Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tea for Rove?

The White House has made its first offer to House and Senate Democrats who want Karl Rove and Harriet Mires to testify before Congress about the now-controversial firing of several US attorneys. In a closed-doors meeting with Democrats, this is what White House counsel Fred Fielding suggested: a private interview in which members of the House and Senate judiciary committees could talk to Rove and Miers, neither of whom would be under oath. And no transcript would be made of the chat. Just a pleasant, informal, not-for-public-consumption discussion. Left out of the White House offer: what sort of tea would be served.

Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative John Conyers, after leaving the meeting with Fielding, said this was not good enough. They have a simple argument on their side: given that Bush administration officials, including Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, have already made misleading statements about this case (such as falsely claiming the White House and Rove were not involved in the dismissals), no administration official should be allowed to talk to Congress unless he or she is under oath.

The Dems immediately huddled to consider how to respond to Fielding--as the White House told reporters George W. Bush believes that he's been quite generous in offering the Democrats even this much and that the Ds should not expect any more. Certainly, the last thing Bush wants is to establish a precedent in which congressional investigators can grill his close aides about their actions, decisions and conversations. This is turning into a test of how tough the congressional Democrats are willing to get with the White House.

Posted by David Corn at March 20, 2007 03:28 PM


David B. Benson said...

Without government, life is nasty, brutish and short.

Robert S said...

Unfortunately, sometimes the corollary holds, with government, life can also be nasty, brutish and short..., it depends on the government.

Robert S said...

And then, thinking about it, some species live to ripe old ages in the "state of nature."

David B. Benson said...

Robert S --- We're not elephants. :-)

It's a paraphrase from Thomas Hobb's Leviathan...

Robert S said...

I originally wrote Hobbsian "state of nature," but got caught up between Hobbsian and Hobbesian...oh well...anyway it is a deep subject.

Robert S said...

Congressional hearing heats up over changes to climate reports
Democrats lay out a paper trail that they say shows how non-scientists edited scientists' work to downplay the impact of global warming.
By Nicole Gaouette, Times Staff Writer
March 20, 2007

WASHINGTON — Government scientists, armed with copies of heavily edited reports, charged Monday that the Bush administration and its political appointees had soft-pedaled their findings on climate change.

The accusations led Democrats and Republicans at the congressional hearing to accuse each other of censorship, smear tactics and McCarthyism.

To underscore their charges of the administration's oil-friendly stance, Democrats grilled an oil lobbyist who was hired by the White House to review government climate change documents and who made hundreds of edits that the lawmakers said minimized the impact of global warming.

"You were a spin doctor," Rep. John A. Yarmuth (D-Ky) told the lobbyist.

Republicans targeted a NASA director who testified about administration pressure, accusing him of political bias, of politicizing his work and of ignoring uncertainties in climate change science.

And they disputed his contention that taxpayer-funded scientists are entitled to free speech. "Free speech is not a simple thing and is subject to and directed by policy," said Rep. Chris Cannon (R-Utah).

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing was marked by an open confrontation between Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles) and the ranking Republican, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) — a rare display of direct debate in otherwise carefully choreographed hearings.

The hearing was the latest effort to challenge what the Democratic congressional majority sees as the Bush administration's unchecked use of power. In the past few weeks, Democrats have held inquiries or announced plans to examine the unmonitored use of national security letters that allow the government to spy on Americans, the dismissal of U.S. attorneys and the identifying of former covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, among other issues.

Waxman has been particularly aggressive, pursuing inquiries about intelligence in the lead-up to the Iraq war and the politics of global warming.

To support their charges Monday, the Democrats produced hundreds of pages of legal depositions, exhibits and e-mail exchanges between administration officials. The paper trail illustrated how officials with no scientific training shaped the administration's climate change message and edited global warming reports, inserting doubt in the place of definitive statements and diminishing the role people play in the planet's rising temperatures.

Waxman's committee received more than eight boxes of papers from the White House Council on Environmental Quality that he said provided disturbing indications of political interference.

