Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Placing Libby Above The Law

Over three years ago, on the morning of July 14, 2003, I picked up The Washington Post and did something I don't always do: I read Robert Novak's column.

It was about the controversy concerning George W. Bush's prewar claim that Iraq had been uranium-shopping in Africa and former Ambassador Joseph Wilson's charge that the White House had twisted this intelligence to hype the case for war. A few sentences in the middle of the column caught my eye: Novak was reporting that Wilson's wife—Valerie Plame—was a CIA "operative on weapons of mass destruction." I knew Joseph Wilson. In the months before the invasion of Iraq, we had become Green Room acquaintances, seeing each other at the Fox News Washington bureau. As two of the few commentators questioning the wisdom of launching a war against Iraq, we had bonded. I had even persuaded Wilson—who joked he was an establishment type of guy—to write an article slamming the neoconservatives for my home base, The Nation .

When I saw the reference to his wife as a CIA spy, I called Wilson and asked about that. He was livid about the column. He would neither confirm nor deny anything. But, he said, if the information in the Novak column was accurate—if she were a CIA operative—then her cover had been blown and that would have serious consequences. If the information was wrong, then she had been falsely branded a spy. That also would have serious consequences. Two days later I wrote a column for The Nation's website that was the first article to suggest that the two anonymous administration officials who had told Novak about Valerie Wilson might have violated a little-known law called the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which makes it a felony for a government official to disclose knowingly identifying information about an undercover intelligence officer.

Some credit or blame me for all that followed. Some Bush-backing commentators and bloggers have whipped up conspiracy theories involving me—most fancifully that Wilson and I somehow plotted to make the leak even worse in order to damage the Bush-Cheney White House. Recently, Victoria Toensing suggested that I had enabled Wilson to mislead the public about his wife's covert status perhaps so he could obtain book and movie contracts. This has all been part of a right-wing effort to distract and distort—and to diminish the significance of the leak and the criminal case.

Ideological Loyalties

This ongoing campaign kicked into high gear on Tuesday, when the jury rendered a four-count guilty verdict in the obstruction of justice trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Two hours after the verdict was announced, the National Review posted an editorial demanding that George W. Bush pardon Libby. The trial, NR 's editors proclaimed, "proved only one thing: A White House aide became the target of a politicized prosecution." The magazine denounced the "partisans" who had "pounced on" the Novak column, and it argued, "A good man has paid a very heavy price for the Left's fevers, the media's scandal-mongering and President Bush's failure to unify his own administration."

Across the National Review site there was much chest-beating. Toensing declared, "The Scooter Libby verdict makes no logical sense, but that won't bother the legal notions of an appellate court." (Apparently, she knows better than all those appellate judges.) William Bennett decried the verdict as "the criminalization of politics." David Frum, former Bush speechwriter, called the conviction a "travesty" (and took a poke at me). Former Senator Fred Thompson said he was "sad" and "angry." National Review blogger Mark Levin called for prosecution witnesses to be indicted (he didn't specify for what) and complained, "this case ... was political from beginning to end." (I'm sure other conservatives have gone haywire over the verdict, but I'm not surfing further.)

Here's what I don't get: Are these conservatives so blinded by ideological loyalties that they do not see that in the leak case the system worked?

A leak of classified information occurred that blew the cover of a CIA officer. (An aside: I'm not going to debate those right-wingers—such as Jonah Goldberg and Clifford May—who pooh-poohed Valerie Wilson's clandestine status at the CIA. She was, as Michael Isikoff and I disclosed in Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War , the operations chief of the Joint Task Force on Iraq, a unit within the clandestine operations directorate's Counterproliferation Division. Her employment at the CIA was classified, and at the time of the leak, she was still undercover. Numerous CIA people have said her exposure had the potential for trouble.) This leak, as I had noted in my column, might have been a violation of the law. But one could not know unless an investigation was to be conducted.

It did seem at the time that the leak was the product of a get-Wilson campaign mounted by the White House. As it turned out—and as Isikoff and I revealed—then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was Novak's primary source, and he was not part of a White House operation targeting Wilson. But chief White House strategist Karl Rove, seeking to undermine Wilson's credibility, did confirm the leak to Novak and also shared the same information with Matt Cooper, then of Time. Libby leaked information on Wilson's wife to Judith Miller, then of The New York Times , as he and his boss, the vice president, were trying to counter Wilson's criticisms. And Ari Fleischer, as the trial revealed, also leaked information on Valerie Wilson to at least one reporter. Whatever Armitage did, senior White House aides were purposefully spreading classified information about Valerie Wilson—whether or not they realized the possible legal consequences.

So there was a leak. It occurred as the White House assailed Wilson. It was perfectly reasonable to call, as several congressional Democrats did, for an inquiry. The CIA, after an initial review, forwarded a request to the Justice Department. The Justice Department then decided in late September 2003 to open an investigation, and FBI agents began knocking on doors. About two months later, Attorney General John Ashcroft—no leftie—recused himself from the case, which involved White House officials. And Ashcroft's deputy appointed Patrick Fitzgerald, the tough-minded and independent U.S. attorney in Chicago, to be a special prosecutor in the case.

What's wrong with this picture? Nothing. There was a possible crime. The CIA said so itself. The feds started investigating, and Ashcroft's Justice Department made certain the investigation would be professional, not political.

Fitzgerald Gathers The Facts

By the time Fitzgerald took over the case in early 2004, the FBI agents working it had already sussed out a basic fact: Armitage had been Novak's first leaker. But there was more to the case than that. What other leaking had gone on? Days after the Novak column appeared, Time had reported that administration officials had told the magazine that Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer. For Fitzgerald, this meant he had to learn who had leaked besides Armitage (who had confessed to FBI agents once the investigation began). Fitzgerald also had to determine which Bush officials had known about Valerie Wilson and whether any who might have leaked knew she was undercover. None of this was improper or unusual. Fitzgerald's job was to gather all the facts he could to determine if any law had been broken, including perjury and obstruction of justice.

