fall 2003 specifically to prevent data-mining of American citizens. Which would mean that, no matter the outcome of debates over the AUMF-based justification for violating FISA and the Article II-based justification for violating FISA, if Bush was also violating this provision, then he was violating something passed subsequent to the AUMF and subsequent to Bush's initial authorization of the program.

[Big Tent Democrat] BTW, this really would make Gonzales' perjury even WORSE. It is not possible that his latest justification or description can provide an innocent explanation for his "error." If Gonzales was trying to intimate that the problem with the program was the data mining as opposed to the FISA surveillance based on the data mining, then he intentionally told falsehoods in order to deliberately mislead the Congress. There is no innocent explanation possible if this is the case. . . .

Who sent Gonzo to the hospital?

Schumer: Let me ask you this. Who sent you to the hospital?

Gonzales: Senator what I can say is we had a very important meeting at the White House over one of the most important…

Schumer: I didn’t ask you that.

Gonzales: I’m answering your question senator if I could?

Schumer: Who sent you? Did anyone tell you to go?

Gonzales: It was one of the most important programs for the United States. It had been authorized by the president. I’ll just say that the chief of staff to the President of the United States, the counsel for the President of the United States went to the hospital on behalf of the President of the United States.

Schumer: Did the president ask you to go?

Gonzales: We were there in behalf of the President of the United States.

Schumer: I didn’t ask you that. Did the president ask you to go?

Gonzales: Senator we were there on behalf of the President of the United States

Schumer: Why can’t you answer that question?

Gonzales: That’s the answer I can give you Senator

Schumer: Well can you explain to me why you can’t answer it directly?

Gonzales: Senator, again we were there on an important program for this president on behalf of the President of the United States.

Schumer: Did you talk to the president about it beforehand?

Gonzales: Senator, obviously there were a lot of discussions that happened during that period of time. This involved one of the president’s premier programs.

Schumer: But sir you’re before this committee. You are before this committee. You are supposed to answer questions. You’ve not claimed any privilege. I don’t think there is any here, and I asked you to answer and you refuse to answer it. Why?.

Gonzales: Senator … if I can answer the question I will answer the question.

Schumer: But could you tell me why can’t you answer that question?

Gonzales: Senator because again this relates to activities that existed when I was with in White House and because of that, with respect to your specific question, I will go back, I will go back and see whether or not I can answer the question.

Schumer: Did the Vice President send you?

Gonzales: Senator, we were there on behalf of the president

Schumer: Did you talk to the Vice President about it?

Gonzales: We were there on behalf of the president.

Schumer: You will not answer that question as well. Is that correct?

Gonzales: We were there on behalf . . .

. . . of Cheney!? http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/015946.php

More to come

[Newsweek] They also plan to call a potentially crucial witness: Jack L. Goldsmith, the former chief of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel. It was Goldsmith who wrote a key opinion concluding the eavesdropping program was illegal. . . .

The crisis at DOJ

[NYT] Among the 93 United States attorneys, who serve as the chief federal prosecutors for their regions, there are 24 vacancies. The White House has announced nominations for only six of those offices, which means that several of the jobs may remain unfilled for the rest of the Bush administration. . . [read on]

General David Petraeus: who elected HIM?

[Frank Rich] [T]he Petraeus phenomenon is not about protecting the troops or American interests but about protecting the president. For all Mr. Bush’s claims of seeking “candid” advice, he wants nothing of the kind. He sent that message before the war, with the shunting aside of Eric Shinseki, the general who dared tell Congress the simple truth that hundreds of thousands of American troops would be needed to secure Iraq. The message was sent again when John Abizaid and George Casey were supplanted after they disagreed with the surge.

Two weeks ago, in his continuing quest for “candid” views, Mr. Bush invited a claque consisting exclusively of conservative pundits to the White House and inadvertently revealed the real motive for the Petraeus surrogate presidency. “The most credible person in the fight at this moment is Gen. David Petraeus,” he said, in National Review’s account. . .

[NB: What a thing for Bush to say. Could he have offered a worse indictment of his own LACK of credibility?]

OK, so if the American generals point to declining casualty numbers as a sign that the surge is working, what does it mean when casualty numbers are going up?


[NB: Oh, that’s a sign that the surge is working too. Of course.]

Is the Iraqi government TRYING to make us hate them? (They are probably saying the same thing about us.)

[Bob Schieffer] Well, whatever else you can say about Iraq, it has yet to lose its ability to shock.

And it's not just the rising death toll. When it comes to outrageous conduct, the Iraqi government can always seem to find a way to top itself.

The latest shocker comes from the Bush administration's own Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. Remember all those rebuilding projects in Iraq that are cited as signs of progress? Well, there is more to it, it turns out, than we knew.

Yes, Americans are doing a lot of building – nearly $6 billion worth of power plants and hospitals. The problem is we can't get the Iraqi government to take them off our hands. Of 2,797 projects, the Iraqis have been willing to take over fewer than 500. That means the rest have fallen into the hands of people who many times have no idea how to operate them.

The latest example: A recently completed power plant shut down after unqualified workers put the wrong fuel in $90 million turbines and ruined them.

The Iraqi Parliament is heading off to a month-long vacation next week. If you are wondering how much all this will cost us while they are away, key members of Congress are being told $200,000 a minute.

I'm not sure I'll ever get used to that.

Apparently Karl Rove still has that mojo as far as the Republicans are concerned. Good. I hope they keep listening to him


Fred Thompson: hasn’t even announced yet, and his campaign is already having trouble


Bonus item: Yes, he said it. No, this isn’t a joke

[Glenn Beck] "[Y[ou know, Al Gore's not going to be rounding up Jews and exterminating them. It is the same tactic, however. The goal is different. The goal is globalization. The goal is global carbon tax. The goal is the United Nations running the world. That is the goal. Back in the 1930s, the goal was get rid of all of the Jews and have one global government.

"You got to have an enemy to fight. And when you have an enemy to fight, then you can unite the entire world behind you, and you seize power. That was Hitler's plan. His enemy: the Jew. Al Gore's enemy, the U.N.'s enemy: global warming. . .

