Monday, May 14, 2007

A Monday Potpourri: Rice, Tenet, Rove, and Wolfowitz

On the run today, chasing a few stories. But here's some interesting tidbits:

* Representative Henry Waxman, the Democratic chairman of the House oversight committee, announced that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will not testify on the prewar Iraq WMD intelligence before his committee tomorrow, as previously scheduled. She is now scheduled to appear on June 19. Why the delay? His office says, "The hearing is being postponed to allow former CIA Director George Tenet to testify with Secretary Rice and to accommodate Secretary Rice's travel schedule." Rice and Tenet together--that should be an interesting double feature, especially since Tenet has some choice words for her in his book. He accused her of being remote, of failing to broker the policy differences that led to the disaster in Iraq, and of refusing to recognize the troubling realities of Iraq after the invasion. I'd like to see the two grill each other.

* Does everything lead back to Karl Rove? There's an intriguing piece somewhat buried in today's Washington Post on the US attorneys scandal. (Yes, we can call it a scandal.) The article by Dan Eggen and Amy Goldstein notes,

Nearly half the U.S. attorneys slated for removal by the administration last year were targets of Republican complaints that they were lax on voter fraud, including efforts by presidential adviser Karl Rove to encourage more prosecutions of election-law violations, according to new documents and interviews.

Of the 12 U.S. attorneys known to have been dismissed or considered for removal last year, five were identified by Rove or other administration officials as working in districts that were trouble spots for voter fraud -- Kansas City, Mo.; Milwaukee; New Mexico; Nevada; and Washington state. Four of the five prosecutors in those districts were dismissed.

It has been clear for months that the administration's eagerness to launch voter-fraud prosecutions played a role in some of the firings, but recent testimony, documents and interviews show the issue was more central than previously known.

This might explain why it is that all those top Justice Department officials, including Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, cannot definitively say who cooked up the list of US attorneys to be canned and why these particular prosecutors made it to the list: the White House was the prime mover. There's long been suspicion that the firings were a Rove project, driven by political imperatives, not any desire to make US attorney offices across the land more effective. The net is drawing tighter.

* Sebastian Mallaby has a well-done commentary today on the Wolfowitz affair. He observes:

Conservatives portray resistance to Wolfowitz as the work of corrupt and cosseted World Bank bureaucrats. But there's no evidence that the bank's staff is particularly corrupt. A probe instigated by Wolfowitz recently uncovered 10 instances of staff fraud or corruption in 2005 and another 10 in 2006 -- this at an institution of 10,000 people. As to the cosseting, that depends on your benchmark. A World Bank infrastructure expert who leaves for a private equity firm gets paid a lot more. An economist who leaves to teach at a U.S. university comes out about even once you adjust for the bank's tax exemption and the university's long vacations.

But the biggest misconception about the bank is that it needs the goading force of Wolfowitz to fight graft in poor countries. Even before Wolfowitz arrived in 2005, the bank was trying to plug leaks in government budgets, reform civil services and back new anti-fraud units: From 2000 to 2004 the bank's lending to improve public-sector governance grew 11 percent annually. Wolfowitz's goal was to take these anti-corruption efforts to the next level. The instinct was noble; the implementation horrible.

Wolfowitz seemed oblivious to research finding that corruption projects often fail; he didn't explain how a greater investment in this field would produce value for money. He brushed off the evidence that corruption is not the overarching blockage to development but merely one blockage among many; some corrupt countries manage to fight poverty effectively. And he mishandled the inevitable recriminations from the World Bank's board. If the bank's president cuts off a country on grounds of corruption, he better be able to show that it was really more corrupt than other places where the bank does business.

The scandal over his girlfriend's pay is the final nail in Wolfowitz's anti-corruption efforts. It has created a situation in which the bank can't publicize its new anti-corruption manual, "The Many Faces of Corruption" because doing so would invite ridicule. Things have reached the point where anyone who believes in Wolfowitz's anti-corruption agenda should be rooting for his departure. Surely even Wolfowitz himself can see that?

In other words, it's not just about sex--that is, Wolfowitz's rules-defying pay raise for his romantic partner.

