Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Sunday, April 30, 2006
Un dia sin immigrantes
Monday's the day of the big pro-amnesty protest. But much of the controversy over the weekend was over the "Nuestro Himno" version of the U.S. national anthem. The song -- the brainchild of the British head of Urban Box Office (formerly run by a group of African-American hip hop empresarios) was supposed to be part of an upcoming album -- sort of a "we are the world" for the issue of immigrants in the U.S. and their passion for America. But from what I'm hearing from my sources, the single that causing all the controversy might just be a case of some of the artists involved being used -- or rather misused -- in a project they themselves never meant to be political. Long story short, don't look for the brief verses by at least one artist, out of Miami, to be on the final record. Stay tuned, this one's developing...

Previous:
Tags: , Politics, border, MEXICO, , , Illegal-Aliens, Illegal immigration, ,
posted by JReid @ 10:21 PM  
Bush: Igoring the law
One of the principle pledges of the president of the United States is that he will "faithfully execute the laws of the United States" and uphold the Constitution. What is clearly emerging with the Bush administration is a sentiment that they need do neither, and that the president can instead claim for himself unlimited war powers that supersede the Constitution, and make the laws passed by Congress irrelevant. What the difference between such a belief and dictatorship is difficult for me to see. From the Boston Globe:
WASHINGTON -- President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.

Among the laws Bush said he can ignore are military rules and regulations, affirmative-action provisions, requirements that Congress be told about immigration services problems, ''whistle-blower" protections for nuclear regulatory officials, and safeguards against political interference in federally funded research.

Legal scholars say the scope and aggression of Bush's assertions that he can bypass laws represent a concerted effort to expand his power at the expense of Congress, upsetting the balance between the branches of government. The Constitution is clear in assigning to Congress the power to write the laws and to the president a duty ''to take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Bush, however, has repeatedly declared that he does not need to ''execute" a law he believes is unconstitutional.

Former administration officials contend that just because Bush reserves the right to disobey a law does not mean he is not enforcing it: In many cases, he is simply asserting his belief that a certain requirement encroaches on presidential power.

But with the disclosure of Bush's domestic spying program, in which he ignored a law requiring warrants to tap the phones of Americans, many legal specialists say Bush is hardly reluctant to bypass laws he believes he has the constitutional authority to override.

Far more than any predecessor, Bush has been aggressive about declaring his right to ignore vast swaths of laws -- many of which he says infringe on power he believes the Constitution assigns to him alone as the head of the executive branch or the commander in chief of the military.

Many legal scholars say they believe that Bush's theory about his own powers goes too far and that he is seizing for himself some of the law-making role of Congress and the Constitution-interpreting role of the courts.

Phillip Cooper, a Portland State University law professor who has studied the executive power claims Bush made during his first term, said Bush and his legal team have spent the past five years quietly working to concentrate ever more governmental power into the White House.

''There is no question that this administration has been involved in a very carefully thought-out, systematic process of expanding presidential power at the expense of the other branches of government," Cooper said. ''This is really big, very expansive, and very significant." ...
There's much more. Read the whole thing.

More on this chilling subject, with a hat tip to Crooks and Liars, from Arthur Silber, and Jacob Hornberger, whose "A Democratic Dictatorship" is this week's must-read. Says Silber:
In his bracingly clear and concise article, Hornberger debunks two common but utterly misguided objections to these statements of fact. The first objection is that Bush can be trusted and that, in effect, he "means well," that he's only trying "to protect us." Among many other problems, this ignores that every authoritarian leader in history has made the same claim: that his regime is concerned only with the good of his people, or the good of his country, or to further the will of God, or... Except for the rare cases of sadists who glory in their openly acknowledged cruelty, rulers and their henchmen always claim to have the best of intentions, at least in the beginning.

It is worth noting Hornberger's response to the second objection:

"Well, then, where are the mass round-ups, and where are the concentration camps?"

Again, people who ask that type of question are missing the point. The point is not whether Bush is exercising his omnipotent, dictatorial power to the maximum extent. It’s whether he now possesses omnipotent, dictatorial power, power that can be exercised whenever circumstances dictate it — for example, during another major terrorist attack on American soil, when Americans become overly frightened again.

I've made this point repeatedly over the last several years, and it is only a measure of the remarkably primitive quality of our national conversation that so many Americans seem incapable of grasping it.

To put the point the other way, which will hopefully penetrate the wall of resistance erected by so many people: the only reason you aren't in a concentration camp right now is because Bush hasn't decided to send you to one -- yet. But he claims he has the power to do so -- and there are almost no voices of any prominence to dispute the contention. What is even worse than the loss of liberty is the fact that most Americans aren't even aware that the loss has occurred. If there are any national leaders who understand these issues and have the courage to fight for our freedom here at home, they ought to realize that the battle must be waged now. Given the hysteria that followed 9/11 -- and the hysteria that would certainly follow another terrorist attack in the U.S. of the same or even greater magnitude -- protesting against round-ups at that point would be entirely futile, and would come far too late.
[Emphasis mine.] The bottom line question really is, if you trust the Bush administration so coompletely that you're willing to permit that in theory, he could jail you without trial, but you assume he won't do so because 1) he's a "good man" and 2) you're an "innocent" American, then you've already lost your grip on the bottom line values of democratic citizenship. Unfortunately, when I listen to about half the callers on C-SPAN or read folks like my friend AJ Strata, whose cheerleading and propagandizing for the Bush administration and its blatant seizures of power takes on an almost 1930s Bavarian quality, I really do fear that it is already too late, and that many well-meaning Americans, like AJ, are all-too ready to give their liberties away, on Bush's word alone -- and worse, to cheer and applaud as the Constitution is swirling down the drain.

And at least people like AJ are talking aobut it. Most Americans are watching this country lose its representative democracy and they don't even know it's happening.

Tags: freedom, government, civil liberties, Politics,
posted by JReid @ 4:24 PM  
Quote of the day ... from a FReeper!
"Bush support is down to those who want Bush to make money for them and those who want Bush to conquer all the Muslims. If either of these fade away, Bush will be at the Alamo with those who think he is on a mission from God, those who think he is God and Texans. And there is probably a lot of overlap there. Bolten and Snow better have some life savers handy for GOP candidates who might also try to swim away." --

27 posted on 04/30/2006 1:08:21 PM PDT by ex-snook ("But above all things, truth beareth away the victory.")
See? Smart ones do exist. Here's the thread.

Tags: Bush, , Politics, Republicans,
posted by JReid @ 4:17 PM  
Speaking 'truthiness' to power
What was the hottest thing at this year's White House correspondents dinner? No, not the two George Dubyas -- it was Stephen Colbert:
Colbert, who spoke in the guise of his talk show character, who ostensibly supports the president strongly, urged the Bush to ignore his low approval ratings, saying they were based on reality, “and reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

He attacked those in the press who claim that the shake-up at the White House was merely re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. “This administration is soaring, not sinking,” he said. “If anything, they are re-arranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg.”

Colbert told Bush he could end the problem of protests by retired generals by refusing to let them retire. He compared Bush to Rocky Balboa in the “Rocky” movies, always getting punched in the face—“and Apollo Creed is everything else in the world.”

Turning to the war, he declared, "I believe that the government that governs best is a government that governs least, and by these standards we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq."

He noted former Ambassador Joseph Wilson in the crowd, just three tables away from Karl Rove, and that he had brought " Valerie Plame." Then, worried that he had named her, he corrected himself, as Bush aides might do, "Uh, I mean... he brought Joseph Wilson's wife." He might have "dodged the bullet," he said, as prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald wasn't there.

Colbert also made biting cracks about missing WMDs, “photo ops” on aircraft carriers and at hurricane disasters, melting glaciers and Vice President Cheney shooting people in the face. He advised the crowd, "if anybody needs anything at their tables, speak slowly and clearly on into your table numbers and somebody from the N.S.A. will be right over with a cocktail. "

Observing that Bush sticks to his principles, he said, "When the president decides something on Monday, he still believes it on Wednesday - no matter what happened Tuesday."

Also lampooning the press, Colbert complained that he was “surrounded by the liberal media who are destroying this country, except for Fox News. Fox believes in presenting both sides of the story — the president’s side and the vice president’s side." He also reflected on the alleged good old days, when the media was still swallowing the WMD story.

Addressing the reporters, he said, "Let's review the rules. Here's how it works. The president makes decisions, he’s the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Put them through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know--fiction."

He claimed that the Secret Service name for Bush's new press secretary is "Snow Job."

Colbert closed his routine with a video fantasy where he gets to be White House Press Secretary, complete with a special “Gannon” button on his podium. By the end, he had to run from Helen Thomas and her questions about why the U.S. really invaded Iraq and killed all those people.

As Colbert walked from the podium, when it was over, the president and First Lady gave him quick nods, unsmiling. The president shook his hand and tapped his elbow, and left immediately.

Those seated near Bush told E&P's Joe Strupp, who was elsewhere in the room, that Bush had quickly turned from an amused guest to an obviously offended target as Colbert’s comments brought up his low approval ratings and problems in Iraq.

Several veterans of past dinners, who requested anonymity, said the presentation was more directed at attacking the president than in the past. Several said previous hosts, like Jay Leno, equally slammed both the White House and the press corps.

“This was anti-Bush,” said one attendee. “Usually they go back and forth between us and him.” Another noted that Bush quickly turned unhappy, and left the dais shortly after while most seated near him, including Colbert and Snow, glad-handed the crowd. “You could see he stopped smiling about halfway through Colbert,” he reported. ...
Definitely gotta catch the whole thing on C-SPAN. For now, here's a clip from C&L. Meanwhile, USAT reports that Colbert's jokes left some in the audience tearng up with laughter, and others "bewildered." They've also got more on the celebrrities' reactions to the dinner, and of course, they focus on the two Dubyas gag.

Oh, and Ludacris enjoyed the show. Go figure.

More highlights here, from Mash, who adds:
By the end of Colbert’s routine, Bush was visibly uncomfortable. Colbert ended with a video featuring Helen Thomas repeatedly asking why we invaded Iraq. That is a question President Bush has yet to answer to the American public.
I'm sure the Freepers will be talking. At least, the ones whose cable sets haven't been permanently programmed to only get Fox News...

Tags: , , Politics,Stephen Colbert, Humor
posted by JReid @ 3:54 PM  
Hosni Mubarak does his best George W.
From today's NYT:

CAIRO, Egypt, April 30 — The Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, pushed through a two-year extension of an emergency law through Parliament today, a law that for 24 years has effectively allowed the government to detain prisoners indefinitely and without charge.
Of course, there is one key difference between Mubarak's gambit and the typical war power grabs of the Bush administration, and it's contained in the first seven words of the story's next paragraph:

In asking parliament to approve the extension, Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif said that the emergency law would eventually be replaced with a provision that focused exclusively on terrorism, as the president repeatedly promised during his re-election campaign last year. But, Mr. Nazif said, devising a new law will take time and Egypt cannot afford to wait with the emergency law set to expire at the end of May.
Then again, I suppose Mr. Bush doesn't need to ask our Congress, at least not with guys like sycophnt/enabler in chief (and blocker of all things investigative) Pat Roberts hanging around...

More post-9/11-like ironies:

"We will never use the emergency law against the Egyptian people," Mr. Nazif said to the crowded parliamentary chamber. "We will use it only to protect the citizens and face the terror cells that did not quell until now."
Sound familiar? So will this:

But the extension was widely criticized by political opposition groups, human rights groups and ordinary citizens on the streets here, who said it demonstrated that the government was intent on protecting itself, not the people. Officials had hinted days ago that they would push for renewal, and so could not credibly claim the decision was in response to the three terrorist attacks in Sinai last week that left more than two dozen people dead and many more seriously injured.

And now, here's Mr. Mubarak taking a page from the Bush dislexicon:

"There is a need for a firm and decisive law that eliminates terrorism and uproots its threats," Mr. Mubarak said in a speech last July. "A law that protects national security and ensures stability. A law that provides a legislative substitute to combat terrorism and replaces the current emergency law."
Boy, are our countries similar, with one small exception:

Since his lopsided victory, with more than 88 percent of the votes cast, his government has used its security forces to beat and shoot voters trying to cast ballots in parliamentary elections for opposition candidates; sentenced an opposition political leader, Ayman Nour, to five years in prison; delayed by two years local elections; and sought to punish judges who charged fraud during past elections; and denied requests to create new political parties.
At least we haven't come to that ... at least not yet ... although Mr. Bush and Mr. Mubarak increasingly, as Bobby and Whitney would say, "have something in common":

On Saturday the authorities arrested several dozen young men from political opposition groups who had been hanging up signs that read "No for emergency law," and "Together against extension of the emergency law."
In our democracy, you don't get arrested for hanging up signs. You get arrested for wearing opposition T-shirts.

Those Egyptians sure have a lot to learn.

Tags: freedom, government, civil liberties, Politics, Egypt, democracy, ,
posted by JReid @ 3:08 PM  
Now that's what I call ironic...
The Bush administration says it is reluctant to repatriate Guantanamo Bay detainees who shouldn't be there, because ... wait for it ... they could be treated inhumanely back home...
Administration officials have said they hope eventually to transfer or release many of the roughly 490 suspects now held at Guantánamo. As of February, military officials said, the Pentagon was ready to repatriate more than 150 of the detainees once arrangements could be made with their home countries.

But those arrangements have been more difficult to broker than officials in Washington anticipated or have previously acknowledged, raising questions about how quickly the administration can meet its goal of scaling back detention operations at Guantánamo.

"The Pentagon has no plans to release any detainees in the immediate future," said a Defense Department spokesman, Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon of the Navy. He said the negotiations with foreign governments "have proven to be a complex, time-consuming and difficult process."

The military has so far sent home 267 detainees from Guantánamo after finding that they had no further intelligence value and either posed no long-term security threat or would reliably be imprisoned or monitored by their own governments. Most of those who remain are considered more dangerous militants; many also come from nations with poor human rights records and ineffective justice systems.

But Washington's insistence on humane treatment for the detainees in their native countries comes after years in which Guantánamo has been assailed as a symbol of American abuse and hypocrisy — a fact not lost on the governments with which the United States is now negotiating.

"It is kind of ironic that the U.S. government is placing conditions on other countries that it would not follow itself in Guantánamo or Abu Ghraib," said a Middle Eastern diplomat from one of the countries involved in the talks. He asked not to be named to avoid criticizing the United States in the name of his government.

The push for human rights assurances now, some officials said, also reflects a renewed effort by the State Department to influence the administration's detention policy, even as the United States continues to face wide criticism for sending terror suspects to be interrogated in countries known to practice torture.
That would be ... the same Bush administration whose Pentagon civilians cooked up detainee "intelligence gathering" methods like these:






How's that for irony?

Tags: torture, Guantanamo, Detainees, Politics, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, ,

posted by JReid @ 2:01 PM  
Friday, April 28, 2006
Thank you, Rush Limbaugh

Thank you for making my day, you drugged out man-whore, you!

By the way, loved the sweet deal worked out by your lawyer, Roy Black:
"I am pleased to announce that the State Attorney's Office and Mr. Limbaugh have reached an agreement whereby a single count charge of doctor shopping filed today by the State Attorney will be dismissed in 18 months. As a primary condition of the dismissal, Mr. Limbaugh must continue to seek treatment from the doctor he has seen for the past two and one half years. This is the same doctor under whose care Mr. Limbaugh has remained free of his addiction without relapse.

"Mr. Limbaugh and I have maintained from the start that there was no doctor shopping, and we continue to hold this position. Accordingly, we filed today with the Court a plea of 'Not Guilty' to the charge filed by the State.

"As part of this agreement, Mr. Limbaugh also has agreed to make a $30,000 payment to the State of Florida to defray the public cost of the investigation. The agreement also provides that he must refrain from violating the law during this 18 months, must pay $30 per month for the cost of "supervision" and comply with other similar provisions of the agreement.

"Mr. Limbaugh had intended to remain in treatment. Thus, we believe the outcome for him personally will be much as if he had fought the charge and won."
And good going for Roy, spinning the "no doctor shopping" yet "taking lots and lots of drugs" thing in your favor, after essentially getting you the same deal as that crack snorting little big-haired strumpet Noelle... here's hoping you don't screw it up by getting all cracked up like she did after the deal went down... then again, those Bushes have no self control... not like you...

Anyway, good luck staying off the "cabbage" for 90 days. And remember, martinis with speedball chasers count! Peace!

Update: Shhhh!!!! Auntie Kim thinks that if you turn yourself in to the cops, you're not really arrested... man, those dittoheads sure are some loyal Kool-Aid customers. El Rushbo could do crack right on their lawns and they'd swear it was the liberal establishment getting him high. Gotta love 'em!

Tags: Rush Limbaugh, drug addicts
posted by JReid @ 10:20 PM  
The Star Splanglish Banner
A British producer brings together Latin artists ... and Wyclef ... to sing the National Anthem in Spanish ... to make Americans ... more ... sympathetic ... to illegal migrants? As opposed to pissing Americans off beyond all measure ... right before a planned national boycott on the communist-coopted holiday of May Day? Hmmm ... sounds like someone has been sleeping through public relations class.

We're actually going to be playing the song and dealing with this issue on the WTPS morning show on Monday (with Lou Dobbs, no less!!!) ... and it will be interesting to see how our audience -- mostly African-American and West Indian, but with some white and Latino listeners -- react. As for me, I think bad PR makes bad policy, and this general strike/Spanish anthem idea strikes me as a kind of emotional blackmail: "give illegal migrants amnesty or else! We're Mexican/Latino first, and America had better recognize! And by the way, we're taking that National Anthem with us!"

I'm sure amnesty supporters will make the comparison between "Nuestro Himno" and the Jimi Hendrix or Marvin Gaye takes on the anthem in the 1960s and '70s. But there's a key difference: Hendrix's "Banner" was, by his own estimation, not meant as a protest. He simply found the sounds he created in playing his rendition of the song to be "beautiful." And I'm quite sure Gaye was going for the same thing -- artistic beauty. This version is meant to deliver a message to the American people: this isn't a version of our country's collective anthem, it's "our" very exclusive rallying cry.

I wouldn't have gone this route. Then again, I wouldn't be out there arguing that essentially, the U.S. has no right to regulate its own borders, and that any national of any foreign country has a right, not just an opportunity, but a God-given right -- to cross our borders at will and remain in the U.S. without regard to our laws, and then to be given the benefits of citizenship "after paying a small fine" and treated like every other (legal) immigrant. I sincerely doubt I could get away with that kind of thing in Mexico. In fact, I'm certain I couldn't:

When you enter the country as a "tourist", you are allowed to remain for a maximum of 180 days for the purposes of recreation, health, artistic or sports activities. You may not work in Mexico.

If you arrive by air:

You must have your immigration form and present it to the immigration authorities upon arrival at the airport of your destination within Mexico.

If you arrive by road:

You must request your immigration form after having paid the tourist fees at a local bank. Your vehicle must leave the country when your tourist card expires. You cannot sell your car within Mexico nor use it for any other unauthorized purpose.

If you arrive by sea:

You must obtain your immigration permit after having paid the fees at the port of entrance.

Once your authorized 180 days are up, you must leave the country. If you wish to re-enter the country: You can do so with a new immigration form granted by the immigration authorities at the place of entry after having paid the corresponding fee.

You may extend your stay in Mexico as a: Person of independent means: Defined as one who lives off of income generated outside of Mexico.

But of course, that's Mexico...
Tags: , Politics, border, MEXICO, , , Illegal-Aliens, Illegal immigration, ,
posted by JReid @ 10:03 PM  
Thursday, April 27, 2006
It's official
The Iraq war is more expensive than Vietnam.

Tags: Iraq
posted by JReid @ 11:15 PM  
Politics on the cheap
Nothing says more about the utter inanity of our present politics than the notion, courtesy of the GOP (otherwise known as the handmaidens of multinational corporations and the ultra-rich) of easing Americans' gasoline suffering with $100 bucks. (And you call these people conservatives???)

The two fill-ups (assuming we don't blow it on, oh, food or the light bill,) ought to be worth a mercy vote at the polls in November, right? Give me a break.

Tags: Gas Prices,
posted by JReid @ 11:08 PM  
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Mambo number five
It's back to the grand jury for our boy Karl Rove.

Tags: Bush, Politics, Libby, PlameGate, plame, Karl Rove, Cheney, fitzgerald
posted by JReid @ 1:53 PM  
Snow job
Yeah, yeah, yeah, Tony Snow blah blah blah. Everbody's all excited, (except this guy,) waiting to see which member of the press pool "believe it or not I want to work with you," he says -- get's cussed out first. But what I'm really interested in, is the cussing out already going on among the right wing faithful.

Round one: Andrew Sullivan:
I've always had perfectly pleasant dealings with Tony Snow, and respect his commitment to genuine conservatism and to fighting the war on Islamist terror. I also agree with him that this president has "lost control of the federal budget and cannot resist the temptation to stop raiding the public fisc." I agree that "George W. Bush and his colleagues have become not merely the custodians of the largest government in the history of humankind, but also exponents of its vigorous expansion." I agree with him that "when it comes to federal spending, George W. Bush is the boy who can’t say no." I agree with Tony that "on the policy side, Bush has become a classical dime-store Democrat." I agree with him that
No president has looked this impotent this long when it comes to defending presidential powers and prerogatives. Nearly 57 months into his administration, President Bush has yet to veto a single bill of any type. The only other presidents never to issue a veto - William Henry Harrison and James Garfield - died within months of taking office. The budget has grown nearly 50 percent on his watch, and he is vying to become the most free-spending president ever. To date, he has not asked Congress to rescind even a penny in profligate spending (even Bill Clinton requested more than $8 billion in rescissions, and Ronald Reagan sought upward of $80 billion).
But I'm not going to stand in front of the press and defend this record now, am I?
Ouch! So how do you respond, guy with a hard to pronounce name, from RedState.org?


It's called being a professional, Andrew. It's called calling them as you see them when you are a member of the press while at the same time bearing in mind that you had better have an overwhelmingly fantastically good reason--beyond the "our critics are our friends" line Tony Snow has taken towards the President--to refuse a call to service from the highest ranking elected official in the land. It's called taking a position of great and solemn responsibility without compromising your principles, but rather taking those principles into the public sphere and showing that you are more than a mere critic, that on the contrary, you are someone willing to personally place into effect the change that you are calling for.

I have critiqued George W. Bush and his policies a fair amount recently. But critiquing a President is not an automatic bar to serving in that President's Administration; especially not if that President has promised to listen and to respect the opinions a critic would be willing to give voice to in private counsel. I assume that is the promise he gave to Tony Snow and I would expect no less of an arrangement between any President and any Press Secretary (it's fairly easy to assume that if Tony Snow didn't get this kind of promise and didn't feel comfortable with it, he would have been more than content to work banker's hours while taking much more to the bank as a major media personality than he will as the White House Press Secretary). And here is the puzzlement: Up until now, one of the chief criticisms of the Bush White House was that it lived "in a bubble" and didn't pay attention to its critics. Now it's hiring one of them and what is the response?

Snark?

And that's it?
Yaaawn....! Sorry, but I've got to give this round to Sullivan. Whingeing about how honored Snow must be to work for a prez who really, really is gona listen to him, gosh darnit is weak, weak WEAK! Hell, I'm just surprised to learn that anybody who worked for Fox News has ever criticized the president. Can't they throw you out of the cult for that?

Oh, and you've got to love AOL's take on Snow's slick move, courtesy of ThinkP:

And he was right. (Though as our little SnowBunny said today, "you should have seen what I said about the other guy...) Oh, yeah, I can't wait for that first press conference...

BTW, is TownHall pulling a "snow job" (so to speak) with a TS column?

Tags: tony snow, Bush, News, News and politics, Media

posted by JReid @ 1:32 PM  
Righting the country, one state at a time
The Bush impeachment wagon has officially rolled out of the station. Three states: Illinois, California and Vermont, have or are considering joint resolutions of the respective state houses that would trigger a little known rule of the House of Representatives in Washington, calling for hearings on the impeachment of the president of the United States. From Alternet:
Forget bird flu, impeachment is spreading across the nation, state by state.

On Tuesday afternoon, Rep. Dave Zuckerman (Prog.-VT) dropped the third of three nearly unreported bombshells on the Bush administration. Zuckerman, along with 12 fellow lawmakers, introduced a formal resolution for the Vermont state legislature to call on the U.S. House of Representatives to impeach President George W. Bush.
With this resolution, Vermont joined the California and Illinois state legislatures, already embroiled in impeachment debates of their own.

For those who still believe impeachment's just a pipe dream, there are several key developments to consider beyond this burgeoning state movement. In addition to the hawkish Zbigniew Brzezinski's op-ed in Tuesday's International Herald Tribune warning that an attack on Iran could merit impeachment, Salon's Michelle Goldberg and my colleague Onnesha Roychoudhuri both noted last month that the "i-word" had gone public.

In an interview with impeachment expert Michael Ratner, Roychoudhuri observed that:
"[T]he distant rumbling is growing louder by the day, creating a resonant echo that is rapidly taking root in public discourse. 'Impeach Him,' reads the cover of this month's Harper's Magazine. And in a public forum in New York City last week, journalists, lawyers and political figures came together to discuss the case against our president."
While the main impediment continues to be a sycophantic Republican majority, polls show that more Americans favor impeachment hearings than currently approve of the job Bush is doing (33 to 32 percent). In addition, as Bob Geiger notes, Bush's state-by-state popularity is lower than even his anemic nationwide figures suggest, with a paltry four states remaining red two years into his second term. In other words, the population has the stomach for it even if the representatives don't.

The legal basis for these unprecedented state-level actions was discovered when, according to Steven Leser, Illinois Rep. Karen A. Yarbrough "stumbled on a little known and never utlitized rule of the U.S. House of Representatives." The rule was written in a book formerly known as Jefferson's Manual, which, according to C-SPAN, "is a book of rules of procedure and parliamentary philosophy … written by Thomas Jefferson in 1801 … [used by the House] as a supplement to its standing rules." Section LIII, sec. 603 states, "There are various methods of setting an impeachment in motion … [one of them is] by charges transmitted from the legislature of a State …"

Each of the three resolutions mentions Iraq lies, torture and illegal spying, with slight variations in tone and specifics. Assemblyman Paul Koretz's California resolution (which includes Dick Cheney) and the Illinois resolution both include the leak of Valerie Plame's identity, while Vermont's focuses almost exclusively on Bush's most salient transgression, his illegal spying on Americans. The spying charge leads the other two resolutions' list of charges as well.
The question for Democrats, who control the legislature in California, for instance, is whether pushing for impeachment is worth the potential loss of "bi-partisan cooperation" on other matters, as the representative floating that state's joint resolution pointed out on Randi Rhodes' show yesterday. The answer, as Randi said, is of course it's worth it. And by the way, Republicans wouldn't even ask whether it was, they would have moved for impeachment long ago if Bush were a Dmeocrat... The point is that since the Republican leadership in Congress, which is not only supine and solicitous of the president, but also complicit in much of what he has done, including the illegal wiretapping of Americans, will clearly never act to constrain this White House, the states of our union must do it for them.

That's Jefferson's genius, and if there was ever a time to implement it, that time is now, before Bush launches an illegal, unprovoked war against Iran.

Tags: Bush, , Politics, Iran, Iraq, George W. Bush, NSA, News, War, Government, spying
posted by JReid @ 1:18 PM  
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Oops...
From Drudge:
... A spinning instructor at Washington, DC's Sports Club/LA mocked President Bush without realizing (believe it or not) that a first daughter was in his class!

ROLL CALL reports: The instructor, Glenn Makl, is said to be horrified to learn after class that the president's daughter Jenna was there to hear his making fun of President Bush and handing out of a video clip compilation of some of the president's more memorable gaffes and malapropisms.

Jenna Bush was working out at the club with her boyfriend, who later complained about the politcal ranting of the trainer, a source tells the DRUDGE REPORT. ...
Roll Call is calling this one "TwinGate SpinGate."

Tags: Bush, Current Affairs, News, News and politics, TwinGate
posted by JReid @ 2:58 PM  
What if...
The WaPo got the U.S. gulags story from someplace other than Mary McCarthy...
Tags: ,, , Politics, Bush administration, Iraq, NSA, News, War on Terror
posted by JReid @ 2:52 PM  
Bush noxious gas fix
Is it surprising that George W. Bush's answer to easing gas prices is to suspend environmental rules for gas formulations that are intended to produce cleaner air? Not a bit. Will it help? Signs point to "no." From Bloomberg today:

The plan to waive rules governing fuel blends could do more harm than good, according to Bob Slaughter, head of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, the refining industry's trade group, based in Washington.

Refiners are replacing MTBE, a gasoline additive that fouled drinking water supplies, with ethanol because of changes in fuel rules in the energy legislation Bush signed in August.

Over the past week, shortages have occurred in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland, according to the AAA, the nation's largest motoring club. About 60 service stations in the Dallas area experienced spot shortages earlier this month.

``The President offered a piecemeal approach to alternative energy based on programs authorized in years past,'' Representative Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat, said in a statement released after Bush's speech.

Part of the reason, is that high fuel costs are in part because of refinery capacity (and in the Northeast, that does include slow processing of summertime fuels by refiners short on ethanol), but are even more impacted by international events, like the U.S.' continued saber rattling at Iran. That has prompted headlines like this:

-- Iran will halt cooperation with the UN's nuclear agency should the country be subjected to sanctions, negotiator Ali Larijani said. He said that such penalties would have ``important consequences for oil,'' Agence France-Presse reported.
... and that keeps the price of a barrel going in only one direction: up.

If Bush wants to actually do something about gas prices, he could take a cue from a guy who said the following during the presidential campaign of 2000:

“I think the president ought to get on the phone with the OPEC cartel and say, ‘We expect you to open your spigots.’ … The president of the United States must jawbone OPEC members to lower the price.”

Here's who said it. Instead, our oil man (and his oil friends) in the White House are leaving the phone on the hook. They could also stop threatening to nuke Iran, but then, what fun would that be. A windfall profits tax could go a long way toward funding that alternative fuel stuff Bush keeps prattling on uselessly about. And not waging simultaneous conflicts with the entire oil producing world? That would be freaking fantastic.

Instead, going forward, we'll get to choke on the air and on the price at the gas pump.

Tags: Bush, Current Affairs, News, News and politics, , , ,
posted by JReid @ 2:18 PM  
Monday, April 24, 2006
Our Mujahedeen
The Asia Times adds further confirmation to the stories that the U.S. is using a known terrorist group, the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, to conduct intelligence inside Iran. (More on the MEK, and their good friend Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida here, here and here) ... Says the story:
TEHRAN - A former Iranian ambassador and Islamic Republic insider has provided intriguing details to Asia Times Online about US covert operations inside Iran aimed at destabilizing the country and toppling the regime - or preparing for an American attack.

"The Iranian government knows and is aware of such infiltration. It means that the Iranian government has identified them [the covert operatives] but for some reason does not want to show [this]," said the former diplomat on condition of anonymity.

Speaking in Tehran, the ex-Foreign Ministry official said the agents being used by the US "were originally Iranians and not Americans" possibly recruited in the United States or through US embassies in Dubai and Ankara. He also warned that such actions will engender "some reactions".

"Both sides will certainly do something," he said in a reference to Iran's capability to stir trouble up in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan for the occupying US troops there.

Veteran US journalist Seymour Hersh wrote in a much-discussed recent article in The New Yorker magazine that the administration of President George W Bush has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack as the crisis with Iran over its nuclear program escalates.

Hersh wrote that "teams of American combat troops have been ordered into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting data and to establish contact with anti-government ethnic-minority groups". The template seems identical to the period that preceded US air strikes against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan during which a covert Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) campaign distributed millions of dollars to tribal allies.

"The Iranian accusations are true," said Richard Sale, intelligence correspondent for United Press International, referring to charges that the US is using the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK) organization and other groups to carry out cross-border operations. "But it is being done on such a small scale - a series of pinpricks - it would seem to have no strategic value at all."

There has been a marked spike in unrest in Kurdistan, Khuzestan and Balochistan, three of Iran's provinces with a high concentration of ethnic Kurdish, Arab and Balochi minorities respectively. With the exception of the immediate post-revolutionary period, when the Kurds rebelled against the central government and were suppressed violently, ethnic minorities have received better treatment, more autonomy and less ethnic discrimination than under the shah.

"The president hasn't notified the Congress that American troops are operating inside Iran," said Sam Gardiner, a retired US Army colonel who specializes in war-game scenarios. "So it's a very serious question about the constitutional framework under which we are now conducting military operations in Iran." ...
The question is, would Bush seek Congressional approval before widening the scope of these alleged military operations, including into full-scale war.

There are those who have grave doubts that the administration would scarcely pause before launching its third war.

Tags: Iran, News,War, Bush administration,
posted by JReid @ 9:21 PM  
LAT to Cheney: Please go away. Illinois to Bush: 'dittos'
Filed under "wouldn't that be nice": the LA Times editorial board says it's time for Dick to go. And evidence points to a growing "culture of torture" in the "new Iraq," presided over, by us.

Meanwhile, the Illinois legislature is exercising a little known rule of the United States House of Representatives to seek the impeachment of Cheney's "boss."

Tags: Bush, George Bush, President Bush, Dick Cheney, Impeachment,
posted by JReid @ 8:14 PM  
Mary McCarthy fights back
She categorically denies leaking the CIA gulags story, and moreover, denies she ever had access to the information she is supposed to have leaked.

And there is support for her at TPM Cafe here, and here, from a former underling of McCarthy's who is no friend of hers, but who says that as an analyst, not an operative, she wouldn't have worked at the desk that had access to the prisons info.

So now the CIA says that Ms. McCarthy was fired for a "pattern of behavior" that involved unauthorized contact with reporters.

Porter's Purge

What's at work here is a purge of information leaks by Porter Goss. He's wiretapping, including the CIA's watchdog, threatening prosecution, and conducting what is openly being described as a witch hunt. As Andrea Mitchell reports tonight on NBC, the message Goss is sending isn't "don't leak classified information" -- it's getting murkier whether Ms. McCarthy did that. It's "don't even have lunch with a reporter. Don't answer the phone when a reporter is calling." "Don't even think about it." And apparently, CIA and other government officials are getting the message.

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Tags: ,, , Politics, Bush administration, Iraq, NSA, News, War on Terror
posted by JReid @ 7:22 PM  
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Radio daze
Well, tomorrow morning bright and early I start a new gig, and a new chapter in my life. I'll be producing for the WTPS morning talk radio show, hosted by James T and Tamara G. James is a longtime veteran of urban radio in South Florida, and he and Tamara had a top rated show on an FM, urban station for years. I'm excited about this opportunity and challenge, and will keep you (and of course the blog) updated. With that, I need to get some sleep. Gotta be at work at 4:30 a.m.!
posted by JReid @ 10:56 PM  
Saving Private Dubya
Matt Cooper delivers more from the super-double-secret background files: in short - Josh Bolten has laid out five steps to saving Junior's legacy over the next 1,000 days. First, Cooper spells out Bolten's sense of urgency:
"We have a thousand days to get the job done," he said, according to attendees. The rearranging of staff in the Administration, which has included moving out some loyalists from Texas and is likely to continue, reflects the President's insistence that Bolten rethink an enterprise that had a series of horrible quarters. The real deadline is not 1,000 days from now, when Bush leaves office. The marker that is uppermost in the minds of Bush's inner circle is Nov. 7, when Republicans could lose control of the House and even the Senate. "If we don't keep Congress, there won't be a legacy," said a presidential adviser. "The legacy will be investigations and fights over Executive privilege" with newly empowered Democrats.

So the White House is now on a survival footing, and Bolten is essentially planning a six-month campaign that will not only prevent a Republican hemorrhage in the fall but might even produce accomplishments for Bush in his lame-duck years. The new chief recognizes that he needs to show results quickly, since aides have claimed to be rebooting the second term so many times (at least three, by TIME's count) that even their allies have lost track.
And now, Bolten's five-point plan:
1 DEPLOY GUNS AND BADGES. This is an unabashed play to members of the conservative base who are worried about illegal immigration. Under the banner of homeland security, the White House plans to seek more funding for an extremely visible enforcement crackdown at the Mexican border, including a beefed-up force of agents patrolling on all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). "It'll be more guys with guns and badges," said a proponent of the plan. "Think of the visuals. The President can go down and meet with the new recruits. He can go down to the border and meet with a bunch of guys and go ride around on an ATV." Bush has long insisted he wants a guest-worker program paired with stricter border enforcement, but House Republicans have balked at temporary legalization for immigrants, so the President's ambition of using the issue to make the party more welcoming to Hispanics may have to wait.

2 MAKE WALL STREET HAPPY. In an effort to curry favor with dispirited Bush backers in the investment world, the Administration will focus on two tax measures already in the legislative pipeline--extensions of the rate cuts for stock dividends and capital gains. "We need all these financial TV shows to be talking about how great the economy is, and that only happens when their guests from Wall Street talk about it," said a presidential adviser. "This is very popular with investors, and a lot of Republicans are investors."

3 BRAG MORE. White House officials who track coverage of Bush in media markets around the country said he garnered his best publicity in months from a tour to promote enrollment in Medicare's new prescription-drug plan. So they are planning a more focused and consistent effort to talk about the program's successes after months of press reports on start-up difficulties. Bolten's plan also calls for more happy talk about the economy. With gas prices a heavy drain on Bush's popularity, his aides want to trumpet the lofty stock market and stable inflation and interest rates. They also plan to highlight any glimmer of success in Iraq, especially the formation of a new government, in an effort to balance the negative impression voters get from continued signs of an incubating civil war.

4 RECLAIM SECURITY CREDIBILITY. This is the riskiest, and potentially most consequential, element of the plan, keyed to the vow by Iran to continue its nuclear program despite the opposition of several major world powers. Presidential advisers believe that by putting pressure on Iran, Bush may be able to rehabilitate himself on national security, a core strength that has been compromised by a discouraging outlook in Iraq. "In the face of the Iranian menace, the Democrats will lose," said a Republican frequently consulted by the White House. However, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll this April 8-11, found that 54% of respondents did not trust Bush to "make the right decision about whether we should go to war with Iran."

5 COURT THE PRESS. Bolten is extremely guarded around reporters, but he knows them and, unlike some of his colleagues, is not scared of them. Administration officials said he believes the White House can work more astutely with journalists to make its case to the public, and he recognizes that the President has paid a price for the inclination of some on his staff to treat them dismissively or high-handedly. His first move, working with counselor Dan Bartlett, was to offer the press secretary job to Tony Snow of Fox News radio and television, a former newspaper editorial writer and onetime host of Fox News Sunday who served George H.W. Bush as speechwriting director. Snow, a father of three and a sax player, is the bona fide outsider that Republican allies have long prescribed for Bushworld and would bring irreverence to a place that hasn't seen a lot of fun lately. "White Houses are weird places," he told a 2004 panel on White House speechwriting. Snow had his colon removed after he was found to have cancer last year, but his doctors have approved the possibility of his taking the grueling post.
So in other words, the Bushies are admitting that their vaunted border crackdown is for show, that the security threats and Iran bluster are for political gain, and that currying favor with Wall Street via tax cuts is seen as good poll business. I think I've gotten it all.

By the way, here's a sixth point that Bolten might want to add:

STOP SCREWING UP.

That oughta do it.

Tags: Politics, Bush administration, News, Josh Bolten, White House Shakeup
posted by JReid @ 10:44 PM  
Sources and methods
File this one under eerie. I know Mary McCarthy. To be more precise, I don't mean "know" in the sense of Christmas card exchanges, weekly phonecalls or other such familiarity, but in the sense that we've met, and we've talked on a couple of occasions. Ms. McCarthy was one of the federal officials and quasi-officials provided to a group of fellows, of whom I was one, at the University of Maryland in December of 2003. We were all writers -- mostly editorial writers and columnists, but also a few freelance journalists (including, Jon Stephenson, a colorful New Zealander with whom I and a few others formed what, for journalists at least, constituted the bad kids on the bus). And during our fellowship with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism, we were paraded before a slew of Pentagon officials, including Doug Feith and Stephen Cambone, plus a key military official responsible for crafting the Jessica Lynch fable, and other folks from the Brookings Institute, etc. Most spoke to us on the record, but a few, including Ms. McCarthy, gave us briefings on background. (At the time, she was not working for the CIA).

