Saturday, April 07, 2007
The three big Bush stories of 2007--the decision to "surge" in Iraq, the scandalous treatment of wounded veterans at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys for tawdry political reasons--precisely illuminate the three qualities that make this Administration one of the worst in American history: arrogance (the surge), incompetence (Walter Reed) and cynicism (the U.S. Attorneys)...
On April 3, the President again accused Democrats of being "more interested in fighting political battles in Washington than providing our troops what they need." Such demagoguery is particularly outrageous given the Administration's inability to provide our troops "what they need" at the nation's premier hospital for veterans. The mold and decrepitude at Walter Reed are likely to be only the beginning of the tragedy, the latest example of incompetence in this Administration. "This is yet another aspect of war planning that wasn't done properly," says Paul Rieckhoff of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. "The entire VA hospital system is unprepared for the casualties of Iraq, especially the psychiatric casualties. A lot of vets are saying, 'This is our Katrina moment.' And they're right: this Administration governs badly because it doesn't care very much about governing."...
When Bush came to office--installed by the Supreme Court after receiving fewer votes than Al Gore--I speculated that the new President would have to govern in a bipartisan manner to be successful. He chose the opposite path, and his hyper-partisanship has proved to be a travesty of governance and a comprehensive failure. I've tried to be respectful of the man and the office, but the three defining sins of the Bush Administration--arrogance, incompetence, cynicism--are congenital: they're part of his personality. They're not likely to change. And it is increasingly difficult to imagine yet another two years of slow bleed with a leader so clearly unfit to lead.
- Joe Klein
Not to pile on, but there’s something about Dick Cheney’s gruff personality that invites awkward and amusing moments. If you don’t want to be compared to the emperor from “Star Wars,” it’s probably best not to act like such a menacing puppet master.
Pelosi insists that Israel's message was communicated accurately, and has suggested a good way to prove it:
Indeed, despite President Bush’s claim that Pelosi's trip sent "mixed signals," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said during his briefing today, "I don't think (the tri) necessarily complicates anything that we’re doing." More
Pelosi spokesman Brendan) Daly pointed out that Pelosi was briefed by State Department officials before her meetings with the foreign leaders and that State Department officials also attended her meetings.
So if Pelosi really committed foreign policy flubs of the first order, the State Department is in a position to confirm as much.
The White House certainly received a read-out of what exactly Pelosi and the foreign leaders said in their meetings. Significantly, the White House has not openly accused Pelosi of the foreign-policy missteps the Post had accused her of.
In an e-mail follow-up, Daly wrote: "WH has not said that because in fact the Speaker did not get the message wrong — she included the necessary caveats and did not say or imply that this was a change in Israel's position."
Joe Conason: To Damascus with Nancy Pelosi - Why the Neocons are Apoplectic
With her brief visit to Syria, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has provoked an outburst of flaming hysteria from the Bush administration, as well as from the neoconservatives who fashioned its ruinous war and failed foreign policies. The screaming critics of the speaker charge her with undermining presidential power, freelancing Mideast diplomacy, appeasing a terrorist regime and even surrendering to Islamist radicalism by donning a head scarf. By merely meeting with Bashar Assad, the Syrian president, Pelosi supposedly proved that she was eager to promote irresponsible partisanship at the cost of national unity and constitutional order.
In the New York Post she was accused of "making a date with
a terrorist." On the NewsMax site she was portrayed as "appeasing dictators in
the Middle East." In the Washington Post she was ridiculed for attempting to
mount a "shadow presidency." And on CNN, she was mocked for planting a "big wet
kiss" on Assad as a "publicity stunt."
Yet those furious complaints were all false and, more important, beside the point. The problem is not what Pelosi did or said, but how she exposed the exhaustion of neoconservative policy.
As most of her critics surely know, there is nothing outrageous or even unusual about a meeting between a foreign head of state and a member of Congress. Indeed, she was preceded on the road to Damascus by Rep. Frank Wolf, a prominent Virginia Republican who led a GOP delegation to meet with Assad, and she was soon followed by Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican whose remarks after seeing the Syrian leader were sharply critical of the Bush White House. More
The declassified version of the report, by acting Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble, also contains new details about the intelligence community's prewar consensus that the Iraqi government and al-Qaeda figures had only limited contacts, and its judgments that reports of deeper links were based on dubious or unconfirmed information. The report had been released in summary form in February. More
CBS Iraq Correspondent regarding McCain: "He's talking rubbish. And he should not get away with it."
Allen Pizzey: Yes. It's disgraceful for a man seeking highest office, I think, to talk utter rubbish. And that is utter rubbish. It's electoral propaganda. It is simply not true. No one in his right mind who has been to Baghdad believes that story.
Now, McCain and some other senators were there on Sunday, and they claimed, "Oh, we walked around for a whole hour…and we drove in from the airport. Gosh, aren't we great, we drove in from the airport." Excuse me, Mr. McCain, you drove in in a large convoy of heavily armed vehicles. The last one had a sign on it saying "Keep back 100 yards. Deadly force authorized." Every single car that they approached or passed pulled over and stopped, because that's the way it is. When one of those security details goes by, every ordinary person gets the hell out of the way, in case they get shot.
If he did walk around that market, and I didn't see him do it, and he didn't announce he was going to do it, you can bet your life there were an awful lot of soldiers deployed to make sure that nobody came near that place. He's talking rubbish. And he should not get away with it. More
Four of her top staff voluntarily demoted themselves Thursday, fed up with Paulose, who, after just months on the job, has earned a reputation for quoting Bible verses and dressing down underlings.
Deputy U.S. Attorney John Marty is just one of the people dropping themselves in rank to simply a U.S. Attorney position. Also making the move are the heads of Paulose’s criminal and civil divisions and the top administrative officer.