Here's something else for followers of the Wolfowitz imbroglio to ponder. He and his lawyer, Bob Bennett, appear to have ceased their offensive. A week ago, they were claiming the charges against him were "bogus" and that he had broken no rules. Now that a panel of the World Bank's board has found that he did violate the Bank's rules and engaged in a conflict of interest, he and Bennett cannot keep singing that song. Instead, they have focused on the process, as has the White House, with Bennett crying for fairness in the board's proceedings. That's a strategic retreat--but one that was unavoidable. It is not wise for someone trying to hang on his or her job to accuse his or her superiors of botching a decision.

Wolfowitz has until tomorrow to respond to the panel's report. Then the board will vote. Most media reports suggest the board is leaning toward a vote of no confidence--which is not a vote of removal. The hope: Wolfowitz will take the hint and leave. But could Wolfowitz survive such a judgment, should he want to? That may depend on how stubborn George W. Bush wants to be. Any bets?

Posted by David Corn at May 14, 2007 12:26 PM


capt said...

Mr. David Corn,

"Any bets?"

I bet Bunnypants will continue to be a complete failure in every way.



capt said...

"In order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant." -- Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970) French president and military leader

"Whenever government assumes to deliver us from the trouble of thinking for ourselves, the only consequences it produces are those of torpor and imbecility.": - William Godwin - (1756-1836)

The voice of protest, of warning, of appeal is never more needed than when the clamor of fife and drum, echoed by the press and too often by the pulpit, is bidding all men fall in and keep step and obey in silence the tyrannous word of command. Then, more than ever, it is the duty of the good citizen not to be silent: Charles Eliot Norton

You measure a democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents, not the freedom it gives its assimilated conformists.": Abbie Hoffman

To change masters is not to be free: Jose Marti y Perez

You're not to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it."-Malcolm X


Thanks ICH Newsletter!

O'Reilly said...

Why Karl Rove Cared
By Dan Froomkin
Monday, May 14, 2007

Why would Karl Rove want to fire a bunch of U.S. attorneys?

If you think it seems out of character, you don't know Rove -- or more precisely, you don't know the two sides of Rove. President Bush's powerful adviser is one part spreadsheet-carrying, vote-counting political wonk, and one part no-holds-barred, brass-knuckled political operative.

Vote-counting Rove knows that -- particularly in battleground states, where a few votes can make all the difference -- every little bit helps. Brass-knuckled Rove has energetically used government power to meet political ends.

Vote-counting Rove has long been obsessed by voter fraud, either because (according to him) it threatens the integrity of the elections process or because (according to his critics) it gives Republicans an excuse to pursue measures that suppress poor and minority turnout. They also disagree on whether fraud is widespread (Rove) or rare (his critics).

And it's not hard to believe that brass-knuckled Rove decided at some point that politically appointed federal prosecutors were important tools in his bag of tricks -- tools that occasionally needed a little sharpening, or replacement.


capt said...

How Karl Rove Helped Shape Testimony On Prosecutor Firings

Two months ago, he helped coach Justice Department officials on how to testify about the U.S. attorneys’ firings. Was that a harmless part of his job, or an inappropriate attempt to mislead Congress?


Justice Department emails show that it was Rove in January 2005 who first inquired about whether the department planned to fire all 93 U.S. attorneys or just some of them. Later testimony has revealed that last fall he passed along complaints about some prosecutors - including fired U.S. attorney David Iglesias - to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the Justice Department to turn over all emails in its possession from Rove - including his computer hard drive, which was turned over to special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald in the CIA leak case. The new disclosure about his participation in the March 5 strategy session is likely to fuel the committee’s determination to keep the heat on.


capt said...

Benchmarks and Bullsh*t

Beware bipartisan 'consensus' on Iraq

The news I have for "netroots" types and Huffington Post liberals who see the Democratic Party as the major if not only hope for the antiwar movement can be summed up in two words: forget it. Majority leader Sen. Harry Reid recently let the cat out of the bag when he said, "There is new reason this week to believe that a bipartisan consensus on Iraq is emerging."

Translation: the sellout is coming, if it isn't already here.

American voters sent a clear message to Washington last November when they voted to put an ostensibly antiwar Democratic Congress in power: they told pollsters the war was the big issue, and, furthermore, they wanted out of Iraq. They voted Democratic not because they suddenly believed that party would end "the culture of corruption" – which is a very bipartisan phenomenon, and voters aren't dumb enough to believe otherwise – but because they took seriously Democratic promises to get us out of Iraq. Before the election, leading Democrats called for a timetable aiming at complete "redeployment" of U.S. troops out of Iraq: immediately after the election, however, the Dems capitulated to the "surge" (even as their "antiwar" rhetoric waxed louder). Last week the House voted down a measure that would have withdrawn the troops in nine months. If you follow the link you'll see that Madam Speaker allowed the withdrawal vote "in the hope that her rank-and-file would then unite behind the funding bill" – a two-part bill that would release some $48 billion initially and then schedule a summertime vote to appropriate $52.8 billion more to cover expenses until the end of September.

