Sunday, July 08, 2007

Reviving Censure


Before yesterday, there was a public consensus that Dubya is a bad president — but not that he can’t be tolerated in office a moment longer. . . . Now, an easily digestible, commonsense argument about Bush's lack of a moral compass has been laid out clearly for everyone to see: We have a president who coddles the criminals in his own administration.
Which isn't to say that the mere fact of the Libby commutation will convince the public of that argument by itself, particularly with the invisible whisperers of the Bush regime fanning out to spread their misinformation, and their loyal press courtiers doing their best to help. Someone needs to make the case, and to do it in a visible public forum.

One problem here is that an overt impeachment inquiry carries so much baggage that it can become a distraction by itself, changing the subject from Bush's corrupt action to whether it genuine warrants removing him from office. And while fact-finding hearings can help fuel our rhetorical fire, testimony from "legal scholars [and] pardon experts" may cause the moral focus of the issue to be lost in a sea of minutiae.

A motion to censure the President, however, might be the right tool to cut through the clutter. It would make a simple declaration -- that even if Bush has the technical right to commute Scooter's sentence, in the view of the Congress, he has sent the most corrupting message a president can possibly send to his administration ("If you break the law while working for me, I'll make sure you never spend a day in jail"), and it was morally wrong for him to do it.

It's a message that needs to be sent for future generations, so that Dubya's pseudo-pardon isn't treated as an accepted precedent. On a practical basis, it begins to lay out a public case for a possible impeachment. And on a purely political level, it would firmly establish Bush and his apologists (including the craven supplicants campaigning for the 2008 Republican nomination) on the wrong side of a clear moral divide -- an absolutely essential step in debunking the essential GOP mythology of firm, paternal rectitude.

The Republicans will respond as they always do, with counter-accusations and smoke machines. But if the Democrats speak plainly and insistently, they can repeatedly drag the subject back to its core: That when an official in his administration breaks the law, the President has no business interfering in that official's punishment. And he should be censured for it.

U.S. Aborted Raid on Al Qaeda Chiefs in Pakistan in ’05

New York Times:

A secret military operation in early 2005 to capture senior members of Al Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal areas was aborted at the last minute after top Bush administration officials decided it was too risky and could jeopardize relations with Pakistan, according to intelligence and military officials.

The target was a meeting of Qaeda leaders that intelligence officials thought included Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden’s top deputy and the man believed to run the terrorist group’s operations.

But the mission was called off after Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, rejected an 11th-hour appeal by Porter J. Goss, then the director of the Central
Intelligence Agency
, officials said. Members of a Navy Seals unit in parachute gear had already boarded C-130 cargo planes in Afghanistan when the mission was canceled, said a former senior intelligence official involved in the planning.

LSB: Am I understanding this correctly - Rumsfeld aborted the mission to capture senior members of Al Qaeda because he didn't want to piss off Pakistan, the very country harboring these terrorists? I guess we have Team Bush to thank for the continuation of this terrorist network! This is the second time (that we know of) that the Bush Administration took their eyes off the main target (Al Qaeda) and gave the terrorists a "get out of jail card" (like Scooter Libby). Apparently they can't pursue the war they started in Iraq (remind me again why we are there) and search for Al Qaeda. I guess if they actually ever do catch the leadership of Al Qaeda they won't have the fear card to play in the elections and they might actually have to take action some of the other issues confronting this nation.

Saturday, July 07, 2007


Reagan's NSA Director's Prescription for Supporting the Troops: Withdraw; Cut off Funds; and Impeach

John Aravosis, General Odom was the Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) under Reagan (think "Minority Report," and you have the NSA). They're the super-duper secret spy agency that's way more top secret than even the CIA. This guy's credentials are beyond stellar. Here is an excerpt of his recent essay:

If the Democrats truly want to succeed in forcing to begin withdrawing from Iraq, the first step is to redefine "supporting the troops" as withdrawing them, citing the mass of accumulating evidence of the psychological as well as the physical damage that the president is forcing them to endure because he did not raise adequate forces. Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress could confirm this evidence and lay the blame for "not supporting the troops" where it really belongs – on the president. And they could rightly claim to the public that they are supporting the troops by cutting off the funds that he uses to keep U.S. forces in Iraq.

