Monday, December 31, 2007


[Josh Marshall] Here's a late report from Britain's Channel 4 news on the Bhutto assassination, with newly acquired video that appears to further contradict Pakistani government reports of what happened . . .
New details of Benazir Bhutto’s final moments, including indications that her doctors felt pressured to conform to government accounts of her death, fueled the arguments over her assassination on Sunday and added to the pressure on Pakistan’s leaders to accept an international inquiry . . .

Pakistani and Western security experts said the government’s insistence that Ms. Bhutto, a former prime minister, was not killed by a bullet was intended to deflect attention from the lack of government security around her. On Sunday, Pakistani newspapers covered their front pages with photographs showing a man apparently pointing a gun at her from just yards away. . . .

The government’s explanation, that Ms. Bhutto died after hitting her head as she ducked from the gunfire or was tossed by the force of the suicide blast, has been greeted with disbelief by her supporters, ordinary Pakistanis and medical experts. While some of the mystery could be cleared up by exhuming the body, it is not clear whether Ms. Bhutto’s family would give permission, such is their distrust of the government. . . . [read on!]

Digging deeper into the destruction of the CIA torture tapes: Is there ANY way Cheney (at least) wasn’t involved in this decision?
[Glenn Greenwald] Shane and Mazetti previously reported that . . . there had been 'vigorous sentiment' among some top White House officials to destroy the tapes." The White House has simply refused to say whether they were behind the decision. . . . [read on]
[Steve Benen] It was one CYA-move after another. Officials had to start recording so no one would think anything untoward happened. Officials had to stop recording because untoward things were happening. And officials had to destroy the torture tapes so no one would know about all the untoward things that happened. . . .
[Christy Hardin Smith, on lying to the 9/11 Commission] [Y]ou do not get that sort of coordinated, wholesale skating deliberately around a topic in that sort of slippery, calculated way by accident. Especially not over an entire spectrum of witnesses. Who prepped the witnesses on behalf of the Bush Administration? David Addington has a history of a strong hand in this sort of thing -- was he involved in witness prep? Who advised all of these disperate Administration personnel, both past and present members at that point, on what not to say? And how not to say it -- or allude to it in any way?

That sort of coordinated ommission smacks of collusion, deliberately staked out and eminating from the same belief that to do otherwise would lead to exposure of bad acts. And that raises the specter of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, lying to federal investigators, and a whole host of other related potential cover-up offenses. . . .

CYA at the highest levels, especially across such a broad spectrum of witnesses, takes a lot of coordination and a high level of motivation to keep one's mouth shut, just on the "prisoner's dilemma" model of analysis alone. Which takes us straight to Dick Cheney's doorstep, doesn't it? Is it me, or does this scream of his behind-the-scenes ass-covering machinations with the enforcer's hand of Addington behind the wheel? [read on]
[Emptywheel] We know the CIA was still taping--at least some detainees--in November 2002 because the CIA taped al-Nashiri, who wasn't captured until November. So did they tape the CIA detainee who died in custody in November? And if so, did they destroy that tape? . . [read on!]


Yawn. More calls for “bipartisanship” (where were these people five years ago?)
[Dday] It's despairing to close a year where Iraq still rages, telecoms are poised to receive immunity for lawbreaking, George Bush explicitly states that Congress doesn't exist, material evidence implicating the CIA in torture is destroyed without batting an eyelash, Democrats act like they're powerless to do anything about it, and official Washington considers the real problem is that politicians disagree with each other. . . .
[Atrios] We're a dozen or so old, white, mostly male people who for the most part don't hold elected office. Unless the presidential candidates do what we tell them to do, we're going to encourage our short divorced pal from New York City to spend a billion bucks of his personal fortune to f*ck around with the election because that's what the people need.

An independent presidential run by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg now looks like a near-certainty. . . .

Theocracy watch: the class politics of religious conservatism


Yeah, but just don’t use the word “liar”
[AP] As a presidential contender, Mitt Romney has the looks, the money and the campaign machine. He also has something of a candor gap. . .

“Straight-shooter” John McCain flips on the immigration issue (which he knows is killing him with conservative primary voters)
"Before I can win your vote, I know I have to win your respect . . . And to do that, you know I'll always be straight with you. And on this issue, I've learned that we've got to restore trust in government, and secure our borders." . . .

One of the steady constants of American politics are people who might like to BE President, but have no appetite, or talent, for running FOR President: the scrutiny, the endless glad-handing and baby-kissing, the fundraising, the risk of rejection. Bob Dole comes to mind. He ran, but very half-heartedly. Mario Cuomo. More recently, Bob Kerrey, Colin Powell and Condi Rice. Well, now we can add Fred Thompson to the list
[Steve Benen] It’s not exactly a secret that Fred Thompson’s presidential campaign isn’t going well. By some measures, that’s a surprise — he’s plenty conservative; he’s never flip-flopped on key issues; and he’s not a member of a religious minority that the GOP base finds offensive. Simply as a matter of process of elimination, this guy should be huge.

There is, of course, a problem: Thompson apparently has no interest in actually running for president.

There’s no shortage of stories about Thompson running a lackluster campaign that seems to include avoiding voters . . . [read on]

I thought I was going to be very clever and predict that John Edwards was going to win the Iowa caucuses in a surprise upset of Clinton and Obama – then I found a day full of links of others already coming to the same conclusion. (But I’m also predicting that if he wins, the national press will find some way to minimize or dismiss its significance.)

The importance of second choices in Iowa:
On second choices, Edwards is way ahead of Obama and Clinton. . .

New Hampshire too?

Bonus item: Ouch!
[Laura Rozen] There it was, forehead smacking obvious, seeing Huckabee's astonishing comments Friday when asked about the Bhutto assassination. Huckabee is the spitting image of 24's ineffectual president Charles Logan. . . .

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

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

Sunday, December 30, 2007


Heckuva job, Georgie: Al Qaeda is far stronger and more widespread today than it was on 9/11
The Qaeda network accused by Pakistan’s government of killing the opposition leader Benazir Bhutto is increasingly made up not of foreign fighters but of homegrown Pakistani militants bent on destabilizing the country . . .

