Wednesday, October 31, 2007

FIRING OFFENSES

State Dept denies giving Blackwater killers immunity, then says, well, maybe we did give them a LITTLE bit of immunity

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/057405.php
[CNN] No blanket immunity deal was offered to Blackwater guards for their statements regarding a shootout in Iraq last month that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead, two senior State Department officials told CNN Tuesday.

However, some kind of limited immunity was apparently offered . . .

http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004602.php
[Paul Kiel] State Department spokesman Sean McCormack tried to look on the bright side in a press briefing: "The kinds of, quote, 'immunity' that I've seen reported in the press would not preclude a successful criminal prosecution," he insisted. "The Department of State cannot immunize an individual from federal criminal prosecution," he added.

There are a couple of problems with that, however.

While State certainly doesn't have the ability to absolutely bar a criminal investigation, they also didn't have the authority to offer the "use" immunity officials offered the guards, as The New York Times, citing "government officials," reported this morning.

And while the Department's choice to offer immunity certainly "cannot immunize an individual from federal prosecution," it makes things a lot harder for FBI agents and Justice Department lawyers who are trying to build an already incredibly difficult case. . .

It remains unclear who was responsible for authorizing the immunity deal. A "senior State Department official" whispered to ABC that "If anyone gave such immunity it was done so without consulting senior leadership at State." The AP gave a hint yesterday when it reported that last week's resignation of Assistant Secretary of State Richard Griffin was "directly related to his oversight of Blackwater contractors." . . .

http://oversight.house.gov/story.asp?ID=1579
Chairman Henry A. Waxman writes Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to ask who conferred immunity on the Blackwater security guards involved in the September 16 shooting, who authorized the grant of immunity, and when did Secretary Rice and other senior State Department officials learn about the immunity. . .

“Condi is an incompetent jerk” http://thenexthurrah.typepad.com/the_next_hurrah/2007/10/state-loses-its.html

The DOJ muddies the waters

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/057449.php
“[A]ny suggestion that the Blackwater employees in question have been given immunity from federal criminal prosecution is inaccurate. . .” [read on]

Alice has nothing to say about it

http://www.first-draft.com/2007/10/today-on-hol-17.html
Q Dana, why did the Bush administration give immunity to the Blackwater guards . . .

MS. PERINO: This is what I can tell you: Secretary Rice has made it very clear that she takes the situation very seriously. It is under review. . . . I'll have to refer you to the State Department and Justice Department for more.

Q Has the President been briefed on this, or what does he think? What is he saying?

MS. PERINO: I do not know if the President has been briefed on it specifically. I can ask.

Q Were they given immunity or weren't they?

MS. PERINO: Helen, as I said, it's a matter that's under review.

Q (Inaudible) tough questions. Why can't you answer them?

MS. PERINO: Because it is a matter that's under review. . .

Q What do you mean "under review"? Why don't you say yes or no?

MS. PERINO: The State Department is the one that is looking into this and they are the ones answering questions on it.

Q So the administration hasn't decided whether or not the reports of that are true? You're still looking into whether or not they actually were?

MS. PERINO: I am going to refer you to the State Department . . .

Q As a general question, how could you both be offered immunity and promised prosecution?

MS. PERINO: Again, this is being -- this is under review. . .

Q Also, what is being reviewed? Just so we're clear.

MS. PERINO: The entire situation is being reviewed . . .

Watch: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/057435.php

Mukasey responds to questions about whether he thinks that waterboarding is torture – and he only makes it worse

http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004606.php
[Paul Kiel] In his letter to Senate Democrats today, attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey walks a fine line. He calls waterboarding, as described by the Dems in a detailed letter last week, as "on a personal basis, repugnant to me." But he says that such a description depends on a hypothetical use of such a technique, and "in any legal opinion the actual facts and circumstances are critical." . . .

What follows in the letter is an extended treatment intended to give Democrats a sense of how he would approach the issue. Mukasey explains that he can't definitively say that waterboarding is torture because 1) he doesn't know whether it is in use, or whether a similar technique is in use, 2) he doesn't want any public statement of his on the issue to place any interrogators in legal jeopardy, and 3) "I would not want any statement of mine to provide our enemies with a window into the limits or contours of any interrogation program we may have in place and thereby assist them in training to resist the techniques we actually may use." . . .

[NB: That’s about as clear a confirmation as we’re likely to get that the Bush gang HAS been using waterboarding, and plans to continue to]

Just say no to Mukasey: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/057447.php

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/blog/2007/10/30/BL2007103000880.html

http://matthewyglesias.theatlantic.com/archives/2007/10/tortured_answers.php

http://www.discourse.net/archives/2007/10/mukasey.html

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/10/30/19320/934

http://www.samefacts.com/archives/torture_/2007/10/hurrah.php
[Mark Kleiman] Bush's nominee for Attorney General boldly promises to ban "repugnant" activities such as waterboarding if (and only if) he decides that they are illegal, which he can't decide until he knows the details, which he can't know until he's confirmed . . .

Gak!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/30/AR2007103001481_pf.html
Nine Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee yesterday issued a news release urging the Senate to "stop playing politics with the Justice Department."

What does a President say with rock-bottom popularity and absolutely no policy agenda?

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/30/washington/30cnd-policy.html
President Bush lashed out at Congress today, the third time he has done so in two weeks, this time saying the House had wasted time on “a constant string of investigations” . . .

[NB: Yes, I can see why he would consider that a waste of time]

. . . and the Senate had similarly wasted its efforts by trying to rein in the Iraq war. . .

[NB: Instead of trying to stop it, they should just cheer him on, right?]

. . . . Its failure to send a single annual appropriations bill to his desk, he said, amounted to “the worst record for a Congress in 20 years.” . . .

[NB: Yes, almost as bad as this one [November 21, 2006] “In a move that has infuriated Republican appropriators, GOP congressional leaders have decided to punt their annual spending bills until next year, when Democrats assume control of both chambers, according to numerous Republican aides. . . . The decision . . . is a further indication that congressional Republicans will not address any of the White House’s legislative priorities before ceding control next year.” http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/irritating-appropriators-gop-punts-spending-bills-to-democrats-2006-11-21.html]

. . . . “Congress is not getting its work done,” the president said . . .

[NB: “And anything they do pass I plan to veto,” he neglected to add]

http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/13417.html
[Steve Benen] It was boilerplate rhetoric from a president who can’t think of much else to say (or rather, his speechwriters can’t think of much else to tell Bush to say) . . .

Bush continued to complain for seven minutes about “the Democrat [sic] side” not doing more to make him happy. I’m curious — if he’s so anxious to make progress with the Democratic majority, why weren’t they invited to this morning’s chat?

More hypocrisy: http://www.salon.com/politics/war_room/2007/10/30/bush/index.html

Now we see what this carefully-laid series of attacks was all about. Here’s what Bush has wanted to do all along – and it puts to the lie any claims about his commitment to bipartisanship

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/30/AR2007103000558.html
The White House plans to try implementing as much new policy as it can by administrative order while stepping up its confrontational rhetoric with Congress . . .

The do-nothing President

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/30/AR2007103001200.html
The White House threatened on Tuesday to veto a bill to expand federal assistance for retraining workers who have lost their jobs because of trade . . .

