This is the Archive site for Firedoglake. To go to the main site please click on the following link

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Why Habeas Review Matters

Of all of the legal protections that we hold as American ideals and as examples to other nations as embodied in our Bill of Rights, the right of habeas corpus is the only civil liberty to be held so important by the Founders that it was included in the Constitution itself. This week, the United States Senate voted to restrict that right of petition for grievance.

Such restriction was for enemy combatants held outside the United States, so why should any citizen care? Because a restriction on this fundamental right for some could mean restrictions for all of us down the line.

A right to challenge being held by the government for improper reasons is at the heart of our democracy -- where such right was established to secure our rights to liberty and freedom, and to stop imprisonment of opposition candidates for political reasons.

The right of habeas corpus is our firewall against the tyranny of the majority -- it dates back to the Magna Carta, which bound the king to the rule of law. To threaten habeas corpus protections tears at the very fabric of rights in this nation.

Here is why: if you are arrested under false or bogus charges, or without any charge whatsoever as reason for your detainment, you have a right to petition a court to ask that the charges against you be detailed and justified under the laws of this country. The state must justify its right to hold you under the law, or you must be set free -- they cannot hold you without just cause.

What the Senate is asking is that we simply trust that our government is doing the right thing, and that they are only holding guilty persons in our name, and that the military tribunals who have been holding hearings on detainments will adequately address all constitutional problems when many of these detainees have had difficulties in gaining access to legal counsel, and that all of this being done in the name of the United States should be considered acceptable when we afford one standard of justice to our citizens and a completely different standard of justice to those we deem not worthy of it simply because they are non-citizens held in our legal custody.

The Hamdi case gave the Supreme Court an opportunity to review habeas standards for detainees. In his dissent, Justice Scalia stated "[i]f civil rights are to be curtailed during wartime, it must be done openly and democratically, as the Constitution requires..." and went on to quote Alexander Hamilton from Federalist Number 8:

"The violent destruction of life and property incident to war; the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty, to resort for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they, at length, become willing to run the risk of being less free."

"The Founders warned us about the risk," Scalia noted in his Hamdi dissent, "and equipped us with a Constitution designed to deal with it.

"Many think it not only inevitable but entirely proper that liberty give way to security in times of national crisis..." but, Scalia added, "that view has no place in the interpretation and application of a Constitution designed precisely to confront war and, in a manner that accords with democratic principles, to accommodate it." (Hat tip to Mark Marshall on this.)
What the Senate did this week was to thumb its nose at the Founders and their vision of legal rights for all, regardless of the political expediency of the moment. I rarely agree with Justice Scalia in philosophical terms, but in this particular matter, we see eye to eye.

And in this particular vote, the Senate is also thumbing its nose at the Supreme Court's decision in Rasul v. Bush (warning PDF), wherein the Court upheld the US statutory adherance in 18 USC 2441 to the Geneva Conventions and the Annex to the Hague Conventions.

We join these international treaties for a reason. In this particular case, these conventions and treaties provide protections for our men and women fighting overseas (as one example), should they be taken prisoner, to ensure that they will not be tortured or treated badly. They also establish clear ground rules for legal protections, for our citizens, as well as for citizens of other nations in our custody. A lot of these principles were based on the rule of law as we practice it here in the United States -- or at least, as we practiced it at the time these treaties were negotiated.

The Constitution is not a document of convenience. It is what we strive toward in this nation in terms of legal freedoms and rights, and to so blithely cast its principles aside for political expediency in the short term moment is shameful.

Further, our nation was founded on the principle that "all men are created equal." Each time we take a step away from that, we cheapen that ideal, and we trample on the sacrifices made by so many at the birth of this nation who paid dear with their lives so that their children, and their children's children, might live in a nation that held up the idea of liberty and freedom from tyranny as a beacon to the whole of the world.

To say that an enemy combatant is less deserving of the protections afforded our citizens because he or she is not from this nation is morally wrong, let alone legally questionable under our treaty obligations.

To imprison a person for an indefinite period of time, with little to no legal recourse for determination as to whether or not that person has been lawfully held, undercutting any ability for oversight of the matter by a higher court, stands against everything this nation has fought for through the years -- and it cheapens those civil liberties that we have held out to other nations as better standards than their own. We have lowered ourselves to the standards of nations we recently condemned for human rights violations, and we ought to be ashamed of ourselves for allowing this to happen.

This is not some casual decision to be made in haste, but one which must be well considered before taking any further step.

But don't take my word for it, when even conservative legal scholars are saying that this is a bad idea. Perhaps Lindsey Graham and his pals ought to take a second look at what they are proposing.
As a result, even assuming that the relevant constitutional standard for a suspension of habeas corpus has been met, proposals to eliminate habeas review of enemy combatant classifications are premature. In fact, it is not even clear that the courts would seek to extend such review to non-U.S. citizens held overseas. The Supreme Court ruled that the writ was available to detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, largely because that territory is so completely controlled by the United States. Moreover, to the extent that the Defense Department authorization amendment would effectively overrule that decision and eliminate habeas corpus review for individuals held at Guantanamo, it is unwise — legally and politically.
This is a horrible precedent to set. To say to the world that the principle of habeas corpus which began with the Magna Carta should only apply to some of the people under our jurisdiction is to set our selves up as the very tyrants we fought to overthrow at our Founding.

King George wasn't a very good ruler back then, either.

For more excellent discussion on this issue, see Scotusblog and TalkLeft.

One further note: It occurs to me that Karl Rove may be setting this up as yet another wedge issue. I am reminded of his divisive speech wherein he stated that liberals wanted to give the 9/11 terrorists therapy and lawyers, and that the Republicans may be attempting to set this up as a "just more liberals arguing to give the terrorists lawyers" sort of argument.

To Karl and his pals, I say this: If this is your plan, shame on you and every filthy little crony you get to go along with you. The Constitution is not for your manipulation, and neither are the principles contained therein.

UPDATE: For how badly we look with all of this, even to our friends, read here.


Tom DeLay's Hot Tub Party

A few more of the Bugman's cronies are in hot water over the ever-widening Abramoff scandal, this time (Oh sweet Jesus, thank you) Ralph Reed and John Cornyn:
In the Nov. 30, 2001, e-mail, Reed told Abramoff that 50 pastors led by Ed Young of Second Baptist Church in Houston would meet with Cornyn to urge him to shut down the Alabama-Coushatta tribe's casino near Livingston. He said Young would back up the request in writing.

"We have also choreographed Cornyn's response. The AG will state that the law is clear, talk about how much he wants to avoid repetition of El Paso and pledge to take swift action to enforce the law," Reed wrote. "He will also personally hand Ed Young a letter that commits him to take action in Livingston." (my emphasis throughout)
Abramoff at the time was working for the rival Louisiana Coushatta tribe who wanted to eliminate the competition from the Tigua and Alabama-Coushatta casinos. Cornyn did in fact shut them both down.
The previously released e-mails that showed in 2002 Abramoff and Scanlon secretly funneled millions to Reed to help fund the campaign to get the Tigua casino shut down. The lobbyists then persuaded the Tiguas to hire them to reopoen it.
McCain's Senate Indian Affairs Committee helpfully blocked out Cornyn's name when the emails were released last week, but in previous emails it was not.


All in all the Indian tribes paid Abramoff and Scanlon nearly $80 million to be played off one against another. And in a final rat-fuck, after the Alabama-Coushatta casino finally closed, Reed sent this inspired missive to Abramoff highlighting what a bit fat con all this faith-based shit really is to them:
"This is total victory and should lead friends in TX to now want to launch the grassroots effort to insure that those elected officials who stood up for families and against the casino gambling have support this fall," Reed said.
He cannot get sucked down into the flames of hellfire fast enough, that one.

(graphic from, of course, Monk at Inflatable Dartboard)


Pantload Rising

In what I can only regard as the seventh sign of the apocalypse, the end of civilization as we know it or the worst PMS I have ever had, the LA Times has replaced Robert Scheer with Jonah Goldberg.