“Case closed” on Benazir Bhutto’s assassination? Not so much,0,5176533.story
The circumstances of Benazir Bhutto's assassination suggest either that Islamic militants based in Pakistan are able to act with near-total impunity or that elements within the government of President Pervez Musharraf have been complicit in attacks, or both, analysts and Western diplomats say.

The government's version of events surrounding the attack Thursday that killed the popular former prime minister raises many more questions than it answers, these observers said. The nearly instantaneous naming of a culprit and eagerness to assert that Bhutto had not been shot left some observers troubled . . .

Condi Rice, bringing all the expertise and wisdom as Sect’y of State that she carried as National Security Advisor
[Newsweek] It was a decidedly odd moment. On Thursday, within hours of Benazir Bhutto's assassination, State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters in Washington that his boss, Condoleezza Rice, had quickly made two calls. One was to Bhutto's bereaved husband, Asif Ali Zardari. Rice's other call, Casey said, was to the man he called Bhutto's "successor," Amin Fahim, the vice chairman of her Pakistan People's Party. Casey couldn't even quite master this obscure politician's name, but he said, "I'll leave it up to Mr. Amin Fahir—Fahim—as the new head of the Pakistan People's Party to determine how that party is going to participate in the electoral process."

The problem is, nobody but the State Department—especially not the political elites in Pakistan, even those within Bhutto's own party—sees Fahim in such a role, and certainly not so soon. Critics suggest that the administration is so eager to graft legitimacy onto President Pervez Musharraf, its ever-more-unpopular ally in the war on terror, that it is pressing too hard to move past Bhutto and continue with scheduled Jan. 8 parliamentary elections, even though riots are paralyzing the country. "They're trying to rush everything. This is a disaster," says Marvin Weinbaum, a former State Depratment official and current scholar at the Middle East Institute. "This is now our new game plan: We're working out a deal between Fahim and Musharraf after the election. They mention Fahim because they don't know any better. The fact is, she [Bhutto] didn't trust him.";_ylt=AspIH4ekCJxywhXSm4TOOkWs0NUE
[Time] A senior official of Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) told TIME late Saturday that the slain former prime minister's 19-year-old son, Bilawal, will likely be named as her political heir and the new party leader on Sunday. . . .


How the Bush gang wrecked the US military
[From a former Army E-6] When I watched the Baghdad Museum being looted of millions of dollars in antiquities and there was nothing being done to stop it, that was the point I decided this was going to be a clusterf*ck of monumental proportions. When we rolled into France, Italy, and finally Germany, we had a Mayor, police units, and medical units assigned and in place as fast as we rolled through.

The lack of foresight demonstrated by the Museum situation should have been the first clue that this was not going to go well. Yes, they did plan and fight the war well, but that was a given. The fact that they didn't have the support structure in place, record pace or not, was the warning to those of us who follow this sort of thing that bad news was coming, and it would be a long time getting clear of it. And repeating the mistakes of Vietnam over again and again is just pathetic. . . [read on!]

Why the CIA torture tapes were destroyed
In fact, current and former intelligence officials say, the agency’s every action in the prolonged drama of the interrogation videotapes was prompted in part by worry about how its conduct might be perceived — by Congress, by prosecutors, by the American public and by Muslims worldwide. . . .

Such are the “victories” for George Bush these days
President Bush on Saturday signed legislation that extends a popular children's health insurance program after twice vetoing attempts to expand it.

Politically, the move was a victory for Bush . . .

Digby nails it: when Bush “swept” into power on two consecutive razor thin elections (which is a generous interpretation), he trumpeted a “mandate” – and the media chimed in. He governed, as we all know, as a highly partisan and divisive candidate from the very start, aided by a lock-step Republican majority in Congress. With a Democratic majority now in Congress, Bush governs by veto and the Republicans by filibuster – and these are called "victories."

But as soon as the Democrats are on the verge of controlling all three branches, the establishment wisdom suddenly switches: we need more bipartisanism, they tell us, the Dems must do more to accommodate Republican ideas!
Isn't it funny that these people were nowhere to be found when George W. Bush seized office under the most dubious terms in history, having been appointed by a partisan supreme court majority and losing the popular vote? If there was ever a time for a bunch of dried up, irrelevant windbags to demand a bipartisan government you'd think it would have been then, wouldn't you? (How about after 9/11, when Republicans were running ads saying Dems were in cahoots with Saddam and bin Laden?) But it isn't all that surprising. They always assert themselves when the Democrats become a majority; it's their duty to save the country from the DFH's who are far more dangerous than Dick Cheney could ever be. . . . [read on]

Broder, of course:
New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a potential independent candidate for president, has scheduled a meeting next week with a dozen leading Democrats and Republicans, who will join him in challenging the major-party contenders to spell out their plans for forming a "government of national unity" to end the gridlock in Washington.

Those who will be at the Jan. 7 session at the University of Oklahoma say that if the likely nominees of the two parties do not pledge to "go beyond tokenism" in building an administration that seeks national consensus, they will be prepared to back Bloomberg or someone else in a third-party campaign for president.

Conveners of the meeting include such prominent Democrats as former senators Sam Nunn (Ga.), Charles S. Robb (Va.) and David L. Boren (Okla.), and former presidential candidate Gary Hart. Republican organizers include Sen. Chuck Hagel (Neb.), former party chairman Bill Brock, former senator John Danforth (Mo.) and former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman. . . .

How the Iowa caucuses work: a primer
[Chris Bowers] In a campaign this close, the deciding factor might very well be what deals the different campaigns can make with each other. In the event they fail to reach the 15% threshold in any given precinct, every campaign will probably instruct the local campaign precinct captain to caucus for a single, different candidate. The candidate who is able to scoop up the most of these second-place endorsements will probably win the caucus. . . [read on]


I rarely disagree with Digby, but I don't share her hostility to the Iowa caucus system. Yes, a small and ethnically unrepresentative sampling of people holds a huge sway in influencing the choice of nominee. But there are lots of direct-voting primaries too, and you wouldn't get this level of involvement in most other states. It's retail politics at its best, and a far better alternative than picking party nominees in smoke-filled rooms

Despite Rudy’s posing – aided by conventional wisdom and the punditry – the Mayor of 9/11 does NOT have a big advantage on the terrorism issue

Rudy’s brain trust
[Greg Sargent] John Deady, the co-chair of New Hampshire Veterans for Rudy, who told us in an interview that he doesn't "subscribe to the principle that there are good Muslims and bad Muslims," is officially out of the Giuliani campaign. . . .