Lessons in bipartisanship: politicians choose to be bipartisan when, and only when, they perceive it in their interests to do so. The rest of the time, it’s in their interests to invoke the ideal of bipartisanship (and to blame the other side for failing to be bipartisan enough), while actually resisting it themselves. Here’s a case in point

http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/13416.html
[Politico] In a closed-door meeting before the last vote on the children’s health care bill, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer appealed for the support of about 30 wavering Republican lawmakers. What he got instead was a tongue-lashing, participants said.

The GOP lawmakers, all of whom had expressed interest in a bipartisan deal on the SCHIP legislation, were furious that the Democratic leader from Maryland had not reached out to them in a more serious way early on. . . . [read on]

More: http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/horsesmouth/2007/10/house_republica.php

Pat Leahy thought the Bush gang was actually giving him the documents he wanted. Should he have been surprised by this instead?

http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004603.php
[Paul Kiel] Apparently three of the four documents, called "previously undisclosed," in the committee's press release at the time, were already in the public domain. . .

Damage control over the phony FEMA news briefing: “It is not a practice that we would employ here at the White House and we certainly don't condone it.” Oh, really? Do you want a list?

http://mediamatters.org/items/200710300011

Those FEMA boys – always passing the buck

http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/30/fema-official-on-briefing-scandal-late-invitation-was-to-blame/index.html
John P. “Pat” Philbin, the former director of external affairs at FEMA who lost his federal job last week as a result of the debacle, said in an interview with The New York Times on Monday that what he most regrets is the presumption by some outsiders that the event was staged on purpose.

“It was never designed to be a fake news conference,” he said.

What happened, he said, was that the agency staff was late in sending out a notice to reporters about the briefing, but could not postpone the briefing because of restrictions on when it could use a satellite uplink to distribute live video to the media.

Mr. Philbin said that only when he arrived in the briefing room with Harvey Johnson, the deputy FEMA administrator who would field questions, did he realize that there were no actual reporters in the room, implicitly blaming his aides for not informing him of this critical missing element for a news conference. He said he does not know whose idea it was to have members of the agency’s staff attend instead and make believe they were reporters, and denied that he thought of it. . . .

Fire him

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Voting-Rights.html
The chief of the Justice Department's voting rights division apologized Tuesday for saying that aging is not a problem with black voters because they die before they become elderly, unlike whites.

Still, some Democrats said they want him fired. . .

More: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/057409.php

Fire her

http://www.timesargus.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071031/NEWS01/710310319/1002/NEWS01
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday called for the resignation of the head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission following the recall of millions of Chinese-made toys.

Nancy Nord, the agency's acting head, has been under fire in Congress for opposing Democrats' legislation to overhaul her agency. . .

Hey, Tony, you can stop now – they aren’t paying you any more

http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/13418.html
[Tony Snow] “You don’t see it but there’s a process where everything gets discussed, and there are some raging arguments. . . When people look back at this White House, they’re gonna find its one that had a lot of intellectual vigor.” . . . [read on]

The GOP candidates duck out of another minority-sponsored debate (just another coincidence, I’m sure)

http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/13419.html
[Steve Benen] Last month, PBS hosted a Republican presidential candidates’ debate at historically black college in Baltimore — and all of the top four GOP candidates decided to skip it. This followed close on the heels of a Univision-hosted Republican debate in Miami on Latino issues — which was cancelled when all but one candidate declined invitations. The National Council of La Raza asked Republican candidates to address its annual conference in July, but none showed up. The National Association of Latino Elected & Appointed Officials extended similar invitations to the entire GOP field, but only Duncan Hunter agreed to attend.

Minority communities are beginning to think that maybe, just maybe, Republican presidential hopefuls aren’t exactly attentive to their concerns.

Given all the attention this has received, the field would be crazy to skip the Congressional Black Caucus Institute’s debate, right? . . . [read on]

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2007_10/012389.php
[Kevin Drum] These guys sure are spooked at the prospect of taking questions from non-straight-non-white folks, aren't they?

Fred Thompson has lymphoma. Did you know that? Aren’t you wondering why it hasn’t been raised as a bigger issue?

http://atrios.blogspot.com/2007_10_28_archive.html#5832317234710525005

http://www.firedoglake.com/2007/10/30/chemo-brain/

“Huckabee is lying”

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2007/10/huckabee-is-lying-by-tristero-huckabee.html

"Cross-dressing state lawmaker blackmailed following late night tryst"

http://www.americablog.com/2007/10/headline-of-week-so-far-cross-dressing.html
[Joe Sudbay] Yeah, you just don't see a headline like that every day. . .

Clear Channel tells its stations not to play Springsteen’s new album

http://atrios.blogspot.com/2007_10_28_archive.html#7467114453227102983

Bonus item: Another Cheney hunting “accident” (thanks to Buzzflash for the link)

http://www.newsday.com/news/local/wire/newyork/ny-bc-ny--cheney-hunting1030oct30,0,5748937.story
Vice President Dick Cheney's eight-hour outing at a secluded Hudson Valley gun club went off without incident _ except for the Confederate flag the media spotted hanging inside a garage. . . .

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

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

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

BUSHISM 101

Bushism 101: immunize first, asks questions later. State Dept officials give immunity to the Blackwater guards accused of killing civilians in the Baghdad massacre

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/29/washington/30cnd-blackwater.html

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/2007/10/charges_uncertain_in_blackwate.php
"Once you give immunity, you can't take it away," said a senior law enforcement official familiar with the investigation. . . .

http://www.slate.com/id/2176955
[Daniel Politi] The immunity deals for Blackwater guards, first reported by the Associated Press, were brokered by State Department officials who lacked the proper authority and without the knowledge of prosecutors at the Justice Department. But it's still not clear exactly who gave the immunity or under what conditions it was granted. Although the deals don't prevent the Justice Department from prosecuting the guards, they have made the investigation more complicated since some guards have refused to be interviewed again by the FBI because they had been promised immunity. . . .

http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004589.php
[Paul Kiel] So not only did the State Department rush to release what appears from the military's review of the incident to be a whitewash -- but it might have also fatally compromised the FBI's investigation of the incident. . .

http://thenexthurrah.typepad.com/the_next_hurrah/2007/10/blackwater-guar.html
[Emptywheel] Gosh, I couldn't imagine why the State Department would immediately immunize all the guards in this investigation, can you?

Anyway don't you think that's something Condi should have told Waxman's committee the other day ... that these guys had already been given immunity from prosecution and that, therefore, the FBI investigation is likely to end up--like all other investigations of Blackwater--holding no one responsible?

More: http://www.firedoglake.com/2007/10/29/guess-who-has-immunity-now/

http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004583.php

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/10/29/18615/093

Bushism 101: I’m the Decider (except when I’m not)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/blog/2007/10/29/BL2007102901024.html
[Dan Froomkin] Rice agreed that "there is a hole" in U.S. law that has prevented prosecution of contractors. . . .

As it happens, President Bush has been aware of the hole for some time -- and deserves some of the blame for not fixing it earlier. Confronted about it in public more than a year ago, Bush literally laughed off the question . . .

The setting was a question-and-answer session after Bush spoke at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies in April of 2006. . . One student, a first-year in South Asia studies, told the president: "My question is in regards to private military contractors. Uniform Code of Military Justice does not apply to these contractors in Iraq. I asked your Secretary of Defense a couple months ago what law governs their actions.

Bush: "I was going to ask him. Go ahead. (Laughter.) Help. (Laughter.)"