TBogg: "I'm sure they have their reasons: some sort of Doughy Pantload Affirmative Action Program but, in a time when newspapers are cutting back on personnel, does it make any sense to hire someone who need a private editor 24/7?"

SteveAudio: "And now the page has changed its name from "Opinion" (simple, clear) to "Currents" (pretentious, silly). Instead of 'Current' call it 'Undertow' as good writing and common sense are swept out to sea to drown. In their piece on the troubles of the United Nations last week, the front page offered reasoned opinions by David Bossie, Ron Silver, and some tool from the American Enterprise Institute. Imagine! That's like asking David Duke, Strom Thurmand, and Clarence Thomas to offer opinion on the NAACP. Such balance, such fairness."

Roy: "As fans of his lumpy prose can attest, Goldberg himself clucks quite loudly and frequently during intellectual endeavors, never more so than when he is clearly full of shit, and seems to think this clucking holds said shit together.'"

And just for fun, let's resurrect Jesus' General's Letter to Jonah, Roxanne's Best Jonah Goldberg Nickname Contest, the Juan Cole/Jonah Goldberg Celebrity Smackdown, and of course the gold standard -- TBogg's "Jonah and the Ocean of Lotion" fan fic series.

At least we can read Robert Scheer at the HuffPo. And the LA Times will remain a highly absorbent cat box liner.


May You Have the Body

Wolcott, of course, says it best:
Torture, black sites, indefinite detention and deprival of due process--the United States has forfeited its right to lecture other nations about freedom and democracy. Red, white, and blue are no longer the true colors of this country's flag; the flags that fly in the Capital should be henceforth be prison gray. And in Paul Craig Roberts' book of tyrants, trailing behind Lindsey Graham, should traipse the five miserable excuses for Democrats who voted for this wormy bill. Each should have an interrogation room at Guantanamo named in their honor.
Let's name the ones in need of a civics lesson, shall we?

Kent Conrad - North Dakota
Joe Lieberman - Connecticut
Mary Landrieu - Louisiana
Ben Nelson - Nebraska
Ron Wyden - Oregon

My favorite quote:
Antonia Ferrier, a spokeswoman for Ms. Snowe, characterized her boss's concerns this way: "Do we need all those lawyers going down there to hear their complaints? It seems a little extreme to her. After all, we're talking about enemy combatants.
Oh heavens how inconvenient. Let's just chuck the Constitution in the shitter and all go shoe shopping, eh? I hear there's a two-for-one sale on jackboots at Ferragamo.


Drawing a Line at Lies

Today's WaPo has a brief analysis of the Hadley and Preznit speeches -- you know, the ones that said, "The Dems were stupid enough to trust us, so blame them, too."
President Bush and his national security adviser have answered critics of the Iraq war in recent days with a two-pronged argument: that Congress saw the same intelligence the administration did before the war, and that independent commissions have determined that the administration did not misrepresent the intelligence.

Neither assertion is wholly accurate.
In other words, liar, liar, pants on fire the Administration is again manipulating the information for public consumption. (Jane covered the Hadley speech exceptionally well here.)

And the point that the Preznit and Hadley fail to make -- you know, the actual truth of the matter? That Bushie, as President of the United States and the ultimate consumer of intelligence information and controller of its dissemination to Congress, receives a more thorough briefing than said members of Congress when he and his staffers fail to turn over all the information.
But Bush does not share his most sensitive intelligence, such as the President's Daily Brief, with lawmakers. Also, the National Intelligence Estimate summarizing the intelligence community's views about the threat from Iraq was given to Congress just days before the vote to authorize the use of force in that country.

In addition, there were doubts within the intelligence community not included in the NIE. And even the doubts expressed in the NIE could not be used publicly by members of Congress because the classified information had not been cleared for release. For example, the NIE view that Hussein would not use weapons of mass destruction against the United States or turn them over to terrorists unless backed into a corner was cleared for public use only a day before the Senate vote.
The fact is, the Administration knows that they have more access to intelligence than members of Congress, and they are simply flat out lying when they try to spin the information otherwise. Absolutely shameful -- but not surprising, considering the source.

Look, I'm not placing the whole of the blame on the Administration's shoulders. Frankly, there were a whole lot of folks screaming at the top of their lungs to slow things down, that the whole of the information was not contained in the documents, that this wasn't in the best interests of the nation as a whole.

Sen. Byrd gave an eloquent speech to that effect on the floor of the Senate at the time that is a fine example of that sentiment.

Senators on both sides of the aisle failed to do their jobs adequately, and allowed short term political considerations for upcoming elections to trump responsibilities for oversight through advice and consent.
The lawmakers are partly to blame for their ignorance. Congress was entitled to view the 92-page National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq before the October 2002 vote. But, as The Washington Post reported last year, no more than six senators and a handful of House members read beyond the five-page executive summary.
But that in no way excuses the Administration from failing to provide the fullest possible picture of the pros and the cons of the intelligence information.

And that was decidedly not provided (perhaps not even provided to the President, according to Larry Wilkerson's recent statements).

The American people deserve to know the whole truth, not just that portion the Administration deems appropriate for them to know in order to save their sorry asses to perpetuate their version of events.

There are soldiers risking their lives and limbs every single day as a result of the decisions made by this Administration and this Congress. Every citizen in this nation, regardless of political affiliation, deserves to know how the decisions were made to send them to war.

If for no other reason than as a lesson on how things should -- or should not -- be done in the future. Our nation's reputation, and the lives of some of its finest young people, deserve no less than that.


Friday, November 11, 2005

Did Judy Grab All the Kool-Aid On Her Way Out the Door?

The NYT editorial page seems to be running low:
Mr. Graham is a careful and principled senator who argues eloquently for his measure. The Senate should adopt his proposal for a federal court review of detentions, preferably by a huge margin, and the House should follow suit. We'd love to see Congress then defy the inevitable veto threats from the White House, driven by Vice President Dick Cheney, who is still skulking around Capitol Hill trying to legalize torture at the C.I.A.'s secret prison camps around the world. But we cannot support Mr. Graham in trying to rewrite the habeas corpus law.

Fewer than 200 of the approximately 500 prisoners at Guantánamo Bay have filed petitions for habeas corpus hearings. They are not seeking trials, merely asking why they are being held. And according to government and military officials, an overwhelming majority should not have been taken prisoner in the first place. These men have been in isolation for nearly four years, subject to months of interrogation. Do they really have anything left to say?

The habeas petitions are not an undue burden. And in any case, they are a responsibility that this nation has always assumed to ensure that no one is held prisoner unjustly.
Well there's always Tierney, he's got the mad stash.


Happy Veteran's Day

We'd like to honor our veterans today -- not with some disrespectful half-assed warmed-over speech, but by bringing you some of the finer veteran voices in the blogosphere, who have a word or two for the Commander in Cheap:

Bob Geiger: "Mr. President, it's not the toy-soldier, "bring-it-on" thrill that your protected, sheltered experience would lead you to believe. It is terrifying. You're scared to death, shoot at almost anything that moves and pray to whatever deity you worship that you see tomorrow. But you would have no way of knowing that -– not even through the stories of the sycophants you are surrounded by, most of whom have never served a day in uniform in their lives.

Jo Fish: "Hmmm....cooked intel, Downing Street Memo, Joe Wilson, Yellowcake, Powell's former Chief of Staff, and an indictment of an intel-cooker for what in any other war would be treasonous allegations for leaking to discredit someone calling bullshit on the intel-cooking. Rewrite history? Not's all documented out here on the internets...for better or for worse, the atrocities have been documented. Nice try though on that deeply irresponsible revision of history, too bad it's not going to work unless everyone turns into Monica Crowley by midnight tonight."