Fitzgerald suspected Rove was not telling the full truth. Rove had admitted confirming the leak for Novak but had not acknowledged leaking to Cooper. And Fitzgerald knew that the account Libby had given to the FBI was contradicted by Meet the Press host Tim Russert. Libby had told the agents that though Cheney had informed him in early June 2003 that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA, he completely forgot about that and learned about her anew when Russert, in a July 11 phone conversation, told him that all the reporters knew Wilson's wife worked at the CIA. Russert told an FBI agent that he had said no such thing and, at the time of the call, had known nothing about Valerie Wilson. Other witnesses also contradicted Libby's account, each claiming that he or she had spoken with Libby about Wilson's wife prior to the leak.

Fitzgerald had a choice. He could investigate Rove and Libby for possibly lying to protect themselves (and maybe others) from a criminal inquiry. Or he could walk away from the suspected obstruction of justice. He chose to investigate. He eventually concluded there was no prosecutable case to bring regarding the leak committed by Armitage, Rove and Libby, but he pressed ahead on the other front. He subpoenaed journalists and even imprisoned Judith Miller for 85 days before she cooperated. (Was that going too far? In the coming years, we'll see whether a troubling precedent has been set.)

Fitzgerald was sticking to the rules. As he has explained, there's no excuse for lying under oath. By lying to the FBI and then the grand jury, Libby blocked the government from obtaining facts that may have been useful in assessing if any crime had occurred. Fitzgerald could not let Libby get away with this. After extensive investigation—and after obtaining testimony from Russert, Miller and Cooper—he indicted Libby in a rather narrow case. (Fitzgerald did not do the same with Rove because he did not believe he had sufficient evidence to prove that Rove had lied when claiming he had forgotten he had leaked to Cooper.)

Do the conservatives who belittle the case believe Libby should have gotten a pass once Fitzgerald decided not to prosecute anyone for leaking? That obstruction of justice and perjury charges should not be filed in criminal cases that don't result in other indictments? To do so would countenance lying under oath. It would also say to possible targets of criminal investigations: Go ahead and lie and see if you can stymie the investigation. If your lies prevent a prosecutor from gathering evidence needed for an indictment, you win.

Why Cry For A Felon?

What was political about Fitzgerald's by-the-numbers pursuit of Libby? Fitzgerald, who says he is a registered independent, was nominated to be U.S. attorney by a Republican senator. He didn't seem to care whether Libby was responsible for the war or not. Had Fitzgerald been politically motivated, he probably could have cooked up a charge against Rove. As for the merits of the case, the jurors, after listening to testimony for weeks and then deliberating for ten days, decided the evidence supported Fitzgerald—even though, as juror Denis Collins said, they felt sympathy for Libby and wondered why he was the only Bush administration official to end up in court in the leak case.

Where's the problem? A leak was investigated. No crime was charged—as often happens in leak cases—but a prosecutor suspected a witness (or target) had lied to the FBI and the grand jury. He investigated thoroughly. He indicted. The defendant was able to mount a multi-million-dollar defense. The jury concluded that the prosecutor was correct and that the defendant had deliberately misled the investigators in a national security case.

In similar circumstances, law-and-order conservatives would cry no tears for the convicted felon. But in this instance, right-wing allies of the White House have decried the prosecution and verdict as extreme miscarriages of justice, claiming Libby was the innocent victim of a political witch hunt. Some may be doing so merely to help a friend. But I suspect that conservatives view Libby, a chief architect of the Iraq war, as a stand-in for the administration they favor and a vice president they fancy.

Though both Fitzgerald and Ted Wells, Libby's lead lawyer, declared during the trial that this case was not about the war and not about whether the White House had misled the country into the mess in Iraq, Libby's defenders don't seem to buy that. And perhaps no one should. Libby lied to cover up his (and perhaps Cheney's) role in a White House effort to beat back the charge Bush had lied the nation to war. Libby, in a way, had tried to protect all those who had cheered on the war and who now stand discredited. Credit the members of the Libby Lobby with gratitude, though it comes at a high price: exposing themselves as partisans for whom the war and politics mean more than the truth and law.


capt said...

Mr. David Corn,

How is that different from placing Bush above the law by not impeaching the SOB?

Broken laws are prosecuted - not always convicted but never simply ignored for political expedience.

That is IF we are a nation of laws not subjects of a totalitarian dictatorship.

Thanks for all of your work.


Gerald said...

What I love about Nazi America is that her idol, George the War Pimp Bush, is truly above the law. He even has Congress pass a bill that the War Pimp cannot be charged for any crimes while he is in office. The suckers, Nazi Americans, accept that the War Pimp is above the law. How can anyone not love Nazi America? Most Nazi Americans have stinking thinking and they have lost their moral compasses.


Gerald said...

Or Something Else Entirely?

Will Nazi America remember her Christian roots???

Gerald said...

Hitler and his Nazi cabal can learn something from Jim Douglass

Gerald said...

The purpose of nonviolence is to move the oppressors to perceive as human beings those whom they are oppressing. People commit acts of violence and injustice against others only to the extent that they do not regard them as fully human. Nonviolent resistance seeks to persuade the aggressor to recognize in the victim the humanity they have in common, which when recognized fully makes violence impossible.