Student: "I was hoping your answer might be a little more specific. (Laughter.) Mr. Rumsfeld answered that Iraq has its own domestic laws which he assumed applied to those private military contractors. However, Iraq is clearly not currently capable of enforcing its laws, much less against -- over our American military contractors. I would submit to you that in this case, this is one case that privatization is not a solution. And, Mr. President, how do you propose to bring private military contractors under a system of law?"

Bush: "I appreciate that very much. I wasn't kidding -- (laughter.) I was going to -- I pick up the phone and say, Mr. Secretary, I've got an interesting question. (Laughter.) This is what delegation -- I don't mean to be dodging the question, although it's kind of convenient in this case, but never -- (laughter.) I really will -- I'm going to call the Secretary and say you brought up a very valid question, and what are we doing about it? That's how I work. . .”

Watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FD7BDP3XMG0&NR=1

Bushism 101: insist you’re against torture, but then don’t say whether waterboarding IS torture

http://www.pensitoreview.com/2007/10/29/mukasey-wont-say-waterboarding-is-torture/
[WP] [In] 1947, the United States charged a Japanese officer, Yukio Asano, with war crimes for carrying out another form of waterboarding . . .

Will Mukasey be rejected over this?

http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004580.php
[Paul Kiel] So it would seem that virtually every senator on the judiciary committee, with the exception of its most conservative members, is eagerly awaiting Mukasey's answer on the waterboarding question -- an answer which he has already given. And given the contours of that answer, it's improbable that he will give any other. . .

Even worse: http://thenexthurrah.typepad.com/the_next_hurrah/2007/10/weve-seen-this-.html
[Emptywheel] Kagro X has a post focusing, again, on Michael Mukasey's evasions about the Constitution. Kagro focuses not on Mukasey's confusion about whether water-boarding is torture, but whether the President can ignore existing laws. . .

http://thenexthurrah.typepad.com/the_next_hurrah/2007/10/once-again-nobo.html

Bushism 101: the politics of fear

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/29/opinion/29krugman.html
[Paul Krugman] For one thing, there isn’t actually any such thing as Islamofascism — it’s not an ideology; it’s a figment of the neocon imagination. The term came into vogue only because it was a way for Iraq hawks to gloss over the awkward transition from pursuing Osama bin Laden, who attacked America, to Saddam Hussein, who didn’t. And Iran had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11 — in fact, the Iranian regime was quite helpful to the United States when it went after Al Qaeda and its Taliban allies in Afghanistan.

Beyond that, the claim that Iran is on the path to global domination is beyond ludicrous. Yes, the Iranian regime is a nasty piece of work in many ways, and it would be a bad thing if that regime acquired nuclear weapons. But let’s have some perspective, please: we’re talking about a country with roughly the G.D.P. of Connecticut, and a government whose military budget is roughly the same as Sweden’s.

Meanwhile, the idea that bombing will bring the Iranian regime to its knees — and bombing is the only option, since we’ve run out of troops — is pure wishful thinking. Last year Israel tried to cripple Hezbollah with an air campaign, and ended up strengthening it instead. There’s every reason to believe that an attack on Iran would produce the same result, with the added effects of endangering U.S. forces in Iraq and driving oil prices well into triple digits. . . [read on]

Who’s the fascist, really? http://www.firedoglake.com/2007/10/29/late-nite-fdl-feeding-the-hand-that-bites-you/

Bushism 101: head of consumer protection agency asks Congress NOT to strengthen her agency

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/30/washington/30cnd-consumer.html

Bushism 101: send out the women when you’re trying to polish your “compassionate conservative” credentials

http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/laura-bush-accuses-democrats-of-demagoguery-on-schip-2007-10-28.html
First Lady Laura Bush said Sunday that she is much more involved in policy than many people think and then went to bat for her husband on children’s health care and foreign policy. . . .

More: http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/13395.html

Bushism 101: when caught, always say you didn’t mean EXACTLY what you said

http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004586.php
[Paul Kiel] Voting rights section chief John Tanner has apologized for saying earlier this month that "minorities don't become elderly the way white people do: They die first." . . .

In the letter, Tanner does not recant his analysis that voter ID laws actually discriminate against whites, but does apologize that his "explanation of the data came across in a hurtful way." . . .

The utter disaster of Bushism

http://www.firedoglake.com/2007/10/29/go-to-your-room-george/
[Phoenix Woman] After seven years of Emperor C-Plus . . . [read on]

Gen. Petraeus for VP?

http://thinkprogress.org/2007/10/29/safire-romney-should-make-petraeus-his-vp/

http://atrios.blogspot.com/2007_10_28_archive.html#2116176291047709521

The newly promoted public affairs officer who helped arrange the phony FEMA news conference just got un-promoted

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/29/fema.newser/index.html

http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004585.php

Watch it: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/057318.php

New questions on the Army’s leak of documents to the Drudge Report

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/horsesmouth/2007/10/la_times_asks_s.php

The hatchet men of the GOP. Busy guys

http://tpmelectioncentral.com/2007/10/meet_the_gop_candidates_south_carolina_hatchet_men.php

The long parade of GOP retirements

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/30/washington/30cong.html

http://www.mydd.com/story/2007/10/29/131438/99

The GOP candidates get a lot of mileage out of condemning same-sex marriage – but the follow-up question always has to be, where do they stand on civil unions?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/29/AR2007102901455.html

Rudy Giuliani just makes stuff up

http://www.mydd.com/story/2007/10/29/21523/748

America’s mayor? http://tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=77ee1fa2-4331-41dd-9129-90b0fa0213ed
[John Judis] So it is reasonable to take Giuliani at his word and to imagine his presidency as an extension of his mayoralty. To do that is to contemplate an administration that would challenge many Americans' conception of their own liberty. It would perpetuate the worst aspects of Bush's imperial presidency: the contempt for Congress and the press; the encouragement of a polarized politics; the centralization of power in the White House; and the administration of government based upon loyalty rather than competence. . . .

There is one final matter to consider: Giuliani's claim that what he accomplished in New York is "transferable" to the nation as a whole. Put simply, that idea is impossible, disastrous, or entirely misleading. . . .

The centerpiece of Giuliani's claim, however, is the suggestion that his approach to fighting crime provides a model for conducting foreign policy. In a recent essay for Foreign Affairs, he wrote: "I know from personal experience that when security is reliably established in a troubled part of a city, normal life rapidly reestablishes itself: shops open, people move back in, children start playing ball on the sidewalks again, and soon a decent and law-abiding community returns to life. The same is true in world affairs. Disorder in the world's bad neighborhoods tends to spread. Tolerating bad behavior breeds more bad behavior."

This is a foolish analogy. In policing the world, the United States cannot claim to be enforcing its own laws; we lack legitimacy to do so, as we found after invading Iraq. When the nypd went into poor neighborhoods, it was not an occupying force; when the U.S. military took over Baghdad, it was, and it suffered the consequences. Some of the "neighborhoods" Giuliani wants to clean up, such as Iran, possess their own armies and can call on other "neighborhoods," such as Russia and China, to deter an attempt to punish them for bad behavior. In short, the world is not New York writ large, and the trade-offs between authority and liberty look very different from the White House than from Gracie Mansion. But these distinctions seem lost on the man who aspires to be the next mayor of the United States. . . [read on]

More: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/29/AR2007102902006.html
Ten months into his presidential bid, Rudolph W. Giuliani continues to work part time at the security consulting firm he promised to leave this past spring . . .