"Then you get the scientists -- eugenics. You get the scientists -- global warming. Then you have to discredit the scientists that say, 'That's not right.' And you must silence all dissenting voices. That's what Hitler did."

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

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

Sunday, July 29, 2007


The perjury case against Alberto Gonzales (it may sound a bit familiar to you)

[Anonymous Liberal] I've opined previously that I think Alberto Gonzales' technical defense to a perjury charge would be that he was relying on an implicit definitional distinction between the NSA program as it existed in December 2005 (when the president first confirmed its existence) and the program that existed from 2001 to early 2004 (when James Comey and others refused to re-certify it).

In other words, Gonzales is defining the "Terrorist Surveillance Program" as being the scaled-down program that existed at the time the New York Times first reported it in 2005. Because of this definitional gimmick, he can state truthfully that there was no disagreement about the TSP and that the Ashcroft hospital incident involved "other intelligence activities," i.e., a prior incarnation of the program. . . [read on]

More: http://www.firedoglake.com/2007/07/28/the-case-against-gonzales/


The White House tries to change the subject – and opens up a new can of worms in the process

A 2004 dispute over the National Security Agency’s secret surveillance program that led top Justice Department officials to threaten resignation involved computer searches through massive electronic databases, according to current and former officials briefed on the program.

It is not known precisely why searching the databases, or data mining, raised such a furious legal debate. But such databases contain records of the phone calls and e-mail messages of millions of Americans, and their examination by the government would raise privacy issues.

The N.S.A.’s data mining has previously been reported. But the disclosure that concerns about it figured in the March 2004 debate helps to clarify the clash this week between Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and senators who accused him of misleading Congress and called for a perjury investigation. . . .

Mr. Gonzales insisted before the Senate this week that the 2004 dispute did not involve the Terrorist Surveillance Program “confirmed” by President Bush, who has acknowledged eavesdropping without warrants but has never acknowledged the data mining.

If the dispute chiefly involved data mining, rather than eavesdropping, Mr. Gonzales’ defenders may maintain that his narrowly crafted answers, while legalistic, were technically correct.

[Kevin Drum] Give me a break. Are these guys serious?

[Big Tent Democrat] The Bush Administration has leaked the following story to the NYTimes as an explanation for Attorney General Gonzales' seemingly incorrect testimony . . .

Personally, I am at a loss at how this exonerates Alberto Gonzales. He flatly stated there was no dispute over the TSP. Later, he stated it was about the program President Bush confirmed. Data mining is a search without a warrant. The data mining is part of the same program. The speculation, indeed JUSTIFICATION, from many conservative legal scholars was that President Bush was discussing data mining. In fact, this NYTimes reporting is flat wrong, since in his discussion of the TSP, President Bush expressly referenced "the program" described in news reports, news reports that expressly discussed a data mining program . . . [read on]

[Josh Marshall] I don't doubt that this is true as far as it goes. But this must only scratch the surface because, frankly, at least as presented, this just doesn't account for the depth of the controversy or the fact that so many law-and-order DOJ types were willing to resign over what was happening. Something's missing.

Of course, 'data mining' can mean virtually anything. What kind of data and whose you're looking at makes all the difference in the world. Suggestively, the Times article includes this cryptic passage: "Some of the officials said the 2004 dispute involved other issues in addition to the data mining, but would not provide details. They would not say whether the differences were over how the databases were searched or how the resulting information was used."

To put this into perspective, remember that the White House been willing to go to the public and make a positive argument for certain surveillance procedures (notably evasion of the FISA Court strictures) which appear to be illegal on their face. This must be much more serious and apparently something all but the most ravenous Bush authoritarians would never accept. It is supposedly no longer even happening and hasn't been for a few years. So disclosing it could not jeopardize a program. The only reason that suggests itself is that the political and legal consequences of disclosure are too grave to allow.

The report also provides further evidence that the NSA surveillance operation was far more extensive than has been acknowledged by the Bush administration, which has consistently sought to describe the program in narrow terms and to emphasize that the effort was legal. . .

[Atrios] Look, all the parsing of statements is a waste of time. They were eavesdropping on whoever they wanted to without any warrants or oversight. Whether or not "whoever they wanted to" included, say, the John Kerry campaign or Markos Moulitsas is still an open question. They obviously claimed the power to do so, it just isn't clear if they did it.

[Emptywheel] I've been arguing for two years that the secret that Bush was hiding about the illegal domestic wiretap program is that they were using crappy data mining programs to pick their targets for wiretaps. . . [read on]

[Jeralyn Merritt] John Ashcroft was a proponent of data-mining. . . Ashcroft was never opposed to data-mining. He was concerned with how it was to be accomplished. The only way I can see to reconcile the White House's latest explanation of Gonzales' testimony is if Ashcroft thought the way in which the NSA was going about the data mining failed to pass legal muster. . .

If top level Justice Department officials were willing to quit over the NSA's proposed data mining plan, it wasn't because they opposed data mining. It could only be because the kind of data they were going to mine or the way in which they were going to use it or store it were completely illegal under Title III, the Fourth Amendment, FISA and privacy or other laws. . .

[Swopa] But wait... would they really be cynical enough to think they could tell only the least-damaging part of the story and get the media to swallow it? . . . . Good thing they were dealing with the top staff of the nation's paper of record, and not people with a talent for skepticism and truth-seeking. . .

[NB: I read this differently. They see that this is a real problem for them. Gonzales is hanging on by the merest of threads, and they HOPE that this data mining vs wiretapping distinction will get him off the hook. They have no choice, and this may buy them some time. But now that they’ve admitted the data mining occurred, it’s just a matter of time before someone talks now about the nature of the objections – over illegality that was bad enough that senior people and data mining ADVOCATES were going to quit. I can’t wait]

Oooh, bad on you, New York Times

The first known assertion by administration officials that there had been no serious disagreement within the government about the legality of the N.S.A. program came in talks with New York Times editors in 2004. In an effort to persuade the editors not to disclose the eavesdropping program, senior officials repeatedly cited the lack of dissent as evidence of the program’s lawfulness.

