Thursday, March 8, 2007

Cheney on Trial

The Libby verdict is still being processed by pundits, partisans, analysts and commentators. My Hubris co-author Michael Isikoff and his writing partner Mark Hosenball at Newsweek posted an intriguing piece today, noting that Justice Department guidelines could make it tough for George W. Bush to pardon Scooter Libby (as everyone in Washington expects the president to do if Libby's legal appeals flop). Still, Bush could issue a pardon at some point. Will rules stop him?

Meanwhile, I penned a cover story for this week's issue of The Nation that distilled what the trial revealed about life on Planet Cheney--that is, how Cheney ran his own operation within the White House. The piece also pointed out that Bush and his aides have never addressed the undeniable fact--a fact made more undeniable by the trial--that the White House lied to the American public in 2003 when it declared (a) that anyone involved in the leak that blew the cover of CIA officer Valerie Wilson would be dismissed and (b) that it was "ridiculous" to suggest that Karl Rove and/or Scooter Libby were involved in the leak.

Even after the verdict, the White House continues to stick to an absurd position: we cannot comment while a legal case is under way. After the verdict, Fitzgerald pronounced his investigation done. And, yes, there are appeals for Libby to file. But there's no law that says the president and his aides cannot talk about a matter if a slice of it remains part of a legal proceeding. Fitzgerald is finished with Rove. So why not have Bush address the Rove questions? Why did Rove tell White House press secretary Scott McClellan he had no role in the leak, even though he confirmed the leak for Bob Novak (who first received information on Valerie Wilson from then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage)? What did Rove tell Bush about his participation in the leak episode? Did he acknowledge he had leaked information about Valerie Wilson to Time's Matt Cooper? Why did Bush not honor the White House vow to fire anyone involved in the leak? How did Rove learn about Valerie Wilson? (A source close to Rove once said that Rove might have heard about Valerie Wilson from Libby, who, as noted below, first heard about her from Cheney.) Though Libby has been judged a felonious liar, the White House has successfully stonewalled these and other questions. Despite Tuesday's verdict, the cover-up worked.

On to my latest offering:

Cheney on Trial
The Nation, March 26, 2007

It was fall 2003. The news had broken that the Justice Department, at the request of the CIA, was investigating the leak that outed Valerie Wilson as an undercover intelligence officer, and FBI investigators were targeting White House officials. With a firestorm under way, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, went to see his boss. Libby hadn't passed any information about Valerie Wilson to right-wing columnist Robert Novak, who first published the leak in a July 14, 2003, column. But he had talked to other reporters about Valerie Wilson and her CIA connection before the leak occurred. And he also knew that Karl Rove, White House uber-strategist, had spoken to Novak about her days before the leak column. That is, Libby knew a fair bit about the episode.

Libby told Cheney he had not been one of Novak's two Administration sources for the leak, and he offered to disclose to the Vice President everything he knew. But Cheney did not want to hear it; Libby said no more.

Shortly after that, Libby, responding to a request from investigators, came across a note in his files indicating that in early June 2003--weeks before the Wilson affair began--Cheney had told him that the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson worked at the CIA's Counterproliferation Division, a unit of the agency's clandestine operations directorate. (At that point, the former envoy had spoken only privately to two reporters about his CIA-sponsored trip to Niger, during which he had concluded there was not much to the intelligence report that Iraq had been uranium-shopping there.) The note was a significant discovery. A key issue in the investigation was who in the Bush Administration had spread information about Wilson's wife to undermine Wilson's charge that the White House had twisted the prewar intelligence (a criticism Wilson made public in a July 6, 2003, New York Times op-ed). And Libby had uncovered evidence showing that Cheney had conducted his own research on Joseph Wilson early on, learned about Valerie Wilson's CIA job and shared the information with Libby. Cheney apparently was the first White House official to discuss Valerie Wilson's specific place of work.

With a criminal investigation in full force, Libby told Cheney, I first heard about Valerie Wilson from you. From me? Cheney replied. The Vice President then tilted his head and, as Libby later said, "that was that." The two discussed it no further.

These vignettes of how Cheney does business--in a mob-boss sort of way--emerged from the recently completed obstruction of justice trial of Scooter Libby. The former senior White House aide was found guilty of four of five counts in a criminal case narrowly focused on whether Libby had lied to the FBI and a grand jury when he claimed he had no official knowledge of Valerie Wilson's CIA employment in the days before the leak and that he had merely shared with two reporters (Matt Cooper, then of Time, and Judith Miller, then of the New York Times) scuttlebutt about Wilson's wife that he had heard from Meet the Press host Tim Russert.

The jury accepted the prosecution's case that Libby had gathered information on Wilson's wife before the leak and then--after a criminal investigation was launched--tried to conceal what he had done. But beyond resolving whether Libby had mounted a criminal cover-up to hide his--and perhaps Cheney's--involvement in the leak episode, the trial exposed the inner world of Cheney's crew. The proceedings also proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the Bush White House was neck-deep in the Valerie Wilson leak (even if Novak's original source was then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage) and that the White House lied when it claimed otherwise.


For the rest of the article, click here. But I'll give away the ending:

At the end of his closing argument, [Libby defense attorney Ted] Wells got weepy. After declaring Libby to be the victim of a run-amok prosecutor who had relied on witnesses with faulty memories, he asked the jurors, "Give him back to me. Just give him back." He choked back a sob. Responding to Wells's melodrama, Fitzgerald argued to the jury that Libby "stole the truth from the judicial system....Your verdict can give truth back."

After ten days of deliberation, the jurors gave Fitzgerald what he desired. Though the case--as lawyers on both sides repeatedly stated--was not about the Iraq War and the White House's credibility, it was about the truthfulness of Cheney's senior aide, whose lies emerged from the Administration's effort to defend itself from the charge it had misled the nation into war. The verdict that now hangs over Scooter Libby is also a cloud that darkens the sky above the President and the Vice President.

But now that I think about it, Cheney might prefer to operate in the dark.

Posted by David Corn at March 8, 2007 03:12 PM


David B. Benson said...

Psalm 58.

capt said...