"There may have been a concerted effort directed by the White House to mislead the public about the dangers of global climate change," said Waxman, who also cited the administration practice of "controlling what federal scientists could say to the public and the media about their work."

"It would be a serious abuse if senior White House officials deliberately tried to defuse calls for action by ensuring that the public heard a distorted message about the risks of climate change," Waxman said.

One example showed how a report originally said the U.S. National Research Council had concluded that "greenhouse gases are accumulating in the atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures to rise and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise."


Edits by ex-oil lobbyist

Philip Cooney, the oil lobbyist who became chief of staff at the Council on Environmental Quality, changed that to read: "Some activities emit greenhouse gases that directly or indirectly may affect the balance of incoming and outgoing radiation, thereby potentially affecting climate on regional and global scales."

James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said the edits confused public understanding of the issue. "If we push our climate system hard enough, it can pass tipping points," he said. "That is not a situation we want to leave for our children."

Hansen decried political interference in climate change science. "Scientists shouldn't be hired to parrot some line."

But he also said the real weapon against scientists was the budget. Last year, he said, the administration slashed climate change budgets retroactively by 20%.

Cooney, now with Exxon Mobil Corp., came to the White House in 2001 after more than 15 years with the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry lobby group. His last post there was leader of the climate team.

Waxman quoted an internal API document that identified climate change as the group's highest priority. He said a key API tactic was to spread doubt about climate change science, exaggerating scientific uncertainty and downplaying the role of humans in climate change.

"What bothers me is that you seem to take the exact same approach in the White House," Waxman told Cooney.

Cooney, soft-spoken but increasingly red-faced as the hours went by, repeatedly stressed that his job was to align reports with administration policy, as reflected by a 2001 National Academy of Sciences report that indicated some doubt about climate change models.

He denied his aim was to sow doubt or that he had any loyalty to the oil industry, even as lawmakers pointed to some 181 changes he made to one document, which Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) said "had the effect of emphasizing or exaggerating the level of uncertainty surrounding global warming science."

"How is what you were doing … any different than the work of the so-called scientists during the whole tobacco debate when they were sowing doubt about whether there was any link between tobacco and lung cancer?" Welch asked.


Republican rebuttals

Republicans, in turn, came down hard on Democrats and Hansen, often sparking verbal fisticuffs.

Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) raised Hansen's work on "An Inconvenient Truth," the documentary on Al Gore's global-warming efforts, as evidence of Democratic sympathies. Hansen is a registered independent.

Several Republicans criticized Hansen for comparing administration efforts to limit and monitor scientists' speech with similar efforts in Nazi Germany.

Issa said he hoped Hansen wasn't influenced by money tied to a prize named after John Heinz, a former Republican senator and deceased husband of Teresa Heinz Kerry, the wife of Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.).

Waxman turned to Issa, who sat beside him. "I think the gentleman's smearing Dr. Hansen," Waxman said.

Issa stared, started to speak, but Waxman cut him off, repeating himself.

"Are you recognizing yourself?" Issa asked, using the formal phrase to see if Waxman was allotting himself time to speak.

"Well, I recognize you," Waxman shot back as the crowd laughed. "I think you're smearing him. Do you want to comment on that?"

Issa offered his rebuttal, noting that Hansen "clearly disliked" the Bush administration and the lawmakers moved on.

David B. Benson said...

Hmmm, seems the name is

Thomas Hobbes

but many use the variant spelling Hobbs.

My excuse is that I never went the second grade. Home schooled that year.

Carey said...

Robert S,

Your dilemma over the spelling of Hobbsian vs Hobbesian gave me a lovely chuckle. I do that all the time and it drives me nuts.

Yeah, that's where you missed learning how to spell Hobbes, Dr. B. In second grade. :-))

Just ran across this. I fairly sure you'll all want to particpate:

Sibel Edmonds: Last Chance to Put Perle, Feith and Hastert in Orange Jumpsuits

Today is the final day of our Let Sibel Edmonds Speak campaign where we have been asking people to call Henry Waxman's office (202-225-3976, Capitol switchboard 800-828-0498) to demand public hearings into the case of former FBI translator and whistleblower, Sibel Edmonds.