[NB: That was, Emptywheel reminds us, OCTOBER of 2004, and the story would have seriously damaged Bush’s re-election prospects. The NYT decided not to run it. But we are only learning about this lie now.]

Not mincing any words

[NYT] Americans have been waiting months for Mr. Bush to fire Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who long ago proved that he was incompetent and more recently has proved that he can’t tell the truth. Mr. Bush refused to fire him after it was clear Mr. Gonzales lied about his role in the political purge of nine federal prosecutors. And he is still refusing to do so — even after testimony by the F.B.I. director, Robert Mueller, that suggests that Mr. Gonzales either lied to Congress about Mr. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping operation or at the very least twisted the truth so badly that it amounts to the same thing. . .

As far as we can tell, there are three possible explanations for Mr. Gonzales’s talk about a dispute over other — unspecified — intelligence activities. One, he lied to Congress. Two, he used a bureaucratic dodge to mislead lawmakers and the public: the spying program was modified after Mr. Ashcroft refused to endorse it, which made it “different” from the one Mr. Bush has acknowledged. The third is that there was more wiretapping than has been disclosed, perhaps even purely domestic wiretapping, and Mr. Gonzales is helping Mr. Bush cover it up.

Democratic lawmakers are asking for a special prosecutor to look into Mr. Gonzales’s words and deeds. Solicitor General Paul Clement has a last chance to show that the Justice Department is still minimally functional by fulfilling that request.

If that does not happen, Congress should impeach Mr. Gonzales.

More: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/28/washington/28gonzales.html


Bush wants new FISA rules – and has such a charming way of asking for them

“Every day that Congress puts off these reforms increases the danger to our nation”

[NB: Yes, he did drop that line after howls of protest from the Dems (he needs their votes, after all). But this still reveals his basic instincts and attitudes.]

[Big Tent Democrat] Did you get that? Bush will protect the privacy interests of people inside the United States by removing the requirement of a court issued warrant. Thank you very much Big Brother. More. . .

[Glenn Greenwald] I would hope Congress would not even entertain any revisions until the White House finally provides the information the Intelligence Committee has long demanded about what they did when they were eavesdropping on Americans in secret, with no oversight. How can Congress consider claimed problems with FISA unless and until they know what the administration was doing for the last six years when eavesdropping on our country?

The White House needs to coach friendly wingers on how to defend their indefensible claims about executive secrecy


Iraq is like high school

A key aide says Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s relations with U.S. commander Gen. David Petraeus are so poor the Iraqi leader may ask Washington the withdraw the well-regarded U.S. military leader from duty here.

The Iraqi foreign minister calls the relationship “difficult.”

Petraeus says his ties with al-Maliki are “very good” but acknowledges expressing “the full range of emotions” on “a couple of occasions.”

U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who meets together with al-Maliki and Petraeus at least weekly, concedes “sometimes there are sporty exchanges.”

Al-Maliki has spoken sharply — not of Petraeus or Crocker personally — but about their tactic of welcoming Sunni militants into the fight against al-Qaida forces in Anbar and Diyalah provinces. . .

[Steve Benen] Part of Gen. David Petraeus' job in Iraq is pressuring Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Apparently, heads of state don't care for marching orders from generals from other countries, so it's caused a little bit of a strain on their professional relationship.

OK, more than a little. . .

First, if the U.S. policy of arming Sunni militias is exacerbating the strained relations, Maliki probably won't like the fact that the administration has decided to do more of this, not less.

Second, if the relationship has deteriorated as poorly as the article suggests, would the White House seriously pull Petraeus from Iraq? After basing most of the existing policy on Bush's confidence in the general?

[NB: I can answer that one Steve – no. They would drop Maliki at this stage before dropping Petraeus. They may do it eventually anyway.]

A solution!

[Matt Yglesias] Maybe if the Prime Minister of Iraq doesn't like our commanding general in Iraq and wants us to stop arming Sunni groups, but the US government thinks our commanding general is a smart guy and we want to intensify the arming of Sunni groups that we ought to step back, take a deep breath, and decide to leave Iraq to the Iraqis.

It would be ridiculous, after all, to sack an American general because Nouri al-Maliki wants us to. But it would also be ridiculous for an American general to be running around Iraq implementing policies contrary to those of the Iraqi government we're supposed to be supporting. The best solution is to shake hands and go our separate ways.

Saudis want U.S. arms, know that Congress might be an impediment


They’re right: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/28/AR2007072801172.html

The Bush/GOP tendency to ignore distinctions within Islam isn’t just sloppy political rhetoric – it has led them again and again into stupid decisions in the region. And the latest gaggle of presidential candidates might be even worse



War crimes?


Peter Fazio (D-OR), who has security clearance, can’t get the White House to share with him their contingency plans for seizing unilateral power in the event of a national emergency. Gee, can you think of any reason why they wouldn’t want to disclose that?


Pat Tillman: fragged because of his antiwar views?


Another example of the DC Establishment’s inordinate love of bipartisanship. Of course it is good to try to seek reasonable accommodation, but can anyone believe that the primary cause of polarized politics today is because of the Democrats' inflexibility and extremism?

[Anne-Marie Slaughter] A funny thing is happening in American politics: The fiercest battle is no longer between the left and the right but between partisanship and bipartisanship. The Bush administration, which has been notorious for playing to its hard-right base, has started reaching across the aisle . . .

[NB: WHAT???!!!????? I suppose you could stop at this point and give up on anyone who could write such a disingenuous opening. But read on, at least for the pleasure of seeing it totally decimated.]