Mitt Romney can’t even keep his positions straight in the same interview

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/10/29/101126/86

Our insane gun laws (thanks to David S. for the link)

http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0743,weinstein,78160,6.html

***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, October 29, 2007

OR ELSE

Why would the Public Affairs Officer and spokesman for General Petraeus write a letter to a blogger like this?

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2007/10/28/boylan/index.html
I do enjoy reading your diatribes as they provide comic relief here in Iraq. The amount of pure fiction is incredible. Since a great deal of this post is just opinion and everyone is entitled to their opinions, I will not address those even though they are shall we say -- based on few if any facts. . . .

You are either too lazy to do the research on the topics to gain the facts, or you are providing purposeful misinformation -- much like a propagandist. . . .

More: http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2007/10/colonel-jackass-by-digby-this-is-truly.html

Passed on to me from a reader – relating to the State Dept policy that reluctant staffers will be forced to do service in Iraq, or get fired

“I have a friend who told me last spring this would be happening. She bailed out in Sept. and says there will be massive retirements of baby boomers who are financially able to bail now. Until Condi, State dept. employees basically bid on posts and State was agreeable to let the employees work out who went where. It was a cooperative way to assign posts. They did not always get their top choice but they were not forced to go anywhere. No more.”

Well, well, well – guess who’s making (yet another) “comeback” in Iraq?

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/homepage/story/20893.html

Our Potemkin government: remember the phony news reports produced by other Bush admin departments? The phony FEMA news conference is part of a fabric, not an accident – and guess what happened to the guy who thought it was a neat idea?

http://www.pensitoreview.com/2007/10/28/was-phony-fema-news-conference-illegal/

http://thinkprogress.org/2007/10/27/fema-official-involved-in-fake-press-conference-resigns/
Director of External Affairs John “Pat” Philbin, has now resigned. He has instead landed an “amazing opportunity” to head public affairs at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. . .

Are we finally going to be rid of Hans von Spakovsky?

http://www.firedoglake.com/2007/10/28/hans-down/
[Christy Hardin Smith] I’m hearing that the Hans von Spakovsky nomination may be in bigger trouble than is publicly known, that the Bush Administration is scrambling to avoid some “I told you so” egg on their faces…and that they may be willing to throw another DOJ civil rights division employee under the bus to try and save von Spakovsky. And that if action on the nomination doesn’t come before the break for the Thanksgiving holidays, there may be a pulled nomination under consideration. . .

Notice the pattern? The GOP candidates never want to talk about Bush (who divides their party) – they only want to talk about Hillary (who unites it)

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2007/10/change-election-by-digby-i-dont-know-if.html
[Digby] I don't know if anyone's noticed, but George W. Bush is being disappeared from the presidential campaign and everyone's running against incumbent Hillary Clinton. Subtly, but relentlessly, the public psyche is being prepared to deny Junior ever existed. And it could work. For many different reasons, most Americans want nothing more than to forget George W. Bush was ever president. So, we see a very odd subliminal narrative taking shape in which the blame for the nation's failures of the last seven years is being shifted to Clinton (and the "do-nothing" Democratic congress) as if the Codpiece hasn't been running things since 2000. . . [read on]

More: http://www.mydd.com/story/2007/10/28/224513/35

This Giuliani-as-fascist theme is a little over the top, and it runs the risk of ethnic stereotyping – but I must say, when the facts fit . . .

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/057167.php

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2007_10/012374.php

http://www.talkleft.com/story/2007/10/29/11130/679

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/057165.php

If Fred Thompson is trying to overcome his lackadaisical reputation, stories like this aren’t the way to do it

http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/13392.html

Four becomes five: Mike Huckabee now counted among the GOP leaders

http://www.mydd.com/story/2007/10/28/20222/261

Bonus item: Clarence Thomas has never been able to get his head around the fact that people weren’t opposing his nomination for the Supreme Court because he was black, but because he was completely unqualified either by talent, accomplishment, or by disposition to serve on the Court. Nothing that has happened since then has raised people’s opinion of him – he basically gives Judge Scalia two votes.

Now he seems to have trouble accepting that people don’t care for his new memoir – not because he’s black, etc., but because his book is BAD

http://clarencethomas.notlong.com
They're calling themselves "Friends of Justice Thomas" and they . . . announced this morning the launch of a website named after Thomas's book, www.mygrandfathersson.com. The site features favorable reviews of the book, which tops the New York Times bestseller list, as well as links to blog entries and video and audio of interviews with Thomas. The site, says Long, is an effort to give readers an alternative to what she characterized as "agenda-driven, ignorant, and in some instances racist attacks on Justice Thomas" by the Times and other media. . .

***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, October 28, 2007

NOTHING TO HIDE?

So, Michael Mukasey, who wants to be Attorney General, lied during his confirmation hearings. Now what?

http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-oe-turley24oct24,1,1299594.story
[Jonathan Turley] It was perhaps the most awaited moment of the confirmation hearings when Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois asked Mukasey directly about water-boarding, a now-infamous process in which an individual is strapped to a board, a towel pulled tightly across his face, and water is poured on him to cut off air and simulate drowning. Although the technique is known to have been used by the CIA on suspected terrorists, it is a clear and unambiguous act of torture under international and U.S. law.

When asked about it, though, Mukasey suddenly seemed to morph into his predecessor, Alberto R. Gonzales -- beginning with a series of openly evasive answers that ultimately led to what appeared to be a lie. At first, he repeatedly stated that he does not support torture, which violates the U.S. Constitution. This is precisely the answer given so often by President Bush like a mantra. The problem is that Bush defines torture to exclude things like water-boarding. It is like saying you do not rob banks, but then defining bank robbery in such a way that it does not include walking in with a gun and demanding money from the cashier.

The senators pushed Mukasey to go beyond the Bush administration mantra. He refused and then said something that made many of us who were listening gasp . . .

Why telecom immunity shouldn’t be necessary, UNLESS there is something else the Bush gang is trying to hide

http://thenexthurrah.typepad.com/the_next_hurrah/2007/10/the-dodge-on-re.html

More: http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/13388.html

http://www.talkleft.com/story/2007/10/27/11318/147

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2007/10/27/litigation_costs/index.html

Why DNI Mike McConnell’s decision to stop releasing unclassified versions of National Intelligence Estimates matters

http://thenexthurrah.typepad.com/the_next_hurrah/2007/10/update-on-gamin.html

Why doesn’t the rest of the country know Rudy Giuliani the way New Yorkers got to know him so well?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/26/AR2007102601808.html
[David Greenberg] As any New Yorker can tell you, the last word anyone in the 1990s would have attached to the brash, furniture- breaking mayor was "liberal" -- and the second-to-last was "moderate." With his take-many-prisoners approach to crime and his unerring pro-police instincts, the prosecutor-turned-proconsul made his mark on the city not by embracing its social liberalism but by trying to crush it.

Somehow, though, Giuliani is being introduced to the rest of America as a liberal. . .

More: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/057164.php

Guess who’s behind the newly resurfaced electoral vote-theft bill in California

http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/13389.html
[LAT] Democrats battling the electoral college measure already have filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission and U.S. Justice Department alleging the Giuliani campaign is behind the initiative. If true, that would be a violation of federal election law, which prohibits such coordination. . .