I had occasion to speak with Ms. McCarthy a couple of times after the fellowship. She was always polite about taking my calls and always informative, off the record. She struck me as no anti-administration crusader. Indeed, she has friends -- high placed friends -- at high levels of Team Bush. And while I believe she was a holdover from the Clinton administration, she struck me as careful, thoughtful, and in no mad rush to criticize the current administration's policies -- even on background. In fact, in one conversation I had with her, I pressed her about a certain Bush official, whom I viewed negatively, and about whom I was writing a column. She pushed back quite firmly, defending this person, whom I won't name, and vouching for the sincerity of certain aspects of the Bush policy framework. From my brief encounters with her, I wouldn't for a moment characterize her as the kind of person who would compromise national security for politics or any other reason, or as the kind of woman who would talk to a reporter about something that is classified, unless she really believed it was either illegal, or (my word) un-American.

Perhaps that close encounter with Ms. McCarthy is why I'm reluctant, to say the least, to pass judgment on her for her alleged leaks to Dana Priest of the Washington Post, which exposed the secret prisons being run by the CIA around the world, with the secret collusion of friendly governments. For America to be in the gulags business strikes me as anathema to everything this country is supposed to stand for. Worse, for us to be tolerating torture at those prisons, seems to me to be both morally indefensible and un-American. If Ms. McCarthy agreed with that assessment, and so leaked the information she did in order to protect the good name of this country, then I solute her. Bob Bennett be damned (well, Bob Bennett be damned anyway, since I care about as much about his opinion as I do about that of the average Klansman).

And another thing, the present government "leaker purge," including the use of lie detector tests on employees of the federal government, is a scandal in and of itself, particularly because for all the right wing bluster, the point isn't to ferret out traitors or spies -- those have been fairly well tolerated, if not encouraged, if you look at the Larry Franklyn and AIPAC cases, not to mention our friendly Iranian spy, Ahmad Chalabi, all three of whom operated quite literally from within the United States Pentagon. The point is to stop the kinds of leaks that could embarrass president Bush. Stalin would be proud.

Tags: , , Politics, Bush administration, Iraq, NSA, News, War on Terror
posted by JReid @ 9:49 PM  
Friday, April 21, 2006
Don't fear the raider
Yes, those illegal migrant seizures seemed awfully dramatic. But if you think they are a sign of things to come (rather than a bit of end-of-week public relations,) think again.

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Tags: , Politics, border, MEXICO, , , Illegal-Aliens, Illegal immigration, ,
posted by JReid @ 6:28 PM  
Pulitzers and pink slips
A CIA officer has been fired for leaking classified information about the agency's secret overseas gulags prisons. ABC News has the what, TIME has the how.

First, from ABC News:

In a rare move, the CIA has fired an employee for leaking classified information to the press.

The leaked information included operational details of ongoing CIA activities, the agency said. The CIA said the officer acknowledged leaking the information and was dismissed for what an intelligence official described as a "pattern of unauthorized discussions."

The Justice Department would not comment on any potential prosecutions that might result from the leaks.

The employee's identity and assignment were not released because of Privacy Act restrictions.

The CIA said the leaks were a violation of the secrecy agreement all CIA employees sign as a condition of employment. ABC News has learned the leak investigation is continuing and remains very active.

The former employee could potentially face federal prosecution for releasing classified information. The Justice Department said it wouldn't comment on the CIA's personnel decision, but a Justice official said no referral to charge this employee had been sent to the Justice Department or the U.S. attorney's office in Virginia.

CIA Director Porter Goss notified the agency staff on Thursday in an internal e-mail sent to all CIA employees.
... doesn't that mean the firing itself was leaked to the press by one of those CIA employees? Ironic. Now TIME's backgrounder, with its rather chilling implication that CIA chief Porter Goss is undertaking a scourging search for leakers that includes subjecting his employees to preemptive lie detector tests:

... Just days after a Washington Post reporter won a Pulitzer prize for a story about secret CIA prisons, the Agency's Director, Porter Goss, Thursday fired a spook who admitted having been one of the sources for the story, officials confirmed to TIME.

A Government official told Time that the fired officer admitted to conversations with the press after irregularities were spotted in a lie detector test. Soon after Goss moved quickly to fire the individual.

Goss spokeswoman Jennifer Millerwise Dyck would not discuss details but said the unauthorized disclosure was discovered in the course of "thorough internal investigations" that examined which CIA officers might have had access to classified information that had appeared in the news media. "Through the course of these investigations, a CIA officer acknowledged having unauthorized discussions with reporters in which the officer knowingly shared sensitive intelligence," Millerwise Dyck said. "Every person who works at the CIA signs a secrecy agreement specifically stating they're prohibited from discussing classified information with any individual who is not properly cleared to receive that material. This individual violated that agreement.
TIME continues:

Goss told the Senate intelligence committee on Feb. 2 that he had ordered "an investigation of finding out what leakage, if any, is coming out of that building. And I'm afraid there is some coming out. I've called in the FBI, the Department of Justice. It is my aim, and it is my hope that we will witness a grand jury investigation with reporters present being asked to reveal who is leaking this information. I believe the safety of this nation and the people of this country deserve nothing less."
And Goss is also going after who might have leaked word of the president's secret -- and illegal -- domestic spying operation via the NSA. A bit more from the AP:
Sources said the CIA believes the officer had more than a dozen unauthorized contacts with Priest. Information about subjects other than the prisons may have been leaked as well. CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Millerwise said she was unsure whether there had ever been a firing before at the agency for leaking to the media. Priest had no comment.]
The press will, I'm sure, feel the chill from these investigations, and the possibility of subpoenas. Already, according to Jason Leopold of Truthout, Washington journalists aren't touching the Scooter Libby case much, mainly because they fear that if they begin to investigate, they will be dragged before the grand jury.

Clearly, the administration is aggressively seeking to return to the recent past, when it conducted its un-American and likely illegal power-grabs and civil liberties violations in secret.

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Tags: , , News and politics, New York Times, Washington Post, James Risen, Bush administration, Free press, Media,
posted by JReid @ 6:03 PM  
Hu's affraid of the press?
Leave it to the Bushies (and Dubya's alma mater) to ensure the tradition of stifling dissent and freedom of the press -- practiced with such dispatch in China -- continues to be honed on the other side of the world, so that the Chinese President feels at home when he's in town. Via ThinkP:

President Hu can’t suppress dissent in the United States like he does in China, but the Bush adminstration is helping out where it can.

According to a CNN Wire report, CNN producer Joe Vaccarello was removed by Secret Service officers “from covering a private meeting Friday at Yale University after calling out a question about whether Chinese President Hu Jintao had seen protesters lined up outside”:
Vaccarello was told he had broken a rule against asking questions at the “photo op,” during which Hu and Levin exchanged gifts and Hu met with four students. Vaccarello was escorted from the building by members of the Secret Service who were escorting people in and out of the building.

Vaccarello said he had not been told he could not ask questions at the event.
A Yale spokeswoman actually defended the producers’ removal, calling the talk a “very intimate event” and claiming that “[e]very other reporter knew the ground rules.”
But she said she could not be sure the CNN staffers were specifically informed that questions would not be allowed at the event.

She argued the rule was “obvious.”
Other Bush help-outs: instead of the usual press gaggle following a diplomatic visit,

... the White House limited the session to a few “pool” reporters, under a “mutual agreement” with the Chinese, who did not want a more public setting.
Way to teach the Chinese what democracy is all about.

So what do you think about the Bush give-ins on press freedom, Mr. Vice President? Mr. Vice President...???

Ahem. Well I'm sure you have something to say about these decidedly undemocratic diplomatic niceties don't you, Madame Secretary of State... Um ... Dr. Rice??? Condi???

(Sigh). Who would have thought a visit by the head of a repressive regime that's sucking us dry economically and massing militarily to challenge us for lone superpowers status could be so boring?

Tags: China, Bush, Bush administration, News, News and politics, Hu, Cheney, Condi Rice

posted by JReid @ 5:36 PM  
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Just keep spinning
Even when their own poll shows the president at the lowest approval ratings of his presidency -- lower, by the way, than any other competing poll has shown, at just 33 percent -- the Fox "News" team just can't keep from trying to spin for the president. Witness this bit of cognitive dissonance from the poll analysis posted on the FNC web-site. It starts out straightforward enough:
04/20/06 FOX Poll: Gloomy Economic Views; Bush Approval at New Low
Thursday, April 20, 2006
By Dana Blanton

NEW YORK — More Americans disapprove than approve of how George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Congress are doing their jobs, while a majority approves of Condoleezza Rice. President Bush’s approval hits a record low of 33 percent this week, clearly damaged by sinking support among Republicans.

Opinions are sharply divided on whether Rumsfeld should resign as secretary of defense. In addition, views on the economy are glum; most Americans rate the current economy negatively, and twice as many say it feels like the economy is getting worse rather than better. These are just some of the findings of the latest FOX News national poll.

President Bush’s job approval rating slipped this week and stands at a new low of 33 percent approve, down from 36 percent two weeks ago and 39 percent in mid-March. A year ago this time, 47 percent approved and two years ago 50 percent approved (April 2004).

Approval among Republicans is below 70 percent for the first time of Bush’s presidency. Two-thirds (66 percent) approve of Bush’s job performance today, down almost 20 percentage points from this time last year when 84 percent of Republicans approved. Among Democrats, 11 percent approve today, while 14 percent approved last April.
But then we get this total nonsequitor:
"It seems clear that many Republicans, while they may still like and support George Bush, are growing uneasy with what may happen to their candidates — and the policies they support — in the November elections," comments Opinion Dynamics Chairman John Gorman.
Really, John Gorman? It seems clear to you that despite a 33% overall approval rating and a 66 percent approval rating among Republicans -- a double-digit drop -- that Republicans still "like and support" the president? And further, you find from the numbers in this poll that the reason Republican support is slipping is not because they think the president is doing a poor job, but because they're "uneasy about what may happen to their candidates and the policies they support" in November? Really? But wait, there's more:

"This unease about the direction of the party is now showing up as an erosion of the near unanimous support Bush has enjoyed among the Republican rank-and-file for the last six years."

So it's not Bush who'se dragging down support for the GOP, it's Republicans who are dragging down support for the president? In other words, he's not failing his party, his party is failing him. OK... Let's look for the back-up for that claim, shall we?
Overall, 57 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Bush is doing, and the most frequently mentioned reason is Iraq (48 percent). The other top reasons include generally "doing a bad job" (24 percent), disagreement on issues (22 percent) and the economy/jobs (17 percent).

Eleven percent of Americans say they disapprove because they "don’t like him" and 10 percent because he "doesn’t care about average people."
Nowhere in that set of reasons for disapproving of Bush is a statement of concern for the party losing seats in November, or the overall direction of the GOP. In fact, here is the entire list of reasons cited by the 57 percent of poll respondents for why they disapprove of Dubya (and remember, these were unprompted, with multiple responses allowed):

War in Iraq - 48%
Doing a bad job - general - 24
Do not agree with him on issues - 22
Economy/jobs - 17
Don't like him - 11
Doesn't care about average people - 10
Gas prices - 8
Not doing a good job fighting terrorism - 4
Environmental issues - 4
Tax cuts for the rich - 3
He's not smart - 3
Not truthful/lies - 3
Middle East - 3
Social Security - 2
Education issues - 2
Healthcare issues - 1
Special interests - 1
He's a Republican - 1
Usama bin Laden still not caught - X
Terri Schiavo - X
Other - 2
Don't know/refused - 1

And while Congress' approval rating is also dismal in the poll (25% approve, 52% disapprove, a rather disturbing 23% don't know...) there were exactly zero respondents who cited their party's direction or prospects in November as reasons why they disapprove of the president's performance.

One interesting thing in the poll: Fox/Opinion Dynamics may have inadvertently proved, in more ways than one, that the kind of pro-Republican indoctrination they've been practicing on the cable channel aren't as effective as one might seem. The poll asked respondents whether they felt that the real disposable income of Americans has gone up, gone down, or stayed the same in the last year. About equal numbers says up (28%) and down (30%). Then they asked whether knowing that real disposable income had gone up by 2 percent made them "feel better" or worse about the nation's economy. The result, only Republicans were made to feel substantially better (60%), while most Independents and Democrats, and the majority overall, said the fact made no difference. What counts, even this poll managed to ferrett out, are people's perceptions of their own situation, with soaring gas prices right at the top of the list of what's ailing them.

By the way, don't look for this poll to be played up much -- if it's reported at all -- on the air (well, not on the air at Fox -- MSNBC -- including Keith Olbermann -- reported on the Opinion Dynamics poll tonight in perhaps the first instance of said poll ever being cited by a credible news organiztation)...

Meanwhile, over at the Free Republic, the faithful seem to be congealing around the idea that it's Bush's failure to close the southern border that's costing him popularity, even in a Fox poll. Unfortunately for that argumetn, immigration was not one of the unprompted responses proffered by poll takers who said they disapprove of Bush. It didn't even come up.

Of course, for the truly distressed FReeper, there's always joy to be found in the Rasmussen poll...

Tags: , Politics, Iraq, News, Republicans, , ,
posted by JReid @ 10:18 PM  
The gitmo list
I had quite a bit of trouble locating the Guantanamo detainee list on the Pentagon's web-site. It's not clearly linked on the FOIA page, and though I'm not surprised they buried it, it did seem a bit useless to do so, since journalists and others who want it will ultimately call up and ask ... oh, and then they get to take down your name and organization... hm...

Anyway, here's the list, so other faithful bloggers won't have to disclose their ID to The Man in order to link to it.

One interesting fact ferreted out by the Times of London: despite the fact that most Americans have come to know Zacharias Moussaoui as the so-called "20th hijacker," the released list corroborates other detainees who say he was just a wannabe. The real person suspected of being the 20th man on the 9/11 hit team is currently being held at Gitmo. Meanwhile, 9/11 families who oppose the death penalty (a practice we're tops at, along with China, Saudi Arabia and Iran, apparently) testified for the defense in the Moussaoui trial today. Look for them to be called phony victims and surrender monkeys on the RW blogs by later today...

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Tags: , Terrorism, trial, Al Qaeda, War on Terror, 9-11, Gitmo, Guantanamo, 20th hijacker

posted by JReid @ 1:59 PM  
What the cabbie heard
Yesterday on MSNBC's Abrams Report, it appeared that the testimony of a Durham cab driver, Moez Mostafa, would be helpful to the defense in the Duke rape case. Today, not so much.
Mostafa declined to speak to The Associated Press on Wednesday but confirmed to other media outlets that he picked up Seligmann and another passenger at 12:19 a.m., took them to a bank and a drive-through hamburger stand, then dropped them off at a Duke dormitory.

“They were just joking and laughing inside my car and everything just fine,” Mostafa said in accented English in an interview broadcast Thursday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

In an interview on MSNBC, Mostafa said he returned to the house later to pick up another customer. He said he remembered that person “said in a loud voice, ‘She just a stripper.”’

Asked whether the second fare was complaining about the stripper or whether it appeared something bad had happened to her, Mostafa initially said he didn’t “have any information about what was going on in the house.”

“When I look back, he look like he mad at the stripper. Or the stripper, she going to call the police and she just a stripper. ... It look to me like somebody get hurt. But what kind of harm, ... I have no idea.”
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Tags: , ,

posted by JReid @ 1:16 PM  
A colossal waste of time ... with protests!
Bush meets China's Hu. Massive trade deficit to remain unchanged. Film at 11.

Tags: , , ,
posted by JReid @ 1:14 PM  
McCain agonistes
It seems clear that John McCain really, really, really, really, reeeeeeally wants to be president. In fact, it seems he'll do almost anything, forsake every principle, sell almost any share of the real estate in his soul, and kiss nearly any frog he has to in order to get hold of the keys to the Whtie House.

But John McCain has a problem. Actually he has two.

The first is that McCain is not who the media has been telling Americans, and more specifically, independents, he is. He isn't really a moderate. He's not even close to a maverick who bucks the president at every turn. He's a typical Washington politician, for sale to the highest interest group, and slavishly devoted to reading his own name in the Washington Post.

The second is the war, which, along with everything else on George W. Bush's agenda -- including of late, the Dubai Ports World deal, those massive tax cuts (which he once opposed), immigration "reform"-cum-amnesty, and the increasingly rancid war in Iraq. And it just so happens that the hard-core Republican base opposes three of those things vehemently. The fourth -- Iraq -- is increasingly an anathema not only to Republicans, but to the vast majority of Americans.

So what do you do if you're John McCain and you're on the wrong side (read Bush's side) of nearly every issue dear to Republicans, you will eventually be fully outed as on the wrong side of every issue dear to moderate Democrats and independents (abortion -- he supports the draconian South Dakota law) and you look like a rank hypocrite for suddenly being the best pal of the religious right, whom you once derided as the equivalent of Darth Vader's evil Empire?

Apparently, you mope, and you make excuses. Hat tip to Dave at Empires Fall.

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Tags: , Politics, Bush, Iraq, Election, Republicans,, ,
posted by JReid @ 12:57 PM  
Strangelove

Dave at the Disenchanted Idealist posts an extensive, well-linked explanation of the Pentagon's June 2 underground bomb test in Nevada (dubbed "Divine Strake," and also addressed in this post yesterday). It's important to note that the test is of 700 tons of conventional explosive -- not nuclear -- but the point made by Randi Rhodes and others is that the idea appears to be to figure out the tonnage needed to penetrate, say a deep earth bunker, and then make the calculations from conventional to nuclear. By the way, doing it this way allows the U.S. to avoid negative publicity about radiation and other nastiness that could affect human and animal populations, and to conveniently get around the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban treaty.

As Dave says:

I think we'll all agree that actually using these weapons should be a last resort at best. But there are critically important reasons that we shouldn't even be threatening to use them. The "Los Alamos Study Group and the Brookings Institution called the B61-11 bunker buster "provocative from an arms control and nonproliferation perspective" both because it circumvents the spirit of the Nuclear Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and because it'll scare the shit out of foreign governments. And the last thing we need is for Syria to decide that it has to go the North Korean route to avoid getting attacked in 2008.

And it's not just pre-nuclear powers, either. Here's what Peace Research (can't find it online) said about these sorts of weapons—which are small enough to be carried in an F16 or B2 stealth bomber—in 1999. "If B-2 bombers are deployed to bases and start flying missions with nuclear weapons, they might trigger an accidental nuclear war. ...

... Also, these weapons undermine the "unthinkability" of nuclear war. They seem to make "limited nuclear exchanges" and "clean" "surgical strikes" with nuclear weapons become possible. As I mentioned above, the smallest of these weapons overlap with our biggest conventional weapons. They can even be dropped by F-16s and stealth B2 Bombers. It's so easy. Why would we want that kind of flexibility when we can already wipe any country we want off the map in a half hour? Because unlike our weapons during the Cold War, when using nuclear weapons was supposed to be a last resort after we'd already been attacked, these weapons were built to be used aggressively.
What's at stake here is not only the threat of a new nuclear arms race (something I think the Bush administration has already touched off by making it clear, via Iraq, that non-nuclear countries whose governments we don't like are credible targets for messy, protracted "regime chantge" -- thus giving countries like Iran fresh incentives to arm up as a deterrent against U.S. aggression ... but also the threat of undermine the entire calculus of the Cold War -- that nuclear war is so unthinkable, and "mutually assured destruction" such an existential threat to humankind, that sane governments must find a way to make peace, rather than the 20th Century logic or war, the utmost priority. Ronald Reagan certainly understod that, as ultimately did Gorbachev and even before him, Nikita Kruschev. I'm not sure that's something the neoconservatives, however, believe. For them, the "conventionaliszation" of "limited", offensive nuclear war seems to be the ultimate temptation, both for its prospects for fattening up what Eisenhower called the "military industrial complex," and for its possibilities in subduing their mortal foils in the Muslim world. (Not to mention the irony of telling Iran they may not have even the knowledge of how to build nuclear weapons, while simultaneously threatening, even obliguely, to use nuclear weapons against them...)

That's a truly scary development.

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posted by JReid @ 11:33 AM  
From the desk of: Bob Schieffer
Bob Schieffer seems like a genuinely nice guy -- nice enough to actually be glad Katie Couric is coming on board at CBS (did I mention that he's soon to retire from CBS...?) So it was a carefree, breezy Schieffer who took questions recently at Drew University. Here's a glimpse into Schieffer's mind:

On Katie Couric:
Schieffer, 69, who has garnered strong reviews since replacing Dan Rather in an interim capacity 13 months ago, said Couric will be "a perfect fit" at CBS.

Schieffer said he admired Couric both personally and professionally. He spoke of his mother, widowed at age 45 with three children, and noted that the same fate had befallen Couric, a mother of two, at age 42.

Couric, he said, will be a "role model for the people at CBS."
On Don Rumsfeld:
Schieffer said he wasn't sure that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, under fire for his handling of the war in Iraq, would endure much longer in his post. He didn't put much stock in President Bush's recent declaration of support for Rumsfeld.

"It was also this president who said, 'Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job,'and that was just before Brownie got canned," Schieffer said, referring to former FEMA Director Michael Brown.
On the Iraq war:
Much like retired CBS anchor Walter Cronkite -- who famously criticized the Vietnam War on-air after initially giving it robust support -- Schieffer was not optimistic about U.S. prospects in Iraq.

"I'm very pessimistic about this thing right now," said Schieffer, an Austin, Tex. native who had supported Bush's decision to order the invasion in 2003.
On U.S. elections and the people they put in office:
Schieffer expressed frustration with the Electoral College, which he said should be modified -- perhaps with one vote per Congressional district. He chastised a Congress that "never really attacks head-on the major issues that are facing the country," such as the immigration debate.
Hear hear, Bob.

Tags: News, News and politics, CBS News, Bob Schieffer, CBS, Iraq, Rumsfeld, Katie Couric,
posted by JReid @ 11:11 AM  
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Rovewatch
Two questions bubbling up in the blogosphere:
  1. Did Karl Rove have to shift job responsibilities because he lost his security clearance?
  2. And could he have lost his security clearance because he's getting indicted in the Plame case?
People are talking...

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Tags: , Karl Rove, Valerie Plame, Politics, Libby, Bush, Cheney, Rove, Ari Fleischer, Patrick Fitzgerald, Fitzmas

posted by JReid @ 6:16 PM  
Duke rape case: tale of the photos
What do the photos, obtained exclusively by NBC News (the Abrams Report) show, and how could they impact that Duke rape investigation and pending cases? I'm not sure. I suppose it depends on whether you think they show anything dispositive. Have a look for yourself (scroll down, or try this link.)

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posted by JReid @ 6:09 PM  
The Anderson files
Why does the FBI want to get hold of this man's personal papers?


The man in question is the late Jack Anderson, a muckraking reporter who is considered to have been the best in his business -- a progenitor to people like Sy Hersh, Murray Waas and of late, James Risen.

Mr. Anderson died in December, but that hasn't stopped the federal government he once haunted from haunting him right back. According to Tribune:

WASHINGTON -- Jack Anderson turned up plenty of government secrets during his half-century as an investigative reporter, and his family hoped to make his papers available to the public after his death last December--but the government wants to see and possibly confiscate them first.

The FBI believes the columnist's files may contain national security secrets, including documents that would aid in the prosecution of two former lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, who have been charged with disclosing classified information.

Lawyers for the family are preparing a letter saying no to the FBI, said the columnist's son, Kevin Anderson.

"He would absolutely oppose the FBI rifling through his papers at will," Anderson said.

Although some of the documents may be classified, he said, they contain only "embarrassing top secrets--hammers that cost a thousand dollars and things like that."

Anderson said it was unlikely his father had papers relevant to the AIPAC case, since he had done little original reporting after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1990.

The FBI contends that classified documents belong to the government and cannot be retained as part of a private estate.

"The U.S. government has reasonable concern over the prospect that these documents will be made available to the public at the risk of national security and in violation of the law," FBI spokesman Bill Carter said Tuesday.
Read the WaPo/LAT version of the story here (and catch the blip about Fox News anchor Brit Hume having once worked for Anderson in this glowing, gushing encomium by Howard Kurtz here.) But some of Anderson's fans and fellow muckrakers suspect something much darker is at work. Says blogger/investigative reporter Wayne Madsen:

...The Bush regime's draconian desire to confiscate Anderson's papers comes after it began reclassifying documents held by the National Archives and Records Administration. Some of the affected documents were from the administration of Bush's father and Ronald Reagan and involved Iran-Contra and CIA assassination plots (including those during the CIA directorship of George H. W. Bush). Anderson's papers also reportedly include documents on Iran-Contra and other Bush family scandals. Anderson's papers are being sorted for cataloging by George Washington University's Gellman Library in Washington, DC, which also houses the non-government National Security Archives. Chillingly, the FBI maintains that any classified documents in Anderson's papers collection are the property of the U.S. government. These include secret grand jury testimonies from the Watergate trials of top Nixon officials.

Anderson and Drew Pearson, his predecessor as editor of "Washington Merry-Go-Round," one of the most popular and insightful political columns in the history of American journalism, earned the wrath of successive administrations for uncovering a number of scandals, including Watergate-related abuses by the Nixon administration, that shook Washington's political elite.

Other subjects of Anderson's investigations include the CIA's and the Mafia's involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, CIA plots to kill Fidel Castro, Howard Hughes' links to Richard Nixon and the CIA, the involvement of the CIA and ITT/Harold Geneen/Dita Beard in the coup against Chile's Salvador Allende, George H. W. Bush's role with anti-Castro Cubans in the contract assassination of former Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier and Roni Moffit in Washington, DC in 1976, the role of George H. W. Bush in the "October Surprise" plot against Jimmy Carter in 1980, terrorist bombing of a Cubana Airlines Boeing 707 off of Barbados in 1976 and the helicopter bombing assassinations of Panama's President Omar Torrijos and Ecuador's President Jaime Roldos Aguilera in 1981, the Keating Five scandal that includes embarrassing information about GOP 2008 front runner for President -- Senator John McCain, and a plot by Watergate chief "plumber" G. Gordon Liddy to assassinate the muckraking Washington journalist. ...
Heavy stuff, and by the way, Anderson was so good, he was the subject of a long-forgotten murder plot by Nixon administration "plumbers" including G. Gordon Liddy. ... Madsen continues:

It is clear that the Bush regime is using the FBI to remove from public scrutiny documents that could prove very embarrassing to Poppy Bush. Linking Bush the Elder to acts of terrorism (for which there is no statute of limitations) and murder will further ensure the demise of the Bush political dynasty. For that reason, Anderson's papers are a prized catch for the Bush Crime Family. The FBI is laughably claiming that Anderson's papers are needed to ferret out leakers in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)-Pentagon espionage investigation. However, the Larry Franklin-Keith Weismann-Steve Rosen espionage story broke long after Anderson retired from active investigative journalism. However, it is quite possible that Anderson's papers contain information about high-level Israeli intelligence moles in the Reagan administration and that these may have some bearing on a recent Israeli request to trade jailed Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard for imprisoned Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti. However, such a deal would inflame the already demoralized US intelligence community and Anderson's papers may include evidence about the severe damage that Pollard and his likely compatriots in the Reagan administration did to U.S. national security. If a deal for Pollard's release is in the works, some US intelligence officers want Israeli nuclear scientist Mordecai Vanunu released from house arrest in Israel and be allowed to move to the United States. Vanunu is reportedly well aware of Israel's secret program to illegally obtain nuclear materials with the help of agents of influence in the United States, Western Europe, Soviet Union, and South Africa. Some of these same networks -- run by Israeli-Russian crime syndicates -- continue to exist today and were used by Iran and Pakistan to successfully obtain nuclear materials and components.

That may sound far out, but Madsen isn't the only person out there who believes that "agents of a foreign power" may be, or may recently have been, operating inside the United States government (the feds are prosecuting two of them, and has accepted a guilty plea from a third, Doug Feith's former Pentagon analyst and Office of Special Plans operative Larry Franklin.) Tom Flocco, a rather alarmist blogger who nonetheless claims to have amassed documentary evidence of many of his claims about the Bush and Clinton administrations, claims Feith and Paul Wolfowitz operated as such "agents" of the Israeli government. And if even a fraction of the other things Flocco believes are true, there is a lot the administration might want to hide, on its own behalf and on behalf of former presidents.

Whatever the FBI is really looking for, it does seem unlikely that it's directed related to the AIPAC case, since so many who knew Anderson agree he wasn't working on it as a journalist. What seems much more likely is that the FBI is searching for some of the same material the Nixon crowd (many of whom are still around as part of the current administration) -- once wanted Anderson assassinated over. It's also likely that few in the media will really dig into this. As usual, we'll learn the truth when somebody -- preferably inside the FBI -- leaks.

Update: via Truthout, the NYT's Scott Shane reports "Recovery of leaked C.I.A. and White House documents that Jack Anderson got back in the 70's has been on the F.B.I.'s wanted list for decades," according to Scott Blanton of the National Security Archive in D.C. And there's this:

F.B.I. agents are investigating several leaks of classified information, including details of domestic eavesdropping by the National Security Agency and the secret overseas jails for terror suspects run by the C.I.A.

Makes for interesting speculation...

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posted by JReid @ 3:59 PM  
Your tax dollars at work
$592 million for the massive new U.S. embassy in Baghdad. And by the way, it's the only U.S. construction project that's currently on schedule. Congratulations.

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posted by JReid @ 1:35 PM  
Bush won't rule out nuking Iran
Says the Decider:
"All options are on the table. We want to solve this issue diplomatically and we're working hard to do so."
Righto. Well Britain's Jack Straw is feeling pessimistic.
"We are working on the basis that Iran will not meet the proposals from the Security Council on the 30-day deadline," Straw told BBC Radio Four in an interview from Saudi Arabia.
And Tony Blair is sounding a bit overwroght:
"Nobody is talking about a military invasion of Iran or military action against Iran. We are taking diplomatic action through the United Nations Security Council," Blair said.
Well, almost nobody...

So what are we doing? Testing 700 ton conventional explosives in the Nevada desert on June 2nd. Why? Well, what's the conversion ratio of conventional explosives to a nuclear tipped bunker-buster...? Randi Rhodes is asking, and I think we all should be asking with her.

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posted by JReid @ 11:59 AM  
Cuddling up to the dictators
Condi Rice does not acquit herself well with photo-ops like this.

Perhaps Ms. Rice has spent so much time studying the old Soviet Union, that as with Iraq, she neglected to read up on other parts of the world, including as our good friends in Equatorial Guinea and its ultra-corrupt ruler, Mr. Obiang, whose only positive attribute seems to be that they're besotted with oil... From the Guardian:

... It has got a sad record of disease, brutality and corruption, and fewer inhabitants than Sheffield. But Equatorial Guinea is one of the key targets of the west's new "scramble for Africa". So much so that a gang of British businessmen, including Sir Mark Thatcher, were accused last year of financing an armed coup to get their hands on its wealth.

This mini country located under the armpit of the West African coast has immense quantities of oil; it is currently exporting $4.5bn worth (about £2.5bn) a year. Yet such an astonishing bonanza appears to have done most of the country's citizens no good. The IMF reported bluntly in May: "Unfortunately, this wealth has not yet led to measurable improvements in living conditions." ...
So is the U.S. cozying up to Guinea for humanitarian reasons, to help those suffering poor? Not likely. More on the Thatcher intrigue, and a possible Texas connection, here:

The prospect of Sir Mark Thatcher being allowed to return to the US to rejoin his wife and children in Dallas became more uncertain last night, as new evidence emerged that his role in an African coup attempt may have been more central than has been admitted, and involved questionable activities in the US.

A senior former state department official in Washington, Joseph Sala, has disclosed he was hired by the plotters to gain US support for the coup. Mr Sala tells a BBC3 TV programme tonight that he was offered $40,000 (£21,351) to promote the plotters' cause there. Records for Sir Mark's mobile phone show that he was among those placing calls to a London businessman accused of masterminding the Washington plot.

Eli Calil, a millionaire middleman in African oil deals and a friend of the Labour politician Peter Mandelson, was allegedly at the centre of a group of London businessmen and mercenaries trying to promote their own candidate to take over the tiny but oil-rich state of Equatorial Guinea.
Its ruler, President Teodoro Obiang, was believed to be dying of cancer, and valuable oil concessions were hoped to be up for grabs. Much of the country's mushrooming oil industry is controlled by US companies.

Sir Mark is in limbo, staying at his mother's house in London while he attempts to renew his visa to gain entry to the US. The US authorities are deciding whether to grant him admission, despite his having a criminal conviction.
(Thatcher was later denied a U.S. visa.)

With all the American prattling about democracy, it seems that once again, Africa has been left out of the equation (we're not exactly complaining about the dismal human rights record of our other good oil friend on the continent: corrupt, unstable Nigeria, either.)

Says the Washington Post editorial board:

WITH A LAND mass similar to Maryland's, Equatorial Guinea has the fortune to be Africa's third-largest oil producer. The money from black gold helps to explain how the president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, has bought large homes in France and Morocco, as well as two in Potomac, and how his son and presumed heir bought a Lamborghini and two Bentleys during a shopping spree in South Africa. But oil has done little to help Equatorial Guinea's 540,000 people, some 400,000 of whom suffer from malnutrition. Those who are hungry know better than to complain. According to State Department reports, the president's goons have urinated on prisoners, sliced their ears and smeared them with oil to attract stinging ants.

So it is uncontroversial to observe that Mr. Obiang is no friend to his people. But he is a "good friend" of the United States, at least according to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who met with him last week in Washington. "I'm very pleased to welcome the president," Ms. Rice told reporters after the meeting. "Thank you very much for your presence here." Mr. Obiang purred back: "We are extremely pleased and hopeful that this relationship will continue to grow in friendship and cooperation."

In the global rankings of political and civil liberties compiled by Freedom House, only seven countries rate worse than Equatorial Guinea. If President Bush and Ms. Rice want anyone to take their pro-democracy rhetoric seriously, they must stop throwing bouquets to odious dictators. The meeting with Mr. Obiang was presumably a reward for his hospitable treatment of U.S. oil firms, though we cannot be sure since the State Department declined our invitation to comment. But Ms. Rice herself argues that U.S. foreign policy spent too long coddling corruption and autocracy in Arab oil states. Surely she doesn't have a different standard for Africa?
Short answer: oil without as many Muslims hanging around.

More links:

Tags: , Bush, Politics, Condoleezza Rice, Equatorial Guinea, Oil, Dictators, Democracy,

posted by JReid @ 10:52 AM  
Goodbye Scott McClellan

Scott McClellan, the chubby dissembler who would not comment on an ongoing investigation has resigned. Replacement buzz in the Freepersphere is still swirling around Fox News resident Bushophile (actually they're all resident Bushophiles, but he's one of the most prominent) and former Bush I speechwriter Tony Snow. Other chat: Dan Senor (former Iraq CPA flak).


Other changes: American foreign and domestic policy will no longer pass through the able (ahem...) hands of Karl Rove. He will give up the policy game and instead focus on politics, namely the November elections.

Back to Scott. In this hour of grief, I think it's a good time to think back, and remember some of McClellan's greatest hits:

"You're engaging in the politics of wild speculation..." -- McClellan in the April 10 White House press briefing, scolding reporters for asking him about a possible U.S. nuclear attack on Iran.

"... again, David, see, this is where some people want to look at the blame game issue, and finger-point. We're focused on solving problems, and we're doing everything we can. ..." Scolding NBC's David Gregory in the September 8, 2005 press briefing for asking whether President Bush retains confidence in then-FEMA chief Michael Brown and Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff.

"...And what you're doing is trying to engage in a game of finger-pointing. ..." -- same press conference, as Gregory becomes increasingly exasperated trying to get Scott to answer the question. Read the entire exchange here. I promise you'll smile...

"Well, I think you're referring -- a couple of things. First of all, it was publicly released that day, so that's when a portion of the National Intelligence Estimate that we were making available to the public was released. The second part of your question is referring to an ongoing legal proceeding, and referring to a filing in that legal proceeding. We have had a policy in place, going back to the October time period of 2003, that we are not going to comment on an ongoing investigation or an ongoing legal proceeding. That policy remains unchanged. ..." --Scott refusing to answer a question during the April 8 press briefing, about the declassification of a National Intelligence Estimate that may have led to the outing of Valerie Plame.

"But let me point out a couple of facts, step back from this legal proceeding. The President of the United States has the authority to declassify information. I also indicated to some reporters earlier today that the President would never authorize the disclosure of information that he felt could compromise our nation's security. Now, the National Intelligence Estimate was declassified -- portions of it were declassified. We made sure that we did not -- that we continued to protect sensitive sources and methods within the National Intelligence Estimate..." -- McClellan commenting on the ongoing investigation to defend the president, just miliseconds later.

"The President believes the leaking of classified information is a very serious matter. And I think that's why it's important to draw a distinction here. Declassifying information and providing it to the public, when it is in the public interest, is one thing. But leaking classified information that could compromise our national security is something that is very serious. And there is a distinction. Now, there are Democrats out there that fail to recognize that distinction, or refuse to recognize that distinction. They are simply engaging in crass politics. Let's make clear what the distinction is." -- McClellan commenting yet again during that April 8 briefing on the ongoing investigation ... but only for the purpose of bashing the Democrats...

Yes, Scott. We're going to miss you. You were less douche-baggy than Ari Fleischer, and yet just as oblique and slippery. Godspeed, my chubby friend.

Update: Michael Wolff of Vanity Fair takes a well-timed (now parting) shot at the man we simply refer to as Scott. Un clip:

A kind of daily Socratic dialogue, or at least an attempt at one, continues to take place in the briefing room in a method of inquiry initiated by Joseph Tumulty, Woodrow Wilson's primary aide and, effectively, the nation's first press secretary: a ritual Q&A that leads to both what the White House wants you to know and away from what it doesn't want you to know. Only, now the dialogue is led by something of a knuckleheaded Socrates, each day struggling and failing to talk his way out of a paper bag.

It's this verbal haplessness that has made Scott McClellan—a pleasant, low-wattage, old-before-his-time young fellow, with, at 38, a wife, no children, and "two dogs and four cats"—the living symbol of this White House's profound and, perhaps, mortal problem with language and meaning. McClellan himself, as though having some terrible social disability, has, standing miserably in the press briefing room every day, become a kick-me archetype. He's Piggy in Lord of the Flies: a living victim, whose reason for being is, apparently, to shoulder public ridicule and pain (or, come to think of it, he's Squealer from Animal Farm). He's the person nobody would ever choose to be.

Oh yeah, I'm really gonna miss you, Scott. Really really. (RCP no likey Wolff...)

Snow day? Auntie Kim at Wizbang votes for Tony Snow (after all, it wouldn't involve him changing a single thing about his present job of hacking for the prez...)

Rightwinged tries to get ahead of the Snow spin, but can't keep from calling Tony a journalist...

Sister Toldjah votes for Stephen Hayes as Scottie's replacement. That way the info could go stragiht from the neocon command center to your waiting ears (with no chubby filtration...)

Until I read something better, Newsbusters scores the reader post of the day:

The fat little Wal Mart manager lookalike finally turned in his papers so there is an opening for his job. Some of the posters on this site seem well qualified to fill it. Will anyone be able to fill Scotty's shoes? Who can master the art of "we don't comment on ongoing investigations?" Who has the stamina to repeat day after day, week after week, that Saddam "was a grave threat"? Who has the skill to weave the words "terrorists flew planes into buildings" into at least one question per briefing?

Nice work, Otto, whoever you are...

I think John Hinderaker wants Scotty's job for himself... that way he could practice his love on the president up close...