The move is intended to send a message to Washington – that 33-year-old Paulose is in over her head.
Paulose was appointed before the 8 U.S. Attorneys were given their pink slips, but she has deep connections to the scandal.
She was a special assistant to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, worked as a senior counsel for deputy attorney general Paul McNulty and is best buds with Monica Goodling – the assistant U.S. Attorney who recently took the Fifth rather than testify before Congress.
Add to the suspicions the fact that Minnesota’s former U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger stepped down just as the White House was developing its hit list.
Heffelfinger responds to questions whether he was forced out by saying, “emphatically no.” But there’s been a lot of speculation that Heffelfinger, a moderate Republican, may have been able to read the writing on the wall.
And indeed, some of the early White House memos indicate three people on the hit list resigned before they could be fired.
Paulose was not available for comment on the shake-up.
HATCH: She was a former law professor, no prosecutorial experience, and the former campaign manager in Southern California for Clinton, and they’re trying to say that this administration appoints people politically? Of course they do. That’s what these positions are.In fact, as Rachel Maddow found, Lam had more than 14 years experience as a prosecutor, and was neither a law professor nor a former campaign manager.
In response, Hatch sent a letter to Meet the Press host Tim Russert asking him to correct the record. Hatch said that his attack was meant not for Lam but her predecessor, Clinton-appointed U.S. Attorney Alan Bersin.
Hatch’s “point” is that Bersin was an unqualified, “politically connected” appointee. In fact, Bersin was arguably well-qualified for the position:
I would appreciate your help in correcting a mistake I made on your show last Sunday, April 1, 2007.
My comments about Carol Lam’s record as a U.S. Attorney were accurate, but I misspoke when making the point of discussing politically connected U.S. Attorneys. I accidentally used her name, instead of her predecessor, Alan Bersin, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton.
Now, the question is: this Sunday, will Tim Russert simply read Hatch’s statement disparaging Bersin’s qualifications? Or will he state the full facts about Bersin’s record?
– Graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University
– Served as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University
– Received his J.D. degree from Yale Law School
– Served as a senior partner for 17 years at the Los Angeles law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson, where he “specialized in complex RICO, securities, commercial and insurance litigation before state and federal trial and appellate courts”
– Special Counsel to the Los Angeles Police Commission
– After stepping down as U.S. Attorney, Bersin served as Superintendent of Public Education in San Diego City Schools, the nation’s eighth largest urban school district, and was named California’s Secretary of Education in 2005.
The Office of Special Counsel confirmed to ABC News it has launched an investigation into General Services Administration chief Lurita Doan, probing concerns she may have violated a ban against conducting partisan political activity at government expense by participating in a meeting featuring a presentation by a White House political aide on GOP election strategy.
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
In comments published Tuesday, the 63-year-old Rolling Stones guitarist said he had snorted his father's ashes mixed with cocaine.
"The strangest thing I've tried to snort? My father. I snorted my father," Richards was quoted as saying by British music magazine NME.
"He was cremated and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow. My dad wouldn't have cared," he said. "... It went down pretty well, and I'm still alive."
Richards' father, Bert, died in 2002, at 84.
Bush lied in his press conference about Iraq; said our military commanders came up with the surge, in fact they opposed the surge, all of them
The Bush administration is split over the idea of a surge in troops to Iraq, with White House officials aggressively promoting the concept over the unanimous disagreement of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to U.S. officials familiar with the intense debate.And our commanders in the field opposed the surge, so Bush fired them and replaced them with someone who would rubber stamp his surge plan.
In devising his new strategy, Bush again turned to the neoconservatives. The so-called surge strategy is the brainchild of Frederick Kagan, a military historian at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute who has never been to Iraq. And once again, President Bush dismissed the views of his military advisers. General George Casey and General John Abizaid, the commanders in the field, doubted that additional troops would make any difference in Iraq. They were replaced by surge advocates, including Lieutenant General David Petraeus, now the top commander in Iraq.
And remember, it was just a few months ago, that the commanders on the ground were SO opposed to the surge that Bush came out and said, for the first time, that he WOULDN'T listen to commanders on the ground anymore.
This all matters because once again Bush is lying to the American people in order to justify yet another failed extreme policy. He has lied about this war from the beginning, and he and his administration have lied about so many issue that it's impossible to trust anything they say. Bush lies. He doesn't trust the American people to know the truth. He doesn't have the courage or maturity to take responsibility for his own actions, so he blames the generals - you see, it's THEIR idea, not his, it's THEIR fault, not his. "Who me?" Bush can't ever be blamed for this infernal mess because he's just a bystander, you understand. Only problem? It's all one big lie.
The man is a ten year old child. It's time to take away the car keys.
by John Aravosis (DC)
by Chris in Paris
Early on the morning of 11 January, helicopter-born US forces launched a surprise raid on a long-established Iranian liaison office in the city of Arbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. They captured five relatively junior Iranian officials whom the US accuses of being intelligence agents and still holds.
In reality the US attack had a far more ambitious objective, The Independent has learned. The aim of the raid, launched without informing the Kurdish authorities, was to seize two men at the very heart of the Iranian security establishment.
Better understanding of the seriousness of the US action in Arbil - and the angry Iranian response to it - should have led Downing Street and the Ministry of Defence to realise that Iran was likely to retaliate against American or British forces such as highly vulnerable Navy search parties in the Gulf. The two senior Iranian officers the US sought to capture were Mohammed Jafari, the powerful deputy head of the Iranian National Security Council, and General Minojahar Frouzanda, the chief of intelligence of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, according to Kurdish officials.
The two men were in Kurdistan on an official visit during which they met the Iraqi President, Jalal Talabani, and later saw Massoud Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), at his mountain headquarters overlooking Arbil.