[Jim Henley] The only honorable thing to do is admit that Anne-Marie Slaughter’s new oped in the Washington Post beats Anne Applebaum out for the title of dumbest thing ever written by anyone in any venue. . . . [read on]

[Digby] "Bipartisanship" is only operative when the Democrats are in power. I don't recall hearing the commentariat scolding the Republicans for not being more accommodating to Democrats during their 12 year reign of terror, do you? I certainly don't recall a lot of garment rending over how the Republicans were isolating their moderates. My recollection was that everyone was cheering the GOP's responsiveness to its "traditional values, low tax, patriotic" base. You remember --- the Real Americans? Karl Rove was widely considered to be a genius. . . [read on]

More: http://matthewyglesias.theatlantic.com/archives/2007/07/partisan.php





One good thing that could come out of Chuck Schumer and Arlen Specter’s diatribe that SC nominees Roberts and Alito “duped” the Judiciary Committee into thinking they were more moderate and precedent-respecting than they actually were, could be a shift in the burden of proof, away from the presumption that the President gets whomever he wants, unless the person is incompetent or corrupt. Maybe you have to earn your way onto the most powerful bench in the country (no, I’m not holding my breath)


Add it to the pile

A surgeon general's report in 2006 that called on Americans to help tackle global health problems has been kept from the public by a Bush political appointee without any background or expertise in medicine or public health, chiefly because the report did not promote the administration's policy accomplishments . . .

Three people directly involved in its preparation said its publication was blocked by William R. Steiger, a specialist in education and a scholar of Latin American history whose family has long ties to President Bush and Vice President Cheney. . . [read on]

More from the Do-Nothing Democrats

House and Senate negotiators completed days of contentious talks and reached final agreement last night on an ethics bill, despite the objections of members unhappy with tougher rules on lobbyist-delivered campaign contributions. . .

The Silly Season

[Steve Benen] The “interest” in Hillary Clinton’s neckline on the Senate floor last week is a classic example. The Washington Post’s fashion writer, Robin Givhan, wrote an odd, 746-word piece about Clinton’s outfit showing a very modest amount of cleavage. “With Clinton, there was the sense that you were catching a surreptitious glimpse at something private,” Givhan wrote. “You were intruding — being a voyeur…. Showing cleavage is a request to be engaged in a particular way.”

Except, for most political observers, the only voyeur was Givhan. The piece was widely circulated, with most people feeling either felt bewildered or offended, and in many cases, both. . . [read on]

Now, ANOTHER one! http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/27/AR2007072702369.html
“Cleavage & the Clinton Campaign Chest” . . .

Why won’t Republicans participate in a YouTube debate?




A reason to shop at Lowe’s instead of Home Depot

Lowes pulls its advertising off O'Reilly . . .


[John Aravosis] Home Depot is now telling its customers that if you have the audacity to complain about BillOReilly.com's death threats against Hillary Clinton and suggestions of a terrorist attack against the US Capitol then YOU are the problem.

Here is the letter Home Depot is sending its customers . . .

Sunday talk show line-ups

FOX NEWS SUNDAY: Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Cal Ripken Jr.

THIS WEEK (ABC): Sens. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) and Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.); Robert J. Dole and Donna E. Shalala, co-chairmen of the President's Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors; Jacob Komar, founder of Computers for Communities.

NEWSMAKERS (C-SPAN): Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson.

FACE THE NATION (CBS): Sens. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.).

MEET THE PRESS (NBC): Dan Balz, Ron Brownstein, John Harwood, Andrea Mitchell, Eugene Robinson and Chuck Todd.

LATE EDITION (CNN): Reps. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Jane Harman (D-Calif.); and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad.

Bonus item: Fox News on the bloggers (video)



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

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

Saturday, July 28, 2007


The Bush gang is trying a couple of different ploys to protect Gonzales from a perjury charge. One is to narrow as specifically as possible exactly the parsing of the language of what he was referring to when he said there was no controversy over the warrantless wiretapping program. The other is to repeat, over and over, that the controversy was over “another” program – when from all that we know the controversy was over THE SAME program, though perhaps in some earlier incarnation (which was apparently run illegally for more than two years, rejected by DOJ, then revised and narrowed into the “TSP” as it came to be called). Gonzales understood perfectly well what he was being asked, and chose to answer in what could at best be called a misleading and deceptively hair-splitting fashion

[DOJ spokesman] The Administration first used the term “Terrorist Surveillance Program” in early 2006 to refer publicly to a particular intelligence activity that the President publicly acknowledged and described in December 2005 -- that is, the NSA’s targeting for interception international communications coming into or going out of the United States where the NSA has reasonable grounds to believe that a party to the communication is an agent or member of al Qaeda or an affiliated terrorist organization. That is the only intelligence activity that the Attorney General meant when he used the phrase “Terrorist Surveillance Program.” . . .

There was not a disagreement between the Justice Department and the White House in March 2004 or any other time about whether there was a legal basis for that particular intelligence activity.

[Tony Snow] This comes down to conversations in 2004. In 2004 the Department of Justice and the White House all agreed that there was a legal basis for intercepting conversations or communications involving al Qaeda or al Qaeda affiliates in the United States and overseas. There is no dispute about that. That program did not have a name at the time. It was later labeled the terrorist surveillance program, after some press disclosures, and I think the label stuck in 2006. But again, there has never been, at any juncture along the line, any disagreement about the propriety or legality of that program.

Now, when you talk about the terrorist surveillance program, there are many intelligence activities in the American government. We're talking about a very thin slice, limited to exactly what I was telling you about, which is monitoring communications between al Qaeda or suspected al Qaeda affiliates, one in the United States, one overseas. So when the Attorney General talks about TSP, that's precisely what he's discussing.

Here’s the plain language of what FBI Director Mueller said, and you can tell from his reluctant, halting manner that he knew he was driving the nail in Gonzales’s casket by saying it

Lee: Did you have an understanding that the discussion was on TSP?

Mueller: I had an understanding that the discussion was on a, uh, a, uh -- an NSA program, yes.

Lee: I guess we use "TSP," we use "warrantless wiretapping," so would I be comfortable in saying that those were the items that were part of the discussion?

Mueller: The discussion was on a National -- uh, NSA program that has been much discussed, yes.