...But he's gonna have to fight BlackFive for the position...

So what kind of job would Snow do as official (as opposed to currently unofficial) Bush press dog? Why, he could move stories like this one! Actually, I'm fairly drooling at the prospect of watching Tony get ticked off at David Gregory and accuse the entire press corps of treason before ripping off his wireless mike and stomping off the podium during a White House press briefing. Then he could arrange an exclusive interview with President Bush and Sean Hannity, in which Hannity would conduct the entire inquiry with his head gently nestled in the president's lap... and think of all the cool leaks FNC would get from the White House ... oh wait, they already get those, but still...!

Oh yeah, Josh Bolten. Definitely go with Snow. If not him, you've gotta go with Matt Drudge. And then he'd have to lose the hat...

Update 2: Mike V don't see no stinkin' changes... (me neither, man...)

Taylor Marsh asks, does anybody even want this job?

The Hotline blog recounts the systemic failures at the White House ... no, only the ones this morning... the Hotliners also throw out some other possible replacements for the Man Who Would Not Comment... (though I think it's time to take Torie Clark off the list, since having been inside, she seems completely spooked by even the possibility of going back inside the bunker...)

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posted by JReid @ 10:08 AM  
How low can you go?
The latest Harris poll has Bush at 35%. More on the poll:

Thirty-five percent of 1,008 U.S. adults surveyed in the telephone poll think Mr. Bush is doing an "excellent or pretty good" job as president, down from 36% in March and significantly lower than 43% in January. This compares with 63% of Americans who said Mr. Bush is doing an "only fair or poor" job, down from 64% in March.

Furthermore, pessimism about the direction of U.S. policies appears to be growing. Only 27% of Americans believe "things in this country are going in the right direction," a drop from 31% in March, according to the poll.

Bad news from Iraq appears to weigh on the general public, as 23% of Americans said they consider Iraq to be one of the top two most important issues the government should address. The ongoing immigration debate also prompted 19% of Americans to consider it a top issue, a sharp gain from just 4% a month ago, followed by health care (13%), the economy (12%) and education (10%).

Immigration rising as an issue can't be good news for the GOP, since it's a no-win for them. And one wonders whether Republicans will begin to see the wisdom in Carl Bernstein's proposal that they get out ahead of Bush's fall, by really investigating his presidency and throwing him over the side in the name of self-preservation.

By the way Bush's lowest showing in the Harris poll was a 34% approval rating last November, paired with a 65% disapproval.

And another interesting result: if the Congressional elections were held today, 37% of respondents said they would support the Republican candidate, versus 41 percent who would support the Democrat. That's actually a narrowing of the gap for the GOP since January. Another 15 percent would support an "other" candidate and 6% who are undecided.

Positive views of Bush's performance were 71-29 favorable among Republicans, 8-89 unfavorable among Democrats, and a pretty staggering 27-72 negative among independents.

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posted by JReid @ 9:53 AM  
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Whither Campbell Brown
Corrected (same Bush channel, different Bush flak...): Could the NBC Nightly News correspondent continue to cover the White House if her hubby, Dan Senor becomes the new White House spokesman? Of course, the other speculation is that new chief of staff Josh Bolten has also reached out to Fox (ahem) newsman Tony Snow as a possible addition to the White House communications staff. In other words, he'd have exactly the same job he has now, only he'd do it in Washington instead of New York...

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posted by JReid @ 8:00 PM  
Worst president ever?
Via Drudge a preview of what he says is Friday's issue of Rolling Stone:


The money quote:
"George W. Bush's presidency appears headed for colossal historical disgrace."
Ouch.

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posted by JReid @ 7:52 PM  
At least they didn't name it L. Ron...
The alien-human hybrid has hatched. It will be called Suri, which means "princess" in Hebrew or "red rose" in the Persian dialect. No word on whether dad snacked on the placenta.

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posted by JReid @ 7:47 PM  
Quote of the day: Decider in chief
President Bush nails the quote of the day for Tuesday, April 18. Nobody's gonna top this one, not even Rhandi Rhodes saying Bush is clinically insane on Lou Dobbs' show. Read, watch, and enjoy, courtesy of C&L and the Moderate Voice:
Reporter: What do you say to the critics who believe that you are ignoring the advice of retired generals and military commanders who say there needs to be a change?

Bush: I listen to all voices, but mine is the final decision. ... And Don Rumsfeld is doing a fine job. He's not only transforming the military, he's fighting a war on terror. He's helping us fight a war on terror. I have strong confidence in Don Rumsfeld.

I hear the voices, and I read the front page, and I know the speculation. But I'm the decider, and I decide what is best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense.
Having a president who speaks his very own language that's almost completely unrelated to our own: priceless.

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posted by JReid @ 7:30 PM  
What are you reading, Deborah Meyer?
On Hardball tonight, a mother who has two sons deployed in Iraq tried her hand at defending Donald Rumsfeld, and his conduct of the war in Iraq. She bombed miserably (the re-air is on now.) Ms. Deborah Meyer, bless her heart, thinks we went to Iraq "because we were attacked" and to "fight against the terrorism that's invading our country." She would "rather fight them over there than in our own streets." In short, she knows all the GOP talking points on the war, and she stumbled bravely through them on the air with Chris Matthews. But what was most curious about Ms. Meyer, in her flag-festooned cardigan and reading glasses, is that she appeared to be reading her comments from notes either in her lap or on a desk in front of her. The pauses, the stumbling, the obvious reading of information, vs. Rosemary Palmer, who lost a son in Iraq, and who managed to get through her points while actually looking into the camera -- as opposed to at her lap, through the reading specs on her nose -- Ms. Meyer was a bit of a pitiful show.

Matthews didn't even seem to have the heart to challenge her on the idea that Iraq attacked us on 9/11. Pitiful performance, and one Ms. Meyer's loved ones should gently ask that she not repeat. Not everyone was meant for prime time.

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posted by JReid @ 7:15 PM  
The Blue Devil perp walk
The two suspects in the Duke rape case -- Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty, the two the accuser says she is certain were among the three attackers -- did the perp walk today. The indictments are also out. The charges are first degree sexual assault and kidnapping, much like what was represented on the search warrants.

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posted by JReid @ 3:50 PM  
Bernstein on Bush
The good Watergate investigator (the one who hasn't sold out for book deals and White House access) gets the quote of the day:
"We have never had a presidency in which the single unifying thread that flows through major decisionmaking was incompetence---stitched together with hubris andmendacity on a Nixonian scale." -- Carl Bernstein, calling for a Senate investigation of the Bush White House in the current edition of Vanity Fair
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posted by JReid @ 2:51 AM  
Friends
Iran has them:
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which maintained it had no plans for expansion, is now changing course. Mongolia, Iran, India and Pakistan, which previously had observer status, will become full members. SCO's decision to welcome Iran into its fold constitutes a political statement. Conceivably, SCO would now proceed to adopt a common position on the Iran nuclear issue at its summit meeting June 15.

Speaking in Beijing as recently as January 17, the organization's secretary general Zhang Deguang had been quoted by Xinhua news agency as saying: "Absorbing new member states needs a legal basis, yet the SCO has no rules concerning the issue. Therefore, there is no need for some Western countries to worry whether India, Iran or other countries would become new members."
So who is the SCO?
The SCO, an Intergovernmental organization whose working languages are Chinese and Russian, was founded in Shanghai on June 15, 2001 by China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The SCO's change of heart appears set to involve the organization in Iran's nuclear battle and other ongoing regional issues with the United States.

Visiting Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mohammadi told Itar-TASS in Moscow that the membership expansion "could make the world more fair". And he spoke of building an Iran-Russia "gas-and-oil arc" by coordinating their activities as energy producing countries. Mohammadi also touched on Iran's intention to raise the issue of his country's nuclear program and its expectations of securing SCO support.

The timing of the SCO decision appears to be significant. By the end of April the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to report to the United Nations Security Council in New York regarding Iran's compliance with the IAEA resolutions and the Security Council's presidential statement, which stresses the importance of Iran "reestablishing full, sustained suspension of uranium-enrichment activities".

The SCO membership is therefore a lifeline for Iran in political and economic terms. The SCO is not a military bloc but is nonetheless a security organization committed to countering terrorism, religious extremism and separatism. SCO membership would debunk the US propaganda about Iran being part of an "axis of evil".
And the bottom line is that many in the Central-Asia region believe the U.S. is pressing the Iran nuclear issue for the sole purpose of creating a pretext for invasion and "regime change" in Iran, something the neocons have long contemplated, following an invasion of Iraq and establishment of permanent military bases there, from which to launch operations against Iran, Syria, and other Muslim countries. The other interesting aspect of the new additions is the inclusion of both India (which has a brand new nuclear deal with the U.S., yet to be ratified by Congress) and Pakistan, which doesn't, but which does have nukes. The access to technology sharing and other benefits that will come to Iran via this new partnership with no fewer than four nuclear powers is significant, and it creates an alliance that will severly challenge the West.

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posted by JReid @ 1:22 AM  
Bush sinks into the Gallup gutter
When GOP-leaning Gallup says you're in the tank ...

President Bush's war in Iraq isn't going well. So say six in ten Gallup poll respondents -- 57 percent now say the U.S. will not win in Iraq, while 39 percent disagree (only 20 percent say we'll "definitely" win...)

And if Bush isn't doing well (60 percent disapproval rating), Congress is doing even worse, with just 23 percent of respondents approving and 70 percent disapproving of the job our non-oversight-loving friends on the Hill are doing. And important word from Gallup:
This downward trend in Congress approval is parallel to the decline in public approval of President George W. Bush over the same period. Although ratings of Bush are consistently higher than those for Congress, the similar changes in approval suggest that Americans closely associate the performance of the Republican-led Congress with Bush's performance.
In other words, Americans believe no one is minding the store, and in particular, this Congress is failing in its role of overseeing the administration's policies and practices.

Blame it on slanted news headlines if you'd like (it's hard to slant "Iraq is going to hell in a handbasket," but there you go, and I'm not sure how the McKinney headlines hurt Bush, you'll have to help me with that one...) but the right is going to have to come to a reckoning -- even Republicans are beginning to sour on, and tune out, this president. Every poll on this is consistent, and no matter how hard Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh practice their love on the president, no amount of buttering him up to their listeners, and no amount of bloglove from people like the crew at Bush-adoring Powerline, will change the numbers. Only better events -- preferably in Iraq, but also on the economy as it effects individual, middle class Americans -- can do that.

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posted by JReid @ 1:01 AM  
The Pulitzer piss-off
The 2006 Pulitzer Prizes for journalism and other desciplines have been announced, and no, there's nothing in Santa's bag for Laura Ingram's crack reporting with the troops in the Green Zone. The list (with extra notes in parens):
Public service: The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss., and The Times-Picayune, New Orleans (for Hurricane Katrina coverage, and a source of some controversy...)

Breaking news:The Times-Picayune, New Orleans (ditto)

Investigative reporting: Susan Schmidt, James V. Grimaldi and R. Jeffrey Smith, The Washington Post (for reporting on the Abramoff scandals...)

Explanatory reporting: David Finkel, The Washington Post (for stories on the Bushies' attempts to bring democracy to Yemen.)

Beat reporting: Dana Priest, The Washington Post (for reporting on the secret CIA prisons and other stuff the Bush administration wishes you knew nothing about...)

National reporting: James Risen and Eric Lichtblau of The New York Times; and the staffs of The San Diego Union-Tribune and Copley News Service (just the names Risen and Lichtblau stoke the rage and malevolence of right wingers everywhere... they've uncovered all sorts of nasty Bush administration stuff, including the NSA domestic spying program. And Risen's new book is full of scoops the right considers treasonous... and the SDUT and Copley for reporting about Randy "Duke" Cunningham...)

International reporting: Joseph Kahn and Jim Yardley, The New York Times (for stories about the not-so-just Chinese justice system...)

Feature writing: Jim Sheeler, the Rocky Mountain News, Denver (probably the only one the righties will like -- for Sheeler's reporting on a Marine major who helps the families of fellow Marines killed in Iraq to cope with their loss).

Commentary: Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times. (for his reporting on Darfur)

Criticism: Robin Givhan, The Washington Post (for her snarky style editorials which famously once included a slam on Katherine Harris' ghoulish Y2K makeup.)

Editorial writing: Rick Attig and Doug Bates, The Oregonian, Portland (for editorials about an Oregonian mental hospital)

Editorial cartooning: Mike Luckovich, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (for cartoons like this... and this)

Breaking news photography: The Dallas Morning News (also for Katrina coverage)

Feature photography: Todd Heisler, the Rocky Mountain News, Denver (the second for the "other paper" in Denver, this time for a behind-the-scenes look at funerals for Marines from Colorado who were killed in Iraq)
Two other quickies are books I'll have to read (after Risen's):
History:Polio: An American Story by David M. Oshinsky

Biography: American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin.
There's more, so see the link above or read the official Pullitzer release here.

And in fact, the right don't like it. They don't like it a lot... Some are even wondering if it's all just one big anti-Bush joke... not likely, friends. Not likely. And yes, it's tough to miss the political message in these awards, a message I might add that's as much for journalists as for the administration... (on a side note, it's got to be getting lonely out there on the Bush bus, with it becoming less and less crowded these days...)

Links: More on the prizes from CJR. And Buzzmachine commends the Pulitzer organization for discovering the Internet (he's right about NOLA.com, which was a lifeline for New Orleans during Katrina...)

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posted by JReid @ 12:08 AM  
Monday, April 17, 2006
16 words and what do you get
Jason Leopold uncovers the latest from the land of FOIA. Via Talkleft:

Jason Leopold and Truthout have published a June 10 recently declassified State Department Memo (pdf) from Carl Ford to Marc Grossman on Joseph Wilson's trip to Niger. The New York Sun earlier today posted a copy of the July 7 version of the memo. Jason writes:

Monday's declassified State Department memo was obtained over the weekend by The New York Sun under a Freedom of Information Act request the newspaper filed last July. The Sun's story Monday morning, however, did not say anything about the State Department's warnings more than a week before Bush's State of the Union address about the bogus Niger documents.

The memo was drafted by Carl Ford Jr., the former head of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, in response to questions posed in June 2003 by I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, about a February 2002 fact-finding trip to Niger that former Ambassador Joseph Wilson undertook to investigate the uranium claims on behalf of the CIA.
The New York Sun article by Josh Gerstein indicates that nothing in the July 7 memo to Colin Powell by a deputy indicates that Valerie Plame's role at the CIA was secret. But as Leopold points out, Gerstein misses the part of the memo that says that Carl Ford's agency had concluded as of March 1, 2002 that the "sale of uranium to Iraq" by Niger was "unlikely," "highly dubious," and that the NIE positing that Iraq was seeking enriched uranium was as wrong as those Nigerian documents were forged.

Further, Ford notes that the Nigerian yellowcake data was seen as so dubious, that on January, 12, 2003, INR "expressed concernes to the CIA that the documents pertaining to the Irag-Niger deal were forgeries," and that after "considerable back and forth between the CIA (State) Department, the IAEA and the British," Collin "Powell's briefing to the U.N. Security Council did not mention attempted Iraqi procurement of uranium ... due to CIA concerns raised during the coordination regarding the veracity of the information..."

Somehow, though, those 16 words about Iraq, uranium and Africa wound up in the president's State of the Union address. And once Joe Wilson began to speak out about the trip outlined in the Ford memos, it appears Vice President Cheney went after Wilson in order to discredit and silence him. And then, cue the Plame leak.

Here's Jason Leopold's entire piece.

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Tags: , Karl Rove, Valerie Plame, Politics, Libby, Bush, Cheney, Rove, Ari Fleischer, Patrick Fitzgerald, Fitzmas,

posted by JReid @ 10:57 PM  
Indicted
The Duke indictments are confirmed by a defense attorney, and "dancer number two" speaks out. (Update: Talkleft says the names of the accused could be made public tomorrow, and Jeralyn Merritt wonders whether the accuser's name should be released, too.) From AP today:

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) -- A grand jury issued sealed indictments Monday against two members of the Duke University lacrosse team in connection with allegations that a stripper was raped last month at a team party, a defense attorney said.

"Today, two young men have been charged with crimes they did not commit," attorney Robert Ekstrand said in a statement. "This is a tragedy. For the two young men, an ordeal lies ahead. ... They are both innocent."

Ekstrand, who represents dozens of players, did not say which players were indicted or what charges they faced.

The grand jury adjourned around 2 p.m. Monday, handing up indictments a short time later to Superior Court Judge Ronald Stephens. A filing at the courthouse said the judge had sealed at least one indictment, citing a state law that allows an indictment to be "kept secret until the defendant is arrested or appears before the court."
Here we go... Refreshers include the original search warrant for the home at 610 North Buchanan Blvd., where the party took place, and a certain shocking email... the alleged crimes we're talking about are serious: "first degree forcible rape," "first degree kidnapping," "first degree forcible sexual offense," "common law robbery," and "felonious strangulation." They concern "Adam" and "Matt," the two men the accuser says pulled her into a bathroom, and teriarily, "Brett," who she says helped hold her legs and arms during the assault.

The accuser reported her allegations to the police officers who responded to the Kroger store where she was driven after leaving the party house. Note that the police report does not state that she told her story to the security guard, whose interview is now being used to impeach the accuser in the press.

The police took several items from the home, according to the warrant, including a microcassette recorder, digital camera, several laptops, hard drives and PC cards, and other electronic devices, which suggests the party, and perhaps even the goings on in the loo, might have been recorded. They also removed things like a wet paper towel, dish rag, hand wipes, bath mats, and a bottle of KY jelly. Evidence of a clean-up attempt? Or the kind of benign stuff you find in a home where horny college boys live? Who knows, but it's certainly interesting, especially in light of the fact that no DNA was found on the accuser's person or belongings, but we've neverheard about what might have been found on other items seized from the house.

TalkLeft still isn't buying it, though I don't think the supposed inconsistencies brought out by the Kroger security guard are very relevant. She didn't examine the accuser nor does it appear she even talked to her. And I doubt a security guard's interpretation of what a rape victim is supposed to look like will matter to anyone but the defense.

Meanwhile, the second dancer at the party has given an interview to the NBC affiliate in Raleigh, and I think she answers some of TalkLeft's remaining questions (including why the second dancer's story might have seemed inconsistent and whether it was "pills" or "bills" that were seized from the residence):
In an exclusive interview with NBC17, a second woman who also danced at the March 13 party refuted claims made in recent days by defense attorneys that the accuser was intoxicated and injured when she arrived at the party.

"She looked absolutely fine," the second dancer said, noting that the accuser's demeanor changed dramatically after they left the party.

"She was definitely a totally different woman than when I first met her. She definitely was under some sort of substance," the woman said.

A source close to the official investigation of the case has told NBC17 that the accuser might have been drugged at the party.

The second dancer declined to discuss specifics of what happened at the party.

"If I could see the future and would have known what that night would've brought, I would have paid more attention. I wish I had paid more attention to everything that happened around me," she said.

The woman admitted calling 911 to report racial epithets yelled at her and the accuser as they left the party. But she said the details of the incident became jumbled in her call because she was trying to hide the fact that she had been performing at the party.

The woman said her parents don't know she makes a living as an exotic dancer, and she was afraid the information would be made public if she had been upfront with the 911 dispatcher.

"The defense feels like they can say anything they want to because they know we don't want to put ourselves out there," the woman said, noting that defense attorneys have implied the two dancers hatched a plan to accuse the lacrosse players to extort money from them. "They know that we don't want to go on any news channels and put our faces in front of thousands of people."

But the woman said she decided to speak out because she has tired of statements made by defense attorneys since last week, when DNA tests failed to link any of the lacrosse team members to the accuser.

"I have every confidence in the (district attorney) and the police," the woman said. "I honestly feel like they wouldn't be investigating a crime if they didn't feel a crime had occurred."
...I believe the answer to seized item #28 is "pills." And it appears that both 911 calls were in fact made by this second dancer, who we should now assume is "Kim," the one with the "Black friend." She fudged some details in her first 9i11 call to cover up her dancing job.

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posted by JReid @ 9:04 PM  
Look who's talking
Now that at least two sealed grand jury indictments have been handed down in Durham, members of the Duke lacrosse team are finally opening up ... to the media, in an attempt to preemptively save their upper middle class hides. Here is the alleged timeline of the night of March 13, from the players' point of view, as allegedly corroborated by photos and told to Newsweek:

... At 11:02 p.m. on March 13, a group of partygoers, sitting on couches around the edge of the room awaiting the arrival of two strippers, smile for the camera. They're holding plastic cups. Above their heads, a Duke lacrosse poster on the wall reads it's hard to beat a team that never gives up. (Robert Ekstrand, who represents 33 of the players, used a forensics expert to establish the photo times.)

The accuser is dropped off at about 11:45, about a half hour after the other (second) stripper arrived. By midnight, according to a photo, the two are almost naked on the beige carpet in front of their visibly happy audience. But by 12:03, the mood has turned: in a photo, the women are standing and the second stripper appears to be reaching toward the guys, all of whom have lost their smiles. She slaps one of them for suggesting the alleged victim use a broom as a sex toy, according to Ekstrand. Then both women lock themselves in the bathroom, Ekstrand details. The partygoers get nervous about what the women are up to and start slipping money under the door asking them to leave, says Bill Thomas, a lawyer who represents one of the captains. The women go out to the second stripper's car at about 12:20, but the accuser has left her purse behind; she goes back inside to get it, according to Ekstrand.

A photo at 12:30 shows the alleged victim standing outside the back door of the house looking down into two bags with what appears to be a smile. She's wearing only her scant red-and-white outfit and one shoe. By the time she realizes she's missing a shoe—a few minutes later—the guys have locked the door to keep her out, say the attorneys.

A 12:37 photo shows she's lying on the back stoop; she fell, according to Ekstrand. Her elbow is dusted and scraped, and her ankle is cut and bleeding. At 12:41 she gets into the car, and one of the partygoers appears to be helping her. In a call to a police dispatcher at about 1:30 made public last week, one of the first officers to see the accuser, in a parking lot, said she was "passed-out drunk" but "not in distress." Since the release of the recording, Ekstrand has suggested that if any assault happened, it was after the accuser left the house. Defense attorneys said last week that no DNA had been found on or inside the accuser. She was never alone in the house for more than about 10 minutes, according to their timeline.

The Newsweek account goes on to say there is a dispute as to whether the second dancer's story corroborates the boys, or the accuser. Something tells me she said something that's more helpful to Mr. Nifong than to the players, given the fact that we're seeing at least two indictments, which being sealed, may indicate more to come.

And yet, there is the ABC News scoop about a security guard at a nearby Kroger store, where the accuser was inexplicably driven (as opposed to the hospital) by an unknown person -- possibly the second dancer. ABC reportedly has a tape of a conversation between an investigator and the guard, who indicates that she thinks the accuser "wasn't acting the way she'd expect someone to act who had been sexually assaulted." Not sure what that means to the case, since the transcript of the 911 call made by that security guard shows she never really examined the accuser, and what information she had she got from the driver of the car, named Kim. Kim never spoke to the dispatcher. What the ABC info does seem to indicate is that the accuser may have been either drugged, or using drugs. Time will tell which one. (The defense appears to be formulating a storyline that the accuser fabricated the rape charge to avoid being charged herself with drunk and disorderly conduct in public...)

And those same 911 transcripts show a call placed about an hour before the alleged assault by a white woman who was walking past the party house with a Black friend, and who says she and her friend were taunted with racial slurs (called "niggers") by males coming out of that house. That shows the frame of mind some of these guys were apparently in, but not sure it's dispositive either.

This one's filed under "developing..."

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posted by JReid @ 5:44 PM  
The Color Purple Pink
In an ominous sign for the GOP: Pink is the new red.
States that were once reliably red are turning pink. Some are no longer red but a sort of powder blue. In fact, a solid majority of residents in states that President Bush carried in 2004 now disapprove of the job he is doing as president. Views of the GOP have also soured in those Republican red states.

According to the latest Post-ABC News poll, Bush's overall job approval rating now averages 43 percent in the states where he beat Democratic nominee John Kerry two years ago, while 57 percent disapprove of his performance.

Bush is even marginally unpopular, at least on average, in states where he beat Kerry with relative ease. The poll data suggest that in states where the president's victory margin was greater than five percentage points, his average job approval currently stands at 47 percent. Red? Hardly. A watery pink at best.

And in states where the president's victory margin was five percentage points or less, a clear majority of residents now disapprove of his performance. Color them light blue.

More ominously for Republicans, their party also has lost standing with the public. Residents of states Bush won in 2004 say they trust the Democrats (48 percent) more than the Republicans (42 percent) to deal with the country's biggest problems.

Those humbling numbers for Republicans are a far cry from the results of surveys taken immediately before the 2004 election. Back then, red states were bright red: Bush's overall job approval rating stood 13 points higher, at 56 percent in states that he eventually won. And throughout Bush's first term it was the GOP and not the Democrats whom voters in these states trusted to deal with the country's biggest problems, sometimes by double-digit margins.

Blue states are still blue -- but it is a deeper, bolder and angrier blue, the latest Post-ABC poll suggests. Across states where Kerry defeated Bush two years ago, barely a third -- 33 percent -- currently approve of the president's overall performance, while 65 percent disapprove. That's a 12-point drop in this group of states from a Post-ABC survey conducted before the presidential vote.

Taken together, these findings underscore the fact that Bush's fall from public grace isn't just occurring in states that were colored blue after the last presidential election. And they once again prove that change is inevitable in politics and that last year's received wisdom has a way of becoming this year's political myth.
There's more analisys in the piece. But Dick Morin still won't ask the impeachment question.

Tags: , Politics, News
posted by JReid @ 11:21 AM  
An uncomfortable question
Chris Matthews of MSNBC is the only person I've seen ask this question publicly, but I think it bears repeating, even as an academic argument: what right does the United States, the European Union or any other entity have to tell any country what it can or cannot have for its own defense, even if what they want are nuclear weapons?

Put another way, what if, in 1944, the world community had told the United States that it would not be permitted to complete the Manhattan project, because the development of nuclear weapons represented a threat to the rest of the world? What if Japan, for instance, had said it feared the U.S. would use such weapons against them? They would have been correct, as would the world had it said that the U.S. was a country they believed would use weapons of mass destruction if we had them.

Could the rest of the world have told the United States it had no right to develop the A-bomb? And today, if Iran believes, say, that Israel represents an existential threat to its government, because Israel has made threats in the past, has attacked its neighbors, and is continuing to attack the occupied Palestinian terrories, and so Iran feels it needs nuclear weapons in order to counter the military and nuclear threat it faces from the Israelis... why does the international community have the right to tell Iran no?

Because Iran signed the NPT? Can't it just withdraw?

Because Iran has gone to war with its neighbors? The neighbor was Iraq. And during the conflict, the U.S. sided with, and armed Saddam Hussein, even when his government used chemical weapons against the Iranians.

Because Iran would attack Israel? Israel already has probably more than a dozen nuclear bombs. Attacking it would be suicide, as would be attacking Europe. Besides, didn't MAD (mutually assured destruction) ultimately prevent war with the Soviets?

The U.S. nearly went to war with the Soviet Union only once -- in October 1962, and not over whether the Soviet Union would be allowed to develop nuclear weapons. They did so unfettered more than a decade before that date. It was over whether the USSR would be permitted to deploy those weapons just miles off the U.S. southern shore, in Cuba. We didn't stop the French or the British or the Israelis or even the North Koreans from developing the bomb. We did try and stop Muslim Pakistan and Hindu India, but to no avail. The Muslim world is surely asking the question of why not them. (Particularly in light of the fact that the U.S. government, or forces within it, once saw fit during the Reagan administration to sell dangerous armaments to the same Iranian mullahs we're now claiming represent a mortal threat to the world... and by the way, to the same Iran where U.S. embassy workers were held hostage for 444 days....)

I understand there is a general interest in preventing the spread of these weapons, which hold the potential of destroying humankind. I take the Einstein position that they should not exist at all (though as we now know Einstein urged FDR to get the bomb before the Nazis did...) But they do exist. And if we're not getting rid of ours, and Europe and Israel aren't getting rid of theirs, isn't it logical that other countries who feel threatened by nuclear neighbors are going to want it, as a point of sovereign national interest?

Just asking the question.

Update: TPM Cafe blogger Jeffrey Lewis in January posted a far more thorough analysis of the Iran-bomb question here.

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posted by JReid @ 10:34 AM  
Build a better neocon: Nuke-em Joe
Joe Klein has been slowly but surely sliding off into lunatic territory. He sides with the administration on so many issues, it seems inappropriate at this stage to refer to him as a Democrat. Klein's latest neoconesque revery: he thinks we should go ahead and consider nuking Iran. From "This Week," via Crooks and Liars:

Klein: We should not take any option including the use of nuclear, tactical nuclear weapons off the table...

Stephanopoulos: Keep that on the table?-That's insane...
One of the main points of Sy Hersh's article is that the inclusion of nukes in an attack plan against Iran has the military leaders freaked out and they are demanding it be pulled or they will quit. It seems that Klein doesn't share those views.

To add more right wing spin into his arguments today, Klein proclaimed that if Francine Busby wins the San Diego election-it'll be "over reported" in the media. Even George Will suggested that it was a win-win situation for the Democrats-and if she won it would be like an earthquake. So who is the liberal and who is the right winger?
More on Klein's musings on nuclear murder-suicide from RawStory.

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posted by JReid @ 10:24 AM  
Unsurprising headlines: Myers Rummy
Dick Myers, former Joint Chiefs of Staff chair (and probably the only general who is more solicitous of the administration than Collin Powell) took to the Sunday shows to defend Donald Rumsfeld from the wash of military criticism that has overrun him. In between typical Myersian calls for the military to be nice to the chain of command, he managed to throw in a defense of former Army Chief Shinseki, which the WaPo plays up nicely here. Perhaps the WaPo guys are unaware that Myers has also denied that Shinseki was ridden out of town on a rail by Rummy for speaking out about the number of troops that would be needed to invade Iraq...

Newsweek has more on the revolt of the generals here.

Gen. Tommy Franks, who, like Rumsfeld, will go down in history as a major league screw-up for his conduct of the Iraq invasion aftermath, has been doing some bum-covering of his own lately, basically siding with the administration when it blames the generals for the post-war planning. Whatever, Franks. You might not want to read Tony Zinni's new book. Short version: you're in it. And it ain't good. Oh, and probably skip Cobra II also. You won't like that one much, either...

Tags: Iraq, , Bush, Politics, War, News, Military, Iraq War
posted by JReid @ 10:14 AM  
Friday, April 14, 2006
Zeroing in on Cheney
Murray Waas' latest scoop seems to bring us closer to the conclusion that the Patrick Fitzgerald investigation is, in fact, a de facto investigation of the vice president of the United States. The "sand thrown in the eyes of the umpire" by Scooter Libby's leak may yet turn out to be dirt meant to keep prosecutors from eyeing their real target: Dick Cheney. To Waas' latest National Journal entry:
Vice President Dick Cheney directed his then-chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, on July 12, 2003 to leak to the media portions of a then-highly classified CIA report that Cheney hoped would undermine the credibility of former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, a critic of the Bush administration's Iraq policy, according to Libby's grand jury testimony in the CIA leak case and sources who have read the classified report.

The March 2002 intelligence report was a debriefing of Wilson by the CIA's Directorate of Operations after Wilson returned from a CIA-sponsored mission to Niger to investigate claims, later proved to be unfounded, that Saddam Hussein had attempted to procure uranium from the African nation, according to government records.

The debriefing report made no mention of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, then a covert CIA officer, or any role she may have played in her husband's selection by the CIA to go to Niger, according to two people who have read the report.
Now let's pause here for a moment to recall that Mr. Cheney said publicly, inlcuding on "Meet the Press," after the Plamegate scandal broke, that he never knew who Joe Wilson was, let alone that he had been sent to Niger. But apparently, according to his former deputy, Libby, he knew quite well about Wilson's trip, and the debriefing of the former ambassador after it had been accomplished. Read on:
The previously unreported grand jury testimony is significant because only hours after Cheney reportedly instructed Libby to disclose information from the CIA report, Libby divulged to then-New York Times reporter Judith Miller and Time magazine correspondent Matthew Cooper that Plame was a CIA officer, and that she been involved in selecting her husband for the Niger mission. [emphasis added]
Again, the significance here is that Libby has already testified to learning Ms. Plame-Wilson's identity from his boss, the vice president. How are we now to believe that his later disclosures to Cooper and Miller were simply accidental reiterations of tidbits they had told him? Not likely...
Both Libby and Cheney have repeatedly insisted that the vice president never encouraged, directed, or authorized Libby to disclose Plame's identity. In a court filing on April 12, Libby's attorneys reiterated: "Consistent with his grand jury testimony, Mr. Libby does not contend that he was instructed to make any disclosures concerning Ms. Wilson [Plame] by President Bush, Vice President Cheney, or anyone else."

But the disclosure that Cheney instructed Libby to leak portions of a classified CIA report on Joseph Wilson adds to a growing body of information showing that at the time Plame was outed as a covert CIA officer the vice president was deeply involved in the White House effort to undermine her husband. ...
And they'll likely stick to that story, right up until the moment the vice president is called to the witness stand.

The only question, it seems to me, is when does Mr. Cheney become more of a liability to President Bush than he's worth? One more bite, and then you can read the entire article for yourself:
On April 5, the special prosecutor in the CIA leak case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, asserted in a court filing that Joseph Wilson's July 6, 2003 op-ed piece in The New York Times criticizing the Bush administration's Iraq policies "was viewed in the office of Vice President as a direct attack on the credibility of the Vice President (and the President) on a matter of signal importance: the rationale for the war in Iraq."

Moreover, on July 12, 2003, the same day that Libby spoke to both Cooper and Miller, Libby and Cheney traveled aboard Air Force Two for the dedication of a new aircraft carrier in Norfolk, Va. During the flight either to or from Norfolk, Cheney, Libby, and Cathie Martin, then-assistant to the vice president for public affairs, discussed how they might rebut Wilson's charges and discredit him, according to federal court records, and interviews with people with first-hand knowledge of accounts that all three provided to federal investigators.

It has long been known that Cheney was among the first people in the government to tell Libby that Plame worked for the CIA. The federal indictment of Libby -- who has been charged with five counts of obstruction of justice, perjury, and making false statements to federal investigators in the CIA leak case -- states: "On or about June 12, 2003, Libby was advised by the Vice President of the United States that Wilson's wife worked at the Central Intelligence Agency in the Counterproliferation Division. Libby understood that the Vice President had learned this information from the CIA."

Fitzgerald asserted that just days before Libby divulged Plame's identity to Miller and Cooper on July 12, "Vice President Cheney, [Libby's] immediate superior, expressed concerns to [Libby] regarding whether Mr. Wilson's trip was legitimate or whether it was a junket set up by Mr. Wilson's wife." Although contained in a public court filing, this second conversation between Cheney and Libby had gone unreported.

The new disclosure about the CIA report further raises questions about the vice president's role in directly authorizing the leak of classified information outside the formal declassification process. Last week it was reported that Libby also testified to the grand jury that Cheney told him that as part of the effort to rebut Wilson's criticism, President Bush had authorized the leaking of portions of a then-classified National Intelligence Estimate concerning purported attempts by Iraq to develop nuclear weapons. [emphasis added]

Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bush. Three men who have made more mistakes than seem normal for a wartime presidency. Seems to me that somebody whose first name is Pat and whose last name rhymes with "whitzgerald" is zeroing in on the man in the middle.

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Tags: , Karl Rove, Valerie Plame, Politics, Libby, Bush, Cheney, Rove, Ari Fleischer, Patrick Fitzgerald, Fitzmas,

posted by JReid @ 8:39 PM  
The buy-back (or, is this any way to run a war on terror?)
Does it bother anyone else that U.S. forces are reportedly wandering through Afghan bazaars buying back military secrets being sold on flash data cards, as if they were on a garage sale bargain hunt?

Tags: , ,
posted by JReid @ 8:35 PM  
When you've lost Ed Rollins
In case you missed Lou Dobbs tonight, let me be the first to tell you that you witnessed the complete severance of Republican strategist Ed Rollins from the Bush administration. Rollins, who until recently was an advisor to no less a GOP maven as Katherine Harris -- THE Katherine Harris of Florida recount fame (he ditched her campaign along with a slew of operatives a couple of weeks ago after failing to convince her to drop out of the Florida Senate race...) made the following comment about one Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense:
(Paraphrased) Cap Weingberger, whom we just recently buried, will, I think, go down in history as the man who rebuilt the American military. I think Don Rumsfeld will go down in history as the man who destroyed it.

It doesn't get any worse than that.

Update:Dubya says Rummy's doing one heckuva job.

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Tags: , Bush, Iraq, Politics, Cheney, War, News, Military, Iraq War

posted by JReid @ 8:27 PM  
Rumsfeld's rules
Rule #323: get personally involved in an interrogation from time to time. It will help you get closer to the troops.

Rule #456: Encourage terrorist groups to turn from their dastardly ways and actually help the U.S. government implement its foreign policy. That way, we always know what they're up to.

Rule#515: Put as much military information as possible on flash disks. They're small, attractive, and easy to market at your local Afghan bazaar. ...

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Tags: , Bush, Iraq, Politics, Cheney, War, News, Military, Iraq War

posted by JReid @ 12:40 PM  
Neil Young sings the hits
His latest tune: "Impeach the president."

Tags: Bush, ,
posted by JReid @ 12:31 PM  
Revolt of the generals
Powerline and friends may dismiss them as disgruntled "Clinton generals," but the military men who are speaking out and calling for Donald Rumsfeld to be replaced as Pentagon chief have a serious case to make, and one that should be noted by the American people. After all, these men are experienced warriors, and some of them have fought the present war, under Mr. Rumsfeld. Besides, what defense is there of the Secretary of Defense? Certainly, the on-the-ground situation in Iraq doesn't speak well of him... From today's NYT:

The widening circle of retired generals who have stepped forward to call for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's resignation is shaping up as an unusual outcry that could pose a significant challenge to Mr. Rumsfeld's leadership, current and former generals said on Thursday.

Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr., who led troops on the ground in Iraq as recently as 2004 as the commander of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, on Thursday became the fifth retired senior general in recent days to call publicly for Mr. Rumsfeld's ouster. Also Thursday, another retired Army general, Maj. Gen. John Riggs, joined in the fray.

"We need to continue to fight the global war on terror and keep it off our shores," General Swannack said in a telephone interview. "But I do not believe Secretary Rumsfeld is the right person to fight that war based on his absolute failures in managing the war against Saddam in Iraq."

Another former Army commander in Iraq, Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who led the First Infantry Division, publicly broke ranks with Mr. Rumsfeld on Wednesday. Mr. Rumsfeld long ago became a magnet for political attacks. But the current uproar is significant because Mr. Rumsfeld's critics include generals who were involved in the invasion and occupation of Iraq under the defense secretary's leadership.

There were indications on Thursday that the concern about Mr. Rumsfeld, rooted in years of pent-up anger about his handling of the war, was sweeping aside the reticence of retired generals who took part in the Iraq war to criticize an enterprise in which they participated. Current and former officers said they were unaware of any organized campaign to seek Mr. Rumsfeld's ouster, but they described a blizzard of telephone calls and e-mail messages as retired generals critical of Mr. Rumsfeld weighed the pros and cons of joining in the condemnation.
That Mr. Rumsfeld rules by intimidation and dismissal (of ideas as well as criticisms,) has become a truism of the so-called "war on terror," which in Rummy's world seems to be as much a war for military "transformation" as for the remaking of the Muslim world. More evidence of the Rummy Effect on the senior military men whom President Bush keeps assuring us are the ones making the decisions "on the ground" (code for: blame the military men, not the administration...):



Even as some of their retired colleagues spoke out publicly about Mr. Rumsfeld, other senior officers, retired and active alike, had to be promised anonymity before they would discuss their own views of why the criticism of him was mounting. Some were concerned about what would happen to them if they spoke openly, others about damage to the military that might result from amplifying the debate, and some about talking outside of channels, which in military circles is often viewed as inappropriate.
And of course, President Bush believes Rummy is doing one heck of a job. Another piece from the Times story:



Among the retired generals who have called for Mr. Rumsfeld's ouster, some have emphasized that they still believe it was right for the United States to invade Iraq. But a common thread in their complaints has been an assertion that Mr. Rumsfeld and his aides too often inserted themselves unnecessarily into military decisionmaking, often disregarding advice from military commanders.