"They were after Jafari," Fuad Hussein, the chief of staff of Massoud Barzani, told The Independent. He confirmed that the Iranian office had been established in Arbil for a long time and was often visited by Kurds obtaining documents to visit Iran. "The Americans thought he [Jafari] was there," said Mr Hussein.
Mr. Jafari was accompanied by a second, high-ranking Iranian official. "His name was General Minojahar Frouzanda, the head of intelligence of the Pasdaran [Iranian Revolutionary Guard]," said Sadi Ahmed Pire, now head of the Diwan (office) of President Talabani in Baghdad. Mr Pire previously lived in Arbil, where he headed the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Mr Talabani's political party.
The attempt by the US to seize the two high-ranking Iranian security officers openly meeting with Iraqi leaders is somewhat as if Iran had tried to kidnap the heads of the CIA and MI6 while they were on an official visit to a country neighbouring Iran, such as Pakistan or Afghanistan. There is no doubt that Iran believes that Mr Jafari and Mr Frouzanda were targeted by the Americans. Mr Jafari confirmed to the official Iranian news agency, IRNA, that he was in Arbil at the time of the raid.
Almost 28 years now since an ABC News editor called me at home on a Sunday with word that Iranian demonstrators were inside the walls of the U.S. embassy compound in Tehran; and didn't I think that I should trot over to the State Department and do a report.
Well, no, I didn't. I explained that all of this had happened a few months previously; and that the U.S. ambassador had come out ... talked with the demonstrators ... and everyone had gone home.
I resisted ... the editor insisted; and, grudgingly, I went in to work.
I batted out a piece that memorably, if incorrectly, predicted that it would all soon be over. If, by soon, I meant 444 days, I was right on the money.
So, here we are again: A couple of hundred Iranian students hurling bricks, firecrackers and invective at the British embassy this time.
They're calling for the expulsion of the British ambassador and the closing of the embassy, which they describe as "a den of spies." (They haven't even changed the script in 28 years.)
But then, apparently, neither have we.
The two U.S. carrier groups that are now on station in the Persian Gulf launched into a chest-thumping military exercise off the Iranian coast.
That and the overall unpredictability of who would do what next, immediately drove up the price of oil.
The way to exert real pressure on the Iranian government is to drive the price of oil down; but that's not nearly as satisfying as denouncing the seizure of the 15 British sailors and marines ... and then going on to demonstrate how few options we really have.
If history is any guide, Iran may wait until Tony Blair's tenure as prime minister comes to an end in a few months. That's what they did to Jimmy Carter; waiting to hand over the U.S. hostages until the very moment that Ronald Reagan was inaugurated.
This time, Iran may simply wait to hand over the 15 Brits as a thumb in the eye to Blair and a token of good will to the new prime minister. Either that or the British will dispatch an envoy to eat humble pie, apologize for the intrusion and get their people home again.
It's humiliating and outrageous, but we're in no position to have another war in the Persian Gulf.
Western bluster is what helped put Iranian President Ahmadinejad in power in the first place. U.N. sanctions and military maneuvers are just what it will take to keep him there.
- Ted Koppel
"[T]he Democrats in Congress continue to pursue their bills, and now they have left Washington for spring recess without finishing the work…. They need to come off their vacation [and] get a bill to my desk."
What Bush neglected to mention:
"We acted quicker than the Republican Congress has ever acted on a supplemental request on Iraq," said Drew Hammill, spokesperson for Speaker Pelosi, arguing that the Democratic leadership is continuing to work on the supplemental through the Easter recess.
Hammill also said it was ironic that Bush criticized the congressional Easter break only days before taking an Easter vacation of his own. President Bush plans to spend Thursday through Sunday at his ranch for an extended Easter weekend.
This will be Bush's 63rd trip to his ranch since taking office. He has spent 405 days, either entirely or partially, at his ranch in Crawford.
UPDATE: The US News Political Bulletin reported this morning that “White House strategists are now pulling out all the stops to blame the Democratic majority in Congress for a potential delay in funding the Iraq war. … White House aides have adopted a new gambit — referring to the number of days since Bush requested funding for the troops in an effort to keep up the pressure.”
This morning at his Rose Garden press conference, President Bush highlighted this new gambit, saying it has been 57 days since he sent Congress his funding request. If Congress fails to act soon, Bush said, “the price of that failure will be paid by our troops and their loved ones.”
During the reign of the Do-Nothing 109th Congress, Bush submitted two major supplemental spending requests. Each request experienced a delay far more than 57 days with hardly a peep of anger from the Commander-In-Chief. Details below:
After the 119 day delay, Bush did not say an “irresponsible” Congress had “undercut the troops” or that military families had “paid the price of failure.” Instead, Bush told the conservative-led Congress, “I applaud those Members of Congress who came together in a fiscally responsible way to provide much-needed funds for the War on Terror.”
Total time elapsed: 86 days
During the session, Gore's "Chicken Little" scenarios were met with skepticism, particularly from Senate Republicans like Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., who said he, like many scientists, believed the dire global warming projections were a "hoax." On the House side, the former vice president was called a prophet by some Democratic members but his revelations were challenged by others. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, cited 600,000-year-old scientific evidence that Gore's carbon dioxide claims are false. When Gore introduced …
Wait. Back up a moment. What was that last bit from Rep. Joe Barton?
Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, cited 600,000-year-old scientific evidence …
For just the second time since the war began, the Army is sending large units back to Iraq without giving them at least a year at home, defense officials said Monday. The move signaled how stretched the U.S. fighting force has become. Read more…
Our president is holding our soldiers hostage in Iraq which in my eyes is tantamount to torture. Do we need to invoke the Geneva Conventions in order to protect the troops from their own government? It's time to put to rest the pathetic notion that anyone who doesn't support shoving our brave men and women into King George's meat grinder doesn't support the troops. I want to hear one, just ONE, right wing pundit or politician explain how wanting to save our troops from getting blown up for a lost cause doesn't count as support. You don't throw an anvil to a drowning man and claim you're trying to save his life, yet that is exactly what's happening to our troops.