The sharks are eating each other
GOP race turning vicious . . . [read on]
[USAT] Dig beneath the surface of the raucous Republican presidential race and you will find even deeper turmoil: Four in 10 GOP voters have switched candidates in the past month alone, and nearly two-thirds say they may change their minds again. . . [read on]
[Eric Kleefeld] With the primaries rapidly approaching, it's only natural that some of the more sleazy campaign tactics would intensify. CNN has obtained a mailer in heavily evangelical South Carolina, purporting to be a holiday card paid for by the Mormon Temple in Boston, wishing fond holiday wishes from the Romney family. . . .

Theocracy watch: Huckabee wants to call Mormonism a cult? What about THIS?
GOP presidential frontrunner Mike Huckabee has ties to fringe evangelist Bill Gothard, more critics have started to ask questions about Gothard himself. What do we know about the relatively obscure figurehead of a multi-million dollar empire that gets constantly compared to a cult—complete with teachings of blind obedience, and other brainwashing techniques . . .
[P]residential hopeful Mike Huckabee has close ties to fringe evangelist/tycoon Bill Gothard, who runs the little-known Chicago-area Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) and a string of affiliated businesses. It’s been widely reported that Gothard’s organizations advocate strict authoritarianism and blind obedience. Allegations of child abuse such as locking kids for extended periods in “prayer closets” and other misconduct have led to investigations. . .

Let’s see: Bill Kristol said that the New York Times should have been prosecuted for running the story that first disclosed the Bush gang’s warrantless surveillance program – and now that same newspaper is rewarding his journalistic integrity by giving him a weekly column. How nice and forgiving of them

More Kristol witticisms:

Sunday talk show line-ups
ABC's This Week: Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and John McCain, R-Ariz.; David Brooks, Donna Brazile and George Will.

CBS's Face the Nation: Former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C.

NBC's Meet the Press: Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.

CNN's Late Edition: Sens. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Joe Biden, D-Del.; former Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga.; former Defense Secretary William Cohen.

Fox News Sunday: Former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn.

Bonus item: The highly intrusive and inconvenient liquid ban on air travel? Based more on “24” than on actual science
[NYT] “The notion that deadly explosives can be cooked up in an airplane lavatory is pure fiction,” Greene told me during an interview. “A handy gimmick for action movies and shows like ‘24.’ The reality proves disappointing: it’s rather awkward to do chemistry in an airplane toilet. Nevertheless, our official protectors and deciders respond to such notions instinctively, because they’re familiar to us: we’ve all seen scenarios on television and in the cinema. This, incredibly, is why you can no longer carry a bottle of water onto a plane.”

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

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

Saturday, December 29, 2007


If the government of Pakistan wants to discourage speculation about official involvement in Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, the first thing they should avoid is ambiguity about her cause of death
[Josh Marshall] Initial reports from Pakistani government officials ascribed the death of Benazir Bhutto to a gunshot wound fired by the assailant before he detonated his suicide bomb. Subsequent reports today say that it was not a bullet wound but rather shrapnel from the bomb.

A fired bullet can be badly disfigured. So probably only an expert can reliably distinguish one from the other. And thus that confusion is not surprising.

Yet now the Pakistani Interior Ministry is reporting that Bhutto died neither from a gunshot wound or shrapnel but rather from a blow to the head (causing a fractured skull) . . .

And the credibility or at least reliability of this latest explanation is undermined by the fact that there was apparently no post-mortem conducted on the body.

My, that was fast . . .
[BarbinMD] Barely 24 hours after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the government of Pervez Musharraf has declared that: “investigators had resolved the ‘whole mystery’ behind the opposition leader's killing and would give details at press conference later Friday.”

With "irrefutable evidence" that al-Qaida and the Taliban were behind the attack, it seems that there will be no need for the thorough investigation that the White House was calling for yesterday . . .
Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema said that on Friday, the government recorded an “intelligence intercept” in which militant leader Baitullah Mehsud “congratulated his people for carrying out this cowardly act.”;_ylt=AhQjVLOL1iq2zl30j0ou79es0NUE
An Islamic militant group said Saturday it had no link to Benazir Bhutto's killing, denying government claims that its leader orchestrated the assassination.

Bhutto's aides also said they doubted militant commander Baitullah Mehsud was behind the attack on the opposition leader and accused the government of a cover-up. . . .

Second thoughts
[Larry Johnson] I do not rule out Islamic radicals who are not part of the government as possible culprits. But they are not the only folks with motive and access. In fact, the Government of Pakistan’s rush to pin this on Al Qaeda smacks of scape goating. There are longstanding ties between Al Qaeda and elements of the military and the intelligence service.

The virtual absence of any uniformed security detail around her gives further credence to the belief that elements within the military and ISI did away with her. There was no doubt that Benazir was a high risk for an assassination attempt. Why were Pakistani authorities so passive when it came to her security? It would be one thing if she resisted efforts to cover her. But the opposite is true. She had specifically and repeatedly asked for more security. . .
[McClatchy] Police officers had frisked the 3,000 to 4,000 people attending Thursday's rally when they entered the park, but as the speakers from Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party droned on, the police abandoned many of their posts. As she drove out through the gate, her main protection appeared to be her own bodyguards, who wore their usual white T-shirts inscribed: "Willing to die for Benazir." . . .

Bhutto's party had complained repeatedly that the government provided her with inadequate security. She'd narrowly escaped another assassination attempt, at her homecoming parade Oct. 18 in Karachi, which left 140 dead. . . . [read on],0,1091446.story
In the weeks before Benazir Bhutto's assassination, the Bush administration directly provided her with intelligence on dangers she faced from militants in Pakistan, as U.S.-backed President Pervez Musharraf resisted pressure to expand the scope of her security detail, U.S. lawmakers and other officials and Bhutto supporters said Friday.

Yet as the slain former prime minister was laid to rest, questions mounted about both the adequacy of the U.S. efforts and shortcomings on the side of the Pakistani government.