The outcry also appears based in part on a coalescing of concern about the toll that the war is taking on American armed forces, with little sign, three years after the invasion, that United States troops will be able to withdraw in large numbers anytime soon. ...

... Some retired officers, however, said they believed the momentum was turning against Mr. Rumsfeld.

"Are the floodgates opening?" asked one retired Army general, who drew a connection between the complaints and the fact that President Bush's second term ends in less than three years. "The tide is changing, and folks are seeing the end of this administration."
And many of us civilians can't wait till it's over.

So who are these unhappy generals?



"Rumsfeld has been contemptuous of the views of senior military officers since the day he walked in as secretary of defense. It's about time they got sick and tired," Thomas E. White, the former Army secretary, said in a telephone interview on Thursday. Mr. White was forced out of his job by Mr. Rumsfeld in April of 2003.

Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold of the Marine Corps, who retired in late 2002, has said he regarded the American invasion of Iraq unnecessary. He issued his call for replacing Mr. Rumsfeld in an essay in the current edition of Time magazine. General Newbold said he regretted not opposing the invasion of Iraq more vigorously, and called the invasion peripheral to the job of defeating Al Qaeda.

General Swannack, by contrast, continues to support the invasion but said that Mr. Rumsfeld had micromanaged the war in Iraq, rather than leaving it to senior commanders there, including Gen. George W. Casey Jr. of the Army, the top American officer in Iraq, and Gen. John P. Abizaid of the Army, the top officer in the Middle East. "My belief is Rumsfeld does not really understand the dynamic of counterinsurgency warfare," General Swannack said.
Well, at least Rummy will always have Powerline. I think members of the administration could spit on John Hinderaker's mother and he and his clan would still defend them. And he'll have Victor Davis Hansen, whose most recent NRO column is so deluded and convoluted (he thinks -- wait for it -- that the debate over whether Saddam Hussein was in league with al-Qaida has been decided ... in the Bush administration's favor...) that one gets confused throughout the text whether he's talking about Iraq or Iran. Come to think of it, Hansen sounds like he'd make a spanking good Bush administration secretar of defense...

By the way, who would replace Rumsfeld if he were to slip the surly bonds of the Pentagon? My guess would be another true believer in the Iraq campaign, a la Joe Lieberman, or a bars-wearing yes-man like Richard Myers (Ret.) In other words, would change bring change? The jury is, as they say, most certainly "out"...

Update: Rawstory has Gen. Batiste, Ret. of the 82nd Airborne, on the morning talk shows. HT to ThinkProgress.

Update 2: Pro-war columnist David Ignatius of the WaPo agrees: time for Rummy to go:
Rumsfeld has lost the support of the uniformed military officers who work for him. Make no mistake: The retired generals who are speaking out against Rumsfeld in interviews and op-ed pieces express the views of hundreds of other officers on active duty. When I recently asked an Army officer with extensive Iraq combat experience how many of his colleagues wanted Rumsfeld out, he guessed 75 percent. Based on my own conversations with senior officers over the past three years, I suspect that figure may be low.

But that isn't the reason he should be replaced. Military officers often dislike the civilians they work for, but in our system strong civilian control is essential. On some of the issues over which he has tangled with the military brass, Rumsfeld has been right. The Pentagon is a hidebound place, and it has needed the "transformation" ethic Rumsfeld brought to his job. I'm dubious about the Pentagon conventional wisdom that we needed 500,000 American troops in Iraq. More troops were necessary, but they should have been Iraqi troops from an army that wasn't disbanded.

Rumsfeld should resign because the Bush administration is losing the war on the home front. As bad as things are in Baghdad, America won't be defeated there militarily. But it may be forced into a hasty and chaotic retreat by mounting domestic opposition to its policy. Much of the American public has simply stopped believing the administration's arguments about Iraq, and Rumsfeld is a symbol of that credibility gap. He is a spent force, reduced to squabbling with the secretary of state about whether "tactical errors" were made in the war's conduct.

The Bush administration has rightly been insisting that the Iraqis put unity first and that in forming a permanent government they remove ineffectual and divisive leaders and replace them with people who can pull the country together. The administration should heed its own advice. America needs leadership that can speak to the whole country, not just the people who already agree with the president.
Among his choices to succeed Rummy? Surprise! Joe Lieberman... who by the way would be an awful choice. Just look how well his Department of Homeland Security idea worked out. And he's such a hawk on Israel -- nearly a Likudnik, that he would lack credibility in the Muslim world, one would think. But there you go. He's the GOP's favorite Democrat, and the neocons just can't stop loving him.

Tags: , Bush, Iraq, Politics, Cheney, War, News, Military, Iraq War
posted by JReid @ 11:28 AM  
Scooter and Ari are friends
...or at least they used to be. Now, Ari Fleischer could become a witness in the CIA leak case, and the PNAC veteran's worst nightmare. From TalkLeft:
Ari Fleischer is a very dangerous witness for Scooter Libby. Check out Fitz's affidavit from August, 2004 submitted in the Judith Miller subpoena suit, which was unsealed by the Court in February, 2006. You can read the unredacted portions in the Court's opinion here or in my prior summary with lengthy quotes.

It's not just that Libby allegedly told Fleischer at lunch on July 7 before Fleischer left for Africa with President Bush that Joseph Wilson's wife worked in the Counterproliferation area of the CIA and that she was involved in the decision to send Wilson to Niger. It's that Fleisher told Fitz and the grand jury that Libby told him the information was "hush-hush" and "on the qt."
For example, then-White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer recalls that over lunch on July 7, the day before Libby's meeting with Miller, Libby told him, "[T]he Vice-President did not send Ambassador Wilson to Niger . . . the CIA sent Ambassador Wilson to Niger. . . . [H]e was sent by his wife. . . . [S]he works in . . . the Counterproliferation area of the CIA." (II-545-47.) Describing the lunch as "kind of weird" (II-590-91), and noting that Libby typically "operated in a very closed-lip fashion" (II-592), Fleischer recalled that Libby "added something along the lines of, you know, this is hush-hush, nobody knows about this. This is on the q.t." (II-546-47.) Though Libby remembers the lunch meeting, and even says he thanked Fleischer for making a statement about the Niger issue, he denies discussing Wilson's wife. (I-108-09, 156, 226-27.)
Libby is denying he discussed Valerie Wilson with Fleischer at lunch on July 7. He either has to destroy Fleischer's credibility at trial--or else convince the jury that Fleischer was mistaken. ...
The main trouble for Libby is that his conversations with Ari came very close to his convos about Mrs. Wilson with other government officials, and with reporters. It's going to be tough to prove that he forgot so much in so little time.

Also, Libby had been claiming he heard Valerie Plame's name form reporters. But if he told Ari, and presumably, Ari took the conversation as a suggestion that he should leak that information to reporters, then Libby's defense has things exactly backwards.

Either way, I think Libby's team is increasingly in a corner. I don't see how he proves, with all the information coming out, including from his side, about the flurry of activity around discrediting Joe Wilson, that he simply forgot where he heard the name. It just doesn't make sense. And by the way, Fleischer has no real motivation to help Scooter out here. Because if he can be proved to have leaked what he knew to be classified information to reporters, after hearing the information from Libby, aboard Air Force One, from that State Department memo or from anywhere else, his keester is on the line, too.

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Tags: , Karl Rove, Valerie Plame, Politics, Libby, Bush, Cheney, Rove, Ari Fleischer, Patrick Fitzgerald, Fitzmas,

posted by JReid @ 11:01 AM  
Thursday, April 13, 2006
He who is not to be believed
Inside that fairly awful for the president Bloomberg/LAT poll:

On Democrats vs. Republicans in 2006:

The poll found that registered voters favor Democrats by 49 percent to 35 percent as the party they would like to see win their congressional district this year. Democrats are preferred even on issues that often favor Republicans, such as taxes and the budget deficit, and lead by wide margins on traditional Democratic strengths like Social Security and health care.
On the direction of the country:

While Republicans maintain an edge in handling terrorism and the war in Iraq, the party's disapproval rating among all Americans has jumped 6 percentage points since January, to 50 percent. That corresponds with a souring national mood, as 65 percent say the U.S. is on the wrong track.
On Iran:

Asked whether they would support military action if Iran continued to produce material that could be used to develop nuclear weapons, 48% of the poll's respondents, or almost half, said yes; 40% said no.

If Bush were to order military action, most respondents said they would support airstrikes against Iranian targets, and about one in four said they would support the use of American ground troops in Iran. ...

...A majority of respondents, 61%, said they believed that Iran would eventually get nuclear weapons. Fifteen percent said they believed that Iran would be prevented from developing nuclear weapons through diplomatic negotiations, and 12% said they thought Iran would be stopped through military action.
On Bush's ability to handle Iran:

In a telling reflection of Bush's erosion in public support, 54% said they did not trust him to "make the right decision about whether we should go to war with Iran," while 42% of respondents said they trusted him to do so.

That was a reversal of public sentiment since 2003, on the eve of Bush's decision to invade Iraq, when 55% of respondents said they trusted him to make the right decision over whether to go to war.
And the bottom line on Bush and the GOP:

``These numbers indicate deep trouble for the party this fall,'' said Vin Weber, a former Republican lawmaker from Minnesota with close ties to the Bush administration. ``For House Republicans, it means that a lot of seats that they have been thinking of as safe are going to be competitive.''

`Not for the People'

Celeste Pikey, a 60-year-old disabled retiree and lifelong Republican from Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, illustrates the party's problems.

``The Republicans used to be for the people,'' said Pikey, a poll participant who spoke in a follow-up interview. ``They're not for the people anymore,'' she said, citing Republicans' handling of health care and the war in Iraq.

Unhappiness with Bush is so pervasive that 49 percent of registered voters say they would vote for Massachusetts Senator John Kerry if the 2004 presidential election were held today, to 39 percent who say they would vote for the president. Pikey, who backed Bush in the last two elections, says she would now vote for Kerry.

Overall the poll shows the president's approval rating at 39 percent, statistically unchanged from 38 percent in January.
Call it "buyer's remorse." ... stupid buyers, to be precise...

Of course the wet blanket soaking both Bush and the GOP continues to be Iraq, which combined with the administratin's pathetic performance after Hurricane Katrina has cast a pall of incompetence and dishonesty over the entire crowd. Americans have, in the words of Newt Gingrich, "had enough." The question is, will the administration be able to pull another fearmongering rabbit out of its hat before election day -- say a biological attack or perhaps even a shiny new war with Iran, to shove Americans back into line. We shall see...

Tags: Bush, Iran, News and politics,
posted by JReid @ 12:45 PM  
Wag the camel
Maureen Dowd lets the administration have it, again:

Iran was whipping up real uranium while America was whipped up by fake uranium.

Obsessed with going to war against a Middle East country that had no nuclear weapon, the Bush administration lost focus on and leverage over a Middle East country hurtling toward a nuclear weapon.

That's after the Bush crew lost focus on and leverage over an Asian country that says it has now produced a whole bunch of nuclear weapons.

To paraphrase Raymond Chandler, if brains were elastic, these guys wouldn't have enough to make suspenders for a parakeet.

While Dick Cheney was getting booed as he threw out the first pitch for the Nationals - it bounced in the dirt and Scooter wasn't even there to catch it - Iran was jubilantly welcoming itself to the nuclear club and spitting in the eye of the U.S. and U.N.

Speaking before a mural of fluttering white doves, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad bragged that his scientists had concocted enriched uranium. They will now churn out nuclear fuel as fast as they can.

Are they making a bomb? Nah, said the Iranian president, furthest thing from their minds.

Are we going to bomb them before they can get a bomb? Nah, said the American president, furthest thing from our minds.

The nuclear doves announcement was embarrassing for Mr. Bush, who had said on Monday that he was determined to prevent Iran from getting the know-how to enrich uranium. But the Persian logic cannot be faulted. If you pretend to have W.M.D., the U.S. may come and get you. Ask Saddam. If you really have W.M.D., you're bulletproof. Ask Kim Jong Il.
Which leads us to the following announcement from the talented Mr. Ahmadinejad today:

Iran Leader: 'We Are a Nuclear Country'

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran's hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed Thursday that Iran won't back away from uranium enrichment and said the world must treat Iran as a nuclear power.

The comments were made as Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, arrived in Tehran for talks aimed at defusing tensions over Iran's nuclear program.

"Our answer to those who are angry about Iran achieving the full nuclear fuel cycle is just one phrase. We say: Be angry at us and die of this anger," the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.

"We won't hold talks with anyone about the right of the Iranian nation (to enrich uranium)."

Ahmadinejad declared on Tuesday that Iran had successfully produced enriched uranium for the first time, a key process in what Iran maintains is a peaceful energy program.

Iran's deputy nuclear chief, Mohammad Saeedi, then said Wednesday that Iran intends to move toward large-scale uranium enrichment involving 54,000 centrifuges, signaling the country's resolve to expand a program the United Nations has demanded it halt.

"Today, our situation has changed completely. We are a nuclear country and speak to others from the position of a nuclear country," IRNA quoted the president as saying Thursday.
(Recall that the 54,000 figure is the level at which the U.S. State Department says Iran could begin cranking out a nuclear weapon in that scary sounding 16 days, though most experts say Tehran is years and years away from that point...)

In other words, Iran is rushing headlong toward the kind of deterrent they see working for Kim Jong Il, and which clearly failed Saddam Hussein, who never had nukes, and who was being snookered by his own scientists into believing he even had the possibility of them. The Iranian president is no Saddam Hussein. He has figured out the game, and joined it.

Perhaps that's why we're getting all the alarmism and verbal flailing from the administration, which is clearly running out of options, rather than a coherent plan to deal with the country beginning with I that we should have been more focused on all along.

So what are you going to do now, Mr. Bush? That corner is looking awfully tight...

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
posted by JReid @ 12:31 PM  
Midnight in the garden of Ari Fleischer
Libby's team continue to saying things the Bush administration can't want to hear:
In a court filing late Wednesday, the lawyers said the criminal case against Libby stemming from the leak of a CIA officer's identity is much broader and no longer deals solely with Cheney's former chief of staff, as Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald contends.
Meaning they intend to pursue a defense that escalates, rather than isolates, the Plame leak into and throughout the administration.

Not good news. What the Libby people want:
Fitzgerald and Libby's lawyers are fighting over a defense request for a wide assortment of documents that may be at the White House, State Department and the CIA. Libby's lawyers said Fitzgerald has collected hundreds of thousands of documents but given the defense only about six boxes, or 14,000 pages of records.

The defense attorneys want records related to Wilson's trip to Niger because they said they may call him as a hostile witness.

Libby's lawyers also want documents that may explain how Bush decided to declassify portions of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate that concluded Iraq had tried to obtain uranium for a nuclear weapon from African nations.
And who's next to be dragged into the court case? Witnesses Libby's people say will go to the heart of a credibility contest between Libby, members of the media, and his former bosses:
The defense attorneys said the Libby's defense will center on whose memory is accurate and whose versions of conversations can be trusted _ Libby's, or those of reporters and other government officials.

In Wednesday's filing, Libby's lawyers focused on three potential witnesses: State Department official Marc Grossman; former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer; and White House senior adviser Karl Rove.
The idea that Fleischer may have been the (or one of the) leaker(s) has been raised before, particularly since so many of the damning events happened in the lead-up to his departure fromthe White House. He is thought to have seen a top secret memo circulated on board Air Force One that contained Valerie Plame's name and identity, and he is known to have received at least one phonecall from Robert Novak before his piece outing Plame was published.

According to Fitzgerald, Libby at some point told Fleischer who Plame was, and that the fact was not well known. Since it was Ari's job to talk to reporters every day, it's thought that he might have been Novak's original source, or one of the two, and that that knowledge may have made its way around via his big mouth.

My guess: If Fleischer is called into the grand jury, he'll sing like a bird, and perhaps implicate others.

Stay tuned...

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Tags: , Karl Rove, Valerie Plame, Politics, Libby, Bush, Cheney, Rove, Ari Fleischer, Patrick Fitzgerald, Fitzmas,

posted by JReid @ 11:10 AM  
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Colin Powell's gut-bucket

Having essentially ended his longtime friendship with his former deputy Larry Wilkerson over Wilkerson's telling all he knows about the "neocon cabal" inside the White House, perennial loyal soldier Colin Powell decides to spill his guts to the San Francisco Chronicle, about how that same cabal, led by Vice President Dick "Booooo" Cheney, led us all on. As intrepid columnist Robert Scheer says, "Now he tells us..."
I queried Powell at a reception following a talk he gave in Los Angeles on Monday. Pointing out that the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate showed that his State Department had gotten it right on the nonexistent Iraq nuclear threat, I asked why did the president ignore that wisdom in his stated case for the invasion?

"The CIA was pushing the aluminum tube argument heavily and Cheney went with that instead of what our guys wrote," Powell said. And the Niger reference in Bush's State of the Union speech? "That was a big mistake," he said. "It should never have been in the speech. I didn't need Wilson to tell me that there wasn't a Niger connection. He didn't tell us anything we didn't already know. I never believed it."

When I pressed further as to why the president played up the Iraq nuclear threat, Powell said it wasn't the president: "That was all Cheney." A convenient response for a Bush family loyalist, perhaps, but it begs the question of how the president came to be a captive of his vice president's fantasies.

More important: Why was this doubt, on the part of the secretary of state and others, about the salient facts justifying the invasion of Iraq kept from the public until we heard the truth from whistle-blower Wilson, whose credibility the president then sought to destroy?

In matters of national security, when a president leaks, he lies.
Thanks, General Powell. You can pick up your credibility on your way out ... oh, sorry, forgot ... Mr. Tenet took it with him so he'd have something to hang his presidential medal of freedom on. Sorry.

Tags, Bush, Iraq, News, News and politics,
posted by JReid @ 11:23 PM  
The walk-back
GOP leaders in the House will drop a provision in their version of an immigration reform bill making illegal entry into the United States a felony.

Over in the Riehlworld (congrats on the 7 million hits, BTW), they're kinda trying to have it both ways, just like the Republicans in Washington. Riehl yesterday:
This is absolutely ridiculous!
Immigrant Bill Fallout May Hurt House GOP

Yesterday, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) issued a joint statement seeking to deflect blame for the harshest provisions of the House bill toward the Democrats, who they said showed a lack of compassion. "It remains our intent to produce a strong border security bill that will not make unlawful presence in the United States a felony," Hastert and Frist said.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) fired back that "there's no running away from the fact that the Republican House passed a bill and Senator Frist offered one that criminalizes immigrants."
What is the problem with these Republican legislators? They did not pass a bill that made immigrants illegal, they passed a bill that called illegal immigrants precisely what they are. And now they are going to run away from it? What a disgrace.

And Riehl today:
I don't care about immigration violations being elevated to felonies. As it stands, it is a misdemeanor. That, in a word, is illegal - it doesn't need to mean anything more than that. But here is the real rub and the obfuscation within that element of the greater debate.

Do you realize that this has absolutely nothing to do with any of the immigrants, illegal or otherwise recently marching in our streets? Were one to ever come to trial, it is quite apparent that at the time they entered the country the violation was a misdemeanor. And I doubt very seriously if any judge would permit them to be charged as felons, given that the crime was not elevated to such a level until after they had initially violated the law by entering the country.

Keeping it real, Riehl, if you want illegal immigration enforced, elevating it to a felony would provide greater impetus for law enforcement (like the difference between hunting down shoplifters and hunting down burglars...) If you are for the Sensenbrenner solution, then the felony issue is not a non-issue at all. Lax enforcement of the current laws -- and almost no enforcement against employers -- is at the heart of the problem. I'll bet if you started making the hiring of illegal migrants a felony, and started arresting employers and fining them into oblivion, things would change in a hurry... and if the employer magnet dried up, the border encroachment would begin to dry up as well , or at least slow down. (Public opinion would also be very different if we had waves of illegal migrants sitting idle in the U.S. rather than working...)

As I think you and I agree, it's the GOP, not the Democrats, who can't make up their minds. They want to be both compassionate conservativos who are Latino-friendly at the polls, and tough talking border enforcers who would round up every last "coyote" client and ship them back over the border, pronto. And they think they can use the George W. Bush, Texas governor model as the blueprint for long term GOP growth nationwide. Trouble is, you can't. Latino votes are concentrated in four states: New York, Texas, California and Florida, and in three of the four, they are set in stone and won't swing the outcome in the electoral college, because those states are hard-set as Dem or Republican. In Florida, Hispanics vote Republican on the main, but that is unusual -- and only happens because Cubans have the sweetest immigration deal going.

The House bill, in the end, was what most of the GOP base wants. The Senate bill is a desperate attempt on the part of Bill Frist (and John McCain) to be all things to all people. The Dems want amnesty, plain and simple, because it would help them at the polls (most Hispanic voters are Democrats, and most of those protesters out there will vote Democratic if they are legal, or are made legal). Republicans are in a no-win situation. They don't want to be tagged as Prop 187ers, but their base is demanding action on the borders. And as usual, it's middle class Americans of all ethnicities, who are losing jobs and losing wage stability, including legal immigrants (and permanent residents,) who are on the road to getting hosed.

Hastert and Frist backing down on the "felony" piece just means they've realized they're in a whole, and they're trying to stop digging.

Update: The "carnivorous conservative" clarifies:
...I do not care if illegal immigrants are classified as felons, nor have I ever insisted on any form of mass deportation. I have made my position clear in several posts, most notably this one.
I have no doubt that Left and Right could come together on this issue once the border is sealed. Deport criminals, deadbeats and riff raff and let the rest of our South of the Border visitors stay, while providing for assimilation through language and appropriate civil compliance.
The make it a felony position was the politicians position and they have already punted it away. Were it being given up during reconciliation to gain support for a barrier and genuine enforcement, I'd feel a heck of a lot more comfortable. But the too quick to compromise milquetoasts todays Republican leaders seem to be, including Bush by the way, give up too quickly and hardly stand and fight for anything. I am so disgusted with Frist and the like right now, I don't even want to think about their future in Congress, or anywhere else.

I think Riehl is correct, in part, that there can be agreement on this issue, if not between left and right, then between center-left (where I sit) and right. We should take immediate steps to halt the brazen overrunning of our southern (and northern) borders, put real teeth in immigration enforcement measures (including against employers,) get some real effort out of Mexico on law enforcement on their side of the border, and back Vicente Fox down on the issue of open border trucking and shipping (in other words, just say no). On guest workers, I'm probably harsher than most. I'd be for a limited -- very limited -- guest worker program, mainly because it would allow us to identify those coming across to work, and it addresses what I've said repeatedly: the fact that many of those who come over here don't want to be citizens -- they just want to work and send money back home. But even with a guest worker program, employers should be compelled to prefer American workers, and to demonstrate not only that they can't find American workers, but that they are paying a prevailing, competitive wage.

As it is, no more than a third of workers in even the lowest paying industries -- including agriculture -- are illegal migrants, so the idea that Americans, and legal immigrants, won't do these jobs is absurd. I'm not for all-out protectionism, but the federal government should not be in the business of encouraging this race to the bottom, giving employers free reign to bring back sharecropping by importing the poverty of neighboring countries. Nor should we be subsidizing the Mexican economy via remittances that are tax-free on our end, and which reduce the potential Social Security returns to our federal coffers had those jobs been held by citizens or legal residents.

As for people who may have overstayed their visas, and are currently in the country working or going to school and being productive: sure. Let them pay a penalty and apply for residency, I suppose. But it should be on a case by case basis, not a blanket amnesty program, earned or not.

Previous:
Quick takes: Monsters and critics
Si no podemos (or, don't mess with Dobbs)
Quick take headlines: Demands and disbelief
Thus sayeth Rush Limbaugh
Deal ...or no deal? (take two...)
A bridge to nowhere
Deal or no deal?
About that immigration compromise...
Immigration divide
The flag bearers

Tags: , Politics, border, MEXICO, , , Illegal-Aliens, Illegal immigration, ,
posted by JReid @ 12:07 PM  
A countervailing view on Iran
Victor Comras at the Counterterrorism Blog says multilateral sanctions, with teeth, are the Bush administration's weapon of choice against Iran (not a military strike). There are a lot of people out here hoping you're right, Comras...

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posted by JReid @ 11:55 AM  
Halt or I'll shoot ... ! ... myself ... in the foot...
An errant DEA agent is suing over extreme video humiliation...

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posted by JReid @ 11:52 AM  
Playing the 'hooker' card
Yesterday on his radio program, known drug addict (or, "much married, obese drug addict, to quote Mary Mapes...) and consummate hypocrite Rush Limbaugh referred to the alleged victim in the Duke University rape case as a "hooker." The comment was made in response to a caller identifying herself as a "white businesswoman from Florida," who was discussing the illegal immigration issue -- not the Duke lacrosse team controversy -- and the use of the "race card" to silence conservatives. Rush chimed in with the example of the "hooker" accusing the Duke University lacrosse team, and after repeating the slur, laughed "that was just a slip of the toungue, folks..." Just a slip of the toungue.

This morning, conservative talker Glenn Beck also referred to the alleged victim as a "hooker" and also a "prostitute," saying she had been "hired for the party as a sex worker." He then accused her of "playing the race card," said her allegations are "false" and said that the only person who is a bigger "scumbag" is the prosecutor, for "using this case purely for political purposes." (Also forwarded to MediaMatters, so hopefully they'll grab the audio and post it at some point...)

I'm not sure where Limbaugh and Beck -- the number one and three radio personalities in the U.S., by the way, get their information, but it sure gives you a new perspective on the generally low test scores in the country, doesn't it?

These guys clearly feel they've got to defend these fine, young men of the Duke Lacrosee team (in fairness, Beck did criticize them for that scandalous email about skinning the next stripper to fall through, and for apparently, according to a school paper, going out for a night of drinking two weeks after the alleged rape, downing shots and chanting "Duke Lacrosse!!) amid all the allegations). But sliming this alleged victim is an interesting choice, given this same crowd's haughty defense of the woman -- white, btw -- who accused African-American basketball star Kobe Bryant of rape not too long ago. And despite all of the rumors of binge drinking and loose behavior on the island of Aruba, I don't hear Limbaugh and Beck calling Natalee Holloway -- also white -- out.

This young woman's allegations may or may not turn out to be true. We'll have to wait and see. But the fact that she was stripping -- whatever you think of that -- to pay for her college tuition and feed her child -- may make her a person you wouldn't hang with, but it doesn't make her a hooker, and it doesn't make her a liar. The prosecutor in this case says he's proceeding because there is physical evidence beyond DNA. That apparently includes an examination by a nurse at Duke University Hospital who is expert in rape cases, and who found physical evidence consistent with this woman having been raped and sodomized, possibly with a foreign object, Abner Louima-style. I suppose a foreign object could leave it's DNA behind. But I doubt it. And let's recall that DNA evidence is discovered in only about one in five rape cases, so the findings this week are by no means the end of the story. Could she have imagined the whole thing? (She supposedly has ID'd the three alleged attackers, named Adam, Bret and Matt.) Made it all up? Sure. But she's not the only one in this case with an unsavory past. 15 of the players have police records. 46 of them are stonewalling the police. Could it be about politics, since the D.A., Mr. Nifong, is up for reelection? Certainly. I'm not saying any of these guys are guilty. I'm just saying we should let the case play out and withhold judgement of the victim, just as so many are asking that we withhold judgment on the players. Bottom line: I have a great deal of respect for Jeralyn Merritt, but in this case, the jury is still out for me.

Beck asked this morning, "can a hooker get raped? Sure! and is it wrong? Absolutely!" I'd pose another to him and to his fat friend Limbaugh: can someone appear to be a racist ass on the radio, and not actually be a racist ass? It's entirely possible. After all, anything is.

Sidebar: A group representing "Duke families" seeking "fairness" in the case have retained uber-lawyer Bob Bennett, brother of the bookie of virtues and onetime defender of both Bill Clinton and Judy Miller... Bennett is not repping anyone on the criminal end of the case.

Unsurprising update: You can always count on LaShawn Barber to say all the things white people wish they could say in public, but nowadays only say when they're alone. What would they do without her? (If you don't care to read her latest diatribe, I'll summarize: That beeyatch is LYING on those wonderful, upstanding white boys. I used to drink, but do you see me blaming that on the white people who made Jim Beam??? HELL, NO! Black people need to stop (s)TRIPPIN!) ... ahem.

Update 2: A second round of DNA tests is being conducted in this case. Also, apparently the speed with which the first set of tests came back is apparently unusual, leading defendants in other cases who are still waiting on results to wonder what gives...

Links: The Search Warrant affidavit (linked above), courtesy of the Smoking Gun.

Update 2: A second round of DNA tests is being conducted in this case. Also, apparently the speed with which the first set of tests came back is apparently unusual, leading defendants in other cases who are still waiting on results to wonder what gives...

Links: The Search Warrant affidavit (linked above), courtesy of the Smoking Gun.

Update 3: An eyewitness who was at Duke University Hospital the night the accuser turned up following the party (March 13) has given this account to ESPN:


"She was hysterical. She was crying. She was pretty banged up. She said she was sexually assaulted, but she didn't say by whom," the staff member told ESPN The
Magazine's Eric Adelson.

The staff member went on to say the sexual assault nurse found injuries in the woman's pelvic area. "She never said one thing about Duke, any athlete or anything," the source said. "She just kept hollering and screaming. She never said who did it."

Now why ABC11 would headline this story, "Report: Attacker Didn't Mention Duke, Athletes at Hospital" is way, way beyond me. Somebody call the managing editor...

Also, here's what got through the IBS message board monitor. Note how quickly the racism slips out of people like James004 when confronted by a disputed set of facts, one Black, one White... My money says people like James were on exactly the opposite side of the Kobe Bryant case...

Update: Crypto-newsman Tucker Carlson gets in on the act...

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posted by JReid @ 11:05 AM  
Things it would have been helpful for the Washington Post to figure out three years ago
The Bush administration pushed still more phony information in the early days of the Iraq war, according to the Washington Post:
On May 29, 2003, 50 days after the fall of Baghdad, President Bush proclaimed a fresh victory for his administration in Iraq: Two small trailers captured by U.S. troops had turned out to be long-sought mobile "biological laboratories." He declared, "We have found the weapons of mass destruction."

The claim, repeated by top administration officials for months afterward, was hailed at the time as a vindication of the decision to go to war. But even as Bush spoke, U.S. intelligence officials possessed powerful evidence that it was not true.

A secret fact-finding mission to Iraq -- not made public until now -- had already concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons. Leaders of the Pentagon-sponsored mission transmitted their unanimous findings to Washington in a field report on May 27, 2003, two days before the president's statement.

The three-page field report and a 122-page final report three weeks later were stamped "secret" and shelved. Meanwhile, for nearly a year, administration and intelligence officials continued to publicly assert that the trailers were weapons factories.
Not surprising, but this is yet another blow to Mr. Bush's shattered credibility -- something that would have come in handy given the current issues with Iran. And it's likely to extend the public's mass tune-out of the president. (At least, until he launches the next war...)

Sidebar: The woman voted as Miss Iraq has resigned the post after just four days, citing death threats...(she's an Armenian Christian). Apparently,
"Although they received no threats, the first, second, and third runner-ups passed up on the offer to be this year's Miss Iraq.

With the bench cleared, it's fallen upon Ms. Teen Iraq, Silva Shahakian, to be the new Miss Iraq. She's a Christian too.
Does this mean that Muslim women refused or feared, to run for the title?

Tags: , , Politics, Bush, News
posted by JReid @ 1:00 AM  
Taking care of the R's
New Abramoff revelations are in:

Abramoff’s team repeatedly discussed donations as the reason Republican leaders should intervene for the Saginaw, the e-mails show.

“The tribes that want this (not just ours) are the only guys who take care of the Rs,” Abramoff deputy Todd Boulanger wrote in a June 19, 2002, e-mail to Abramoff and his lobbying team, using “Rs” as shorthand for Republicans.

“We’re going to seriously reconsider our priorities in the current lists I’m drafting right now if our friends don’t weigh in with some juice. If leadership isn’t going to cash in a chit for (easily) our most important project, then they are out of luck from here on out,” he wrote, referring to political donation lists.

The e-mails have become evidence in a federal corruption probe into whether lawmakers, congressional aides and administration officials helped Abramoff’s clients in exchange for gifts and donations.
Of course, the NBC report does its best to make the scandal look bi-partisan. Nice try.

And will the White House be drawn into the GOP election phone jamming case?
MANCHESTER, N.H. -- A former White House political director denied Tuesday that he or anyone on his staff spoke with New England Republicans about a phone-jamming scheme designed to keep New Hampshire Democrats from voting in 2002.

Ken Mehlman, now chairman of the Republican National Committee, acknowledged that local GOP officials had called a White House operative in the days surrounding the election. But he said none of the conversations involved the phone-jamming incident.

"As White House political director during the 2002 election cycle, my staff and I regularly communicated with competitive congressional campaigns and Republican Party organizations," Mehlman said.

On Nov. 5, 2002, repeated hang-up calls jammed telephone lines at a Democratic get-out-the-vote center during a New Hampshire Senate race in which Republican John Sununu defeated Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, 51 percent to 46 percent.
Yes, Ken. Whatever you say.

Tags: , Politics, Corruption, Bush, DeLay, Congress, Republicans, News
posted by JReid @ 12:51 AM  
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Ring the alarm
Courtesy of the War and Peace blog (tip to ThinkProgress), a preview of Bill Arkin's next WaPo blog entry. The blockbuster tease: "Current land warfare war gaming and planning for Iran -- you read it here first" ... as WaP says, "with what Army?"

And despite Sy Hersh's assertions in his numerous television and radio interviews yesterday and today that we're mainly talking about using our Air Force and Navy against Iran, should we do it (as they're not currently bogged down in Iraq) Arkin paintes a very different scenario in his post from Monday, also htipping War and Peace:

A war with Iran started purposefully or by accident, will be a mess. What is happening now though is not just an administration prudently preparing . . . against an aggressive and crazed state, it is also aggressive and crazed, driven by groupthink and a closed circle of bears.

The public needs to know first, that this planning includes preemptive plans that the President could approve and implement with 12 hours notice. Congress should take notice of the fact that there is a real war plan -- CONPLAN 8022 -- and it could be implemented tomorrow.

Second, the public needs to know that the train has left the station on bigger war planning, that a ground war -- despite the Post claim yesterday that a land invasion 'is not contemplated' -- is also being prepared. It is a real war plan; I've heard CONPLAN 1025.

Like early 2002, the floodgates have opened and the stories about Iran war planning have started. Some claim Dick Cheney has already made the decision, some claim war this spring, some say the U.S. and Israel are collaborating.
This is getting serious, folks...

So what is "CONPLAN 8022"? According to the Nuclear Information Project:

The roots of the nuclear option in Global Strike go back more than a decade to the early 1990s, where military planners and policy makers gradually began to broaden the scope of U.S. nuclear strategy to incorporate missions against proliferators armed with weapons of mass destruction. Yet the nuclear counterproliferation mission was controversial because it appeared to broaden rather than reduce the role of nuclear weapons. The attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in September 2001 removed those constraints and led to the formulation of new guidance that has spawned a highly offensive Global Strike mission with prompt or even preemptive strike planning against imminent threats anywhere on (and under) the face of the Earth.

The operational embodiment of the Global Strike mission is CONPLAN 8022, the detailed strike plan directed against proliferation targets in North Korea, Iran, and elsewhere. First operational in 2004, refinement of CONPLAN 8022 continues.

The most recent version of the plan, reportedly developed in 2003, involves the use of tactical nuclear weapons, just as Seymour Hersh stated in his New Yorker article.

The Center for Research and Globalization did a very detailed piece on the U.S. posture toward Iran, including the Israeli ties, and the ties to AIPAC and the Larry Franklin spying scandal, Jack Abramoff and more. Writes Global Research contributor F. William Engdahl:

The neo-conservatives, although slightly lower profile in the second Bush Administration, are every bit as active, especially through Cheney’s office. They want a pre-emptive bombing strike on Iran’s nuclear sites.

But whatever Cheney’s office may be doing, officially, the Bush administration is pursuing a markedly different approach than it did in 2003, when its diplomacy was aimed at lining up allies for a war. This time, U.S. diplomats are seeking an international consensus on how to proceed, or at least, cultivating the impression of that.

Iraq and the deepening US disaster there has severely constrained possible US options in Iran. Back in 2003 in the wake of the Iraqi ‘victory,’ leading Washington neo-conservative hawks were vocally calling on Bush to ‘Move on to Tehran’ after Saddam Hussein. Now, because of the ``bloody quagmire'' in Iraq, the US is severely constrained from moving unilaterally.

With 140,000 troops tied down in Iraq, the US military physically cannot support another invasion and occupation in yet another country, let alone Iran.

Because of Iran's size, a ground invasion may require twice as many troops as in Iraq, says Richard Russell, a Middle East specialist at the National Defense University in Washington. While an air campaign could take out Iran's air defenses, it could also trigger terrorism and oil disruptions. Washington is internally split over the issue of a successful nuclear strike against Iran...
The piece also has this to say about CONPLAN 8022-02:

In January 2003 President Bush signed a classified Presidential Directive, CONPLAN 8022-02. Conplan 8022 is a war plan different from all prior in that it posits ‘no ground troops.’ It was specifically drafted to deal with ‘imminent’ threats from states such as North Korea or Iran.

Unlike the warplan for Iraq, a conventional one, which required coordinated preparation of air, ground and sea forces before it could be launched, a process of months even years, Conplan 8022 called for a highly concentrated strike combining bombing with electronic warfare and cyberattacks to cripple an opponent’s response—cutting electricity in the country, jamming communications, hacking computer networks.

Conplan 8022 explicitly includes a nuclear option, specially configured earth-penetrating ‘mini’ nukes to hit underground sites such as Iran’s. In summer 2005 Defense Secretary Rumsfeld approved a top secret ‘Interim Global Strike Alert Order’ directing round-the-clock military readiness, to be directed by the Omaha-based Strategic Command (Stratcom), according to a report in the May 15, 2005 Washington Post. Previously, ominously enough, Stratcom oversaw only the US nuclear forces. In January 2003 Bush signed on to a definition of ‘full spectrum global strike’ which included precision nuclear as well as conventional bombs, and space warfare. This was a follow-up to the President’s September 2002 National Security Strategy which laid out as US strategic doctrine a policy of ‘pre-emptive’ wars.

The burning question is whether, with plunging popularity polls, a coming national election, scandals and loss of influence, the Bush White House might ‘think the unthinkable’ and order a nuclear pre-emptive global strike on Iran before the November elections, perhaps early after the March 28 Israeli elections.

Some Pentagon analysts have suggested that the entire US strategy towards Iran, unlike with Iraq, is rather a carefully orchestrated escalation of psychological pressure and bluff to force Iran to back down. It seems clear, especially in light of the strategic threat Iran faces from US or Israeli forces on its borders after 2003 that Iran is not likely to back down from its clear plans to develop the full nuclear fuel cycle capacities and with it, the option of developing an Iranian nuclear capability.

The question then is what will Washington do? The fundamental change in US defense doctrine since 2001, from a posture of defense to offense has significantly lowered the threshold of nuclear war, perhaps even of a global nuclear conflagration.

And this was written in January, well before Hersh's scoop...

Back to Arkin's blog. He writes late Tuesday that war gaming a ground and possibly nuclear war with Iran dates back to the end of the first Gulf War, with much of it taking place during the Clinton administration:

In December 1991, flush with victory against the Iraqi army after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, the RAND Corporation began a "Future of Warfare" seminar war game series positing Iran as the main future enemy.