[NB: Continue with this link to watch Tony Snow lie about it]

More bamboozlement: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/015916.php


Helen says to Tony Snow, “you’re not speaking English”


Here is the key question: WHY is Gonzales lying? What would be so bad about saying, Yes, there was controversy over some aspects of the program, we made changes to be sure it conformed with legal requirements, and then everyone was satisfied? It certainly looks like they were doing something so bad that they’re terrified we might learn about it


Background: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/blog/2007/07/27/BL2007072701308.html



Drip, drip, drip. . . .

Two weeks before President Bush won reelection in 2004, the FBI sent a rare report to its overseers: One of its agents had engaged in a willful and intentional violation of a law by improperly collecting financial records during a national security investigation.

The FBI concluded that the actions of the rookie agent amounted to "intelligence activities that . . . may be unlawful or contrary to executive order or presidential directive," according to a declassified memo from Oct. 21, 2004.

The incident was deemed serious enough for the bureau to notify both the President's Intelligence Oversight Board and the Justice Department, and to consider punishing the agent.

The violation was the only one after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that the FBI has specifically flagged as intentional. But it has attracted fresh attention because Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales testified six months later that no "verified case of civil liberties abuse" had occurred since the USA Patriot Act was enacted.

Gonzales told senators this week that his use of the word "abuse" was meant to narrowly refer only to intentional violations. "My view and the views of other leadership in the department is, in fact, when we're talking about abuses of the Patriot Act, we're talking about intentional, deliberate misuse of the Patriot Act," he testified Tuesday in explaining his 2005 remarks. . .

[NB: So, we know the code now -- there WERE misuses, probably a lot of them, but none that can be proven to be "intentional" and "deliberate." Except for this one. Maybe.]

Here is a LIST of the crimes that probably were committed during the US Attorney firings. It isn’t a short list


More: http://thenexthurrah.typepad.com/the_next_hurrah/2007/07/the-rove-subpoe.html


DOJ still protecting us from “vote fraud” (wink, wink)


There is no bad news coming out of Iraq

As the Bush administration struggles to convince lawmakers that its Iraq war strategy is working, it has stopped reporting to Congress a key quality-of-life indicator in Baghdad: how long the power stays on.

Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week that Baghdad residents could count on only "an hour or two a day" of electricity. That's down from an average of five to six hours a day earlier this year.

But that piece of data has not been sent to lawmakers for months because the State Department, which prepares a weekly "status report" for Congress on conditions in Iraq, stopped estimating in May how many hours of electricity Baghdad residents typically receive each day. . .

More: http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/003802.php
[Spencer Ackerman] Add "Baghdad electricity" to the Great List of disappeared information over the last six and a half years. Last one out, please turn on the lights. . .

[Steve Benen] It’s the quintessential Bush move — when struggling with discouraging news, it’s easier to hide it than fix it.

Administration officials deny any ulterior motive. . . .

Our old friends

Iraq’s national government is refusing to take possession of thousands of American-financed reconstruction projects, forcing the United States either to hand them over to local Iraqis, who often lack the proper training and resources to keep the projects running, or commit new money to an effort that has already consumed billions of taxpayer dollars. . .

Our new friends

[Andrew Rice] Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, calls the new "irregular" forces, intended to protect Sunni neighborhoods in Baghdad, a "very, very important component of reconciliation." But the new forces, which are recruited from the civilian population with little training provided and few questions asked, sound an awful lot like sectarian militias.

Our other friends. Despite the recent stories (see yesterday) on how unhelpful the Saudis have been lately in Iraq, the Bush gang is gearing up to sell them a ton of military equipment. Will there be a fight over this?

The Bush administration is preparing to ask Congress to approve an arms sale package for Saudi Arabia and its neighbors that is expected to eventually total $20 billion at a time when some United States officials contend that the Saudis are playing a counterproductive role in Iraq. . .

[CNN’s Wolf Blitzer] Dozens of foreign fighters crossing into Iraq each month and the U.S. military estimates half are from Saudi Arabia. Almost half the foreigners in U.S. detention facilities are said to be Saudis, as well. Along with that, a flow of funds from individuals in Saudi Arabia to Sunni insurgent groups. . .

And joining us now, our correspondent in Baghdad, Michael Ware -- Michael, the Saudis and their involvement in what's going on causing some consternation here in Washington. Saudi Arabia, a largely Sunni Muslim country. They're not very happy with the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad.

What are you seeing on the ground?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we're seeing, Wolf, is that, you know, in Saudi Arabia, is experiencing just as much consternation with this U.S. experiment here in Iraq.

Now they said before the war that it wasn't going to work. Indeed, I think the quote, from memory, was something like, "you'll fix one problem, being Saddam, and create five more."

And then, as they saw -- saw the American expedition unfold, they saw it fall to pieces. Now, at first, they started whispering about it. Then they started screaming about it. And for a long time now -- we're talking years -- they've been acting on that.

They've been providing funds to Sunni sheikhs and tribal groups. There's been some connection with the insurgency. They're funding political opponents of this Maliki government, a government they don't trust.

And that's a sentiment shared by most of the Arab world. It's seen as either an Iranian proxy or so beholden to Iran -- this government -- that it cannot function as a truly independent entity.

The Saudis see that the American endeavor here in Iraq is not protecting legitimate Saudi national interests, let alone furthering them. They're saying that this war is destabilizing the whole region, to the disadvantage of America's allies.

BLITZER: And, Michael, do the Saudis see the prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, as nothing more than an Iranian agent?

Because that's the word they're spreading, according to the "New York Times".

WARE: Yes, well, I mean, obviously, I can't speak for the government in Riyadh from here in Baghdad. But what I can tell you is that the Arab world doesn't trust Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, nor this government.

I mean this is not really a government. I mean, there's no water for people in the capital right now. Electricity, if you get it at all, is down to about an hour a day. And to fill up your car with gas, you've got ton cue for anything from five to 12 hours, or even overnight. So this government isn't delivering services.

This government is a loose coalition of militia, most of them backed or supported, in one way or another, by Iran.