SilentPatriot: Jack Murtha and the Democrats wants to legislate a required one-year leave. George Bush wants to send distressed soldiers back into battle as soon as possible. Now, who really "supports the troops"? As Kagro X @ dKos says:
So let's take stock here: While Congress debated the escalation, Bush began it. Now, as Congress debates the readiness requirements, Bush begins violating them.
- Logan Murphy
It was bad enough last week when McCain said parts of Baghdad are safe for Americans to go for a stroll and that General Petraeus travels around the city “almost every day in a non-armed Humvee.” But McCain really seems to have pushed his luck by going to a Baghdad market, surrounding himself with 100 soldiers, three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships, and then telling reporters that was able to walk freely in Iraq’s capital.
Locals are disgusted by the senator’s dishonesty.
A day after members of an American Congressional delegation led by Senator John McCain pointed to their brief visit to Baghdad’s central market as evidence that the new security plan for the city was working, the merchants there were incredulous about the Americans’ conclusions.Given the coverage and the audacity of McCain’s foolishness, this is starting to look more and more like a jump-the-shark moment for the senator. When a once-proud man becomes a joke, it’s a sad thing to watch.
“What are they talking about?” Ali Jassim Faiyad, the owner of an electrical appliances shop in the market, said Monday. “The security procedures were abnormal! … They paralyzed the market when they came. This was only for the
UPDATE: Snipers return to market after McCain's visit. Surprise, surprise, surprise.
Cafferty Rips McCain’s “Safe” Stroll Through Baghdad: Jack wonders how productive it is for members of Congress to visit Iraq and laughs at McCain's safe stroll through Baghdad with an army of 100 soldiers, blackhawk helicopters and apache gunships protecting him overhead.
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"He had five helicopters, and 100 soldiers and armored humvees… and he's talking
about how safe Iraq is. Doesn't that register?"
According to USNews, we're just one month from the next spiller of the beans: George Tenet.
(Y)ou probably read about Matthew Dowd's duplicitous and self-serving mea culpa in yesterday's NY Times. Dowd is a repulsive character but his turnaround on Bush must be even all the more painful because he really and truly has been one of them, heart and soul.
Today's rat jumping off the sinking ship is Vic Gold, a personal pal of Lynne Cheney's who spills the beans to the Washington Post. Actually all the beans are coming in his soon-to-be-published (this month) book, Invasion of the Party Snatchers: How the Holy-Rollers and the Neo-Cons Destroyed the GOP.
Until then we'll just have to be satisfied with what Gold, a close associate of Bush's
father and a true believer from the Barry Goldwater days of conservatism, had to
say to the Post:
"For all the Rove-built facade of his being a 'strong' chief executive, George W. Bush has been, by comparison to even hapless Jimmy Carter, the weakest, most out of touch president in modern times," Gold writes. "Think Dan Quayle in cowboy
Gold is even more withering in his observations of Cheney. "A vice president in control is bad enough. Worse yet is a vice president out of control."
For Gold, Cheney brings to mind the adage of Swiss writer Madame de Stael, who wrote, "Men do not change, they unmask themselves." Cheney has a deep streak of paranoia and megalomania, Gold suggests — but he says he did not see it at first.
He was hiding who he really was," Gold says.
"He was waiting for an opportunity."
In many ways, Gold's tale of disillusionment is a familiar one. There are plenty of veterans of Reagan and Bush 41 around town who believe Bush and Cheney trashed the institutions and party they helped build from the wreckage of the Goldwater campaign.
Schieffer: "Are you suggesting he's having some kind of personal problems and
this is just what has resulted?"
Bartlett: "No, I think as expressed in the paper that he, himself has acknowledged that he's going through a lot of personal turmoil, but also he has a son who is soon to be deployed to Iraq. That can only impact a parent's mind as they think through these issues."
- Logan Murphy
WRIGHT: "I want to make sure the United States treats people properly.."Can anyone argue with a straight face that FOX doesn't engage in pure agenda journalism? Bill knew exactly who Wright was and had the intention of painting her as an America-hating kook the entire time. But when she very reasonably explained that you can't talk about the Iranian situation without talking about how the United States treats it's own captured prisoners, Bill ends up losing it and accusing her — a 29 year Army veteran — of hating America. When did serving your country and demanding it abide by the Geneva Conventions become "hating America"? And when did cutting the mic of an Army veteran and accusing
O'REILLY: "Sure you do. Sure you do."
WRIGHT: "I surely do. That's what I spent 29 years of my life trying to do."
O'REILLY: "Sorry. No you didn't. You know what happened to you… somewhere along the line you started to dislike your own country…"
WRIGHT: "I served 29 years. How many did you serve? Where did you teach the Geneva Conventions?"
O'REILLY: "Cut her mic."
Monica Goodling, who has said she would assert her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to avoid appearing at Senate hearings, must tell Congress which specific questions she's refusing to answer, Democrats said in a letter to her lawyer.
Goodling was senior counsel to embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and was the department's White House liaison before she took a leave earlier this month amid the uproar over the ouster of eight U.S. attorneys.
Senate Judiciary Committee members, meanwhile, are pressing Gonzales to say how he plans to deal with Goodling taking the Fifth Amendment. Her action, they say, means he can't fulfill his pledge to make Justice employees available for questioning under oath.
"Who do we talk to at the Department of Justice? The office of the Attorney General appears to be hopelessly conflicted," Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the Judiciary chairman, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said in a letter to Gonzales released Tuesday.
Leahy and Whitehouse asked whether Gonzales plans to name a special counsel or set up some other "appropriate firewalls so that a non-conflicted person with appropriate knowledge and authority" can discuss Goodling's testimony.