Psalm 58

Good one!


Gerald said...

History will judge Bush and Cheney will be a bleep. But, it is not difficult to understand Bush! Please study his life and you will see why he is the way he is. He tries to gain affection from his father and his mother seems to be a cold woman. I would guess that his life was filled with personal problems that have aborted his manhood. Did he ever have to take responsibility in his life or did daddy bail him out of jams? Is Cheney more like a father figure for Bush?

Gerald said...


Saladin said...

State makes big fuss over local couple's vegetable oil car fuel
By HUEY FREEMAN - H&R Staff Writer
DECATUR - David and Eileen Wetzel don't get going in the morning quite as early as they used to.

So David Wetzel, 79, was surprised to hear a knock on the door at their eastside home while he was still getting dressed.

Two men in suits were standing on his porch.

"They showed me their badges and said they were from the Illinois Department of Revenue," Wetzel said. "I said, 'Come in.' Maybe I shouldn't have."

Gary May introduced himself as a special agent. The other man, John Egan, was introduced as his colleague. May gave the Wetzels his card, stating that he is the senior agent in the bureau of criminal investigations.

"I was afraid," Eileen Wetzel said. "I came out of the bathroom. I thought: Good God, we paid our taxes. The check didn't bounce."

The agents informed the Wetzels that they were interested in their car, a 1986 Volkswagen Golf, that David Wetzel converted to run primarily from vegetable oil but also partly on diesel.

Wetzel uses recycled vegetable oil, which he picks up weekly from an organization that uses it for frying food at its dining facility.

"They told me I am required to have a license and am obligated to pay a motor fuel tax," David Wetzel recalled. "Mr. May also told me the tax would be retroactive."

Since the initial visit by the agents on Jan. 4, the Wetzels have been involved in a struggle with the Illinois Department of Revenue. The couple, who live on a fixed budget, have been asked to post a $2,500 bond and threatened with felony charges.

State legislators have rallied to help the Wetzels.

State Sen. Frank Watson, R-Greenville, introduced Senate Bill 267, which would curtail government interference regarding alternative fuels, such as vegetable oil. A public hearing on the bill will be at 1 p.m. today in Room 400 of the state Capitol.

"I would agree that the bond is not acceptable, $2,500 bond," Watson said, adding that David Wetzel should be commended for his innovative efforts. "(His car) gets 46 miles per gallon running on vegetable oil. We all should be thinking about doing without gasoline if we're trying to end foreign dependency.

"I think it's inappropriate of state dollars to send two people to Mr. Wetzel's home to do this. They could have done with a more friendly approach. It could have been done on the phone. To use an intimidation factor on this - who is he harming? Two revenue agents. You'd think there's a better use of their time," Watson said.

The Wetzels, who plan to speak at a Senate hearing in Springfield today, recalled how their struggle with the revenue department unfolded.

According to the Wetzels, May told them during his Jan. 4 visit that they would have to pay taxes at either the gasoline rate of 19½ cents per gallon or the diesel rate of 21½ cents per gallon.

A retired research chemist and food plant manager, Wetzel produced records showing he has used 1,134.6 gallons of vegetable oil from 2002 to 2006. At the higher rate, the tax bill would come to $244.24.

"That averages out to $4.07 a month," Wetzel noted, adding he is willing to pay that bill.

But the Wetzels would discover that the state had more complicated and costly requirements for them to continue to use their "veggie mobile."

David Wetzel was told to contact a revenue official and apply for a license as a "special fuel supplier" and "receiver." After completing a complicated application form designed for businesses, David Wetzel was sent a letter directing him to send in a $2,500 bond.

Eileen Wetzel, a former teaching assistant, calculated that the bond, designed to ensure that their "business" pays its taxes, would cover the next 51 years at their present usage rate.

A couple of weeks later, David Wetzel received another letter from the revenue department, stating that he "must immediately stop operating as a special fuel supplier and receiver until you receive special fuel supplier and receiver licenses."

This threatening letter stated that acting as a supplier and receiver without a license is a Class 3 felony. This class of felonies carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.
As you can see, the environment isn't really the issue, it never is, it's the revenue, which always is.

David B. Benson said...

Juan Cole today passes on a press report regarding an Israeli who has been selling assult rifles to Iraqi terriosts for the past 2 years...

Rail away, Saladin!

capt said...

Churchill, Libby and Rove

As witnesses were trooping to the stand in the federal courthouse in Washington to testify in the case of United States v I Lewis Libby, and the Washington Post was publishing its series on the squalid conditions that wounded Iraq war veterans suffer at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center while thousands more soldiers were surging into Baghdad, President Bush held one of his private book club sessions that Karl Rove organizes for him at the White House. Rove picks the book, invites the author and a few neoconservative intellectual luminaries, and conducts the discussions. For this Bush book club meeting, the guest was Andrew Roberts, the conservative historian and columnist and the author of "The Churchillians" and, most recently, "A History of the English-Speaking People Since 1900".

The subject of Winston Churchill inspired Bush's self-reflection. The president confided to Roberts that he believes he has an advantage over Churchill, a reliable source with access to the conversation told me. He has faith in God, Bush explained, but Churchill, an agnostic, did not. Because he believes in God, it is easier for him to make decisions and stick to them than it was for Churchill. Bush said he doesn't worry, or feel alone, or care if he is unpopular. He has God.

Even as Scooter Libby sat at the defendant's table silently wearing his fixed, forced smile, and Vice President Dick Cheney was revealed by witnesses as the conductor of the smear campaign against former ambassador Joseph Wilson, Bush and Rove felt free to hold forth in their salon, removed from anxiety. Rove had narrowly escaped the fate of Libby by changing his grand jury testimony just before he might have been indicted for perjury. Bush, who proclaimed that he would fire any leaker found in his administration, is apparently closer to Rove than ever. The night before the Libby verdict, the president had dinner at Rove's house, and Rove sent to the reporters shivering outside a doggie bag filled with sausage and quail wings.


capt said...