This goal of human recognition is sought through the power of voluntary suffering, by which the victim becomes no longer a victim but instead an active opponent in loving resistance to the one who has refused to recognize that victim as human. The person of nonviolence acts through suffering love to move the unjust opponent to a perception of their common humanity, and thus to the cessation of violence in the commencement of brother and sisterhood. The greater the repression, the greater must be the suffering courted by its victims; the greater the inhumanity, the greater the power of suffering love necessary to begin restoring the bonds of community. Suffering as such is powerless. Love transforms it into the kind of resistance capable of moving an opponent to the act of mutual recognition.

Gerald said...

We live in that final time which offers humans the clearest choice in history: the kingdom or the holocaust. Either end is a lightning east to west: the nuclear holocaust a lightning fire, the kingdom of Reality a lightning spirit. We will choose lightning east to west today as either nuclear fire or the kingdom of God, as either despair and annihilation or transformation through nonviolence. If we look to Jesus and Gandhi, and what they point to, we can hope to choose the lightning fire of nonviolence.

Gerald said...

Jim pursues what Thomas Merton called "an ontology of nonviolence" -- the quest to put flesh on nonviolence, to give expression to the nature of its being. The quest is at first necessarily mystical, nonviolence being so alien to our species. In the words of Merton, "Everything is emptiness and everything is compassion."

But Jim urges us on and guides us deep into the spirituality that disarms hearts and nations. "In our resistance to humankind's destruction, we need to live and act in that spirit of ultimate perfect emptiness and compassion if we are to experience a way of transformation." This is what he and Shelley have done at Ground Zero, what we try to do at Los Alamos, and what others try in their efforts to disarm the School of Americas, the Oak Ridge Base in Tennessee, and Livermore Labs in California.

"We are invited into acts of ultimate perfect emptiness and compassion in the places of total destruction of life on earth. If we can journey to those worldly places of power and destruction like Jesus and Gandhi, we can transform the darkness with the light of peace."

I hope and pray with Jim that we'll choose the lightning fire of nonviolence.

Saladin said...

A Drop of the Hat
Written by Chris Floyd

"Who's gonna throw that minstrel boy a coin?
Who's gonna let it roll?"
– Bob Dylan

We've been busking at this corner of the blogosphere for a few years now without ever passing the hat. But unfortunately, the time has come to put out the fedora and see what drops in. Your humble correspondent has been axed from his paying journalistic job once again, and for the same reason as last time: "new directions" emanating from the editorial chair.

First it was the Moscow Times last August, and a new editor opting to concentrate more on Russian affairs, with no further need for a column that over its 11-year history had evolved into a compendium of the "high crimes and low comedy of the Bush Imperium." Now, where I landed almost as soon as Moscow gave me the heave-ho, has also suddenly announced the dreaded new direction, opting to focus on original reporting by a staff of "young, green writers" and dropping more analytical and adversarial geezers like me.

This loss of income puts a real strain on the upkeep of Empire Burlesque – a dicey thing in the best of times. It actually takes a good deal of dosh to keep such a website running: custom-built from the finest open-source software, with its own dedicated servers, and the full panoply of features that it offers. All of this has been put together, maintained (and is constantly improved) by EB's co-founder and webmaster, Richard Kastelein, the internationally recognized web craftsman. Neither of us make any money from Empire Burlesque; the revenue brought in by the few ads goes right back into the site. Thus any crimp in the cashflow brings us to the edge of the digital abyss.

So if you have found Empire Burlesque useful to you at all – if you feel that it offers a voice and a viewpoint that you would rather not see disappear from the internet – then you might consider tossing a few spare coins our way, if you've got any. Of course, what's really needed to secure the site's long-term future is another paying journalism gig – so if you know of any venue that wouldn't mind laying a few home truths about the powers-that-be on their readers, do let me know. Or let them know about the work here at Empire Burlesque.

Anyway, here's how to find the hat. Simply look up in the top right hand corner of the this page, and you will find a small notice exhorting you to "take up alms against the empire." There, in the blanks provided, just put down how much coin you care to part with, and that's it.

Any and all assistance will be greatly appreciated. And if you can't give, please keep reading anyway; we'll keep writing as long as the lights stay on.
If any journalist deserves a few coins tossed their way it is Mr. Floyd, one of the best.
Capt, I would like to nominate Empire Burlesque for a link on your blog!

Saladin said...

Pardon me if this has already ben posted.

Operation Enduring Idiocy: The Deadly Child's Play of U.S.
Written by Chris Floyd
Friday, 02 March 2007

Arthur Silber, as always, talks good and damning sense about the maddening moral idiocy of the entire American establishment and the whole "national debate" about the Iraq war. He limns with brutal accuracy the inability of our movers and shakers -- and most of the public they manipulate so thoroughly -- to comprehend the true nature of this bloodsoaked hell: that it is a monstrous crime, conceived in evil, steeped in murder, breeding death, brutality and corruption in everything it touches.

Silber's penetrating ire is sparked off by the witless flap over John McCain's remark about the "waste" of American lives in shoddy execution of the war. McCain, like Barack Obama before him, quickly and cravenly apologized for letting this one little sliver of truth escape their lips -- for as we all know, it is poor form, a terrible social faux pas, to mention the rotting corpse beneath the canape table at the great Beltway Cocktail Party. The lives were wasted -- cynically wasted, diabolically wasted -- because they were devoured in the service of depraved criminals seeking loot and dominion, and for no other purpose whatsoever. Yet not only is it impossible to acknowledge this waste in polite company, one cannot even remotely admit that the entire action itself is criminal, that, as Silber points out, it entails not just the waste of tens of thousands of dead and maimed American soldiers but also the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis, shredded, chewed, gutted and sent into darkness by the honking goons and lumbering husks who rule us.