President Bush, who is scrambling to recover from a personnel flap that has morphed into a full-blown scandal for his administration, said Tuesday that he regretted the uproar over prosecutors.
"I am genuinely concerned about their reputations, now that this has become a Washington, D.C., focus. I'm sorry it's come to this. On the other hand, there had been no credible evidence of any wrongdoing," the president said at a Rose Garden news conference.
With Gonzales' credibility about his role in question and the White House now pushing to get him to Capitol Hill quickly to testify about it, lawmakers say Goodling's account could be crucial to their probe of the firings.
After the Senate Judiciary Committee authorized a subpoena for Goodling, her lawyer John Dowd told lawmakers last week that she would not appear. He called the congressional investigation a perjury trap for his client and said she could be in "legal jeopardy" even if she testified truthfully.
"Her claims do not constitute a valid basis for invoking the privilege against self-incrimination," Reps. John Conyers of Michigan and Linda Sanchez of California wrote in a letter to Dowd Tuesday.
Lawmakers' doubts about Gonzales' credibility and that of his deputy, Paul McNulty, do "not in any way excuse your client from answering questions honestly and to the best of her ability," wrote Conyers, the House Judiciary chairman, and Sanchez, who heads the subcommittee handling the inquiry.
"If her testimony is truthful, she will have nothing to worry about in terms of a perjury prosecution," the Democrats wrote.
Dowd said Tuesday that Goodling wouldn't change her stance, and he suggested the Democrats were trying to intimidate her into testifying.
"Threats of public humiliation for exercising her 5th and 6th Amendment rights are not well taken," Dowd said in an e-mail response to questions about the letter. "In a free country, every citizen should have the liberty to exercise their rights without threats or coercion."
There have been questions about whether Goodling and others misinformed McNulty about the firings just before he testified before the Senate committee in February.
Gonzales' truthfulness about the firings of seven prosecutors on Dec. 7 and another one months earlier is also in question. Several lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, have said he should step down.
He initially said he was never involved in discussions about the firings _ a position he later changed to say he was minimally aware of plans to remove the prosecutors. Last week, his former chief of staff said Gonzales was regularly briefed and participated in talks about "this process of asking certain U.S. attorneys to resign."
Goodling was one of five senior Justice Department aides who met with Gonzales for a Nov. 27 discussion where he approved a detailed plan to carry out the dismissals. Department documents show she attended multiple meetings about the dismissals for months.
She also was among aides who on Feb. 5 helped McNulty prepare his testimony for a Senate hearing on the firings the next day.
Additionally, Goodling was involved in an April 6, 2006, phone call between the Justice Department and Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., who had complained to the Bush administration and the president about David Iglesias, then the U.S. attorney in Albuquerque. Domenici wanted Iglesias to push more aggressively on a corruption probe against Democrats before the 2006 elections.
- Julie Hirschfeld Davis
UPDATE: Special counsel needed for U.S. Attorney probe? Sens. Patrick Leahy and Sheldon Whitehouse sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales today asking “whether a special counsel is necessary” to handle discussions between Capitol Hill and the Justice Department about White House liason Monica Goodling’s role in the firing of eight U.S Attorneys. Leahy and Whitehouse write that “the office of the Attorney General appears to be hopelessly conflicted” regarding Goodling.
Speaking hours after arriving in Lebanon, Pelosi indicated the Bush administration was singling out her trip to Syria while ignoring recent visits by Republican members of Congress.
"It's interesting because three of our colleagues, who are all Republicans, were in Syria yesterday and I didn't hear the White House speaking out about that," Pelosi said, referring to the Sunday meeting of Reps. Frank Wolf, Joe Pitts and Robert Aderholt with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus.
"I think that it was an excellent idea for them to go," said Pelosi, who is to meet with Syrian leaders Wednesday. "And I think it's an excellent idea for us to go, as well."
UPDATE: White House ok’d GOP Syria delegation? From a local Pennsylvania paper, via Greg Sargent:
[T]hough Bush administration officials have been criticizing Pelosi, it’s not clear what role the White House and the U.S. Department of State played when U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts and two other Republican congressmen met with Syrian President Bassar Assad. Pitts is a Chester County Republican who represents Lancaster County.
Gabe Neville, Pitts’ chief of staff, said Monday the conference between Assad and the three Republicans was intended to be “low profile.”
“It was done in cooperation with the administration,” he said.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY): “They used this serious effort, what should have been a serious effort to fund the troops as an opportunity…to get pork for various and sordid products back home.”We know this isn’t true. Just last year, these same conservatives endorsed the emergency supplemental bill that included $15 billion in domestic spending, including “$4 billion for farmers, $1.1 billion for Gulf Coast fisheries, and $1 billion in grants to states.”
Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS): “So why are we going through this exercise of heaping pork on the backs of our men and women in uniform and trying to put artificial dates which will not occur?”
The bill also included the notorious $700 million Railroad to Nowhere in Mississippi, reportedly the largest earmark ever, sponsored by Senate Minority Whip Lott. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) introduced an amendment aimed at eliminating Lott’s egregious pork project, but it was defeated. Fully 18 senators who last week opposed the Iraq spending bill — including Minority Leader McConnell and Minority Whip Lott — voted last year to preserve the Railroad to Nowhere.
Here’s a list of the Senators who (1) voted to kill the Coburn amendment and (2) voted for the pork-filled bill in 2006, but (3) voted against the 2007 Iraq supplemental:
Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT), Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO), Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS), Sen.
Thad Cochran (R-MS), Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX), Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen.
Pat Roberts (R-KS), Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME),
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), and Sen. John Warner (R-VA).
Conservatives are complaining about “pork” now to distract from their real problem with the Iraq legislation: the fact that it forces President Bush to change course. These senators want to give Bush a blank check to wage a war without end; they just don’t want to admit it to their constituents.