Why Cheney Lost It When Joe Wilson Spoke Out


In the midst of all this, Tenet was successful in getting the Iraq-Niger story out of President George W. Bush's key speech on Iraq on October 7. Yes, you read that right. Tenet signed the NIE on October 1, and a few days later successfully insisted that this dubious intelligence be taken out of the president's speech on October 7.

This piece of "intelligence" smelled so bad that then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, who threw everything but the kitchen sink into his (in)famous UN speech of February 5, 2003, deemed it below his very low threshold. A month later, the International Atomic Energy Agency director, Mohamed ElBaradei, told the UN Security Council that the documents upon which the story was based were "obvious" fakes-forgeries.

Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), then-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, rebuffed an urgent appeal from ranking member Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) to have the FBI investigate the forgery. Cheney told him not to, and so Roberts said that would be "inappropriate." Which raises the question, whom are they trying to protect? I don't think either Dick or Lynne Cheney has a cottage industry of forgery preparation, but they are in close touch with those who do. I continue to believe Cheney and Libby were the intellectual authors of that incredibly clumsy operation.

There was plenty else to enrage Dick Cheney. It is a safe bet that he went bananas when he learned that Joe Wilson's wife was a CIA officer - and working on the issue of highest priority, how to prevent countries like Iraq and Iran from obtaining weapons of mass destruction.

Cheney smelled a rat. It was easy to jump to the conclusion that Valerie Plame and her knowledgeable colleagues would have seen right through the Iraq-Niger report. The embassy in Niger had poured cold water on it, and a very senior US Army general, who had journeyed to Niger, came to the and four-star Marine General Carlton Fulford, who visited Niger and spoke with Niger's president and foreign minister on Feb. 24, 2002, came to the same conclusion. So here was Plame, and by extension her CIA colleagues, preparing to administer the coup de grace. The CIA would send a person with deep substantive expertise on the subject and also very good contacts in Niger (from previous service in Niger and other African countries, not to mention Baghdad).


*****end of clip*****

Some good insight from Mr. Ray McGovern.


capt said...

Libby lied, troops died

The Scooter Libby verdict is inextricably linked to Iraq: his lies were an attempt to cover up the disingenuous case for war.

The conviction of I Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, on criminal charges of obstruction of justice and perjury brings only a partial conclusion to the sordid political tragedy that is the Bush presidency. Yet the judgment on this matter goes to the heart of the administration. The means and the ends of Bush's White House have received a verdict from the bar of justice.

Foreign policy was and is the principal way of consolidating unchecked executive power. In the run-up to the Iraq war, professional standards, even within the military and intelligence agencies, were subordinated to political goals. Only information that fit the preconceived case was permitted. Those who advanced facts or raised skeptical questions about sketchy information were seen as deliberate enemies causing damage from within. From the beginning, the White House indulged in unrestrained attacks on such professionals. Revealing the facts, especially about the politically-driven method of skewing policy, was treated as a crime against the state.

For questioning the undermanned battle plan for the invasion of Iraq, Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki was publicly humiliated by neoconservative Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and then cashiered. For disclosing negligence on terrorism before the Setempber 11 attacks, counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke was accused by then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice of acting purely out of motives of personal greed to promote his recently published memoir. For exposing the absence of rational policymaking in economics as well as foreign policy, Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill was threatened with an investigation for allegedly abusing classified material. Once he was intimidated into silence, the probe was dropped.


*****end of clip*****

Sydney Blumenthal is being prolific these days. It is a good thing.


capt said...

Administration agrees to change law on replacing fired prosecutors

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Bush administration has bowed to the uproar over the firing of eight federal prosecutors.

The administration agreed on Thursday to tighten the law for replacing U.S. attorneys and letting Congress hear from senior officials with roles in the ousters.

That word from Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York after a meeting with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Six of the eight ousted prosecutors told House and Senate committees on Tuesday that they were dismissed without explanation.

Former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias of New Mexico says his dismissal followed calls from Republican U.S. Senator Pete Domenici and Republican Congresswoman Heather Wilson over sensitive political corruption investigations.


*****end of clip*****

Oh my, the rats are racing to cover their rats-asses. Pete Domenici has lawyer-ed up with Duke Cunningham's attorney.


capt said...

How Much More Harm Can Bush Do?

The Bush-Cheney regime has achieved this deplorable result in a mere six years.

Yet the Democrats cannot even pass a toothless resolution against committing more U.S. troops to Iraq.

Far from making Americans safe by attacking a country that posed no threat to the U.S., Bush and Cheney have alarmed the Russians and the Chinese. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Gen. Yury Baluyevsky, chief of the Russian General Staff, have both warned that the Bush regime's military aggression and drive for hegemony are setting off another arms race. Gen. Baluyevsky says that Russia might pull out of the 20-year-old Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty.

China has announced a 17.8 percent increase in its military budget for 2007.

China is America's most important banker. How long will China fund America's wars and trade deficit when it finds itself so threatened by America's "leaders" that it has to accelerate its military spending?

Americans still regard themselves as the salt of the earth. But the rest of the world no longer sees Americans that way. When citizens of other countries turn their eyes toward America, they see evil.


*****end of clip*****

So many seem to think Busheney and the neocons are spent, kaput, done and over. I fear we have only seen the warm ups. The cheerleader-cum-cowboy has a bunch to do and time is a wasting. I am keeping my powder dry and expecting more and worse.


capt said...

A catalogue of errors in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is again being lost to the West, even as a coalition force of more than 5,000 troops launches a major spring offensive in the south of the country. The insurgency may drag on for many months or several years, but the tide has turned. Like Alexander's Greeks, the British and the Soviets before the US-led coalition, inferior Afghan insurgents have forced far superior Western military forces on to a path that leads toward evacuation. What has caused this scenario to occur repeatedly throughout history?

In the most general sense, the defeat of Western forces in Afghanistan occurs repeatedly because the West has not developed an appreciation for the Afghans' toughness, patience, resourcefulness and pride in their history. Although foreign forces in Afghanistan are always more modern and better armed and trained, they are continuously ground down by the same kinds of small-scale but unrelenting hit-and-run attacks and ambushes, as well as by the country's impenetrable topography that allows the Afghans to retreat, hide, and attack another day.