The end of the Cold War and the seeming vanquishing of the Iraqi threat had left the Pentagon in a quandary. "I'm running out of enemies," Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Colin Powell said.

Left without a distinct military foe, the Pentagon had to find a politically correct (i.e., non-Russian) yet challenging high intensity scenario to feed the machine. Iran was the obvious choice for the Middle East.
Obvious indeed.

Remember the PNAC principles of transformation (following some catalyzing event, like a "Pearl Harbor...?" The imperative to "fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars?" while "challenging regimes hostile to our interests and values?" And not least, Bush's messianic determination to carry out the PNAC plan?

It's time for Americans to begin taking this possibility very seriously. Very seriously indeed. Just because Jack Straw says the idea is nuts doesn't mean our administration isn't even nuttier...

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posted by JReid @ 11:52 PM  
Oh no she didn't!
Apparently, Debbie Schlussel can't handle the Jawa -- especially on the radio. Be careful, Dr. Rusty, she's crazier than Bill O'Reilly watching "Countdown," (note that she tends to use a lot of ALL CAPS WHEN SHE BLOGS...!!!) and she likes to sue (and, like O'Reilly, to call the authorities; namely the FBI, according to fellow -- yet perfectly sane -- conservative blogger Beth Donovan.) Actually, I think her problem is that she's just not sexy anymore... although she continues to go with this pic on her site... I think it's a scientific fact that a marked decline in sexiness can lead to elevated levels of crazy. Yeah, I think I read that in the New England Journal of Guttersnipes...

Previous cattiness about crazy Debbie (and a few lines about that guy who calls himself "Ann Coulter"):
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posted by JReid @ 11:28 PM  
Caught! Mr. Coulter goes to Florida
...and registers to vote in the wrong county. BradBlog has the ev'dence... Oh, "Ann Coulter," you crazy fella...!

Sidebar: Mash, you crazy kid...

Alec Baldwin ponders sexual relations with Coulter and contemplates his mortality -- at the same time... (hm, would that count as a homosexual relationship...?)

This one's just great for the picture. Yeeeesh...!

Tags: , Media, conservative,
posted by JReid @ 11:00 PM  
Cheney booed ... film at 11
... unless of course you had your fingers in your ears...!

Dick Cheney gets the treatment as he throws out the first pitch at a Nationals game. And he throws like a girl. That said, at least he didn't respond to the unfriendly crowd by shooting them in the face...


Apparently this guy (cough) doesn't recall that this is the same Dick Cheney who tells people to f--- off on the Senate floor. Talk about disrespect...

And now for a trip down memory lane...

Remember when Dick was booed during the seventh inning stretch at Yankee stadium in 2004? Yeah. Those were the days...

...And the time he was told to go f--- himself during his post hurrricane tour? Ah, memories...

Tags: , Cheney
posted by JReid @ 10:12 PM  
The Newt-o-matic
"Whatchyou talkin' bout, Willis?" Newt backpeddles on the "Iraq/mistake stuff" faster than you can say Free Republic... (and his people have even gotten the Argus Leader to change the headline on its web version of the story to something much more benign than "Oh, crap, we've really srewed up Iraq, haven't we??? I mean really, royally screwed it up!!!" ... now that's quick work...) [Photo at left credit: JayLincoln.com]

Oops! Too late to stem the tide of sneering, kvetching and insulting! Un samplito:

Gingrich's efforts to move to what he perceives as the squishy middle, alongside his health-care buddy Hillary Clinton on Iraq is indicative of the weakness and moral vacillation that has dogged him throughout his political career. The complications of those character defects are what led to his decision to resign not only from the Speakership but from Congress on November 6, 1998 - after a disastrous mid term election that found the GOP losing 5 seats - at a time when his personal life was again thrown into tumult over charges of sexual impropriety.
Aye, que dia! Good thing the loyal folks at Townhall are there to save him! The Townies' Tim Chapman grabs the following update from the Newt web presence:


... Former Speaker Newt Gingrich's comments at USD and reported below in the linked Argus Union Leader were taken out of context. On Gingrich's website, his position is clarified:
Gingrich's position of Iraq has been consistent and clear:

1. The decision by Paul Bremer to go from a liberation model to an occupation model in June 2003 was a major mistake (Gingrich first said this publicly in December 2003).

2. The United States needs to train the Iraqis as rapidly as possible and "pull back" from the cities to bases and air fields and serve as reinforcers as opposed to occupiers (this position is outlined in today's WSJ as the official policy).

3. The United States is likely to need to keep some forces in Iraq for a very long time (Gingrich has been saying this as far back in 2003).
On the Newtosphere, the rewriters put up a lengthy transcript of a part of Gingrich's speech in which he criticizes the decision to insert an American proconsul, Paul Bremer, into Iraq, and to do repeated American television appearances there to "remind the Iraqis of the occupation." The following quote, from the original Argus article, is not included:


"It was an enormous mistake for us to try to occupy that country after June of 2003," Gingrich said during a question-and-answer session at the school. "We have to pull back, and we have to recognize it."
Nor do the Newties include the clip whereby Gingrich calls for U.S. forces to be pulled out ... er... scaled back, in Iraq, and redeployed to neighboring ... hang on, that's the Jack Murtha plan!
Funny how the righties are coming around to Murtha's point of view (while calling it their own)

Update: Is our Freepers satisfied? Mmmmmm!

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Tags: Iraq, News, News and politics,

posted by JReid @ 6:42 PM  
Another general stands up
Lieut. Gen. Gregory Newbold, one of the few senior military officers to speak up, and then resign on principle, over the Iraq war, gives a succinct, thorough accounting of the mistakes, including Condi Rice's cynical attempt to blame the troops for her and her bosses' failures. Here is what Newbold had to say:

In 1971, the rock group The Who released the antiwar anthem Won't Get Fooled Again. To most in my generation, the song conveyed a sense of betrayal by the nation's leaders, who had led our country into a costly and unnecessary war in Vietnam. To those of us who were truly counterculture--who became career members of the military during those rough times--the song conveyed a very different message. To us, its lyrics evoked a feeling that we must never again stand by quietly while those ignorant of and casual about war lead us into another one and then mismanage the conduct of it. Never again, we thought, would our military's senior leaders remain silent as American troops were marched off to an ill-considered engagement. It's 35 years later, and the judgment is in: the Who had it wrong. We have been fooled again.

From 2000 until October 2002, I was a Marine Corps lieutenant general and director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After 9/11, I was a witness and therefore a party to the actions that led us to the invasion of Iraq--an unnecessary war. Inside the military family, I made no secret of my view that the zealots' rationale for war made no sense. And I think I was outspoken enough to make those senior to me uncomfortable. But I now regret that I did not more openly challenge those who were determined to invade a country whose actions were peripheral to the real threat--al-Qaeda. I retired from the military four months before the invasion, in part because of my opposition to those who had used 9/11's tragedy to hijack our security policy. Until now, I have resisted speaking out in public. I've been silent long enough.

I am driven to action now by the missteps and misjudgments of the White House and the Pentagon, and by my many painful visits to our military hospitals. In those places, I have been both inspired and shaken by the broken bodies but unbroken spirits of soldiers, Marines and corpsmen returning from this war. The cost of flawed leadership continues to be paid in blood. The willingness of our forces to shoulder such a load should make it a sacred obligation for civilian and military leaders to get our defense policy right. They must be absolutely sure that the commitment is for a cause as honorable as the sacrifice.

With the encouragement of some still in positions of military leadership, I offer a challenge to those still in uniform: a leader's responsibility is to give voice to those who can't--or don't have the opportunity to--speak. Enlisted members of the armed forces swear their oath to those appointed over them; an officer swears an oath not to a person but to the Constitution. The distinction is important.

Before the antiwar banners start to unfurl, however, let me make clear--I am not opposed to war. I would gladly have traded my general's stars for a captain's bars to lead our troops into Afghanistan to destroy the Taliban and al-Qaeda. And while I don't accept the stated rationale for invading Iraq, my view--at the moment--is that a precipitous withdrawal would be a mistake. It would send a signal, heard around the world, that would reinforce the jihadists' message that America can be defeated, and thus increase the chances of future conflicts. If, however, the Iraqis prove unable to govern, and there is open civil war, then I am prepared to change my position.

I will admit my own prejudice: my deep affection and respect are for those who volunteer to serve our nation and therefore shoulder, in those thin ranks, the nation's most sacred obligation of citizenship. To those of you who don't know, our country has never been served by a more competent and professional military. For that reason, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's recent statement that "we" made the "right strategic decisions" but made thousands of "tactical errors" is an outrage. It reflects an effort to obscure gross errors in strategy by shifting the blame for failure to those who have been resolute in fighting. The truth is, our forces are successful in spite of the strategic guidance they receive, not because of it.

What we are living with now is the consequences of successive policy failures. Some of the missteps include: the distortion of intelligence in the buildup to the war, McNamara-like micromanagement that kept our forces from having enough resources to do the job, the failure to retain and reconstitute the Iraqi military in time to help quell civil disorder, the initial denial that an insurgency was the heart of the opposition to occupation, alienation of allies who could have helped in a more robust way to rebuild Iraq, and the continuing failure of the other agencies of our government to commit assets to the same degree as the Defense Department. My sincere view is that the commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions--or bury the results.

Flaws in our civilians are one thing; the failure of the Pentagon's military leaders is quite another. Those are men who know the hard consequences of war but, with few exceptions, acted timidly when their voices urgently needed to be heard. When they knew the plan was flawed, saw intelligence distorted to justify a rationale for war, or witnessed arrogant micromanagement that at times crippled the military's effectiveness, many leaders who wore the uniform chose inaction. A few of the most senior officers actually supported the logic for war. Others were simply intimidated, while still others must have believed that the principle of obedience does not allow for respectful dissent. The consequence of the military's quiescence was that a fundamentally flawed plan was executed for an invented war, while pursuing the real enemy, al-Qaeda, became a secondary effort.

Newbold goes on to blame not only the Bush administration, but also the supine Congress and military leaders whom he says should now put caution aside and speak up, for the sake of our troops in the field. He praises officers like the Army's Shinseki and Abizaid, and Gen. Mike Hagee of the Marines who did speak up for their own, as did former Centcom chiefs Joe Hoar and Anthony Zinni (wouldn't you love to see him as DOD chief?)

Oh, and he joins the chorus of calls to can our own private MacNamara, Don Rumsfeld. That would indeed be a good start. An excellent piece of writing, General. And no, it's not too little too late (that would be the province of Colin Powell...)

Also, a flashback to vindication for the "windbags of war..." (Newbold included, along with McCaffrey, Clark and Montgomery Miegs. He's not a general, but I think you should also throw in military analyst Gregory Arkin, who has been spot on throughout the Iraq mess...)

Tags: American Soldiers, Iraq, Politics, , ,

posted by JReid @ 6:20 PM  
Crossing the rubicon

Iran announces a nuclear breakthrough that's sure to alarm the West:

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran is producing enriched uranium from 164 centrifuges, influential former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said on Tuesday, a major step toward its goal of making nuclear fuel for power stations.

Rafsanjani's comments to Kuwait's KUNA news agency came ahead of a planned announcement by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about progress in Iran's nuclear program, which media had speculated would say that Iran had produced low-grade enriched uranium.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the statement showed Iran was "moving in the wrong direction" and if it persisted, the United States would discuss possible next steps with U.N. Security Council members.

"If the regime continues to move in the direction that it is currently, then we will be talking about the way forward with the other members of the Security Council and Germany about how to address this going forward," McClellan said on board Air Force One en route to Missouri.

Iran's announcement is a serious setback to U.N. Security Council efforts to have Tehran halt enrichment work. It could escalate a confrontation with Western powers leading to consideration of sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

The West fears Iran is using its power station program as a smokescreen to build atomic bombs, a charge Tehran denies.

"We operated the first unit which comprises of 164 centrifuges, gas was injected, and we got the industrial output," Rafsanjani said in an interview with KUNA.

"There needs to be an expansion of operations if we are to have a complete industrial unit; tens of units are required to set up a uranium enrichment plant," said Rafsanjani, who was Ahmadinejad's rival in last year's presidential race.

Ahmadinejad had said he would announce "good news" on atomic progress on Tuesday, but had not given details.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph's Con Coughlin sounded this alarming note even before the announcement ...

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posted by JReid @ 1:15 PM  
Who's a cheese eating surrender monkey?
Apparently... um ... Newt Gingrich! Says E&P:
The Argus-Leader of Sioux-Falls, S.D. was on the scene Monday to report that Newt Gingrich, the former Republican Speaker of the House, had told students and faculty at the University of South Dakota that the United States should pull out of Iraq and leave only a small force there, just as it did post-war in Korea and Germany.

"It was an enormous mistake for us to try to occupy that country after June of 2003," Gingrich said during an informal question-and-answer session at the school, according to the newspaper. "We have to pull back, and we have to recognize it."

Gingrich was greeted with a standing ovation when he appeared at the school for the inaugural Edmund Burke Lecture, named after a man who is often called the father of modern conservatism.

"We are at one of those great intersections in history when we as a people are going to have to have a great conversation with each other," Gingrich said.
Hm. Better not tell that to this guy. ... The Argus Leader scoopola, written up by reporter Monica Labelle, can be experienced first-hand here.

Tags: Iraq, News, News and politics,
posted by JReid @ 11:01 AM  
Quick takes: Monsters and critics
Horrors: The prosecution plays the dying recordings of victims of 9/11 in the Moussaoui sentencing case. The judge warns they might be overly prejudicial. Ya think...?

Critics: Gallup finds that the more Americans know about the president's role in the CIA leak case, the more they don't like it...
Overall, 63% of Americans believe Bush did something either illegal (21%) or unethical (42%), while 28% say he did nothing wrong. While many more Democrats are critical, 3 in 10 Republicans also find that Bush did something illegal or unethical.

The more closely people are following the issue, the more likely they are to say he did something illegal rather than merely unethical.

The poll, conducted April 7-9, 2006, shows that just 25% of Americans are following the matter "very" closely, while another 39% are following the issue "somewhat" closely. Another 36% are not following the issue closely at all.
Propaganda: The U.S. military disputes a WaPo story on U.S. propaganda efforts in Iraq, aimed at making Zarqawi look like a bigger figure than he really is. The folks at The Corner don't see what all the fuss is about...

Immigration nation: Some facts on Latinos and the electorate. Short version: the GOP is kidding itself if it thinks legalizing Mexican immigrants is the key to its long term electoral issues. Not every immigration marcher is a Latino activist or an American flag defender. Herewith, note the coming of the Crispus Attucks Brigade...! And Gallup finds an America divided over whether to criminalize ... illegal ... migrants (isn't that redundant?)

Nobody likes Kathy, volume three: Katherine Harris says the righties who want her to quit the race simply haven't "caught her vision" yet...

Random takes: Alas, a Blog catalogues the nastiness over those Duke DNA results... FDL asks whether Joementum will become an independant force ... while guest blogger Matt O. of The Great Society digs around in the Little Green Footballers' smelly, dirty laundry...

Last but not least, we're link-running a series on Afghanistan by guest blogger Willie Buck Merle, whose first post is a must-read (cross posted at The War Years)

Tags: News, News and politics, Current Affairs, Immigration, Bush
posted by JReid @ 10:16 AM  
The War Years:
Remembering the Halt outside Kabul
(appeasing the interests of a cartel)
Hello, my name is Willie Buck Merle and while Afghanistan is trying to sneak under the radar I hope you'll find the first installment of this series engaging enough.
Take care, enjoy the new site and many thanks to J and her quality weblog.. an impeteus in the creation of "the War Years".
posted by Harold Nicolson @ 1:51 AM  
Monday, April 10, 2006
Si no podemos (or, don't mess with Dobbs)
I love Lou Dobbs. He's the uncontested king of the dead-pan cable chat show dis, and his show has become required viewing around my house. Did you catch Dobbs going off on one of his guests, open borders advocate and protest organizer Nativo Lopez, for using racial slurs on the show to make his point that the term "illegal aliens" is offensive to Latinos? Dobbs' face turned red, and though he continued smiling, he looked like he wanted to jump through the satellite feed and get-to bitch slapping...

To tell you the truth, the more I listen to pro amnesty voices like Lopez, with all the implications of entitlement to citizenship for those 11 million or more illegal migrants already in the U.S. and the seeming mentality of many of the protesters that, in the words of one, there is no southern border, just one, big "American continent," the more I understand why Dobbs spends night after night toiling away ont he "broken borders" issue, much like a broken record. (My question is, if we grant "earned amnesty" to these 11 million, won't we just have to do the same in another ten years or so for the 11 million who enter between now and then? And how many million is enough for the U.S. to absorb? Another 10? Another 20? Do open borders advocates forsee any limit at all...?)

Anyway, Dobbs' other target tonight was Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had one of his staffers pen this Reagan grave-robbing, panderifical op-ed in Monday's Wall Street Journal ("shining city on a hill," Reagan, governor, blah blah blah). Here's Lou's response, complete with the now classid Dobbs "syllogism" (my bonus word for 2006): "we cannot reform immigration law and policy if we cannot control immigration. And we cannot control immigration if we cannot secure our borders and our ports." More Dobbs:


... Governor, were you talking about me when you said, "How ironic it is to hear some of the same voices who complain about the outsourcing of jobs also complain about the use of immigrant workers here in America"?

If so, be a man, Governor, use names. You know my name. And don't call illegal aliens "immigrants." You insult legal immigrants when you do.

You know as well as I do that I've never complained about "immigrant workers" in this country, only illegal aliens and illegal employers who break the law.

Just so we're clear about the connection between illegal labor in this country and the outsourcing of jobs to cheap foreign labor markets: Both are part of corporate America's drive to lower wages in this country for middle-class working men and women.

And when you talk about "the use of immigrant workers here in America," you sound more like one of those corporatists that dominate our political system right now than a leader of all of the people in your state.

You know, including the tens of millions of legal citizens that happen to live in California.
Oooh, Arnold, sounds like somebody just called you a "girlie man..."

And by the way, with all the arguments that seem to be edging closer and closer to accusing anyone who opposes unrestricted illegal migraiton and amnesty with anti-Latino racism, a new poll suggests that the million Azetlanista marches taking place across the country don't necessarily represent all Latino-Americans... (hat tip to AJ Strata, who has his own 10 point plan for curbing illegal immigration, some of which are interesting -- #s 1, 5, 6, 7 and 10 are keepers. 3 & 4 are maybes, and #2 definitely costs too much if you're talking about a bricks and mortar wall -- besides the fact that employer sanctions would probably work just as well, in conjunciton with some physical reinforcement of the biggest trouble spots. The rest, I'm not so sure...)

Elsewhere: here's just one piece of the Malkin chronicles (did I mention that it makes me physically ill when I agree with even some of what she says?) Upchucking now...

Claro que si! Meanwhile, Wizbang's Kim P has figured out the politics... Psst! Kim! Non-Cuban Hispanics already vote 70-30 Democrat! This isn't a change, it's una continuacion. And yep, Bush's Mexican voter magic is mostly a media fiction (holding my nose and linking) -- you know ... like John McCain's maverickdom...

Meanwhile, for my Sunday flashback: Mickey Kaus rounds up the press clips, including this fascinating clip:

Once you get past the Neutral Story Line** crap about the "web of suspicion" between "two parties bruised by years of partisan conflict," blah, blah, blah, the LAT's Ron Brownstein seems to rebut the spin of pro-legalization Republicans, which is that Senate Democrats don't want an immigration bill because they're eager to have Republicans tarred by their association with that unpopular, draconian Sensenbrenneresque House bill, etc. Instead, it seems the Senate Democrats are scared they might be asked to actually vote on a Sensenbrenneresque enforcement-only bill--and they're scared because the bill would be popular.
They're not the only ones. Anyone seen Bill Frist's anti-knee knock medication? The GOP is being pulled apart because the party's two halves are forcing it to choose between white middle class voters, and this attractive, shiny bauble called "future Hispanic voters," as if Mel Martinez can wave a magic wand and make all Latinos behave the way Cuban-Americans do. Well, amigos, no te puedes. Hispanics are natural Democrats, particularly if they come into the country poor or lower middle class. Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Colombians -- everyone except Cubans and possibly Venezuelans --all in South Florida btw, tend to side with the Dems. Legalize millions more, and you'll get millions more Democrats. And you'll piss off your core, white base. Don't legalize them, and you'll get millions more Democrats, because Hispanic Americans will read it as a sign that the GOP is as racist as they've heard from La Raza and other groups.

See how that works? Now, as I've said before, who is the genius who decided it was a good idea for the GOP to bring this up?

Previous:
Tags: , Politics, border, MEXICO, , , Illegal-Aliens, Illegal immigration, ,
posted by JReid @ 11:47 PM  
Confessions of a leaky bucket
So George W. Bush admits it was he who ordered the "declassification" of that October, 2002 National Intelligence Estimate that Scooter Libby leaked in part to Judy Miller some ten days before Bush ... um ... declassified it. Of course, he did it to help the American people "know the truth," not to discredit Joe Wilson... riiiight....

OK. Sounds like the Bushies have decided that the best way not to go down with Scooter is to be down with Scooter -- whatever Libby says, they say too. (And in their latest P.R. gambit, they have the support of the Washington Post editorial board, if not the polling department...)


2. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Bush is handling (ITEM)? 4/9/06 - Summary Table*
Approve/ Disapprove /No op.
a. The situation in Iraq 37 /62 / 1
b. The US campaign against terrorism 50 / 49 / 1
c. The economy 40 /59 / 1
d. Prescription drug benefits for the elderly 37 / 53 / 10
e. Immigration issues 33 /61 /5
f. Health care 33 /62 / 4
g. The situation with gas prices 23 / 74 /3

However...

If Bush did declassify that NIE:

-- Why was it leaked only to Ms. Miller, rather than handed out to any reporter who cared to review it?

-- Why did Libby feel the need to request anonymity from Ms. Miller? Never heard of an official needing to have his or her identity disguised in order to give "declassified" information destined for the public sphere to a reporter...

-- Why has, according to Reuters, "a senior administration official said Bush did not designate Libby or anyone else to release the information, trying to distance Bush from any tactical decisions made on how to release the information."? Does that make any sense?

-- How involved was the president in the leaking ... er ... declassifying gambit? CHB suggests Bush was only tangentially involved, and that the details -- including directly Libby to spill the "declassified" beans to Judy Miller -- to the vice president...

-- And did Bush ever handle, and "declassify" -- information directly related to Joseph Wilson? I came across this very interesting February 2 post on Murray Waas' sometimes-updated Blogger blog (I don't blame you for avoiding the Blogger, Murray. It goes down more often than Sean Hannity on the president ... ahem...) The post:

Did President Bush personally receive information during his morning intelligence briefings about Joe Wilson's mission to Niger? Court filings in the CIA leak case appear to indicate that that may well might have been the case.

Information to be reviewed during the President's morning briefings are written up in what is known as Presidential Daily Briefs, or PDBs. Attorneys for I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, are demanding copies of any PDBs that CIA leak special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald might have obtained during the course of his investigation.

In a January 9, 2006 response to the discovery demand, Fitzgerald wrote back:

“As you no doubt well aware, the documents referred to as Presidential Daily Briefs (“PDBs”) are extraordinarily sensitive documents which are usually highly classified. We have never requested copies of any PDBs. However, we did ask for relevant documents relating to Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife; Valerie Plame Wilson... and the trip undertaken by former Ambassador Joseph Wilson to Niger in 2002 (even if the items/documents themselves did not refer to Wilson by name) from the Executive Branch of the President and the Office of the Vice President.

“We also sought from the Central Intelligence Agency documents relating to the same items, with the exception that the CIA was no requested to produce documents relating to the same items, with the exception that the CIA was not requested to produce documents in its files regarding Valerie Plame Wilson that were not related directly or indirectly to Ambassador Wilson’s travel to Niger in February 2002.

“In response to our requests, we have received a very discrete amount of material relating to PDBs. We have provided to Mr. Libby and his counsel (or are in the process of providing such documents consistent with the process of a declassification review) copies of any pages in our possession reflecting discussions of Joseph Wilson, Valerie Wilson and/or Wilson’s trip to Niger contained in (or written on) copies of the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) in the redacted form in which we received them.”

One can click here to read a full set of the correspondence, which has been posted online, courstesy of the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy.
Hm ... For the answer to these and many other interesting questions, let's go to the right's favorite newspaper blogger, Dan Froomkin. Dan?


The latest twist in the leak investigation -- the news that Libby told a grand jury that he had Bush's permission, via Cheney, to divulge sensitive information to journalists -- raises a slew of questions too important for the White House to duck:

Is the president telling the truth? Is he a hypocrite? Under what circumstances did he take the country to war, and how far was he willing to go to cover them up? Can the president be trusted to distinguish what's truly in the national interest, as compared to what's simply in his political interest?

What's clearly needed now is full disclosure, on the record, starting at the very top.
Now back to your scheduled programming,already in progress...

BTW, where are the elected Republicans willing to defend the president on this bout of leaking ... um ... declassification?

Previous:
Tags: , Karl Rove, Valerie Plame, Politics, Libby, Bush, Cheney, Rove, Stephen Hadley, Patrick Fitzgerald, Fitzmas, Scooter Libby
posted by JReid @ 9:08 PM  
Duke rape case breaking news
Dan Abrams just announced that no DNA has been found on the accuser -- meaning under her fingernails or in her vaginal area -- belonging to one or more of the team members in the Duke lacrosse team rape case. According to officials, the only DNA that was found was on the bathroom floor and on towels belonging to two of the lacrosse players who lived at the house where the attack allegedly took place. None of that DNA matched the accuser. And lawyers note that it is common that a person's DNA would be found in their bathroom, and on their towel (particularly if the person is a post-adolescent male with no girlfriend...)

Anyway, the case is breaking all over the place. The prosecutor still believes that a rape took place. His case is now officially a he-said, she-said, unless there is some strong physical evidence (trauma to her, etc.) to go on.

Here's the story from the NBC affiliate in Raleigh:
DNA test results release Monday cleared members of the Duke University men's lacrosse team in an alleged rape of an exotic dancer at a party last month.

A North Carolina Central University student told police that she was performing as an exotic dancer at a March 13 party attended by lacrosse team members when she was pulled into a bathroom, beaten and raped by three men.

Forty-six members of the lacrosse team supplied DNA samples to authorities as part of the investigation, and the State Bureau of Investigation lab released the DNA evidence to the Durham County DIstrict Attorney's Office Monday afternoon.

Attorneys representing the players held a press conference to announce the results of the tests, saying they exonerated the players.

Attorneys Wade Smith and Joe Cheshire said the tests showed no DNA from any player was found on the woman or her belongings. The medical results showed the woman hadn't even had sex, the attorneys said.

"These results showed exactly what we knew all along," Cheshire said.
Still waiting to hear from the prosecutor...

Links: A few days ago, Alas a Blog did a good roundup of the case, that included the Jeralyn Merritt possible narrative of the case (a fight over money escalates into a rape charge?)

AAB also linked to this harsh article a few days ago in Front Page Magazine. Expect this sentiment to be repeated, many-fold, as the DNA results filter out...

Update: The local NAACP has been following the case as well, including what they say is racism in the case...

Update 2: Alas (a Blog) has the non-unexpected blog response... plus more on the vicissitudes of he-said, (s)he-said crime accusations...

Update 3: Wizbang's Kevin Aylward sees undue pressure on the D.A.

Tags: , ,
posted by JReid @ 6:12 PM  
As for Ahmadinejad...
...he's going to the World Cup. ... possibly in a track suit. Could this be the man President Bush is sort of denying he's planning to blow up with tactical nukes in a Messianic bid for regime change? What, me worry?

On a more serious note, Bush's semi-denials aside, it really is time for Americans to get serious about the possibility of our going to war with Iran. Remember former Iraq WMD inspector Scott Ritter? He said back in February that a war with Iran is coming, whether we like it or not:
"We just don't know when, but it's going to happen," Scott Ritter said to a crowd of about 150 at the James A. Little Theater on Sunday night.

Ritter described how the U.S. government might justify war with Iran in a scenario similar to the buildup to the Iraq invasion. He also argued that Iran wants a nuclear energy program, and not nuclear weapons. But the Bush administration, he said, refuses to believe Iran is telling the truth.

He predicted the matter will wind up before the U.N. Security Council, which will determine there is no evidence of a weapons program. Then, he said, John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, "will deliver a speech that has already been written. It says America cannot allow Iran to threaten the United States and we must unilaterally defend ourselves."

"How do I know this? I've talked to Bolton's speechwriter," Ritter said.

Ritter also predicted the military strategy for war with Iran. First, American forces will bomb Iran. If Iranians don't overthrow the current government, as Bush hopes they will, Iran will probably attack Israel. Then, Ritter said, the United States will drop a nuclear bomb on Iran.

The only way to prevent a war with Iran is to elect a Democratically controlled Congress in November, said Ritter, a lifelong Republican. He later said he wasn't worried his advice would be seen as partisan because, "It's a partisan issue." He said the problem is one party government and if Democrats controlled the presidency and Congress, he would advise people to elect Republicans.
Yes, but if Scott Ritter knows that, don't you think the president knows it too?

Wouldn't it be more likely that an attack on Iran, should it happen, would be launched in the early fall, after the summer lull (and after Americans have gotten used to super-high summertime gas prices, since they'll go even farther aloft if we attack one of the world's largest oil producing nations) but before the midterm elections? The Bushies might be calculating that they can get two for the price of one: Bush and the neocons' dream of hitting Tehran and possibly toppling its mullaocracy, and sky-high approval ratings for the reinvigorated commander in chief (along with a re-neutered press corps and a Congress -- Republican and Democrat -- put firmly back in its place).

After all, we'll be "at war" again, and we all know you're not supposed to criticize the commander in chief during a time of war. And you'll need to reelect a Republican Congress to make sure we don't "cut and run" from Iran, right? And about that domestic spying? Well, there could be American double agents talking by phone or AOL instant messager with Iran-Qaida. You know the drill...

So if there is going to be an attack on Iran, I'd bet September or October would be just the time to "launch the product." Don't you?

Previous:
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
posted by JReid @ 3:55 PM  
Losing friends
Looks like another Bush ally -- Italy's Silvio Berlusconi -- is about to go bye-bye. ...

Update: Unless, of course, he isn't going bye-bye...
posted by JReid @ 10:55 AM  
Quick take headlines: Demands and disbelief

Duke rape case: Justice4twosisters keeps daily track of the Duke rape case, while lawyers for some of the lacrosse players say they've got photos that prove the alleged victim is lying... and the media (and the players) are still waiting for the DNA...

Protests work, part one: Chirac will scrap a controversial jobs law, after protesters took to the streets for weeks to demand it...

Protests work, part two: Meanwhile, about a million (or perhaps even 2 million...) Hispanic activists (including an expected 180,000 in D.C.) plan to march in the U.S. today during a "national day of action," to try and get amnesty laws through Congress... catch phrase for today: "leave the Mexican flags at home..." or else...

Immigration take: Steve Clemons argues that Sen. Feinstein and others are wrongheaded on immigration, in that they want more brawn from abroad, but not enough brains...

Niger forgeries: Joshua Micah Marshall doesn't believe the new, official story of those forged documents that claimed Iraq was seeking "quanities of uranium" from Niger...

More information, please: Arlen Specter doesn't think the administration has said enough about those intelligence "declassifications." (Wonder what he thinks of Alberto Gonzalez latest pronouncements on the administration's right to spy on purely domestic phonecalls...)

Tags: News, News and politics, Current Affairs, Immigration, Bush

posted by JReid @ 10:48 AM  
Sunday, April 09, 2006
U.S. planning on nuking Iran?
Sy Hersh of the New Yorker has a disturbing new report out that suggests the U.S. may use nuclear weapons, specifically, bunker-busting tactical nukes, to try and take out Iran's nuclear facilities.
The Bush Administration, while publicl advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran fro pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increase clandestine activities inside Iran and intensifie planning for a possible major air attack. Curren and former American military and intelligenc officials said that Air Force planning groups ar drawing up lists of targets, and teams o American combat troops have been ordere into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting dat and to establish contact with anti-governmen ethnic-minority groups. The officials say tha President Bush is determined to deny th Iranian regime the opportunity to begin a pilo program, planned for this spring, to enrich uranium.

American and European intelligence agencies, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.), agree that Iran is intent on developing the capability to produce nuclear weapons. But there are widely differing estimates of how long that will take, and whether diplomacy, sanctions, or military action is the best way to prevent it. Iran insists that its research is for peaceful use only, in keeping with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and that it will not be delayed or deterred.

There is a growing conviction among members of the United States military, and in the international community, that President Bush’s ultimate goal in the nuclear confrontation with Iran is regime change. Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has challenged the reality of the Holocaust and said that Israel must be “wiped off the map.” Bush and others in the White House view him as a potential Adolf Hitler, a former senior intelligence official said. “That’s the name they’re using. They say, ‘Will Iran get a strategic weapon and threaten another world war?’ ”

A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was “absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb” if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do “what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,” and “that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.”
One former defense official, who still deals with sensitive issues for the Bush Administration, told me that the military planning was premised on a belief that “a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government.” He added, “I was shocked when I heard it, and asked myself, ‘What are they smoking?’ ”

The rationale for regime change was articulated in early March by Patrick Clawson, an Iran expert who is the deputy director for research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and who has been a supporter of President Bush. “So long as Iran has an Islamic republic, it will have a nuclear-weapons program, at least clandestinely,” Clawson told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 2nd. “The key issue, therefore, is: How long will the present Iranian regime last?”
When I spoke to Clawson, he emphasized that “this Administration is putting a lot of effort into diplomacy.” However, he added, Iran had no choice other than to accede to America’s demands or face a military attack. Clawson said that he fears that Ahmadinejad “sees the West as wimps and thinks we will eventually cave in. We have to be ready to deal with Iran if the crisis escalates.” Clawson said that he would prefer to rely on sabotage and other clandestine activities, such as “industrial accidents.” But, he said, it would be prudent to prepare for a wider war, “given the way the Iranians are acting. This is not like planning to invade Quebec.” ...


Of course, the key question to be asked -- and it's not one this administration is very good at asking -- is "then what?" What happens after we extend our record as the only nation on earth ever to use nuclear weapons, by deploying them a country that hasn't attacked us (sound familiar?) and in order to stop them from getting nuclear weapons just like the ones we've now used on them?

And now add to that that we're talking about the third Muslim country we've attacked in as many years, and the second which we've attacked without provocation...

And where goes Europe if the U.S. launches a third Gulf War? What about Russia and China? Hell, where goes Iran? They are now allied to the ascendant -- and heavily armed -- Shiite majority in neighboring Iraq, and their terrorist tentacles extend far beyond anything even the most delusional neocon ever imagined for Saddam Hussein.

So again, if we attack Iran, then what? Back to the war planning. Hersh writes of Bush's contacts with Congress on the matter of war with Iran:
The Bush Administration, while publicl advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran fro pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increase clandestine activities inside Iran and intensifie planning for a possible major air attack. Curren and former American military and intelligenc officials said that Air Force planning groups ar drawing up lists of targets, and teams o American combat troops have been ordere into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting dat and to establish contact with anti-governmen ethnic-minority groups. The officials say tha President Bush is determined to deny th Iranian regime the opportunity to begin a pilo program, planned for this spring, to enric uranium
American and European intelligence agencies, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.), agree that Iran is intent on developing the capability to produce nuclear weapons. But there are widely differing estimates of how long that will take, and whether diplomacy, sanctions, or military action is the best way to prevent it. Iran insists that its research is for peaceful use only, in keeping with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and that it will not be delayed or deterred.
There is a growing conviction among members of the United States military, and in the international community, that President Bush’s ultimate goal in the nuclear confrontation with Iran is regime change. Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has challenged the reality of the Holocaust and said that Israel must be “wiped off the map.” Bush and others in the White House view him as a potential Adolf Hitler, a former senior intelligence official said. “That’s the name they’re using. They say, ‘Will Iran get a strategic weapon and threaten another world war?’ ”
A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was “absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb” if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do “what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,” and “that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.”
One former defense official, who still deals with sensitive issues for the Bush Administration, told me that the military planning was premised on a belief that “a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government.” He added, “I was shocked when I heard it, and asked myself, ‘What are they smoking?’ ”
The rationale for regime change was articulated in early March by Patrick Clawson, an Iran expert who is the deputy director for research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and who has been a supporter of President Bush. “So long as Iran has an Islamic republic, it will have a nuclear-weapons program, at least clandestinely,” Clawson told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 2nd. “The key issue, therefore, is: How long will the present Iranian regime last?”
When I spoke to Clawson, he emphasized that “this Administration is putting a lot of effort into diplomacy.” However, he added, Iran had no choice other than to accede to America’s demands or face a military attack. Clawson said that he fears that Ahmadinejad “sees the West as wimps and thinks we will eventually cave in. We have to be ready to deal with Iran if the crisis escalates.” Clawson said that he would prefer to rely on sabotage and other clandestine activities, such as “industrial accidents.” But, he said, it would be prudent to prepare for a wider war, “given the way the Iranians are acting. This is not like planning to invade Quebec.”
I'll go out on a limb and guess that the "at least one Democrat" is Joe Lieberman, particularly since, as Hersh reports, ""The House member said that no one in the meetings “is really objecting” to the talk of war. “The people they’re briefing are the same ones who led the charge on Iraq."

At most, questions are raised: How are you going to hit all the sites at once? How are you going to get deep enough?” (Iran is building facilities underground.) “There’s no pressure from Congress” not to take military action, the House member added. “The only political pressure is from the guys who want to do it.” Speaking of President Bush, the House member said, “The most worrisome thing is that this guy has a messianic vision.”

Some operations, apparently aimed in part at intimidating Iran, are already under way. American Naval tactical aircraft, operating from carriers in the Arabian Sea, have been flying simulated nuclear-weapons delivery missions—rapid ascending maneuvers known as “over the shoulder” bombing—since last summer, the former official said, within range of Iranian coastal radars.

On the nuclear issue, Hersh reports some dissent:
The attention given to the nuclear option has created serious misgivings inside the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he added, and some officers have talked about resigning. Late this winter, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sought to remove the nuclear option from the evolving war plans for Iran—without success, the former intelligence official said. “The White House said, ‘Why are you challenging this? The option came from you.’ ”

The Pentagon adviser on the war on terror confirmed that some in the Administration were looking seriously at this option, which he linked to a resurgence of interest in tactical nuclear weapons among Pentagon civilians and in policy circles. He called it “a juggernaut that has to be stopped.” He also confirmed that some senior officers and officials were considering resigning over the issue. “There are very strong sentiments within the military against brandishing nuclear weapons against other countries,” the adviser told me. “This goes to high levels.” The matter may soon reach a decisive point, he said, because the Joint Chiefs had agreed to give President Bush a formal recommendation stating that they are strongly opposed to considering the nuclear option for Iran. “The internal debate on this has hardened in recent weeks,” the adviser said. “And, if senior Pentagon officers express their opposition to the use of offensive nuclear weapons, then it will never happen.”
The adviser added, however, that the idea of using tactical nuclear weapons in such situations has gained support from the Defense Science Board, an advisory panel whose members are selected by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. “They’re telling the Pentagon that we can build the B61 with more blast and less radiation,” he said.
I would hope that if this thing gets that far along the path, that at least some senior military people would have the courage to do what Colin Powell could not: resign on principle, and take this debate to the public. The American people, I think, underestimate how determined the neoconservatives are to finish what they started.

And after we open the gates of hell in Iran, don't think that will finish it either. Syria, Lebanon, perhaps even Egypt, are all on their (and the Israelis) list. As Richard Clarke has said repeatedly, these people have learned nothing from Iraq. In my estimation, there is nothing that can stop them, except for Congress, should it choose to retake its position as the first branch of government, and sideline the Joe Liebermans and John McCains who are with the Pentagon civilians in this era of war fever.