The public is ahead of the both branches of government in grasping this reality, but political leaders and opinion makers in the media must give them greater voice....

The president is strongly motivated to string out the war until he leaves office, in order to avoid taking responsibility for the defeat he has caused and persisted in making greater each year for more than three years.

To force him to begin a withdrawal before then, the first step should be to rally the public by providing an honest and candid definition of what "supporting the troops" really means and pointing out who is and who is not supporting our troops at war. The next step should be a flat refusal to appropriate money for to be used in Iraq for anything but withdrawal operations with a clear deadline for completion.

The final step should be to put that president on notice that if ignores this legislative action and tries to extort Congress into providing funds by keeping U.S. forces in peril, impeachment proceeding will proceed in the House of Representatives. Such presidential behavior surely would constitute the "high crime" of squandering the lives of soldiers and Marines for his own personal interest.

One man's Islamic fundamentalist is another man's Christian fundamentalist

John Aravosis, This photo in [the] Washington Post of Islamic fundamentalist students rioting in Pakistan got me thinking about the difference between Islamic radicals and America's religious right. Both want to live in a theocratic state where they can force others to live under their own warped, hate-filled, minority version of an otherwise peaceful mainstream religion. And yes, the Islamic radicals are more violent than our Christian radicals, but only because our Christian radicals know that violence isn't acceptable in America. So they express their violence in their hearts, and their souls, and their politics. But at their core, they're no different. They hate all the same, and they'll happily bash with the power of a club or the power of the state. Both claim to represent the true God, both think they speak for all Muslims and all Christians, and neither does.

Bring home U.S. troops

Excerpt from The Olympian editorial:

Hearts are heavy this Fourth of July as the United States continues to wage an unwinnable war in Iraq.

Public support for President Bush and his war has steadily declined as the number of war dead continues to climb.

On a day when Americans are supposed to celebrate the freedom and liberty won by the blood of our forefathers, most Americans instead find themselves disgusted with the trillion dollar war being waged in their name with their tax dollars.

On a day when Americans are supposed to wave the flag with honor and respect, many Americans are disheartened and embarrassed. They are fed up with an arrogant president and an ineffective Congress and their inability to extract this nation from the ill-conceived war that has alienated U.S. allies and unnecessarily sullied the reputation of this great nation.

This year, our day of national pride feels more like a day of national shame...

We have to begin the withdrawal of troops. It needs to be an orderly exodus in order to protect our troops and to give some hope that the Iraqi army will fill the void over time.

It was a lie to say we invaded Iraq to protect the United States from terrorists just as it is a lie to say leaving will aid the terrorists. Let them wallow alone in the middle of this bitter, multi-front civil and sectarian war. It isn’t worth a single more American life.

How many more Americans will forfeit their lives on the battlefield between now and then? How many more tax dollars will be spent to stall America’s inevitable departure?

George W. Bush is One Tough Hombre

Paul Begala: Tough enough to execute Karla Fay Tucker – and then laugh about it. Tough enough to sign a death warrant for a man whose lawyer slept through the trial – and then snicker when asked about it in a debate. Even tough enough to execute a great-grandmother who murdered her husband – after he abused her. A friend of mine at the time asked Bush to commute her sentence, telling him, "Betty Lou ain't a threat to no one she ain't married to." No dice.

Mr. Bush is tough enough to invade a country that was no risk to America, causing tens of thousands of civilian deaths and shedding precious American blood in the process. Tough enough to sanction torture. Tough enough to order an American citizen arrested and held without trial.

But if you're rich and right-wing and Republican, George is a real softie. As George W. Bush demonstrated in giving Scooter Libby a Get Out of Jail Free Card, he is only compassionate to conservatives.

What does it say about America in the age of Bush when Judith Miller spends more time in jail over the Valerie Plame smear than Scooter Libby?

One thing it says is that Mr. Bush and his partner in crime, Dick Cheney, believe they are above the law. The commutation of Libby confirms the belief that Mr. Libby lied to the FBI, perjured himself to the grand jury, and obstructed a federal criminal investigation in order to cover up the role Bush and Cheney played in smearing Joe Wilson and ruining the career of his CIA operative wife.