The new twist to this pattern faced by the Soviets and now by the US-led coalition is the safe haven the Afghans have found in Pakistan. This is the basic answer to why history has found so many defeated foreign armies littering what Rudyard Kipling called Afghanistan's plains.


*****end of clip*****

Another insightful piece.


capt said...

White House hangs veto over pullout plan

Pelosi said Democrats would add their war-related provisions to the administration's request for nearly $100 billion to pay for the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The plan is to bring the bill to a vote by the end of the month, making it the first major test of the Democrats' power since they rode a wave of anti-war voter sentiment to midterm election victories last fall.

Across the Capitol, Senate Democrats readied a less sweeping challenge to the commander in chief.

Their version would set a target date of March 31, 2008, for the withdrawal of combat troops — but no deadline. The measure says U.S. forces could stay beyond that date only to protect U.S. personnel, train and equip Iraqi forces and carry out counterterrorism operations. "We can't stay in Iraq forever," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (news, bio, voting record), D-Nev.


*****end of clip*****

If the Democratic leadership cannot hang together against the neo-fascists surely they will hang alone. I think the D's are showing some spirit if they hang it on the $100 million for the Bush hobby war. Let him veto his little mess out of money.


capt said...

Um, should read B for BILLION.

Saladin said...

Mr. Benson, I've known about the Israeli role in the middle east for 2 years, nothing to rail about. They engage in false flag attacks, blame their enemies, then send our troops to fight the battles they started. They've been doing that for decades, nothing new. Even when they get caught red handed, as was the case with the USS Liberty, they get away with it. America is their bitch, and she does what she's told.

"We can't stay in Iraq forever," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
That's true Capt, we've got Iran on our plate, thanks to you know who. And they are here, making the pitch, and the dems are lining up like pigs at the trough, swallowing the same lies they swallowed last time. Disgusting.

Saladin said...

Dems Get Tough: No More Nuts From the Mullahs
Written by Chris Floyd
Thursday, 08 March 2007

Stopping the coming war with Iran is the imperative of our day. In addition to all the other horrors such a new war would bring, it would also prolong and intensify the nightmarish war crime in Iraq. Anyone concerned with the long-term interests of the United States -- its security, its prosperity, its constitutional liberties -- should be standing up right now in fierce and implacable resistance to the launching of another act of aggression.

So naturally, the national Democrats -- who were returned to power on a wave of public revulsion against the radical militarism of the Bush Regime -- are now trying to raise the war fever against Iran to the boiling point, in a bellicose bid to "outflank both the Bush administration and the United Nations with the toughest set of sanctions against Iran that have ever been proposed," as that right-wing calliope, the New York Sun, approvingly notes.

With legislation introduced by Rep. Tom Lantos, the Fightin' Dems propose to slap harsh new sanctions on any and every firm and nation in the world that dares do business with Iran's energy sector, with no waivers allowed for anyone, not even close American allies. What's more, the Democratic measure would re-impose set of of minor sanctions lifted by the party's own Bill Clinton in 2000, in a feeble, half-hearted effort to throw a few crumbs to Iran's beleaguered reformist president, Mohammed Khatami. (As we've noted before, the bipartisan Clinton-Bush refusal to respond to Khatami's openings and initiatives helped doom his reformist movement, and paved the way for the hardline, Bush-like jackanapes, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to win the presidency.)

Thus, if Lantos and the Democrats have their way -- and the bill has already attracted a companion measure from the Republicans -- Americans will once more be protected from the importation of demonish rugs, caviar and pistachio nuts from the wily Persians. Don't you feel safer already?

The Lantos version of the latest Iran Provocation Act is being pitched as a partisan swipe at George W. Bush. (In their PR packaging, at least, the Democrats are being responsive to overwhelming public sentiment.) Lantos emphasizes that the bill would prohibit the president from granting waivers to any oil companies or countries that sign new energy deals with Iran. "If Dutch Shell moves forward with its proposed $10 billion deal with Iran, it will be sanctioned. If Malaysia moves forward with a similar deal, it too will be sanctioned. The same treatment will be accorded to China and India should they finalize deals with Iran," said Lantos. [And isn't it wonderfully democratic of this Democratic leader, telling other countries who they can and cannot trade with, and how? Oh well; if these rag-tag nations want to be part of our Greater Co-Prosperity Sphere, they have to toe the line, right?]

Of course, all these draconian efforts to cripple the development of Iran's oil and gas industries will only make it more imperative for Tehran to develop its nuclear power program -- and therefore increase the likelihood that this program could one day be turned to the production of nuclear weapons. In other words, the bill is designed to exacerbate and accelerate the very danger -- nuclear proliferation -- that is the ostensible reason for keeping "all options on the table" against Iran.

But that's OK. We want Iran to keep developing its nuclear program, so we can use it as an excuse to bomb them. We want the people of Iran to suffer from crippling sanctions, as did the people of Iraq (while, as in Iraq, the leaders continue to live in luxury), because we want Iranian society to deterioriate to the point that its leaders feel compelled to take some action that we can seize upon as a casus belli and launch a "retaliatory" attack whose real aim is "regime change." Both the Democrats and Republicans have very publicly committed the United States to this course.

So the Lantos law has nothing to do with bashing George W. Bush for giving his oil buddies waivers to work in Iran. That's just cornball for the rubes back home. It has everything to do with the pursuit of "regime change" in Tehran and the implamation of a friendly client regime that won't stand in the way of the long-held, bipartisan Establishment dream of unchallenged American dominance over world affairs.

And it It has nothing to do with punishing Iran for allegedly helping kill American soldiers in Iraq. Neither the Democrats or the Republicans, with a few honorable exceptions, give a damn about the American soldiers in Iraq. If they did, the soldiers would already be coming home -- or never sent there in first place. If they did, they would also be passing sanctions against Saudi Arabia, from whence gushers of money, weapons and recruits are flowing into Iraq to support the Sunni insurgency that is actually killing most of the Americans in Iraq.