Theocracy watch: “The Evangelical Crackup”

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/28/magazine/28Evangelicals-t.html
Just three years ago, the leaders of the conservative Christian political movement could almost see the Promised Land. White evangelical Protestants looked like perhaps the most potent voting bloc in America. They turned out for President George W. Bush in record numbers, supporting him for re-election by a ratio of four to one. Republican strategists predicted that religious traditionalists would help bring about an era of dominance for their party. Spokesmen for the Christian conservative movement warned of the wrath of “values voters.” James C. Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, was poised to play kingmaker in 2008, at least in the Republican primary. And thanks to President Bush, the Supreme Court appeared just one vote away from answering the prayers of evangelical activists by overturning Roe v. Wade.

Today the movement shows signs of coming apart beneath its leaders. It is not merely that none of the 2008 Republican front-runners come close to measuring up to President Bush in the eyes of the evangelical faithful, although it would be hard to find a cast of characters more ill fit for those shoes: a lapsed-Catholic big-city mayor; a Massachusetts Mormon; a church-skipping Hollywood character actor; and a political renegade known for crossing swords with the Rev. Pat Robertson and the Rev. Jerry Falwell. . . .

The 2008 election is just the latest stress on a system of fault lines that go much deeper. . . .

Sunday talk show line-ups

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/10/27/23953/905
Meet the Press (NBC): Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT); NYDN's Tom DeFrank ("Write It When I'm Gone: Remarkable Off-the-Record Conversations with Gerald R. Ford") and NYT's William Safire (Ex-Nixon speechwriter)

Face the Nation (CBS): Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI); Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC); Politico's Roger Simon

This Week (ABC): Sen. John McCain (R-AZ); Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) & Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) on wildfires; roundtable of Paul Krugman, Chrystia Freeland and George Will; Molly Bingham on her film "Meeting Resistance" (about Iraqi insurgency)

Fox News Sunday: Laura Bush; LA Gov. elect Bobby Jindal (R)

CNN Late Edition: Turkish amb. Nabi Sensoy; IAEA Dir. General Mohamed ElBaradei; Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA); Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS); Mike Huckabee (R-AR)

Bonus item: Michael Chertoff on the phony FEMA “press conference”

http://www.slate.com/id/2176834
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff also laid into his own employees for holding a fake news conference last week. "I think it was one of the dumbest and most inappropriate things I've seen since I've been in government," Chertoff said.

[NB: Wow – and he’s been working in the Bush administration!]

***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, October 27, 2007

SHHH. . . IT’S A SECRET!

A Blackwater cover-up

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-emails26oct26,0,798301.story
Even as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice defended her department's oversight of private security contractors, new evidence surfaced Thursday that the U.S. sought to conceal details of Blackwater shootings of Iraqi civilians more than two years ago. . . .

More: http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2007/10/exclusive-state.html

Lying as a way of life

http://www.reuters.com/article/americasCrisis/idUSN26619054
The main U.S. disaster-response agency apologized on Friday for having its employees pose as reporters in a news briefing on California's wildfires that no journalists attended.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, still struggling to restore its image after the bungled handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, issued the apology after The Washington Post published details of the Tuesday briefing. . .

More: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/057095.php

http://www.first-draft.com/2007/10/today-on-hol-16.html

The WH gives two Senate committees access to warrantless surveillance documents, but tells the corresponding House committees to go suck eggs

http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/13374.html
“If the committees say they have no interest in legislating on the issue of liability protection, we have no reason to accommodate them,” [WH spokesman Tony Fratto] said.

More: http://thenexthurrah.typepad.com/the_next_hurrah/2007/10/hot-and-cold-ru.html

http://balkin.blogspot.com/2007/10/abuse-of-classification-system.html

[NB: But just don’t call it a “quid pro quo”]

Pat Leahy asks (again) for torture documents

http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004568.php
Yesterday, the White House finally agreed to turn over those warrantless surveillance documents that Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has been seeking for so long. Now the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman is pressing for a response to another age-old request: documents relevant to the administration's interrogation policy. . .

Keep asking, brother

http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004577.php
You know what Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell thinks of open debate about intelligence matters. After all, he's said repeatedly that public discussions of changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act have a direct result: "some Americans are going to die."

So this shouldn't come as a surprise:

National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell has reversed the recent practice of declassifying and releasing summaries of national intelligence estimates, a top intelligence official said Friday. . .

Contempt

http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004573.php
Better late than never. Three weeks ago, we reported that the House leadership seemed to be wavering in its pursuit of contempt citations for White House chief of staff Josh Bolten and former counsel Harriet Miers. Both of them, remember, refused to even show up in response to a House Judiciary Committee subpoena relating to the U.S. attorney firings.

But now things seem to be moving along again. The Politico reports that vote counting has begun and quotes a House aide as saying that a vote is likely in the next couple of weeks. . .

WH “edits” (with a meat cleaver) the CDC report on the health risks of global warming – and now we can see the original

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/10/26/152344/08
"Edits" does not even come close to describing the grammatical massacre the White House undertook with CDC Director Julie Gerberding's Senate testimony on the public health effects of climate change.

These were not minor edits the White House PR spin machine would like us to believe. The word-count for the CDC Director's Senate testimony went from 3,107 to 1,500 after the White House got through with it.

Whole sections on health related effects to extreme weather, air pollution-related health effect, allergic diseases, water and food-borne infectious diseases, food and water scarcity and the long term impacts of chronic diseases and other health effects were completely wiped out of the testimony. . .

Hell no, we won't go!

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/27/washington/27diplo.html
Facing staff shortages in Iraq, the State Department announced Friday that diplomats would have no choice but to accept one-year postings in the hostile environment or face losing their jobs.

Harry Thomas, the State Department’s human resources director, said about 250 “prime candidates” for vacant Iraqi posts would be notified Monday of the decision. He said that they would have 10 working days to respond to the demand that they go to Iraq in summer 2008 . . .

Problems for Mukasey

http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=the_case_against_mukasey
[Scott Lemieux] Progressives should not be under any illusion that George Bush will nominate an acceptable choice for attorney general. However, in light of Mukasey's performance under questioning, the Senate should reject his nomination. In particular, his refusal to reject arbitrary executive power and torture by the American government should mean that Democrats cannot add their support to his nomination. . . [read on]

http://thinkprogress.org/2007/10/26/mccain-mukasey-torture/
[Faiz] During his confirmation hearings, Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey refused to classify waterboarding as torture. His remarks prompted all 10 Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee to demand a “clear-cut statement” from him that the torture technique of simulated drowning is illegal.

This past Wednesday, Mukasey’s good friend Rudy Giuliani gave a similarly murky answer on waterboarding, stating that “it depends on the circumstances” and “on who does it” because “liberal newspapers have exaggerated it.”

Speaking in Iowa on Thursday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who 40 years ago today was shot down, captured, and tortured by the North Vietnamese, took issue with Giuliani and Mukasey. McCain denounced waterboarding as clear-cut torture. . .

Will McCain too demand that Mukasey condemn waterboarding as a precondition for his vote?

http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004575.php
[Bernie Sanders (I-VT)] Mukasey should not be confirmed because he could not muster a simple, straightforward answer at his confirmation hearing when he was asked the simple, straightforward question: Is the president of the United States required to obey federal statutes? "That would have to depend," he weaseled, "on whether what goes outside the statute nonetheless lies within the authority of the president to defend the country."

http://www.bradblog.com/?p=5212
"These remarks display a shameful lack of understanding and sensitivity that is unacceptable in the person charged with enforcing the nation’s laws against voting discrimination," Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) wrote in a question sent to Attorney General Nominee Michael Mukasey today concerning bizarre and objectionable comments made earlier this month by the DoJ's Civil Rights Division, Voting Section chief, John Tanner. . . .