And we wonder why America's Arab allies are nervous at what they see as an expansion of Iranian influence?

We're hearing that they're allowing insurgent commanders and political leaders to gather in Jordan, in Syria and, indeed, even in Saudi Arabia. Just expect this to pick up rather than deescalate -- Wolf.

What will happen when the next administration comes into office? This is a seriously underexamined question. Better than impeachment, MUCH better than censure, is to make sure that a Democrat takes office. There will be such a release of Bush gang documents, emails, secret orders, and hidden screw-ups that their legacy will be tarred forever. Unless they start destroying things at a record rate, which creates its own risks, you are going to see a whirlwind of declassification in 2009. A Republican, whoever it is, will probably continue the policy of expansive executive secrecy; a Democrat, whoever it is, is going to want to signal a different spirit – and they will start with everything the Bush gang has tried to hide


Digby at her most brilliant. Must read!

Thank God Joseph Heller and James Jones and Erich Maria Remarque and countless others aren't trying to write their books today. They'd be burned as heretics by a bunch of nasty boys and girls who have fetishized "the troops" into a strange form of Boy Band eroticism --- that empty, nonthreatening form of masculinity the tweens use to bridge the scary gap between puberty and adolescence. Private Peter Pan reporting for duty.

The real men for them are the civilians on 24 torturing suspected terrorists for an hour each week, keeping the lil'est tough guys safe from harm with hard sadism and easy answers. That's where this wingnut war is really being fought. With popcorn.

More: http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2007/07/frederick-of-hollywood-and-tiny.html

I have no sympathy for Schumer and the Democrats – none – when they complain that Supreme Court judges Roberts and Alito sounded more moderate during their confirmation hearings than they turned out to be. Anyone who didn’t know EXACTLY why they were picked, why key documents in their record suddenly turned up missing, or weren't made available, wasn’t paying attention. It’s too late now


More: http://www.talkleft.com/story/2007/7/27/19597/8421


The coming fight over Executive Privilege

[Big Tent Democrat] Apparently, the White House had a right blogger conference call on the ongoing executive privilege dispute. My first reaction is why would the White House do this? Why the reach oout to the Right bloggers on this issue? I can think of only one explanation - the White House intends to make a political fight out of this, not a legal fight. I mean honestly, if they were going to make this a purely legal dispute of Constitutional issues to be decided in a court, this would obviously be unnecessary. My other thought is that the White House is obviously very worried about the situation, particularly from a political perspective. Perhaps they felt the base was not supporting them as strongly as they expected. . . .

[NB: I have a slightly different read. They ARE going to make this a legal fight, and I think they know what a friendly Supreme Court will do for them in the end. But a lot of conservatives, especially those of a populist and/or libertarian bent, are very upset about the expansion of executive power. There is nothing “conservative” about that – unless you happen to be backing the particular conservative President of the moment.]

Those do-nothing Democrats

The House yesterday passed a far-reaching new farm bill . . . Passage of the 741-page bill by a vote of 231 to 191, after partisan battling unusual for farm legislation, was a major achievement for the new Democratic leadership.

Congress gave final approval yesterday to legislation that requires tighter screening of air and sea cargo, and shifts more federal anti-terrorism grants to high-risk areas such as New York and Washington, delivering on a pledge by Democrats last fall to implement additional recommendations of the commission that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

[BUT. . .] Voting 371 to 40, the House followed the Senate, which voted 85 to 8 Thursday night, to send the measure to the White House after dropping a controversial provision that would have extended union protection to 45,000 federal airport screeners. That language had prompted a veto threat from President Bush.

More: http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/11614.html


[Josh Marshall] It's looking like there might not be a GOP CNN/Youtube debate. Rudy appears to be opting out and Mitt Romney doesn't seem far behind. And GOP party functionary Hugh Hewitt is already laying down a line of covering fire for the retreat, arguing that CNN and Youtube are biased against Republicans. . .

But if they can't face Youtube how can they defeat the terrorists?

Sound familiar? http://www.observer.com/2007/murdoch-ailes-weymouth-pump-bloomberg-breindel-awards
[Roger Ailes] had some choice words for Democratic candidates who have decided not to debate on Fox. “The candidates that can’t face Fox, can’t face Al Qaeda,” said Mr. Ailes.

[Dennis Miller] "If these guys are afraid of Fox News, how are they going to stand up to terrorists?"

[Jay Leno] How will you “stand up to terrorists when you’re afraid of Fox News?”

[Tim Russert] “It’s a TV show. If you can’t handle TV questions, how are you going to stand up to Iran, and North Korea, and the rest of the world?”

Has Hillary finally found a good answer on the “L” word question?

In Monday’s debate, Hillary Clinton was asked whether she’d describe herself as a “liberal.” . . .

So, now, there’s going to be a new fight over demonizing “progressive” – and the Right is already gearing up for that



New survey: youth are tilting heavily Democratic


But: http://matthewyglesias.theatlantic.com/archives/2007/07/choose_your_own_the_who_refere.php
[Matt Yglesias] White young people like the GOP just fine; the GOP has a two point advantage. The issue is that black and hispanic youth loathe Republicans and the younger demographic has disproportionately few non-Hispanic whites. . . . [read on]

Bonus item: Haw, haw, haw! Yee-hee! Yuck, yuck, yuck, GAAAAH-HA-HA-HA-HA-HAHHHH!!! Now THAT is a funny, funny, funny joke. And oh, so clever and revealing about the Dems. Thanks Rush! You really got ‘em on that one!

A graphic on the front page of radio host Rush Limbaugh's website depicted a screen shot of C-SPAN's Washington Journal doctored to show Osama bin Laden appearing as a guest identified as "Mr. Osama bin Laden, D-Afghanistan." . . .

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

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

Friday, July 27, 2007


As Josh Marshall says, the fact that Bush keeps Gonzales in office after all this shows, not loyalty, but his desperate need to keep a bulwark between himself and further investigations – no one but Gonzales could ever serve that purpose, and no new AG could be confirmed without a process that would repudiate nearly everything Gonzales has allowed to transpire. Until he is actually convicted of perjury, or impeached, Gonzo is there for the duration

The dispute over the truthfulness of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales reached a new intensity today as the F.B.I. Director, Robert S. Mueller 3d, contradicted Mr. Gonzales’s sworn testimony before a Senate committee. . .