No, they don't care about the soldiers. They care about "regime change" and advancing the frontiers of dominance. In this, the American Dominationists have found common cause with the government of Israel, which also desperately wants regime change in Tehran. And here the other raison d'etre of the Lantos bill comes into play: kowtowing to the interests of the Israeli militarists, and thus securing the domestic support of the Israel Lobby in America. And the Democrats are not even trying to hide the influence of the Lobby on the bill. As the Sun notes: "The introduction of the new legislation comes as more than 5,500 members of America's largest pro-Israel lobby [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee] are set to arrive in Washington for their annual policy conference." Making their haj to this Mecca, House speaker Nancy Pelosi is scheduled to give her first major speech on Middle East policy as the House leader. Both the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate will make speeches at the event, which is also expected to draw presidential candidates such as Senators Clinton, Obama, Biden, and Brownback. Senator McCain is said to be likely to attend as well." Every one of these speakers will throw red meat to the crowd. Every single one of them will declare that "all options are on the table" against Iran. Every single one of them will wave the black flag of war.

capt said...

A Predator Becomes More Dangerous When Wounded

Washington's escalation of threats against Iran is driven by a determination to secure control of the region's energy resources.

In the energy-rich Middle East, only two countries have failed to subordinate themselves to Washington's basic demands: Iran and Syria. Accordingly both are enemies, Iran by far the more important. As was the norm during the cold war, resort to violence is regularly justified as a reaction to the malign influence of the main enemy, often on the flimsiest of pretexts. Unsurprisingly, as Bush sends more troops to Iraq, tales surface of Iranian interference in the internal affairs of Iraq - a country otherwise free from any foreign interference - on the tacit assumption that Washington rules the world.

In the cold war-like mentality in Washington, Tehran is portrayed as the pinnacle in the so-called Shia crescent that stretches from Iran to Hizbullah in Lebanon, through Shia southern Iraq and Syria. And again unsurprisingly, the "surge" in Iraq and escalation of threats and accusations against Iran is accompanied by grudging willingness to attend a conference of regional powers, with the agenda limited to Iraq.

Presumably this minimal gesture toward diplomacy is intended to allay the growing fears and anger elicited by Washington's heightened aggressiveness. These concerns are given new substance in a detailed study of "the Iraq effect" by terrorism experts Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank, revealing that the Iraq war "has increased terrorism sevenfold worldwide". An "Iran effect" could be even more severe.

For the US, the primary issue in the Middle East has been, and remains, effective control of its unparalleled energy resources. Access is a secondary matter. Once the oil is on the seas it goes anywhere. Control is understood to be an instrument of global dominance. Iranian influence in the "crescent" challenges US control. By an accident of geography, the world's major oil resources are in largely Shia areas of the Middle East: southern Iraq, adjacent regions of Saudi Arabia and Iran, with some of the major reserves of natural gas as well. Washington's worst nightmare would be a loose Shia alliance controlling most of the world's oil and independent of the US.

Such a bloc, if it emerges, might even join the Asian Energy Security Grid based in China. Iran could be a lynchpin. If the Bush planners bring that about, they will have seriously undermined the US position of power in the world.

To Washington, Tehran's principal offence has been its defiance, going back to the overthrow of the Shah in 1979 and the hostage crisis at the US embassy. In retribution, Washington turned to support Saddam Hussein's aggression against Iran, which left hundreds of thousands dead. Then came murderous sanctions and, under Bush, rejection of Iranian diplomatic efforts.

Last July, Israel invaded Lebanon, the fifth invasion since 1978. As before, US support was a critical factor, the pretexts quickly collapse on inspection, and the consequences for the people of Lebanon are severe. Among the reasons for the US-Israel invasion is that Hizbullah's rockets could be a deterrent to a US-Israeli attack on Iran. Despite the sabre-rattling it is, I suspect, unlikely that the Bush administration will attack Iran. Public opinion in the US and around the world is overwhelmingly opposed. It appears that the US military and intelligence community is also opposed. Iran cannot defend itself against US attack, but it can respond in other ways, among them by inciting even more havoc in Iraq. Some issue warnings that are far more grave, among them the British military historian Corelli Barnett, who writes that "an attack on Iran would effectively launch world war three".

Then again, a predator becomes even more dangerous, and less predictable, when wounded. In desperation to salvage something, the administration might risk even greater disasters. The Bush administration has created an unimaginable catastrophe in Iraq. It has been unable to establish a reliable client state within, and cannot withdraw without facing the possible loss of control of the Middle East's energy resources.

Meanwhile Washington may be seeking to destabilise Iran from within. The ethnic mix in Iran is complex; much of the population isn't Persian. There are secessionist tendencies and it is likely that Washington is trying to stir them up - in Khuzestan on the Gulf, for example, where Iran's oil is concentrated, a region that is largely Arab, not Persian.

Threat escalation also serves to pressure others to join US efforts to strangle Iran economically, with predictable success in Europe. Another predictable consequence, presumably intended, is to induce the Iranian leadership to be as repressive as possible, fomenting disorder while undermining reformers.

It is also necessary to demonise the leadership. In the west, any wild statement by President Ahmadinejad is circulated in headlines, dubiously translated. But Ahmadinejad has no control over foreign policy, which is in the hands of his superior, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The US media tend to ignore Khamenei's statements, especially if they are conciliatory. It's widely reported when Ahmadinejad says Israel shouldn't exist - but there is silence when Khamenei says that Iran supports the Arab League position on Israel-Palestine, calling for normalisation of relations with Israel if it accepts the international consensus of a two-state settlement.

The US invasion of Iraq virtually instructed Iran to develop a nuclear deterrent. The message was that the US attacks at will, as long as the target is defenceless. Now Iran is ringed by US forces in Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey and the Persian Gulf, and close by are nuclear-armed Pakistan and Israel, the regional superpower, thanks to US support.

In 2003, Iran offered negotiations on all outstanding issues, including nuclear policies and Israel-Palestine relations. Washington's response was to censure the Swiss diplomat who brought the offer. The following year, the EU and Iran reached an agreement that Iran would suspend enriching uranium; in return the EU would provide "firm guarantees on security issues" - code for US-Israeli threats to bomb Iran.