The White House has threatened to veto the two-part funding ploy but coupled this with an offer to negotiate on the Benchmark Question. All eyes are now on the Senate, reports the Christian Science Monitor, "where majority leader Harry Reid and White House officials have been hunkered down in secret negotiations. Last week, Bush said he had empowered White House negotiators 'to find common ground on benchmarks.'"

Caught between the Democratic Party's antiwar base and the War Party's control of the reins of power in Washington, Pelosi and Reid have been walking a tightrope between the two, but their balancing act is increasingly untenable. Pressure from the ranks of groups such as – whose leadership initially colluded with the Democratic sellout – has forced a turnaround, and the MoveOners have now issued an ultimatum of sorts to the Dems in the form of an open letter: they're threatening to move "into opposition"!

Ralph Nader, you have a call on line one…

The president is now holding out the bait of "benchmarks" to increasingly restive Republicans in Congress who are looking at the oncoming antiwar voter tsunami with something approaching panic, and the Democrats will in all likelihood fall for it – with a sigh of relief. After all, Reid and Pelosi have been looking for a way to fund the war without seeming to own it, to prosecute a conflict and yet take no responsibility for it – and now, finally, they may have hit on the perfect formula.

The benchmark delusion was first perpetrated by the Democrats, you'll remember: it was an aspect of the House bill that would have made release of funds conditional given the fulfillment of a whole brace of benchmarks. The only problem was that each and every one of them could be unilaterally waived by the president. Why Bush didn't accept this I'll never understand: methinks he's reconsidered, and it's a good move. Now he can say he's compromised, the Republicans who are taking incoming fire back home in their districts will be given some political cover, and the Democrats (and I include in this partisan category) can tout this as a concrete legislative "achievement" for the party of peace.

And the war will go on, just as before. Nothing will change. Nothing but the number of dead and wounded, both Iraqi and American – the former rising in much larger numbers than the latter, of course. The extended deployments will be extended yet further, and the war – this futile, unjust, morally indefensible war of conquest – will drag on.

In voting down the nine-month withdrawal bill, the Democrats acquired part-ownership of this war – and in moving to endorse the final funding bill, they are becoming full partners with the GOP in the annexation of Iraq to the American empire. That's what these famous benchmarks are all about: they are essentially instructions to the Iraqis, telling them what they must do before the funding spigot gets turned on. The benchmarks dictate to the Iraqis how they will "reform" the process of "de-Ba'athification," how they will divvy up their oil resources, and when and how to hold local elections, among other things.

Of course, the Iraqi parliament could always vote down the American diktat, but then there would be no money forthcoming – including, as Hillary Clinton has proposed, no money to protect our Iraqi sock puppets from their countrymen, who consider them collaborators and traitors. Under the circumstances, it doesn't take much of a tug on the leash to bring the Iraqi leaders into line. This is how the Americans conduct their battle for "hearts and minds" – by making local satraps so widely and deeply despised that they are totally dependent on their Washington overlords for their sheer physical survival. The real "benchmark" the Iraqis have to display to the Americans' satisfaction is an infinite capacity for obedience.

While Congress dickers, both "major" parties are entering a deal in which they become equal partners in empire. The "benchmarks" bill, coupled with the "surge," will seal this agreement in blood. is running antiwar television ads in Republican-held swing districts – but will they run those same ads in the districts of the 59 Democrats who voted against the nine-month withdrawal plan? Don't hold your breath.
The Democratic Party is not about to end this war. Far from ending it, they seek to organize and formalize the occupation.

Their "compromise" spending bill signs them on to constructing a viable colonial administration based on a two-tiered system of administration – with the Iraqi legislature rubber-stamping decisions made in Washington and the money flowing in at the same speed as the Iraqis carry out their orders. Four years after "mission accomplished," the nature of the mission – the carving out of an American province in the heart of the Middle East – is all too apparent.