U.S. lawmakers and the popular Pakistani opposition leader's friends charged that Musharraf had rebuffed U.S. entreaties for beefed-up security. And U.S. officials were reluctant to press Musharraf too hard, a former advisor to Bhutto said. . . .
[Spencer Ackerman] Who murdered Benazir Bhutto? U.S. authorities don't know. They may never know. And they're not ruling anything in or out.

To recap our debate yesterday, the first-blush assessment from most experts held that al-Qaeda is responsible. Others, including political adversaries of Pervez Musharraf, then suggested Musharraf's government was at least culpable, given the porousness of security Bhutto received in the garrison city of Rawalpindi where she was assassinated. Still others caution that Pakistani Islamic terrorist groups with agendas distinct from al-Qaeda's might be more likely candidates. . . .

Bhutto's party, the Pakistan People's Party, is demanding an official inquiry, though it's unclear (to me at least) whether Musharraf has agreed to one. But here's one development to watch in the event of a probe. In the Los Angeles Times, Josh Meyer reports that Pakistan hasn't yet replied to U.S. investigators who've offered to help.

The main suspects:


The aftermath
[Emptywheel] I think it safe to say Condi's policy is in shambles. Which suggests that, short of unquestioning support for Musharraf led by the Dick Cheney faction in the Administration, the US is going to have an increasingly difficult time influencing the future of Pakistan at precisely the time when the situation may grow more chaotic. And in a panic to sustain whatever stability possible in Pakistan, we may well see Cheney's foreign policy approach regain ascendancy in this Administration. Though what that means if this was indeed an Al Qaeda attack, with or without the complicity of pro-extremist members of the military and intelligence services, I don't know. If Al Qaeda did pull off this dramatic attack, and if the attack leads in some way toward Musharraf consolidating his power (or at least cracking down definitively on opposition), then unquestioning support of him is the last thing, it seems, that we ought to be doing. . . . [read on]
U.S. military officers and other defense experts do not anticipate an immediate impact on U.S. operations in Afghanistan. But they are concerned that continued instability eventually will spill over and intensify the fighting in Afghanistan, which has spiked in recent months as the Taliban has strengthened and expanded its operations. . . .

Let’s play a game: “Benazir Bhutto has been assassinated, therefore. . . .” [what?]
[Mike Huckabee] We ought to have an immediate, very clear monitoring of our borders and particularly to make sure if there’s any unusual activity of Pakistanis coming into the country.”
[Matt Yglesias] A remarkable quantity of dumb stuff has been said since Benazir Bhutto's death. I think, though, that [Kathryn Jean Lopez’s] post on how this shows we should ban abortion may be the worst in terms of its substantive logic.
[Fred Thompson] Speaking today to a small group of supporters in the last campaign rush before the Iowa caucuses next week, Thompson railed against those who opposed -- and ultimately assassinated -- former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

"They're driven to distraction by the notion that a secular woman would be head of government,'' the Republican presidential hopeful said of the woman who was slain as she campaigned for her country's presidency after years in exile.

But in America, Thompson said, repeating remarks earlier in the week, no woman is up to the job just yet.

"This year, it's a man, and next year, it's going to be a man,'' said the actor and former US senator from Tennessee.

Bush vetoes a defense bill. Why?
President Bush plans to veto a sweeping defense policy bill on grounds that it would derail Iraq's efforts to rebuild its country, the White House said Friday.

Bush's action, which apparently caught congressional leaders off guard, centers on one provision in the legislation dealing with Iraqi assets. . . .

House and Senate Democrats said Friday that the first time they'd heard of any White House concerns with the legislation was after Congress sent the bill to Bush for his signature.

"The administration should have raised its objections earlier, when this issue could have been addressed without a veto," Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in a joint statement. "The American people will have every right to be disappointed if the president vetoes this legislation, needlessly delaying implementation of the troops' pay raise, the Wounded Warriors Act and other critical measures."
[Steve Benen] The president went nearly six years in office without vetoing a single bill, but has now had seven — including funding the war in Iraq, stem-cell research (twice), and healthcare for low-income kids (twice). In each instance, lawmakers were well aware of the White House’s opposition, but passed the bills anyway, hoping Bush would either change his mind or they could override the veto.

Which is what makes today’s news so odd. . . . [read on]

And how can he issue a “pocket veto” when Congress is still technically in session? Is this yet another new Presidential power? Or is there a reason why he doesn’t want to veto it openly?
[Kagro X] That veto George W. Bush threatened of the Defense authorization bill? The one with the troops' pay raise in it?

He hasn't even got the stones to put his signature to it . . .

But this bill was presented to the president for his signature on December 19th. It's been eight days since then, not counting Sundays as the Constitution outlines. Seven if you give an extra day for Christmas. Hasn't been ten days yet.

Not only that, but you may recall that the Senate has remained in session all this time explicitly to prevent trickery like this. The most oft-cited reason was to prevent recess appointments, but the pro forma sessions -- the most recent of which was held today, yes, the very day Bush claimed there was no session -- also serve to avoid adjournment, and therefore the pocket veto.

But not in Bushworld. In Bushworld, these sessions don't count. Because he says so.

And if Bush thinks the Senate's sessions don't count, what's stopping him from making recess appointments?

How much more abuse can this Congress stand?
[Chris Bowers] If Congress can't even determine when it is in session without Bush's agreement, then it is time to do one of two things. First, either abolish Congress altogether, or impeach Bush. After all, the logical conclusion of what Bush is doing here is that he can declare Congress either in or out of session whenever he wishes. In other words, Congress has no power whatsoever to check and balance anything Bush does. It doesn't even have the power to exist unless Bush says it does. If everything else Bush has done so far does not merit impeachment, then surely this level of existential crises does. . . [read on]
[Digby] I would guess the administration is making the assumption that with the media's predictable disinterest in anything more complicated than polls and campaign gossip in the primary season and the Democratic leadership's unwillingness to take any risks at all, they'll get away with it. And they're probably right. . .


Things that make you go hmmmm. . . .
[Jesse Stanchak] Congressional Democrats are complaining that the White House failed to mention its objection before the bill was passed. . . . Both papers quote an anonymous White House source, but the NYT piece says, "The White House allowed the official to speak only if not identified." Typically, anonymous sources have their names withheld so their bosses don't know they're talking to reporters. If the White House knew the source was speaking to the press, then why the anonymity? And, more importantly, why would the NYT agree to such a bizarre condition?