Apparently under US pressure, Europe did not live up to the bargain. Iran then resumed uranium enrichment. A genuine interest in preventing the development of nuclear weapons in Iran would lead Washington to implement the EU bargain, agree to meaningful negotiations and join with others to move toward integrating Iran into the international economic system.


Saladin said...

Priests to Purify Site After Bush Visit

By JUAN CARLOS LLORCA, Associated Press Writer

Thursday, March 8, 2007

(03-08) 21:20 PST GUATEMALA CITY, (AP) --

Mayan priests will purify a sacred archaeological site to eliminate "bad spirits" after President Bush visits next week, an official with close ties to the group said Thursday.

"That a person like (Bush), with the persecution of our migrant brothers in the United States, with the wars he has provoked, is going to walk in our sacred lands, is an offense for the Mayan people and their culture," Juan Tiney, the director of a Mayan nongovernmental organization with close ties to Mayan religious and political leaders, said Thursday.

Bush's seven-day tour of Latin America includes a stopover beginning late Sunday in Guatemala. On Monday morning he is scheduled to visit the archaeological site Iximche on the high western plateau in a region of the Central American country populated mostly by Mayans.

Tiney said the "spirit guides of the Mayan community" decided it would be necessary to cleanse the sacred site of "bad spirits" after Bush's visit so that their ancestors could rest in peace. He also said the rites — which entail chanting and burning incense, herbs and candles — would prepare the site for the third summit of Latin American Indians March 26-30.

Bush's trip has already has sparked protests elsewhere in Latin America, including protests and clashes with police in Brazil hours before his arrival. In Bogota, Colombia, which Bush will visit on Sunday, 200 masked students battled 300 riot police with rocks and small homemade explosives.
Intense "dislike?"

Saladin said...

March 8, 2007
NM Impeachment Resolution KILLED without even a debate!
Impeach Bush! - Filed under: Impeachment Progress News, IfP Progress — Jodin Morey @ 4:07 pm
Raw Story

The following just happened after NM Senators had successfully got the impeachment resolution through the three Senate committes designed to kill the measure. Democracy for NM-… SJR 5, New Mexico's impeachment resolution, was killed when it failed to get the votes necessary to move to the Senate Floor for debate … I did hear that [9] Democratic Senators voted against debating the measure, including Senator Phil Griego from San Jose, NM … [Phil A. Griego, (505) 986-4861] … [Senators Altamirano, Pete Campos, Carlos Cisneros, Tim Jennings, John Pinto, John Arthur Smith, James Taylor and David Ulibarri.] I hope they hear from plenty of their constituents. If Democrats won't even allow something this timely and critical to our nation's future to be DEBATED, why do they call themselves Democrats? (Read More)

You can listen to a discussion of these events, and learn more about the status of SJM 5, in a recently-recorded Impeachment Channel interview with Desi Brown, a staffer in the office of New Mexico State Senator and SJR 5 co-author Gerald Ortiz y Pino.

Those notably voting against:
Pete Campos
(505) 986-4311

Ben Altamirano

Carlos R. Cisneros
(505) 986-4863

Timothy Z. Jennings
(505) 986-4362

John Pinto
(505) 986-4835

John Arthur Smith
(505) 986-4363

James G. Taylor
(505) 986-4862

David Ulibarri
Help us spread the word:
Par for the course?

Saladin said...

The Scandal at Walter Reed

by Ron Paul
Lew Rockwell

Statement on the Iraq War Resolution
Before the U.S. House of Representatives March 7, 2007

Watch Ron Paul's speech on video.

The scandal at Walter Reed is not an isolated incident. It is directly related to our foreign policy of interventionism.

There is a pressing need to reassess our now widely accepted role as the world’s lone superpower. If we don’t, we are destined to reduce our nation to something far less powerful.

It has always been politically popular for politicians to promise they will keep us out of foreign wars, especially before World War I. That hasn’t changed, even though many in Washington today don’t understand it.

Likewise it has been popular to advocate ending prolonged and painful conflicts like the wars in Korea and Vietnam, and now Iraq.

In 2000, it was quite popular to condemn nation building and reject the policy of policing the world, in the wake of our involvement in Kosovo and Somalia. We were promised a more humble foreign policy.

Nobody wins elections by promising to take us to war. But once elected, many politicians greatly exaggerate the threat posed by a potential enemy-- and the people too often carelessly accept the dubious reasons given to justify wars. Opposition arises only when the true costs are felt here at home.

A foreign policy of interventionism costs so much money that we’re forced to close military bases in the U.S., even as we’re building them overseas. Interventionism is never good fiscal policy.

Interventionism symbolizes an attitude of looking outward, toward empire, while diminishing the importance of maintaining a constitutional republic.

We close bases here at home – some want to close Walter Reed – while building bases in Arab and Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia. We worry about foreign borders while ignoring our own. We build permanent outposts in Muslim holy lands, occupy territory, and prop up puppet governments. This motivates suicide terrorism against us.

Our policies naturally lead to resentment, which in turn leads to prolonged wars and increased casualties. We spend billions in Iraq, while bases like Walter Reed fall into disrepair. This undermines our ability to care for the thousands of wounded soldiers we should have anticipated, despite the rosy predictions that we would be greeted as liberators in Iraq.

Now comes the outrage.

Now Congress holds hearings.

Now comes the wringing of hands. Yes, better late than never.

Clean it up, paint the walls, make Walter Reed look neat and tidy! But this won’t solve our problems. We must someday look critically at the shortcomings of our foreign policy, a policy that needlessly and foolishly intervenes in places where we have no business being.

Voters spoke very clearly in November: they want the war to end. Yet Congress has taken no steps to defund or end a war it never should have condoned in the first place.

On the contrary, Congress plans to spend another $100 billion or more in an upcoming Iraq funding bill – more even than the administration has requested. The 2007 military budget, $700 billion, apparently is not enough. And it’s all done under the slogan of “supporting the troops,” even as our policy guarantees more Americans will die and Walter Reed will continue to receive casualties.

Every problem Congress and the administration create requires more money to fix. The mantra remains the same: spend more money we don’t have, borrow from the Chinese, or just print it.