Read the whole Sy Hersh piece. I think we owe it to ourselves as Americans to get ahead of this.

Elsewhere: The Hersh school goes international with the focus on Bush's messianic vision for "regime change." And Iran downplays the Bushian threats as psychological warfare...

...And Britain's Jack Straw reportedly calls the idea of a U.S. attack on Iran just nuts.

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posted by JReid @ 10:29 PM  
Why I believe there could soon be another war
From Sunday's Washington Post:
With his approval ratings stuck at all-time lows, Bush finds himself increasingly powerless to influence events in Congress, where rebellious Republicans and opportunistic Democrats have combined to stall some of his most important initiatives. Heading into a two-week recess, senators could not agree on a plan to revamp immigration policy, while negotiations over the president's budget and efforts to extend tax cuts collapsed in the House late last week.

Meanwhile, the Iraq war continues to be the biggest political issue confronting Bush, as that country remains wracked by sectarian violence with U.S. troops stuck in the middle. The carnage continued even as Bush stepped up the pressure for leaders there to break a deadlock over forming a unity government that many analysts see as a necessary step toward ending the bloodshed.

The confluence of events, coupled with the continued fallout from previous missteps, including the bungled response to Hurricane Katrina and the debacle over the deal to transfer control of terminal operations at six U.S. ports to an Arab firm, has some Republican strategists worried that Bush may be running out of time to reestablish his leadership.

"In politics, bad gets worse, and we've had about a six-month run of bad getting worse," said Ed Rogers, a Republican with close ties to the White House. "How do you stop it? You get sure-footed and you quit having bad luck. This president can now measure in a relatively few number of months his window for effective governance."

And what were president Bush's approval ratings during the early months of the Iraq war? Somewhere around 90 percent. What better way to bring the Congress (both parties) to heel, and to resurrect his poll numbers than to find a new, external enemy to fight, in Iran?

Cyncial? Maybe. But there's reason to believe it could very well be in the offing...
posted by JReid @ 10:26 PM  
Thus sayeth Rush Limbaugh
I don't think I've ever said this before, and I will likely never say it again: Rush Limbaugh finally said something true.

On Friday, the fat, drugged one made the point on his radio show that the failure of the Senate "compromise breakthrough" bill on imimgration to pass in the Senate wasn't the fault of the Democrats and Harry Reid, as the current GOP talking points (including the president's Saturday radio address) suggest. In fact, the idea of a breakthrough on immigration reform was largely a fiction created by an enthusiastic media, which is prone to define anything supported by John McCain and Linsday Graham as both revolutionary, and good. The media rushed out behind Bill "both sides now" Frist, who himself was rushing to get on board whatever train he thought might be headed in the general direction of the Republican nomination for president in 2008 (which explaines why he used to be for his own bill modeled on the Sensenbrenner "borders only" plan in the House, but suddenly last week, became a born again McCain-Kennedy man). And when Frist announced that the Senate "leadership" had gotten behind a compromise crafted by two other media favorites - Chuck Hagel (whom I like as much as the media does, I just admit) and Mel "the go-to Hispanic legislative cable show guest" Martinez of Florida -- the media assumed that as go their faves, so goes the GOP.

But, as Limbaught pointed out, the McCain-centric press (See George Will's column today for your daily dose of McCain snark) forgot one thing: McCain isn't actually a leader of the Republican Party. And he isn't on the same side of the immigration issue as more base-sensitive Senators and Congressmen like John Kyl of Arizona, Peter King of New York, and Tom Tancredo of Colorado. Had the media interviewed Senator Kyl, for instance, they might have realized that the motion to hear possible amendments to the McCain-Kennedy legislation was opposed by a significant share of Republicans like Jeff Sessions of Alabama, and John Cornyn of Texas. The motion that failed on Friday would have allowed amendments largely aimed at stripping from the bill -- creatively named the "Securing America's Borders Act" anything that looked like amnesty -- even earned amnesty. And in the end, the GOP didn't hold its coalition, losing 20 Republicans in the final vote that was a crushing 36-62.

The bottom line is that it's the Republicans -- not the Democrats -- who are falling apart on this. And the media has got to stop following John McCain around and start paying attention to those Republicans who are hearing from, and speaking for, a much angrier base.

Also, I don't envy the GOP on this one. As I've said before, they can't win this debate. If something like McCain-Kennedy passes, they get slammed by their white, working class base. If it fails, they get nailed by Hispanics for doing a Prop 187 writ large. And McCain gets stuck with those pics of himself standing with Teddy Kennedy either way.

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Tags: , Politics, border, MEXICO, , , Illegal-Aliens, Illegal immigration, ,
posted by JReid @ 9:55 PM  
Friday, April 07, 2006
The gathering storm
The more we learn, the more it appears that the obvious is in fact, the truth: that there was a widespread, intense White House effort to discredit former Ambassador Joe Wilson in the months immediately following the Iraq invasion, as the rationale for the war began to fall apart. The effort was centered in the White House, and it involved "multiple officials," the Pat Fitgerald grand jury has apparently learned, and at the head of that conspiracy, according to Scooter Libby's testimony, were the tacit and/or overt directions, approvals and highly irregular "strategic declassification" of documents to make Wilson look like a liar, and make the case for war look stronger.

Before Libby was indicted, the president, either personally or through his spokesman Scott McClellan repeatedly asserted -- eight times in the public record in fact -- that he didn't know who the Plame leaker was and denied any prior knowledge of it.

Now we know that Bush not only knew, he authorized the leak of the underlying classified information (cherrypicked from a National Intelligence Estimate) that set the Plame leak in motion. He may not have directed Scooter (or Karl Rove or Stephen Hadley) to leak Ms. Plame's identity specifically, but Cheney fingers him as having given the veep the blanket authority to get information out that would discredit Wilson's claims -- and we also now know that Dick Cheney not only discussed Ms. Plame's identity with Scooter Libby, contrary to his denials of ever even knowing who Wilson or whis wife were, he was at the head of the cattle drive to take Wilson down.

We also can surmise, though it's not definitive, that Hadley, the then deputy national secrity advisor, was the source for another leak recipient, Bob Woodward of the Washington Post. (Scoter's assignment was to leak to Judy Miller).

What does this look like? Rather like a conspiracy, inside the White House, to undermine a war critic and cement what the White House knew to be a shaky case for war. Apparently Bush knew that more than just 16 words of his SOTU speech were bogus, even before the invasion. But to keep that knowledge from getting out, and from impacting Bush's reelection prospects (they must have known he was under no impeachment threat, given the largely servile Republican Congress,) the White House Iraq Group pulled out all the stops to take down Joe Wilson, and his wife's classified identity became the first casualty of that war.

Now, the only question remains is, what does that mean for the president and vice president, legally and Constitutionally...

BTW, I would think Murray Waas should be credited with getting ahead of this story some 42 days ago when he reported that Bush authorized the leak of classified information to Woodward for the WaPo reporter's book, "Bush at War."

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Tags: , Karl Rove, Valerie Plame, Politics, Libby, Bush, Cheney, Rove, Stephen Hadley, Patrick Fitzgerald, Fitzmas, Scooter Libby

posted by JReid @ 1:49 PM  
Deal ...or no deal? (take two...)
What Frist giveth, GOP in-fighting taketh away... (and your little tax cuts, too...) More on the possible death of the Hagel-Martinez compromise bill here.

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Tags: , Politics, border, MEXICO, , , Illegal-Aliens, Illegal immigration, ,
posted by JReid @ 1:07 AM  
If we hadn't invaded Iraq
The American Conservative's take.
posted by JReid @ 12:28 AM  
Thursday, April 06, 2006
The October surprise?
If things continue to go downhill for the president, don't think he doesn't have another, very familiar card to play... And let's not forget, the neocons are on a deadline -- they have until January 2009 to finish the hit list. From a June, 2003 piece by Eric Margolis:


Soon after Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon demanded the US Army march on Tehran, his American neo-conservative supporters launched a get-Iran campaign, featuring the identical propaganda they used to fan war fever against Iraq: weapons of mass destruction, threats to the US, terrorism and human rights violations. Some imaginative neo-cons even claim Saddam’s unfindable weapons were moved to Iran.
And now this from the Forward magazine:


U.S. Officials Are Mulling Iran Strikes, Experts Say
Plans Stepped Up as Tehran Tests Weapons
By MARC PERELMAN
April 7, 2006

Key players in the Bush administration think a military confrontation with Iran is unavoidable, leading to stepped up military planning for such a prospect, according to several experts and recently departed senior government officials.

Some of these observers stressed that military strikes against Iran are not imminent and speculated that the escalated war chatter could be a deliberate ploy to ratchet up diplomatic pressure on Tehran to abandon its nuclear ambitions. Still, they made clear, the tone in Washington has changed drastically.

"In recent months I have grown increasingly concerned that the administration has been giving thought to a heavy dose of air strikes against Iran's nuclear sector without giving enough weight to the possible ramifications of such action," said Wayne White, a former deputy director at the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. White, who worked in the bureau's Office of Analysis for the Near East and South Asia, left government in early 2005 and is now an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute.

Several experts and former officials interviewed by the Forward pointed to Vice President Dick Cheney as one of the key figures who has concluded that the ongoing diplomatic efforts to bring Iran before the United Nations Security Council and eventually slap the Islamic regime with sanctions will come to naught, forcing Washington to resort to force to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.

Cheney's office responded that he was "supporting the administration's position" of seeking a diplomatic solution while keeping all options on the table. ...
Why would the neocons contemplate this, given the mess they've made of Iraq? Because advocating war in the Middle East and against other recalcitrant regimes is what they do, and they still need to knock off Iran, Syria and Lebanon, at least, in order to complete their mission via the presidency of George W. Bush. (If they could also snag Venezuela and Cuba, that'd be aces, too, but it's the Muslims who really bug them...)

Do I think we'll go to war with Iran before the year is out? Sadly, yes, unless something significant happens to derail it. I think we'll at least mount airstrikes at Iran (no invasion -- we can't) if for no other reason than the Bushies know what war will do to the press (subdue them and send them back to their graphics bins scrambling for catchy names for the war), the public (rally them behind their "commander in chief") and the election (scare the voters into staying with the GOP). Besides, the Israelis wish it, and we've got to give them something in return for whatever share of the West Bank they're willing to wall off for the Palestinians. (That's a big facetious, but I'm just in that kind of mood...)

If the Democrats were smart, they'd start preparing themselves for the possibility, and figure out where they would stand on a third Gulf War. As Kevin Drum wrote not too long ago in the Atlantic Monthly:


So: What would be the Democratic response if (a) Bush asked for an authorization of force against Iran or (b) simply launched an assault without asking Congress? The chances of this coming up as an issue this year are strong enough that it would be foolish not to be prepared to deal with it.
The neocons aren't done, folks. They're just getting warmed up. (More on the goings on here) In fact, it's time for all Americans to start taking seriously the possibility that "the war is not over" by a longshot, and that semi-permanent armed conflict in the Middle East could be in the offing for the remainder of Mr. Bush's term. Longer if voters agree to elect Bush's chosen successor, neocon true believer John McCain...

Update: The Telegraph (which has been way out ahead on the Iran-U.S. strike story) says Iran's new Shahab missile can carry nuclear warheads. And just to complicate this game even further, the Telegraph reports that Iran has been getting secret help in its race to get the bomb (before Israel or the U.S. attacks) from the Russians and Chinese... A quote from an article last year by Telegraph writer Con Coughlin:

It is the new Great Game, and the stakes could not be higher. The more Washington puts pressure on Iran to come clean about its nuclear ambitions, the more determined Moscow becomes to ensure that there is no disruption to its lucrative contract to turn Iran into a nuclear power.

What is more, as The Sunday Telegraph reports today, former senior officers in the Russian armed forces are acting as go-betweens to help Iran to acquire missile technology from North Korea that will enable it to develop a missile system capable of reaching France.
Looked at that way, the horror show that is Iraq looks like the "deep breath before the plunge..."

Update 2: The American Conservative magazine pleads with the president: don't do it.

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posted by JReid @ 11:48 PM  
Kerry's plan
I think John F. Kerry is pretty smart to get to Hillary's left on Iraq. Her position is not popular with the base. He needs all the popularity he can get. On a pragmatic level, I think Kerry's idea for pushing Iraq to get its act together (or lose U.S. troop protection) is a good one, and something the Democrats could work with, if they were amenable to doing anything at all proactive regarding America's quite unpopular war...
WASHINGTON -- Senator John F. Kerry yesterday called for the United States to remove its troops from Iraq by the end of the year and to start a withdrawal by the middle of May if Iraqis fail to quickly establish a stable government that's acceptable to its major ethnic groups.

''Time to get tough," Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, said in an interview. ''If you can't get them to do it in the next six weeks, it's because they don't want to do it. And if they don't want to do it, we shouldn't stay in the middle of a civil war."

If a unity government can't be established by May 15, Kerry argues, the vast majority of American forces should leave; even if Iraq meets that deadline, he maintains, US troops should come home by the end of this year. Such a promise would give the new Iraqi leadership greater credibility as it seeks to take control of the country, Kerry said.

He is also calling for an international summit involving the United Nations and the Arab League to facilitate peacekeeping and reconstruction. ''There's been a pathetic absence of major diplomacy by our administration," Kerry said.
The plan follows Kerry's op-ed yesterday in the NYT. And he's been all over the cable shows promoting it (when not defending himself -- very well, by the way -- against GOP guttersniping.) He's also beginning to draw support from the normally reticent Dems (Feingold excluded from the reticent part) and from his continued fans (though some are asking what took him so long.) BTW to my mind, Kerry, of whom I'm no fan after that 2004 election fiasco, also gets props for coming out clearly in favor of Feingold's censure res...

I'd say Republicans should address the merits of Kerry's proposal and explain why they should be dismissed as "loss of nerve." It isn't about nerve. Our forces have shown plenty of that. The trouble is, it doesn't seem arguable that U.S. forces belong in the middle of a civil war, and it's becoming more and more difficult to see precisely what our "mission" in Iraq is at this stage (keeping the Shia and Sunni from killing each other, and both from wiping out the Kurds?) The fact that the right (and the White House) aren't addressing the substance of Kerry's ideas, and is spending all of their time attacking him, means they're probably not prepared to debate Iraq on its merits (such as they are). For them, it's down to pure emotionalism and excuses.

Tags: American Soldiers, Iraq, Politics, , ,
posted by JReid @ 11:08 PM  
A bridge to nowhere
I must admit that I don't understand why the White House proffered this immigration reform gambit now. Bush's approval ratings are continuing to sink (even the Fox News poll has him at 36 percent, and that's with no fewer than eight anchors and chat hosts a day stumping for him full time, Brit Hume probably counting twice...) Perhaps the idea is to get this conflagration over with in the spring, in hopes that GOP voters will have forgotten about it by election day, and with the anger at their particular members of Congress waning, the White House and Republican Congressional and Senatorial campaign committees could move on to more turnout-friendly issues, like gay marriage.

That may or may not be true. Some on the right are calling the entire immigration move just plain boneheaded, since all it does is divide Republicans and benefit Democrats, who don't have to say much or take responsibility for whatever dreck comes out of Congress, but who will reap the reward with Hispanic voters regardless of the outcome. In other words, if a Sensenbrenner type bill -- sealing the borders, throwing up a fence and pushing pure enforcement and criminalization -- passes, the Dems can cry Prop 187! and watch the Latino votes roll in, especially in crucial purple states like Colorado and Arizona. If a McCain-Kennedy style amnesty bill passes, the legalization of perhaps millions of Hispanics will also benefit the Dems, since most of the influx is coming from Mexico, and historically, Mexican and Central American origin voters vote 70-30 Democrat. Only Cubans (and increasingly, Venezuelans,) are reliably Republican, and most of them are in places like New Jersey and especially Florida, where there are no Democratic seats to take away (forget Bill Nelson's seat. Seriously.) Not to mention the typhoon of rage that such passage will spark among the large majority of Republican voters who abhor anything that even smells faintly like amnesty. Whom do the president, and Bill "against amnesty before he was for it" Frist think those voters are going to punish in November?

So what has been the point of all of this? Republicans have created an issue that has riled up the Lou Dobbs populist wing of their party, reminding middle class, lunchpail-carrying Americans about the Bushian one-two punch of exporting technology and factory jobs out, and importing cheap farm, building, restaurant and lawn labor in. They have pitted House Republicans like Tom Tancredo -- whose bread and butter is the anti-illegal immigration platform -- against Senate Republicans, who need those stray Hispanic votes to pull off statewide victories this fall, but who face far fewer contested races in November (33 of 100 seats are up, including seats in crucial border states like Arizona, Texas and New Mexico, while all House seats are up, which with redistricting usually means about zero are competitive, but this year it's an entirely different ballgame, with crucial races in Colorado, Arizona, California, Florida and more. To take over, the Dems need to pick up a net 16 seats to take over the House, 6 in the Senate.) And then there are the wannabe presidents in the game, like Bill Frist and John McCain, who are playing a high stakes game for the future loyalty of a national Hispanic constituency, at the expense of their colleagues with skin in the game this November.

So if the new Senate compromise yields a bill -- and that's after what's sure to be a contentious amendment process, followed by a bloodletting conference with the House -- what will have been gained? The Congress will have passed, and Bush will have signed, yet another cross-your-fingers amnesty bill (sorry ... "probation" bill...) that will in reality change nothiing. You're simply not going to see millions of zero to five year illegal residents coming forward to take their punishment, pack their bags and leave the country to comply with their new "path to citizenship" by essentially deporting themselves. And without any real incentive to come forward, all that will have been created is a legal means to import another 11 million indentured servants -- something that will please business interests (they'll have to import lots more to keep the wages low, and to discourage the newly semi-legal ones from doing something crazy -- like trying to unionize -- another reason the Dems are so warm to these fresh ideas...) but continue to sap the formerly robust middle class American economy.

If the Congress doesn't come up with a "comprehensive" bill -- in other words if they strip out the guest worker and "path to citizenship" stuff and send a pure enforcement bill to the president's desk, he could finally whip out his veto pen, forcing yet another embarrassing showdown in which the president is either overridden by a rebellious GOP, or in which he sends the whole matter back to the Congress for another round of televised sniping that creeps closer and closer to the summer election ad season.

And if the Congress can't git'er done this week, then the president faces the Social Security reform debacle -- debacle meaning failure to launch -- all over again.

So tell me again, why was any of this a good idea?

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Tags: , Politics, border, MEXICO, , , Illegal-Aliens, Illegal immigration, ,
posted by JReid @ 10:32 PM  
God willing, the last thing I'll ever write about Katie Couric
Are her "people" spinning the press to boost the perception that she's qualified to sit in Murrow and Cronkite's chair? -- yes, they are...

Are there people at CBS News, besides Andy Rooney, who aren't exactly happy to see her coming? Apparently, yes, there are.

Meow.

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posted by JReid @ 10:02 PM  
Bush upbraided
... no wonder the president doesn't usually do unscreened town hall crowds...
posted by JReid @ 3:45 PM  
Libby names names
(Apparently, the following story is big news to everyone except the Washington press corps, who skipped their chance to ask Scott McClellan about it in the press briefing today...)

Murray Waas of the National Journal and others are reporting that Scooter Libby has testified at his obstruction of justie trial that President Bush authorized the leak of classified information on Iraq that ultimately led to the disclosure of Valerie Plame's identity. More:

Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff has testified that President Bush authorized him to disclose the contents of a highly classified intelligence assessment to the media to defend the Bush administration's decision to go to war with Iraq, according to papers filed in federal court on Wednesday by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor in the CIA leak case.

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby testified to a federal grand jury that he had received "approval from the President through the Vice President" to divulge portions of a National Intelligence Estimate regarding Saddam Hussein's purported efforts to develop nuclear weapons, according to the court papers. Libby was said to have testified that such presidential authorization to disclose classified information was "unique in his recollection," the court papers further said.

Libby also testified that an administration lawyer told him that Bush, by authorizing the disclosure of classified information, had in effect declassified the information. Legal experts disagree on whether the president has the authority to declassify information on his own.

The White House had no immediate reaction to the court filing.

Although not reflected in the court papers, two senior government officials said in interviews with National Journal in recent days that Libby has also asserted that Cheney authorized him to leak classified information to a number of journalists during the run-up to war with Iraq. In some instances, the information leaked was directly discussed with the Vice President, while in other instances Libby believed he had broad authority to release information that would make the case to go to war.

In yet another instance, Libby had claimed that President Bush authorized Libby to speak to and provide classified information to Washington Post assistant managing editor Bob Woodward for "Plan of Attack," a book written by Woodward about the run-up to the Iraqi war.

Bush and Cheney authorized the release of the information regarding the NIE in the summer of 2003, according to court documents, as part of a damage-control effort undertaken only days after former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV alleged in an op-ed in The New York Times that claims by Bush that Saddam Hussein had attempted to procure uranium from the African nation of Niger were most likely a hoax.

According to the court papers, "At some point after the publication of the July 6 Op Ed by Mr. Wilson, Vice President Cheney, [Libby's] immediate supervisor, expressed concerns to [Libby] regarding whether Mr. Wilson's trip was legitimate or whether it was in effect a junket set up by Mr. Wilson's wife."

Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was a covert CIA officer at the time, and Cheney, Libby, and other Bush administration officials believed that Wilson's allegations could be discredited if it could be shown that Plame had suggested that her husband be sent on the CIA-sponsored mission to Niger.

Two days after Wilson's op-ed, Libby met with then-New York Times reporter Judith Miller and not only disclosed portions of the NIE, but also Plame's CIA employment and potential role in her husband's trip.

Regarding that meeting, Libby "testified that he was specifically authorized in advance... to disclose the key judgments of the classified NIE to Miller" because Vice President Cheney believed it to be "very important" to do so, the court papers filed Wednesday said. The New York Sun reported the court filing on its Web site early Thursday. ...
Read the whole thing. Long but worth it.

According to CNN's version, the documents released today don't specifically show Bush authorized the leak of Plame's identity, but:


... But the disclosure in documents filed Wednesday means that the president and the vice president put Libby in play as a secret provider of information to reporters about prewar intelligence on Iraq.
So where does this go next? Scooter has now blamed Colin Powell, Dick Armitage, reporters like Tim Russert and Matt Cooper, Vice President Cheney and his own faulty memory for the leak. Now having dragged in the president, he's got no higher to clime on the blame ladder. Libby appears to be flailing. Very interesting to see where this goes next.

Update: Steve Clemons of The Washington Note credits the NY Sun's Josh Gerstein with actually being the first to break this story. Here's the link to his article. Writes Gerstein:

A former White House aide under indictment for obstructing a leak probe, I. Lewis Libby, testified to a grand jury that he gave information from a closely-guarded "National Intelligence Estimate" on Iraq to a New York Times reporter in 2003 with the specific permission of President Bush, according to a new court filing from the special prosecutor in the case.

The court papers from the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, do not suggest that Mr. Bush violated any law or rule. However, the new disclosure could be awkward for the president because it places him, for the first time, directly in a chain of events that led to a meeting where prosecutors contend the identity of a CIA employee, Valerie Plame, was provided to a reporter.
Says Clemons:

What is important to recognize now, however, is that our secrecy-obsessed President got cavalier with state secrets and sent his staff to pump cherry-picked material into the nation's biggest and most respected news operations.

I have not read the statute carefully about whether the President has the automatic ability, in his person, to declassify material and authorize its release. That needs to be looked into.

In the Plame case, Bush said that he would fire anyone involved with leaking national security information. I can hear Jon Stewart asking the key question tonight, "So President Bush, do you plan to fire yourself?"
This thing is all over the place by now. Reuters, Bloomberg, etc. etc. etc. picking up the story. TV still to come.

Update: ThinkProgress also has the scoop on Scooter Libby's apparent entreaties to Scott McClellan to put out some press spin that would exonerate him. The plea came in the form of a handwritten note, since turned over to the grand jury, that apparently was the basis for McClellan's now-infamous statement during the Octover 10, 2003 press WH briefing that he had spoken to "the individuals" (Karl Rove, Libby and Iran Contra alum Eliott Abrams) and that they had assured him "they were not involved in" the Plame leak.

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Tags: , Karl Rove, Valerie Plame, Politics, Libby, Bush, Cheney, Rove, Stephen Hadley, Patrick Fitzgerald, Fitzmas, Scooter Libby
posted by JReid @ 1:54 PM  
The squeeze
Cynthia McKinney must be more worried about potential prosecution than her bravado has suggested. She today apologized for making "physical contact" with that capitol policeman...

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posted by JReid @ 1:41 PM  
Deal or no deal?
The spin word of the day is "probation..." Gracias por nada, Mel Martinez...

Key Senators say they've reached a bi-partisan deal on immigration reform...

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senate leaders on Thursday announced a bipartisan compromise on an overhaul of U.S. immigration laws, giving some illegal immigrants a path to citizenship and creating a temporary worker program.

"I think we're looking like we may be able to dance this afternoon," Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada told reporters.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, appeared with Reid and said "We have a great opportunity to deliver to the American people what they expect, what they deserve," a comprehensive border security and immigration reform bill.

The deal, which would include a temporary worker program backed by President George W. Bush, would allow illegal immigrants who have been in the United States more than five years a chance to become citizens if they meet a series of requirements and paid a fine. Other rules would apply to people in the country less than five years.

"We still have obstacles ahead," said Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican who helped lead the debate. McCain cited some pending amendments that could gut the compromise as well as eventual negotiations with the House of Representatives, which passed a much harsher bill that concentrated only on border security and enforcement of immigration laws.

McCain said Bush supports the compromise. Bush was expected to make a statement shortly.
Time to turn on the C-SPAN...

Meanwhile, organizers of freshly planned immigration protests caution participants to leave the Mexican flags at home... (or in their hearts, whichever's easier).

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Tags: , Politics, border, MEXICO, , , Illegal-Aliens, Illegal immigration, ,

posted by JReid @ 1:37 PM  
Reductio ad absurdum
I really hoped I'd never feel that I needed to blog about this woman again (because I think she's nuts, and crazy people scare me...) and perhaps I'm just new to the Debbie Schlussel scene. But I seriously think that it's time for this lady to be forcibly medicated (even other right wing bloggers can't seem to stand her...)

But having already hanged Jill Carroll as an Islamist sympathiser and traitor for not reading the Schlusselian script both during and immediately after her captivity in Iraq, Schlussel earlier this week moved on to putting in her two cents about who should replace Katie Couric at Today. Answer: Not Campbell Brown. Why? Because Campbell Brown is an Islamist sympathiser and traitor. Or more accurately, she's a "Saudi concumbine." I know it sounds like I'm making that up, but she's quite serious:

... Now that reports are in that Katie Couric will be the new "CBS Evening News" anchor, we hope they won't pick former Saudi Concubine Campbell Brown to replace her.

As we wrote here, Brown--the former girlfriend of Saudi spokesman and apologist Adel Al-Jubeir--is one of the candidates to replace the "Today" host. When Brown was NBC News White House correspondent, she let her "dating" (euphemism?) of Al-Jubeir get in the way of covering the real news on the now-Saudi King Abdullah's visit to the President's ranch in Crawford, Texas. It was a clear conflict of interest. ...
(Sure hope she likes Meredith Vieira...) If that's not enough, Ms. Schlussel also threw in a gratuitous ad hominem against the late Peter Jennings -- who can't defend himself because he's dead...

It's been established that pillow talk is apparently the most effective form of political speech in Brown's case. We've already experienced the worst with Peter Jennings, formerly boyfriend of Palestinian politico Hanan Ashrawi, and his biased coverage. We don't need more with Campbell Brown--a less suave, less intelligent Jennings in a skirt.

Now, she's married to former Bushie Dan Senor. But don't let that fool you. Senor worked for the Carlyle Group and also shilled for former U.S. Senator Spencer Abraham (later, Energy Secretary, and now, lobbyist to Islamists) and his pan-Islamist legislation (including millions in USAID money to Hezbollah), as his Press Secretary. That included apologism for the fact that Abraham was one of only two of 100 U.S. Senators who refused to sign a letter to the President asking him to tell Arafat to stop the homicide bombings. (Some on Capitol Hill say that, under his "leadership," the HAMAS-front group, CAIR, became a force on Capitol Hill. What a legacy to be proud of.)

Well that setrtles it. Send that Campbell Brown to GITMO -- stat!

Back to Jill Carroll. Schlussel's indictment of her rests on a three part argument, which she believes should be "obvious" to those demanding that she apologize (which she ain't gonna do):
1) Jill Carroll worked, by her choice, for an Islamist newspaper that said she shares its anti-American, anti-Israel views (no reason to doubt that, she worked for them by her choice);

2) Jill Carroll was close friends with an American who worked for Code Pink (funding and helping terrorists);

3) Jill Carroll was unique among ALL American hostages in Iraq in getting the mammoth effort by U.S. Islamist groups (all of whom support terrorists and oppose the war in Iraq) to secure her release. They know what she stands for.
(Photo captions: left-- Jill Carroll in a hijab. right -- Debbie Shlussel "undercover" in a hijab) The "Islamist" paper she's referring to is the Jordan Times, which Schlussel claims is both "anti-American and anti-Semitic," and which had the cheek to call for Carroll's release based on her "true belief in Arab causes," and her "love of Arab culture." So Carroll worked for a paper Schlussel doesn't like, has friends Schlussel doesn't like and received support for her release from people Schlussel doesn't like (Muslims) and therefore, she's a terrorist sympathiser. OK...

So let's break down that argument, shall we?

Schlussel's claim that the Jordan Times is an enemy paper is based on the fact that it's the state owned, state run mouthpiece of the Jordanian government, which "spews the official position of the country's Hashemite King Abdullah." Well here's what other Americans fighting the "global war on terror" have to say about the Hashemite king:
"... no other leader in the Middle East is as committed to the development of special forces in the global war on terror as His Majesty King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein, King of The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan." -- defense contracting industry publication Special Operations Technology
"The United States has had no closer ally than Jordan in the war on terror, and Jordan will find no better friend than the United States at this difficult hour." -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
"...King Abdullah is a leader on behalf of peace and is carrying forward the tradition of his father, King Hussein. ..." -- President George W. Bush
So if the Jordan Times is the official mouthpiece of that Jordan, than it's hard to see how it, or Ms. Carroll, by Ms. Schlussel's reasoning, is an Islamist lackey...

Now if we were truly doing reducto ad absurdem reasoning, just debunking point one of Schlussel's argument is enough to drown the whole thing. But let's treat seriously, for just a moment, Schlussel's third contention -- that the positive comments of Arab and Muslim writers about Carroll proves she's a terrorist lackey:

Schlussel starts with that January 15 Jordan Times appeal on Carroll's behalf, (here is a link to actual exceprts ... Ms. Schlussel provides no link in her posts... only a totally unrelated link to a piece about jailed journalists), it reflects the opinions of the writers, not of Ms. Carroll. Many Arabs believe the Bush family (W excluded) to be pro-Arab, as does Ms. Schlussel. Does that make the Bush family friends of the terrorists?

There was no better friend to the Arab and Muslim world than Margaret Hassan, who was vigrously lobbied for by prominent Muslims (as was Danny Pearl of the WSJ -- before being killed. The difference with Ms. Carroll seems to be the P.R. strategy of her captors, particularly after the killing of peace activist Tom Fox -- plus the massive amount of attention the American media paid to one of their own. It's far more logical to assume that those things played a part in Carroll's capture, and that appeals like those of the man who originally hired Carroll at the Jordan Times on January 18 and a second one from the Jordan Times on February 1 simply helped Carroll's cause, because they raised the public relations value of her release.

But what all of these op-eds have in common, is that none of them were written by Jill Carroll. Sure, the appeals indicate that she had strong relationships in the Muslim community from which she could draw as a reporter, but to go beyond that, logically, you'd need to read, not what others wrote about Carroll, but what she has written herself. Schlussel has so far provided nothing written by Carroll to back up her charges. Where are the anti-American writings of Jill Carroll? Every post by Schlussel contains (often repetitious) verbiage from other people she claims are "friends" of Carroll, "Islamist" reporters in Detroit who claim they appealed for her release, and others whose crime is being "elated" at her freedom. She doesn't even produce evidence of their supposed connection to Carroll herself. And again, she posts not one word written by Carroll herself. (I will, however, later down the post...)

But why stop there? Point two of Schlussel's argument is just as weak: the company Carroll keeps - namely her friendship with the late peace activist Marla Ruzicka (whom Schlussel derides as "Treasonatrix Barbie" and whom association with, like Campbell Brown's boyfriends, makes her a terrorist sympathiser.) Really? (Then again, this is the same woman who believes that if you like Michael Jackson and/or soccer, you hate America and love the terrorists...)

Well it turns out Carroll never even met Ruzicka until she went to Jordan in late 2002 to learn Arabic and learn more about the culture ahead of the war. When Ruzicka was killed in a suicide bombing in 2005, Carroll organized a memorial service for her. And it turns out that Carroll was never involved in Code Pink or in Ruzicka's cause in Iraq (documenting civilian casualties). Not one shred of evidence has ever been produced that she was at any time, a participant in any cause, other than reporting on the war.

Even Ruzicka's activies fall far short of the anti-American, pro-Islamis agenda charged by Schlussel (the WSJ editorial page's senior writer Robert Pollack famously called her a "peerless and unique ambassador." From Wikipedia (available on the Internet, where even Debbie Schlussel can find it):
In July 2002, Ruzicka began working with USAID and the Senate Appropriations Committee to allocate money to rebuild the homes of families that had suffered losses as a result of military action. After receiving CIVIC's first report, Patrick Leahy - the Democratic Senator for Vermont - sponsored legislation to provide $10 million in U.S. aid to innocent Iraqis who had been harmed by the US military.

Following the fall of Baghdad to the US-led coalition in April 2003 she started working with her Iraqi work partner, Raed Jarrar. Their CIVIC activities focused on the organization of door-to-door surveys, involving more than 160 volunteers, to obtain first-hand accounts of civilian casualties that had been killed, injured, abused, displaced, or made homeless as a result of military action. She was in Iraq prior to the war with the Code Pink organization.
Does Schlussel charge that the GOP-controlled Senate Appropriations committee would fund activites by a known terrorist sympathiser? Here is what Jill Carroll wrote about her friend, Ruzicka. Try and spot the anti-war sentiment:

I first met her in Jordan, just before the war. A reporter friend told me that I should get to know this young activist who made a name for herself working for Global Exchange, the US organization that sent field workers to Afghanistan to count civilian casualties.

After the Iraq war, she moved her push for an accurate count of civilian casualties to Baghdad. At a time when the International Committee of the Red Cross and United Nations were leaving Iraq, Marla started the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict. Through that, she helped Iraqi families navigate the process of claiming compensation from the US military for injuries and deaths.

When she died Marla was traveling to visit some of the many Iraqi families she was working to help. Lately, she had been attempting to aid the relatives of a toddler whose parents were killed after the mini-bus they were traveling in was hit by what was believed to be an American rocket. The baby was thrown out of a window to save her life.

It's still unclear exactly how Marla and her driver, Faiz, were killed. But early reports indicate that they were traveling on the dangerous route between Baghdad and the airport when a suicide car bomber tried to attack a military convoy. Faiz was an Iraqi Airways pilot, who at one time worked as an interpreter for Monitor correspondents in Iraq.

I was always amazed at how composed Marla remained amid the violence and confusion of Iraq. One of my favorite memories of her was when I was sitting in the middle of the Palestine Hotel lobby in Baghdad, surrounded by a confusing swirl of soldiers, officials, and reporters. Fear swept over me. What was I doing here? I had come as a freelancer, with no experience covering a war. Just as I was quietly freaking out, Marla appeared in the dusty, harried scene. She was the picture of calm in a perfect French braid and long blue dress. She was like a breeze blowing through, so tranquil, so clean.

Later in the fall of 2003 when I moved here and was despairing of my sputtering freelance work she would always say, "Jill, good for you. You're working so hard. I'm so proud of you." She was the eternal supportive cheerleader. One night she slipped a note in my hotel mailbox. It was a small essay of encouragement and praise from out of the blue, scribbled in black ink on a scrap of notebook paper.

I found out that Marla had died several hours after she didn't show up for a party that she planned at the Hamra, a hotel occupied mostly by foreign journalists. I was tired and wasn't going to go. My friend Scott went and called me about 11 p.m. He said no one had heard from Marla since about 2 o'clock that afternoon. The other journalists and I all feared a kidnapping. I went over to the Hamra lobby and asked at the reception desk if they knew Marla's driver's family. They said his brother had just called because they were worried they hadn't seen him. A bad sign.

Then we got a call from the US military saying a woman fitting her description had been in an accident, but that she was in the military hospital and in good condition. We were relieved. In Baghdad's strange logic, we all thanked God it was a car accident and not a kidnapping. Then we received another call. It was the military again. This time they said the woman was dead on arrival.

The only thing we can say now is at least she died doing what she wanted, doing what she really, really believed in. If she were still here, she'd be most worried now about her driver's family and who will take care of all the other Iraqi families she was working with.
Unless you believe that any reporting of American rockets and Iraqi deaths (the same Iraqis we're so proud of "liberating") is treason, you haven't much to go on there. More anti-American screeds by Carroll:

"Shiites, Kurds forge ahead", CSM
"Violence threatens Iraqi coalition", CSM
"Politics, Mesopotamian Style", US News & World Report

And let's say, for the sake of argument, that Carroll was skeptical on the war, or liberal in temperament. The first would put her in tune with two-thirds of the American public. The second would make her a fairly typical young journalist. Neither would make her a terrorist tool.

I'm spending so much time on this drivel by Schlussel because at this point, even people in the journalism field are taking serioulsy the ridiculous charges that Jill Carroll is a "terrorist tool." I was stunned to read several posts on TVSPY last night that made exactly the Schlussel claims. If people in the profession can't smell a mob rush when they see one, and if people like Schlussel are taken seriously by anyone besides a few loopy online commenters, we're in truly bad shape.

And last but not least, Ms. Schlussel comes full circle with a critique of Couric's clothing choices:

By the way, is this the way a "serious news anchor" should be posing? Just asking.

Yes, Debbie. Just asking. This coming from the woman who titled whe column "Debbie Does ... Politics..." Now I can think of a lot of reasons to criticize Katie (or at least her new job offer), but her clothing isn't one of them...

Debbie, on the other hand, appears to need a mental makeover.

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posted by JReid @ 11:04 AM  
Lovebugs
The HuffPo bags a bona fide scoop, via comic Harry Shearer: video of Chris Matthews practicing his love with Tom DeLay (preview: "nothing worse than a woman know-it-all...) Kinda puts that entreaty to Shrummy to "promise" the Dems won't use the subpoena power that would come with leadership in the House and/or Senate to go after the president in perspective ...

Other interesting bedfellows (no pun intended): Jeff Gannon and Joe Lieberman...

and via Jon Stewart: John McCain and "crazy base world..."

Tags: Politics, Religion, Hardball, Chris Matthews, Tom DeLay, Jeff Gannon, Joe Lieberman,Strange bedfellows, Jon Stewart, The Daily Show
posted by JReid @ 1:46 AM  
About that immigration compromise...
According to AP, Senate GOP leaders have a brand new tweak to the McCain-Kennedy bill:

Republican officials said the GOP plan would divide illegal immigrants into three categories:

• Those who had been in the country the longest, more than five years, would not be required to return to their home country before gaining legal status. They would be subject to several tests, including the payment of fines and back taxes, and be required to submit to a background check, according to these officials.

• Illegal immigrants in the United States less than five years but more than two would be required to go to a border point of entry, briefly leave and then be readmitted to the United States. As with the longer-term illegal immigrants, other steps would be required for re-entry, after which they could begin seeking citizenship, these officials said.

• Illegal immigrants in the United States less than two years would be required to leave the country and join any other foreign residents seeking legal entry.