Okay, so what’s the REAL reason for the veto?
[Emptywheel] It's weird in that Bush has had months to push a very compliant Congress to write the bill precisely as he wants. And it's weird because the stated reason for the impending veto doesn't make any sense. Steve points to this Yahoo article explaining why. Bush says he's going to veto the bill because the Iraqis are worried about getting sued, but the Iraqis are already protected by law. . .
[NYT] Meanwhile, a Washington lawyer who has represented Americans who were abducted by Iraqi forces after the 1990 invasion of Kuwait said that he doubted the official explanation for President Bush’s rejection of the bill. . .
An informed reader writes in to offer a possible explanation:

Re: your post "Where Will It End?" I suspect that the key to the pocket veto has nothing to do with Iraqi assets. Rather, it is contained a little line buried in the last paragraph of the Memorandum of Disapproval: "... I continue to have serious objections to other provisions of this bill, including section 1079 relating to intelligence matters . . ."

What is in 1079 you ask? A provision requiring the Director of National Intelligence to make available to the Congressional intelligence committees, upon the request of the chair or ranking minority member, "any existing intelligence assessment, report, estimate, or legal opinion," within certain conditions. . .

What specifically does Bush fear must be turned over? It's hard to say. Waterboarding legal opinions? Opinions or other documents related to the torture tapes? Something related to the recent Iran 180? Who knows. . .

Another top ten list
[Dahlia Lithwick] I humbly offer this new year's roundup: The Bush Administration's Top 10 Stupidest Legal Arguments of 2007. . . .

Rudy’s NH campaign official with . . . . er . . . . peculiar views
"I don't subscribe to the principle that there are good Muslims and bad Muslims. They're all Muslims." . . . [read on]

Reinventing Romney (again)

With friends like this. . .
A senior aide to Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee admitted Friday that the former Arkansas governor had "no foreign policy credentials" after his comments reacting to the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto raised questions. . . .

Because poor Bill Kristol doesn’t have enough outlets for his opinions . . .
[Matt Yglesias] When I heard that Bill Kristol was leaving Time I got seriously worried about the state of the world. After all, everyone knows that conservative pundits don't get held accountable for saying tons and tons of wrong stuff -- that's not how it works. Instead, you march through the institutions of conservatism by being loyal to the Cause, and then eventually mainstream organizations decide they need to contain representatives of the Cause and there you are on your perch. So it is in the newsweeklies, so it is on the op-ed pages, and so it is on the Sunday shows. So how could Kristol be fired?

Thus I think we have to consider it good news that he's apparently been hired by The New York Times.


Bonus item: Peggy Noonan, arbiter of all such matters, tells us who the “reasonable” candidates are (and are not)

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

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

Friday, December 28, 2007


Eulogies for Benazir Bhutto – and for US prospects in Pakistan
[Looseheadprop] One of my sisters attended Harvard University as an undergraduate. I helped her move into her freshman dorm in Wigglesworth Hall on Harvard Yard. . . .

In the stairwell that first day, the very first new friend my sister made was a cute little freshman in tan corduroy jeans with her dark hair pulled into two pigtails. She looked more like a high school freshman than a college student. She was tacking up fliers for some kind of cause (might have been related to world hunger) on the bulletin boards in the stairwell.

She was pretty and outgoing and introduced herself to us at once, "Hi, I'm Bennie, Bennie Bhutto." . . . [read on]
[Arianna Huffington] I want to write about the young woman I met in England before she became a player on the world stage.

She was at Oxford. I was at Cambridge. And by a strange coincidence I became president of the Cambridge Union and she became president of the Oxford Union. The anomaly of two foreign women heading the two unions meant that we ended up debating each other around England on topics ranging from British politics to broad generalities about the impact of technological advance on mankind. . . . [read on]


A terrible NYT obit:

The consequences for US policy
Today's assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is a blow for democracy in Pakistan and seems likely to cement the military's grip on power for the near future . . .
The assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has dealt a severe blow to U.S. efforts to restore stability and democracy in a turbulent, nuclear-armed Islamic nation that has been a critical ally in the war on terror.

While not entirely dependent on Bhutto, recent Bush administration policy on Pakistan had focused heavily on promoting reconciliation between the secular opposition leader who has been dogged by corruption allegations and Pakistan's increasingly unpopular president, Pervez Musharraf, ahead of parliamentary elections set for January. . . .
The assassination of Benazir Bhutto on Thursday left in ruins the delicate diplomatic effort the Bush administration had pursued in the past year to reconcile Pakistan’s deeply divided political factions. Now it is scrambling to sort through ever more limited options, as American influence on Pakistan’s internal affairs continues to decline. . .
[A.J. Rossmiller] In terms of policy implications, this is reflective of a massive US foreign policy blunder, in that the Bush administration, in a monumentally stupid move, shoved Bhutto down the throat of Musharraf (and the rest of Pakistan) as a savior, despite her lack of broad popular support and general reputation as corrupt. In making someone who didn't necessarily have the ability to deliver the savior for democracy in Pakistan, we simultaneously set up our own policy to fail and offered Musharraf a return to (or continued) total power in the event that our little power-sharing arrangement didn't work. We also -- though not only us -- painted a big fat target on her back. Really a debacle all the way around. . . .
[Sky News] British political campaigner Mohammed Shafiq said: "This has destroyed any chance of election in Pakistan. It will cause more friction and more problems."

Sky's Asia correspondent Alex Crawford said: "It is almost impossible to imagine how much turmoil this is going to cause within Pakistan. There is going to be team of people who will want to avenge her death. There will be team of people who want to capitalise on the turbulence after her death."
"The military didn't really want civilian politicians in power," says New York University's Barnett Rubin, a South Asia expert. "They wanted to use them to legitimate indirect [military] rule, and they were going to do it by rigging the election."

U.S. strategy didn't exactly find that so offensive. "The idea was to consolidate the alliance of the so-called moderate forces in the Pakistani military through this election that the military was going to rig but we were going to certify anyway," Rubin observes. That is, as long as Bhutto was in the picture -- since the U.S. had reduced the democratic opposition to the figure of Benazir Bhutto, although her corruption as PM was manifest. Without Bhutto, it is unclear what the U.S. will do.