More on Tanner: http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004570.php

What the SCHIP fight shows about Bush’s utter refusal to give the Democrats an inch of credit for accomplishing ANYTHING. That’s been the plan all along, of course

http://www.americablog.com/2007/10/bushs-strategic-failure-on-s-chip.html

You don’t think the Bush gang had it in for Democratic Governor Kathleen Blanco in Louisiana (now replaced by a Republican)? Even in the midst of a catastrophe in California, after she’s already out of office, Bush can’t resist taking a cheap shot at her

http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/13373.html

Fred Thompson comes out against Bush/Cheney’s boundless assertions of executive power

http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2007/10/fred-thompson-a.html

We’ve known for a while that Giuliani is Fox News’ chosen candidate – and they hate McCain. But isn’t this a little too obvious?

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/057146.php
Fox News goes after John McCain for using some of its debate footage in one of his campaign ads and demands he remove any Fox News reference from his campaign website.

But lookee, here. . . Rudy Giuliani has Fox News plastered all over his campaign website, and as far as we know, Fox News hasn't said a thing.

Rudy and Fox News chief Roger Ailes go way back . . .

More: http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/horsesmouth/2007/10/fox_news_tells.php

Some religious conservatives have threatened a third party candidacy against pro-choice Giuliani. But after Sam Brownback’s endorsement, most of the others are falling in line . . .

http://tpmelectioncentral.com/2007/10/brownback_much_more_comfortable_with_rudy.php

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/057113.php

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/057124.php

The silly season: of all Rudy’s jaw-dropping lies and evasions, all his conveniently reshaping previous positions to fit current exigencies, THIS is the thing people are upset about

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/10/26/01648/917

Bonus item: The gang that couldn’t shoot straight

http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004576.php
This summer the House Judiciary Committee launched an effort to collect tips from would-be whistleblowers in the Justice Department. The U.S. attorney firings scandal had shown that much was amiss in the Department, and with the danger of retaliation very real, the committee had set up a form on the committee's website for people to blow the whistle privately about abuses there. Although the panel said it would not accept anonymous tips, it assured those who came forward that their identity would be held in the "strictest confidence."

But in an email sent out today, the committee inadvertently sent the email addresses of all the would-be whistleblowers to everyone who had written in to the tipline. . . .

More: http://thenexthurrah.typepad.com/the_next_hurrah/2007/10/about-that-need.html

***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, October 26, 2007

FAMILIAR ROADS

New Iran sanctions “meant to prevent war” (gee, where have we heard that before?)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/25/AR2007102502606.html

This wasn’t even hard to find

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/10/20021007-8.html
[Bush: Oct 7, 2002] Eleven years ago, as a condition for ending the Persian Gulf War, the Iraqi regime was required to destroy its weapons of mass destruction, to cease all development of such weapons, and to stop all support for terrorist groups. The Iraqi regime has violated all of those obligations. It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons. . . .

[S]ome ask why Iraq is different from other countries or regimes that also have terrible weapons. While there are many dangers in the world, the threat from Iraq stands alone -- because it gathers the most serious dangers of our age in one place. . .

The world has also tried economic sanctions -- and watched Iraq use billions of dollars in illegal oil revenues to fund more weapons purchases. . .

Clearly, to actually work, any new inspections, sanctions or enforcement mechanisms will have to be very different. America wants the U.N. to be an effective organization that helps keep the peace. And that is why we are urging the Security Council to adopt a new resolution setting out tough, immediate requirements. . .

The time for denying, deceiving, and delaying has come to an end. Saddam Hussein must disarm himself -- or, for the sake of peace, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.

Ahem

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/25/AR2007102502840.html
A U.S. military strike against Iran would have dire consequences in petroleum markets, say a variety of oil industry experts, many of whom think the prospect of pandemonium in those markets makes U.S. military action unlikely despite escalating economic sanctions imposed by the Bush administration. . .

Although the Bush administration is not openly threatening a military strike against Iran, the president recently spoke of needing to avoid "World War III," and Vice President Cheney said that the United States would "not stand by" while Iran continued its nuclear program. "We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon," he said.

Waxman takes on Rice. Let’s watch

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/056974.php
[David Kurtz] Rice seems to have picked up on some of Alberto Gonzales' more dubious stonewalling techniques as a way of avoiding answering questions. . .

Watch: http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004553.php

Liveblogging: http://thenexthurrah.typepad.com/the_next_hurrah/2007/10/waxman-hosts-co.html

http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004559.php
[Spencer Ackerman] It took two different questioners -- and a reversal of her initial position -- but Condoleezza Rice finally acknowledged that State should have acted earlier to rein in Blackwater. "I certainly regret that there was not the oversight that there should have been," she said. Was that so difficult? . . .

http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004561.php
[Spencer Ackerman] Man, is it a good thing Condoleezza Rice expressed "regret" that State waited until last month to start reviewing its relationship with Blackwater. And it's particularly nifty that she isn't "personally following" every little multi-million dollar discrepancy, shenanigan or blooper. Because then she might have to explain why State Department officials, back in 2005, chatted in internal e-mails about how Blackwater was killing Iraqi civilians and yet were outside the law . . . [read on]

http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004557.php
[Spencer Ackerman] Waxman asked the bottom line question: is corruption cash from the Iraqi government funding attacks on the U.S.? No more retreating behind requests for a closed session or pleas to request sources and methods.

Rice: "There are militias being funded by multiple sources, including people who are able to use the Iraqi system to bring funding to their militias, yes, especially in the south." She said . . .

http://thenexthurrah.typepad.com/the_next_hurrah/2007/10/shorter-gop-its.html
[Emptywheel] Condi made a very generous offer to let Waxman's committee review documents pertaining to corruption. Waxman pointed out that that offer did not allow the committee to discuss what it discovered in those documents publicly. . . . [read on]

Not very reassuring: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071025/ap_on_go_co/us_iraq%20;_ylt=AqnBL4hBT7nTY7eqP2.8yZ.s0NUE
The usually unflappable Rice became frustrated at several points, including a tense exchange with Welch on whether al-Maliki was corrupt. Since April, the prime minister has required that Cabinet-level corruption investigations first receive his approval. Such a policy, Welch and other Democrats say, is tantamount to blanket immunity for al-Maliki and his ministers. . . .

More: http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004563.php

http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/13366.html
[AP] “House Democrats on Thursday accused Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of grossly mismanaging diplomatic efforts in Iraq and concealing information from Congress. The charges put a visibly frustrated Rice on the defensive. At a hearing by a congressional watchdog committee, Democratic lawmakers said the State Department under Rice had been too lax with armed security contractors, ignored corruption at the highest levels of the Iraqi government and was sloppy in overseeing construction of the costly new U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. ‘I think there was a huge gap between what she said and reality,’ said Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.”

Here’s how serious the State Dept is about tracking down corruption

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/056978.php

Inside Blackwater

http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004551.php

More: http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2007/10/despite-blackwa.html

http://thenexthurrah.typepad.com/the_next_hurrah/2007/10/the-guards-have.html
[Emptywheel] The NYT has an interesting article telling the story of the Blackwater guards involved in the September 16 shooting. It does a great work getting the views of 6 current and former Blackwater guards in spite of the company's policy gagging them.