Sibel guarantees that if we have public hearings, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Marc Grossman, and Dennis Hastert will go to prison for a long time. If any of that appeals to you, for any reason, call Waxman today. Please.

Robert S said...

Carey, have done, thanx for the heads up.

capt said...

"A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives." -- James Madison, letter to W.T. Barry 4 August 1822
"Today the world is the victim of propaganda because people are not intellectually competent. More than anything the United States needs effective citizens competent to do their own thinking." -- William Mather Lewis - President ,George Washington University 1923 -1927
"Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like the evil spirits at the dawn of day." -- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Pierre S. du Pont de Nemours, 24 April 1816
'Fortunately, many people would prefer to live a simple life in a good society than a life of riches and power in a horrible society." -- Randy Schutt, Inciting Democracy


Thanks ICH Newsletter!

Robert S said...

Are Random Non-Activists Against the War?

By David Swanson

One way to answer that question is to look at the polls. The answer seems to be a decisive Yes

Another way is to wear an anti-war shirt and walk around and talk to people. In my experience, this also leads to a decisive answer of Yes.

Some friends of mine tried another approach. They took anti-war signs onto public trains and asked people if they would be photographed with them. Here are the results.

On Sunday, March 18 four teams of photographers went through the New York City subway. On five subway lines, 333 people agreed to be photographed. Looking through the collection is an eye-opening experience.

Here are the photos

Why not try this in your city or small town?

capt said...


ast month, in Air Force, the journal of the Air Force Association, Patrick Casey, a criminal lawyer, and his father, Aloysius Casey, a retired Air Force lieutenant general, unravelled the truth of one of the demoralizing stories that, three decades ago, marked the end of a losing war. In April, 1972, the Pentagon announced that Air Force General John D. Lavelle, the commander of all air operations in Vietnam, was retiring for "personal and health reasons." In fact, as it became clear over the next two months, he had been relieved of his command and forced to retire—demoted by two ranks—after an internal inquiry determined that he had ordered bombing attacks on unauthorized targets in North Vietnam.

The news of Lavelle’s dismissal was followed by several hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee and two Pentagon investigations. At that stage of the war, American pilots were authorized to fire on surface-to-air-missile sites and their radar in the North—but only after they had been fired upon or electronically engaged. Once that happened, a rule of engagement known as "protective reaction" came into play, and the missiles and radar became fair game. During the hearings, many Air Force pilots and intelligence personnel came forward to say that they had bombed unauthorized targets and then falsely reported those attacks as "protective reaction"—a phrase that entered the Vietnam lexicon, alongside "free-fire zones" and "pacification." From late 1971 to early 1972, more than half the missions flown over North Vietnam—twenty-eight missions, involving a hundred and forty-seven flights—had been in violation of the rules of engagement.


capt said...

Senate Limits Gonzales' Hiring Authority

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to end the Bush administration's ability to unilaterally fill U.S. attorney vacancies as a backlash to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' firing of eight federal prosecutors.
Amid calls from lawmakers in both parties to resign, Gonzales got a morale boost with an early-morning call from President Bush, their first conversation since a week ago, when the president said he was unhappy with how the Justice Department handled the firings.

With a 94-2 vote, the Senate passed a bill that canceled a Justice Department-authored provision in the Patriot Act that had allowed the attorney general to appoint U.S. attorneys without Senate confirmation. Democrats say the Bush administration abused that authority when it fired the eight prosecutors and proposed replacing some with White House loyalists.

"If you politicize the prosecutors, you politicize everybody in the whole chain of law enforcement," said Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

The bill, which has yet to be considered in the House, would set a 120-day deadline for the administration to appoint an interim prosecutor. If the interim appointment is not confirmed by the Senate in that time, a permanent replacement would be named by a federal district judge.