From the pathetic little media spit-up over the remarks of McCain and Obama, Silber moves on to a more sweeping look at the many malign effects the war crime is inflicting on America and the world, as well as examining some of the unspoken assumptions that drive the bipartisan arrogance and ignorance of U.S. foreign policy. Here's a brief glimpse at one of his insights:

Moreover, this catastrophe without end has severely damaged our nation's military, making us more vulnerable to actual threats we might face in the future. And no, Mr. Bush, Senator Reid, and assorted "major liberal bloggers," the answer is not to enthusiastically and very expensively create a still "bigger military." We already spend more on defense than most of the rest of the world combined. Why in God's name should our military, in the words of Chalmers Johnson, regularly "deploy[] well over half a million soldiers, spies, technicians, teachers, dependents, and civilian contractors in other nations" -- and why should we have over 700 bases in 130 countries around the globe? There is only one reason for insanity of this kind: we are absolutely convinced we are "entitled" to rule the world, by military force on a scale never before seen in all of world history. If that is what you believe, then say so -- and be damned.

That last line says it all. It's time to stop all the baby talk, time to strip off the sugar-coating over the reality of what these policies really mean, and have always meant. And it's time -- way past time -- to damn the authoritarians, the imperialists, and the silk-suited murderers for what they are, and drive them out of office, out of public life, and into the prisons where they belong.

Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

Our brothers and sisters in the Armed Forces deserve better than to be wasted as the gendarmes of global plutocracy. The best way to support them would be to bring them all home--not just from the war zones, but from all over the world--and mind our own business as the Founders intended.

Of course, to accomplish that, we would have to expel corporate influence [aka bribery, oh excuse me, "campaign contributions"] from the government, and I don't know how that could be done. :(

David B. Benson said...

Most disliked, by rank:

(1) Israel
(2) Iran
(3) US
(4) North Korea

BBC poll results...

capt said...

"Formerly no one was allowed to think freely; now it is permitted, but no one is capable of it any more. Now people want to think only what they are supposed to think, and this they consider freedom.": Oswald Spengler - (1880-1936) Source: The Decline of the West, 1926

"A people may prefer a free government, but if, from indolence, or carelessness, or cowardice, or want of public spirit, they are unequal to the exertions necessary for preserving it; if they will not fight for it when it is directly attacked; if they can be deluded by the artifices used to cheat them out of it; if by momentary discouragement, or temporary panic, or a fit of enthusiasm for an individual, they can be induced to lay their liberties at the feet even of a great man, or trust him with powers which enable him to subvert their institutions; in all these cases they are more or less unfit for liberty: and though it may be for their good to have had it even for a short time, they are unlikely long to enjoy it." -- John Stuart Mill, Representative Government, 1861

"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty." -- John Adams, 1772


Thanks ICH Newsletter!

capt said...


Empire Burlesque is UP!

Excellent suggestion.


kathleen said...

Great article David. But I am confused. I had read that you got the idea that a possible crime had been committed off of your blogsite. That one of the bloggers had mentioned the "Intelligence Identities Protection Act". If this is so, you should demonstrate some integrity and mention that in your article. If this is not the case, I apologize. But I believe I read that somewhere.

The right wing radicals (rwr) efforts to paint "poor, innocent" Libby as the "fall guy" is way over the top. While I feel for his family, Libby is up to his neck in blood. And the rwr's efforts to make him out to be a martyr as they did with Judy Miller is pathetic. These is the same group who wanted Clinton to be impeached for lying about a blowjob. They demonstrate such integrity (cough) they have such high standards (choke), these folks are very dangerous, because they seem to believe their own repeated lies. Their twisted values are in the gutter.
One really has to wonder about Victoria Toensing's persistent efforts to undermine Fitz's investigation. I believe she wrote the "Intelligence Identities Protection Act". Did she design the Act to protect undercover agents, or did she design the act to allow outings to go unpunished. Her behaviour makes one wonder. She absolutely creeps me out.

Call your reps demand that they push hard for a much thorough investigation of Cheney and Rove and others roles in Plames outing. Fitz handed them a club, will they use it?

The Aipac conference is this weekend. Our reps will be getting hammered hard by the people attending this conference. Call and e-mail your reps let them know that there are people out here who support a more balanced and honest policy in regard to the Palestinians. Ask them to pressure Israel to abide by Un Resolution 242 and to sign the Non-proliferation treaty. Encourage others to call and e-mail.

kathleen said...

What does a pardon prove? That these guys are above the law. What a justice system.

kathleen said...

Fitzgerald: No further investigation planned Michael Roston
Tuesday March 6, 2007

In a lengthy press conference with reporters after the announcement of four guilty verdicts, federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said that he did not expect the results of the trial of former White House adviser I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby to result in further investigations or charges. He also promised "appropriate" support for any Congressional investigation that might follow the trial.

"I do not expect to file any further charges, the investigation was inactive prior to the trial," the Chicago-based federal attorney who led the prosecution said. "We're all going back to our day jobs."

However, Fitzgerald did concede "If new information comes to light, of course we'll do that."

@raw story

kathleen said...

Great and lengthy article at Information Clearing HouseHigh-Fivers and Art Student Spies
What Did Israel Know in Advance of the 9/11 Attacks?


03/07/07 "Counterpunch" -- -- On the afternoon of September 11, 2001, an FBI bulletin known as a BOLO ­- "be on lookout" -- was issued with regard to three suspicious men who that morning were seen leaving the New Jersey waterfront minutes after the first plane hit World Trade Center 1. Law enforcement officers across the New York-New Jersey area were warned in the radio dispatch to watch for a "vehicle possibly related to New York terrorist attack":

White, 2000 Chevrolet van with 'Urban Moving Systems' sign on back seen at Liberty State Park, Jersey City, NJ, at the time of first impact of jetliner into World Trade Center Three individuals with van were seen celebrating after initial impact and subsequent explosion. FBI Newark Field Office requests that, if the van is located, hold for prints and detain individuals.