And Gord, on the 230th birthday of the US Marine Corps, which was yesterday: "On this night, somewhere in Western Iraq near the Syrian border, in a fighting hole with a tarp pulled over them so the light from the match used as a birthday candle won't show, two Marines, tired, dirty, smelly, maybe scared, cut a piece of MRE pound cake with a K-Bar fighting knife. The first piece goes to a 21 year old Corporal, the second to an 18 year old PFC. Even out on the sharp end, Marines will do this small thing in honor of those who have gone before, and each other.

"This old Marine's thoughts are of those young Marines, stuck in the middle of nowhere on a mission they won't know much about until the books are written years from now. They probably don't give much of a shit about whether it's right or wrong. They go where they're told and do what they've been trained to do. They do their duty as they see it to do. They're Marines.

"Semper Fi."

Show 'em you appreciate their efforts today. Visit a veteran blogger and leave a nice comment.

(graphic via Fixer at Alternate Brain)


Budget Vote a No Go

Things continue to be ugly for Republicans this week. Even after making substantial concessions to moderate Republicans in the House, the leadership was not able to secure enough votes to pass it's budget proposal and had to scrap the vote last night.
"The product we had for today wasn't quite where it needs to be yet," said Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri, the No. 2 Republican, who said backers of the cuts remained a "handful" of votes short.

It was a stunning retreat for a Republican majority that has prided itself on iron discipline and an ability to win even the most difficult floor votes consistently. It was set against Democratic election victories on Tuesday that left Republicans worried about the 2006 midterm contests. It was also a setback for Mr. Blunt, who is filling in as majority leader for Representative Tom DeLay and would be a candidate for the job permanently should Mr. DeLay's legal problems persist in Texas, where he is under criminal indictment.
The old gray mare, she ain't what she used to be, eh, Roy?

And the best news out of all of this? Democrats have found their spines again.
In the House, Mr. Blunt and other top Republicans said a main impediment was the unity of the Democrats, who would not provide a single vote for the plan, forcing Republicans to rely on party support for a measure that makes moderates nervous because it contains politically charged cuts in food stamps and health care for the poor.

Democrats said the postponement reflected growing resistance within the Republican Party over its direction on spending and tax issues. Democrats have begun home-state attacks over the budget cuts against Republicans deemed vulnerable.
Please, oh please, let this be the start of something and not just a one shot wonder.


Stephen Hadley is a Big, Fat Dissembling Piece of Shit

Steven Hadley, running from the twin scandals of TraitorGate and being the go-to guy on the Niger Forgeries, wants to make it a trifecta.

Says Atrios:
I think that the recent statements of Stephen Hadley are really all we need to put the final nail in the coffin of the Bush administration's credibility on anything. These people are just quite literally loathsome.

Hadley argues that Democrats had the same intelligence because "parts of" the NIE "had been made public."

Right, and the parts of the NIE which weren't made public were the parts which suggested that the parts which were made public were full of shit.

Any talking head who overlooks this fact to try to claim that "democrats had the same intelligence as Republicans" is just completely full of shit. They only the had the bits that made their case, not the bits which took away from it.
He's absolutely right. And just so I won't feel I slogged through that 568 page SSCI report for nothing, I would like to add my two cents.

That NIE (or National Intelligence Estimate -- a compilation from the various intelligence departments of all the available information relating to a particular situation) was a crock from the git-go. BushCo. didn't even want to do one, even though they are typically done before launching any major military operation like oh, say, a war. Unbelievably, Dick Durbin had to make a special request to even get one prior to granting Dubya the authority to declare war (p. 12 of the SSCI).

National Intelligence Officers assert that ideally it takes three months to produce an accurate NIE, but Preznit Itchy Trigger Finger and the Stovepipe Posse claimed that the threat Sadaam posed was so imminent that they couldn't wait.

The NIE was produced in less than twenty days, and its findings were never sent out for peer review or to a panel of outside experts because Bush and company said there wasn't time. (p. 13, SSCI).

Hence the most specious claims about aluminum tubing and Curveball that had been waved through by the likes of mediocre-novelist-playing-spy Scooter Libby and his faithful sidekick Big Time as they poked their noses into raw intelligence never got vetted by professionals not under the thrall of the powerful who knew what they wanted to find long before they found it.

To say the Democrats had access to this intelligence is hogwash. Unless someone's got photos of Dick Durbin running around CIA headquarters sniffing at the britches of low-level analysts and eating Mu Shu Pork off Colin Powell's Chinese menu that claim is just bunk.

Dubya had a boner for war, a premature ejaculator who simply couldn't wait. In short order he quickly screwed the Iraqis, the intelligence process, the US military and the American people.

The Democrats had nothing to do with it. The end.

(graphic courtesy The Heretik)


Rover Goes Long

To read the new NYT piece by Ann Kornblut about Karl Rove, you'd think his life was all beer and Skittles at this point. Vindicated, spunky, back to running the federal budget like a corporate chop shop:
He is running meetings and pursuing candidates for the 2006 elections - and, associates say, devising long-term political plans that suggest he does not believe he will face future legal trouble despite the C.I.A. leak investigation in which he has been involved.
No mention that Gee Dubya has stepped anywhere near the toxic "boy genius," but okay. Are we to believe this unquestioning story, where gushing reports of blue skies for Rover are all there is to be had? Not according to Murray Waas, who says Fitzgerald still has the "boy genius" in his sights, and wants to know what evidence there is to be had from Libby:
Fitzgerald did not seek an indictment of Rove, opting to present any potential new evidence on the White House deputy chief of staff to a new grand jury. In recent days, Fitzgerald has reinterviewed several witnesses with knowledge of Rove's role in the Plame leak and talked with attorneys of other potential witnesses.

The ongoing investigation means that Rove's legal status is likely to remain up in the air until the final disposition of Libby's case. That could be two years from now, or even longer. Rove's predicament contradicts recent news accounts indicating that Fitzgerald will conclude his probe of Rove in the near future.
This jibes with what I heard from a slightly less credulous New York Times source yesterday, who said that Fitzgerald's inquiry into Rove was likely to play out over a longer period of time than had heretofore been assumed. Sounds like Fitzgerald not only wants to turn Libby against Big Time, he's also hoping to break up any sort of mutual defense between Rove and Libby, and deal with Libby to bring down Rove:
Rove testified to the grand jury that in discussing Plame with Novak and Cooper, he was simply repeating what he had heard from a journalist or from Libby. Rove said he believed that Libby, too, had only learned about Plame from journalists.

Sources close to Rove say that Libby very likely misled Rove when he told Rove that he had learned about Plame from journalists. Investigators also want to learn from Libby whether that's true, or whether Libby told Rove a different source for the Plame information -- specifically other government officials with access to highly classified information.
Is Libby willing to tack on a few more years of canned corn and trading smokes with the screws to back Karl up? Well that is a very good question.

Crooks & Liars has more.

(graphic courtesy Monk at Inflatable Dartboard)


Open Mouth, Insert Indictment

Oh, man. This is too good to be true. Have to stop giggling long enough to type. *wipes eyes*

*snerk* Tom Delay opened his own big mouth and got himself indicted.

The last-minute negotiations between the lawyers and Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle were arranged after DeLay made what Earle considered a seriously damaging admission about his fundraising activities during an Aug. 17 meeting with the prosecutor in Austin.

At that session, DeLay acknowledged that in 2002 he was informed about and expressed his support for transfers of $190,000 in mostly corporate funds from his Texas political action committee to an arm of the Republican National Committee in Washington and then back to Texas, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition that they not be named.
This, my friends, is what we like to call "trying to get out in front of a damning story." But the real question is whether this is Delay trying to get in front of it -- or Republican leadership trying to shove him out the door before he drags everyone even further down in the 2006 elections.

The WaPo article is somewhat sourced from legal folks involved in the case, presumably some close to Delay trying to cast doubt on Earle's case. DeGuerin, Delay's very able trial attorney, has tried in recent weeks to cast some serious doubt publicly on any admissions against interest that Delay might have made to Ronnie Earle in that private meeting prior to the first indictment. But what about this:
"I knew about this after it happened, because Jim Ellis in passing said, 'Oh, by the way, we sent some money to . . . [an arm of the Republican National Committee]' and I said okay," DeLay said on the "Fox News Sunday" talk show Oct. 2. "That wasn't an approval. That was an acknowledgment" of what had happened. The meeting occurred, he said, in October 2002.