Bhutto's assassination presents an opportunity for Musharraf. "It's very possible Musharraf will declare [another] state of emergency and postpone the elections," Rubin continues. "That will confirm in many people's minds the idea that the military is behind" the assassination. For it's part, the U.S. will likely "be scrambling to say the election either needs to be held as planned or postponed rather than canceled, but Musharraf is in a position to preempt that."

As a result, Rubin says, U.S. strategy is "in tatters."
[Spencer Ackerman] As the assassination of Benazir Bhutto throws U.S.-Pakistani relations into turmoil, it's worth pointing out how the staffing of the U.S.'s Pakistan team indicates that Pakistan isn't exactly a priority for the Bush administration. . . .
[Digby] It's worse than that. As with everything else in this miserable administration, they've purged all the people who actually understand Pakistan in favor of the group that brought you the Iraq war . . . [read on]

Juan Cole
With Bhutto gone, does Bush have a Plan B?
Bush's failed policies in Pakistan, a nuclear power that al-Qaida still uses to plot against the West, threatens U.S. security more than Iraq ever did. . . . [read on]


Who did it?
[Spencer Ackerman] The most likely culprit is the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda. But it's not exactly an event met with tears by the Pakistani military, which thoroughly controls the government and the economy. . .
[Spencer Ackerman] According to a former intelligence official with deep experience on Pakistan, there's a third, and perhaps more likely culprit: internally-focused Pakistani Islamist militants without significant links to al-Qaeda. . . .
[Spencer Ackerman] A longtime adviser and close friend of assassinated Pakistani ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto places blame for Bhutto's death squarely on the shoulders of U.S.-supported dictator Pervez Musharraf. . . .
[Spencer Ackerman] It's not just Bhutto adviser Husain Haqqani. Nawaz Sharif, now Pervez Musharraf's chief political enemy in the wake of Bhutto's assassination, also blamed the dictator for his onetime rival's death. . .

Today on "The Situation Room," Wolf Blitzer revealed an exclusive e-mail he received from Benazir Bhutto's US spokesman Mark Siegel in October. "This is a story she wanted me to tell the world on her behalf if she were killed," Blitzer said, before reading the e-mail.

In the e-mail, Bhutto wrote that, if anything were to happen to her, "I wld [sic] hold Musharaf [sic] responsible. I have been made to feel insecure by his minions, and there is no way what is happening in terms of stopping me from taking private cars or using tinted windows or giving jammers or four police mobiles to cover all sides cld [sic] happen without him."

What next?
[Spencer Ackerman] Try as Nawaz Sharif might to carry the banner of Benazir Bhutto, he might not be the optimal anti-Musharraf candidate. For one thing, even if Musharraf holds a promised election, Sharif isn't eligible to run, thanks to a ruling of the Musharraf-controlled Electoral Commission. For another, there's another secular, democratic politician waiting in the wings who might resonate with this year's middle-class rejection of Musharraf. . .
Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s death thins Pakistan’s already meager ranks of charismatic civilian politicians just as the country had begun a treacherous passage toward restoring some form of democratic government, Pakistani and American analysts said. And it raises the specter of prolonged political conflict between Pakistan’s president, Pervez Musharraf, and the country’s opposition.

“I see a lot more trouble for Musharraf in the near future,” said Hasan Askari Rizvi, a leading Pakistani political analyst. . .


WHERE’S CONDI RICE? (the Secretary of State, in case we’d forgotten)

Is this why we haven’t heard from her?
[Daniel Politi] The WP fronts a look at the U.S. role in all this deal-making and notes that Bhutto didn't make up her mind to return until after she got a phone call from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. . . .
[Scarecrow] The Bush Administration did not kill Benazir Bhutto; someone else did that. But it appears the Administration convinced her to go back to Pakistan to save a risky policy foolishly built on a despised, repressive military dictator to fight the US "war on terror." Now a courageous woman is dead, another nation is in chaos, the US is further discredited, it can't account for billions in military aid, and we still have an administration that remains a menace to everyone's security as long as they remain in office. But the Administration wants us to believe that only al Qaeda is responsible. . . .

The mostly execrable television coverage
[Attaturk] I watched the usual abysmal American media coverage of the Bhutto assassination -- shallow, lacking context, and immediately applying all events to the presidential race [both absurd and grotesque]. . . .
[CNN] Did Hillary Clinton Kill Benazir Bhutto?”

The typical US political response: the world is dangerous and unpredictable, therefore we need tougher leaders
[DHinMI] The Bush administration, the Republican candidates for President and wingers of all varieties will be invoking the specter of "TERRA!" and arguing that this killing is proof that we need a bellicose foreign policy under the command of another bellicose Republican. Of course, that's wrong. Pakistan's government has been under the control of the military for much of its history, and often those dictatorships had the sanction of the US. . . . [read on]

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), Bhutto's death helped underscore the line she has been driving home for months -- about who is best suited to lead the nation at a time of international peril. . . .
John McCain reacted this morning to the assassination of Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. . . .

"If I were president of the United States, I would be on the phone right now, and I would be meeting with the National Security Council, and I would be seeing ways that we could restore order, or maintain order, or restore order, whichever is the case in Pakistan. I know the players I know the individuals, and I know the best way to address this situation." . . .
Rudy Giuliani . . . called the terrorist attack that took Bhutto's life tragic and jarring for the people of Pakistan, and said it reminds Americans that President Bush made the "right decision to go on offense" against Islamic terrorism.

The former mayor also suggested "doubling our forces" in and around the region.

Giuliani invoked September 11th when mentioning this morning's carnage . . . .

In regards to a national security response to the assasination of Bhutto, Giuliani said "We should take a look at what we have in Afghanistan...and see if our efforts there are as effective as they should be. I have a feeling...we should increase our efforts in Afghanistan, which is on the border of Pakistan." . . .

"There's no question that we need to increase the Marines to at least 200,000," said Giuliani, who has continuously said he will increase the size of the U.S. Military if elected president. . . .

More reminders that, despite what current residents of Washington DC think, the US doesn’t get to shape the political futures of other nations – they play out in terms of their own internal dynamics whether we like it or not. Another case in point: the Taliban are coming back in Afghanistan
The United States supports reconciliation talks with Taliban fighters who have no ties to al-Qaida and accept Afghanistan's constitution, the U.S. ambassador said Thursday. . .