But there are two details, above all, that deserve more attention (particularly since the article simply presents them, without raising any questions about what they mean). First, several of the guards involved in the shooting have already left Iraq . . . . [read on]

A new Democratic strategy on Iraq war funding?

http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/sen.-levin-hints-at-emerging-democratic-strategy-on-iraq-2007-10-25.html
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) is working with a key appropriator on a strategy to halve the White House’s war-funding request to pressure President Bush into changing course in Iraq.

Levin said Wednesday that giving Bush a six-month installment plan on the nearly $200 billion fiscal 2008 war-funding request would serve a dual purpose: It would intensify pressure on the president to change course after next June, while avoiding “sending a negative message to the troops,” because war funding would continue until next may or June, when the president would have to request a second funding bill. . .

Michael Mukasey’s confirmation as AG may not be such smooth sailing after all

http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/13363.html

http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004564.php
[AP] Judge Michael Mukasey's nomination for attorney general ran into trouble Thursday when two top Senate Democrats said their votes hinge on whether he will say on the record that an interrogation technique that simulates drowning is torture. . . [read on]

A good question: http://atrios.blogspot.com/2007_10_21_archive.html#5518137284305504076
[Atrios] Is this going to be another game of fretting and caving or is Mukasey's confirmation really going to depend on him being willing to unequivocally state that water boarding is torture. I mean, I certainly like me some Democrats playing hardball, but it should be noted that if the incoming Attorney General says that procedures the Bush administration has embraced are torture, in violation of statute, constitution, and international law, that sorta means he's obligated to start prosecuting people.

Look, the fact is, our government uses waterboarding, and everybody knows it. It’s probably one of the most terrifying things you can experience, but it doesn’t kill you or permanently harm you. The Bush gang doesn’t want to admit it, but they probably think it’s a pretty good compromise between “doing whatever is necessary” while not appearing to be butchers. But it IS torture, if the definition of torture means anything. Now we see Rudy, not surprisingly, hedging and making excuses for it

http://tpmelectioncentral.com/2007/10/rudy_wont_say_whether_waterboarding_is_torture_blames_liberal_media.php
[Eric Kleefeld] In a town hall meeting in Iowa last night, Rudy Giuliani offered an extended explanation of his views on torture — and refused to say whether he thinks waterboarding constitutes an inappropriate technique.

Rudy also made it clear that he favors "aggressive questioning" of terror suspects, and blamed the liberal media for his refusal to clarify his views of waterboarding, saying the media inaccurately describes what waterboarding is by making it seem unacceptable in all cases. . . . [read on!]

http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/13358.html
[Giuliani] “It depends on how it’s done. It depends on the circumstances. It depends on who does it. . . .” [read on]

Watch: http://www.crooksandliars.com/2007/10/25/giuliani-on-waterboarding-it-depends-on-who-does-it/

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2007_10/012353.php
[Kevin Drum] So that's that: when bad guys torture, it's bad. When good guys torture, it's good. Apparently that's the modern Republican Party's version of moral clarity.

http://www.samefacts.com/archives/torture_/2007/10/sadistinchief.php
[Mark Kleiman] Rudy Giuliani seems to be running for Sadist-in-Chief. Not only does he think that repeatedly putting someone through the sensation of drowning (that's what "waterboarding" means) might or might not be torture, depending on who does it, he's now making fun of the idea that sleep deprivation — one of the favorite techniques of the KGB, guaranteed to lead to psychosis if carried on long enough — constitutes torture. . . .

John McCain, in one of his occasional imitations of a vertebrate, hit Giuliani where it hurts, saying that if Giuliani really doesn't know that simulated drowning is torture that reflects his inexperience. "All I can say." said McCain about the waterboard, "is that it was used in the Spanish Inquisition."

A crack in the fa├žade: the Bush gang will let the Senate Judiciary Committee see warrantless surveillance docs

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/26/washington/26fisa.html

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/10/25/202724/41

The FISA debate: boiled down to its essence

http://atrios.blogspot.com/2007_10_21_archive.html#5835053975512098026

More: http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/13357.html

When the government doesn’t want me to see something, that makes me want to see it even more

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/24/AR2007102401227.html
Bush administration officials acknowledged yesterday that they heavily edited testimony on global warming, delivered to Congress on Tuesday by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, after the president's top science adviser and other officials questioned its scientific basis.

Senate Democrats say they want to investigate the circumstances involved in the editing of CDC Director Julie L. Gerberding's written testimony to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on "climate change and public health." Gerberding testimony shrank from 12 pages to six after it was reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget.

The OMB removed several sections of the testimony that detailed how global warming would affect Americans, according to White House spokeswoman Dana Perino . . .

Treated with contempt

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/10/25/105643/96

The fight over SCHIP continues

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/25/washington/26cnd-health.html
Once again defying a veto threat from President Bush, the House this afternoon passed a new bill to provide health insurance for 10 million children, but not by a margin large enough to override a promised veto. . . .

More: http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/13360.html

Oops! Army admits leaking docs to that paragon of journalism, Matt Drudge

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/horsesmouth/2007/10/army_promises_i.php

Go ask Alice

http://www.first-draft.com/2007/10/today-on-hol-15.html
Q Dana, I wanted to ask you about the CBO estimate for the cost of Iraq and Afghanistan. Why is that $2.4 trillion figure wrong?

MS. PERINO: Well, part of it is that when you start having all -- just a ton of speculation. It's a hypothetical that was created based on questions that Democrats in Congress who don't want us to be in the war asked the Congressional Budget Office to provide. . . We don't know what the costs are going to be over the years, and so because that fluctuates, it's just wildly premature to put out a number like that.

Q Okay, so what might be a more reasonable estimate? I'm sure folks at OMB have their own counter.

MS. PERINO: Look, spending to fight the global war on terror is an investment in our security and it is something that the President is committed to prioritizing in the budget. We hope that Congress would agree. We don't know how much the war is going to cost in the future. . .

Q If you can say it's inaccurate and others can say it's wildly inaccurate, surely there must be some kind of quantifiable sense as to what this --

MS. PERINO: I think what they looked at 10 years ago -- the answer is we just don't operate that way in terms of providing a federal budget. . . .

Q Can you just explain why the administration takes issue with the CBO's projections of the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it's perfectly reasonable to put out -- OMB puts out a five-, 10-year budget deficit projections?

MS. PERINO: Well, remember the budget deficit projections include our war costs, and so we look at those, that's a -- we do projections for the budget and the deficit every year. That's a pretty good economic -- they have it down to a science over at OMB. We're not always a nation at war and that is different and there are changing circumstances on the ground, and when you don't know what the generals are going to need, then you have to wait and see. That's why we think it's too speculative to put out a number like CBO did.

Q So how can OMB then put out that five-, 10-year budget projection if they don't know, for instance, how long the war will go five or 10 years out?

MS. PERINO: As I said, we try to take as many -- we take into account the projections that we can. In the budget deficit projections that we have we have included those war costs in the past -- I can't remember -- the past, I think five years -- I'm sorry, four years . . .

[NB: I think you get the point. She admits that they DO include war costs in their budget projections – she just won’t say what they are.]