In a separate interview on Fox that week, DeLay conceded that "Jim Ellis would let me know how things were going, because I was interested in how things were going, and how much money they were raising."
How hilarious is that? To be hoisted on your own petard based on interviews you gave to Fox News? Mwahahaha. (You remember, the interview that Fox News paid Delay close to $14,000 to come and do for them?)

Sure does make it difficult to spin away that admission when your client keeps on making it. On TV. To a friendly interviewer. Ahem.

Bragging is never a good idea when you are trying to avoid criminal prosecution. I'm just saying.

UPDATE: Reader Granite State Destroyer reminds us of a great Delay quote:
"The time has come that the American people know exactly what their Representatives are doing here in Washington. Are they feeding at the public trough, taking lobbyist-paid vacations, getting wined and dined by special interest groups? Or are they working hard to represent their constituents? The people, the American people, have a right to know...I say the best disinfectant is full disclosure, not isolation" -Tom Delay 1995
Whooo boy. Ahem.


Veteran's Day

Veteran's Day was begun in remembrance of Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, at the close of WWI. The VA lists just eight veterans currently receiving benefits, and estimates no more than a few dozen others may be alive today, out of more than 2 million Americans who fought in the war.

Just wanted to take a moment to thank all the veterans, who do their jobs regardless of the person residing in the Commander in Chief chair, regardless of the risk to their lives and limbs. For those who stand up and stay true to "duty, honor, country," I thank you.

Our local Democratic Women's group just sent several care packages overseas to personnel who aren't receiving much mail from family and friends. If you are interested in doing something with a local group of your own -- or just on your own -- take a peek at AnySoldier. It's a great resource for helping some folks who are serving far away, and who could use a boost around the holidays especially.

What have conservatives done recently for veterans? Read on -- Think Progress has the sad truth of this year's Veteran's Day present to disabled vets.

(Photo credit to Damir Sagolij/Reuters. This photo was too poignant, had to use it this morning. Well done.)

UPDATE: Another article from the WaPo about a 22 year old veteran trying to start over after serving in the Marines in Iraq. Great piece.


Habeas Schmabeas

The Senate passed it's end run around the Supreme Court and the Constitution bill. Thanks, Lindsey Graham. Wanker.
The Senate voted Thursday to strip captured "enemy combatants" at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, of the principal legal tool given to them last year by the Supreme Court when it allowed them to challenge their detentions in United States courts.

The vote, 49 to 42, on an amendment to a military budget bill by Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, comes at a time of intense debate over the government's treatment of prisoners in American custody worldwide, and just days after the Senate passed a measure by Senator John McCain banning abusive treatment of them.

If approved in its current form by both the Senate and the House, which has not yet considered the measure but where passage is considered likely, the law would nullify a June 2004 Supreme Court opinion that detainees at Guantánamo Bay had a right to challenge their detentions in court.
So, let me get this straight: the Senate wants to block out the only branch of government doing any oversight on the treatment of detainees, and in doing so completely stomp on the principle of habeas corpus and the Constitution.

Think that doesn't have long-term implications for the rest of us? Think again -- TalkLeft has much more here and here.

The House still hasn't taken up the measure, so there is still hope that this won't make it past this initial stage. But the Senate is supposed to be the grown-up, deliberative body, as envisioned by the Framers. Shameful.

In a nation of laws, the protections afforded in the Constitution along with the penalties enacted into law apply to everyone, equally. When we start tinkering with how the laws apply and limiting legal protections for a few, it taints the entire process -- and makes us look more and more like a nation that only uses law for a justification for tyranny.

How far do we go? And how far does that start to reach into our entire society, before we all wake up and realize how much erosion is occurring to our fundamental principles of fairness?

This is America. We are far better than this. And every Senator who voted for this ought to hang their heads today.


Thursday, November 10, 2005

Why I Love the Wingnuts

Paragraph 1:
The one piece that was still - as far as I knew - missing from the puzzle then was whether or not Plame had been based abroad during the five years prior to the leak. Joe Wilson's book makes it clear that she had not. This nails down beyond any possible doubt that there was no breach of the Act, and could not have been.
Paragraph 2:
Wilson is, afterall, a proven liar.
They always do the heavy lifting for you.



Bill Keller: "But if I had known the details of Judy's entanglement with Libby, I'd have been more careful in how the paper articulated its defense, and perhaps more willing than I had been to support efforts aimed at exploring compromises."

Judith Miller: "I am gratified that Bill Keller, The Times executive editor, has finally clarified remarks made by him that were unsupported by fact and personally distressing."

Pinch on Charlie Rose tonight (sorry no Drudge linky):
Arthur Sulzberger: [T]he truth is, this is the right time. She's become too entangled with the story. She knew it. We knew it.

Charlie Rose: What does "too entangled" mean?

Arthur Sulzberger: I shouldn't have used that word.
Well you would certainly know, Arthur.

(graphic courtesy Monk at Inflatable Dartboard)



Laura Rozen says that before meeting with Big Time next week, Ahmed Chalabi will visit wounded US soldiers at Walter Reed. Touching.

Pat Roberts has asked the Pentagon's inspector general to look into the activities of Doug Feith and the Office of Special Plans. Democrats on the SSCI, including John Rockefeller, say Roberts' action could "delay the Senate investigation of Feith's office by up to a year." Moreover, Roberts didn't tell vice chair John Rockefeller about the letter until after it had been sent. Can we hear that all that bullshit about "comity" again?

Steve Soto, on the new Newsweek story: "So the presidential inquiry report is now garbage as well? We now know that both the CIA and DIA had reservations about the claims that Saddam was training Al Qaeda on chemical weapons, yet those reservations never made their way to Colin Powell, who got his information for the UN speech from, where else, Dick Cheney’s office. So are we to believe that both Rummy and George Tenet withheld these concerns from the White House?"


Judy We Hardly Knew Ye

Just got off the phone with a source at the NYT, who says:

1. As of yesterday, the story that Susan Ralston is going before Fitzgerald's grand jury again did not check out. (Note: A second source now says the Ralston story is bs.)

2. They believe Fitzgerald may be pursuing "a new line of inquiry" regarding Rove. Whatever Rove produced at the last minute "may have fallen under the heading of 'more difficult to prove intent to mislead.'" But whatever happens, the Hadley memo is going to play a "serious part of any indictment," and Fitzgerald's investigation may be "longer rather than shorter."

3. They were sorry to see Judy go. "Many people were hoping for an actual execution in the town square but it was not to happen," they said. "It's hard to imagine how dreadful it is to work with her," and "a twenty year nightmare is over."

4. Despite her contention that she has "many job offers" (and no, Judy, wingnut welfare from Regnery is not employment), they see her "sinking into the shadows of some right wing think tank."

5. For those who just can't get enough of Judy's "tropism", she will be on Larry King tonight, opposite Pinch on Charlie Rose.

And I was not the one who dubbed it "dueling ex-lovers."

Update: Rover will be on CNN tonight at 7pm ET/4pm PT. Quite the TV evening for Plameiacs I would say.


Well, Now Isn't This Interesting?

Looks like Patrick Fitzgerald is still a very busy boy. Susan Ralston is said to be going back in front of a grand jury for a third trip as early as Monday, according to the latest from Raw Story.
According to lawyers familiar with the case, Fitzgerald is trying to convince the grand jury that Rove made false statements during the three times he testified under oath and misleading statements to Justice Department and FBI investigators when he was first interviewed about his role in the leak in October 2003.