The U.S. is embarked on an openly imperial venture, and the structure of a rising American Empire is taking shape before our eyes. It's a fantastic castle with many rooms and antechambers all leading to the seat of power, the imperial throne-room of the Oval Office. Here, at the very apex of the imperial pyramid, the most powerful man on earth contemplates his next move, while his co-emperor, who holds court in an undisclosed location, whispers in his ear: Iran.

The Democrats will go along with that one, too. Madam Speaker agreed to strip a provision from the Iraq funding bill that would have required the president to come to Congress before launching an attack. Indeed, none of the major Democratic candidates have ruled out attacking Iran. The loudest voice against such a move has come from among the Republicans. Rep. Ron Paul, who recently made such a splash in the GOP presidential debates, has warned of the possibility of a new Gulf-of-Tonkin type "incident" that would draw us into war with Tehran and ignite a regional conflict.

Democrats are in favor of all sorts of warning labels on products, right? I propose a warning label be placed over Democratic Party headquarters in Washington, especially directed at antiwar voters, which simply says "ABANDON ALL HOPE, YE WHO ENTER HERE!"

What is needed is not just a revision of our Iraq policy, or our Iran policy, or even our Middle East policy. We need to reevaluate – and, yes, reverse – our entire foreign policy from top to bottom, starting with its central premise, which is that we must be the dominant military and political power on the planet. Neither of the major parties is prepared to do this: since World War II, both the Democrats and the Republicans have been explicitly committed to a foreign policy of global intervention, and this bipartisan consensus has been maintained right up to the present day. After 9/11, this messianic tendency in American foreign policy metastasized like a cancer cell and gave birth to the neoconservative mutation, which seized control of the policy-making apparatus in Washington.

As Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan put it in their 1996 foreign policy manifesto, a founding document of the neoconservative foreign policy platform, the new American imperialism is to be a "benevolent global hegemony." For the first time, the real nature of the bipartisan consensus, with its emphasis on "internationalism" and America's role as the "world leader," was made consistent and explicit. While disagreeing over means, both parties generally agree on the proper ends of U.S. foreign policy: global military dominance by the U.S.

This goal is simply not attainable, and, even if it were, it is unsustainable – and, even if it were sustainable for any significant length of time, it would not be desirable. World hegemony, "benevolent" or otherwise, is not so much a policy as a megalomaniacal fantasy, a symptom of an underlying sickness that has infected the minds of our rulers – an illness that can only end in madness, death, and mayhem on a scale not seen since the last world war.

The cure is not to be found in partisan politics or in the wishful thinking of Hollywood liberals who invest their hopes in whatever rising star in the Democratic political firmament is fashionable at the moment. The only antidote is a third-party effort to expose and defeat both wings of the War Party and hold them to account. A nationwide antiwar electoral campaign pledged to defeat all pro-war members of Congress – especially Democrats– and actively campaign against all pro-war candidates for president would do much to set the stage for a complete cure.

Before that is possible, however, grassroots activists must lose their illusions about the Democratic Party – and recognize the necessity of defeating pro-war Democrats, not just in primaries but in the general election. The third-party option must be considered, and this will separate those whose first loyalty is to the Democrats from those whose allegiance is to the cause of peace.

Let's separate the wheat from the chaff, the "benchmarks" from the bullsh*t, and the partisan hacks from the healthy body of the antiwar movement. Because ending this war isn't a partisan issue – it's a moral imperative.


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

We do not need to spend $100 billion dollars more to just bring the troops home. There will be no victory. Many of us have seen it all along. The neochronic will blame anybody but the misleaders.

Bunnypants can't buy his way out of this one - unless the D's let him. I am not disappointed in the Dem's as I never expected much more than lip service.

"The cure is not to be found in partisan politics or in the wishful thinking"

Justin has a certain genius especially when he repeats what I posted just a day or two ago.


Robert S said...

Thirty Three Arrested Protesting War as Part of 'Mother of a March'
By Kevin Zeese
Monday 14 May 2007

Peace moms Cindy Sheehan and Tina Richards among them.

After rallying in Lafayette Park across the street from the White House more than 250 anti-war advocates marched through Washington, DC to Capitol Hill. When they reached the Cannon House Office Building they formed two circles blocking the street to all traffic.

The demonstration was the "Mother of a March" spearheaded by Cindy Sheehan whose son died in Iraq. The march kicked off a "Summer of Action" where anti-war demonstrators will SWARM on Congress from today until June 31 advocating an end to the war. Numerous speakers urged peace voters to put "peace before partisanship" as thus far the Democrats have not lived up to the mandate of the voters who elected them to end the war.