Sunday, April 01, 2007
LSB: Oh, the irony!
Mel Kay, founder, chairman and president of Golden State Fence Co., was sentenced along with Michael McLaughlin, a company manager, after both previously pleaded guilty to felony charges of knowingly hiring illegal aliens.
McLaughlin was also given six months home confinement by U.S. District Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz. Each was ordered to log 1,040 hours of community service and spend three on probation. Kay was also fined $200,000 as part of a plea agreement, and McLaughlin agreed to pay $100,000.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) has been trying for years to investigate how this fraudulent claim became part of the basis for sending our country to war, beginning with a letter to the White House two days before the war began.
The Bush administration has consistently refused his requests for information. Since the war began, Waxman has written 11 letters to Condoleezza Rice alone — she hasn’t responded to a single one.
On March 12, 2007, he wrote his first letter to Rice as committee chairman, asking that she respond by March 23. She didn’t, and Waxman has had enough:
Dear Madam Secretary:
On March 12, 2007, I sent you a letter renewing, as formal requests of the Committee, prior letter requests that I sent to you between 2003 and 2006. These requests sought information on the claim that Iraq sought uranium from Niger, White House treatment of classified information, the appointment of Ambassador Jones as “special coordinator” for Iraq, and other subjects. My March 12 letter is attached.
The March 12 letter requested a response by March 23 to several of the inquiries, but the Committee received no response from you.
I now request your appearance before the Committee at a hearing on Wednesday, April 18, 2007, at 10:00 a.m. in Room 2154, Rayburn House Office Building. At this hearing, you will be asked to provide testimony and respond to questions on the subjects outlined in the March 12 letter and the original request letters. …
Henry A. Waxman, Chairman
Since Waxman wrote his March 12 letter, Rice has done more than a dozen press events, including interviews with Sean Hannity and Fox & Friends. Now it’s time she spend a few hours with Congress.
LSB: Bitch has got some explaining to do!
From Marine Corps Times:
LSB: To be fair, on his blog Sanchez says he has "e-mails from the parties involved detailing what the money they offered is for. Namely, my trip as a reporter overseas, and their sponsorship in exchange for promotional consideration. That information is pretty cut and dry." The military and the courts will work this out.
The Corps on Friday was slated to wrap up an investigation into allegations that a corporal in the Individual Ready Reserve who appeared in gay porn films before
enlisting solicited more than $12,000 from private organizations by asking them to fund a deployment to Iraq he never made, according to e-mails from the investigating officer forwarded to Marine Corps Times.
Reserve Col. Charles Jones, a staff judge advocate called to Marine Corps Mobilization Command in Kansas City, Mo., on temporary orders that expire Saturday, informed Reserve Cpl. Matt Sanchez of the allegations against him in a March 22 e-mail that advised Sanchez of his rights.
Jones wrote that Sanchez’s participation in porn films was part of the investigation, but that two of the three allegations against him involved lying “to various people, including but not limited to, representatives of the New York City United War Veterans Council and U-Haul Corporation” about deploying to Iraq at the commandant’s request.
Last night on 60 Minutes, Katie Couric kept referring to "Some people." She said that "some" were saying the Edwardses were courageous, and "others" were saying they were callous and ambitious. She said that some people were wondering how someone could be president if he was "distracted" by his wife's health. (This question, in a year when there are two presidential candidates who are themselves cancer survivors, seemed particularly disingenuous.) (And never mind that it was being asked by someone who managed to keep working while dealing with her own husband's terminal illness.)
I kept waiting for John or Elizabeth Edwards to ask her who "some people" were exactly, but they didn't. They cheerfully answered her questions. Elizabeth Edwards said, "We're all going to die." And: "I pretty much know what I'm going to die of now." She said that on hearing that her cancer had recurred, she realized she had a choice -- to go on living her life, or begin dying. She said she had chosen to go on living her life. Katie Couric looked at her as if someone had set off a stinkbomb in the room and then asked another "some people" question, this one about whether the Edwardses were "in denial."
I don't know what some people think, but I myself think it's weird to question the Edwardses as if there's some right way to deal with cancer. There's no real way to know how one is going to deal with such things until they happen, and even then, there's no way to apply the way one person chooses to deal with mortal illness to another. And I disagree with Elizabeth Edwards when she says that there are only two choices -- to go on living, or begin dying. What I believe instead is that at a certain point in life, whether or not you've been diagnosed with illness, you enter into a conscious, ongoing, unending, eternal, puzzling, confusing negotiation between the two. Some days one of them wins, and some days the other. This negotiation often includes decisions as trivial as whether to eat a second piece of pie, and as important as whether to have medical treatment that may or may not prolong your life.
I also believe that nothing anyone says in such circumstances means anything except at that very moment -- and even then, perhaps not. These decisions are private in the most serious sense of the word, which is not to say that they are nobody's business -- if you run for president everything you do is somebody's business -- but that they reside in an area where things change, where people are not bound to whatever course of action they committed to the day before yesterday. It's a zone of privacy that's like no other and is therefore (or should be) virtually immune to judgment.
Last night on 60 Minutes, Katie Couric quoted John Edwards' remark earlier in the week -- that he was in the race "for the duration," and asked him, "How can you say that, Senator Edwards, with such certainty? If, God forbid, Elizabeth doesn't respond to whatever treatment is recommended, if her health deteriorates, would you really say that?" Thank you, Katie. Thank you for asking that question. The world could not have survived had you not asked it. Of course, "Some people" were undoubtedly thinking it. And it would have been a tragedy not to have given voice to that thought, wouldn't it? Or would it?