The attorneys told RAW STORY that Fitzgerald has called Rove’s former personal assistant, Susan B. Ralston -- who was also a special assistant to President Bush -- to testify before the grand jury for a third time, perhaps as early as Monday. She is not said to be in legal jeopardy.
Sounds to me like Susan Ralston's attorney has a leak in the office. Either that or Raw Story has an FBI source, which is less likely in my mind, given the "trying to convince" spin that's been floated here regarding Fitz presenting the facts to the grand jurors.

Whatever the case, looks like journalists will be camping out on Monica Beach in front of the federal courthouse again next week.

But why speak with Ralston a third time? Well, likely because she is Rove's personal assistant -- the gatekeeper for all phone calls and people flowing in and out of his office, and the person responsible for keeping those records required by the White House of all in-going and out-going information, via calls and mail.
Ralston testified that Cooper’s name was not noted in the call logs from Rove’s office, those familiar with the case say.

Ralston told the grand jury that Cooper’s call to Rove was transferred to Rove’s office by the White House switchboard. She testified that the call was not logged by Rove’s office because Cooper had not called Rove’s office directly.

Sources say that Fitzgerald has obtained documentary evidence proving that scenario does not jibe with other unrelated calls to Rove’s office that were also transferred to his office by the switchboard but were logged.
What could this mean? It could sure as hell show some state of mind in terms of wanting to hide the phone call, and that the person wanting the call kept off the books had some knowledge that what they might be doing would get them in trouble. In other words, that they might be doing something...erm...illegal. Ahem.

And that knowledge that someone might be "saying too much already" and disclosing information that should not be disclosed? Well, that just might fit right into an IIPA prosecution, depending on whether that knowledge included the fact that Valerie Plame Wilson was a covert operative. If Fitz can make that nugget work, then behavior that shows Rove trying to pre-emptively cover his tracks by not properly recording the call from Matt Cooper? Well, that's just an awfully helpful little piece of information for a jury, now isn't it?

And in a not-so-surprising move, Rove's attorney, Mr. Luskin, could not be reached for comment on this to Raw Story.

Well, now isn't that interesting?

UPDATE: More on this from Richard Sale.

UPDATE #2: And just for fun, I heart Tom McGuire. This is pure gold and definitely worth the price of two cups of coffee. For all you Andrea Mitchell fans out there, this is a must see.


Apologies to the Choir

I have some questions for Howard Fineman: Have you spent so much time in the cynical Washington punditocracy that you can't recognize true disgust at being used and lied to for exactly what it is? And has journalistic hackery risen to such a level that diminishing genuine anger as a political tactic passes as balanced reporting?
The Democrats’ New Wedge Strategy is an inside one, aimed at Bush-led Republican Washington, where team loyalty is supposed to be the number one virtue, and where the president has ruled with an iron hand. The Democrats want to unhinge that discipline by exposing — or creating — friction between: Bush and Cheney, Bush and his political advisor, Karl Rove; the White House and the Republican-run Congress; and between competing Republican leadership tongs on Capitol Hill.

None of these figures or factions is popular in the country right now, and the Dems’ rather simple idea is to force them to defend each other in broad daylight. And the Dems know that Bush — a loyalist by nature, who believes in the Texas adage of “dancing with the one that brung ya” — is likely to take the bait.
Hey, Howard, I have a word for you: accountability.

I know. I know. It hasn't actually been in vogue the last five years of Republican control of Congress and the White House but, bear with me here -- both Democrats and Republicans are unhappy at being lied to by the Administration. As a card carrying member of the actual American public, I'd sure like to know who has been a lying sack of crap -- and my neighbors would as well.

And that includes talking heads who don't properly do their jobs, but instead hope that people will feed them useful quotes so they can continue to hang out at Beltway cocktail parties. Ahem.
Rather than go after the president, the Democrats are highlighting Cheney, and hope either that the president is forced to come to the defense of his own veep, or publicly distance himself from him — at which point they’ll shout what amounts to “Cheney’s guilty!”

Bush aides are obliging the Dems by leaking word — or spin — that the veep had lost clout long before his former top aide, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, was indicted by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald.

Now Democrats are highlighting Cheney’s role as an advocate for exemptions to the new anti-torture policy, and focusing on the “what he knew and when he knew it” questions raised by the leak investigation of Libby.
Has it ever occurred to you, Howard, that perhaps both Democrats and Republicans are angry with Cheney because he manipulated intelligence information, created his own intelligence fiefdom in a Vice Presidential power grab unlike any other we have seen in our history, and lied the nation into a war of his own making?

That perhaps, in all of Washington, there might be some public officials who still think their job is to do the public's business, and that lying to the public is a shameful exercise in power, one with tragic human consequences, and ought to be investigated and punished to the fullest extent of the law? That such conduct deserves to be exposed to the largest amount of public sunshine that can be mustered, as a cleansing measure and warning?

I'm not going to quote from more of your article because, frankly, it's just utter crap. Of course politicians are going to work the political angle of things where they can. They are politicians, after all. That's what they and their staffs do for a living.

But in this matter, where the death toll and the permanent injury toll are so high for American servicepeople, where the reputation of this nation has sunk so low because we have abandoned all of our long-held principles on the alter of revenge and expediency, and where the long-term consequences to our foreign policy, our military, and our nation, seem to have been completely ignored -- well, we all have a right to be angry.

If you think the politicians are mad, you should spend a little time in America's heartland, where we send our young men and women off to war every single day because their economic opportunities are so limited that the military is the only way to pay the bills and feed their families. This is not a Machiavellian game to those of us who live in the world of reality.

Whatever you might think, Howard, the American public deserves no less than the truth about all of this. That includes well-earned criticisms of Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, David Addington, the whole of the WHIG and neocons and all of their cronies, and, yes, the Preznit -- because each and every person involved in making decisions to lie to the American public -- or even to just look the other way while someone else did it -- ought to be called to account.

Every last one of them.

Democrats -- and Republicans -- who are asking for this accounting are doing their jobs. It's been a while, so perhaps you can be forgiven for forgetting what that looks like. Maybe you ought to consider what your job is as well.

My apologies to the choir. This bit of preaching needed to come out, before my brain exploded this morning.

(Painting by Fra Angelico, entitled "18 Blessed of the Dominican Order.")


(Mis)Using Intelligence to Be Questioned

According to Walter Pincus in the WaPo, Senators negotiating the parameters of the Intelligence Committee probe into use of pre-war intelligence have reached a tentative agreement on moving forward.
The most contentious part of the second phase -- comparing public officials' prewar statements to the intelligence available at the time -- has for now been turned over to the committee staff for additional work. The staff has been directed to collect major statements about Iraq's weapons programs by administration officials and members of Congress, as well as any relevant intelligence circulating at the time, whether it supported or undercut the statements, officials said.

"We want to look at all the intelligence community work and see how it was used," Feinstein said. Under the original plan of Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), the process was to have been simpler: Statements were to be analyzed to see only if there was intelligence that substantiated them, without looking at contrary intelligence.
Well, that is good news -- not so much for the Administration, but for that portion of the American public that has been wanting the truth...well, it's about time. Pat Roberts must be having a cow. And I have to wonder, did Trent Lott step up and vote this through because Roberts sure wasn't likely to be the "open Pandora's box" vote.
"We are not looking to place blame," Feinstein said, "but if the president said something like the 16 words on uranium, somebody put them in there, and we want to know what [intelligence] there was before" the speechwriter. She suggested that Robert Joseph, then the National Security Council staff member supervising preparation of the Iraq weapons material in the speech and now undersecretary of state for arms control, might be the type of witness called to testify.