Another Republican declines to run for higher office – and here’s why

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/24/AR2007102402489.html
Rep. Thomas M. Davis III will not make a run for the U.S. Senate next year, in part because of what he sees as the Republican Party's increasingly narrow focus on candidates who pass conservative litmus tests . .

One more way in which the Republicans manipulate the rules of Congress more cleverly than the Dems

http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,2198227,00.html

The Hissy Fit Party

http://matthewyglesias.theatlantic.com/archives/2007/10/the_fit.php

More: http://commonsense.ourfuture.org/art_hissy_fit
[Digby] I first noticed the right's successful use of phony sanctimony and faux outrage back in the 90's . . . [read on]

And the Dems fall for it. . .

http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/13365.html

The silly season

http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/13364.html
[Steve Benen] When it comes to Barack Obama, first it was his middle name. Then it was the “madrassa” nonsense. Soon after, it was the absence of a flag pin on his lapel. And now, the Fox News crowd is fascinated by whether the senator puts his hand over his heart when he says the Pledge of Allegiance. . . .

More? http://mediamatters.org/items/200710240006

Bonus item: Islamofascist Awareness Week: it’s all about me – me – me!

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/057002.php
"I'm a prominent conservative but no one is inviting me to speak at their campuses," [David] Horowitz said in an interview with The Hatchet. "I had to create an event."

***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.***

Thursday, October 25, 2007

BELIEVE IT OR NOT

Bush says, one day, that Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon. Then he says we need missile defense in Europe to protect the U.S. against weapons Iran won’t even hypothetically have until 2015. Does anybody believe this nonsense?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/23/AR2007102300706.html
President Bush said yesterday that a missile defense system is urgently needed in Europe to guard against a possible attack on U.S. allies by Iran . . .

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/blog/2007/10/24/BL2007102401251.html
[Dan Froomkin] It doesn't work, it's expensive and it's intended for a threat that doesn't exist -- but by golly, according to President Bush, missile defense is absolutely essential. . . .

The Iraq government tells Blackwater they can’t count on immunity any more

http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004543.php
[Spencer Ackerman] Today the Iraqi government formally revoked one of the Coalition Provisional Authority's enduring vestiges -- a decree of immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts for U.S. security contractors. . . .

http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004549.php
[Spencer Ackerman] The private security industry is trying to make sense of the announcement today from Baghdad that the Iraqi government is revoking a CPA-era edict, known as Order 17, immunizing contractors from prosecution in Iraqi courts. Some believe that the State Department will succeed in an anticipated attempt to prevent Americans from appearing before an Iraqi judge, while warning that if a full revocation succeeds, American companies or individual contractors might simply up and leave Iraq rather than potentially face charges in an immature justice system. . . .

http://thenexthurrah.typepad.com/the_next_hurrah/2007/10/condi-must-be-p.html
[Emptywheel] There are a number of clues that reveal how panicked the State Department--and Condi and those parts of the Administration not trying to undercut Condi at every turn--is about the threats to Blackwater's continued presence in Iraq. . . .

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/10/24/12647/485
[WP] The future of Blackwater, the security company involved in the Sept. 16 shooting incident, remains unresolved. Once the FBI completes an investigation in Iraq, the panel's report said, the embassy should recommend to Rice whether Blackwater should be allowed to continue working in Iraq. . . . They concluded that there is no real alternative to the use of private contractors to protect U.S. diplomats traveling outside the protected Green Zone in Baghdad. The military, the report said, "does not consider it feasible or desirable . . . to take on responsibility" for diplomatic protection . . .

http://thinkprogress.org/2007/10/24/blackwater-talking-points/
[Matt] In the past two weeks, Erik Prince, the CEO of embattled private security firm Blackwater USA, has orchestrated an aggressive public relations campaign in efforts to save his company’s reputation in the face of multiple scandals. . . . Blackwater sent an e-mail blast today, encouraging supporters to contact “elected Congressional representatives” with “letters, e-mails and calls” with the goal of “influencing the manner in which they gather and present information.” . . .

Afghanistan + Iraq = $2.4 trillion

http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/13352.html

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/10/24/1694/5360

Plus hidden money for an Iran attack? http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2007/10/wondering-wondering-whos-wondering-by.html





Alice: “It seems that Congress is run by Code Pink”


http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/perino-it-seems-that-congress-is-run-by-code-pink-2007-10-24.html

Watch it: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/056897.php



It appears that Bush’s Justice Dept has been more effective at prosecuting Democrats in politically partisan cases than they’ve been in prosecuting terrorists

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/056876.php

http://www.americablog.com/2007/10/dept-of-justice-failing-at-terror.html

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/10/24/12658/390

Looks like a series of showdowns is coming between Bush and Congress on appropriations bills

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/5239904.html

But the fact is: http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/13343.html
[McClatchy] George W. Bush, despite all his recent bravado about being an apostle of small government and budget-slashing, is the biggest spending president since Lyndon B. Johnson. . . .

Farm policy (yawn) – no, really: FARM POLICY

http://www.needlenose.com/node/view/4395
[Greenboy] Just when I'd written off both Repug & Dem Capitol Hill Hookers alike over the corporate welfare abomination that is the current agribusiness pork bill, Dem Senator Frank Lautenberg & Repug Senator Richard Lugar come forward with an alternate, rational agribusiness policy proposal. . . .

The Democrats cave (again) on a controversial judge – and Dianne Feinstein casts the key vote

http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/13347.html

http://www.firedoglake.com/2007/10/24/barbara-lee-blasts-difi-on-southwick/

Stop telecom amnesty

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/10/24/113925/36

http://salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2007/10/24/dodd/index.html

More on FISA: http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2007/10/not-tough-call-by-digby-sometimes-you.html

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2007_10/012347.php

The White House redacts testimony on the health risks of global warming. Why? Because they want testimony instead on its health BENEFITS (really!)

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/2007/10/white_house_edited_statement_t.php

http://time-blog.com/swampland/2007/10/underplayed_story_of_the_day_6.html

http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/13351.html

Watch it: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/056878.php

FCC decisions are often arcane and underpublicized – but their ramifications run deep. Overturning the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 gave us Fox News and a whole new kind of partisan “journalism.” Now they’re at it again

http://sideshow.me.uk/soct07.htm#10250308

Dems try again on SCHIP

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/25/washington/25health.html

Henry Waxman (D-CA) – our hero

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/24/AR2007102402016.html

I doubt that Giuliani will get the GOP nomination in the face of a very serious threat from the religious right to split off and support a third-party candidate. But if he did . . .

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2007/10/taking-it-to-next-level-by-digby.html
[Digby] Speaking of fascists. . . This is the guy the unitary executive was designed for. . . [read on]

More: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/056906.php

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/horsesmouth/2007/10/washington_post_7.php
Washington Post Aggressively Fact-Checks Pathological Exaggerator Rudy Giuliani . . . [read on]

“Not a bluff” http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/13349.html
[Richard] Land: My intuition [is that] this is not a bluff. If Giuliani is the nominee, there will be a third party. There are things that Giuliani could do to help mitigate the damage. But I have been in too many discussions over the last 15 years where evangelical leaders have said, “The one thing we will never allow to happen is for the Republican Party to take us for granted the way the Democrat [sic] Party too often takes the African-American community for granted.” This is not a bluff.

Bonus item: Fox News blames al Qaeda for the California wildfires (really!)

http://thinkprogress.org/2007/10/24/fox-news-al-qaeda-is-causing-the-ca-wildires/

***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.***