Four Senate Democrats today formally asked the Justice Department to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate whether Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales lied to Congress in his testimony about a domestic surveillance program for terrorists. . .

[Chuck Schumer, D-NY] “[Gonzales] took an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Instead he tells the half truth, the partial truth, and everything but the truth. And he does it not once, not twice, but over and over and over again. His instinct is not to tell the truth, but to dissemble and deceive….. We simply cannot stand for this any longer.”

More: http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/11602.html

Video: http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/003789.php

Media coverage: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/015885.php

Tony Snow “explains”: http://www.first-draft.com/2007/07/today-on-hol-14.html
MR. SNOW: Unfortunately we get into areas that you cannot discuss openly. It's a very complex issue. But the Attorney General was speaking consistently. The President supports him. I think at some point this is going to be something where members are going to have to go behind closed doors and have a fuller discussion of the issues. But I can't go any further than that.

Q Everyone else says the meeting was about the TSP. Negroponte says it, people who were there said it, Comey said it. How could that not be right?

MR. SNOW: It's simply more complex than that, and I can't go into any more detail.

Q Is there another program that existed besides the TSP program?

MR. SNOW: I will repeat myself -- it's more complex, and I cannot go any further than that.

Q Does that mean that members of the Congress are being briefed on something they didn't realize they were being briefed on? If they're all describing it in this way --

MR. SNOW: Look, the most important thing to do is, I'll refer you back to DOJ to going through all this. But there were a series of briefings for a small, restricted number of members of Congress who seem to have differing recollections about what went on.

Here’s a serious argument that, while Gonzales may indeed be a liar, THIS instance – the “one program/two program” dispute, is too vague, too semantic, and too shrouded in classified secrets to ever make the stuff of a perjury showdown (however, the scope of the perjury charges is much wider than just the TSP dispute)

[James Joyner] Oddly, however, Senate Democrats are now seriously pursuing a perjury probe over what seems, on the surface at least, among the least significant contradictions in his testimony and one that would be the hardest to prove. . . [read on]

What Gonzales is really trying to cover up

[Dan Froomkin] This is not just a story about Gonzales's relationship to the truth. It's also a story about all the things we still don't know about the White House and illegal wiretapping.

One of the chief unanswered questions, as I wrote in my May 17 column: What was the program like when it was illegal even in the opinion of Bush's own Justice Department? What was the government doing to its citizens for two and a half years -- starting soon after 9/11 through the spring of 2004?

[Spencer Ackerman and Paul Kiel] Alberto Gonzales' testimony that there was "no serious disagreement" within the Bush Administration about the NSA warrantless surveillance program has left senators sputtering and fulminating about the attorney general's apparent prevarications. But a closer examination of Gonzales' testimony and other public statements from the Administration suggest that there may be a method to the madness.

There's a lot of evidence to suggest that Gonzales's careful, repeated phrasing to the Senate that he will only discuss the program that "the president described" was deliberate, part of a concerted administration-wide strategy to conceal from the public the very broad scope of that initial program. When, for the first time, Program X (as we'll call it, for convenience's sake) became known to senior Justice Department officials who were not its original architects, those officials -- James Comey and Jack Goldsmith, principally -- balked at its continuation. They did not back down until the program had undergone as-yet-unspecified but apparently significant revisions. But when President Bush announced what he would call the "Terrorist Surveillance Program' in December 2005, he left the clear impression that the program had always functioned the same way since its 2001 inception.

The administration's consistent refusal to discuss any aspect of the program -- current or former -- aside from what President Bush disclosed in December 2005 appears to be intended, specifically, to gloss over Comey and Goldsmith's objections. If that's the case, it could mean that the public has been presented with an inaccurate picture of the origins and scope of Program X. . . . [read on!]

More: http://www.firedoglake.com/2007/07/27/which-nsa-program-was-it-and-what-else-arewere-they-doing/

[NB: So, on this analysis, the Bush people really do want to distinguish "two" programs -- the bad old illegal version of the warrantless wiretapping program (which they absolutely do not want to reveal or admit to in public), and the new and improved version of it, which Bush did discuss in public. So the perjury charge is really leverage, I guess, to force them to admit that they were running an illegal program for over two years. And THAT'S what Tony Snow wants to talk about behind closed doors.]

Will the DOJ Solicitor General appoint a Special Prosecutor? I don’t see how that ever actually happens, but we can hope

[Emptywheel] Perhaps the four Senators only submitted this request to force Clement to say no, which would provide the perfect justification for moving to impeachment proceedings in the House. . .

Here’s what the blogosphere does so well: Emptywheel, who knows these matters backwards and forwards, recounts the details of briefing dates over the warrantless wiretapping program, and what they tell us. This is the kind of serious tea-leaf reading that most of us have no time (or talent) for doing. Read on


See you in court

[David Kurtz] The Senate Judiciary has issued a subpoena to Karl Rove for him to testify regarding his role in the U.S. Attorneys purge. Obviously, the White House will cite executive privilege and refuse to make Rove available, so we're not going to see Rove under the kleig lights anytime soon. But it's another step toward a long overdue confrontation in the courts on the true scope of executive privilege.

More: http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/003790.php
The Senate Judiciary Committee issued two more subpoenas as part of the U.S. attorney firings investigation today: one for Karl Rove and the other for his deputy, Scott Jennings. . .


[Digby] It's true that Ashcroft and Gonzales reversed what had more or less been a Chinese wall between the White House and the DOJ in other administrations and basically allowed everyone but the cleaning staff to have access to personnel and information about criminal investigations. But oddly enough, Rove doesn't appear to have been among those granted that access.