As another example of what she thought should be covered, Feinstein pointed to intelligence covered in then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's Feb. 5, 2003, speech to the U.N. Security Council. He mentioned reports of several Iraqi programs -- later proved incorrect -- including allegations that Iraq had mobile factories for making biological agents, which came from a source known as "Curveball" who had been flagged by a CIA station chief as unreliable. "There was discrediting information in the mill at the time, and we want to find what went to Powell," Feinstein said.
Well, hot diggity. Maybe they can ask Rove what he did to Tenet's "I take responsibility" draft after the whole 16 words fiasco. Now that is a hearing I'd pay to see.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The President's Outreach to the Continent of Africa

I know I shouldn't get too happy that Jack Abramoff is going down. Oh well yes I should. Via Atrios:
WASHINGTON, Nov. 9 - The lobbyist Jack Abramoff asked for $9 million in 2003 from the president of a West African nation to arrange a meeting with President Bush and directed his fees to a Maryland company now under federal scrutiny, according to newly disclosed documents.

The African leader, President Omar Bongo of Gabon, met with President Bush in the Oval Office on May 26, 2004, 10 months after Mr. Abramoff made the offer. There has been no evidence in the public record that Mr. Abramoff had any role in organizing the meeting or that he received any money or had a signed contract with Gabon.

White House and State Department officials described Mr. Bush's meeting with President Bongo, whose government is regularly accused by the United States of human rights abuses, as routine. The officials said they knew of no involvement by Mr. Abramoff in the arrangements. Officials at Gabon's embassy in Washington did not respond to written questions.

"This went through normal staffing channels," said Trent Duffy, a White House spokesman, who said the meeting was "part of the president's outreach to the continent of Africa."
Actually the price was probably only $4.5 million until Bush heard it was Bongo. Dubya has a real bug up his ass about one of Bongo's pals, a former US Ambassador to Gabon.

Oh somebody's having a good laugh at the fountain of cosmic irony tonight.


It's the Judy Miller Show!

Now that Judy has said goodbye to her beloved cohorts at the NYT, she flips one to us, her faithful readers, on her blog.

Says Miller:
On July 6 I chose to go to jail to defend my right as a journalist to protect a confidential source, the same right that enables lawyers to grant confidentiality to their clients, clergy to their parishioners, and physicians and psychotherapists to their patients. Though 49 states have extended this privilege to journalists as well, for without such protection a free press cannot exist, there is no comparable federal law. I chose to go to jail not only to honor my pledge of confidentiality, but also to dramatize the need for such a federal law.
...which would not have applied to you.
Though some colleagues disagreed with my decision to testify, for me to have stayed in jail after achieving my conditions would have seemed self-aggrandizing martyrdom or worse, a deliberate effort to obstruct the prosecutor'’s inquiry into serious crimes.

Partly because of such objections from some colleagues, I have decided, after 28 years and with mixed feelings, to leave The Times.
Name one. Just one. One person at the Times who was so offended by your betrayal of the First Amendment that you could no longer remain there, Judy. Just one. That's all I want, just one name.
But mainly I have chosen to resign because over the last few months, I have become the news, something a New York Times reporter never wants to be.
You mean all that Indiana Jones shit from Bagdad was not intended as self-aggrandizing camp and melodrama? Wow, to think that was an accident. The mind reels at what you could achieve if you actually tried, Judy.
Even before I went to jail, I had become a lightning rod for public fury over the intelligence failures that helped lead our country to war. Several articles I wrote or co-wrote were based on this faulty intelligence, and in May 2004, The Times concluded in an editors’ note that its coverage should have reflected greater editorial and reportorial skepticism.
...although you yourself have never accepted anything approaching responsibility in the matter other than acknowledging you were lied to. When are we finally going to have a chorus of "I was proved fucking wrong?"
At a commencement speech I delivered at Barnard College in 2003, a year before that note was published, I asked whether the administration's prewar W.M.D. intelligence was merely wrong, or was it exaggerated or even falsified. I believed then, and still do, that the answer to bad information is more reporting. I regret that I was not permitted to pursue answers to the questions I raised at Barnard.
Yes, if only you'd been allowed to go back to Iraq, pin a few more medals on and churn just a bit more bullshit, everything would've been made clear. How dare your editors reign you in after all your shoddy reporting. After all, you once made a comment at Barnard to the effect that you might be a complete credulous dupe. I guess you were proved fucking right on at least one point.
The right of reply and the obligation to correct inaccuracies are also the mark of a free and responsible press.
Yeah. And we're still waiting.
I salute The Times'’s editorial page for advocating a federal shield law before, during and after my jailing and for supporting as recently two weeks ago my willingness to go to jail to uphold a vital principle.
...which would not have applied to you.
I will continue speaking in support of a Federal shield law.
...which would not have applied to you.
I intend to call attention to the internal and external threats to our country'’s freedoms -- Al Qaeda and other forms of religious extremism, conventional and W.M.D. terrorism, and growing government secrecy in the name of national security -- subjects that have long defined my work.
Why don't you start with telling everybody what the hell went on? Maybe take a crash course in the Roseanne Barr School of Repressed Memory Recovery and figure out who else was indicated in your notes? How you "forgot" about the June 23 meeting with Scooter Libby and had to have a bit of assistance (under threat of indictment) and suddenly remembered in a flash of inspiration?

There are many, many services you could render to the country and to posterity just by coming clean, Judy. Employment opportunities look scarce as Wingnuttia gets ready to use far worse words than "entanglement" as they assault your credibility to save Scooter and the administration. Those powerful men you love so much are poised to tear you to shreds. I think you need some new friends.

Some honest self-appraisal and a little candor would be a good start.


Colin Powell, Still 1 for 6

My friend, the notable LA write Paul Cullum, sends me the following (edited slightly to embed links):
Here's something that's always troubled me:

When Powell gave his presentation at the U.N., he presented the following evidence:

o A tape of two Republican Guard officers discussing how to hide mobil weapons labs.
o Satellite photos of chemical munitions bunkers, indicated by the removal of trucks and materiel in the weeks before IAEA inspections.
o Interviews with an Iraqi scientist attesting to mobil weapons labs on wheels and rails.
o No evidence that their VX nerve gas was ever destroyed.
o Aluminum tubes that were alleged to be parts of centrifuges to create fissionable material.
o A high-ranking Al Qaeda member who alleged a link between terrorists and Saddam Hussein.

The Iraqi scientist was the notorious Curveball, a famed dissembler, alcoholic and con man.  The Al Qaeda operative is this week identified as a current Guantanamo prisoner who officials knew was  lying at the time.   The aluminum tubes were substituted by Powell at the last minute to replace the Niger-yellowcake connection favored by the President in his State of the Union speech, a claim that was demonstrably false, and the tubes were later identified as rocket fuselages with no connection to uranium.  The VX nerve gas was apparently destroyed, unless of course Saddam Hussein is still saving it for when he really needs it.  And the movement of of trucks, etc. prior to weapons inspections, according to chief inspectors Blix and ElBaradei, could easily have occurred in the normal course of business, and in no way suggest the presence of chemical over more traditional weapons.

That leaves the high-level surveillance tape, compared at the time to "something out of Beckett."

Yet in February 2003, when the U.N. presentation occurred, the local Pacifica affiliate contained an interview with a correspondent in Baqhdad, non-embedded, who watched the live broadcast of Powell's speech with a room full of Republican Guards.  When the tape of the intercepted phone conversation was played, widespread laughter erupted in the room.  The accents employed by the alleged Iraqi officers were so geographically inappropriate -- attributed by the actual Guards as either Saudi or Jordanian -- that the immediate effect was comical.  I don't recall the reporter and can't identify him now.  But with all the other pretexts for war now being identified as ill-considered at best and fraudulent at worst, this experiment is easily reproduced:  Play the tape for a selection of Iraqi sources and have them identify where the speakers are from.  If the result is as described, this would seem more of a smoking gun than possibly even forged memos:  Somebody recorded fake audiotapes and couldn't even be bothered to cast the right nationalities -- or else couldn't tell the difference.
The clip itself is here, it's the third clip, labeled "Modified Vehicle." If anyone knows someone out there with a knowledge of Iraqi dialects who isn't presently in some CIA black ops prison camp and could review the tape, we'd certainly love to hear about it.