My question: what exactly is the incentive for immigrants in categories one and two to come forward? Are their employer sanctions in the bill to force those "five years and under" illegal migrants to come forward? I think not. Truthfully, I fail to see the incentive for anyone in the country illegally to come forward, except for perhaps a feeling of belonging, bought with fines and back taxes they could just as easily avoid paying by remaining as they are...

And this and other compromise measures continue to ignore the question of whether all or even most of the illegal workers in the U.S. want to become citizens, vs. those who simply want to work and send money home, with the intention of eventually returning to their home countries.

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posted by JReid @ 1:36 AM  
Paging Dr. Doom
The FBI is investigating the professor who advocated population control using ebola...

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posted by JReid @ 1:01 AM  
Fighting them over there so they don't knit you a sweater
Meet Britain's infamous terror grannies... (click here for full sized version)


The two women could face prosecution under the UK's tough new anti-terror law, which provides that "protesters who breach any one of 10 military bases across Britain will be treated as potential terrorists and face up to a year in jail or £5,000 fine. The protests are curtailed under the Home Secretary's Serious Organised Crime and Police Act." Their crime? Read on, if you think you can stomach it...

Two grandmothers from Yorkshire face up to a year in prison after becoming the first people to be arrested under the Government's latest anti-terror legislation.

Helen John, 68, and Sylvia Boyes, 62, both veterans of the Greenham Common protests 25 years ago, were arrested on Saturday after deliberately setting out to highlight a change in the law which civil liberties groups say will criminalise free speech and further undermine the right to peaceful demonstration. ...

Mrs John and Mrs Boyes, who have 10 grandchildren between them, were held by Ministry of Defence police after walking 15ft across the sentry line at the United States military base at Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire. They were held for 12 hours before being released on police bail. They will learn whether they are to face prosecution when they return to Harrogate police station on 15 April.

Oh, these terrorists are so insidious! British grandmothers my backside! These are the worst kinds of Islamist thugs, insinuating themselves into Wester society for the sole purpose of undermining our War Against The Enemy! Other British baddies, nabbed by the crack security infrastructure of our man Tony Blair:

John Catt
AGE: 81

CRIME?: Wearing an anti-Blair T-shirt in Brighton during the Labour conference.

WHAT HAPPENED: He was stopped under section 44 of the 2000 Terrorism Act as he walked towards the seafront for an anti-war demonstration outside the conference. His T-shirt accused Mr Blair and George Bush of war crimes. He was released after signing a form confirming he had been questioned. The police record said the purpose of the stop and search was "terrorism" and the official grounds for intervention were "carrying plackard + T-shirt with anti-Blair info" (sic).

Walter Wolfgang
AGE: 82

CRIME?: Heckling Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, during his speech to the Labour Party conference.

WHAT HAPPENED: The veteran peace activist shouted "That's a lie" as Mr Straw justified keeping British troops in Iraq. He was manhandled by stewards out of his seat and ejected from the Brighton Centre. When he tried to re-enter he was briefly detained under Section 44 of the 2000 Terrorism Act. Amid the disastrous publicity, senior ministers, from Tony Blair down, apologised.

Maya Evans
AGE: 25

CRIME?: Protesting over British casualties in Iraq.

WHAT HAPPENED: Standing on the Cenotaph in Whitehall, she read out a list of soldiers killed in Iraq. She was arrested under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, which requires police permission to make a protest within one kilometre of Parliament. She was given a conditional discharge after being found guilty. Lord Falconer of Thoroton, the Lord Chancellor, later denied that the prosecution was an "undue infringement" of individual liberties.

Flt Lt Malcolm Kendall-Smith

AGE: 37

CRIME?: Refusing to serve in Iraq.

WHAT HAPPENED: The RAF doctor served in Iraq twice, but refused to return for a third spell of duty last June. He argued that the military action was not justified as Iraq had not attacked the UK or one of its allies. He is being court-martialled, facing five charges of refusing to comply with an order. After a pre-trial hearing rejected his argument that the orders were unlawful, the court martial will open at Aldershot next week.

Brian Haw

AGE: 56

CRIME?: Maintaining an anti-war vigil outside Parliament.

WHAT HAPPENED: Mr Haw has become a permanent fixture in Parliament Square since June 2001, when he erected a series of placards berating Tony Blair and President George Bush. The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, was designed mainly with his vigil in mind. But the High Court ruled that the legislation did not cover his protest as it could not be applied retrospectively. The Government is appealing against that decision.
Thank you, Tony Blair. I wish we had the fortitude here in the United States to jail the anti-American, elderly thugs who wave their evil walking canes at our Great President and undermine our troops with their macrome peace signs and Ben Gay-perfumed street rebellion. Damn them. Damn them all to hell...

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posted by JReid @ 12:15 AM  
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Cute and cuddly news
America apparently likes their morning perky, but not necessarily their evening perky... I have to think that the folks who put this story up on the CBS News website were expressing some sort of insiders' grumble... just a guess... (Andy Rooney has weighed in on the Couric move, and he ain't happy -- and according to him, he's not alone -- "I’m not enthusiastic about it. I think everybody likes Katie Couric, I mean how can you not like Katie Couric. But, I don’t know anybody at CBS News who is pleased that she’s coming here," he told Don Imus this morning. Others are whispering the same sentiments apparently coming from the career news folks in the venerated building on West 57th... (full disclosure, I briefly worked at Blackrock -- the other CBS building -- in the "standards and practices" department -- you know, the censors... best lunch hour during that time: sneaking over to the Dan Rather building just to watch... wierdest person I ever shared an elevator ride with: Michael Bolton -- he's about 5'3" and he has an enormous head... enoooormous...)

Anyway, back to the "not good signs" from the AP story:
Now that Katie Couric is making the move from dawn to dusk, her legacy _ and the future of CBS News _ depends on the audience. And according to a new poll, that audience prefers to see her in the morning.

Asked if they would rather see Couric in her longtime role as "Today" host or as the first woman to anchor a network weekday evening newscast on her own, 49 percent favored the morning and 29 percent said evening, according to a poll conducted this week by The Associated Press and TV Guide.
and sometimes the full ramifications of a story can be summed up in one devastating line.


The woman who dressed in Marilyn Monroe and SpongeBob SquarePants outfits on Halloween and gave viewers a tour of her colon will take the position once held by the iconic Walter Cronkite and the ousted Dan Rather.
Okay, two lines:


"If we have another (terrorist) attack or hurricane and need life-saving information, I think her image is that of more fluff than fact and that's going to have an impact," said Jeff Alan, author of "Anchoring America: The Changing Face of Network News."
and yet, there are the claims that all this Katie chatter is 1) media self-obsession run amock, 2) celebrity obsession run amok and 3) sexism run amok. To whit:


... claims that Couric lacks the "gravitas" for the job are "thinly disguised sexism," said news consultant Andrew Tyndall.

Few questioned Tom Brokaw when he switched from a "Today" host in the 1970s to become NBC top anchor. At ABC, Charles Gibson frequently did the morning and evening newscasts on the same day this past year during the late Peter Jennings' illness.

Although to be fair, Brokaw and Gibson never actually dressed up in a giant sponge costume ...

Still, many will ask "what's the big deal about Katie?" since as that pudgy little misanthrope Jonah Goldberg points out:
... Broadcast journalism is one of the only fields in American life where the job gets demonstrably easier the higher you go. Or, to be more fair, the parts of the job that have to do with what everyone thinks of as "journalism" get easier and easier, and in some cases the journalism simply vanishes altogether.

Consider how the respected television analyst Andrew Tyndall defines the job of news anchor. The job has two parts, he told The Washington Post. First, they have to read the TelePrompTer. The second part involves "sitting behind the desk when there's a crisis."
Of course, it's not quite that simple, particularly if the anchor in question is also the managing editor of the broadcast, as Tom Brokaw was, Dan Rather was, I believe Peter Jennings was and Katie Couric will be (Lou Dobbs is the M.E. of his show, too.) That involves quite a bit more than prompter reading. And even in local news, the amount of "work" an anchor puts in really depends on the anchor -- some double as meteorologists or M.E.s, some are exacting types who mark up their stories and serve as ersatz reporters (or actual reporter/anchors). As in any field, there are powder puffs. They're just not all powder puffs.

News is a team sport, where the producers and APs and writers (if the writers aren't doubling as APs) do much of the grunt work, but good reporters and anchors can still get their hands dirty. I don't think even Jonah Goldberg would describe Peter Jennings as a mere prompter reader ... but then again, there is increasing evidence that Mr. Goldberg hates journalists (that one's for you, Debbie Schlussel). Maybe it's because he's not exactly camera-ready ... the camera adding those damned ten pounds and all...

Oh damn, I'm guttersniping again...

And yet, as one inisder in the TVSPY watercooler put it, no truer words were spoken than when Les Moonves uttered the phrase (during the Dan Rather debacle,) "the days of the voice of God are over." (As are my posts about this subject. Suddenly I'm totally bored with it...)

Previous sniping:

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posted by JReid @ 11:13 PM  
Blogpreciation
Jon Swift isn't the most prolific blogger out there, but he is one of the most enjoyable to read, particularly if you're worried that there aren't any reasonable conservatives out there. Latest posts: Jill Carroll vs. the blogosphere, the "war on Christians" and "unpatriotic protests" by illegal immigrants. Brilliant stuff.
posted by JReid @ 6:29 PM  
The Duke wall of silence
The Duke Lacrosse team has been sidelined for the season, their coach has quit, and details of team members' prior bad behavior is emerging in the press, along with a pretty disgusting email sent by one of the players after the party, which claimed he wanted to "have some strippers over" to his dorm room:
"... however there will be no nudity. ... I plan on killing the bitches as soon as the walk in and proceding to cut their skin off," the author of the e-mail says, adding in vulgar terms that he would find the act sexually satisfying.
The kid's attorney says the email proves he didn't know anything bad had already happened to the "bitches" who had already been there...

So why are the players still not talking to police? Obviously, at least three, and probably more, of the 46 white players on the Lacrosse team, and possibly the 47th man -- the lone Black player -- knows exactly what happened to those two exotic dancers during the now infamous drunken party.

I guess these guys are confident enough to let the DNA speak for them. But here's hoping there are some accessory and obstruction of justice charges filed along with the rape charges should they materialize.

Meanwhile, some on the right are already playing the Tawana Brawley card...

Update: details of the search warrant and the truly sick email from sophomore player Ryan McFadyen are out, courtesy of the Smoking Gun. According to AP:
The warrant for the player's room was made public on Wednesday. In it, police provide a detailed timeline of the alleged attack and some additional details of their investigation. The warrant also adds conspiracy to commit murder as one of the crimes police are investigating.
This one definitely developing, and meanwhile, McFadyen has reportedly been suspended from school...

Update: Did the victim ID her attackers??? Signs point to a Rita Cosby scoop...

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posted by JReid @ 5:31 PM  
Katherine Harris' battle plan
The Hotline blog has Krazy Cathy's new hires. They include a bunch of out-of towners, including a D.C. media consulting firm, a borrowed campaign manager, some guy who used to work for Paul Coverdell, and:

... Erin DeLullo as DC fundraising coordinator; and ex-House GOP spokesperson James Lafferty as senior advisor.

DeLullo's hiring speaks to Harris's evolving campaign strategy. Hint: it doesn't necessarily involve Florida. DeLullo is the chief fundraiser for OH Sec/State Ken Blackwell, another candidate popular with movement conservatives who is running without the national party's blessing. When Harris addresses movement conservative audiences out of state, she gets the loudest applause. So while she'll do her campaigning in FL, watch for her campaign to try to persuade conservatives outside FL to rally around one of their own. Whether the NRSC likes it or not.

Maybe DeLullo can help Kathy "accidentally" invest some of her leftover fortune in Diebold, like Blackwell did. That way she can't possibly lose...

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posted by JReid @ 4:54 PM  
More Buckley than you can shake a stick at
Round two of the William F. Buckley ReidReport linkfest. This time, the father of modern conservatism is taking on the Hillary-McCain pre-horse race, horse race:
``I don't find a commanding presence sort of knocking on the door'' for the next presidential campaign, Buckley said in an interview broadcast today on Bloomberg Television.

Clinton, of New York, is ``a very consequential woman with an extraordinary background,'' he said. ``Her thought is kind of woozy left, not in my judgment threatening.''

She is ``a phenomenon, a woman candidate who might easily be president,'' Buckley said.

Arizona Senator John McCain, the most widely known of the potential Republican candidates, is ``a remarkable human being,'' Buckley said. ``I don't think that his name comes to mind automatically as somebody who over a period of years has addressed problems with fruitful thinking, let alone with consistent thinking.''
But tell us what you really think...

Tags: , , , , Clinton, HILLARY CLINTON, Election 2008
posted by JReid @ 4:41 PM  
Immigration divide
Evangelicals of different ethnicities square off over illegal immigration.

More than 50 evangelical Christian leaders and organizations voiced their support yesterday for an immigration bill that would allow illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens without returning to their native countries.

The statement marks a deepening split among evangelicals over immigration. It was signed by a mixture of Hispanic and white church groups. But most of the nation's large, politically influential evangelical organizations either back rival legislation that focuses on border enforcement and the deportation of illegal immigrants, or have been silent on the issue.

Hispanic evangelical leaders said yesterday that they have received support from Roman Catholic, Jewish and Muslim groups, but have been bitterly disappointed by the response of most of their fellow evangelicals, both white and black.

"This is the watershed movement -- it's the moment where either we really forge relationships with the white evangelical church that will last for decades, or there is a possibility of a definitive schism here," said the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, which serves 10,700 Hispanic evangelical churches with 15 million members.

"There will be church ramifications to this, and there will be political ramifications," he said.

In a letter yesterday to President Bush and members of Congress, Rodriguez's group and its allies cited Bible passages that call for the compassionate treatment of foreigners. Specifically, the letter urged "border protection policies that are consistent with humanitarian values," streamlined procedures for reuniting separated families, and an option for undocumented workers to legalize their status.

The letter effectively endorsed a proposal by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.). The bill combines a guest-worker program with provisions allowing illegal immigrants to apply for citizenship after paying fines and back taxes, undergoing criminal background checks and learning English.

Among the signers was World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals. But the NAE itself did not sign the letter because its members are divided on how to deal with immigration, said the Rev. Richard Cizik, the NAE's vice president for governmental affairs.

Polls show that about two-thirds of white evangelicals consider new immigrants a burden on society, compared with about half of all Americans who hold that view. On the other hand, Cizik said, most evangelicals realize that Latino immigrants are the fastest-growing part of their church.

"Evangelicals are a lot more sensitive to the plight of immigrants than outside observers might think," he said. "When you put together the biblical mandate to care for the alien and the receptivity of the Latino community to the evangel, to the gospel, you have a sensitivity factor that almost outweighs the traditional evangelical concern for law and order."

Some predominantly white evangelical groups, such as the Christian Coalition and Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum, have strongly opposed the Kennedy-McCain bill, labeling it an "amnesty" package. They support a House-passed measure that would concentrate on sealing U.S. borders and enforcing existing immigration laws.

"We think our national boundaries should be respected. That's a biblical principle also," said Christian Coalition lobbyist Jim Backlin.
And the Senate is seeking compromise on the basis of tweaking the cut-off date? Please.

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Tags: , Politics, border, MEXICO, , , Illegal-Aliens, Illegal immigration, ,
posted by JReid @ 1:38 PM  
Murrow ... Cronkite ... Rather ... Katie?
(sigh.) It's official. And of course, with her pending arrival at CBS comes the first sign of the apocalypse: Newsbusters likes the analysis of both the NYT and LAT...

National Nitwit gets jiggy with it...


CBS chief Les Moonves is eager to revamp the evening newscast.

"America is tired of grim announcers blathering on about body counts in Iraq and Washington scandals," he said. "Katie will be able to bring a smile and a cheerful exuberance to even the most horrible tragedies, and, can you just imagine getting jiggy with her?
What Moonves actually said was:

"I'm personally so excited that Katie Couric is coming to the CBS News family," said Leslie Moonves, president and chief executive of CBS Corporation. "With this move, our news division takes yet another giant leap forward."
... And in the end, this remains the bottom line (from NYT):

For Ms. Couric, leaving the morning, where she has thrived, leading "Today" during the longest run of success the program has ever enjoyed — it has finished first in the morning competition every week for more than 10 years — will certainly carry risks. She has thrived in the morning format, where her skills at moving between interviews with newsmakers and lighter segments, like interaction with celebrities and cooking and fashion features, have fueled her success.

At CBS, she will take over a newscast that has perennially finished in last place, though in recent months it has shown signs of rejuvenation under the anchor Bob Schieffer, who took the post temporarily after Dan Rather stepped down.
Update: Newsbusters sets the universe right again with a double barreled attack on Katie and Hillary Clinton.
Thinking ahead to 2008, it's clear that new CBS anchor Katie Couric has to be counted as a positive political asset for Hillary Clinton. Hillary's "Today" interviews have been almost universally sappy and sympathetic. (In a big-picture way, you might also see in solo-anchor Katie another sign, like Geena Davis's "Commander in Chief" on ABC, of an attempt by liberal media to push hard on the equal plausibility and authoritativeness of women in the top jobs.)
Oh yeah, that makes sense. Any woman who rises in power or prominence is part of a giant Clinton family plot to take over America. Got it.

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posted by JReid @ 1:10 PM  
Iraq update
Saddam Hussein at this trial defends the death sentences he approved against Shiites whom he said were plotting to assassinate him...

And a video purports to show a Black Hawk Down moment involving a U.S. pilot in Iraq...

...Jawa has more, including a link to the video.

William F. Buckley continues to skewer the war, arguing that the reduced American casualty rate, coupled with the skyrocketing Iraqi one, is a clear indication that the military has, in some ways, already withdrawn from Iraq:
If there are (one speculates) 15 areas of Iraq in which the insurgents are embedded with special defensive ingenuity, the commanding general can elect to dispatch bombs and artillery, always with some care for collateral damage done to innocent civilians. But that approach, a platonic alternative to sending in a battalion with instructions to root out the offenders, means a diminished exposure of American soldiers to high-cost engagements.

To reason that this is happening is deductive: fewer casualties, fewer engagements. However, fewer engagements should presume an enemy diminished in size and potency. But to say that runs us into the corresponding figure, of 1,500 Iraqi civilian deaths. Somebody is killing those people, and the whole idea of the U.S. enterprise was to shield the Iraqi population not only from the depredations of Saddam Hussein, but also from successor killers. Manifestly this has not happened, if the killing proceeds at so high a rate.

I have myself concluded that our Iraqi mission has failed. Missions have to be judged successes or failures with some reference to a time scale. If that scale is stretched forever, it is not authentically tested. If the mission is to liberate the Prisoner of Zenda and 10 years later he is still in jail, the mission can reasonably be classified as having failed, never mind that in the 15th year he is actually rescued. Given our mission's failure in Iraq, the job in hand becomes to retreat with care, certainly with more care than we exercised in our retreat from Vietnam.

But one would expect the military to pay greater attention than if hellbent on the mission's accomplishment to such factors as risk to U.S. personnel. The welcome lightening of the casualty figures can be seen as the military voting with their feet to begin withdrawal from an enterprise that has proved costly beyond the successes achieved.
Tags: , Saddam Hussein
posted by JReid @ 12:58 PM  
Al-Qaida office politics (and 9/11 questions)
The LAT has a fascinating look inside the sometimes disfunctional al-Qaida operation, courtesy of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed... read the whole thing. It's well worth it.

... of course, if you don't believe the official story of 9/11, this story simply raises more questions... (HT to Boris Epstein)

Tags: ,
posted by JReid @ 12:15 PM  
The flag bearers

ThinkProgress posts a video clip showing President Bush waving the Mexican flag in a 2004 election commercial produced for Spanish language media, raising the very valid question of how Mr. Bush's supporters on the right will react, given their outrage over pro-amnesty protesters waving Mexican flags during the recent spate of protests against proposed illegal migrant crackdowns.

Along with that comes a thought experiment from Julian Sanchez:
There's a link rich post up at Daily Kos on conservative outrage over the prevalence of Mexican flags at the recent protests against legislation that would crack down on illegal immigrants. It got me thinking about a little thought experiment: Imagine you've got a community of proud Americans living abroad for whatever reason, say in England. And suppose that even if they're perfectly happy there and doing what they can to fit in to their adopted society, their identities as Americans remain important to them. Now imagine—and this shouldn't be a stretch—that they begin to feel as though they're under attack as Americans, that the prevailing attitude in the country has become anti-American. They respond by staging a rally at which they wave lots of American flags, asserting their pride in who they are and where they've come from. Do the people who're livid over the Mexican flags find any part of this offensive?
My answer to Sanchez (not unlike many of his commenters) would be "it depends." If those Americans were in England illegally (full disclosure, my husband is a British citizen who is a legal permanent resident of the U.S.) and were protesting attempts to stop other Americans from sneaking into the country, then I'd say waving the American flag could, with validity, be looked on as an unwarranted provocation.

The problem that the right, and frankly many of us in the center-left, have with the flag waving in Cali and other places, is that it seems to represent a rather brazen spirit of entitlement to break U.S. law, and to continue to do so with impunity (including bringing family members over or benefiting from U.S. social services.) I don't think anyone on the right or the left is talking about deporting legal aliens, or running all Latino and other immigrants out of this country. And frankly, it's a bit offensive to assume that those of us who oppose amnesty for those who did enter the U.S. in contravention to our laws are anti-Latino racists. To be sure, there are some brown shirt types out there who are piling onto this issue to expurgate their KKK ghosts, but for the most part, I haven't heard -- at least the Lou Dobbs populist types (of which I'm one,) demonizing Mexican-Americans.

People who come here through legal means are perfectly entitled not only to be here, but to wave any flag they want (although one would hope that eventually, if they decide to become citizens rather than the kind of expats Sanchez is describing, that they would adopt the U.S. flag as their own. The issue for many of us is the unfairness illegal immigration heaps upon American workers, including those whose wages are depressed as a result, and those at the lowest end of the economic spectrum, who in many cases don't even have a shot at doing these "jobs Aemricans won't do" (another canard, btw...) And just to take issue with Think for a sec (which I rarely do,) the issue with the Mexican flag isn't "appreciation of immigrant culture." It is perfectly possible to appreciate the culture without condoning another countries willfull export of its poverty and economic anemia to us. And the opposition to waving the Mexican flag at U.S. protests is about civics -- it's about the irony of claiming that illegal immigrants are "good Americans" while waving a flag that says "temporarily glad to be here..."

Meanwhile, Fla Governor Jeb Bush has criticized fellow Republicans whom he feels are demonizing immigrants for political reasons (Jeb is married to a (legal) Mexican immigrant whom he met during a high school exchange, and he says he and Columba are personally "hurt" by all the angry talk about migrants.) Jeb gave the story to the LAT's Peter Wallsten, who used to be a reporter here in Florida. A clip:
Bush, the younger brother of President Bush, reserved some of his sharpest criticism for conservatives in his own Republican Party, calling it "just plain wrong" to charge illegal immigrants with a felony, as a provision passed by the Republican-led House would do. He also opposed "penalizing the children of illegal immigrants" by denying them U.S. citizenship, an idea backed by some conservatives but not included in the legislation.

"My wife came here legally, but it hurts her just as it hurts me when people give the perception that all immigrants are bad," the Florida governor wrote in an e-mail exchange with The Times.

Gov. Bush has generally avoided injecting himself into national political fights, and he rarely invokes his soft-spoken wife of 32 years in such a public way. But his comments reflect the concern among many Republicans that calls by conservatives for an immigrant crackdown risk alienating Latino voters.
And Jeb should know. He built his political career by crafting a coalition of conservative Cuban-Americans, Reagan Democrats and tax-cut-loving white Republicans.

Meanwhile, blogger Billmon takes a shot (unfair in my opinion, but a shot nonethless,) at Lou Dobbs, but then makes the point that there seems to be a double standard when it comes to a certain other flag often rallied 'round by Americans... Although, I think that the fact that the waving of the Israeli flag isn't criticized doesn't mean people aren't unhappy about Israeli flag wavers' possible "dual loyalties." I think that concern is out there, particularly when it comes to hard core American likudniks like the neoconservatives. It's just that there is a tremendous taboo in the United States about saying anything even remotely negative about Israel, or about implying "dual loyalty" when it comes to a Jewish American. It simply isn't done, because it would expose the speaker to charges of anti-Semitism (Pat Buchanan can tell you all about that, given his periodic criticism of the Israelis). Latinos have not gotten to that place yet where they are essentially immunized from overt criticism, but keep in mind that those who criticize the waving of their flag are being tarred as racists (including Dobbs). So I'm not sure the double standard really exists, so much as one component of it takes place soto voce...

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Tags: , Politics, border, MEXICO, , , Illegal-Aliens, Illegal immigration, ,
posted by JReid @ 11:24 AM  
Guess who...
...is not investigating Tom DeLay...?

... is getting universal health insurance...? (making it clear that it may be up to the states to get health care fixed -- and perhaps that's a good thing, luring skilled workers and families to states that have great healthcare offerings, and away from states whose contribution to healthcare is to force teenagers and rape victims to become unwilling mothers. Just a thought...) and wonder if Mitt Romney is drawing up the campaign materials on this one already...?

...is making sense on immigration?
Forget the long-running bipartisan concern about creating an educated, highly skilled workforce. What the U.S. economy desperately needs is more high-school dropouts — so desperately that we should import them hand over fist.

Such is the logic of the contention by advocates of lax immigration that the flow of illegal labor from south of the border is a boon to our economy. But it doesn't make intuitive sense that importing the poor of Latin America would benefit us. If low-skill workers were key to economic growth, Mexico would be an economic powerhouse, and impoverished Americans would be slipping south over the Rio Grande.

..."accidentally" owned stock in the company that manufactured Ohio's voting machines...?

...is drawing fire to himself again, and I'm not sure to what end...?

...benefited most from the Bush tax cuts? (no surprise there).

...is signing off for the night? Gnight!
posted by JReid @ 1:09 AM  
Ironic and awful
TPM: Kiddie porn stings shake D.C. (on the very day a 19-year-old gives dramatic testimony about how he was targeted and abused by online pedophiles for years). The Washington sicko: a Homeland Security deputy press secretary nabbed for soliciting what he thought was a 14-year-old girl via the Internet... the creepy parallels: the teen (who testified under the protection of federal marshalls) says he was enticed to use his webcam to perform sex acts for the viewing pleasure of some 1,500 "clients" who paid him via PayPal, and in several cases, arranged to meet, buy gifts for, give cash to -- and ultimately molest-- him. And our friend at DHS:
LAKELAND - When he wasn't sending pornographic movies to and asking for explicit photos from a teenage girl in Polk County, a Maryland man was bragging about his job as a spokesman at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, law enforcement officers said.

The revelation - actually made to a detective posing as a 14-year-old girl - resulted in the arrest of 55-year-old Brian J. Doyle at his Silver Spring, Md., home Tuesday night, officials said.

During his Internet chats, Doyle quickly revealed his name and job, and he sent his office and government-issued cell phone numbers. The information allowed detectives to quickly verify Doyle's identity, the Polk County Sheriff's Office announced Tuesday night.

Doyle moved quickly in other regards, officials said, sending enough sexually explicit messages and movie clips that they were able to secure a warrant for his arrest on 23 felony counts roughly two weeks after he responded to the detective's profile.
As the testimony Tuesday pointed out, child pornography isn't just some small time crime impacting kids with computers and no parents at home -- it's a $20 billion underground -- and in some cases not-so-underground -- industry, vs. $3 billion for the online music market. It's insidious, it's pervasive, and if you don't think it's targeting your kids too, you're totally out to lunch.

Some good advice: take the computer out of Johnny or Jenny's room, put a filter on it, and cancel his or her Myspace account. You might just be saving his or her life and future mental health.
posted by JReid @ 12:14 AM  
McCain booed by union leaders
I don't think the Senator -- who since 2000 has been aclymatized to worship and pithy "maverick" talk -- is quite prepared to deal with this kind of treatment.

Update: ...while DLCer Evan Bayh has the same union crowd eating out of the palm of his hand...

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Tags: , Politics, John McCain, Iraq, Election, Republicans,, ,

posted by JReid @ 12:13 AM  
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
DeLayed!

As we prepare to say goodbye to our friend Tom DeLay (without ever even having shared an ethics investigation...) a few passing thoughts from the blogosphere...

Great headline: DeBug crawls away, by Mikey. Mikey, we like it too...

Newsbusters is angry ... very angry ... at grave dancing:
Be the death literal or figurative, in recent days Democrats and their MSM claque have demonstrated a ghoulish penchant for dancing on the graves of their political opponents. As documented here, on the very day of his death last week, MSNBC's Alison Stewart, subbing for Keith Olbermann on Countdown, took nasty parting shots at Caspar Weinberger. Stewart disparaged as both a budget "slasher" and a big spender the man who, as Ronald Reagan's Defense Secretary, contributed mightily to winning the Cold War.

Today, it was Tom DeLay's retirement announcement that brought out the worst in the left. Bob Shrum was Chris Matthews' guest on Hardball, and so avidly did Shrum exult in DeLay's predicament that former GOP Rep. Susan Molinari was plainly repulsed. But far from taking Shrum to task for his unseemly asperity, Matthews commended him.
This tisking over personal attacks was followed, of course, by a personal attack on Bob Shrum:
Shrum is the Dem strategist whose place in history is secure, having served as a chief consultant on a record-breaking seven losing presidential campaigns. He immediately went for the jugular, branding DeLay "the father of the culture of corruption," while claiming "his simply getting out of the way is not going to remove this as an issue. Richard Nixon resigned in August of 1974 and Republicans got killed in those 1974 elections."
Wya to show off that civil discourse, Busters...

On the flip side, the Fox Newshounds see a spin cycle starting... and as often is the case, Neil Cavuto is saying "let it begin with me..."
Cavuto said this over video of students rioting in Paris:

All right. Tom DeLay dropping out of his house race and resigning from congress. By the way, he's going to be with me live tomorrow during a special program we're planning from Washington, D.C. Democrats calling DeLay's resignation more evidence that the GOP is out of ideas and out of energy. We're going to play this out. If this further weakens the Grand Old Party, and Democrats sweep the mid-term elections, will they increase taxes and entitlements and if so, is this a glimpse of the future - [video of rioting French students] - violent protests like what we've been witnessing in France these last few days because its citizens were given cradle to grave entitlements that can't be sustained long-term?
A graphic appeared over Cavuto's shoulder: "We're Next?"
All of that, just because Tom DeLay drops out of Congress? My god, what happens if Bob Ney goes down??? Will we all be turned into Soylent Green???!!!

Oliver Willis is laughing at the Political Teen. Can a Wizbang overreaction be far behind? (Though who wouldn't want to thank Tom DeLay for all the joy he's brought us political junkies...)

Jack Cafferty isn't dancing so much as stomping, however...
CAFFERTY: "Wolf all the tough talk was reduced to, "I quit!" To borrow a phrase from Roberto Duran, " No Mas." Mr. Delay suddenly became another disgraced public servant who couldn't take the heat." He would strut around on capitol hill like a cocky little, bandy rooster, but today he slithered away from Congress to await his fate at the hands of the criminal justice system. Good riddance...
Ouch!

Hey, remember when DeLay confronted a seditty restaurant worker, who wanted him to put out his smelly cigar, per federal law, with the classic: "I AM the government!"? Well the folks at RedState are urging fellow GOPers to make sure other Republicans can still make that statement after November.

Meanwhile, Matt Stoller has a few timely thoughts on the Devil's Gambit:
I was on the Young Turks radio show tonight to talk about Delay. I'll have the audio up soon. I addressed a problem I'll call the Devil's Gambit, and that is this concern that some people have that Delay's resignation is a bad thing for Democrats because 'then we won't have him to kick around anymore'. The Devil's Gambit is a disease of losers. It's a disease that has infected the Democratic Party to the point where no matter what, the latest political news (a) is bad for Democrats and (b) means we shouldn't attack Republicans.

The Republicans ran against Clinton for the first three years of the Bush presidency, and they ran against Carter until 1996. We can do the same. Tom Delay is gone, but his corruption remains. Therefore Tom Delay is a valid campaign personality. When extreme right-wing Republican leaders get put out of office, it's a good thing. Period.
And the Muckrackers at TPM have more, and more, and more on the DeLay scandal bag (yes, Susan Molinari, there are scandals)... plus an apparent factual error by Time's Mike Allen...

And finally, no DeLay post would be complete without his top ten quotes of all time. After all, "in the face of a war, nothing is more important than cutting taxes."

Update: Byron York has what he surely believes to be the definitive DeLay interview, in which DeLay adds top quote number eleven:
"I am actually very proud of the K Street Project," DeLay said. "When we came in, I realized right away in 1995 that we may have taken the majority, but we haven't changed the culture of Washington, D.C. And I immediately started strategizing to change that culture.
And you did change the culture Tom, you certainly did.

Update 2: John Hinderaker continues to show signs of Kool-Aid intoxication:
DeLay was an effective leader, albeit too liberal in recent years.

Huh??? (HT to Think Progress...)

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Tags: , Politics, Republicans, GOP, Congress

posted by JReid @ 11:25 PM  
Ugh. Perky goes to CBS
Let me start this off by saying I'm really, really happy for Katie. However...

When I was working in a certain nameless newsroom, the name Katie Couric regularly sent shudders of revulsion through the place. Not that she probably isn't a perfectly wonderful human being ... it's just that she's so ... gosh-darn ... perky. And not just perky -- she's kittens and puppies, sugar sandwich with a syrup chaser perky. And the more she tries to be serious, instead of perky, the more puppy-petting, sticky candy cane, slit my freaking wrists perky she becomes. ... That and she was making more money than God while the rest of us schlubs were facing staff cuts ...

But seriously, even before I joined the MSM, Katie Couric just bugged the holy living crap out of me. It bugged me when she was sitting (perkily) next to Bryant Gumbel (they were like Perky and Jerky, weren't they?) ... and it would have bugged me when she sat down next to Matt Lauer, except that by then, I had long since quit watching the super-annoying, useless "Today Show"-- and all network morning show drivel for that matter (best "Today" related joke ever, courtesy of Chappelle's Show --

QUESTIONER: Hi Negrodamus. What will happen to Star Jones on "The View"?

NEGRODAMUS (played by Paul Moody): Wait ... I'm getting something ... Star Jones will have 2 jobs. First she'll do "The View," then she'll take off her wig ... and do the weather."
HA!!!

Anyway, let's stipulate that I, along with the rest of America, totally felt for Katie when she lost her husband to prostate cancer. Having lost my mother to breast cancer man years ago, I know how devastating that kind of loss can be. So by all means, godspeed to the woman and her kids -- and now that I've matured a bit from those newsroom days (yeah, right...) I wouldn't dream of knocking another person's hustle -- if she can get CBS to pay her more than the treasury of a small country she's getting at NBC to screw up their nightly newscast, I say "you GO girl!"

... I just hope she doesn't try to act all serious and newsy in Dan Rather's old chair. And I hope the "retrospective on her many hairstyles" planned as a "Today" farewell won't be repeated on her new network. Ever. That would just wring the last drops of precious life out of my last good nerve...

Finding solace: Well, thank goodness I get my nightly newscast from Keith Olbermann. He's a lot of things (funny, clever, wry, sarcasting, factual, and a damned good antidote to the Republican-friendly spitfire that's on before him...) but perky ain't one of them... We'll always have "keep your knees loose...!"

Update/Relapse: Ack! She's gonna be on 60 Minutes, too!!!? Damn, damn, damn!!! There's no "America's Sweetheart" in 60 Minutes! 60 Minutes reporters are supposed to be really old and crabby and have stray nose hair! I protest! Couldn't they get freaking Jack Cafferty??? Hell, Aaron Brown's got to be available ... he may not be old but he can do crabby!!! ...

Update 2/Resignation: (sigh) ...Hellooooo uninterupted Sunday dinner with the family...

Update 3/Cynicism and guttersniping: How long do you think it will be before she starts calling herself "Katherine..."? And will there be even more plastic surgery in the offing now that she's got to do full facial night after night? 'Cause homegirl didn't look this good before...

Update 4/Acceptance ... sort of: The NYT says make way for Meredith (Vieira, of The View) on Today (see "Star Jones" joke above and note the six degrees of separation...) So, NBC not promoting from within? Campbell Brown too FNC-ish for you guys now that she's married to a Bush P.R. flak turned conservative talking head? (hey, at least Campbell's not Daryn Kagan ... eeeeewwwwww.....) And who will protect Star from the note-passing wrath of Joy Behar when Meredith is gone? It's all so damned complicated and unpleasant...!

...hey, unpleasant is kinda of the opposite of perky, right? Riiight???

Whew! I'm feeling much better now.

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posted by JReid @ 10:04 PM  
The votes aren't there
McCain says he lacks the votes in the Senate to get his guest worker bill through. Developing...

About 30 Republican senators huddled for more than an hour Tuesday but no consensus emerged. President Bush has championed a program that would give illegal immigrants a legal status to work in the U.S. but has not specified whether they should have to leave the country at some point.

McCain and Kennedy deny that their proposal is amnesty, saying illegal immigrants would have to pay $2,000 in fines and any back taxes and clear background checks before they could get in line for a green card.

The proposal, dubbed the "roots concept, by Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., seemed to have some support from Frist. He told CNN over the weekend that 40 percent of illegal immigrants have been in the country less than five years and "need to be dealt with in a different fashion."

The Senate is in its second week of debate on immigration-broder security legislation and there is pressure to complete a bill before Congress recesses on Friday for a two-week holiday.

Developing...

Tags: , Politics, border, MEXICO, , , Illegal-Aliens, Illegal immigration
posted by JReid @ 4:03 PM  
The great Katherine Harris crack-up...

Okay, so Katherine Harris is losing it:

in the past 10 days, Harris has:

•Had locks changed and posted a security guard at the door of her campaign headquarters in Tampa and had former staff members escorted in to retrieve their belongings.

•Told a gathering of supporters in Cocoa Beach on Saturday that the Republican Party had "infiltrated" her campaign staff to put "knives in my back."

•Told a reporter that a longtime, trusted political adviser had leaked a story about her staff members quitting, then called back to retract the comments.

•Announced hiring her new staff without identifying them.

Those events come atop previous reversals and contradictions, including her announcement last month that she would spend her inheritance from her father on her campaign, which she changed, saying she would sell her assets.

Former campaign manager Jim Dornan, who left in November, called the most recent events in the campaign "unbelievable."

"It smacks of real paranoia," he said of the headquarters lockout and comments about infiltration. "That campaign staff was so loyal to her, and to be treated like that is absolutely unconscionable."

In interviews over the past few weeks, speaking in confidence, former employees from Harris' congressional and campaign staffs said the trauma of the unexpected death of her father has taken a toll.

"She's in total meltdown. The campaign is in chaos," said a longtime Republican operative who worked closely with Harris until recently. "She hasn't mourned for her father." Like many other former staff members interviewed, that GOP operative didn't want to be quoted by name.

Many now seek other political jobs and don't want to publicly criticize a candidate they have worked for.

Over the weekend, the last of Harris' top staff members left the campaign, including campaign manager Jamie Miller, general consultant Ed Rollins, spokeswoman Morgan Dobbs and field director Megan Ortagus.

Media consultant Adam Goodman, who has worked with Harris through her political career, left a few days earlier. That followed the departures of pollster Ed Goeas, fundraiser Anne Dunsmore, Dornan, treasurer Nancy Watkins, two finance staff members and others.

On March 25, in comments to an Orlando Sentinel reporter, Harris blamed Goodman for leaking a story about her staff turnover. She called the newspaper back within hours to retract the statement.

In a statement Saturday announcing the hiring of new top staff members, she said, "Our campaign has re-launched with a new staff and is moving forward quickly. ... We are stronger as a campaign today than we were yesterday."

Dornan, who left the campaign after disagreements with Harris, said, "How she can say that her campaign is better is beyond me, when she had the best people in the country."