This policy of interventionism is folly, and it cannot continue forever. It will end, either because we wake up or because we go broke.

Interventionism always leads to unanticipated consequences and blowback, like:

* A weakened, demoralized military;
* Exploding deficits;
* Billions of dollars wasted;
* Increased inflation;
* Less economic growth;
* An unstable currency;
* Painful stock market corrections;
* Political demagoguery;
* Lingering anger at home; and
* Confusion about who is to blame.

These elements combine to create an environment that inevitably undermines personal liberty. Virtually all American wars have led to diminished civil liberties at home.

Most of our mistakes can be laid at the doorstep of our failure to follow the Constitution.

That Constitution, if we so desire, can provide needed guidance and a roadmap to restore our liberties and change our foreign policy. This is critical if we truly seek peace and prosperity.

March 9, 2007
I sure hope he has at least a running chance for the presidency.

Saladin said...

The Washington Dodgers
by William S. Lind

It's springtime for Congress, and the Washington Dodgers are batting 1.000 in the exhibition season. No, I'm not talking about baseball. I have just enough interest in sports to know that the Dodgers play in Los Angeles and Washington's baseball team is the Nationals. The Dodgers I'm talking about are the Democratic majorities in the House and the Senate, for whom it is always exhibition season and dodging means not ending the war in Iraq.

Two examples show how in this game, no balls count as a home run. The Washington Post Express reported on March 2 that

Just hours after floating the idea of cutting $20 billion from President Bush's $142 billion request for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan next year, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad was overruled by fellow Democrats Thursday.

"It's nothing that any of us are considering," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev, told reporters.

Then, the lead story in Wednesday's Washington Post begins with this paragraph:

Senior House Democrats, seeking to placate members of their party from Republican-leaning districts, are pushing a plan that would place restrictions on President Bush's ability to wage the war in Iraq but would allow him to waive them if he publicly justifies his position.

That's not pushing a plan, it is pushing on a rope, and the House Democratic leadership knows it. You can almost hear their giggles as they offer the anti-war voters who gave them their majority one of Washington's oldest dodges, "requirements" the Executive Branch can waive if it wants to.

The kabuki script currently goes like this. Congressional Democrats huff and puff about ending the war; the White House and Congressional Republicans accuse them of "not supporting the troops;" and the Democrats pretend to be stopped cold, plaintively mewing that "Well, we all agree we have to support the troops, don't we?"

"Supporting the troops" is just another dodge. The only way to support the troops when a war is lost is to end the war and bring them home. Nor is it a challenge to design legislative language that both ends the war and supports the troops. All the Democratic majorities in Congress have to do is condition the funding for the Iraq war with the words, "No funds may be obligated or expended except for the withdrawal of all American forces from Iraq, and for such force protection actions as may be necessary during that withdrawal." If Bush vetoes the bill, he vetoes continued funding for the war. If he signs the bill, ignores the legislative language and keeps fighting the war in the same old way, he sets himself up for impeachment.

What's not to like?

For the Democrats, what's not to like is anything that might actually end the war before the 2008 elections. The Republicans have 21 Senate seats up in 2008, and if the Iraq war is still going on, they can count on losing most of them, along with the Presidency and maybe 100 more seats in the House. 2008 could be the new 1932, leaving the Republican Party a permanent minority for twenty years. From the standpoint of the Democratic Party's leadership, a few thousand more dead American troops is a small price to pay for so glowing a political victory.

Ironically, the people who should be most desperate to end the war are Congressional Republicans. Their heads are on the chopping block. But they remain so paralyzed by the White House that they cannot act even to save themselves. The March 2 Washington Times reported that

Republicans in Congress – including most who have defected from President Bush's plan to send reinforcements to Iraq – have closed ranks and are prepared to thwart the Democrats' continued efforts to undermine the war strategy…

All but one of the seven Senate Republicans that backed the anti-surge resolution in their chamber say they will not support any funding cuts.

The likely result of all this Washington dodging is that events on the ground in Iraq and elsewhere will outrun the political process. That in turn means a systemic crisis, the abandonment of both parties by their bases and a possible left-right grass roots alliance against the corrupt and incompetent center. In that possibility may lie the nation's best hope.

March 9, 2007
For those concerned about global warming I would say all this hot air emanating from DC should be banned immediately!

Robert S said...

Report Says FBI Violated Patriot Act Guidelines
By Brian Ross and Vic Walter
ABC News
Thursday 08 March 2008

The FBI repeatedly failed to follow the strict guidelines of the Patriot Act when its agents took advantage of a new provision allowing the FBI to obtain phone and financial records without a court order, according to a report to be made public Friday by the Justice Department's Inspector General.

The report, in classified and unclassified versions, remains closely held, but Washington officials who have seen it tell ABC News it documents "numerous lapses" and describe it as "scathing" and "not a pretty picture for the FBI."

FBI Director Robert Mueller is scheduled to brief Congress on the report at noon.

The officials say the inspector general found the FBI underreported by at least 20 percent the use of the controversial provision, known as National Security Letters, NSLs, in required disclosures to Congress.

The Patriot Act gave FBI agents the ability to demand telephone, bank, credit card and library records by issuing an administrative letter, bypassing the need to seek a warrant from a federal judge.

Civil liberties groups have long opposed the provision, saying the lack of oversight could lead to the kinds of problems apparently uncovered by the inspector general.

In a report last year, the Justice Department said there were 9,254 NSL requests on 3,501 persons in the calendar year 2005.

Some officials say the actual number is substantially higher.

The inspector general's report reportedly found "systemic" failures in the issuance, tracking and accountability of the controversial NSLs, although a Justice Department official said there was no finding of "willful or criminal misconduct."

FBI officials said they could not comment until the report was made public but said the FBI welcomed the findings because several of the reported problems were unknown to senior management.

"Expect a weekend firestorm," said one Justice Department official.


Senate Republicans Deliver Sharp Criticism of Gonzales
By Paul Kane and Dan Eggen
The Washington Post
Thursday 08 March 2007

Senators say attorney general fired prosecutors without explanation.