At 3:56 p.m., twenty-five minutes after the issuance of the FBI BOLO, officers with the East Rutherford Police Department stopped the commercial moving van through a trace on the plates. According to the police report, Officer Scott DeCarlo and Sgt. Dennis Rivelli approached the stopped van, demanding that the driver exit the vehicle. The driver, 23-year-old Sivan Kurzberg, refused and "was asked several more times [but] appeared to be fumbling with a black leather fanny pouch type of bag". With guns drawn, the police then "physically removed" Kurzberg, while four other men ­- two more men had apparently joined the group since the morning ­- were also removed from the van, handcuffed, placed on the grass median and read their Miranda rights.

Saladin said...

Kathleen, information regarding those Israelis is classified, can't talk about it you anti-Semite you!
Mr. Benson, most of the world is savvy to the true nature of Israel, the US is still wearing their blinders good and tight. When AIPAC says frog, our reps jump.

David B. Benson said...

Saladin --- We're only number three!

Saladin said...

I can't post an excerpt because it is a photo copy. But I want to know how to find out if this is authentic. It is a Protocol of a White House Conference dated 11-11-1993. Scroll down to the Voice of the White House article. Notice the conversation regarding a National ID. The whole thing is freaky and creepy, if it's real.

The Voice of the White House

Saladin said...

You mean, we aren't the MOST hated, just the third most? I wonder if the people are aware of who exactly is pulling the strings around here?

David B. Benson said...

Saladin --- Disliked. The poll asked about dislike.


Gerald said...

No Power But Powerlessness

Each day Nazi America appears to accept satan as her god!!!!!

Saladin said...

That's just quibbling.

O'Reilly said...

Here's what I don't get: Are these conservatives so blinded by ideological loyalties that they do not see that in the leak case the system worked?

Yes, that and hatred for liberals. I am not kidding. Listen to CSPAN. Many conservatives HATE liberals. Hatred f*cks with logic and left brain activity.

O'Reilly said...

Dear Bushie,

Everyone following the trial of I. Scooter Libby learned there is clear evidence that Mr. Cheney informed Mr. Libby about the identity of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame.

By following the trial we also learned that effort in the White House to discredit Mr. Wilson were directed by Mr. Cheney, and that one result of this effort was the disloyal and criminal leak of classified information: Valerie Plame’s status as a CIA operative under non-official cover.

Everyone following the trial also knows the highly respected prosecutor Mr. Fitzgerald was unable to determine who was responsible because Mr. Libby obstructed justice by lying to the FBI and lying under oath to the grand jury. Perjury in a criminal investigation is an extremely serious offense. Now, Mr. Libby is a convicted felon and his crime is obstructing justice. Now, there is a cloud over the Vice President, and as result, there is a cloud over the Presidency.

Apart from President Bush’s pledge to terminate anyone in his administration leaking classified information, and former press secretary Scott McLellan’s statement that neither Mr. Libby nor Mr. Rove were involved, the White House, the President and the Vice President have remained silent and unwilling to offer a clear and honest explanation… with the rare exception of Mr. Cheney’s occasional public affirmation of Mr. Libby’s honesty.

How will the cloud over the Vice President and the White House be removed?

o Mr. Libby could decide to make a deal with the prosecutor in return for his confession and honest testimony.

o The Vice President could come forward to explain his role and to answer questions.

o The President could make good on his word to terminate White House officials involved in the leak. From evidence presented at trial, that list could include Karl Rove, Dick Armitage, and Stephen Hadley.

o Congress could investigate the leak case using its subpoena power.

From prosecutor Mr. Fitzgerald we learned “truth” is the engine of our justice system.

Mr. President, it is within your power to give the truth back. Any other way is a harmful spectacle our country should not endure. A pardon for Mr. Libby’s would be a miscarriage of justice and a stain on your legacy. People need to know that you have the backs of all public servants that risk their lives in service of our country, not just the one’s that work closest to you.

O'Reilly said...

Kathleen says

Call your reps demand that they push hard for a much thorough investigation of Cheney and Rove and others roles in Plames outing. Fitz handed them a club, will they use it?

Do it.

capt said...

Seems simple to me.

The Democratic majority needs to start a new investigation into the leak because the previous investigation was Obstructed.

Will the dumbocratics have the stones? Time will tell.


Robert S said...

Jest a thought,

Imagine if former presidents would lose their Secret Service protections if they did any of the following activities:

Traded their former status for a lucrative weapons/investment position ala Carlyle,

Charged honoraria for speech making.

Brought dishonor to the Office of the Presidency, or to the Nation, while in Office or Out.

You get the idea...

Robert S said...

Vermont Votes to Impeach Bush/Cheney
John Nichols Wed Mar 7, 7:36 AM ET

The Nation -- When Vermont Governor Jim Douglas, a Republican with reasonably close ties to
President Bush, asked if there was any additional business to be considered at the town meeting he was running in Middlebury, Ellen McKay popped up and proposed the impeachment of Bush and Vice President
Dick Cheney.

The governor was not amused. As moderator of the annual meeting, he tried to suggest that the proposal to impeach -- along with another proposal to withdraw U.S. troops from
Iraq -- could not be voted on.

But McKay, a program coordinator at Middlebury College, pressed her case. And it soon became evident that the crowd at the annual meeting shared her desire to hold the president to account.

So Douglas backed down.

"It became clear that no one was going home until they had the chance to discuss the resolutions and vote on them," explained David Rosenberg, a political science professor at Middlebury College. "And being a good politician, he allowed the vote to happen."