Editing Reality, One Press Conference At a Time

Yesterday's Oct. 31, gaggle, according to the White House web site:
Q Whether there's a question of legality, we know for a fact that there was involvement. We know that Karl Rove, based on what he and his lawyer have said, did have a conversation about somebody who Patrick Fitzgerald said was a covert officer of the Central Intelligence Agency. We know that Scooter Libby also had conversations.

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think that's accurate.
Yesterday'sOct. 31 gaggle, according to Wonkette (and verified by the video on the White House website):
Q: Whether there's a question of legality, we know for a fact that there was involvement. We know that Karl Rove, based on what he and his lawyer have said, did have a conversation about somebody who Patrick Fitzgerald said was a covert officer of the Central Intelligence Agency. We know that Scooter Libby also had conversations.

Mr. McClellan: That's accurate.
Poor sad bastard. You know he's probably still got Dubya's faux cowboy boot wedged up his ass all the way to the fancy double stitching just for that.

Then today, everybody wanted to ask poor Scotty whether the Preznit was a giant GOP buzzkill in yesterday's election. Well he can't exactly say "yes" now can he. He tries to evade the question only to have Voice of America's Paula Wolfson grill him on ethics violations, and finally takes refuge in the loving arms of Les Kinsolving:
Q And then President Carter also said, quote, "I've never been convinced that Jesus Christ would approve abortion." And my question: Does the President believe that a 13-year-old victim of gang rape or incest by her father or mother should be denied the right to abortion because he believes Jesus opposes all abortion?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President has made his views very clear about the sanctity of life and promoting a culture of life.

Q I wonder if you could clarify on this issue.

MR. McCLELLAN: The President is a pro-life President. Go ahead. Roger, go ahead.
There you have it. A reliable stealth shot from the Depends Media. Who says the spirit of Jeff Gannon isn't alive and well?

(graphic by Monk at Inflatable Dartboard)


The Goodbye Girl

NYTimes is reporting that Judy Miller is "retiring" from the paper, effective today.
Lawyers for Ms. Miller and the paper negotiated a severance package whose details they would not disclose. Under the agreement, Ms. Miller will retire from the newspaper, and The Times will print a letter she wrote to the editor explaining her position. Ms. Miller originally demanded that she be able to write an essay for the paper's Op-Ed page refuting the allegations against her, the lawyers said. The Times refused that demand - Gail Collins, editor of the editorial page, said, "We don't use the Op-Ed page for back and forth between one part of the paper and another" - but agreed to let her to write the letter.

In that letter, to be published in Thursday's New York Times under the heading, "Judith Miller's Farewell," Ms. Miller said she was leaving partly because some of her colleagues disagreed with her decision to testify in the case.

"But mainly," she wrote, "I have chosen to resign because over the last few months, I have become the news, something a New York Times reporter never wants to be."
Well, that's the understatement of the year. The Times story contains a link to Keller's e-mail to NYTimes colleagues about Judy leaving.

Don't let the door...ahhh, who the hell cares. Buh bye.


Simultaneous Attacks in Amman, Jordan

BREAKING news on simultaneous attacks on three hotels in downtown Amman, Jordan -- the Grand Hyatt, the Days Inn, and the Raddison.

MSNBC reporting that two of the bombings in Jordan occurred with suicide bombers walking into the Days Inn and Raddison hotels. This is the first report of suicide bombers in Amman, according to MSNBC.

These are popular tourist hotels, with lots of packages using them for travel to and from Petra and other locations in Jordan. MSNBC is reporting that there have been reports of threats toward US tourists in Jordan over the last few days, and that this is not a hallmark of al Queada, usually, but that no group has yet claimed involvement.

According to NBC analyst, Roger Cressey, the Jordanian intelligence unit is quite good, and these hotels had previously been targets by jihadists during the Millenium celebrations and on ohter occasions. There is also a report that one of the hotels had a bomb planted in a ceiling panel, again from an analyst on MSNBC.

More news as we get it.

Reuters is saying 18 killed. MSNBC's translater reporting 25 deaths. The NYTimes via AP has some basic information.

Roger Cressey on MSNBC is reminding viewers that there was a plot disrupted in Australia this week as well, and that this is a thread that intelligence agencies will be trying to pull over the comings days.

(Photo above the Grand Hyatt in Amman on a much better evening. According to the AP, this beautiful stone facade was destroyed.)

UPDATE: Steve Emerson on MSNBC reporting that the attack at the Raddison is said to have occurred when a suicide bomber walked into a wedding party at the hotel and detonated himself. This is where the bulk of the casualty numbers have come from thus far, according to Emerson's Jordanian sources. The Days Inn bomb was also a suicide bomber who is reported to have detonated the bomb in the lobby of the hotel.

UPDATE #2: The NYTimes via AP is now reporting at least 53 dead and more than 300 wounded in the attacks.


Wednesday Round-Up

According to Doug Jehl at the NYTimes, the CIA's Inspector General warned in a report that interrogation techniques approved after 9/11 might violate provisions of the Geneva Conventions.
The current and former intelligence officials who described Mr. Helgerson's report include supporters and critics of his findings. None would agree to be identified by name, and none would describe his conclusions in specific detail. They said the report had included 10 recommendations for changes in the agency's handling of terror suspects, but they would not say what those recommendations were.

Porter J. Goss, the C.I.A. director, testified this year that eight of the report's recommendations had been accepted, but did not describe them. The inspector general is an independent official whose auditing role at the agency was established by Congress, but whose reports to the agency's director are not binding.
Interesting. So, 8 of 10 recommendations have been implemented. Wonder what hasn't been done? And why? Wouldn't it be nice to be able to have faith that oversight is being done on this report?

And for more on the CIA, former general counsel Jeffrey Smith has a blistering editorial in the WaPo.
The Post reported on Oct. 27 that John Negroponte, director of national intelligence, has directed intelligence agencies to "bolster the growth of democracy" and support the rule of law in other nations. Those are noble causes that will be embraced by all intelligence officers. But if the vice president's proposal is adopted, the CIA will presumably be free to bolster democracy by torturing anyone who does not embrace it with sufficient enthusiasm. Some democracy.
Not exactly a fan of the VP, I'd say. It's an exceptional argument for the international legal principles to which we have adhered, and an explanation as to why they are important to our military and civillian personnel in conflict areas. This is a must read.

The LA Times has more on yesterday's Frist and Hastert keystone cops investigate the GOP moment.
At least one Senate Republican agreed. Asked whether he thought there should be a probe of the existence of the prisons, or of the leak of classified information about them, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina rolled his eyes and replied: "How about both? I'd like to know why we've got secret prisons and what oversight precautions we have."

It is "imperative we regain the moral high ground," he said. "And having secret prisons come out in the Washington Post is not a good way to regain it."
Good to know someone on the Republican side understands that the actual torture might be more damaging than everyone finding out about it.

Although it sure would have been nice if Graham hadn't followed up his quote by doing this. Talk about an attempted end run on a Supreme Court decision that hasn't even happened yet. Apparently, it's due process, schmoo process for the Rethugs again. Shameful. (Hat tip to Jeralyn on this one.)

Quick, get out those checkbooks. You, to, can contribute to the Scooty Poot Defense Fund. Erm...not so much. Does kind of put the Preznit's supporters in an odd bind, though, depending on Libby's defense strategy -- are they paying him to keep his mouth shut, or to expose the dirty underbelly of the Cheney camp -- or both?

The Boston Globe has a lovely story about GOP infighting over the agenda. Couldn't happen to a more deserving group of skeezy asshats. (Hat tip to reader bkny for the link.)

Then there is this piece, claiming that Susan Ralston, Rove's personal assistant, is being called before the Fitzgerald grand jury again. Gee, that sure doesn't sound like an investigation that is anywhere near being over, now does it? Wonder if her ties to Abramoff and that pending investigation are helping to loosen up her testimony a bit? Ahem. (Hat tip to reader jbalazs for the link.)

(Photo above can be purchased as a poster here. Gorgeous work -- but I can't find a name to credit. If anyone knows the photog, please let me know.)