Senior Senate Republicans today delivered scathing criticism of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales for his handling of the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, joining Democrats in chagrin that the prosecutors were dismissed without adequate explanation.

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, suggested that Gonzales's status as the nation's leading law enforcement officer might not last through the remainder of President Bush's term, pointedly disputing the attorney general's public rationale for the mass firings.

"One day there will be a new attorney general, maybe sooner rather than later," Specter said at a committee hearing where a new round of subpoenas to the Justice Department was considered.

After the meeting, Specter declined to elaborate on that remark, but told reporters that most of the blame for the ongoing controversy rests with the attorney general. "It's snowballing, mostly with the help of the Department of Justice," he said.

Two of the Justice Department's most vocal defenders on the issue, Sens. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), also had sharp words for senior Justice Department officials who attacked the credibility of the prosecutors publicly by saying they performed poorly at their jobs.

"Some people's reputations are going to suffer needlessly," Kyl said. "Hopefully we can get to the point where we say, 'These people did a great job.'"

Sessions said the firings were handled in an "unhealthy" manner. "They really should have talked with these people in far more detail," he added.

Kyl and Sessions said, however, that the evidence does not yet point to a widespread conspiracy to oust the prosecutors for political motives. Both said it was within Bush's right to ask for the resignations of the eight prosecutors.

The remarks from a trio of top Republicans marked the strongest criticism so far from Bush administration allies in the controversy. Senior Democrats on the panel continued to sharply criticize the firings.

The eight prosecutors were dismissed last year, seven of them on Dec. 7. The Justice Department has said that all but one were fired for "performance" issues, including failing to adhere to Bush administration policy on a number of matters. The other was removed to make way for an ally of White House political adviser Karl Rove.

One of the U.S. attorneys, David C. Iglesias of New Mexico, has charged that he was let go after a conflict with Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.) and Rep. Heather A. Wilson (R.-N.M.) over a corruption investigation involving Democrats that his office was pursuing. He has testified to Congress that both called him shortly before the 2006 election to pressure him on the timing of indictments. Domenici and Wilson have acknowledged phoning Iglesias but said they were not trying to sway his investigation.

Specter said that an op-ed article by Gonzales that appeared in USA Today yesterday, in which he said the firings were an "overblown personnel matter," only served to exacerbate the problem. "I hardly think it's a personnel matter, and I hardly think it's been overblown," he said.

He read portions of the Gonzales article, pausing to critique each one. He added that the suggestion that the attorney general had lost "confidence" in the prosecutors needlessly suggested they performed poorly at their jobs.

"There will always be a black mark against them," Specter said.

Committee Republicans objected to issuing subpoenas to force the testimony of Gonzales's inner circle of aides, instead arguing that the panel should continue to negotiate for their testimony on a voluntary basis. Democrats agreed with that idea, saying they would be willing to conduct interviews in private if that produced information they are seeking about the decision-making process behind the mass firing.

Also today, a liberal-leaning advocacy group formally requested a third ethics investigation in the controversy. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) asked the House ethics committee to investigate allegations that a top aide to Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) called the U.S. attorney in Seattle to inquire about a vote fraud case.

Former U.S. attorney John McKay said Hastings's chief of staff called him shortly after a hotly disputed gubernatorial race inquiring about the pending inquiry, but McKay said he cut the call short. Hastings and his former aide, Ed Cassidy, have characterized the call as routine and appropriate.

CREW's executive director, Melanie Sloan, said that Hastings, ranking member of the House ethics panel, "attempted to use the criminal justice system to interfere with a gubernatorial election."

Hastings and Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio), who chairs the House ethics committee, declined comment. They said they were forbidden from talking about any internal issues on the panel, which is officially called the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.

CREW has also filed requests for probes of Domenici and Wilson. The Senate Ethics Committee has announced a preliminary inquiry into the Domenici call.


Is Alberto Gonzales the next to take a fall? Will Robert Mueller be quizzed on domestic surveillance issues? Will someone ask why Senator Ted Kennedy was on the No-Fly list?
And how about that warm reception the Wush is getting in Latin and South America?
Stay tuned as the weird turn pro...

And speaking about turning to professionals, Domenci has lawyered up, with Duke Cunningham's attorney, no less.


Laugh-In 1968

Cast: [repeated jingle] What's the news across the nation/We have got the information/in a way we hope will amuse - you - /We just love to give you our views/La da de da/Ladies and Gents, Laugh-In looks at the news!

Dan Rowan: [as the News of the Future anchor] Item: Washington, DC, 1988. President Ronald Reagan today denied once again that he is a candidate for the office of Governor of California.

Dan Rowan: Teresa, did you know that the government has spent, in the past two years, 28 million dollars renting buildings in Vietnam?
Teresa Graves: My goodness! Listen, if we just stop paying the rent, maybe we can get evicted.

Dan Rowan: Hey, Goldie, would you ever go on a hunger strike?
Goldie Hawn: No, I couldn't, I'm on a diet.

Judy Carne: I love Joan Baez, I got her autographed fingerprints.

Jo Anne: Boris says, "Red China is our friend. And when they get here, they're going to prove it."

Barbara Feldon (Secret Agent 99): It's not the hawks and doves that I'm worried about... it's those cuckoos in Washington that want to make pigeons out of all of us.

John Wayne: The sky is blue. The grass is green. Get off you butts and join the Marines.

Dan Rowan: Now here's the man for whom the news wouldn't be the news without the news, Heeeere's Dicky.
Dick Martin: You bet your sweet bippy.

Henry Gibson: Solomon Grundy, by Henry Gibson; Solomon Grundy born on Monday; went to school on Tuesday; grew a beard on Wednesday; expelled on Thusday; protested on Friday; arrested on Saturday; drafted on Sunday; and this was the end of Solomon Grundy.

Dan Rowan: Say good night, Dick.
Dick Martin: Good night, Dick!
Dan Rowan: Good night, everybody!

Announcer: The show has been prerecorded to give the cast a chance to get away.
German Soldier: Very interesting, but they'll never make it across the border.
[laughs maniacally]

Robert S said...

Capt, how's this:

new thread

capt said...

Two new threads!