The arrogance of the act is astounding. In commuting Libby's sentence, Mr. Bush did not follow his own Justice Department's guidelines, which do not recommend commutations unless the convict has begun serving his or her sentence, and has dropped or exhausted all appeals. Of course, Mr. Bush is free to disregard those guidelines, as President Clinton did when he pardoned Marc Rich. The Rich pardon was wrong, in my opinion. But Marc Rich was a fugitive financier; Clinton did not benefit at all from Rich's crimes. Scooter Libby is a Bush-Cheney operative who may well have been doing Bush and Cheney's bidding when he obstructed the investigation into how and Valerie and Joe Wilson were smeared. (By the way, like many Democrats I spoke out publicly against the Rich pardon – which Scooter Libby helped to arrange. Let's see how many Republicans have the character to speak out against this injustice.)

It's interesting that we still have the capacity to be shocked by the extra-legal acts of this crowd. They came to power by stealing an election, by staging a near-riot to stop the counting of ballots in Miami, and by virtue of a Supreme Court edict that has joined Dred Scott in the judicial hall of shame. From that day to this Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney have held the rule of law in contempt.

And we still have 567 days to go.

Hypocrisy, Thy Name is Bush

New York Times:

Until he commuted the 30-month prison sentence of I. Lewis Libby Jr. on Monday, President Bush had said almost nothing about his philosophy in granting clemency while at the White House.

As governor of Texas, though, Mr. Bush discussed and applied a consistent and narrow standard when deciding whether to issue pardons and commutations. And that standard appears to be at odds with his decision in the Libby case.

Mr. Bush explained his clemency philosophy in Texas in his 1999 memoir, “A Charge to Keep.”

“In every case,” he wrote, “I would ask: Is there any doubt about this individual’s guilt or innocence? And, have the courts had ample opportunity to review all the legal issues in this case?”

In Mr. Libby’s case, Mr. Bush expressed no doubts about his guilt. He said he respected the jury’s verdict, and he did not pardon Mr. Libby, leaving him a convicted felon. And Mr. Bush acted before the courts had completed their review of his appeal.

“As governor, Bush essentially viewed the clemency power as limited to cases of demonstrable actual innocence,” said Jordan M. Steiker, a law professor at the University of Texas who has represented death-row inmates.

“The exercise of the commutation power in Libby,” Professor Steiker continued, “represents a dramatic shift from his attitude toward clemency in Texas, and it is entirely inconsistent with his longstanding, very limited approach.”

Complete editorial.

LSB: A compilation of excerpts from some of the columnists at on Shrub commuting the prison term for Scooter Libby.

Jeffrey Feldman: Is there anyone — anyone, that is, besides the terminally brainless Tucker Carlson – who actually believes that Bush plucked "I-know-all-the-dirty-secrets-that-can-bring-you-down" Lewis Libby from the iron jaws of jail for any other reason than, well... to make sure he keeps his lying mouth shut on the encyclopedia of felonies and crimes committed by Bush and Cheney? … Here's how it will go down for "I-do-Dick-Cheney's-bidding-and-he-takes-care-of-me" Lewis Libby: He will pay the measly $250,000 fine (which is measly for these guys), he will forgo luxury golf vacations abroad for two years (oh...the humanity!) and then when it is all over, he will get a $10 million book deal outlining how liberals framed him as part of their plan to destroy America by siding with the terrorists (it's true, you know...I do it everyday). Then, by sheer force of his powerful writing, "I-see-no-shame-in-making-a-fortune-off-crimes-against-the-Constitution" Lewis Libby's book will become a best-seller, thanks to the help of the Republican publishing machine that is powerful enough to make sure even blathering idiot Ann Coulter stays atop the best seller list. And then, with gobs and gobs of money already in his bank account, FOX will give "I-lied-for-a-living" Lewis Libby a TV talk show with some smarmy title like "THE REAL TRUTH with your host Scooter Libby."