UPDATE: And isn't this interesting. Not content to try and manipulate the American public, the WH is now trying to force media outlets into helping them outright lie. ThinkProgress is on this in a big way.

"Um...hello, White House? If you are going to lie, try doing it when proof that you are lying isn't caught directly on video."

UPDATE #2: Laura has much more on the torture issue. This one is a must read.

UPDATE #3: Mwahaha. TalkLeft has done the digging on the Swift Boat attempt of Amb. Wilson by Hannity and pals. And the facts don't add up. Surprise, surprise. eRiposte has more on LeftCoaster as well. Oh man, first Frist, then this. Karma can be a bitch.

UPDATE #4: Speaking of Typhoid Dubya...Crooks and Liars has the video up of J.D. Hayworth's Imus appearance this morning.

BREAKING: Simultaneous attacks today on the Hyatt, Raddison and Days Inn hotels in Amman, Jordan. More from the AP here.


Guess Who Won't Be Coming to Dinner?

Guess who is not coming to dinner? Or the pancake breakfast? Or anything else for a while?
After months of sagging poll ratings, scandal and general political unrest, the Republicans badly needed some good news in Tuesday's elections for governor. What they got instead was a clear-cut loss in a red state, and an expected but still painful defeat in a blue one.

The Republican loss in Virginia, which President Bush carried with 54 percent just a year ago, came after an 11th-hour campaign stop by Mr. Bush and the kind of all-out Republican effort to mobilize the vote that reaped rich rewards last year.

Republicans argued on Tuesday that Virginia was a local election driven by local events, with little long-term national significance. But the loss clearly stung, as did the double-digit defeat in New Jersey, a blue state that had seemed within reach for the Republicans.
Ouch. Liddy Dole must be having kittens this morning. She was already having trouble recruiting candidates and raising money, but this is really going to put a damper on things.
Whatever their significance as predictors, the elections come at a sensitive time for both parties, as they scramble to raise money, recruit strong candidates for next year's Congressional elections and, equally important, minimize the number of retirements.
Am trying not to be too gleeful, since it's truly not an absolute predictor of how things will shape up for the 2006 races, but it does make recruiting and fundraising for the Dems a whole lot easier. And that feeling that the GOP is on its own, since the President's coattails are clearly nonexistant? (Just ask Kilgore! *snerk*) For my money, that's just a whole lotta icing today.

But there is a lot of work to do. I'm already working with my local Democratic groups and grassroots organizations. Please consider doing the same where you are -- Tip O'Neill's maxim that "all politics is local" is really true. And your work in your community could be the effort that tips the balance.

Sure hope Laura doesn't mind having to dine in with Bushie. Could be a long three years for Shrubya.

UPDATE: Talking Points Memo has more. Crooks and Liars is also on the story.

UPDATE #2: The LA Times has some analysis on why the Gropinator lost on all counts yesterday. My favorite quote:
Stuart Spencer, the veteran Republican strategist who helped Reagan become governor, then move on to the White House, noted in an interview earlier this year that "a lot of personalities have a short shelf life."
And that from a guy who is on your side of the political fence. Ouch!


From the Wings, Rove Maneuvers to Save His Ass

The White House is said to be coordinating an "aggressive response" to allegations that they manipulated intelligence in the run up to war in Iraq, according to CNN. They are said to be mounting a campaign-style response to Democrats in Congress.

Hello, Karl.
The officials say they plan to repeatedly make the point -- as they did during the 2004 campaign -- that pre-war intelligence was faulty, it was not manipulated and everyone was working off the same intelligence.

They hope to arm GOP officials with more quotes by Democrats making the same pre-war claims as Republicans did about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.
So, let me get this straight: the grand strategy to save Karl's ass is to point to Democrats using the faulty information given to them by the Administration? The faulty information deliberately fed to members of Congress and the American public by the WHIG and the neocons at the DOD?
One senior official said Cheney would not participate in the White House response, despite that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, has accused the vice president of being a key offender in manipulating intelligence.
Guess the VP is still in the doghouse. Sucks to be politically radioactive. But to have poll numbers lower than Shrubya? That's gotta hurt.

But the big question is: if this is your grand strategy, why leak it in advance so everyone knows exactly what you are doing every time Scotty McClellan opens his yap? Oh. Maybe Scotty isn't exactly along for the ride.

Or perhaps someone else at the WH doesn't want Karl's ass saved after all? (Andy? Dan? Karen? Is that you?)


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

And We Thought We Had a Zell Miller Problem

Pat Roberts:
Defending the military's treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, he added: "There are more senators and congressmen with ethics cases pending than there are problems with interrogation right now in Gitmo."
I guess "only slightly more popular than Trent Lott" is something to aspire to after all.


Typhoid Dubya -- Coming Soon to An Election Near You

Chris Bowers calls it for Kaine and Corzine. Shades of 2006. Can you say "impeachment?" I thought you could.


Ahmed and Condo's Excellent Adventure

During a whirlwind tour of DC that includes sit-downs with Condo, Hadley, Big Time and Snow, Ahmed Chalabi probably doesn't have a moment to steal. But just in case anybody decide he's way too toxic for a high profile grip'n'grin this political season, Arianna helpfully provides an alternate itinerary. Her first stop:
FBI Headquarters. Chalabi is currently under investigation, suspected of telling the Iranian government that America had broken the code it used for secret communications -- an offense the administration said could “get people killed”. When this information came to light 17 months ago, Condi Rice promised a criminal investigation of the charges. But close to a year and a half later, the FBI has still not questioned Chalabi. Now seems like a perfect time. Condi can walk him over to the Hoover Building after their meeting and make all the necessary introductions.
Arianna's tour also includes US Congress (at least the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence), the NYT Washington bureau, and Arlington National Cemetery -- it's always fun to admire your own handiwork, no?


Let Your Freak Flag Fly

Without Queen Rove to spoon feed them their talking points, the wingnut borg have ceded control of the tom-toms to the tin foil hat brigade. Dig it: Joe Wilson was a French spy. No, really:
Enter our hero, Joseph C. Wilson, from stage left. The French forgery about Niger led straight to Wilson's bogus trip to Africa. Wilson supposedly went there to find out the truth for the CIA. But every government involved already  knew the truth about the bogus document, because it showed incorrect names of Niger officials. A single telephone call to Niger would have established that fact.
How exactly this is helpful to any cogent argument is open for speculation. I guess when you can produce reptilian brain rage just by stringing the words 'French", "Joe Wilson" and "CIA" together in a paragraph, any attempt at erudite logic would be overkill.

And now Sean Hannity is dragging out some old GOP war horse named General Paul Vallely, noteworthy only for a conspicuous silence on the matter up until now, to claim that Joe Wilson was jabbering to him about how his wife worked for the CIA in the spring of 2002 while they were both in the green room at Fox News. Never mind that Joe Wilson never appeared on Fox News until July 2002. Vallely has now changed his story to accommodate this discrepancy. Apparently this is supposed to make him more plausible, since if his intent was to lie he would've checked his dates first.

They may have to run the one about how an inconsistent story makes it more plausible past me a few times before it starts to make sense. The only salient commentary I found on the whole situation came from the comments at Tom Maguire's: "One thing's for damn sure: this Plame/Wilson leak thingy is way too complicated for Sean Hannity to understand."

Update: Crooks & Liars spoke to Joe Wilson today, and evidently a team of Swift Boaters is being assembled: Fox veteran Lt. General Tom McInerney seems to be another graduate of the Roseanne Barr School of Repressed Memory Recovery. Maybe they should offer up Pell Grants to everyone appearing before Fitzgerald's grand jury, this thing seems to be spreading faster than the Bird Flu.

Update 2: Digby has a must-read backgrounder on McInerney and Vallely: "These two men specifically are Jack D. Ripper and Buck Turgidson come to life. I think Pat Fitzgerald needs to talk to them. Immediately. "

(photo by Alexis Robie)