By an overwhelming voice vote, Middlebury called for impeachment.

So it has gone this week at town meetings across Vermont, most of which were held Tuesday.

Late Tuesday night, there were confirmed reports that 36 towns had backed impeachment resolutions, and the number was expected to rise.

In one town, Putney, the vote for impeachment was unanimous.

In addition to Governor Douglas's Middlebury, the town of Hartland, which is home to Congressman Peter Welch (news, bio, voting record), backed impeachment. So, too, did Jericho, the home of Gaye Symington, the speaker of the Vermont House of Representatives.

Organizers of the grassroots drive to get town meetings to back impeachment resolutions hope that the overwhelming support the initiative has received will convince Welch to introduce articles of impeachment against Bush and Cheney. That's something the Democratic congressman is resisting, even though his predecessor, Bernie Sanders, signed on last year to a proposal by Michigan Congressman John Conyers (news, bio, voting record) to set up a House committee to look into impeachment.

Vermont activists also want their legislature to approve articles of impeachment and forward them to Congress. But Symington, also a Democrat, has discouraged the initiative, despite the fact that more than 20 representatives have cosponsored an impeachment resolution.

"It's going to be hard for Peter Welch and Gaye Symington to say there's no sentiment for impeachment, now that their own towns have voted for it," says Dan DeWalt, a Newfane, Vermont, town selectman who started the impeachment initiative last year in his town, and who now plans to launch a campaign to pressure Welch and Symington to respect and reflect the will of the people.

It is going to be even harder for Governor Douglas, who just this month spent two nights at the Bush White House, to face his president.

After all, Douglas now lives in a town that is on record in support of Bush's impeachment and trial for high crimes and misdemeanors.

For the record, Middlebury says:

We the people have the power -- and the responsibility -- to remove executives who transgress not just the law, but the rule of law.

The oaths that the President and Vice President take binds them to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States." The failure to do so forms a sound basis for articles of impeachment.

The President and Vice President have failed to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution" in the following ways:

1. They have manipulated intelligence and misled the country to justify an immoral, unjust, and unnecessary preemptive war in Iraq.

2. They have directed the government to engage in domestic spying without warrants, in direct contravention of U.S. law.

3. They have conspired to commit the torture of prisoners, in violation of the Federal Torture Act and the Geneva Convention.

4. They have ordered the indefinite detention without legal counsel, without charges and without the opportunity to appear before a civil judicial officer to challenge the detention -- all in violation of U.S. law and the Bill of Rights.

When strong evidence exists of the most serious crimes, we must use impeachment -- or lose the ability of the legislative branch to compel the executive branch to obey the law.

George Bush
has led our country to a constitutional crisis, and it is our responsibility to remove him from office.



Robert S said...

A little bit on quibbling...

Semantic dispute

The interpretation of the resolution has been controversial, in particular the interpretation of Operative Clause 1(i), in which the Security Council calls for:

Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.

In simple terms, the semantic argument is about whether Israel's obligations under the resolution include the requirement that her armed forces withdraw from all the territories captured in 1967 or whether these obligations could be satisfied in the event of a negotiated withdrawal from some part or parts of the territories.

French version vs. English version of text

The French version of the clause reads:

Retrait des forces armées israéliennes des territoires occupés lors du récent conflit.

The difference between the two version lies in the absence of a definite article ("the") in the English version while a definite article ("de + les" = "des") is present in the French version. While some observers argue that the absence of the definite article in English does not preclude an interpretation meaning "all territories", others counter by claiming that the presence of the definite article in French grammar does not preclude an interpretation meaning "territories" rather than "the territories".

For example, Solicitor John McHugo, a partner at Trowers and Hamlins and a visiting fellow at the Scottish Centre for International Law at Edinburgh University draws a comparison to phrases such as:

Dogs must be kept on the lead near ponds in the park.

In spite of the lack of definite articles, according to McHugo, it is clear that such an instruction cannot legitimately be taken to imply that some dogs need not be kept on the lead or that the rule applies only near some ponds. Further, McHugo points out a potential consequence of the logic employed by advocates of a "some" reading. Paragraph 2 (a) of the Resolution, which guarantees "freedom of navigation through international waterways in the area", may allow Arab states to interfere with navigation through some international waterways of their choosing.[3]

On the other hand, Shabtai Rosenne, former Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations Office at Geneva and member of the United Nations International Law Commission notes that:

It is an historical fact, which nobody has ever attempted to deny, that the negotiations between the members of the Security Council, and with the other interested parties, which preceded the adoption of that resolution, were conducted on the basis of English texts, ultimately consolidated in Security Council document S/8247. [...] Many experts in the French language, including academics with no political axe to grind, have advised that the French translation is an accurate and idiomatic rendering of the original English text, and possibly even the only acceptable rendering into French."[...] "[o]n the question of concordance, the French representative [to the 1379th meeting of the Security Council on November 16, 1967] was explicit in stating that the French text was "identical" with the English text.[4]

He also states:

It is known from an outside source that the sponsors resisted all attempts to insert words such as "all" or "the" in the text of this phrase in the English text of the resolution, and it will not be overlooked that when that very word "all" erroneously crept into the Spanish translation of the draft, it was subsequently removed.[5]

Only English and French were the Security Council's working languages (Arabic, Russian, Spanish and Chinese were official but not the working languages).

The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America argues the practice at the UN is that the binding version of any resolution is the one voted upon. In the case of 242 that version was in English, so they assert the English version the only binding one [6].