Craig Crawford: President George W. Bush's commutation of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's jail sentence means that only reporter Judy Miller spent time in the slammer — and that was for protecting Libby, the leaker. The former White House aide let Miller sit in jail for nearly three months last year without revealing to prosecutors that he was the source she was refusing to name. While Miller was no angel in this matter, she was not convicted of a crime. And Libby goes free despite being convicted and sentenced for perjury and obstruction of justice. The president now says jail would be an "excessive" punishment for Libby, but he showed no such concern when a reporter was incarcerated for protecting his White House. The most lasting legal significance of this case will be its chilling effect on journalists – even on those who, unlike Miller, try to protect whistleblowers and other sources who are genuinely serving the public interest.

Jeralyn Merritt: At the same time Bush has his Attorney General calling upon Congress to make every federal crime subject to a mandatory minimum sentence, thereby preventing judges from imposing an individually tailored sentence based on their view of the offender's character and mitigating factors, he has no qualms making an exception for a single member of his Administration.

Ari Melber: Libby's special treatment is a microcosm of current U.S. policy. Libby is basically receiving a post-conviction protection that the Bush Administration now routinely extends to many potential criminals in the U.S. government. The administration successfully pushed legislation last year granting immunity to officials who might someday be prosecuted for war crimes or torture. It is a policy that embodies the administration's distinctly un-American view that powerful government officials should operate above the law. … The same legislation, the Military Commissions Act, strips constitutional rights and habeas corpus in a direct attack on the protections that have grounded the rule of law in America since its founding, 231 years ago this week. The unconstitutional act, like the administration's illegal detention, torture, spying and secret prisons, will continue as long as the federal courts ignore the administration's criminal conduct in deference to claims of executive authority in the Global War on Terror.

Marty Kaplan: My, what a clever boy he thought he would be. He wouldn't pardon Libby: oh no, that would be repeating Gerry Ford's Nixon mistake, and who'd want to risk that? Nah, he'd commute the sentence, that's the ticket. The base would cheer, the libs would scream (don't they always?), and the media would praise him as prudent, as searching for common ground, putting our long national nightmare behind us the right way, not the wimp way. … America is not just a nation of laws. It is a nation of trust. You can't govern unless you have the trust of the people. If before today he retained an ounce of that trust, George W. Bush no longer does. If it weren't so tragic, it would be laughable.

Bob Cesca: Scooter Libby's sentence was "excessive," President Bush said. In other words, two-and-a-half years in jail for perjury is just way, way over the line in a case which involved the undermining of our national security; exposing a CIA agent's cover; and potentially damaging this agent's covert operation to track unaccounted-for nuclear material (loose nukes) – all orchestrated by the vice president and Libby to sucker punch Ambassador Joe Wilson. So the president all but pardoned Libby by commuting his prison sentence. … What's excessive? President Bush, who suddenly hates excessive punishments, once refused to commute the death sentence of a 33-year-old mentally retarded black man with an IQ of around 60 and the functional skills of a 7-year-old boy. … Regarding the record 152 executions during his two terms as governor, Bush "wrote" in his autobiography, A Charge To Keep, "I don't believe my role is to replace the verdict of a jury with my own." … No, the president's decision had everything to do with: 1) a likely deal between the vice president and Libby's attorneys in which Libby promised to keep the scuttlebutt away from Vice President Cheney in exchange for the VPOTUS promising to see what he could do about the sentence; and 2) Scooter Libby isn't poor, black or retarded. … On Thursday's "Countdown" Keith Olbermann talked with the Washington Post's Dana Milbank about President Bush's "Wizard of Oz-like-winged monkeys" who are out in force clamoring over President Clinton's pardon of Mark Rich. They probably should have done a little more homework and as Keith puts it, for the Bush Administration to throw the Rich pardon out there is "almost too funny for words."'

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Iraqi Government To Sell Off State-Owned Assets: Big Payoffs For Western Contractors

The Sunday Telegraph via The Raw Story:

The Iraqi government has begun preparing the groundwork for what could be one of the biggest privatisations of state-owned assets.

The Sunday Telegraph has learned that officials from the government have ecently held talks with banking and legal advisers in London. City sources said Iraq’s minister for industry, Fawzi Hariri, was looking to appoint advisers to draw up a emorandum of understanding to sell off the country’s non-oil assets, ranging from petrochemical plants to construction companies, hotels and airlines, as early as this month.