[NB: Uh-huh, only the GOOD Taliban – well, okay then]

In other news . . .

Purely speculative, but plausible: did Bush see the CIA torture tapes?
[Scott Horton] In this regards, the sequence of statements out of the White House is extremely revealing. It started with firm denials, then went silent and then pulled back rather sharply to a “President Bush has no present recollection of having seen the tapes.” This is a formulation frequently used to avoid perjury charges, a sort of way of saying “no” without really saying “no.” In between these statements, two more things unfolded that have a bearing on the question. . .


In defense of the EEOC decision to let companies drop 65-year olds from health plan coverage
[John Cole] This is just another piece of evidence to me that we will be moving to single-payer in the next decade or so, simply because big business wants this (and would argue they need it) in order to survive. . . [read on]

What does Rudy do when he’s in trouble? “9/11, 9/11, 9/11!”

Head of the Kansas GOP BRAGS about vote caging (uhh. . . it’s ILLEGAL)

More vote suppression:

In defense of partisanship

Bonus item: How the Bush gang reached their final decisions on stem cell policy
[Jay Lefkowitz] A few days later, I brought into the Oval Office my copy of Brave New World, Aldous Huxley’s 1932 anti-utopian novel, and as I read passages aloud imagining a future in which humans would be bred in hatcheries, a chill came over the room. . . [read on]

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

Thursday, December 27, 2007


This is bad. Very, very bad – and damn the so-called “Equal Employment Opportunity Commission” for enabling it
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Wednesday that employers could reduce or eliminate health benefits for retirees when they turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare. . . .


Why Turkey is attacking northern Iraq, and why the US is helping them

The private contractor gravy train doesn’t just run through Iraq – check out these stories from Afghanistan
[Spencer Ackerman] DynCorp didn't have to even prove that it in fact purchased dozens of SUVs for which it charged the government. . . [read on]


One of the great lies is that military members and their families are all Republican-supporting conservatives. Turns out, not so much

“The Terror Presidency”

How far Cheney’s obsession with secrecy goes
[Amanda] In June, House investigators revealed that Vice President Dick Cheney had exempted his office from an executive order designed to safeguard classified national security information. He claimed that the Office of the Vice President (OVP) is not an “entity within the executive branch.”

The National Security Archives’ Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) wrote Cheney’s then-chief of staff David Addington on two separate occasions in summer 2006, disputing those claims. Cheney’s office ignored both letters. Finally, in Jan. 2007, the ISOO directly asked — to no avail — Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resolve whether the executive order applies to Cheney’s office.

In a new interview with Newsweek, ISOO director J. William Leonard — described as the “gold standard of information specialists in the federal government” — said that he is quitting after 34 years, partly because of pressure from Cheney’s office. Addington personally tried to “wipe out” his job after Leonard attempted to challenge Cheney’s claims. . . [read on]


The US Attorney scandal: the still-unanswered questions

I fully expect the Supreme Court to uphold voter ID laws, even though they’re blatantly discriminatory (or maybe that should read “BECAUSE they’re discriminatory”)

Here it comes: Bush uses his signing of the omnibus govt funding bill to assert (yes) a NEW Presidential power – as I called it last week, a de facto line-item veto

Little victories: Dems block a high-priority Bush recess appointment

The laziest kind of "balanced" reporting is the good news/bad news sort of story that does nothing more than recount a series of on-the-one-hand, on-the-other hand pseudo-equivalencies. Here’s a particularly odious example of it, c/o CNN

Jonah Goldberg’s new book, “Liberal Fascism,” is (from all reports – I’ll never pay for it) as fatuous a book as its title suggests. But my interest is with why Charles Murray, supposedly a “serious” scholar (co-author of “The Bell Curve”) should squander his credibility, such as it is, with a testimonial like this?

OK, the Concord Monitor prints a devastating editorial rejecting Romney, calling him a phony. Romney sniffs “liberal newspaper.” So then what does he say about THIS?
“The more Mitt Romney speaks, the less believable he becomes.” That was the money quote of [the ultra-conservative Manchester] Union-Leader editorial in New Hampshire . .

Quote of the day:
Romney meanwhile said he was a true conservative and criticized Sen. John McCain for opposing Bush's tax cuts and for his position on immigration. And McCain shot back: "I know something about tailspins, and it's pretty clear Mitt Romney is in one."

The funniest take-down of Huckabee you’ll see

Oh, my, OUCH. If this is the essence of the GOP’s 2008 strategy, they are in for a bloodbath

Paul Krugman mounts an unapologetic assertion of progressive values – we have the people behind us, and should start acting that way

Bonus item (year-end list edition): Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, issues its list of the ten most corrupt politicians of 2007. Read it if you want a good laugh

Extra bonus item: Double G’s favorite quotes from 2007

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

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

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


The Bush gang tries (badly) to explain why it was okay to withhold evidence from the 9/11 Commission – and then destroy it

Why did the EPA block a California emissions law? Will it surprise you to learn that Dick Cheney was behind it?,,2231965,00.html
EPA staff members told the Los Angeles Times that the agency's head, the Bush appointee Stephen Johnson, ignored their conclusions and shut himself off from consultation in the month before the announcement. He then informed them of his decision and instructed them to provide the legal rationale for it, they said.

"California met every criteria ... on the merits," an anonymous member of the EPA staff told the Times. "The same criteria we have used for the last 40 years ... We told him that. All the briefings we have given him laid out the facts."

In an editorial, the New York Times described the decision as, "an indefensible act of executive arrogance that can only be explained as the product of ideological blindness and as a political payoff to the automobile industry". . . .

Johnson's staff gave him the opposite advice, warning him that should he block California, the state would probably sue him in the courts and would probably win. The state's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, immediately announced that he would challenge the EPA's ruling in the courts, describing it as "legally indefensible".

Juan Cole: Top Ten Myths About Iraq

Thanks for nothing
[Daniel Politi] USAT says that "never in modern times" have the nominating contests in both parties been so up in the air at the beginning of an election year. As the LAT points out in a story inside, this means that absolutely everything on these final days will become more important and any missteps will certainly be magnified.