The French representative to the Security Council, in the debate immediately after the vote, asserted:

the French text, which is equally authentic with the English, leaves no room for any ambiguity, since it speaks of withdrawal "des territoires occupés", which indisputably corresponds to the expression "occupied territories" We were likewise gratified to hear the United Kingdom representative stress the link between this paragraph of his resolution and the principle of inadmissibility of the acquisition of territories by force.... [7]

Opponents of the "all territories" reading remind that the UN Security Council declined to adopt a draft resolution including the definite article way prior to the adoption of Resolution 242. They argue that, in interpreting a resolution of an international organization, one must look to the process of the negotiation and adoption of the text. This would make the text in English, the language of the discussion, take precedence.

It is also commonly suggested that the definite article in the French version is a translation error, and should therefore be ignored in interpreting the document.

Legal interpretation

Expressio unius est exclusio alterius

The legal principle expressio unius est exclusio alterius (which states that the terms excluded from a law must be considered as excluded intentionally) is cited by some[citation needed] as operating against an "all territories" reading. Arab states specifically requested that the resolution be changed to read "all territories" instead of "territories." Their request was discussed by the UN Security council. However, it was rejected. The Security Council actively chose to reject writing "all territories" and instead wrote "territories." And it was this version, without "all" that was passed. Others insist that the legal principle in question cannot operate so as to create ambiguity. Per Lord Caradon, the chief author of the resolution:

It was from occupied territories that the [r]esolution called for withdrawal. The test was which territories were occupied. That was a test not possibly subject to any doubt as a matter of fact...East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan and Sinai were occupied in the 1967 conflict. I[t] was on withdrawal from occupied territories that the Resolution insisted [8].

Lord Caradon also maintains,

We didn't say there should be a withdrawal to the '67 line; we did not put the 'the' in, we did not say all the territories, deliberately.. We all knew - that the boundaries of '67 were not drawn as permanent frontiers, they were a cease-fire line of a couple of decades earlier... We did not say that the '67 boundaries must be forever. [9].

The drafting process

A key part of the case in favour of a "some territories" reading is the claim that British and American officials involved in the drafting of the Resolution omitted the definite article deliberately in order to make it less demanding on the Israelis. As George Brown, British Foreign Secretary in 1967, commented:

I have been asked over and over again to clarify, modify or improve the wording, but I do not intend to do that. The phrasing of the Resolution was very carefully worked out, and it was a difficult and complicated exercise to get it accepted by the UN Security Council. I formulated the Security Council Resolution. Before we submitted it to the Council, we showed it to Arab leaders. The proposal said 'Israel will withdraw from territories that were occupied', and not from 'the' territories, which means that Israel will not withdraw from all the territories. [10]

Lord Caradon, chief author of the resolution, takes a subtly different slant. His focus seems to be that the lack of a definite article is intended to deny permanence to the pre-1967 border, rather than to allow Israel to retain land taken by force. Such a view would appear to allow for the possibility that the borders could be varied through negotiation:

Knowing as I did the unsatisfactory nature of the 1967 line, I wasn’t prepared to use wording in the Resolution that would have made that line permanent. Nonetheless, it is necessary to say again that the overwhelming principle was the ‘inadmissability of the acquisition of territory by war’ and that meant that there could be no justification for the annexation of territory on the Arab side of the 1967 line merely because it had been conquered in the 1967 war. The sensible way to decide permanent ‘secure and recognized’ boundaries would be to set up a Boundary Commission and hear both sides and then to make impartial recommendations for a new frontier line, bearing in mind, of course, the "inadmissibility" principle. [11]

Eugene V Rostow, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs in 1967 and one of the drafters of the resolution, draws attention to the fact that the text proposed by the British had succeeded ahead of alternatives (in particular, a more explicit text proposed by the Soviet Union), although it should be noted that none of these included the phrase "the territories":

... paragraph 1 (i) of the Resolution calls for the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces 'from territories occupied in the recent conflict', and not 'from the territories occupied in the recent conflict'. Repeated attempts to amend this sentence by inserting the word 'the' failed in the Security Council. It is, therefore, not legally possible to assert that the provision requires Israeli withdrawal from all the territories now occupied under the cease-fire resolutions to the Armistice Demarcation lines. [12]

The USSR and the Arabs supported a draft demanding a withdrawal to the 1967 Lines. The US, Canada and most of West Europe and Latin America supported the draft which was eventually approved by the UN Security Council. [13]

Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338... rest on two principles, Israel may administer the territory until its Arab neighbors make peace; and when peace is made, Israel should withdraw to 'secure and recognized borders', which need not be the same as the Armistice Demarcation Lines of 1949. [14]

He also points out that attempts to explicitly widen the motion to include "the" or "all" territories were explicitly rejected

Motions to require the withdrawal of Israel from ‘the’ territories or ‘all the territories’ occupied in the course of the Six Day War were put forward many times with great linguistic ingenuity. They were all defeated both in the General Assembly and in the Security Council.[1]

Rostow's President, Lyndon B Johnson, appears to support this last view:

We are not the ones to say where other nations should draw lines between them that will assure each the greatest security. It is clear, however, that a return to the situation of June 4, 1967 will not bring peace. [15]

Statements by Security Council representatives

Supporters of an "all territories" reading point out that the intentions and opinions of draftsmen are not normally considered relevant to the interpretation of law, their role being purely administrative. It is claimed that much more weight should be given to opinons expressed on the matter in discussions at the Security Council prior to the adoption of the resolution. The representative for India stated to the Security Council:

It is our understanding that the draft resolution, if approved by the Council, will commit it to the application of the principle of total withdrawal of Israel forces from all the territories - I repeat, all the territories - occupied by Israel as a result of the conflict which began on 5 June 1967.

The representatives from Nigeria, France, USSR, Bulgaria, United Arab Republic (Egypt), Ethiopia, Jordan, Argentina and Mali supported this view, as worded by the representative from Mali: "[Mali] wishes its vote today to be interpreted in the light of the clear and unequivocal interpretation which the representative of India gave of the provisions of the United Kingdom text".