The privatisation proposals could also include a massive extension of foreign participation in the oil industry. Sources close to the foreign ministry said the government believed it had struck a deal on the long-awaited hydrocarbon law which could see Parliament vote the legislation through in two weeks’ time. If the legislation is passed, arrangements to allow foreign oil majors to enter into production-sharing agreements with Iraq’s national oil company could then make it into the memorandum. Read more…

Logan Murphy, Crooks and Liars: This is why we’re still in Iraq. President Bush and his cronies have spent a lot of blood, sweat and tears to earn a slice of the Iraqi pie and they aren’t leaving till they get it.

Keith Olbermann’s Special Comment: You ceased to be the President of the United States

Crooks and Liars: Keith Olbermann delivers arguably his most pointed and most powerful Special Comment yet on the ramifications of Bush’s commutation of Libby’s sentence. [Click on the pic for the vid; transcript follows.]

Finally tonight, as promised, a Special Comment on what is, in everything but name, George Bush’s pardon of Scooter Libby.
“I didn’t vote for him,” an American once said, “But he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.”

That — on this eve of the 4th of July — is the essence of this democracy in seventeen words. And that is what President Bush threw away yesterday in commuting the sentence of Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

The man who said those seventeen words, improbably enough, was the actor John Wayne. And John Wayne, an ultra-conservative, said them when he learned of the hair’s-breadth election of John F. Kennedy instead of his personal favorite, Richard Nixon in 1960.
“I didn’t vote for him, but he’s my president and I hope he does a good job.”

The sentiment was doubtlessly expressed earlier. But there is something especially appropriate about hearing it, now, in John Wayne’s voice. A crisp matter-of-fact acknowledgement that our form of government has survived, even though for nearly two centuries now our Commander-in-Chief has also served simultaneously as the head of one political party and often the scourge of all others.

We as citizens must, at some point, ignore a president’s partisanship. Not that we may “prosper” as a nation, not that we may “achieve”, not that we may “lead the world” — but merely that we may “function.”

But just as essential to the seventeen words of John Wayne is an implicit trust , a sacred trust. That the president, for whom so many did not vote, can in turn suspend his political self long enough, and for matters imperative enough, to conduct himself solely for the benefit of the entire Republic.

Our generation’s willingness to state “we didn’t vote for him, but he’s our president and we hope he does a good job,” was tested in the crucible of history, and far earlier than most. And in circumstances more tragic and threatening. And we did that with which history tasked us. We enveloped “our” President in 2001.

And those who did not believe he should have been elected, indeed those who did not believe he had been elected, willingly lowered their voices and assented to the sacred oath of non-partisanship.

And George W. Bush took our assent and re-configured it, and honed it, and sharpened it to a razor-sharp point, and stabbed this nation in the back with it.

Were there any remaining lingering doubt otherwise, or any remaining lingering hope, it ended yesterday when Mr. Bush commuted the prison sentence of one of his own staffers.

  • Did so even before the appeals process was complete…
  • Did so without as much as a courtesy consultation with the Department of Justice…
  • Did so despite what James Madison – at the Constitutional Convention — said about impeaching any president who pardoned or sheltered those who had committed crimes “advised by” that president…
  • Did so without the slightest concern that even the most detached of citizens must look at the chain of events and wonder: To what degree was Mr. Libby told, 'Break the law however you wish — the President will keep you out of prison?'
In that moment, Mr. Bush, you broke that fundamental compact between yourself and the majority of this nation’s citizens — the ones who did not cast votes for you. In that moment, Mr. Bush, you ceased to be the President of the United States. In that moment, Mr. Bush, you became merely the President of a rabid and irresponsible corner of the Republican Party. And this is too important a time, sir, to have a Commander-in-Chief who puts party ahead of nation.

This has been, of course, the gathering legacy of this Administration. Few of its decisions have escaped the stain of politics.

The extraordinary Karl Rove has spoken of “a permanent Republican majority,” as if such a thing — or a permanent Democratic majority — is not antithetical to that upon which rests our country, our history, our revolution, our freedoms.