Essentially, the Senate returned the law regarding the appointments of U.S. attorneys to where it was before Congress passed the Patriot Act, including the unilateral appointment authority the administration had sought in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks.


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

I wish they would come to their senses and get rid of he whole "Patriot act" mess.


Hajji said...

Wooo Heeee! Friday!!! What's Friday!!!? Come to ATl at 1540 pm... Wear a yellow ribbon and FIND OUT!!!


O'Reilly said...

Given that Bush administration officials, including Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, have already made misleading statements about this case (such as falsely claiming the White House and Rove were not involved in the dismissals), no administration official should be allowed to talk to Congress unless he or she is under oath.

Bush's "offer" to have Rove testify off the record and not under oath doesn't actually address Bush's stated concern about a "partisan fishing expedition", it merely allows Rove to answer questions deceptively or dishonestly without the accountability of consequences.

Bush's terms include the "pre-condition" there is no transcript. As a consequence, there is then no opportunity for fact checking, and no simple way to inform the American public what was asked and answered.

Bush asserted that there was no wrongdoing in this affair. One has to wonder why most of his conditions have the effect of imunizing Rove from a perjury charge if he lies, and restricting access to the Q&A: no transcript, no coverage.

How ironic, that this oversight inquiry is a direct result of Abu Gonzalez having already made misleading statements about this issue, the terminations of the US Attorneys. Gonzalez also had testified innacurately in the NSA wiretapping inquiry.

With two strikes against Gonzlez, Bush is demanding a suspension of the rules, no strikes no balls, so Rove can hit one out of the park.

One way to invite "creative", incomplete and inaccurate testimony would be to have Rove testify without taking the oath and without penalty of perjury.

O'Reilly said...

hajji, is it a homecoming? great!

capt said...

Why I Was Fired


WITH this week’s release of more than 3,000 Justice Department e-mail messages about the dismissal of eight federal prosecutors, it seems clear that politics played a role in the ousters.

Of course, as one of the eight, I’ve felt this way for some time. But now that the record is out there in black and white for the rest of the country to see, the argument that we were fired for "performance related" reasons (in the words of Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty) is starting to look more than a little wobbly.

United States attorneys have a long history of being insulated from politics. Although we receive our appointments through the political process (I am a Republican who was recommended by Senator Pete Domenici), we are expected to be apolitical once we are in office. I will never forget John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, telling me during the summer of 2001 that politics should play no role during my tenure. I took that message to heart. Little did I know that I could be fired for not being political.

Politics entered my life with two phone calls that I received last fall, just before the November election. One came from Representative Heather Wilson and the other from Senator Domenici, both Republicans from my state, New Mexico.

Ms. Wilson asked me about sealed indictments pertaining to a politically charged corruption case widely reported in the news media involving local Democrats. Her question instantly put me on guard. Prosecutors may not legally talk about indictments, so I was evasive. Shortly after speaking to Ms. Wilson, I received a call from Senator Domenici at my home. The senator wanted to know whether I was going to file corruption charges — the cases Ms. Wilson had been asking about — before November. When I told him that I didn’t think so, he said, "I am very sorry to hear that," and the line went dead.


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

The character that was played by Tom Cruise in "A few good Men" was patterned after Mr. Iglesias.

Seems someone can't handle the truth!


capt said...

House panel subpoenas White House aides

Move sets up a constitutional showdown over firings of U.S. attorneys

WASHINGTON - A House panel on Wednesday defied the White House and authorized subpoenas for President Bush’s political adviser, Karl Rove and other top aides, setting up a constitutional showdown over the firings of eight federal prosecutors.

By voice vote and without objection, the House Judiciary subcommittee on commercial and administrative law decided to compel the president’s top aides to testify publicly and under oath about their roles in the firings.

The White House has refused to budge in the controversy, standing by embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and insisting that the firings were appropriate.


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

Funny how this WH is all worried about the slugs being put under oath? All they have to do is tell the truth - why is that a problem?


capt said...

New Thread!