Israel was the only country represented at the Security Council to express a contrary view, although the USA, United Kingdom, Denmark, China and Japan were silent on the matter. The Syrian representative was strongly critical of the text's "vague call on Israel to withdraw".

The statement by the Brazilian representative perhaps gives a flavour of the complexities at the heart of the discussions:

I should like to restate...the general principle that no stable international order can be based on the threat or use of force, and that the occupation or acquisition of territories brought about by such means should not be recognized...Its acceptance does not imply that borderlines cannot be rectified as a result of an agreement freely concluded among the interested States. We keep constantly in mind that a just and lasting peace in the Middle East has necessarily to be based on secure permanent boundaries freely agreed upon and negotiated by the neighboring States.

However, the Soviet delegate Vasily Kuznetsov said after the adoption of Resolution 242:" ... phrases such as 'secure and recognized boundaries'. ... there is certainly much leeway for different interpretations which retain for Israel the right to establish new boundaries and to withdraw its troops only as far as the lines which it judges convenient".

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, who represented the US in discussions, later stated: "The notable omissions in regard to withdrawal are the word 'the' or 'all' and 'the June 5, 1967 lines' the resolution speaks of withdrawal from occupied territories, without defining the extent of withdrawal" [16].

Robert S said...

Military Mom Confronts Congressman Obey in the Hallway

Robert S said...

Shaking the Tree - Peter Gabriel

Souma yergon, sou nou yergon, we are shakin the tree
Souma yergon, sou nou yergon, we are shakin the tree

Waiting your time, dreaming of a better life
Waiting your time, you're more than just a wife
You don't want to do what your mother has done
She has done
This is your life, this new life has begun
Its your day - a womans day
Its your day - a womans day

Turning the tide, you are on the incoming wave
Turning the tide, you know you are nobodys slave
[ 1989 version - find your brothers and sisters ]
[ 1990 version - find your sisters and brothers ]
Who can hear all the truth in what you say
They can support you when youre on your way
Its your day - a womans day
Its your day - a womans day

Souma yergon, sou nou yergon, we are shakin the tree
Souma yergon, sou nou yergon, we are shakin the tree
Souma yergon, sou nou yergon, we are shakin the tree

[ extra lyrics from 1989 12 remix ]

Theres nothing to gain when theres nothing to be lost
Theres nothing to gain if you stay behind and count the cost
Make the decision that you can be who you can be
You can be
Tasting the fruit come to the liberty tree
Its your day - a womans day
Its your day - a womans day

[ end of extra lyrics from 12 remix ]

Changing your ways, changing those surrounding you
Changing your ways, more than any man can do
Open your heart, show him the anger and pain, so you heal
Maybe hes looking for his womanly side, let him feel

You had to be so strong
And you do nothing wrong
Nothing wrong at all
Were gonna to break it down
We have to shake it down
Shake it all around

Souma yergon, sou nou yergon, we are shakin the tree
Souma yergon, sou nou yergon, we are shakin the tree
Souma yergon, sou nou yergon, we are shakin the tree


International Women's Day highlights struggle for equality

Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

Oh, let the Chimperor pardon Libby--as long as he does it before the 2008 elections; then the pardon could be hung around the neck of every Royalist candidate. :)

[I call the GOP the Royalist Party because they apparently think the president should be a king.]

Robert S said...

Sent to Dave Obey's office:

Dear Sir:

I'd guess I'm one that you characterize as an "idiot liberal," a phrase I hope you might end up regretting. I'm enough of an idiot to be able to remind you of Robert Jackson's comments at Nuremberg regarding the legality of the use of force. "We must make clear to the Germans that the wrong for which their fallen leaders are on trial is not that they lost the war, but that they started it. And we must not allow ourselves to be drawn into a trial of the causes of the war, for our position is that no grievances or policies will justify resort to aggressive war. It is utterly renounced and condemned as an instrument of policy."

Sir, if you are not calling for the impeachment, trail and conviction of this administration, regardless of the political implications, followed by the remanding of this administration to the International Criminal Court for War Crimes Trials, then, respectfully sir, you are not opposing this war.

You cannot vote more funds for this obscenity and then claim you are against it. Regardless of if you voted against it in the first place, this has been a profiteering venture from the outset and any continuance of the revenue stream is only going to further line the pockets of the criminals that brought us to this point.

It is not possible to talk about success in the Iraqi mission, because then, it would validate the criminal use of force, which, as Robert Jackson eloquently reminds us, is "utterly renounced and condemned as an instrument of policy."

Idiotically yours,
Robert S

Robert S said...

Thursday, March 08, 2007
Disclosure of CIA Agent Identity
Committee Will Hold Hearing on Disclosure of CIA Agent Valerie Plame Wilson's Identity

Chairman Henry A. Waxman announced a hearing on whether White House officials followed appropriate procedures for safeguarding the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson. At the hearing, the Committee will receive testimony from Ms. Wilson and other experts regarding the disclosure and internal White House security procedures for protecting her identity from disclosure and responding to the leak after it occurred. The hearing is scheduled for Friday, March 16.

In addition, the Committee today sent a letter to Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald commending him for his investigation and requesting a meeting to discuss testimony by Mr. Fitzgerald before the Committee.

Documents and Links

* Letter to Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald

* Topic: Disclosure of CIA Agent Identity

* Rep. Waxman Calls for Public Accounting of Rove’s Actions in CIA Leak Case

* Questions and Answers about White House Security Clearances

* Former Intelligence Officials Testify About Damage Caused by Outing of Covert CIA Agent

capt said...

New Thread!

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