Yet, he is clearly at the center of the U.S. attorney scandals, with revelations just the other day that from the beginning of the Bush administration he was considered an important conduit in matters of U.S. attorneys. Bogus claims of "voter fraud" are one of his special interests and his obsession with alleged fraud in the states in which the fired U.S. attorneys worked is more than just coincidence. Now we find that he must have been doing most of the dirty work outside the very wide official channel that allowed dozens of people inside the White House to interact with the DOJ. With one exception where he violated the rules directly, he very carefully avoided any obvious hands-on involvement.

Those missing Republican National Committee e-mails would probably shed some light on all this. Rove apparently used that account 95 percent of the time. Too bad they were destroyed.

Tell me, tell me, if this surprises you

After 9/11, the Saudi monarchy pledged its full support in the fight against global terrorism. And following violent attacks inside the kingdom in the next two years, the Saudis did launch major strikes against militants operating on their soil. But the Saudi government has been far been less willing to tackle the financial infrastructure essential to terrorism. U.S. intelligence reports state that Islamic banks, while mostly doing ordinary commerce, also are institutions that extremism relies upon in its global spread.

As a result, the Bush administration repeatedly debated proposals for taking strong action itself against Al Rajhi Bank, in particular, according to former U.S. officials and previously undisclosed government documents. Ultimately, the U.S. always chose instead to lobby Saudi officialdom quietly about its concerns. . . .

Bush administration officials are voicing increasing anger at what they say has been Saudi Arabia’s counterproductive role in the Iraq war. . . .

Everyone noted at the time how short and hurried the latest NIE on Al Qaeda in Iraq seemed to be – almost as if it was rushed out to get certain talking points into circulation. Could that be? Imagine that!

Current and former intelligence officials say the Bush Administration's National Intelligence Estimate regarding terrorist threats to the United States does not provide evidence to support its assertions . . .

Speaking under condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, several intelligence officers asserted that the report was sloppy and lacked supporting evidence. "The NIE seems… fiddled [with]. . . Whether it is or isn't is not really the point. The point is that nobody is ready to believe it." . . . [read on]

The new “Joint Campaign Plan” – the Petraeus plan that projects US involvement in Iraq at least into 2009 – appears destined to end up like all the other “new” plans for Iraq


More: http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/11597.html

Bush likes to say he listens to his generals (the ones he doesn’t fire, at least) – but here’s who he REALLY listens to


The phrase we need to start using about Iraq

“Ethnic cleansing” . . .

Is the Maliki government in trouble?



We’ve had this story before, but it just won’t go away

[Atrios] US Embassy in Iraq built, in part, by forced labor. . .

More: http://www.speaker.gov/blog/?p=626

Oh my. How much worse can this get? Now we’re learning that Pat Tillman’s death wasn’t just a “friendly fire” cover-up. He might actually have been murdered by his own countrymen

Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman's forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player's death amounted to a crime . . . [read on]

SecDef Bob Gates kinda sorta says that the Cheney lackey in his Department (Eric Edelman) who accused Hillary Clinton of subversion for questioning the war was. . . uh. . . full of it

“First, allow me to reiterate that I have long been and continue to be an advocate of congressional oversight as a fundamental element of our system of government. I also have publicly expressed my belief that congressional debate on Iraq has been constructive, appropriate and necessary. . . . Furthermore, I agree with you that planning concerning the future of U.S. forces in Iraq — including the draw down of those forces at the right time — is not only appropriate, but essential. . . .

Specifically, I emphatically assure you that we do not claim, suggest, or otherwise believe that congressional oversight emboldens our enemies, nor do we question anyone’s motives in this regard. . . .”

Though he also says: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/7/26/134240/186
Gates defended his aide and the author of the letter, Undersecretary for Policy Eric Edelman, calling him "a valued member" who provides "wise counsel and years of experience (that) are critically important to the many pressing policy issues facing the military."

Bush 41 was a “kinder and gentler Republican.” Bush 43 was a “compassionate conservative.” When will people realize that these are oxymorons?


Stop the presses: a House Republican says, actually says, that the Dems have been pretty successful lately in forging bipartisan legislation


Of course: http://politicalwire.com/archives/2007/07/27/in_il18_lahood_will_not_seek_reelection.html
Rep. Ray LaHood (R-IL) "will not seek re-election when his term expires in January 2009," the Peoria Journal Star News reports.

I suppose it had to happen, eventually: Obama and Clinton get down and dirty with each other



Republican candidates don’t want to do a CNN/YouTube debate. Wonder why?


[KB] You realize why Rudy doesn't like the YouTube debate format, right? He doesn't want the NY fire fighter's to get a clean shot at him on national TV. Maybe Newt was right. Maybe pygmies is the perfect word... [read on]

From the local news: the next “DC Madam” disclosure could be someone in the Ohio GOP delegation


Could it be? http://downwithtyranny.blogspot.com/2007/07/will-john-boehner-be-next-gop-pervert.html

Glenn Beck: what more evidence do we need that he is a partisan ideologue, and no kind of serious journalist?

[Alex Koppelman] Cable news viewers can be forgiven if, like us, they happened to turn on Glenn Beck's show on CNN Headline News Wednesday night and were surprised to see a spokesman for the John Birch Society being treated like an expert source.

It is, let's face it, pretty shocking to see a group that has been a pariah since the 1960's given credence on a mainstream television network, especially when the group is as far out as the JBS. The JBS is, after all, the group that believed fluoridated drinking water was a Communist mind-control plot. Oh, and its founder, Robert Welch, once accused Dwight Eisenhower -- and no, we are not kidding -- of being "a dedicated conscious agent of the communist conspiracy." . . .

Beck himself referred to the group's reputation, introducing his guest, JBS spokesman Sam Antonio, by saying, "Sam, I have to tell you, when I was growing up, the John Birch Society, I thought they were a bunch of nuts." But Beck's views on that score seem to have changed -- "You guys are starting to make more and more sense to me," Beck told Antonio.

Bonus item: Not normally the kind of thing we cover, but this is just strange. . . .

Someone intentionally damaged a computer intended for the International Space Station, NASA said Thursday. . .

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