The papers certainly will have to consider that in the coming days and weeks, knowing that anything they publish can be used by a candidate's opponents. In the Post's Style section Philip Kennicott takes a look at the importance of the "hangdog candidate image" and notes that pictures such as the highly unflattering portrait of Clinton that was posted in the Drudge Report will surely increase in circulation in the coming weeks. Of course, the Post can't help itself and goes ahead and publishes the unflattering photo (although it's not on the Style's front page).

With that in mind, the NYT delivers Clinton a big lump of coal (too late for Christmas metaphors?) on its front page today. In an examination of Clinton's years in the White House as first lady, the paper concludes that she wasn't much involved in the big issues of foreign policy and mostly carried out "soft" diplomacy. Notably, the piece glosses over some of these "soft" diplomacy successes, particularly her China speech on women's rights, which many have called her best moment as first lady. Of course, this is an issue because she's often talked about how she was a partner in foreign policy with her husband but Clinton was really "more of a sounding board than a policy maker, who learned through osmosis rather than decision-making," says the NYT. . . . Shouldn't the piece have at least brought up that perhaps Clinton was forced to take a back seat due to the way the president was criticized for giving his wife a prominent role in the whole health care debacle?


Theocracy watch: now that Huckabee has set the precedent of using his Christianity as a political tool, watch them all do it

Bonus item: Yee-ha! 60% of all death penalty executions are in Texas

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

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

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Hard times for the GOP
The GOP's "None of the Above" problems continue . . .

[I]t's looking pretty bleak for the Republican frontrunners. . . .
Karl Rove's grandest aspiration was to create a Republican majority that would dominate American politics for a generation or more. But as the effects of his distinctive brand of fear-mongering fade, it's the Democrats who are poised to become the country's majority party – and perhaps for a long time to come. . . .

John McCain doesn’t generate a lot of enthusiasm among the GOP base, but he’s a known quantity who doesn’t have embarrassing disclosures popping up every week. Could he return as Mr. Default Option?

Chris Matthews, as is well-documented here, has a manliness issue – he just LOVES the testosterone in candidates. Well, there is no more hyper-macho candidate in this race than Rudy Giuliani, and that’s why Matthews has done everything possible to ignore or trivialize his philandering, his use of public moneys for his mistress, his secret 9/11 love-shack, his manly bond with the crook Bernie Kerik, and the general swagger of his exploitation of power. In Matthews' world, these are GOOD things, the way a REAL MAN should govern

More to come?
With its tawdry plot lines involving corporate skullduggery, a steamy extramarital affair and presidential politics, the legal battle between former publishing doyenne Judith Regan and her ex-employer, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., seems straight out of a potboiler. Now the tale has taken another intriguing and potentially explosive twist with the sudden emergence of a mysterious tape recording. . . .

Here’s how bad Rudy’s situation actually is
Rudolph W. Giuliani has entered a turbulent period in his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, marked by what his aides acknowledge are missteps, sharp shifts in strategy and evidence that reports about his personal life have hurt his national standing . . .

Romney tries to shake off a devastating NH editorial (calling him, in so many words, a big phony)


Meanwhile, the party establishment still can’t figure out how to deal with the Huckabee situation. You’ve already had Condi Rice (the Sect’y of STATE) throw her Gucci handbag at him – now the White House itself takes a swipe. That’s how terrified they are: the administration isn’t supposed to be involved in primary politics
[Steve Benen] If anyone from Bush’s inner circle is going to defend Mike Huckabee’s Christian-centered presidential campaign, you’d think it would be Peter Wehner. Not only is Wehner, the former White House director of strategic initiatives, a self-described evangelical Christian conservative, but he also helped oversee Bush’s faith-based office. It’s not like the separation of church and state would be high on Wehner’s priority list. . . . [read on]

Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh is sucking wind

More on Huckabee’s openly theocratic appeal

Ron Paul . . . aw heck, it hardly seems worth the trouble
[Josh Marshall] You may have heard that in his star-turn yesterday on Meet the Press, Ron Paul said that the American Civil War was a mistake (brought on by a power-hungry Abraham Lincoln) and came out for so-called 'gradual emancipation'. . . .

Is General David Petraeus going to be the new GOP presidential savior? . . . (uh, no)

We’ve seen how much trouble Inspectors General have in this administration. It can’t stand watchdogs, oversight, or criticism - externally or internally. So this shouldn’t be a surprise
[Spencer Ackerman] It was one of the high points of recent CIA history, and that's saying a lot: CIA Director Mike Hayden ordered an investigation of CIA Inspector General John Helgerson. On top of ordering a scathing review of the CIA's pre-9/11 counterterrorism performance, Helgerson -- legally tasked with being an independent internal watchdog -- stuck his nose into the agency's detentions, interrogations and renditions programs, angering many inside the agency. Hayden struck back. . . . [read on]

Listen to them whine
Promoted to domestic security adviser in 2004, [Frances Townsend] became a loyalist and said she was leaving wearied by the acrimony that hangs over Mr. Bush’s last year in office.

“I find it both offensive and crippling,” she said. “When both career people and political people are worried about getting subpoenaed, it’s hard to get a lot accomplished.” . . . [read on]

[NB: And who does she blame for THAT?]

How Blackwater cheated the State Dept

The U.S. government disregarded numerous warnings over the past two years about the risks of using Blackwater Worldwide and other private security firms in Iraq, expanding their presence even after a series of shooting incidents showed that the firms were operating with little regulation or oversight, according to government officials, private security firms and documents. . . .

The mismanagement of US money in Pakistan has crippled counterinsurgent efforts there – meanwhile, Osama Bin Laden settles in for another New Year

One thing we will learn in the CIA torture tape investigation is how little Porter Goss (the WH hack and hatchet man appointed to bring the CIA to heel) was respected or listened to within the Agency

Bonus item: Rightwing blog Power-line takes a look at the story about J. Edgar Hoover’s plans to suspend Habeas Corpus and imprison 12,000 Americans – and finds in it a reason to bash today’s liberals. Pathetic
[Steve Benen] [A]s John Cole noted, “When your first instinct upon learning of [Hoover’s] plan is to try to figure out how the liberals are worse, you have issues.” . . .

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

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