Yet our democracy has survived shrewder men than Karl Rove. And it has survived the frequent stain of politics upon the fabric of government.
  • But this administration, with ever-increasing insistence and almost theocratic zealotry, has turned that stain into a massive oil spill.
  • The protection of the environment is turned over to those of one political party, who will financially benefit from the rape of the environment.
  • The protections of the Constitution are turned over to those of one political party, who believe those protections unnecessary and extravagant and “quaint.”
  • The enforcement of the laws is turned over to those of one political party, who will swear beforehand that they will not enforce those laws.
  • The choice between war and peace is turned over to those of one political party, who stand to gain vast wealth by ensuring that there is never peace, but only war.
And now, when just one cooked book gets corrected by an honest auditor, when just one trampling of the inherent and inviolable “fairness” of government is rejected by an impartial judge, when just one wild-eyed partisan is stopped by the figure of blind justice, this President decides that he, and not the law, must prevail.
  • I accuse you, Mr. Bush, of lying this country into war.
  • I accuse you of fabricating in the minds of your own people, a false implied link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11.
  • I accuse you of firing the generals who told you that the plans for Iraq were disastrously insufficient.
  • I accuse you of causing in Iraq the needless deaths of 3,586 of our brothers and sons, and sisters and daughters, and friends and neighbors.
  • I accuse you of subverting the Constitution, not in some misguided but sincerely-motivated struggle to combat terrorists, but instead to stifle dissent.
  • I accuse you of fomenting fear among your own people, of creating the very terror you claim to have fought.
  • I accuse you of exploiting that unreasoning fear, the natural fear of your own people who just want to live their lives in peace, as a political tool to slander your critics and libel your opponents.
  • I accuse you of handing part of this republic over to a Vice President who is without conscience, and letting him run roughshod over it.
  • And I accuse you now, Mr. Bush, of giving, through that Vice President, carte blanche to Mr. Libby, to help defame Ambassador Joseph Wilson by any means necessary, to lie to Grand Juries and Special Counsel and before a court, in order to protect the mechanisms and particulars of that defamation, with your guarantee that Libby would never see prison, and, in so doing, as Ambassador Wilson himself phrased it here last night, of you becoming an accessory to the obstruction of justice.
When President Nixon ordered the firing of the Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox during the infamous “Saturday Night Massacre” on October 20th, 1973, Mr. Cox initially responded tersely and ominously:

“Whether ours shall be a government of laws and not of men," he said, "is now
for Congress and, ultimately, the American people.”

President Nixon did not understand how he had crystallized the issue of Watergate for the American people. It had been to that point about the obscure meaning behind an attempt to break-in to a rival party’s headquarters, and the labyrinthine effort to cover-up that break-in and the related crimes.

But in one night, Nixon transformed it. Watergate, instantaneously, became a simpler issue: a President overruling the inexorable march of the law, of insisting — in a way that resonated viscerally with millions who had not previously understood — that he was the law... Not the Constitution... Not the Congress... Not the Courts... Just him.

Just, Mr. Bush, as you did yesterday.

The twists and turns of Plame-Gate; your precise and intricate lies that sent us into this bottomless pit of Iraq; your lies upon the lies to discredit Joe Wilson; your lies upon the lies upon the lies to throw the sand at the “referee” of Prosecutor Fitzgerald’s analogy — these are complex and often painful to follow, and too much, perhaps, for the average citizen.

But when other citizens render a verdict against your man, Mr. Bush, and then you spit in the faces of those jurors and that judge and the judges who were yet to hear the appeal, the average citizen understands that, sir. It’s the fixed ballgame, and the rigged casino, and the pre-arranged lottery all rolled into one — and it stinks. And they know it.

Nixon’s mistake, the last and most fatal of them, the firing of Archibald Cox, was enough to cost him the presidency. And in the end, even Richard Nixon could say he could not put this nation through an impeachment. It was far too late for it to matter then, but as the decades unfold, that single final gesture of non-partisanship, of acknowledged responsibility not to self, not to party, not to “base,” but to country, echoes loudly into history. Even Richard Nixon knew it was time to resign.