Tina Richards, a Marine Mom, whose son served two tours of duty in Iraq and now has been found by the VA to be 80% disabled, said the purpose of the SWARM is to "bring citizen pressure on Congress so that they fulfill the mandate of the American voters who put the Democrats in power to end the war."

As the demonstrators marched up Independence Avenue they chanted "Stop the Funding, Stop the War – Mothers Say, Not One More." At the Department of the Justice Department the crowd stopped with Cindy Sheehan making an impromptu speech pointing out the crimes of the Bush administration, e.g. allowing torture of prisoners, spying on Americans, loss of habeas corpus, and the firing of U.S. Attorneys. In front of the Cannon House Office Building the demonstrators formed two circles of peace with 33 refusing to move from the center of the street when ordered by the police. In the middle of the two circles was an American flag flying at half mast.

As the 33 were arrested the crowd chanted "Arrest George Bush" and "Stop the Funding, Stop the Killing." Rev. Lennox Yearwood, who was also arrested, pointed out that from the time the crowd marched from the White House to Capitol Hill two more U.S. soldiers were reported dead.


For information on the SWARM visit www.DemocracyRising.US and www.VotersForPeace.US.

Kevin Zeese is Director of DemocracyRising.US and a co-founder of VotersForPeace.US.

Robert S said...

Pivotal Moment in the Green Scare
By David Rovics
t r u t h o u t | Guest Contributor
Monday 14 May 2007

Bill Rodgers died in a jail cell in Flagstaff, Arizona, fist raised above him, plastic bag over his head, of an apparent suicide on the 2005 winter solstice. Two weeks before in Prescott, Bill's baby, the Catalyst Infoshop, had been raided by 15 federal officers and he was taken away.

Bill was essentially accused of destroying corporate property. If he had been arrested for these crimes in, say, an EU country, I'm sure Bill would still be alive today. But the US is not the EU. The prisons of the US are full of nonviolent offenders, and there are special sentences for some of them. Bill knew that in America today, he could do like Jeffrey Luers and go to prison for a very long time. For Bill's property destruction was politically - ecologically - motivated. Bill apparently chose to end his life rather than spend it in prison.

The last time I saw Bill was at the Catalyst, a few months before his death. We were sitting on (or more like enveloped by) some very old couches, and someone was filming an interview for a local cable access program, I think. Bill was a couple of years older than me, but with twice as much energy. He was small, intelligent, full of vitality, full of both good intentions and actions. He was an unassuming Prescott institution, along with the Catalyst Infoshop.

Bill was part of a sweep of arrests of activists around the US, and more broadly, part of the US government's efforts to wipe out what it calls "ecoterrorism." To impose decades-long sentences (Jeffrey Luers was sentenced to a breathtaking 22 years) on people who have harmed no one, people who have essentially committed expensive acts of vandalism against the corporations that are destroying our world.

The term "ecoterrorism" was coined by a corporation, by a PR firm in New York. The laws passed by Congress giving "ecoterrorists" extra decades in prison for their alleged crimes were, of course, like most laws in this alleged democracy, passed at the behest of large corporations.

At the beginning of June, Daniel McGowan, Joyanna Zacher and Jonathan Paul will be sentenced for their alleged crimes of property destruction. Next week, at the federal courthouse in Eugene, Oregon, a judge will decide whether the "terrorism enhancement" law shall be applied to these cases. If applied, the defendants will receive mandatory sentences of 20 years on top of whatever other draconian sentences they will otherwise be receiving. In the same way that communists were once singled out for special punishment, so now are "ecoterrorists." It's the new Red Scare, the Green Scare.

This May 15 court decision comes at an interesting time. Our country is waging an illegal war for oil in Iraq in which over 600,000 people have lost their lives. The ice caps are melting, the oceans are rising, and the federal government is invading oil-rich nations and giving tax breaks to Americans for buying Hummers. Last week, a Cuban man named Luis Posada Carrilles was let back onto the streets of Miami. A free man, though he is known to have killed 73 people by planting a bomb on a civilian airplane in 1976, among many other deadly crimes. And the man responsible for blowing up Greenpeace's ship in 1985 while it was docked in New Zealand, killing one, is now living in Virginia and selling arms to the US government.

But real terrorists like Posada are not our government's concern. International law, illegal wars and mass deaths of innocent civilians are just fine.


capt said...

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