- Nora Ephron
LSB: You know Edward R. Murrow is tossing over in his grave and Walter Cronkite has got to be feeling it in his bones - Katie, this type of slip-shod reporting/interviewing is best left to FAUX NEWS or Rush Limbaugh.
Josh Marshall writes that Goodling may be "afraid of indictment for perjury because she has to go up to Congress and testify under oath before the White House has decided what its story is."
LSB: Read the rest of Max Blumenthal’s article here.
In a new letter to White House counsel Fred Fielding, House Government and Oversight Committee Chairman Henry Waxman reveals new e-mail communications that provide further evidence that White House employees were trying to circumvent the archives system:
New Scott Jennings E-Mails. Scott Jennings, the deputy director of political affairs in the White House, and his assistant used “gwb43.com” e-mail accounts to communicate with the General Services Administration about a partisan briefing that Mr. Jennings gave to political appointees at GSA on January 26, 2007. When Mr. Jennings’s assistant emailed the PowerPoint presentation to GSA, she wrote: “It is a close hold and we’re not supposed to be emailing it around.”
New Job Appointment E-Mails. Mr. Jennings also appears to have used his “gwb43.com” account to recruit applicants for official government positions through the “Kentucky Republican Voice,” an internet site that describes itself as “the best source for Kentucky Republican grassroots information.” One posting from May 2005 advertised 17 vacancies on assorted presidential boards and commissions. A second posting from May 2006 sought applicants for various boards within the Small Business Administration. In each case, these postings encouraged applicants to contact Mr. Jennings at his “gwb43.com” address.
New Abramoff E-Mails. Susan Ralston, who was Karl Rove’s executive assistant, invited two lobbyists working for Jack Abramoff to use her RNC e-mail account to avoid “security issues” with the White House e-mail system, writing: “I now have an RNC blackbeny which you can use to e-mail me at any time. No security issues like my WH email.” Ms. Ralston similarly wrote Mr. Abramoff: “I know [sic] have an RNC laptop at the office for political use. I can access my AOL email when necessary so if you need to send me something that I need to read, you can send to my AOL email and then call or page me to check it.”
Asked about White House policy and procedures regarding use of e-mail accounts, pokeswoman Dana Perino did not cite any specific policy or guidance issued to White House staff for the preservation of presidential records, and she acknowledged that certain officials in the White House have been given access to political e-mail accounts. In his letter to Fielding, Waxman requests “all policies, guidance, and other communications provided to White House officials regarding appropriate use of nongovernmental e-mail accounts.”
The White House e-mail system has been crafted to comply with the Presidential Records Act. Ordering White House employees to use the in-house e-mail system “is intended to establish procedures for former and incumbent Presidents to make privilege determinations.”
The irony — as Kevin Drum writes — is that by not using the White House system, staffers “using private accounts specifically to evade legitimate congressional oversight” might lose their claim to executive privilege.
Read Greg Mitchell’s (sadly) funny article here.
Now the White House ponders what Abdullah's sudden and sparsely explained cancellation of the dinner signifies. Nothing good -- especially for Condoleezza Rice's most important Middle East initiatives -- is the clearest available answer.
Abdullah's bowing out of the April 17 event is, in fact, one more warning sign that the Bush administration's downward spiral at home is undermining its ability to achieve its policy objectives abroad. Friends as well as foes see the need, or the chance, to distance themselves from the politically besieged Bush.
UPDATE: The Bush administration responded with shock to King Abdullah’s declaration that the U.S. is “illegitimately” occupying Iraq. “We were a little surprised to see those remarks,” said Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns. White House spokesman Dana Perino claimed, “It is not accurate to say that the United States is occupying Iraq.”
LSB: Where did Dobson get this "power?" Who decided that Dobson gets to decide who is a Christian and who isn't? It is these types of dupicitous actions that give Christians a bad name. Those that listen to this man should be reminded not to follow false prophets.
As we noted the other day, James Dobson is a member of The Arlington Group, a secretive coalition of right-wing powerhouses that is throwing around its political power by interviewing presidential candidates in an attempt to anoint the eventual GOP nominee by granting said nominee its seal-of-approval.
At the same time, various polls show TV star and former Senator Fred Thompson oing quite well among Republican voters despite the fact that he is not even officially running. That apparently was frightening enough to James Dobson to compel him to make an unsolicited phone call to Dan Gilgoff, author of "The Jesus Machine: How James Dobson, Focus on the Family, and Evangelical America are Winning the Culture War," in order to decree that Thompson's candidacy is unacceptable because Dobson doesn't "think he's a Christian"[..]
Dobson went on to say that Gov. Mitt Romney can't win because "there are conservative Christians who will not vote for him because of his Mormon faith," and that "the current excitement over Giuliani" will soon fade.
The only potential nominee for whom Dobson had any praise was Newt Gingrich, who just so happened to appear on Dobson's radio program a few weeks ago where he confessed to having cheated on his wife during the impeachment of President Clinton and claimed to have sought forgiveness.[..]
Dobson has already said that he will not vote for Sen. John McCain, accused Thompson of not being a Christian, made clear that he doesn't think Romney can win, and declared that Giuliani's campaign is doomed. And since he is not out there praising third-tier candidates such as Sam Brownback or Mike Huckabee, that pretty much leaves Gingrich as Dobson's only choice.
Crier: In the last six years this President has assumed more power than any President in history… How about the other matters in the King's court… Former WH counsel Harriet Miers would now be a Supreme Court justice. Michael Brown would still be head of FEMA because as you know he did a " heckofajob." Donald RUmsfeld would still be Secretary of Defense because of his marvelous handling of the Iraq war. And former gay prostittute Jeff Gannon, a mysterious member of the WH press corp. might now be sitting in Helen Thomas's seat…
She uses some really good video clips of Bush to make her point—and that includes the press…She covers the Attorney scandal and goofs on Rove.