Would that you could say that, Mr. Bush. And that you could say it for Mr. Cheney. You both crossed the Rubicon yesterday.

Which one of you chose the route, no longer matters; which is the ventriloquist, and which the dummy, is now irrelevant. But that you have twisted the machinery of government into nothing more than a tawdry machine of politics, is the only fact that remains relevant.

It is nearly July 4th, Mr. Bush, the commemoration of the moment we Americans decided that rather than live under a King who made up the laws, or erased them, or ignored them — or commuted the sentences of those rightly convicted under them — we would force our independence, and regain our sacred freedoms.

We of this time and our leaders in Congress of both parties must now live up to those standards which echo through our history.

Pressure, negotiate, impeach, get you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, — two men who are now perilous to our Democracy — away from its helm.

And for you, Mr. Bush, and for Mr. Cheney, there is a lesser task. You need merely achieve a very low threshold indeed. Display just that iota of patriotism which Richard Nixon showed, on August 9th, 1974.


And give us someone — anyone – about whom all of us might yet be able to quote John Wayne, and say, “I didn’t vote for him, but he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.”

Good night, and good luck.

John Amato Crooks and Liars: I missed the last few seconds of the video... And it looks like Bush bypassed the legal requirements for a commutation… Who’s surprised?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Australia planning Iraq troop withdrawal

Australian Prime Minister John Howard is secretly planning to begin withdrawing Australian troops from Iraq by February 2008, Australian media reported on Sunday.

The Sunday Telegraph, quoting an unnamed senior military source, described Howard's withdrawal plan as "one of the most closely guarded secrets in top levels of the bureaucracy".

The Sunday Telegraph said the drawdown of troops would focus on soldiers based in southern Iraq on security duty with Iraqi soldiers.

UPDATE: Australian Defense Minister Brendan Nelson has admitted that securing oil supplies is a key factor behind the presence of Australian troops in Iraq. He said maintaining "resource security" in the Middle East was a priority. But PM John Howard has played down the comments, saying it was "stretching it a bit" to conclude that Australia's Iraq involvement was motivated by oil.

Rupert Murdoch Speaks...

... and what he says is frightening.

Wall Street Journal reporters across the country chose not to show up to work this morning.

Bill Moyers on Rupert Murdoch:He’ll eat anything in his path.” Moyers adds, “Rupert Murdoch is no saint, he is to propriety what the Marquis de Sade was to chastity. When it comes to money and power, he is carnivorous, all appetite, no taste.”

Our rotted press corps, a division of "Camp Victory"

Glenn Greenwald:

...Our news organizations, which claim to have learned so many valuable lessons from their profound failures in the run-up to the Iraq war, "reported" on this incident by doing one thing and one thing only: reading the Press Release and then copying it down and reporting it as Truth.

... it is how most of our media's "war reporting" has been conducted from the beginning -- blind reliance on statements from the government and the military which are then passed along under the guise of "reporting." Indeed, that is precisely how we were led into the invasion in the first place. For all the self-righteous protests by journalists that corrupt reporting was the responsibility of the "aberrational Judy Miller," the Judy Miller Method continues to be the predominant one shaping our major media's "war reporting."

... None of this is complicated, and other than a deliberate desire to disseminate Bush administration propaganda about the war, it really is virtually impossible to understand why our media's "reports" about the war blindly assume, time and again, that whatever the U.S. government or military says can simply be converted without investigation or skepticism into what they report as "news." Over and over, such statements prove to be completely false, and yet the media never even minimally raises the level of skepticism to which it subjects these claims.

LSB: This is a fascinating indictment of the main stream media and one of the principle reasons why the independent bloggers have become so important and necessary. In our 24-hour, non-stop media the principles of journalism are too often sacrificed in order for a news organization to be the first to get the news (or anything approximating news) on the air or in print. Many reporters have simply become stenographers, afraid (or lack the intellectual curiosity) to ask the tough questions; others, as Ken Silverstein points out, are "too busy cozying up to the people [they] cover to get at the truth." Chuck Lewis, a former "60 Minutes" producer and founder of the Center for Public Integrity: "The values of the news media are the same as those of the elite, and they badly want to be viewed by the elites as acceptable." Is it any wonder then that the fourth estate ("The Press") is "sleeping with the enemy" ("The Administration" - ANY administration!) rather than digging for the truth for all of us?