Harris' comments Saturday in Cocoa Beach reflect the antagonism between her and the Republican Party. Some party leaders have been downright hostile to her campaign because of worries that she can't beat incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson and that her reputation would stoke turnout by Democrats eager to defeat her.

According to Florida Today, she told a gathering of Republicans, "I didn't know I was going to get the knives in my back from my own party, and I'll be honest, it's infiltrated my campaign staff." ...
Okay, it only gets better further into the story. To whit:

Meanwhile, former staffers were coming to the office to retrieve belongings. Receptionist Donna Alicoate said Miller was escorted into the office Saturday after locks were changed and a guard posted.

On Monday, campaign volunteer Art Burroughs, outside the entrance to Harris' West Shore Boulevard office, said he was doing "just a little bit of a security thing" in escorting former staffers inside for belongings.

Campaign scheduler Jennifer DeBord said the new staff members would be announced today.

Harris said in a statement Saturday she had hired a campaign manager, fundraiser, advertising consultants, pollster, field director and press secretary. But campaign spokesman Brian Brooks said Monday a pollster has not been hired.

Burroughs is the brother of Dale Burroughs, a spiritual counselor and friend of Harris who, aides say, frequently travels with Harris on the campaign trail and sometimes introduces her at campaign stops.
Now hold up, wait a minute.

Art's brother Dale Burroughs isn't just any spiritual counselor...

He's the founder of the Biblical Heritage Institute, and reportedly Harris' "closest confidante," as her campaign takes on an "increasingly evangelical" tone... one that isn't exactly what she's been known for in her previous political life (despite once being close ... ahem ... to Jeb Bush, who is as evangelical a Catholic as you'll find...) More on "Dr. Dale":

"Dr. Dale," as she is known among campaign staffers, describes herself as a licensed clinical pastoral counselor who counsels in behavior temperament, career, crisis and disaster, among other things.

Burroughs has been advising Harris for years, but lately has had a more prominent role as Harris stopped listening to other campaign advisers. Burroughs said she has little role in the campaign beyond helping reach out to religious voters and is merely a Bible study partner and close friend.

Friends and advisers say Harris has been deeply religious all her life, but religion recently has become a central part of her campaign. Campaign staffers warily describe Harris as leading a "Christian crusade."

"It was always part of the background, but it was never an integral part of the campaign. It never engulfed her," said former campaign manager Jim Dornan, who quit the campaign in November but keeps in touch with staffers. "She's grasping for a pillar she thinks this campaign can be raised on."
Perhaps Ms. Harris is missing out on the real solution to her problem: magic water...

Oh, and about that whole "putting everything on the line thing?" Apparently it depends on what the meaning of "all" is...
Campaign advisers understood Harris wanted to put the inheritance in the race, but now say she won't have access to that money until after her mother's death. On Tuesday, she clarified to the Times that the money would come from her current assets, including selling real estate.

"My dad didn't leave me that money. This is what I have," said Harris, who is married to a millionaire and ultimately is expected to receive a large inheritance.

She has said she does not plan to put the money in right away, and she is expected to report just a few hundred thousand dollars on hand when her campaign disclosure report comes due soon.

Previous:

ReidBlog: God, the devil and Katherine Harris

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posted by JReid @ 3:07 PM  
Saving Scooter Libby: the 'Powell did it' defense
According to the conservative mag Insight, Scooter Libby's defense team is trying to obfuscate blame for the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity by essentially blaming the State Department, and his fellow necons' old nemesis, Collin Powell (whom you'll recall, Bill Kristol and other neocon think tankers did not want as secretary of state...) Says Insight:
Attorneys for former Vice President Chief of Staff Lewis “Scooter” Libby say one of three senior State Department officials was the source of a leak that exposed CIA agent Valerie Plame.

They say the officials are: former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and then-Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman.

The attorneys for Mr. Libby plan to argue that a senior official in the State Department leaked Mrs. Plame's identity amid the administration's defense of the U.S. failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The attorneys have sought to highlight heavy infighting between White House staff and the CIA and State Department amid criticism by Mrs. Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson.

"The media conflagration ignited by the failure to find WMD in Iraq and in part by Mr. Wilson's criticism of the administration, led officials within the White House, the State Department and the CIA to blame each other, publicly and in private, for faulty pre-war intelligence about Iraq's WMD capabilities," papers filed by Mr. Libby's defense team said.

Attorneys for Mr. Libby, who has been indicted on five counts of perjury, have been subpoenaing documents that expose the disputes within the top echelon of the administration. The infighting focused on failed intelligence assessments before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Mr. Libby has asserted that he did not remember details of Mrs. Plame and how her identity was leaked to columnist Robert Novak. Mr. Libby’s trial has been scheduled for January 2007.

Court papers filed by Mr. Libby suggest that one of three senior State Department officials discussed or leaked Mrs. Plame's identity. In September 2003, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell was reported to have identified Mrs. Plame as a CIA agent who convinced the agency to send her husband on a mission to Niger in 2002.

The second official fingered by the defense has been former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. Court papers filed by the defense suggest that Mr. Armitage leaked Mrs. Plame's identity to Mr. Novak and perhaps to The Washington Post's Bob Woodward.

"If the facts ultimately show that Mr. Armitage or someone else from the State Department was also Mr. Novak's primary source, then the State Department and certainly not Mr. Libby bears responsibility for the 'leak' that led to the public disclosure," the defense said in the March 17 filing.

The defense has also identified another former State Department official as the possible leaker. Then-Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman was alleged to have told Mr. Libby of Mrs. Plame's employment at the CIA a month before her identity was leaked.
My, how convenient that would be.

Of course, Libby's strategy contradicts what we're hearing from folks like Jason Leopold, who suggest that Patrick Fitzgerald may already know who both Woodward's and Bob Novak's sources were, and that Armitage et. al. may be at best, secondary or unwitting players in this drama.

Libby seems to be trying to point the finger at State, at reporters, in short at anybody who isn't close to the neocons, the adminstration, the vice president, etc.

According to the Insight article, Libby's defense team plans to subpoena Powell, Armitage, Grossman, Karl Rove and possibly Stephen Hadley, who Leopold, TalkLeft and others believe is the real second, secret source...

Previous:

Tags: , Karl Rove, Valerie Plame, Politics, Libby, Bush, Cheney, Rove, Stephen Hadley, Patrick Fitzgerald, Fitzmas, Scooter Libby

posted by JReid @ 2:54 PM  
DeLay Congressional career exterminated
Time Magazine (scooped on Tucker Carlson's nightime show by MSNBC's Chris Matthews, who got a phone call from the man himself ... ooooh, that mean's they're like, best friends, right...?) is reporting that Tom DeLay will announce Tuesday morning that he's dropping out of his Sugarland, Texas reelection race, and retiring from politics in order to fight for Christian principles, foster care, gum drops and bubblegum trees -- all the thinks he fought for as House Majority whip (without the felonious money laundering, lavish overseas golf junkets and African-American voter-neutering Congressional gerrymandering...) from the civilian barracks.

According to Matthews, DeLay feared that he might lose his seat (he said the polling had been "going down" and he faced perhaps a 50/50 chance of retaining the seat), and that he's dropping out to try and ensure that the seat doesn't go to Nick Lampson, the man he once redistricted out of electoral existence (edging the Dems one seat closer to retaking the majority.) He told Time's Mike Allen that he isn't dropping out due to fear of prosecution (or is that Persecution, Tony Perkins?) -- he's quite serene on that one, apparently -- but rather to protect the Party from what look like doomy-gloomy November election prospects. Says Time:

Rep. Tom DeLay, whose iron hold on the House Republicans melted as a lobbying corruption scandal engulfed the Capitol, told TIME that he will not seek reelection and will leave Congress within months. Taking defiant swipes at "the left" and the press, he said he feels "liberated" and vowed to pursue an aggressive speaking and organizing campaign aimed at promoting foster care, Republican candidates and a closer connection between religion and government.

"I'm going to announce tomorrow that I'm not running for reelection and that I'm going to leave Congress," DeLay, who turns 59 on Saturday, said during a 90-minute interview on Monday. "I'm very much at peace with it." He notified President Bush in the afternoon. DeLay and his wife, Christine, said they had been prepared to fight, but that he decided last Wednesday, after months of prayer and contemplation, to spare his suburban Houston district the mudfest to come. "This had become a referendum on me," he said. "So it's better for me to step aside and let it be a referendum on ideas, Republican values and what's important for this district."

DeLay's fall has been stunningly swift, one of the most brutal and decisive in American history. He had to give up his title of Majority Leader, the No. 2 spot in the House Republican leadership, in September when a Texas grand jury indicted him on charges of trying to evade the state's election law. So he moved out of his palatial suite in the Capitol, where he once brandished a "No Whining" mug during feisty weekly sessions with reporters, and moved across the street to the Cannon House Office Building, home of many freshmen.

The surprise decision was based on the sort of ruthless calculation that had once given him unchallenged dominance of House Republicans and their wealthy friends in Washington's lobbying community: he realized he might lose in this November's election. DeLay got a scare in a Republican primary last month, and a recent poll taken by his campaign gave him a roughly 50-50 shot of winning, in an election season when Republicans need every seat they can hang onto to avoid a Democratic takeover of the House.

"I'm a realist. I've been around awhile. I can evaluate political situations," DeLay told TIME at his kitchen table in Sugar Land, a former sugar plantation in suburban Houston. Bluebonnets are blooming along the highways. "I feel that I could have won the race. I just felt like I didn't want to risk the seat and that I can do more on the outside of the House than I can on the inside right now. I want to continue to fight for the conservative cause. I want to continue to work for a Republican majority."
I think the bluebonnets were a nice touch, don't you?

So there will be no more Tom DeLay for the Dems to kick around -- except when he's touring the country stumping for Jesus at $50,000 a pop in speaking fees (plus the occasional getaway to the Scottish highlands for a quick round ... four!) Just wait till you hear his Congressional conversion story. It's downright Road to Damascus awesome... (hey, do you think Jesus would like golf...?)

DeLay, according to Allen, has also performed a massive document dump, handing "hundreds" of emails over to prosecutors that he claims show nothing more than a casual relationship with Jack Abramoff, the felonious monk who recently took two DeLay staffers down with him.

And lest Chris feel too special, the story was also "leaked" ahead of the Tuesday announcement to CNN's Dana Bash, several members of the Texas Congressional delegation, and to the AP. (So the purpose of the Tuesday announcement would be...?)

Besides, the real scoop here should be credited to CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who on March 6th of this year penned a New Yorker article with the following apocryphal title: DRAWING THE LINE: Will Tom DeLay’s redistricting in Texas cost him his seat? Why yes, Mr. Toobin, it will.

And now, for the best line of the day, again from the talented Mr. Allen:
Asked if he had done anything illegal or immoral in public office, DeLay replied curtly, "No." Asked if he'd done anything immoral, he said with a laugh, "We're all sinners." Asked what he would do differently, he said, "Nothing."
God, I'm gonna miss this guy... [Photo at top that's way better than the actual DeLay mugger courtesy of Buzznet]

Tags: , Politics, Bush, abramoff, GOP, Republicans, Tom Delay, Congress
posted by JReid @ 12:09 AM  
Cynthia McKinney's bad (hair) day
Cynthia McKinney on CNN's Situation Room last night put forward a lengthy -- if unspecific -- defense of her actions during a scuffle? altercation? dispute with a Capitol Police officer recently. (Read her statement from March 29 regarding the incident here.) Along with her attorney, McKinney claimed that the reason she was "handled" by the officer was because, as a Black woman, she was being profiled as not belonging in the building. The basics, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution Tuesday edition:
McKinney was stopped by a Capitol Hill policeman while she was going around a security checkpoint in a House office building last Wednesday. Members of Congress are allowed to skirt those checkpoints, but the officer, not recognizing McKinney, tried to stop her. A scuffle ensued.

"The issue is racial profiling and that's something we have to deal with as a country," McKinney, 51, said. ...

...The police officer who stopped McKinney touched her shoulder or arm, witnesses have said. That prompted McKinney to spin around and strike the officer, though there are conflicting reports as to whether she slapped him, punched him in the chest or struck him with a cell phone.

Neither McKinney nor her two lawyers would confirm that she struck the officer. But a statement McKinney's office issued and then rescinded last week quoted McKinney as saying, "I used my arm to get him off of me. I told him not to touch me several times."...

...McKinney was not wearing a special lapel pin given to members of Congress to make them easier to identify. She also has changed her hairstyle since posing for her official House portrait, the picture police would check to identify her.

"I have been in Congress 11 years and I can go into many airports, not just in America but around the world, and people don't have a problem recognizing me," McKinney said on CNN. "It's only with certain police officers on Capitol Hill."

A security video shows McKinney entering the building and moving around the metal detector and X-ray machine.

It does not show her encounter with the police officer, according to officials familiar with it.
The Capitol police are fighting back, and have asked the state attorney's office to prosecute McKinney. That hasn't been decided yet, but the public relations war is on and popping. McKinney has put up several links on her web-site, including a Quicktime video, which she says proves the Capitol police have a history of racism, with fellow officers who are Black, and with her. Of course, she isn't exactly going to get many fans by Googling the version of the Black officers story found on The Final Call's online space...
Updated Aug 15, 2003

WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) - When the Black U.S. Capitol Police filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Government in 2001, they expected to get justice. What they say they’ve gotten is retaliation and they’re threatening a second class action suit.

The officers took their case to Capitol Hill July 30 for a press conference alleging the Capitol Police department’s pattern of filing excessive and unfounded disciplinary charges against prominent members of the class action, as well as a pattern of harassment, including exclusion of class members from the U.S. Capitol Complex and a series of auto tampering, break-ins and vandalism of class members’ automobiles.

"We suspect that such conduct by the department smacks of retaliation against the class members and is designed to undermine the momentum of current settlement negotiations," class attorney Nathaniel D. Johnson told The Final Call.

In January, the government decided that it wanted to settle the original class action suit, Blackmon-Malloy v. United States Capitol Police Board. Meetings were scheduled to begin negotiations but have since stalled.

"The other side is not negotiating in good faith. Members of the class are being subjected to retaliatory conduct, including disproportionate punishment and discipline. Accordingly, we strongly believe that anyone initiating these frivolous and false charges should be held accountable and disciplined. We want the retaliatory conduct stopped," said Mr. Johnson.
Still, between the racist remarks about McKinney by right wing radio jocks, and the sliming she's taking online from the right (you've let me down, MinM, not your usual classy post... I'll just chalk it up to too much Chappelle's Show on DVD this weekend) ... and even the left (this is just tacky, Wonkette-boy. "Ghettospeak" is just not your bag... perhaps the next time Winona Ryder gets pinched by the Malibu P.D. you could do some really, super-clever white girl jokes! And how clever of you to make your comments section "by invitation only," so you'll only have to hear from your friends -- very Bush-Cheney...) McKinney has plenty of ammunition to suggest that there is at least some racial component to this story. Or perhaps it just says something about how profoundly white people's perceptions of Black women (and men, frankly) are influenced by the way we wear our hair... [McKinney pics before (left) and after (right)... would you recognize her?]

BTW, remember the infamous quote that supposedly proved Ms. McKinney is a nut-job, and which briefly drove her from Congress? Here's the rest of the story...

Tags: , , , ,
posted by JReid @ 12:03 AM  
Monday, April 03, 2006
The gentlemen of the right
Conservative radio host Dennis Prager had Hugh Hewitt on today for another round of "not at all partisan" discussion on why it's imperative to create a "permanent Republican majority" (and Hewitt's contention that the GOP needs to drop all this distracting talk about immigration and hammer home the dread fear of TERRORISM from IRAN!!!) in order to get it done.

After that, the two opined on how "ungentlemanly" the left is, as compared to the right, and how it's really the left that is "unhinged" and rude when it comes to political discourse (taking the "Democrats are meanies!" meme to new lows.)

Well...

How "gentlemanly" is Rush Limbaugh, who on his radio show recently slimed the alleged victim of a gang rape at Duke University as a "ho." The victim -- surprise, surprise, this coming from Rush -- is Black. The alleged assailants are white... Un clip:

From the March 31 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show:

CALLER 1: Why is it, do you think, that you haven't heard hardly anything from Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton about the whole immigration thing? I mean, the silence is deafening from --

LIMBAUGH: Well, they're busy.

CALLER 1: -- the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] and the --

LIMBAUGH: They're -- they're busy. They're busy. The Reverend Jackson is in New Orleans. He's leading a big march there tomorrow. The march is -- what is it called? The -- the march for the right to return a protected vote and reconstruction. He's trying to -- they got problems down in New Orleans. They don't have voter base, and Sharpton's working on a New Orleans deal, too. He's trying to figure out how he can get involved in the deal down there at Duke where the lacrosse team --

CALLER 1: Yeah.

LIMBAUGH: -- uh, supposedly, you know, raped, some, uh, hos.

CALLER 1: But I don't think they're very happy about all of this.

LIMBAUGH: Yeah, well, but, the problem -- that -- that has a possibility down -- that Duke thing's got a possibility of being a Tawana Brawley situation. That -- and Sharpton's got a balance -- can he afford another one of those as -- as his life's going on? New Orleans is a big deal to him, and I -- I'm gonna tell you something. You'll -- you'll see these guys -- at some point, they will get involved, be-because when Ted Kennedy calls it the new civil rights movement, that's Jesse Jackson's turf. He owns it. So --

CALLER 1: Right.

LIMBAUGH: Yeah, anyway, I gotta run here because of the constraints of time out there. [Caller], a great, great question. Uh, exotic dancer, OK, say rape -- whatever happened. You know what it is down there at Duke. It's -- you watch what happens in that. That's --
Yes, Dennis, I see what you're saying about how civilized your side is...

And how upstanding is Neil Boortz, the right wing radio jock who recently said Gerogia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (surprise! Also African-American) "looks like a ghetto slut..." and a "welfare drag queen [that] was trying to sneak into the Longworth House Office Building." Oh, by the way, he's since apologized. I'm sure Ms. McKinney is touched, as are we all...

And then there are Don Imus' executive producer and right wing co-host, who slimed Jill Carroll (along with much of the right wing blogosphere, most egregiously, the scumbag posters at Little Green Footballs) as a terrorist sympathiser who is "carrying Zarqawi's baby..." They have refused to apologize for the remarks, made March 30th.

And let's not even get into the Free Republic, where I have had the pleasure of reading posts calling for former CNN talk host Aaron Brown to be shown the rope...

...but then, I suppose Prager believes that vicious, name calling, hostage-disparaging righty bloggers are magnificent gents too...

Update: How could I leave out major league hypocrite Howard Kurtz, who was for the sliming of Jill Carroll before he was against it...

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posted by JReid @ 6:43 PM  
The Plame agonistes
Two tips from Talkleft regarding Plamegate:

First, Scooter Libby's defense team issues a few choice subpoenas:


CASE #: 1:06-mc-00123-RBW: NBC NEWS & AFFILIATES
CASE #: 1:06-mc-00124-RBW: MATTHEW COOPER
CASE #: 1:06-mc-00125-RBW: JUDITH A. MILLER
CASE #: 1:06-mc-00126-RBW: ANDREA MITCHELL
CASE #: 1:06-mc-00127-RBW: TIM RUSSERT
CASE #: 1:06-mc-00128-RBW: TIME, INCORPORATED
CASE #: 1:06-mc-00129-RBW: NEW YORK TIMES COMPANY
Andrea Mitchell, eh? Interesting addition to the plot ... All of the above are reportedly fighting the subpoenas, or asking the judge for more time.

And second, but not least, TL links to the latest Jason Leopold scoopola:

The special counsel appointed in late December 2003 to investigate the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson found out the identity of the Bush administration official who disclosed her undercover status to syndicated columnist Robert Novak just two months after the probe began.

But in early February 2004, a month after he started the investigation, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald shifted gears and started to build a perjury and obstruction of justice case against White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and Vice President Dick Cheney's former Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby according to several attorneys close to the investigation.

That month, Justice Department investigators working on the leak case approached a senior official in the Office of Vice President Dick Cheney who had been identified by witnesses as having played a major role in the Plame Wilson leak.

The Bush administration official was given an ultimatum: either cooperate with the special counsel's probe or face criminal charges for his involvement in the leak, attorneys close to the case said.

The senior official decided to cooperate with the investigation and told Fitzgerald that Libby and Rove spoke to reporters about Plame Wilson, the attorneys said.

The official has been identified by attorneys and four current and former White House officials as John Hannah, a senior national security aide on loan to Vice President Dick Cheney from then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs John Bolton.

Hannah worked with Libby on the issue of weapons of mass destruction as part of an informal team known as the "White House Iraq Group." Hannah told friends last year that he was worried he might be implicated by the investigation, according to a report in the Washington Post.

Says Ms. Merritt:

As I've written many times, all roads lead back to the White House Iraq Group. Hannah was a member, as was Stephen Hadley and Libby. Rove attended most meetings. Props to Richard Sale of UPI who on February 5, 2004, identified Hannah as being in serious trouble and pressured to cooperate. ...
... Also, I think this makes Stephen Hadley Woodward's source -- as Jason and Larissa at Raw Story have been telling us for months (details here) -- and that Hadley is the official who contacted Fitz to correct his prior testimony a week after Libby was indicted.
What about Armitage? He's probably off the hook and considered by Fitz to be an innocent person whose identity still is being protected. He just joined the board of ConocoPhillips, which surely he wouldn't have done if there was a cloud hanging over his head.
I still wonder what Libby's people believe they can learn from Andrea Mitchell -- it could be that she was one of the four or five reporters to whom Rove first gave his little tip about Plame, I suppose.

If Rove is in jeopardy, it certainly casts a new light on the so-called White House shakeup, and makes this line of speculation (...and this one) the more interesting -- time to clean up the communications shop in preparation for some really, really bad news?

Previous:

Fitzmas in springtime???
Andy Card's greatest hits
Leaky Libby II: The Witnesses
Leaky Libby
All the president's bag men, part 2

Tags: , Karl Rove, Valerie Plame, Politics, Libby, Bush, Cheney, Rove, Stephen Hadley, Patrick Fitzgerald, Fitzmas, Scooter Libby,
posted by JReid @ 6:22 PM  
Moussaoui on the road to death

The jury has sided with prosecutors in saying that by lying to investigators on August 16 and 17 of 2001, Zacharias participated in the 9/11 plot, resulting in the deaths of "at least one person" -- and thus he is eligible for the death penalty.

The relevant findings on all of the counts:

The Jury found that Moussaoui

  1. ...is 18 years of age or older;
  2. ... intentionally participated in an act defined as lying to federal agents on August 16-17, 2001;
  3. ... participated in an act contemplating that a life would be taken or that lethal force would be used on a person or persons other than the participants in the plot; and that
  4. ...at least one person died as a direct result of his act (the lying)

The verdict was unanimous.

Moussaoui is now eligible for the death penalty -- to be decided in "phase two" of the trial -- on counts of conspiracy to destroy aircraft, and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.

(One question left in my mind? Why isn't Khalid Sheikh Mohammed on trial for 9/11, if he is the supposed mastermind of the plot? Just wondering...)

Also, watch for the Muslim reaction around the world as the U.S. prepares to execute this man (I think his chances of not being executed are about zero...)

More to come...

Update from Talkleft:


Kudos to the defense team who did an outstanding job defending an impossibly difficult client in a case in which emotions ran higher than any since the Oklahoma City Bombing trial of Timothy McVeigh and in a jurisdiction in which the community was so highly invested in the the outcome.

Moussaoui did not participate in 9/11, he didn't even know the date it would occur or the intended targets, yet he is likely to be killed. Moussauoui was his own worst enemy.
In other words, Moussaoui is the pound of flesh demanded by America for 9/11, despite the fact that even the other plotters say he was not involved. That's a pretty stunning result that essentially amounts to "well we have to put someone to death. He's a good a choice as any..."

Tags: , Terrorism, trial, Al Qaeda, War on Terror, 9-11

posted by JReid @ 4:09 PM  
Breaking: Moussaoui verdict at 4 p.m.

...will decide whether the man who wasn't there on 9/11 is eligible for death. Developing...

posted by JReid @ 3:41 PM  
Russert's one-two punch
I've been critical of MTP's Tim Russert in the past. He has a tendency of being way too soft on the GOP. But maybe getting fingered as the guy who "really" outed Valerie Plame (by Karl Rove) has lit a fire under him. Case in point: Sunday's "Meet the Press" squashing of John McCain and George W. Bush. Round one (ding!) Russert nailed McCain on his flip-flops on everything from tax cuts to Jerry Falwell (both of which he used to be against but now -- magically -- he's for. Think Progress has the Falwell metastasy:
RUSSERT: Do you believe that Jerry Falwell is still an agent of intolerance? MCCAIN: No, I don�t. I think that Jerry Falwell can explain to you his views on this program when you have him on.
Really, John? That's not what you said back in 2000... Russert also nailed McCain on his present support for extending the Bush tax cuts, for which he was one of only four Senators to cast a "no" vote in 2001, and on his excuse-making for Bush on the war -- something he used to find the voice to criticize. McCain was read clips from op-eds retracting his "maverick" card, and he ended the interview saying he "hadn't had so much fun since his last interrogation." I'll bet. More detail on the interview from this Kos diarist, who writes:
I'm not sure whether it was because Tim Russert's questions were so good or because John McCain's answers were so woefully strained, but the otherwise insufferable Meet the Press this morning actually proved to be compelling--and telling--television. Russert's "gotcha" journalism works well against the chameleon politics of McCain. In challenging McCain on everything from Bush hugs & kisses to the role of the religious right, Russert gave McCain no quarter as he used that tactic rarely used in interviews today: the follow-up.
Indeed. It's worth watching the entire interview, which you can do here. Or just get the salient points from Think or C&L. One thing I did wish Russert had delved into with McCain -- Bush's apparent belief that he can sidestep the torture limits passed into law at McCain's urging. I'd have loved to hear McCain's Bush-coddling spin on that one... On to round two: in which Gen. Anthony Zinni, the former CENTCOM commander who was in charge of U.S. forces in the Mideast demolishes Bush's case for war, including Russert's expert set up, in which he recalls how Zinni sat through a Fall 2002 speech by Vice President Cheney in which Cheney said Iraq "definitely posessed WMD." Zinni's response: he knew then that they didn't, and he said as much to the Washington Post. The retired general also called on Rumsfeld and others to resign, saying loyalty is not a better substitute for competence and good judgement. Zinni also made the point that the media is being made the scapegoat for Iraq's failures, and that -- duh -- elections don't equal democracy. Somebody get this guy into a top job at the Pentagon. Stat. If you missed it, watch the entire episode on the MTP site.

Tags: , Politics, Bush, Iraq, Election, Republicans,, ,

posted by JReid @ 3:40 PM  
Sunday, April 02, 2006
Kids rule
Ice Age wins the weekend box office, "Inside Man" still rolling, and Sharon Stone has apparently lost her instincts... here are the numbers.

1 ICE AGE: THE MELTDOWN (3,964 theaters) raked in more than $70 million
2 INSIDE MAN (2,830 screens) pulled in about $16 million after opening at number one last week with $30M - it's at around $50 million total...
3 ATL (1,602 screens) took in about $12 mil
.
.
.
9 BASIC INSTINCT 2 (at 1,453 sreens only) took in just $3.2 million over the weekend -- it's opening weekend.

That ain't good...
posted by JReid @ 4:54 PM  
The next bomb to drop?
Even as the war in Iraq has continued to go south, the chatter about the U.S. and Britain possibly opening up a second front with Iran have never really gone away. Today, the Telegraph digs in a little deeper (HT to AllahPundit in his last day as the substitute Malkin)... Says the Telegraph:
he Government is to hold secret talks with defence chiefs tomorrow to discuss possible military strikes against Iran.

A high-level meeting will take place in the Ministry of Defence at which senior defence chiefs and government officials will consider the consequences of an attack on Iran.

It is believed that an American-led attack, designed to destroy Iran's ability to develop a nuclear bomb, is "inevitable" if Teheran's leaders fail to comply with United Nations demands to freeze their uranium enrichment programme. ...

...The United States government is hopeful that the military operation will be a multinational mission, but defence chiefs believe that the Bush administration is prepared to launch the attack on its own or with the assistance of Israel, if there is little international support. British military chiefs believe an attack would be limited to a series of air strikes against nuclear plants - a land assault is not being considered at the moment.

But confirmation that Britain has started contingency planning will undermine the claim last month by Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, that a military attack against Iran was "inconceivable".

Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, insisted, during a visit to Blackburn yesterday, that all negotiating options - including the use of force - remained open in an attempt to resolve the crisis.

Could this be one reason for Condi Rice's surprise confab with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in Baghdad? Perhaps a bid to sort out the situation in Iraq and do some planning ahead of a new round of war games?

WaPo has some of the scary possible implications of an attack on Iran, which btw made a big show of testing its new under water missile this past week... to the Iran threat (hint: it ain't nuclear...):
As tensions increase between the United States and Iran, U.S. intelligence and terrorism experts say they believe Iran would respond to U.S. military strikes on its nuclear sites by deploying its intelligence operatives and Hezbollah teams to carry out terrorist attacks worldwide.

Iran would mount attacks against U.S. targets inside Iraq, where Iranian intelligence agents are already plentiful, predicted these experts. There is also a growing consensus that Iran's agents would target civilians in the United States, Europe and elsewhere, they said.

U.S. officials would not discuss what evidence they have indicating Iran would undertake terrorist action, but the matter "is consuming a lot of time" throughout the U.S. intelligence apparatus, one senior official said. "It's a huge issue," another said.

Citing prohibitions against discussing classified information, U.S. intelligence officials declined to say whether they have detected preparatory measures, such as increased surveillance, counter-surveillance or message traffic, on the part of Iran's foreign-based intelligence operatives.

But terrorism experts considered Iranian-backed or controlled groups -- namely the country's Ministry of Intelligence and Security operatives, its Revolutionary Guards and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah -- to be better organized, trained and equipped than the al-Qaeda network that carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The Iranian government views the Islamic Jihad, the name of Hezbollah's terrorist organization, "as an extension of their state. . . . operational teams could be deployed without a long period of preparation," said Ambassador Henry A. Crumpton, the State Department's coordinator for counterterrorism.

The possibility of a military confrontation has been raised only obliquely in recent months by President Bush and Iran's government. Bush says he is pursuing a diplomatic solution to the crisis, but he has added that all options are on the table for stopping Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons.

Speaking in Vienna last month, Javad Vaeedi, a senior Iranian nuclear negotiator, warned the United States that "it may have the power to cause harm and pain, but it is also susceptible to harm and pain. So if the United States wants to pursue that path, let the ball roll," although he did not specify what type of harm he was talking about.
And Al-Jazeera (english) asks pointedly: are we headed for another 9/11 if the U.S. attacks Iran?

To those who think that the U.S. (with help from Britain) starting yet another war in the Mideast is unthinkable, the Telegraph has the following:
There will be no invasion of Iran but the nuclear sites will be destroyed. This is not something that will happen imminently, maybe this year, maybe next year. Jack Straw is making exactly the same noises that the Government did in March 2003 when it spoke about the likelihood of a war in Iraq.

"Then the Government said the war was neither inevitable or imminent and then attacked."
John Bolton and the neocons aren't done, folks, and as Richard Clarke has said, they really haven't learned a thing from Iraq. Besides, nothing boosts a president's approval ratings and shuts up the media like a war.

I for one believe it's entirely possible that this crowd will start one or more new conflicts in the region before Mr. Bush's term is up. The neocons know they have a limited time, and no real public opinion window left. And they have a big agenda: Taking down the Iranian and Syrian regimes, recapturing Lebanon, controlling Iraq and then finding some way to stave off conflict with North Korea, all while the Russians and Chinese are at our backs, and not to pat them in friendship.

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posted by JReid @ 3:46 PM  
Welcome home, Jill Carroll

The former hostage is reunited with her family. ...Is anybody else secretly hoping she eventually punches out fellow journo Howard Kurtz?

Meanwhile, in what probably should become required reading for know-it-all RW bloggers everywhere, journalist Phil Sands describes what it's really like to be held hostage.

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posted by JReid @ 3:20 PM  
Saturday, April 01, 2006
For Debbie Schlussel
Can we all agree that Debbie Schlussel is a nutcase who makes Ann Coulter seem like a reasonable man? ...

Debbie has been leading the right wing hit squad who've been sliming reporter Jill Carroll since her release from 82 days of captivity in Iraq. She and the gang now have some new info to chew on. From AP today:
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AP) - Former hostage Jill Carroll strongly disavowed statements she had made during captivity in Iraq and shortly after her release, saying Saturday she had been repeatedly threatened.
In a video, recorded before she was freed and posted by her captors on an Islamist Web site, Carroll spoke out against the U.S. military presence. But Carroll said the recording was made under threat. Her editor has said three men were pointing guns at her at the time.

...In the statement, Carroll also disavowed an interview she gave to the party shortly after her release. She said the party had promised her the interview would not be aired "and broke their word."

"At any rate, fearing retribution from my captors, I did not speak freely. Out of fear I said I wasn't threatened. In fact, I was threatened many times," she said. "Also, at least two false statements about me have been widely aired: That I refused to travel and cooperate with the U.S. military and that I refused to discuss my captivity with U.S. officials. Again, neither is true."
Here's part of Carroll's statement:
During my last night in captivity, my captors forced me to participate in a propaganda video. They told me they would let me go if I cooperated. I was living in a threatening environment, under their control, and wanted to go home alive. I agreed.

Things that I was forced to say while captive are now being taken by some as an accurate reflection of my personal views. They are not. The people who kidnapped me and murdered Alan Enwiya are criminals, at best. They robbed Alan of his life and devastated his family. They put me, my family and my friends--and all those around the world, who have prayed so fervently for my release--through a horrific experience. I was, and remain, deeply angry with the people who did this.

I also gave a TV interview to the Iraqi Islamic Party shortly after my release. The party had promised me the interview would never be aired on television, and broke their word. At any rate, fearing retribution from my captors, I did not speak freely. Out of fear I said I wasn't threatened. In fact, I was threatened many times.

Also, at least two false statements about me have been widely aired: That I refused to travel and cooperate with the US military and that I refused to discuss my captivity with US officials. Again, neither is true.

I want to be judged as a journalist, not as a hostage. I remain as committed as ever to fairness and accuracy--to discovering the truth--and so I will not engage in polemics. But let me be clear: I abhor all who kidnap and murder civilians, and my captors are clearly guilty of both crimes.

Now, I ask for the time to heal. This has been a taxing 12 weeks for me and my family. Please allow us some quiet time alone, together.
So will there be apologies from Schlussel, Hinderaker, Podhoretz, Kurtz, Goldberg and the Little Green Spitballs? If I were Ms. Carroll, I wouldn't hold my breath. But let's have a look-see, shall we?

LGFS confines their post to a one-liner:
I’m happy to report that Jill Carroll has repudiated the anti-American statements she made in that video released by the Iraqi mujahideen

As one commenter calling themselves Tomboy put it: "I suppose there will be apologies from those of you who said she had some terrorist VD." Don't wait around for it, partner... I think a more representative LGFer is the commenter who said the following:
There's no question that there are traitors among us, but this lady doesn't appear to be one of them.
These people would have made damned good Soviets...

Over at Debbie's place, we find evidence of obvious psychosis. Debbie now believes that Ms. Carroll is in league with the terrorists. Her evidence? Jill thanked the Iraqi who she believes helped secure her safe passage after she was released. Now if that isn't evidence of terrorist sympathies -- thanking an IRAQI -- I don't know what is. After all, we're not in that country to go around thanking Iraqis. We're their to liberate the evil bastards, period. (God help us with chicks like Debbie out there without their meds and supervision...)

Over at The Corner, Jonah Goldberg appears to be having a psychotic break. Part of Jonah wants to apologize:
In all sincereity: good for her. I take Carroll at her word and hope nothing but the best for her. I'm sure it was a terrible ordeal and I think, barring some major revelation, this should put an end to the criticism of her. Leave her be. I'm sorry for suggesting that she might have believed what she said. I hope there will be some apologies coming from those who did believe what she said...
But part of him wants you to apologize:
he same name-calling screachers who insisted that I was an ass for not taking everything Jill Carroll said at face value, are now emailing me to call me an ass because it now looks like I was right to be skeptical. They insist I should apologize for "judging" her. This strikes me as absurd. If you go back and read what I've posted, I said that Carroll's statements didn't scan. It now looks like she was coerced into making those statements -- though we still need to know a lot more. If that's the whole story, that's fine with me. I don't think anyone can fairly begrudge someone saying what they feel they must under such trying circumstances in order to survive. But, most of the lefty emailers -- and many bloggers -- took her initial statements at face value. I didn't. So far, it seems to me that I was right and they were wrong. I see no need to apologize. It seems to me the apologies should be coming from them.

I suppose the flurry of Carroll posts today has nothing to do with a guilty, fat little conscience, now does it, Jonah?

Paul at Powerline hasn't commented on the new Carroll statement, but he does think the folks at Think Progress are with the terrorists...

Jim Geraghty, also at NRO decries the devolution of the blogosphere, as does RightWingNutHouse, who even more eloquently lays out how low the media -- both televised an online -- are stooping in this 24 hour quest for a few moments of our attention:
Twice a victim

... Scalp hunting has become the national pastime of blogs. Both lefty and righty lodgepoles have some pretty impressive trophies hanging on them; Dan Rather, Mary Mapes (twice), Eason Jordon, Trent Lott, Ben Domenech, to name a few more noteworthy ones.

But is this what we are? Is this what we are becoming? Are we nothing more than a pack of digital yellow journalists writing pixelated scab sheets vying to see who we can lay low next? If this be the way to fame and fortune in the blogosphere, I truly fear that, like television, the last great technological breakthrough that promised to change the world, we will degenerate into a mindless, bottomless pit of muck and mudslinging, dragging down the culture and trivializing even the most important issues.
(HT to AllahPundit, sitting in for Michelle Malkin.) RWN thinks the bloggers who waylayed Ms. Carroll owe her an apology. As I've said before, I wouldn't hold my breath...

And by way of evidence, Mac over at Macsmind isn't ready to cut Carroll a break just yet...

... and the Brothers Judd, who previously implied Carroll was a willing participant in the kidnap plot aren't exactly backing down...

Luckily Kim Priestap (who I like to think of as the crazy auntie of the Wizbang blog, and I mean that with love,) gives just the facts. No calling Carroll a commie Islamofascist sympathiser or anything... Truthfully, that's why I like Wizbang. It's very rare that they flip out and go all LGF/right wing crazy on a sista... (apparently, Dave at ISOU agrees with me (and he tears LGF a new one, which is a must-read). ...

And she hasn't posted an update yet, but since I kinda dissed Gina Cobb yesterday, permit me to give her a well deserved shout-out for this non-Jill Carroll but still spot on post.

Update:The Moderate Voice weighs in. (And I agree, Rick Moran needs to rename his blog. A nuthouse it ain't...) TMV's unassailable point:
If each time a weblog screeches that X person hates America or X person is a fascist it gets kind of old — unless you are a member of a choir that wants to hear the same song over and over. There's nothing wrong with that — but it does NOT enhance the credibility of blogs.

Do blogs want to be news analyzers? Opinion shapers? Political influencers? Or do they want to become like the very worst extreme left and extreme right talk show hosts? If the choice is the latter, then why shouldn't the news media view blogs as a written by a bunch of hyperactive political activists who want to get their harsh opinions out there first no matter what so they attract attention to themselves?
As one who has shot from the keyboard a time or two, but who also used to work for the MSM, I wholeheartedly agree. It's getting really smelly out here in blogland... So okay now I feel bad about that Debbie Schlussel comment, and the one about Ann Coulter being a man... no, actually really I don't.

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posted by JReid @ 9:12 PM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
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"I am for enhanced interrogation. I don't believe waterboarding is torture... I'll do it. I'll do it for charity." -- Sean Hannity
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