It was not until a month afterward that Pentagon told the public and grieving family members the truth — that Tillman was mistakenly killed in Afghanistan by his comrades.
The memo reinforces suspicions that the Pentagon was more concerned with sparing officials from embarrassment than with leveling with Tillman's family.
In a memo sent to a four-star general a week after Tillman's April 22, 2004, death, then-Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal warned that it was "highly possible" the Army Ranger was killed by friendly fire. McChrystal made it clear his warning should be conveyed to the president.
"I felt that it was essential that you received this information as soon as we detected it in order to preclude any unknowing statements by our country's leaders which might cause public embarrassment if the circumstances of Cpl. Tillman's death become public," McChrystal wrote on April 29, 2004, to Gen. John Abizaid, head of Central Command.
So another case where the GOP is lying to make a political point about the war:
The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service has estimated that the Army has enough budget flexibility to pay for its military operations through July in the event that a standoff between the White House and Congress over Iraq holds up the money the administration says it needs for the war effort.
The service’s report, made public Friday by Senate Democrats, said the Pentagon may have to shift money between accounts and curtail some nonessential activities, but said Congress has provided the military with new ability to do so, lessening the potential for disruptions until additional money is approved.
Everyone knows and trusts the Congressional Research Service. The media is now on notice that the Bush administration is lying when they say the military is going to run out of money next month. Anyone at the Pentagon who pushes that line is also not telling the truth.
There have been enough lies about Iraq. Bush and his cronies have never been held accountable for the Iraq quagmire. Those days are over and the Democrats are starting to change the course.
- Joe Sudbay (DC), AmericaBlog
In speaking out, Mr. Dowd became the first member of Mr. Bush’s inner circle to break so publicly with him.
He said his decision to step forward had not come easily. But, he said, his disappointment in Mr. Bush’s presidency is so great that he feels a sense of duty to go public given his role in helping Mr. Bush gain and keep power.
Mr. Dowd, a crucial part of a team that cast Senator John Kerry as a flip-flopper who could not be trusted with national security during wartime, said he had even written but never submitted an op-ed article titled “Kerry Was Right,” arguing that Mr. Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat and 2004 presidential candidate, was correct in calling last year for a withdrawal from Iraq.
“I’m a big believer that in part what we’re called to do — to me, by God; other people call it karma — is to restore balance when things didn’t turn out the way they should have,” Mr. Dowd said. “Just being quiet is not an option when I was so publicly advocating an election.”
The U.S. military death toll in March, the first full month of the security crackdown, was nearly twice that of the Iraqi army, which American and Iraqi officials say is taking the leading role in the latest attempt to curb violence in the capital, surrounding cities and Anbar province, according to figures compiled on Saturday.
The telephone number looks like any other university extension. And when students call with questions about financial aid, the recorded voice at the other end says, "Thank you for calling Texas Tech University's student financial center."
But what is remarkable about the center is not so much that it is actually located hundreds of miles away from Texas Tech's Lubbock campus. It is that the people giving advice are not university employees at all -- instead they work for Nelnet, a company that made more than $68 million last year off of student loans.
Nelnet's role staffing the help line -- which is not disclosed to callers -- is a window into the often hidden relationships between loan companies and the colleges that students rely on for advice about how to finance their schooling. Nelnet is one of several lenders that the university recommends to its students, though it is not among its 10 largest lenders.
Can you even imagine a Republican Congress lifting a finger or caring about this? Nah, neither can I.
- Chris in Paris, AmericaBlog
Listen: Download MP3 audio file (running time: 32:41 / 29.9 MB)
IAP is owned by Cerberus Capital Management LP, an asset-management firm chaired by former Treasury secretary John W. Snow. The company is headed by two former high-ranking executives of KBR, formerly known as Kellogg Brown & Root. Al Neffgen, IAP's chief executive, was chief operating officer for a KBR division before joining IAP in 2004. IAP's president, Dave Swindle, is a former KBR vice president. The company has worked at Walter Reed since 2003, providing housekeepers, computer analysts and clerks under a Treasury contract.Swindle! And another name to keep in mind: Cheney, a name which has become synonymous with pressure, and Halliburton.
The scandal over treatment of outpatients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center has focused attention on the Army's decision to privatize the facilities support workforce at the hospital, a move commanders say left the building maintenance staff undermanned. Some Democratic lawmakers have questioned the decision to hire IAP Worldwide Services, a contractor with connections to the Bush administration and to KBR, a Halliburton subsidiary. Last year, IAP won a $120 million contract to maintain and operate Walter Reed facilities.Not because it would result in greater efficiency and savings.
The decision reversed a 2004 finding by the Army that it would be more cost-effective to keep the work in-house.So more pressure was applied.
After IAP protested, Army auditors ruled that the cost estimates offered by in-house federal workers were too low. They had to submit a new bid, which added 23 employees and $16 million to their cost, according to the Army. Yesterday, the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal workers union, blamed pressure on the Army from the White House's Office of Management and Budget for the decision to privatize its civilian workforce.Talk about micromanage! Talk about corruption!
"Left to its own devices, the Army would likely have suspended this privatization effort," John Gage, president of the organization, said in a statement. "However, the political pressure from OMB left Army officials with no choice but to go forward, even if that resulted in unsatisfactory care to the nation's veterans." The Army selected IAP for the five-year deal in January 2006, but IAP did not take over management until last month.And the change resulted in patients getting even less attention, even less care.
During that period, the number of facilities management workers at Walter Reed dropped from about 180 to 100, and the hospital found it hard to hire replacements.Who was forced to take the blame for the whole thing? Not Cheney. Not Swindle. The Army.
At a Fort Myer ceremony yesterday, the Army bade farewell to Secretary Francis J. Harvey, forced to resign over Walter Reed. Leaders, he said, must show "that they will be held personally accountable for their decisions."