Bush presidency fading fast

The Senate's rejection Thursday of President Bush's immigration plan was the latest in a series of embarrassments that have exposed Bush's political weakness and shaken his hold on power.

The president slipped out of town for a long weekend in Maine before the Senate delivered the final blow to his immigration bill, but it wasn't the only setback that might put a damper on his seaside getaway with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In the space of a single short week, Bush was hit with more Republican defections on Iraq, more bad news from the battlefield, more subpoenas from a hostile Congress, a new assault on his signature education plan and embarrassing disclosures about his vice president.

He also found himself in a fight over executive privilege that begs comparisons to Richard Nixon's legal battles during the Watergate scandal.

"It's the incredible shrinking presidency. He's lost battles in the courts. He's lost battles in Iraq. He's lost battles on Capitol Hill," said Paul Light, a professor of public service at New York University.

"His bank account is empty and there's nowhere to go for more. I think his presidency is essentially over."

Light proposed a headline to sum up the week: "The president loses his legacy."

Read the rest of the article here.

- Ron Hutcheson, McClatchy Newspapers

Keith Olbermann And The House Of Scandal

On “Countdown,” Keith Olbermann talked with David Shuster about brewing controversy over The White House’s refusal to comply with subpoenas issued by both the House and Senate requesting documents relating to the attorney purge scandal and the illegal NSA wiretapping program. The Solicitor General sent a letter to Congress today claiming executive privilege for both the President and Vice President, but as Shuster points out, an attachment to that letter reveals what is, in essence, an admission that the White House is much more involved in the attorney purge scandal than they have previously admitted.

- Logan Murphy, Crooks and Liars

Bush wishes Cuba's Castro would disappear

NEWPORT, Rhode Island (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush made plain his feelings about Fidel Castro on Thursday -- wishing the Cuban leader would disappear.

"One day the good Lord will take Fidel Castro away," Bush said in answer to a question after a speech at the Naval War College.

LSB: One day Satan will take you home, too, Mr. Bush. What a tool!

Bush-appointed judge who authored Starr Report accused of lying to Congress

You may recall Brett Kavanaugh. As an aide to Ken Starr, he was the principal author of the Starr report, which led the GOP Congress to impeach President Clinton for allegedly lying about sex in a civil deposition in a lawsuit that was dismissed for lack of merit. Kavanaugh went on to serve as a lawyer for Bush in the White House. Bush nominated him for a lifetime appointment to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit - the most important and influential court in America after the US Supreme Court - and the Senate confirmed him. In the confirmation hearing, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) asked Kavanaugh if he'd played any role in the legal analysis and debate over enemy combatants. Kavanaugh categorically denied it. Now there are reports that Kavanaugh played a key role. Durbin is writing him to ask him to clear it up.

"By testifying under oath that you were not involved in this issue, it appears
that you misled me, the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the nation," Durbin
wrote Kavanaugh, who was confirmed by the Senate last year on a vote of 57-36
for a seat on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

But Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) ought to initiate impeachment. Steven Griles was sentenced to 10 months in prison yesterday for lying to Congress - it's a crime. Brett Kavanaugh should be his cellmate, not a judge on the 2nd most powerful court in America.

- Joe Sudbay,

Analysis: Only Iraqis can win the war

The harder President Bush has pushed to win in Iraq, the closer he has come to losing. The question no longer is whether the U.S. military can fully stabilize Iraq. It cannot. That was a possibility four years ago, immediately after Saddam Hussein's government fell. Before the insurgency took hold. Before U.S. occupation authorities lost any chance to avoid the sectarian strife of today's Iraq. Now only the Iraqis can save Iraq.

They need the U.S. military's help, no doubt. But the Bush administration has made no secret of the fact that the U.S. troop buildup in Baghdad is simply buying time for the Iraqis to sort out their differences, create a government of national unity and show they can defend themselves.

So it is not whether the U.S. can win the war. It is whether the Iraqis can, which is in great doubt. (Read the rest of this opinion here.)

- Robert Burns, AP Military Writer